Filling the Library Gap

The Mail Tribune of Southern Oregon has an article about the new program starting in Jackson County to share books community wide.  It’s called Books for Kids.  Children can come each weekday as well as on Saturdays to either exchange books or borrow them.  It will be done on the honor system with no formal check out.  Sounds great huh?

Well, that’s only until you realize that this is the same Jackson County that just voted to NOT support its public library system and decided to close their libraries.  In that light, this is pretty freakin’ pathetic compared to a full-service library that was just voted into extinction. 

What about older children?  Those who read independently?  What about teens?  Computers?  Magazines?  Life long learning?  Large print?  DVDs?  Newspapers?  What about all of those things that make a library so much more than a shelf of books for little children!  For heaven sakes, what about programming?  What about skilled librarians to work with children?  What about reader advisory?  Reference? 

What makes me furious are the quotes:

Sue McKenna, Medford Parks and Recreation supervisor, said she thinks it’s a “great idea.” “It’s actually something we wanted to get started,” she said. “It’s a perfect fit at a perfect time.”

Perfect now that the library is gone?  Perfect??!  Excuse me while I weep quietly in the corner.

Hathaway said she came up with the idea because when she had been a
single mother, she could not afford to buy enough books to keep up with
her daughter’s reading needs and depended on libraries.

Did you get that?  DEPENDED ON LIBRARIES.  And now she has “several dozen” books for children to replace that.  Yeah, this is progress…  But heck, it saved a few tax dollars, so it has to be an improvement!  Right?

Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie

Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie by Joel Stewart. 

Stewart’s art is the winner in this story of a boy who bumps into a Big Blue Beastie who wants to eat him up.  Dexter comes up with a series of adventures that they could go on together instead of the Beastie eating him.  They ride scooters, form a company, solve mysteries, eat large amounts of ice cream, and more.  The ending is sweet but not saccharine.

I love that the author has really thought outside of the norm when coming up with ideas of what the boy could tempt the Beastie with.  Often it is just food, perhaps a game, but here it is the formation of a flower delivery business, scooter rides and mysteries.  I think that almost anyone would be tempted away from hunger with those options.  I particularly liked the montage of mysteries that they solved together with all of the zany names each like a small glimpse of a complete story. 

This would make a nice readaloud, but I would particularly recommend it for reading to a few kids in an intimate setting.  It is that type of warm, cozy book that should be shared along with a hug.

The Plain Janes

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg.

This is a graphic novel featuring Jane whose life changes when she is in Metro City and a bomb falls.  She is scraped up from the incident, but profoundly affected.  Her parents move with her to the suburbs for safety.  But Jane finds it hard to fit in and continues writing to a man who was found next to her on the sidewalk when the bomb fell.  He is in a coma and no one has identified him.  Jane pours her heart out to him in letters as she slowly makes a group of friends who become the Plain Janes, and perform guerrilla art throughout their suburban community. 

This is a great book.  It has so many dimensions working together.  First, the fear of attack and the search for safey.  The finding of real friends and peers in a high school.  The need to express one’s self through art.  And it ties them all up into a very digestible and friendly bundle. 

The entire book rocks with great writing and wonderful art.  It is a graphic novel that is purely American but has the feel of manga.  I can see it being a gateway book to manga and the graphic novel genre for many teen girls. 

This one definitely deserves a place on library shelves across the country.