Monthly Archives: May 2012

Guys Read at the Library — and Wherever

Children’s Book Week, May 7-13, offers a chance to poke around to discover some of what’s happening in the wonderful world of books for children..  The answer is LOTS is happening and a week offers a mere glimpse of some samples.

Guys Read in Hennepin County Library is one of scores of reading promotion initiatives sponsored by area libraries.  The HCL site is part of a national drive initiated by children’s author Jon Scieszka.   Guys Read is designed to draw attention to boys’ literacy and to motivate adults to help boys read more.  Scieszke is the nation’s first children’s laureate, officially called the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Describing the Guys Read program Scieszka writes:

We can help boys read by letting them choose what they read.expanding our definition of “reading” to include nonfiction, graphic novels, comics, comic strips, humor magazines, newspapers, online text, getting boys to recommend reading they do like to other boys, providing boys with male role models for reading in school and at home.

The national Guys Read website offers these and countless other observations about boys’ reading as well as an extensive list of books that boys read and recommend.

The Guys Read program in Hennepin County Library is made possible by the Library Foundation of Hennepin County with support from Best Buy Children’s Foundation and the Ann and Jack Cole Fund.


For more information about the forty Guys Read sites in the HCL system check the Library’s website.



Golden Ass at the Nimbus Theatre in Northeast

At first blush the thought of a stage adaptation of a 2nd Century novel might fail to stir the drama neophyte’s soul.   Serious students of drama who know the classics are delighted to learn that Nimbus Theatre, the intrepid “newcomer” to the Northeast theater scene, once again takes to the stage with a bold production of The Golden Ass.

The play is based on a text written by Lucius Apuleius who wrote in Latin in Romanized North Africa.   Well versed in Greek writing Apuleius reflects a strong interest in the supernatural in Eastern religions – and in magic. His work, commonly known as Metamorphoses, is the only Latin novel to survive in its entirety.   The work tells the story of a young man changed by magic into an ass. The text is said to have had a strong influence on works as diverse as those of Byron and Kafka, including the story of Pinochio.

The Golden Ass continues through May 20 at the Nimbus Theatre, 1517 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413 Performances are Thursday – Saturday evenings with a Sunday matinee. Tickets: 612-548-1380

Children’s Book Week – Celebrating Children’s Books for the Rest of Us

In recent days I’ve been bumbling around my brain looking for a way to think and then write about Children’s Book Week, May 7-13, 2012  I have plumbed the digital depths of new books for children, bookstores, publishers, writers, illustrators, library programs, awards, children’s book centers and more.  Bottom line:  I was overwhelmed with the rich children’s literature environment that envelops all of us.

I could not decide which string to pull.

And then came the epiphany – I was marinating in the world of children’s books – memories of favorite reads were conjuring  thoughts of other eras, of dynamic teachers, favorite aunts, intrepid librarians and, of course, loving parents who read, and read, and read, long after I was well able to curl up and read my own Betsy book.

I realized that children’s books are not just for children – that readers of every age find unspeakable joy in reading what’s new and re-reading those stories and illustrations that evoke long-submerged thoughts.

Thus began my digital dig into books that grown-ups remember and yearn to re-visit.   As usual, Google disgorged a wealth of lists, including, but not limited to, these:

  •  “These books entertain with the biting wit that only adults frustrated with reality can understand, from a parent desperately reading a bedtime story to his insomniac toddler to a bloody-yet-satisfying remake of the children’s classic Pat the Bunny. Put down the iPad… and indulge in a book that’s short, illustrated, and perfect for a momentary escape.”

And there are book clubs where adults channel their inner child with a good read:

  •   Chapter & Verse is a national book club for members of Children’s Literature Network and other children’s literature enthusiasts in their communities – libraries and bookstores – who wish to discuss children’s and young adult fiction, nonfiction, picture books, and poetry.  Three of the six independent bookstores listed are in Minnesota.
  •   The mature book club for immature adults… rated PG-18….designed for adults to rediscover some of the classics of children’s literature that some of us may have missed in our own childhoods….ok, or we didn’t do the homework assignments in time.  Meets on the first Monday of each month starting at 6:30 pm.

                * * *

There are many other lists, book clubs and rich resources.  With Children’s Book Week starting soon – and with all of these lists to explore – I had to stop.  I think I will take a break and re-read for the zillionth time my personal literary refuge, Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.


Comments re recent decisions on network neutrality

I’ve been trying to unravel the intricacies of recent developments on network neutrality.  This report from the Center for Media Justice seems to me the clearest, most cogent and succinct report I have seen.  I thought others might have encountered similar confusion that might be clarified.  To wit:

Message from Malkia Cyril, Executive Director of the Center for Media Justice:

Together, Center for Media Justice and our partners and allies have been plugging away at the issue of net neutrality for a while now. Due to high barriers to entry, traditional media outlets have not included enough diverse voices, or provided content that is significant and relevant to underrepresented groups. Today, the Internet creates a platform where these groups can speak for themselves and on behalf of their communities, to wider audiences. As such, neutral networks grant equal opportunity to every idea and can help ensure that communities of color do not experience the same lack of representation they have in other media platforms.

Last week, shareholders at AT&T showed that they have heard our collective voices.

A shareholder proposal calling upon AT&T Inc. to publicly commit to network neutrality principles on its wireless networks garnered critical support in initial voting results released today at the company’s annual meeting.

The proposal, which was voted on for the first time this year, attracted at least 5.9% of the votes cast in this year’s proxy vote at AT&T, according to preliminary results released by the company.  That percentage could climb higher in the final tabulation.  By garnering support from more than 3 percent of voting shareholders, net neutrality will be assured a continued place on next year’s ballot. Based on the company’s recent share price, the results mean that investors holding stock worth more than $11.4 billion voted in favor of the resolution.

Similar proposals regarding wireless network neutrality are scheduled for votes at the upcoming annual meetings of Verizon Communications on May 3 and Sprint Nextel Corporation on May 15.

The proposals at AT&T and Verizon were filed by Trillium Asset Management (on behalf of its clients), the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas, and several individual investors including Mike D of the Beastie Boys. The proposal at Sprint was filed by the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

Specifically, the proposals ask each company to publicly commit to operate its wireless broadband network “consistent with network neutrality principles – i.e., operate a neutral network with neutral routing along the company’s wireless infrastructure such that the company does not privilege, degrade or prioritize any packet transmitted over its wireless infrastructure based on its source, ownership or destination.”

We would like to congratulate Nathan Cummings for their hard work and success!

Grant Gross, writer for the International Data Group (IDG) news today published an article on the vote.

Read “Net Neutrality Provision Gets 5.9 Percent of AT&T Shareholder Votes” here.

For more background information:

Read more about Network Neutrality, Universal Broadband, and Racial Justice here.

In Solidarity,

malkia cyrilMalkia Cyril

Executive Director, Center for Media Justice

Musician/writer Dylan Hicks and Poet Dobby Gibson at the Northeast Library

Once again the Friends of the Northeast Library will sponsor a very special author talk on Thursday, May 17, 6;30 p.m. at the Library, 2200 Central Avenue Northeast.  The May program is a classic double-header:

Dylan Hicks, is a man of many interests, talents and faces. Readers who know Dylan Hicks are eagerly awaiting his first novel which is set for publication in May by Coffee House Press, a Northeast independent literary force.    Though difficult to categorize, Boarded Windows is already receiving national acclaim.  The novel reflects and spirit of Uptown Minneapolis in the Nineties.

One reviewer, Sam Lipsyte, writes “Do yourself a favor and read this smart, tender book.  The characters will  haunt you with their longing, and inspire you with their sweet, caustic wit.  Dylan Hicks knows his music and his prose is a song in itself.  He’s given light to the shuttered and boarded parts of life.”

The theme of the novel comes as no surprise to the many locals who know Hicks as a songwriter and musician. Earlier this year he released his first album in ten years. The book includes a free download of Sings Bolling Green, a soundtrack to the novel written and performed by Dylan Hicks himself.

Followers of popular culture know that in the past several years Hicks has melded his writing and musical talents as a prodigious writer.   He’s a familiar name as contributor to City Pages, a position he left to focus on Boarded Windows.

A search of the web discloses some intriguing information about Dylan Hicks’ life and interests.  His own website contains a forthright author statement that reveals much about Boarded Windows.  A lengthy conversation  with his colleague Brad Zellar goes into real depth about writing and music.  Zellar concludes with an intriguing observation that “there’s no Minneapolis novel.   Boarded Windows, Zellar writes “is the first book that I can think of that’s really steeped in Minneapolis, that really gets it.”  A question the author may address at the Friends program….

Joining Dylan Hicks on the program is Minnesota poet Dobby Gibson who will discuss his new collection It Becomes You, forthcoming from another independent press Graywolf Press in 2013.  The collection of poems is described as “meditative, lyrical, aphoristic, and always leavened with a wry wit.  The reviewer writes that “through Dobby Gibson’s poems you explore the divergent conditions by which we’re perpetually defined—the daily weather, the fluctuations of the Dow, the growth of a cancer cell, the politics of the day.”

Dobby Gibson’s first book of poetry, Polar, published in 2004, received the Beatrice Award and was a finalist for the 2006 Minnesota Book Award.  He is also the author of a second collection of poetry, Skirmish, published in 2009 by Graywolf Press.

Again, a web search will discover several interviews with Dobby Gibson, reviews and readings of his works of poetry.

The Friends of the Library programs are all free and open to the public.

Farming – Windom Park Style

Founded just last year, Buchanan Street Farms, 2407 Buchanan Street NE, has become a immediate community treasure.  A basic homestead garden, begun as a family plot, the Garden will expand this year into a local, Northeast market gardens with plans to sell once a week on site and at least once a week at one of the several local Minneapolis farmers markets.

Buchanan Street Farms is dedicated to educating children and their parents about the small farm, the environment and the community.  On Saturday, May 5, the Farm will begin a series of five educational programs designed to present information about food, the environment and the community in interesting ways.

Planners of Saturday’s event advise children and parents to be prepared to get dirty (that’s the fun part!) and to take a plant or project home – possibly something for Mom on Mother’s Day?

It’s all free and open.

Check the website and blog and Twitter for the latest from the Farm.