Little Brother Is Watching

Once again - you rock on with your bad selves, YA authors. And non-YA authors who do a good job of it. This time around it's Cory Doctorow's book Little Brother, a timely tale of government oppression and up-to-date young freedom fighters! Up-to-date meaning they use modern technology to hack the system, harnessing their intimacy with the internet to make things happen.

And let me just take a moment here to wax poetic about the Internet and all its bits and pieces. I am something of a Luddite, preferring my 79 cent mini-spiral notebook to fancy digital versions (I never fail to make myself laugh when I write a reminder on my hand and call it my "palm pilot". I'm usually the only one laughing, but that's ok). My favorite blackberries come off the bush, juicy and dripping, even better when you grab them from a kayak on the river. But! O how I love the internet, O let me count the ways, the joy of google and wikipedia, and the games and the blogs and the time-suck and the power of people being able to put themselves out there and mobilize and connect and engage with the world, even if it's from a lonely, darkened room. So thank you, Al Gore, and thank you, porn, and thank you, all you young folk who know how to work the system. Now if we could just get everyone to use correct grammar and spelling.... (ok, I know that's a losing battle, and I was once a queen of "kewl" and clearly fill my entries and emails with a slightly more ee cummings-esque take on Strunk and White - but could you just not sound so stupid in the process? Cleverly done bad grammar, that's the ticket.)

Anyway. I'm off to press this book onto as many students as I can. This is where I navigate that tricky line of "is it okay to recommend a book with "boner" in it to middle-schoolers?" I find that I don't have very good judgment about what is appropriate; I tend to treat my students as if they're adults, and maybe it's just because I was re-reading some very well-thumbed Jean Auel (you remember - Mammoth Hunters, Clan of the Cave Bear, her womanly mound and all that) in my sordid youth. There's reality, and there's parents, and there's me, wanting to stand firm in my beliefs and also keep my job, so I recognize that 11 and 14 are not the same, and also that each kid and each family has their own line.

But hey! If you're reading this, you're old enough to read that. Off you go, then. (note to older "non-tech" types who think this isn't for them - if you have fond memories of a hippie youth, you should like it, and anyway, it's a good picture of where we're headed if we're not paying attention)


Rez Life

It seems like the most powerful books I'm reading these days are meant for young adults...a far cry from The Babysitters' Club (though I freely admit that I read and loved those, and Sweet Valley High, too - and still harbor a little fantasy that I could come up with a series as fruitful - it's like perpetual motion, and they're really all the same, but you just keep reading the next book, and it's fabulous). The one I just read is Sherman Alexie's book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Whether or not you're familiar with life on the rez (and I am only tangentially) this book is worth reading. There's just something so true about his writing, a truth that goes deeper than the stories (his other stuff is good too). I know that isn't very descriptive, but it's the best way I can articulate it. And the cartoons are great. Note to self: start hanging out by the YA shelves at the library...