Look at me! In The Loop!  Too bad it is a loop that is making me grumpy.

You will notice that I have been reading a lot of ‘dark’ YA lately….so this seemed an appropriate item to bring up.  Children Literature Peeps can’t stop talking about Meghan Cox Gurdon’s most recent article in the Wall Street Journal.  Twitter heads everywhere are tweettweeting under that hashtag YASaves with torrents of disagreement.  And if you have even read a smattering of this blog you would know who’s side I am on.

To begin, her article starts in the wrong place.  It starts with an adult looking for a book for an adolescent.  An adult claiming what is acceptable.  An adult claiming more knowledge and exhibiting power over a youth that is experiencing a completely different world than they experienced.

The adult has always been the Gatekeeper of what is acceptable for a child to read and what is not.  They write the books, they run the publishing houses, they buy the books.  As the easy access to knowledge is growing, a broader, more honest, less protective,  picture of the world is available to youths….oh YES and to all of these kids who actually are experiencing the horrific realities that exist.. and authors are providing the same scope in their writing.  It makes sense.  Particularly, when we are talking about realistic fiction, here.  The ‘dark’ YA literature that Gurdon references are creating backdrops that mirror the world they see unfolding before them.

Many of the book topics Gurdon argues against are concepts that youth have had to battle through on their own for generations; physical abuse, intense depression, eating disorders, murder, rape, etc.  These are not new experiences.  She claims that ‘back in the day’ books covering these topics were milder, more acceptable, and less graphic/detailed.  Again, As youth grow to have a stronger concept of the real world they demand books that reflect that world.

Think about it.  When you watch a sappy lovey dovey movie where everything turns out perfect and everyone says the right thing what do you think?  This is not real life!  Well…its the same for an adolescent who is struggling with anorexia reading over and over again about characters who go to clinics and are ‘fixed’ for life.  It’s just real.  Instead, tough reads like Wintergirls that take an intensely honest portrayal of what some girls experience brings something relatable to the table.  At the same time it also overtly notes the problems with eating disorders and offers possible solutions.

So really there are a lot more things to be said but the average blog reader will not sit still for more than four paragraphs so a quick summary:  Adults = Gatekeepers of the YA world which seems pretty ridiculous since they don’t know shiitake about being 13 in 2011.  The Internet = a realistic portrayal of the world available to all youth, not just the ones experiences ‘dark’ issues, 24/7.

The Book I Wish Had been Published in My Youth: The Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfield 

Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 1:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Too Many Books?

I don’t know what is going on but right now I am in the middle of reading four, count them, FOUR books!  I have never been the type to read multiple books at one time.  I am normally in the mindset that if I want to pick up another book then I have no desire to complete the book I put down.  But here I am.

Eventually….a blog post will ensue.  But for now, until last pages are turned and bookmarks are removed, I thought I would give you a little taste of my New York.  You will have to cut me a break because I have no Reid here to take stunning photos.  All I have is an iphone app that attempts to make my flimsy pictures better.

Central Park

Outside Penn Station, view of the Empire State Building

Paper Mache Sheep Sculptures at Times Square

aka. the only tolerable thing located in Times Square

As much as this city has to offer, this is my favorite thing to do.

Published in: on March 15, 2011 at 1:37 am  Comments (2)  

Michael Kors loves Steampunk

If you have ever been in New York during the holiday season then you know about the extravagant stunning window displays on 5th Avenue.  I did not.  But now I do!  And you are thinking….Kristin, Christmas is over…why is this even remotely relevant.  Well, if you recall a certain past post, one of the earliest in fact, about my love of steampunk, these windows will become pretty darn relevant.

Fashion meets young adult trends!  Lets just hope that next year’s is not about vampires.

Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 1:03 am  Comments (1)  

Learning How to Donate

Believe it or not, kiddos, people other than my mother have been complaining about my gross lack of updating.  Who knew?  But lets face it, a brand new city, a brand new job, and the last days of summer weather is not a good combo for book reading.  Yet, you should be happy to note that I am in possession of a Brooklyn Public Library card and have already amassed $10.00 in fees…so, I’m trying.

My new job has me currently running around to 6 schools in hopes of getting our programming up and running beautifully.  I, of course, immediately flock to the cart of books that each school has for the volunteers to read to their kids.  Most of our books arrive in our schools via donation so it is unsurprising to see a smattering of outdated, drab picturebooks and the classics like Berenstain Bears, several copies of Goodnight Moon, a handful of Dahl books, and oh yeah, books about trucks…cause boys apparently only like trucks?  Honestly, an overall unimpressive collection.  We are trying to get modern kids excited about books here people.  And the thing is…that I get it.  When I moved to NYC I donated 3 boxes of books…none of which were my favorites, they were the equivalent to Berenstain Bears – momentarily entertaining but forgettable.  Those are the kinds of books we part with and, therefore, those are the kind of books those who need the most aid receive.  And we walk away, feeling like we did something good.

I have grand plans of books lists and donation drives but…well…when they say beggars can’t be choosers they mean it.  But I do think this experience has made me think more about how I go about donating to charities and how my $12.00 for a new amazing book or my sacrifice of my own copy is really such a tiny easy thing for me to do.


Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 2:18 am  Leave a Comment  

I Was Made for Summer

A dear dear friend of mine (who also happens to be the biggest blog lurking addict I know) says she loves getting little snippits of blogger’s real life.  Most likely the people checking this blog are quite familiar with my real life cause they are my pals but why not think positively about some advantageous child lit lover stumbling upon my little world and loving it.  I see no harm in that.  In fact, I see only glory and a stroked ego and I never say no to such things.  So, since I have been busy in New York doing job interviews, I don’t have any child lit genius to drop on you today so here is what my last three weeks have been like:

(Plus, let’s face it, my mom is gonna dig this.  And based on my comments counter, she is my biggest fan.  Gotta please the fans.)

Deer Island

The first touch of summer ocean.

Brighton, MA

Yep.  You guessed it.  That’s me.  On a skateboard.  Pretty stoked about it.

Boston Harbor

Pre-yoga stretches by the waterfront

Plymouth Harbor

Where running, jumping, underwater swimming, and a puppy birthday party ensued.

Preparing for the epic Arboretum water balloon fight.

Summer never felt so good.

Photos by Reid Haithcock and (Beloved Boston Newcomer) Angela Owens

Published in: on July 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm  Comments (1)  

Working With It

So when I have been looking for a job for months and months, putting together the perfect interview outfits, planning the perfect answers, jumping through the hurdles that the all powerful note takers across from me lay afoot, I get tired.  I get tired of my phone being silent, of my e-mail being full of form letters.  I start thinking…I worked too hard for this, I don’t deserve this.  Then I start thinking of other things I perceive myself not deserving.

But the thing is that I am not the one to say what I deserve.  This is life.  This is the world bending itself to the world.  All I can do is flex my toes, curve my back, and work work work to fit myself in.  And I know that once I get the fit right, it is something to be savored, to be wallowed in, because it is a brief, beautiful alignment.

Published in: on July 15, 2010 at 3:50 am  Comments (1)  

A Thesis

You are, officially, in the presence of a Simmons College Children’s Literature Masters graduate.

When I first looked into Simmons a professor in Texas told me, if you go there you will have the most important degree in Children’s Literature in the country.  She also warned me that it was the most grueling program and far less warm than the other options.  And right she was.  I do not have mixed feelings about leaving Simmons behind.  I am ready for what’s next, one kitten heel in front of the next.  But I know that the nature of this program gave me things beyond its amazing academic experience that others could not.

While I spent my days with books super glued to my palms or in front of my laptop meticulously evaluating every syllable of a paper, I knew this was where I wanted to be.  Even when my cat passed away or when I got my first B, even when my boyfriend went out with friends, other girls, other anyone’s other than me or when he said all those awful things like how I was no fun anymore, how I’m broken and then walked out of my house for the last time, even when winter laid down dark and thick and weighty on this city, I never once thought, I am leaving this.

My stuff stayed unpacked.  My tuition kept being paid.  And I only got better and smarter and utterly adept.

What it boils down to is that you learn what you truly are capable of.  You learn what you owe to yourself.  Something more than the mundane.  Maybe that’s the biggest part of graduate school, of all of that push push push.  You learn knowing how hard you can work for something, how much love you hold inside.  And then you never let yourself settle.  Not on a job.  Not on a man.  Not on your own self worth.

I stand behind Kristin.  She’s a real winner, that one.

Published in: on June 24, 2010 at 11:24 pm  Comments (12)  

Grown Up After All?

Who knew that after my two years of intense 15-children’s-books-a-week-degree I would be tired of that world and it’s conventions.  Now don’t get in a tizzy.  I am still stoked on it, but give a lady a break.  Let the girl who loves Gabriel Garcia, Danielewski, and Wolfe revel in some adult fiction for two weeks.

So far I have plummeted through Clark’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (no small feat in itself), a smattering of Anne Sexton’s poetry, and Gruen’s Water for Elephants.  And I will proudly say ‘I LOVE adult books!’  It has been refreshing because, let’s go on and admit it, adult authors have a much wider world to work with.  It is not that I don’t think children and young adult authors are not discussing important things and breaking down conventions and whatnot but there is only so far you can go and still get published.  There is still the ‘over their head’ language and concepts as well as editing of violence and sex.  There is still relentless optimism and safety even in the most intense YA.  These things are not necessarily bad but they are the things that allow me to find adult books as a different (and therefore refreshing) experience.

In fact, how are us child lit peeps supposed to interrogate these divisions without being informed by both sides?

Published in: on May 29, 2010 at 4:09 pm  Comments (7)  

Young At Heart (I Hope Boston is Next)!

Published in: on May 20, 2010 at 1:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Days Like These, Books Belong Outside

Dear my little blog,

You have been neglected.  But you are not alone.  I have also neglected a paper, proper nutrition habits, the cleanliness of my bedroom, and I am pretty sure that my cat is feeling a little bummed.  But blog, baby, the weather was so lovely and long strolls were in order.  I will attempt to make up for it by sharing Boston’s glory with you.  Then, I will tell you all about the book that accompanied me on said jaunts.  Fair?


Beacon Hill

Financial District

North End

Arnold Arboretum

Beautiful Candace at Grasshopper in Allston

My roomate, Reid Haithcock, is full of talent.

Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 2:13 am  Leave a Comment