Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Welcome 2009... and it's about time!

Sir Terry Pratchett!

After his having written the most amazing collection of fantastic - in the literal sense - books, I can only applaud his 'elevation'. He's a Sir I can respect. So in the coming year, I will be teaching Sir Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Has a nice ring, don't you think?

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Regarding Coraline

I love it when good characters get good blogs - see here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hitting the to-read pile

For those finding it difficult to justify the purchase of new books, Sam Jordison in The Guardian examines a good suggestion - hitting your to-read pile. Most of us have such piles. I think I have several, all teetering like the Tower of Pisa in various corners of the house. I say 'I think' since I am, naturally, in deep denial about the extent of the to-read pile. But when you have people constantly suggesting books you should read to be better informed, it's the inevitable conclusion.

One of the books on one of the to-read piles.
Started, stopped, do plan to start again.

Keeping in mind the economy drive, however, I will clarify here that I'm fine with students borrowing books from libraries or obtaining second hand copies, whatever edition they be. I often feel a pang of guilt as I consider the current bookshop cost of reading lists I put out. There are alternatives to bright shiny new books and it doesn't hurt to check out a library copy before deciding whether it's a book you'll want to keep. Particularly if you're on a budget.

Incidentally, The Guardian also has a clip of Philip Pullman reading Paradise Lost here. As most of you know, Paradise Lost was a major influence upon His Dark Materials. It's worth a listen.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Human Rights for Cartoon Characters

This morning I was checking Neil Gaiman's blog - as I do - and wouldn't you know it? I discovered something rather disturbing that was happening here in Australia. You can read the post here. My initial laughter about requiring ethical clearance to analyse animated lions (back when doing my PhD on Disney) was perhaps not so warranted.

Of course, working in the field of children's literature, issues of sexuality are a constant minefield, but they are there, and we need to treat such issues intelligently, rationally and with great sensitivity and respect. I do fear that treating fictional characters as real children is seriously problematic in maintaining the kind of intelligent, rational debate required. Of course, I don't know everything about the case and I'm just going on the one article (and we all know that sometimes the media doesn't quite correctly represent what is actually said or done), but such apparent outcomes do make continued research in any field related to children difficult.

Added note: Someone later pointed out that the judge's opinion was based on representations of real children, not that the fictional characters were the same as real children. Some of the wording still raises questions that will need to be faced down the line, though.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Is Twilight bad for you?

Having just mentioned Twilight, I thought I'd draw your attention to an excellent piece in the Guardian about it here.

Yes, Buffy (from Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is a much better example for girls. Well, most of the time. Buffy wasn't perfect and if she were, we probably wouldn't have found her nearly so interesting. She made bad choices, allowed herself to be occasionally sacrificed to someone else's angst, and she had to die a couple of times.

While I do enjoy the first couple of books of the Twilight series, I'll add... I don't want to be Bella (that should go without saying). I do not see Bella as a good role model. Well... unless it be as a role model for melodramatic, teenage, romantic angst, in which case I think she outdoes even Juliet. Part of the delight of the first couple of books for me was how wrong Bella gets it.

In more intriguing news, I learned today from Meg Cabot's blog that there's a ferocious unicorns versus zombies debate. One of the leaders of the unicorn movement is Holly Black.

It's not just about the knitting...


All over the internet, bloggers have been popping up with special Coraline boxes. Some of these bloggers are knitting bloggers, like Amy, the wonderful person behind Knitty, who blogged today about her box. Yes, it's all about promotion of the film adaptation of Neil Gaiman's fantastic tale of black button eyes and singing mice, but it's wonderful promotion. (It's also a wonderful book and graphic novel.)

I've also been noticing that patterns for the knitwear appearing in Twilight are popping up all over. And yes, I do have plans to see the film. Possibly while I knit a pair of mittens or something. Reviews by Twilight fans have been mixed. We shall see.