Thursday, January 1, 2009

Intervention Not Necessary

Hello, my name is DaNae and I am a listaholic. Distressing, I know. Thus far treatment has been ineffective. For the most part I am able to go about daily life with anonymity toward my affliction. Untill I am confronted with a newspaper sidebar boasting the promise of the top ten currencies used to purchase goat cheese, or a magazine article guaranteeing the top 14 ways to cure cat dandruff, or remote flipping when I come across the irresistibly of a televised countdown. My family can attest to the quantities of time I have wasted in front of the tube anxiously awaiting the revelation of the top: bad celebrity hair day, country song most likely to make you break into embarrassingly shameless tears, poisonous creature that can bring down and entire colony of Star Trek fans. It seems the simple act of placing a bulleted number list in front of a category has the power to make me care about subjects, people, diseases, and critters that moments before were outside the realm my conciseness. As this so happens to be the time of year when list making reaches a frenetic pitch, how can I resist creating my own?

Being a qualified expert on nothing, (although I am pretty sure some of those TV countdown people are less than qualified to expound on anything more than spelling their own names correctly), the only subject I would dream of tackling is my obsession with all things Kid Lit. Before I take the opportunity to share my top kiddy books for 2008, let me share a few, much more legitimate lists that are flying around the web.

The following list is accompanied by the this disclaimer: I am in no way endowed with neither the ability, nor the credibility to talk “smart” about literary quality in books. I know what I like, and usually why I like it. I’m fairly perceptive in what my students will and won’t like. My favorites are not usually their favorites. If I try and reach to loftier criteria I will just come off sounding pretentious (although that does not inhibit most webby critiquers). The following ten books have only 2 things in common: (1) they were written for a potential audience that is still in need of parental transportation to karate and banjo lessons, and (2) I liked them. I try and refrain from reading too many YA books as I feel the need to concentrate my focus on books that I can legitimately justify buying to put on my elementary shelves, but from time to time an author comes around that I cannot resist. I also don’t get around to much non-fiction, in my opinion that is why NPR exists. Only one picture book is on the list. It’s not that I’m prejudiced; I just prefer a juicier read rather than a snack.

#10 - Airman by Eoin Colfer - peril, pacing, and pithy dialogue. Colfer at his best. Although there was quite a bit of aviation techno-babble that hurt my brain sometimes.

#9 - Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale - Mostly Graphic Novels are too much of a struggle for my non-visually acute brain, but I'm willing to put aside bias for such a scrumptious feast.

#8 - Kuncklehead by Jon Scieszka - painless non-fiction. Plenty of urination and stupid boy stories.

#7 - A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker - I love the moment during a great read-aloud when the audience catches on and starts to recite the refrain with me. This book goes one better when partway into it they begin to shout "There was the mouse" and are tripped up when - there he wasn't.

#6 - The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall - Everyone, even middle-age women, deserve the right to go back and visit an idyllic childhood.

#5 - Clementine's Letter by Sara Pennypacker - I love any opportunity to spend time with fellow ADHD aficionados.

#4 - The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd - Ever since reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Hadden, I am a sucker for an Asperger protagonist. Dowd does a lovely job with Ted and manages to write a riveting mystery as well. I was crushed a few weeks ago when I discovered the author died in 2007. Her other release for 2008, Bog Child, is on my to-read list. As it is YA I can't justify buying it for the library, so if anyone reading this feels bad about not getting me a Christmas gift - hint, hint.

#3 - The Underneath by Kathi Appelt - I've never actually been drunk, but what I imagine intoxication feels like, is what I experienced the first time through this book. It may not have held up quite as well the second time, but I still need to sing the praises of Appelt's giddy phrasing. If my book club's reaction is any indication it is hard to be middle of the road about this one. Most are pro-Ranger, Puck, and Sabine, and anti-Grandmother Moccasin.

#2 - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - This one needs to come with a warning - "Do not attempt to read if you have something on the stove, children in the tub, or grandma waiting to be picked up from the Cardiologist". It is pretty much impossible to put down.

#1 - Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt - I know I am in narrow company choosing this as my #1 for the year, but as a character-driven reader, no one delivers the goods like Schmidt.

I have attempted adding pictures with laughable results and am officially tired of working on the meandering post. If picture should appear, know that I sought professional help.

I'm not sure what the protocol is for gleaning from other blog sites. I did run across of few of the above links on my own, but mostly raided Fuse #8 and Chicken Spaghetti for the information.