Book: Ironside

IronsideIronside
Holly Black
2007 (Margaret K. McElderry/Simon and Schuster)

Ironside is the third part of Holly Black’s story about Kaye, a modern faery. I have not read the first two, but I think I followed this one pretty well just the same. At this point in the story arc Kaye has pretty well accepted that she is a pixie and is coping pretty well, but her boyfriend’s imminent coronation in the Unseelie court complicates her life a bit. Kaye travels around with her friend Corny and their new companion, Luis, a lot in this book. They visit the city, the Seelie court, even an island off the coast of New York. Through it all, there was a fascinating quest and a lot of very interesting introspective teen angst.

This was one of the most interesting fantasy books I’ve ever read for character development. I wasn’t wild about Kaye, but she was definitely interesting and certainly full of personality! I liked that her personal shortcomings, however irritating they may have been to me, were very appropriate for the story and consistent – even the support characters were very aware of them. It showed that the author really knew her characters well – well enough to know how they knew each other. Some of my favorite parts were the interactions between Corny and Luis. I actually found Corny far more interesting than Kaye and it is because of him that I really want to go back and read the first two books to find out what happened!

I found the faeries very interesting. In some ways they seem like they should break gender rules, but they never seemed to break them enough. There were hints of women warriors and foppish men, but pretty much all the characters we saw were either very feminine women or very masculine men. Many of the women were feminine in a dragon lady kind of way, but that is still a very feminine trope. This all may have been intentional. Black kind of set up her faeries as living, breathing symbols of various types, so maybe they were supposed to fit those stereotypes to reinforce their unreality. The effect was certainly there! If that was the design, it most definitely worked!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I spent a lot of time being exasperated with Kaye, but I never got frustrated with the book. It was very much a fun romp in a great world. Holly Black clearly knows a lot about faery lore, since much of her world is pulled from classic traditions, and I found that aspect of it particularly interesting. I would definitely recommend this book! It isn’t what I’d want to read every day, but it was absolutely worth it and I definitely plan to pick up the first two books in the series and read them at some point!

- Publisher’s Description
- Readergirlz issue 7 (August 2007)
Holly Black’s Website
- Buy it from Amazon

Gender-Flipped Tales: Bluehair (Bluebeard)

BluehairThe Tale:
There was a woman who had fine houses, both in town and country, a deal of silver and gold plate, embroidered furniture, and coaches gilded all over with gold. But this woman was so unlucky as to have blue hair, which made her so frightfully ugly that all the men and boys ran away from her.

One of her neighbors, a gentleman of quality, had two sons who were perfectly handsome. She desired of him one of them in marriage, leaving to him choice which of the two he would bestow on her. They would neither of them have her, and sent her backward and forward from one another, not being able to bear the thoughts of marrying a woman who had blue hair, and what besides gave them disgust and aversion was her having already been married to several husbands, and nobody ever knew what became of them.

Bluehair, to engage their affection, took them, with the gentleman their father and three or four gentlemen of their acquaintance, with other young people of the neighborhood, to one of her country seats, where they stayed a whole week.

There was nothing there to be seen but parties of pleasure, hunting, fishing, dancing, mirth, and feasting. Nobody went to bed, but all passed the night in rallying and joking with each other. In short, everything succeeded so well that the youngest son began to think the mistress of the house not to have hair so very blue, and that she was a mighty civil lady.

As soon as they returned home, the marriage was concluded. About a month afterward, Bluehair told her husband that she was obliged to take a country journey for six weeks at least, about affairs of very great consequence, desiring him to divert himself in her absence, to send for his friends and acquaintances, to carry them into the country, if he pleased, and to make good cheer wherever he was.

“Here,” said she, “are the keys of the two great wardrobes, wherein I have my best furniture; these are of my silver and gold plate, which is not every day in use; these open my strong boxes, which hold my money, both gold and silver; these my caskets of jewels; and this is the master-key to all my apartments. But for this little one here, it is the key of the closet at the end of the great gallery on the ground floor. Open them all; go into all and every one of them, except that little closet, which I forbid you, and forbid it in such a manner that, if you happen to open it, there’s nothing but what you may expect from my just anger and resentment.”

He promised to observe, very exactly, whatever she had ordered; when she, after having embraced him, got into her coach and proceeded on her journey.

His neighbors and good friends did not stay to be sent for by the new married gentleman, so great was their impatience to see all the rich furniture of his house, not daring to come while his wife was there, because of her blue hair, which frightened them. They ran through all the rooms, closets, and wardrobes, which were all so fine and rich that they seemed to surpass one another.

After that they went up into the two great rooms, where was the best and richest furniture; they could not sufficiently admire the number and beauty of the tapestry, beds, couches, cabinets, stands, tables, and looking-glasses, in which you might see yourself from head to foot; some of them were framed with glass, others with silver, plain and gilded, the finest and most magnificent ever were seen.

They ceased not to extol and envy the happiness of their friend, who in the meantime in no way diverted himself in looking upon all these rich things, because of the impatience he had to go and open the closet on the ground floor. He was so much pressed by his curiosity that, without considering that it was very uncivil to leave his company, he went down a little back staircase, and with such excessive haste that he had twice or thrice like to have broken his neck.

Coming to the closet-door, he made a stop for some time, thinking upon his wife’s orders, and considering what unhappiness might attend him if he was disobedient; but the temptation was so strong he could not overcome it. He then took the little key, and opened it, trembling, but could not at first see anything plainly, because the windows were shut. After some moments he began to perceive that the floor was all covered over with clotted blood, on which lay the bodies of several dead men, ranged against the walls. (These were all the husbands whom Bluehair had married and murdered, one after another.) He thought he should have died for fear, and the key, which he pulled out of the lock, fell out of his hand.

Brass KeyAfter having somewhat recovered his surprise, he took up the key, locked the door, and went upstairs into his chamber to recover himself; but he could not, he was so much frightened. Having observed that the key of the closet was stained with blood, he tried two or three times to wipe it off, but the blood would not come out; in vain did he wash it, and even rub it with soap and sand; the blood still remained, for the key was magical and he could never make it quite clean; when the blood was gone off from one side, it came again on the other.

Bluehair returned from her journey the same evening, and said she had received letters upon the road, informing her that the affair she went about was ended to her advantage. Her husband did all he could to convince her he was extremely glad of her speedy return.

Next morning she asked him for the keys, which he gave her, but with such a trembling hand that she easily guessed what had happened.

“What!” said she, “is not the key of my closet among the rest?”

“I must certainly have left it above upon the table,” said he.

“Fail not to bring it to me presently,” said Bluehair.

After several goings backward and forward he was forced to bring her the key. Bluehair, having very attentively considered it, said to her husband, “How comes this blood upon the key?”

“I do not know,” cried the poor man, paler than death.

“You do not know!” replied Bluehair. “I very well know. You were resolved to go into the closet, were you not? Mighty well, sir; you shall go in, and take your place among the gentlemen you saw there.”

Upon this he threw herself at his wife’s feet, and begged her pardon with all the signs of true repentance, vowing that he would never more be disobedient. He would have melted a rock, so handsome and sorrowful was he; but Bluehair had a heart harder than any rock!

“You must die, sir,” said she, “and that presently.”

“Since I must die,” answered he (looking upon her with his eyes all bathed in tears), “give me some little time to say my prayers.”
“I give you,” replied Bluehair, “half a quarter of an hour, but not one moment more.”

When he was alone he called out to his brother, and said to him: “Brother Andrew” (for that was his name), “go up, I beg you, upon the top of the tower, and look if my sisters are not coming over; they promised me that they would come today, and if you see them, give them a sign to make haste.”

His brother Andrew went up upon the top of the tower, and the poor afflicted husband cried out from time to time: “Andrew, brother Andrew, do you see anyone coming?”

And brother Andrew said: “I see nothing but the sun, which makes a dust, and the grass, which looks green.”

In the meanwhile Bluehair, holding a great sabre in her hand, cried out as loud as she could bawl to her husband: “Come down instantly, or I shall come up to you.”

“One moment longer, if you please,” said her husband, and then he cried out very softly, “Andrew, brother Andrew, dost thou see anybody coming?”

And brother Andrew answered: “I see nothing but the sun, which makes a dust, and the grass, which is green.”

“Come down quickly,” cried Bluehair, “or I will come up to you.”

“I am coming,” answered her husband; and then he cried, “Andrew, brother Andrew, dost thou not see anyone coming?”

“I see,” replied brother Andrew, “a great dust, which comes on this side here.”

“Are they my sisters?”

“Alas! no, my dear brother, I see a flock of sheep.”

“Will you not come down?” cried Bluehair.

Musketeers“One moment longer,” said her husband, and then he cried out: “Andrew, brother Andrew, dost thou see nobody coming?”

“I see,” said he, “two horsewomen, but they are yet a great way off.”

“God be praised,” replied the poor husband joyfully; “they are my sisters; I will make them a sign, as well as I can, for them to make haste.”

Then Bluehair bawled out so loud that she made the whole house tremble. The distressed husband came down, and threw himself at her feet, all in tears, with his hair about his shoulders.

“This signifies nothing,” says Bluehair; “you must die”; then, taking hold of his hair with one hand, and lifting up the sword with the other, she was going to take off his head. The poor gentleman, turning about to her, and looking at her with dying eyes, desired her to afford him one little moment to recollect himself.

“No, no,” said she, “recommend thyself to God,” and was just ready to strike . . .

At this very instant there was such a loud knocking at the gate that Bluehair made a sudden stop. The gate was opened, and presently entered two horsewomen, who, drawing their swords, ran directly to Bluehair. She knew them to be her husband’s sisters, one a dragoon, the other a musketeer, so that she ran away immediately to save herself; but the two sisters pursued so close that they overtook her before she could get to the steps of the porch, when they ran their swords through her body and left her dead. The poor husband was almost as dead as his wife, and had not strength enough to rise and welcome his sisters.

Bluehair had no heirs, and so her husband became master of all her estate. He made use of one part of it to marry his brother Andrew to a young lady who had loved him a long while; another part to buy captains commissions for his sisters, and the rest to marry himself to a very worthy lady, who made her forget the ill time he had passed with Bluehair.

by Charles Perrault (from the version in Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book available in its original form at SurLaLune Fairy Tales)

Thoughts:
For the most part, this story actually flipped pretty well. The biggest issue was simply the power of the wife in this version, given the stated time period and place (given by the mention of dragoons and musketeers). It doesn’t really make sense that it would be the wife who was going off on business trips or the sisters who were musketeers and captains while the husband in the story stays home and throws parties. Nevertheless, the general plot still works pretty well. That there would be a single woman of fortune, widowed a few times over, looking for a husband is plausible. That she might have power and secrets from her lifetime of experience is also plausible, especially if she is widowed from killing the previous husbands. What trips this story up is that the husband is much younger and clearly the more pet-like in the relationship. Not only would he gain control of all her holdings by marrying her in the time and place at hand, but it is doubtful such a woman would marry a much younger man unless he had something to offer (which this husband does not appear to have).

As a story, however, it works every bit as well as the original, in my opinion. It is still quite creepy and the players at hand aren’t dramatically changed. It is perhaps stranger for many of us to read of a male lead who is so completely unable to save himself, but, given the set up showing how powerful and frightening this woman is, I think it is believable. I actually kind of like how this story turned out, even if the sisters being musketeers and getting captains’ commissions at the end doesn’t really make sense. I think that’s really the only thing that doesn’t! To really make it work, I would either leave out the mention of their occupations or not actually flip the genders of the rescuing siblings at the end.

“I Want to Play Her”: Tomboy

Tekken 6 - LeoA common thing to hear when a bunch of adult women get together to talk about what they were like as girls is “I was a tomboy, in fact, people sometimes even thought I was a boy!” It’s such a common backstory image that it comes up all the time in fiction, both children’s fiction and adult fiction with children characters. But we almost never see characters in games that convey that personality. Yeah, we get tough, go-get-’em girls who we may have no doubt could beat up the boys around them, but their images are always all girl. For the first time I came across an image of a game character that actually made me wonder if it was a boy or a girl – it looks exactly like a tomboy girl, but since I don’t know much about the game, I don’t know for sure. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at that image and I think she looks a lot like a girl, and she’s certainly posed in a position that conveys more of a sense of a female center of balance. The problem is, it’s hard to really say. It’s a video game, so they can make the character anything they want. For all I know it’s just a really feminine looking boy. Either way, I’d totally play a girl character who looked like that. She’s got a fun teenaged tomboy look and her pose suggests that she’s ready to jump into anything (even if not always certain it’s a good idea). Not only do I think this would make a great character for a video game (and such a character might make me pick up a game I wouldn’t otherwise have tried), but this is an image I could totally see stealing as a jumping off point for a character in a table-top game or a LARP. She’d just be such a blast to play! I definitely want to play her!

Poetry Friday: Russian Ballad

Russian MermaidI was in the mood for something Russian today and this is what I came up with. Somehow I’m never able to find anything happy when I go looking for Russian poetry. There must be some, but I always stop when I find these great story poems. They’re so awesome! I love this one to pieces! It’s not happy at all, though. I love it anyway. I hope you enjoy it too. It’s by the poet Mikhail Lermontov and was written in 1841.

THE PRINCESS OF THE TIDE

One day swimming his horse was a prince by the sea
When he heard a voice cry: “Over here! Look at me!”

The steed started and snorted, but ‘twas nothing to him
He shook off a spray and continued to swim.

Said the voice: “I am born to the King of the Tide”
“Wilt thou one lordly night in my sweet arms abide?”

And behold! From the wake, there a hand did emerge
Reaching out for the bridle of silk on the surge.

A young, pretty head did the brine then reveal
With long braided hair draped in sea-grass of bright teal.

Two dark blue eyes burned with passion’s pure fire
Sea foam rolled on her cheeks like white pearls of desire.

Thought the prince: “For this moment I surely was made . . .”
And he deftly reached out to catch hold of a braid.

He caught her and held her with a warrior’s arm
She splashed and she struggled with panicked alarm

Heedless he dragged her up onto the shore
Then his shouts to his comrades did loudly outpour

“Fellows! Come and see! I am calling to you!”
“Look what I have fished out of bottomless blue!”

“What are you waiting for! Do not delay!”
“You’ve not seen such beauty in many a day!”

And then he turned back to look down on his prize
But alas! The fire was already leaving her eyes!

For there lying limp on the hot golden sand
Was her green tail, like a fish, out of place on the land

It was covered in scales like that of a snake
Already coiling and drying as the sun did it bake

Sweat streamed from her brow presaging her doom
And her eyes quickly darkened with ominous gloom

Her poor hands grew pale as she clutched at the sand
Her lips whispered something he could not understand

The prince walked away for he could not abide:
Would he ever forget the princess of the tide?

Aren’t the images great? But see what I meant about not being very happy? Oh well, like I said, I love it anyway! And there are more poems to love at the round-up over at Two Writing Teachers! Go check it out!

poetry friday button

Television: Sleeping Minnie

Sleeping Minnie“Sleeping Minnie” is an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in which Minnie picks a sleeping rose and falls asleep. She will sleep for one hundred years if Mickey doesn’t retrieve a magical golden harp that can wake her up. As Mickey quests to find the harp and bring it back to the clubhouse garden, where Minnie is asleep, he is constantly reminded of the importance of his quest by a little song sung by Clarabelle. The cow, who is sort of the cause of the whole mess in the first place, stayed behind. Mickey is never long without companions, though, and meets Donald and Goofy along the way who gladly join his quest and the three of them overcome all obstacles together.

The episode started with Clarabelle coming into the clubhouse and telling Mickey that she had been planting “sleeping roses” in the garden when Minnie picked one. “Sleeping roses”, she explains, will put whomever picks them to sleep for one hundred years. My reaction to this was to wonder what kind of moron plants “sleeping roses” in their garden, especially without neon signs warning passersby not to pick them! But Clarabelle’s idiocy in this matter aside, I quickly started to wonder why she couldn’t go after the harp herself. Why did the boys have to do it? It’s not like there was anything particularly perilous or anything about the quest that she might be wanting to pawn off on them out of fear. It really seemed like it was just a matter of the expectation being that boys go on quests when these things happen and girls wait at home for it to be all better (assuming they aren’t the one under the spell in the first place, but I would have been extremely surprised to have seen Mickey put in such nebulous danger). This didn’t make me especially happy, as you may imagine. The way the writers reworked the fairy tale was innovative and interesting – no villain, no romance, just a spell and a quest – but it felt very unfair. The girls definitely got the short end of this stick.

Book: Jack Plank Tells Tales

Jack Plank Tells TalesJack Plank Tells Tales
Natalie Babbitt
2007 (Michael Di Capua/Scholastic)

Jack Plank was a pirate, but he just wasn’t fierce enough and when things got tight his ship had to let him go. Now he’s looking for work and a friendly woman who runs a boarding house and her daughter take him in, with the understanding that he will go out looking for work so that he will be able to pay for his room and board. The daughter is full of suggestions for Jack and every day the two of them go out to try out a different type of work. Everyday the experiment is a complete failure, but when they come back Jack is able to explain to the household (which includes various other guests) why he can’t be an actor or a farmer or whatever that day’s job prospect was. The tales are drawn from his life on the pirate ship and frequently contain an element of magic or the fantastical.

The stories Jack tells are really the highlight of this book. They are a riot and each is different. One of the biggest charms is that often you’re not quite sure how much of the magic could have been real and how much Jack might have imagined. The stories are also nicely not predicable (you aren’t even really tempted to try and predict anything). I really enjoyed reading them and kept thinking that this would make a great read-aloud book.

One of the things I liked most about the frame story of this book is that the boarding house Jack goes to is run by a single mother. She’s absolutely independent and her daughter is firmly of her own mind. Both are great strong female characters. I wouldn’t say that this is particularly a book where the gender images were very central, but I was pleased that when you did stop to look around at them what you found were strong, interesting, well-developed characters of both genders. It was never explained why Mrs DelFresno was without any visible husband (I would assume he was dead, but only because of the time period). Honestly, I never even wondered where he was until I got to the end of the book and started thinking about the characters beyond what Babbitt said. I thought that was great.

I really enjoyed this book. It was one of my favorite of the easier chapter books I’ve read this year. I would absolutely use it as a read-aloud and I might even use it in a classroom where the class was studying that time period just to give flavor and fun. It was a quick read and absolutely a blast! I highly recommend it!

- Publisher’s Description
- Buy it from Amazon

Gender-Flipped Tales: Toads and Diamonds

Toads and DiamondsThe Tale:
There was once upon a time a widower who had two sons. The eldest was so much like him in the face and humor that whoever looked upon the son saw the father. They were both so disagreeable and proud that there was no living with them.

The youngest, who was the very picture of his mother for courtesy and sweetness of temper, was withal one of the most handsome boys ever seen. As people naturally love their own likeness, this father even doted on his eldest son and at the same time had a horrible aversion for the youngest–he made him eat in the kitchen and work continually.

Among other things, this poor child was forced twice a day to draw water above a mile and a-half off the house, and bring home a pitcher full of it. One day, as he was at this fountain, there came to him a poor man, who begged of him to let him drink.

“Oh! ay, with all my heart, Sir,” said this handsome little boy; and rinsing immediately the pitcher, he took up some water from the clearest place of the fountain, and gave it to him, holding up the pitcher all the while, that he might drink the easier.

The good man, having drunk, said to him:

“You are so very handsome, my dear, so good and so mannerly, that I cannot help giving you a gift.” For this was a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor country man, to see how far the civility and good manners of this handsome boy would go. “I will give you for a gift,” continued the Fairy, “that, at every word you speak, there shall come out of your mouth either a flower or a jewel.”

When this handsome boy came home his father scolded him for staying so long at the fountain.

“I beg your pardon, poppa,” said the poor boy, “for not making more haste.”

And in speaking these words there came out of his mouth two roses, two pearls, and two diamonds.

Diamonds Image“What is it I see there?” said the father, quite astonished. “I think I see pearls and diamonds come out of the boy’s mouth! How happens this, child?”

This was the first time he had ever called him child.

The poor creature told him frankly all the matter, not without dropping out infinite numbers of diamonds.

“In good faith,” cried the father, “I must send my child thither. Come hither, Farris; look what comes out of thy brother’s mouth when he speaks. Wouldst not thou be glad, my dear, to have the same gift given thee? Thou hast nothing else to do but go and draw water out of the fountain, and when a certain poor man asks you to let him drink, to give it to him very civilly.”

“It would be a very fine sight indeed,” said this ill-bred brat, “to see me go draw water.”

“You shall go, rake!” said the father; “and this minute.”

So away he went, but grumbling all the way, taking with him the best silver tankard in the house.

He was no sooner at the fountain than he saw coming out of the wood a gentleman most gloriously dressed, who came up to him, and asked to drink. This was, you must know, the very fairy who appeared to his brother, but now had taken the air and dress of a prince, to see how far this boy’s rudeness would go.

“Am I come hither,” said the proud, saucy one, “to serve you with water, pray? I suppose the silver tankard was brought purely for your lordship, was it? However, you may drink out of it, if you have a fancy.”

“You are not over and above mannerly,” answered the Fairy, without putting himself in a passion. “Well, then, since you have so little breeding, and are so disobliging, I give you for a gift that at every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad.”

Toad ClipartSo soon as his father saw him coming he cried out:

“Well, son?”

“Well, father?” answered the pert rake, throwing out of his mouth two vipers and two toads.

“Oh! mercy,” cried the father; “what is it I see? Oh! it is that wretch his bother who has occasioned all this; but he shall pay for it”; and immediately he ran to beat him. The poor child fled away from him, and went to hide himself in the forest, not far from thence.

The Queen’s daughter, then on her return from hunting, met him, and seeing him so very handsome, asked him what he did there alone and why he cried.

“Alas! madam, my poppa has turned me out of doors.”

The Queen’s daughter, who saw five or six pearls and as many diamonds come out of his mouth, desired him to tell her how that happened. He thereupon told her the whole story; and so the Queen’s daughter fell in love with him, and, considering herself that such a gift was worth more than any marriage portion, conducted her to the palace of the Queen her mother, and there married him.

As for the brother, he made himself so much hated that his own father turned him off; and the miserable wretch, having wandered about a good while without finding anybody to take him in, went to a corner of the wood, and there died.

by Charles Perrault (from the version in Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book available in its original form at SurLaLune Fairy Tales)

Thoughts:

This story had some interesting problems that I didn’t expect crop up in gender-flipping it. The two words that really caused issue were “minx” and “hussy”. There really aren’t male versions of those words that mean anywhere near the same thing or have anything like the same implications. For “minx” I ended up substituting “brat” because the usage of it largely implied the girl was baiting her mother and trying to weasel her way out of doing anything like work, even if it might mean a fortune in forever spitting up diamonds, which sounds rather bratty to mean (and since the word is pretty gender neutral, it was an easier jump than finding a truly masculine word). “Hussy” was more of a problem. Both of the times it was used in the story it was used when the implications of the word would definitely stand out. The problem is, there isn’t a word that I could find in the English language that implies the same things about a man’s sexual and moral looseness (if anyone knows of one, please let me know!). The best I could come up with was “rake”, which is really kind of the opposite, since a “hussy” generally is seen as giving in to everyone else’s sexual desire while a “rake” is the pursuer, the womanizer, which is not only the other side of the coin but also far more permissible in most societies.

Princess RidingThe story about the Fairy’s gifts themselves was little changed by the gender flip, although a boy who drops roses from his lips every time he speaks is probably considered less appealing than a girl. I considered leaving the descriptor “pretty” for the hero, since it is used for males as well as females, but eventually decided against it since it sounded rather odd and ended up changing all the “pretty”s and “beautiful”s to “handsome”s. The King’s son of course changed to a Queen’s daughter, who still sounds pretty money hungry and probably not terribly in love to me (but that might just be my cynical side coming out). I have a feeling we’ll see a lot of Queen’s daughters and kingdoms run primarily by queens throughout this experiment. This one works out pretty reasonably. I don’t see anything here I couldn’t believe from the gender-flipped story. It’s unusual, but not out of the question. I have a feeling that won’t always be the case!

New Feature: Gender-Flipped Tales

Prince and PrincessThere’s going to be a new feature up on PixiePalace starting tomorrow! It’s called “Gender-Flipped Tales” and it’s something that I’ve been doing for a long time, as sort of a thought experiment. I think other people might be interested in it, though, so I thought I’d share.

What I’ve been doing is taking traditional stories, fairy tales from Grimm, Perrault, other writers and stories from less well known collections (Celtic fairy tales, Asian tales, African tales, etc.) and rewriting the story with every character the opposite gender. I don’t change anything else, so you’ll find princesses out hunting and climbing towers while princes grow long hair and dance the night away. Obviously in cases like those, the story ends up sounding kind of odd. Some stories turn out pretty well, though. More importantly, the exercise reveals a lot about the characterizations and the gender biases presented in the story.

I’m going to try and put a new story up each week along with my thoughts on how well the experiment worked on that story and what I saw from it. The first one that will go up tomorrow is “Toads and Diamonds”, which is less well known but illustrates the process well. Please feel free to share thoughts with me on the stories or the project itself as I go along!

Kidlitosphere Conference: Thanks for the Memories!

Kidlitosphere Conference 2007 LogoThis past Saturday was the first annual Kidlitosphere Conference in Chicago. It was organized by the amazing Robin Brande and the whole thing was a fantastic experience! I was thrilled to get to meet a whole bunch of amazing bloggers and authors and generally interesting people and I was even more thrilled that everyone was even nicer and more welcoming than I ever could have imagined! I just loved getting to meet so many great people and share great ideas.

There were a lot of sessions packed into one very full day, but I’m really glad that I got to be at each and every one of them. I learned a lot about blogging, writing, promotion, and a million other things. There was a wonderful discussion of blogging ethics and a great session about podcasts. There are definitely some things I’m going to work on improving in my own work after all I learned this weekend!

Next year the conference is going to be in Portland, OR. That’s rather far away from me, but I’m going to try really hard to make it because this was such an amazing experience and I would be really sad to miss it in the future! I’m glad that I get to keep up with everyone I met this weekend through their blogs and I hope that I’ll get to see them again next year! Thanks to everyone for a great experience!

Cybils 2007 Nominations Open!

Cybils LogoOk, I realize I’m very late in posting this and everyone else already has it up, but here it finally is. The Cybils are children’s book awards given out by the kidlit community. Anyone who wants to (this means you) is free to nominate one book in each category that they think is worthy of being considered for the award. The only rules are that the book must have been published in 2007 and must not already have been nominated. For more information about the history of the Cybils and what the award is all about, go check out the official website. To nominate books in any and all categories, go to the official blog. You can learn more about the categories and panels on this page and see a list of what books won last year on this page!

This year I’m going to serve on the one of the graphic novel panels for the Cybils! Here’s a list of the awesome people I’m going to be working with:

GRAPHIC NOVELS

Category Organizer: Sarah Stevenson (Reading YA: Readers’ Rants)

Nominating Panel:

Mary Lee Hahn (A Year of Reading)
Alyssa Feller (The Shady Glade)
Katie Zenke (Pixie Palace)
Elizabeth Jones
Gina Ruiz (AmoXcalli)

Judging Panel:

David Elzey (The Excelsior File)
J.L. Bell (Oz and Ends)
Anna (TangognaT)
Snow Wildsmith (My Reading Project)
Angie Thompson (Angieville)

The winners that I’ve read from last year are awesome and all the people involved in this project are great, so I’m thrilled to be involved this year! I encourage everyone to nominate their favorite books from 2007! There were so many great books this year and it would be a shame if we missed your favorite!

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