Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Take on Feed

The most recent advanced reader copy I've read was actually an adult novel. But I have to write about it on my blog! I mean, it's all about blogging. How, in the future, when zombies are attacking people all the time, bloggers are the real reporters. "The media" can't be trusted because they're too political. And when the zombie virus hits, it's the bloggers out there telling the world how to fight them. Intriguing premise, huh? It only gets more complex when the young protagonist bloggers are invited to cover the upcoming presidential campaign by the most promising candidate. Throw in a few assassination attempts, and needles full of the virus, and bingo- you have a book that you just can't put down.

And if that wasn't creepy enough, let me share another thriller- Monstrumologist. This one is a Printz Honor book by Rick Yancey. Man, can he write. The main character, aside from the young apprentice narrator, is  a dark, brooding scientist who studies bizarre creatures. The novel opens in fact, with a grave digger bringing to his door the body of a corpse that had been fed on by one such- an anthropophagus. These creatures are mentioned, however rarely, in ancient books by the likes of Heroditus, Pliny, and more recently Shakespeare, but whose existence has never been proven. Imagine headless giant hominoids with eyes on their chests and giant sharklike mouths where a stomach should be- but the most horrifying aspect of all is their diet- human flesh. And a colony is thriving in their town- below ground. This is one you may not want to read at night...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Reading Level Woes

What to do when a teacher or student comes to you looking for a book based on their reading levels??? When did our educational system manage to convince people that reading a book based on one's intelligence level rather than reading interests would make someone more successful? How can we explain the inadequacy of attempting to apply the science of "reading levels" to the art of writing? I've tried, but I can tell you what happens most often: I become seen as someone who can't effectively do her job. They need a book and I can't just hand one over that will continue to promote readicide in America. And what's worse is the higher reading level a student attains, the fewer books are "on their reading level". Why can't we admit that if they are reading on an 8th grade reading level, or higher, they are more than competent to read 90% of the world's writing? Can't they just pick whatever they want at that point? Read for pleasure?
Ultimately, I have no answer. I want to support the teacher. I know I can't try to convince them of this in the 5 minutes they have to devote to this task. So what do I do? What are the odds I'm going to find "The Right Book for the Right Student at the Right Time" on the right reading level? Not good. Not good at all.