Saturday, January 29, 2022

Delivery Man


Now here's a picture that definitely expresses the gloom of an English winter!

You'll be glad to know (or maybe not) that my Newbery presentations went well yesterday. The kids seemed engaged and I got lots of questions at the end, which is always a good sign. There's nothing worse than making a presentation and being greeted afterwards by deafening silence or the proverbial crickets. I have two more talks on Monday but now that I've done it I'm not nearly as subconsciously stressed.

I don't know how teachers get in front of a class and lecture EVERY DAY. I guess the more they do it the less awkward it feels, but it's a bit like performing. You really do have to be ON all the time.

The only negative reaction I saw came when I urged them to give books a chance before giving up on them. I told them that reading a book is like building a relationship -- you have to give yourself time to care about the characters and develop a feel for the author's voice. Comparing reading to a relationship elicited an obvious eye-roll from one girl.

In other news, Dave and I arrived home Thursday evening to find a mysterious package on our doorstep. We were perplexed, since neither of us had ordered anything, and when we looked at the label we realized it wasn't sent to us at all. It was for someone named Tracie who lived at the same house number on a similarly named street in St. John's Wood, almost two miles away! The postcode was clearly not ours. It seemed like a very human error, but doesn't the post office have machines to read address labels?

Fortunately we work in St. John's Wood, very close to the package's intended destination. So I put it under my arm and carried it to Tracie's doorstep yesterday morning. I put it right into her hands, saying, "This came to our house by mistake." She probably thought I was one of her neighbors -- I didn't tell her how far away we lived!

I managed not to leave my phone at work this weekend -- unlike last weekend when I abandoned it on a bookcase attached to a charger cable. I didn't even go back for it. Being without a phone for a couple of days doesn't bother me in the least, and the library is pretty secure. It was sitting there waiting for me on Monday, all charged up.

Some of you asked whether I'd seen the stories about the school district in Tennessee banning the graphic novel "Maus." I saw that they removed it from classroom instruction but I can't tell from the articles whether it's still available in the school library, for example. Or has it been removed from the school entirely? At any rate, yeah, so ridiculous -- especially because it's about the Holocaust! How can someone object to eight curse words and one episode of nudity in a book about the world's worst genocide? Talk about missing the point.

As author Neil Gaiman said, "There's only one kind of people who would vote to ban Maus, whatever they are calling themselves these days."

46 comments:

e said...

I have cousins who believe in book burnings and think Harry Potter is evil. We don't have much to say to each other. The same ilk also tend to think the holocaust was made up.

Moving with Mitchell said...

Neil Gaiman’s statement is so much more powerful than the foul language I would have used.

Glad the talks went well. I was confident they would. A room full of teenagers and only one eye roll. You rock!

Andrew said...

Great that you talk went well. Young people really express themselves now. I can't imagine rolling my eyes at what a teacher was saying, and probably you would not have either.

My sister is a school teacher who teaches Year 12 lads. She has negotiated to have Wednesdays off this year. She said she is finding it harder and more stressful at work than ever, so maybe presenting is something teachers never really get used to.

The fuss about the book sounds ridiculous, but for a very long time books have been targeted as unsuitable for doubtful reasons. I get Gaiman's point. Of course book censorship had the same effect as any censorship; publicity and the desire to read, listen or view by more people.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I am pleased to learn that your book talks went well. I agree with you that teaching can be like performing - rather akin to acting. You might have five or six audiences a day or thirty performances in a week. However, a big difference is that theatre audiences pay to be there whereas school students are there by law - often reluctantly.

gz said...

Good that the talks went well.
Banning Maus...it's unbelievable.

That picture says it about the greyness

Colette said...

I think Neil Gaiman got it right. Happy the Newbery presentation went well. Don't you just hate eye rolls?

Pixie said...

I find is so hypocritical that a school board would ban a book because of eight swear words. What utter bullshit. However, they have helped ensure that the books will be more widely read.

My parents never censored my reading and I am thankful. I read everything I could get my hands on.

Debby said...

If I were the parent of children (mine are all grown up), I would be insuring that our home library had a copy of the book available. Or hand it off at the next gift giving session. I was never censored in my reading. My parents didn't care, really.

Boud said...

I'm very glad and not at all surprised that your talk went well. I'm guessing the eye roll was because she's thinking he's so OLD, what can he know about relationships?? From her viewpoint, adults are probably just tottering about!

One reason Maus was banned was the term graphic novel. The illiterates who banned it thought graphic meant steamy.

In a couple of places students themselves have protested and overturned bans, yay.

Ms. Moon said...

I'm so glad that the presentation went well! Very timely talk, actually. And you know- teens just have to eye-roll. It's part of our genetic make-up.

ellen abbott said...

I'm glad your presentation went well. Book banning is ridiculous and I hope it spurs children to seek out the banned book. This country is so screwed up in so many ways, uses sex to sell everything but is shocked by nudity.

robin andrea said...

I'm so glad the presentation went well. I like your description of reading a book is like building a relationship. It's true, which is probably why I don't read anymore. Oy, who needs more relationships. LOL!
Really kind of you to carry that package to your neighbor. As I've said before, Steve, you are a mensch.

Red said...

I hope that our presentations encourage kids to read more. Ever thought of making a presentation on viewing content?

The Bug said...

I'm glad it all went well! The students probably think you are really interesting.

You delivering that package just illustrates the kind of (kind) person that you are. That & your rescue of random plants. :)

Sharon said...

Good to hear that the presentations went well. I'll remember your words about reading a book is like building a relationship the next time I'm tempted to give up on a book.

Margaret said...

Yes, as a teacher you're always on-stage and performing, trying to keep your audience engaged and attentive without going to extreme lengths. (although I may have done a few outrageous antics like teaching verb conjugation through dance and hand movements) It's exhausting! The book talk sounds great and questions at the end means that they were paying attention and interested. I really like Gaiman's words.

Debby said...

Have you ever thought of adding a feature to your website which gives the kids a chance to do a one minute review? Kids are hams.

37paddington said...

I'm not surprised your Newbery talk went well; I so appreciated the areas you outlined for yourself to cover, and thought the kids could only benefit from such a presentation. Good on you. And lucky Tracie, that her package happened to land on the doorstep of one as generous and conscientious as you. I often say teaching is one of the most exhausting jobs there is, an insight I gained after spending a day as a parent helper in my son's kindergarten classroom, and later as a chaperone on my kids' school field trips. On each occasion I went home wiped out, and marveling that teachers somehow did this every single day. My hat's off to them.

Kelly said...

I'm glad the presentations went well! I'd be willing to bet your hardest audience (8th graders) is now behind you.

I just don't comprehend banning books.

37paddington said...

By the way, in addition to the graphic novel Maus, some American school districts have banned Newbery winner Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, along with Brown Girl Dreaming by MacArthur Genius Award winner Jackie Woodson, Beloved and Bluest Eye by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and on and on. We are a society that bans books now. I am trying to get over my stunned disbelief and figure out what I can do about it. You'd think four years of Trump might have prepared me for this. It didn't.

Wilma said...

I don't know how teachers do it either! I would not have the strength or the patience. Congrats on just one eye roll. At least she was paying attention!

peppylady (Dora) said...

I now hear Maus is number one selling book on amazon.
I found link to your blog from High Riser. Hope you have time to stop in for a cup of coffee.

Steve Reed said...

There are black sheep in everyone's family, I suspect!

Steve Reed said...

Yeah, Gaiman really hit the mark, didn't he?

Steve Reed said...

I wouldn't have rolled my eyes, but I'm sure some of my classmates would (and probably did).

Steve Reed said...

A captive audience -- literally!

Steve Reed said...

That really is what it looks like at this time of year, isn't it?!

Steve Reed said...

Pretty much required from girls that age, though. I think it's in their contract.

Steve Reed said...

Censorship always backfires, merely increasing the level of interest in whatever work is being censored. Smart parents know that!

Steve Reed said...

I don't remember my parents censoring anything I read, either, though I definitely hid some of my reading from them!

Steve Reed said...

LOL -- I didn't hear that about the term "graphic" novel. Idiots!

Steve Reed said...

It's true. Dave does not tolerate eye-rolling. He will stop a class to call someone out on it. I let it go, but then, I don't contend with it every day. (At least not as a lecturer.)

Steve Reed said...

Censorship ALWAYS causes people to seek out whatever's being censored. These boneheads never learn.

Steve Reed said...

Ha! Yeah, reading DOES require investment on our part. (To varying degrees, depending on what we're reading!)

Steve Reed said...

If you mean viewing online videos and that kind of thing, our librarians often talk about that -- how to find reliable content and stay away from the dubious or uninformed.

Steve Reed said...

I'm not sure they think I'm interesting, but as YP said above, they have to listen to me. (Or at least be in the same room. LOL!)

Steve Reed said...

I tell the kids they should give any book 50-75 pages before making a decision. Hopefully by then they're so far into it they'll see it through!

Steve Reed said...

Verb conjugation through interpretive dance? Now THAT I'd like to see!

Steve Reed said...

Well, there is a comment function -- so they could comment on my reviews with their own.

Steve Reed said...

It really is remarkable how carelessly society treats teachers, given how hard they work!

Steve Reed said...

Yeah, they may be the toughest bunch. The 7th grade hasn't asked me to speak yet, but I suspect they'd be a challenge too.

Steve Reed said...

It's been going on for decades, though. Not to minimize it -- we have to work against it -- but honestly these retrograde people have always been out there. In our day it was "The Catcher in the Rye" and "Ulysses." (Which is impossible to read anyway. LOL!)

Steve Reed said...

Well, just one that I saw! Who knows what I missed?!

Steve Reed said...

As I said above, censorship always increases demand! Thanks for coming by!

e said...

BA BA I am the black sheep.

Ed said...

I think I wrote this in a comment on your blog before but I used to be all for giving books a chance to develop that relationship. Now I'm more of a slam, bam, thankyou ma'am kind of book reader. If they don't get to the point or stray too far from it, I move on. My life is too short and my pile of books left to yet read still too big.