Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books Week

This week, September 26th-October 2nd, we observe Banned Books Week. Created in 1982, it’s a fantastic time to not only celebrate our freedom to read, but to fully appreciate this vital democratic freedom. Below is a great article by Robert P. Doyle about Banned Books Week.

"Each day, all across the country, one of our most basic freedoms — the right to read — is in danger. In communities large and small, censorship attempts every year threaten to undermine our freedom to read. Without our constant support, the First Amendment freedoms that we so often take for granted — the right to read, explore ideas, and express ourselves freely — are at risk.

The First Amendment guarantees that each of us has the right to express our views, including opinions about particular books. At the same time, the First Amendment also ensures that none of us has the right to control or limit another person’s ability to read or access information. Yet, when individuals or groups file formal written requests demanding that libraries and schools remove specific books from the shelves, they are doing just that — attempting to restrict the rights of other individuals to access those books. The rights and protections of the First Amendment include children as well as adults. While parents have the right — and the responsibility — to guide their own children’s reading, that right does not extend to other people’s children. Similarly, each adult has the right to choose their own reading materials, along with the responsibility to acknowledge and respect the right of others to do the same.

When we speak up to protect the right to read, we not only defend our individual right to free expression, we demonstrate tolerance and respect for opposing points of view. And when we take action to preserve our precious freedoms, we become participants in the ongoing evolution of our democratic society."

Here are a few titles that were challenged, restricted, removed or banned in 2009 and 2010 across the country. For more information, visit

Living Dead Girl
by Elizabeth Scott

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies
by Sonya Sones

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

by Neal Shusterman

We're not kidding. Someone actually challenged the dictionary.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Whodunits, Red Herrings & Gumshoes: Check Out a Mystery!

     Mystery fiction is entertaining; it offers you intriguing clues and plot twists while enticing you to exercise your personal powers of reasoning. If you grew up reading Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and the Bobbsey Twins, you’re probably already sold on mysteries. But if you’ve never read a really good mystery, you’re in for some exciting surprises. Today’s mysteries are often labeled “thrillers” due to the heavy dose of suspense they supply.




          There are all sorts of different types of mysteries, so you’re sure to find one that suits your personal taste. If you want to start with something light, try the Bad Kitty series by Michele Jaffe. If you’re in the mood for something a bit deeper, read the Echo Falls Mysteries by Peter Abrahams. If you’re tempted by a blend of historical fiction and mystery, check out the Mary Quinn Mystery series by Y.S. Lee. If graphic novels are your thing, peruse City of Spies by Susan Kim. If you’re in the Halloween spirit, take a peek at Pemba’s Story by Tonya Hegamin, a combination ghost story and mystery. If you’re into CSI and forensic science, sit down with one of the Forensic Mystery series by Alane Ferguson. If you’re addicted to vampire stories, grab The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks. If you’re a manga enthusiast, try Case Closed by Gosho Aoyama.   



         Hey, I think I just solved the mystery of describing how mysteries truly do offer something for everyone!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Photobook: Spartanburg 2010 Opening Reception

This was the fourth year we've done Photobook, but the first year we've had an opening reception. It was last Wednesday evening and we had yummy snacks, great photos and a big crowd! Don't worry if you couldn't make it to the reception, the photos are on display through the month of September.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Heather's Book Review: Chi's Sweet Home Volume 1 by Konami Kanata

Just about any decent artist can draw an adorable cat. However, it often seems that only a Japanese hand can portray adorable felines at the height of their potential, and Chi’s Sweet Home Volume 1 by Konami Kanatais another example of Japan’s amazing talent for portraying almost lethally cute characters.
The Chi of the title is a stray kitten who has been separated from her mama. She’s so young that she still has trouble articulating some of her letters when she talks (or rather, thinks, since this isn’t a talking animal story), resulting in a bunch of childish words like “scarewy,” “gwassy,” “wittle,” and “fwightened.” (Consider this the true Chi test, by the way; if you couldn’t stand this cuteified dialogue, chances are Chi’s Sweet Home won’t be to your taste.) While Chi is searching in a park, she is discovered by a small family, who takes her home but can’t keep her because of their apartment’s rules against pets. They try to find another home for the little cat, but as you would expect from a story of this nature, soon find themselves growing attached to the kitten and making efforts to keep it hidden from nosy neighbors. 
Yes, the story is predictable, but honestly, this book has a cute little kitten crying pitifully on the cover. Are you really going to read it for an impressively complicated plot? 
As cute animal comics go, though, Chi’s Sweet Home is not a bad read. Anyone who has ever adopted a kitten will be able to relate to the antics and hilarity that come from said kitten’s first bath, first experience with a litter box, and discovery that the best scratching post is actually dad’s new pants. Of additional merit are the relationships that are built between the characters, especially between Chi and Yohei, the family’s own “kitten.” According to this book, there are not too many differences between a kitten and a human child, and the plot plays upon those similarities to amusing effect. The art itself is pleasing, too, consisting of appealingly simple character designs and watercolor-like colors that give the work as a whole a very soft, relaxing look. Because of this look, it’s also a comic that might also appeal to readers who are not fans of the average manga. 
The only glaring flaw in the comic—and even this is arguable, depending upon the reader’s taste—is the aforementioned insertion of “w”s into Chi’s thought-speech, which are so common early in the volume that they quickly become irritating. Thankfully, though, they begin to disappear as the humans work their way into the story, and the art provides such a satisfying distraction from them that, in the end, it’s a negligible flaw.
Readers who like Chi’s Sweet Home and similar titles may also enjoy the What’s Michael? series by Makoto Kobayashi.