an open letter to Justine Larbalestier, regarding her novel _Liar_

Warning: if you dislike spoilery type statements, don’t read this post. Also, if you don’t have a sense of humor, don’t read this post. If you don’t have a sense of humor, you should probably just stay far, far away from the internet, period. You’ll be happier that way.

Dear Ms. Larbalestier,

I am writing this letter to tell you how upset I am by the ending of Liar–how upset I am by the whole book, actually. You’re some kind of lazy writer, I’ll tell you what!

Let me explain. I am appalled that you did not spoon-feed me every answer about the main character and her story arc. Where were the soundtrack cues to let me know what emotions to feel at which points? Why don’t books have those yet? They are so useful in movies when the actors aren’t actually acting. Your book could have used some of that, to counterbalance all of the subtle interweaving and shifting of details. You know, a couple of measures of “wah wah wah” muted trumpet when Micah was lying? And some intense strings when she was being all truth-y?

OOh, and maybe some chapters from the POV of another character who could be all, “HERE IS WHEN MICAH LIED.” That would have helped me sleep easier at night, I’ll tell you what. If I knew Mr. Exposition had a chapter coming up, I would have been able to close your book and go to bed waaaay earlier than 2 a.m. Even when I did put it down, I still tossed and turned a lot, wondering WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON.

I think you can tell that I am pretty darn angry that you left me with so much work. How DARE you assume that I have the intelligence and emotional capacity to DRAW MY OWN CONCLUSIONS? I want answers and directions and absolutes! TELL ME WHAT TO THINK!

And why did you make the werewolves so, uh, wolf-y? Why didn’t you make them all hot and brooding and Byronic and, Dude, I’m a wolf, grrrr-owl? It’s worked for other writers, so why wasn’t it good enough for you? Just askin’.

Anyway. I hope you’ll consider these suggestions when you’re writing your next book, which I’d definitely read, especially if it has more werewolves in it…and maybe you could add some fallen angels? Or centaurs! Have you thought about centaurs? That would be hot.

With Painful, Wrenching Sincerity,

Miss Julie

Space…the library frontier

After seeing this post at ohdeedoh (which is a surprisingly good source of ideas for youth librarians), I decided that my ideal childrens’ department would have to have a wall made entire of felt, a wall painted in chalkboard paint, and a wall with magnetized paint (and a wall of lick-able wall-paper, if it weren’t completely impossible and, when you really think about it, rather gross).

I learned about BCPL’s Storyville at the ALA conference in July, and ever since I’ve daydreamed of being able to create such a space at my place of work*. Go poke around their virtual tour; I’ll be patient.

Isn’t it gorgeous? It is a perfect early learning space, and we (Americans) are in desperate need of more spaces like it. According to Early Learning Left Out, 2nd Edition,

[…] per child investments are smallest in the critical birth-to-three years—where brain growth is most rapid—and remain small in the pre-school years in comparison with the school-aged and college-aged years.

Let me rant here for a bit. We spend so much money on EVERYTHING else, and if you read Ghosts from the Nursery, you’ll realize that 0-33 months is the most crucial time in a person’s development, and we hardly invest in it AT ALL (to cite ELLO again, “for every $1.00 invested in a school-aged child, 52.1¢ is invested in a college-aged youth, but only 21.3¢ is invested in a pre-school aged child and 8.9¢ in an infant or toddler.”). 9 cents for infants and toddlers, if you are generous and round up. NINE CENTS. 52 cents for college students who are most likey too hungover to appreciate all of the money being invested in them.  Sorry, but most people are lost causes by the time they reach college. Even middle school is too late to prevent most social, emotional, and intellectual problems, and trying to intervene is pretty much a lost cause as well.

Anyway….

Children of all ages don’t have enough spaces that are FOR THEM. Yes, they are omnipresent in the big box stores and on the plane and on the bus and in the CoffeeShops and at the movies and sometimes even the libraries (usually unattended and running riot, but that is another story for antoher time), but with the exception of that last space, none of those places are good for kids, unless you think it is good for a child to be barraged with STUFF to WANT, loud noises, and the contact high of freshly ground coffee beans. Kids–from infants to high schoolers–need spaces where they can be challenged in appropriate ways, where they can exist safely, both physically and emotionally.

Think of the children, and when you do, imagine them in some awesome, safe spaces…and then think about what you can do to make those spaces a reality.

*I also often chuckle about the use of the name Storyville, but that is because I am a strange person.