So Long, Farewell…

Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night…

Although I suppose it really should be Au Revoir and not Auf Wiedersehen. If that’s not clue enough, our favorite fancy character is leaving us! Jane O’Connor, author of the Fancy Nancy series has recently announced that the latest installment will be the last.

In her farewell piece in the New York Times Jane O’Connor recounts fan letters she’s received and anecdotes from book signings, and it’s all so sweet it almost made me cry. Especially this one:

Kids write as if I’m a friend, one with whom they can be frank: “Don’t you think it would be cool if you made another book, not about Fancy Nancy but another girl, like Rockin Roxie or Preppy Patty? I think if you go with my idea you can make a lot of money.”

They confide in me. “Some days when I feel gloomy (that’s fancy for sad), I read one of your books and automatically it cheers me up,” one wrote. Another said: “One day I came home crying. A girl was picking on me because of my clothes. Then on Library Day I discovered the Fancy Nancy books. Because of those books … you helped me to be — well, me.

And this, my friend, is why books are important. Why we need these wonderful authors and why children’s literature should never be scoffed at or taken for granted. 

We’ll miss you Nancy!


Audiobooks and Empathy

I vividly remember listening to Wild by Cheryl Strayed and bawling while driving (unsafe I know) when she had to shoot her horse to put it out of it’s misery. I also remember sitting in the mall parking lot crying while listening to The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness when Manchee dies  and then having to pull myself together to go inside and make my returns (spoiler in white for those who don’t want to know, high light if you do).

I also remember getting really stressed out while listening to The Circle by Dave Eggers. I can’t exactly pinpoint what stressed me out, but the creepiness and realization that we’re pretty much there in terms of social media (and the plot of the book) made me very uneasy. Similarly, it’s taken me a year(ish) to listen to Caroline: Little House, Revisited (still working on it) but I found myself gripping my steering wheel and getting very nervous about Jack and the ponies and Pa during the river crossing, even though I know what happens, since I read Little House on the Prairie a thousand times growing up.

Why are you telling us this, you ask? To illustrate the reasons why I was not at all shocked that a recent study between UCLA and Audible finds audiobook listeners have a heightened physical response to the narration in comparison to movie and television representations.

According to the study, while the participants reported that the videos were “more engaging” than the audiobooks by about 15% on average, their physiological responses told a different story, with heart rates higher by about two beats a minute, and body temperatures raised by roughly two degrees when listening to audiobooks.

The article, “Listen and Weep: Audiobooks Outdo Films in Emotional Engagement” states the study used books where the film or television adaption is true to the book and “the scenes were chosen based on their ’emotional intensity,’ and for having minimal differences between the audio and video adaptations.”




Worth Reading: Kid Lit

What Classic Picture Book Fills You With Dread?

This post is geared more towards parents, with examples like:

“Marjorie Flack’s “The Story About Ping” also fills me with anxiety. One evening, the little duck Ping fails to hear the call in time to return home to the family boat, gets stuck on shore, and has horrible adventures until he finally manages to get home, to a spank, the next night. I don’t think I ever once read this book to my daughters.”

But, it’s an interesting idea.

I sent it to my mom, asking her if she had any books like this she refused to read to me or my brother. She couldn’t think of one. The only one I can think of is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I don’t think it’s the best idea to teach our children to give themselves completely to another person and I don’t understand people’s fascination with the book. If you’re interested, there are many others who dislike The Giving Tree and you can read all about it here and here.

I’m not a mother, but I don’t give this book as a baby shower gift, for the reason Laurel Snyder describes: “When you give a new mother ten copies of ‘The Giving Tree,’ it does send a message to the mother that we are supposed to be this person.”


Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time

Not only do we need #diversebooks, but those books about diverse characters need to be diverse. I can think of a few recent book about non-historical characters, but there certainly aren’t many. Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story by Janay Brown-Wood come to mind.

“Regardless of what the publishing industry seems to think, our babies don’t spend their days thinking about Harriet Tubman, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and black bodies swinging; they’re excited about what the tooth fairy will leave under their pillows, contemplating their first ride on the school bus, looking for dragons in their closets.”



The Case for Romance

I like romance, but I’ve (almost) always steered towards the “literary” version of romance (i.e. anything not mass market paperback and/or cataloged as romance). Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series is a perfect example. However, I’ve been reading more and more about romance and why it’s important, and also how dumb it is that romance readers and authors are so harshly judged. Especially considering that romance readers make up a HUUUGE portion of the reading public. I don’t actually know any statistics, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the money from romance allows publishers to publish the award winning literary fiction. According to this article, it is certainly the most profitable genre… From the library perspective, our romance readers most certainly keep our circulation statistics up.

I have two personal examples of the judgement surrounding romance books, their authors, and their readership. Both of which have encouraged me to read more romance, so in the month of February I will be reading all romance (except my audiobooks during commute time). So far this month, I’ve read Do You Want to Start a Scandal, Any Duchess Will DoBeauty and the BlacksmithWhen a Scot Ties the Knot, and The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare. Also, Wildfire in His Arms by Johanna Lindsey.

I started reading Paris in Love by Eloisa James and realized James is from the same small town in Minnesota as my friend’s dad. Which is pretty cool. It’s also really cool that in her regular life she’s Mary Bly, a Shakespeare professor. At a holiday party at my friend’s house I was talking to her dad and grandma (dad’s mom) about Mary Bly/Eloisa James, and grandma jumped in the middle of me talking about how cool I think it is that she’s a Shakespeare professor and a romance author, with “and now she writes smut.”

I was browsing shelves at the library trying to find something that struck my fancy (as I’m in yet another reading slump) when I saw a Do You Want to Start a Scandal miscataloged as fiction. I grabbed it so I could send it in to the correct person to fix it, but then decided to check it out instead. When my husband saw it on my nightstand his immediate reaction was, “what are you reading? I didn’t realize you read this kind of book.”

RIP Katherine Kellgren

This is super late, but I follow Audible on Instagram, and I saw their post about Katherine Kellgren. Kellgren recently lost her battle with cancer and will be missed terribly.


She was one of my favorite narrators. Her Royal Spyness will not be the same.

Max the Cat

I’m a bit behind on posting, but I had to share. I first heard about the cat who wanted to enter the library, and the cute sign posted on the door on Thursday. But it wasn’t until I read the Washington Post article that I realized all of this is happening right in my backyard!

While I totally get why he’s not allowed in the library, and why some people are annoyed at the Twitter universe’s “outrage” and demands that Max be let inside, I think it’s cute. It certainly is a lot more fun to read about this than some of the other things I see on Twitter!

Vacation Reading

I know when I go on vacation I want something light and entertaining. That can be YA, middle grade, mystery, graphic novel, or fiction. Pretty much anything but nonfiction (unless it’s by Karen Abbott, because she writes about the opposite of dry history). I assumed my fellow Minnesotans acted similarly. But, according to the Star Tribune, who cited a study, Minnesotans like to read nonfiction while they vacation.

No. 1 for Minneapolis travelers, though, is this: nonfiction. We are the only ones.

According to the Smithsonian study, about 26 percent of travelers out of Minneapolis (and possibly St. Paul) carry along a nonfiction book to while away the time.

Unfortunately most of my family (aside from my parents) don’t read, so I can’t peek at what my cousins are reading while relaxing this Labor Day weekend. But I can tell you, I will be bringing Appleblossom the Possum (one of this years Maude Hart Lovelace contenders) and When Dimple Met Rishi (a book I’ve been eyeing for a while now, but just can’t get into).