The young librarian in a Mohawk, clicking her knitting needles, laughed at Nancy Pearl's stories. I laughed, too.
(Pearl said today that first sentences are important for hooking readers.)
I did not do my homework, so I did not realize that Pearl's new book Book Crush is aimed at children and young adult readers' advisory until she began speaking. She told us that a teen librarian had recommended the title and concept to her. Because she was looking for a new project and because her More Book Lust had included some recommendations for teens, she decided the idea was good for her to target young readers. She drew on her own memories of being a child and a parent to start the project, and then she read hundreds of books in its research. She also interview many children about their reading tastes. Her aim was to include in her reference book titles children like and want to read, not those that adults recommend to them.
In Book Crush, Pearl tried to arrange the titles creatively. One of her concerns is that librarians with their categories often narrow the range of recommendations instead of broadening them. Children and teens have moods that call for different types of books at different times. She is trying to escape from genre labels.
Pearl told us how she had refrained from putting some old classics into the new book because she thought they had inappropriate racial stereotypes. A few others she kept with notes that the misrepresentations could be discussed between parents and children. She also said that there is a movement to rewrite some classics to remove objectionable materials. The example she used was that Rosemary Wells has rewritten Lassie without stereotypes.
After telling us about Book Crush, Pearl read first lines from some of her favorite children's books to show us how important the openings are to setting tones for stories. I wrote down many titles to seek out later as she read. (I was inspired then to write the first line of this blog piece.)
Throughout the presentation, Pearl made quotable statements. Here are two that seem most memorable to me. Put them in your quote books:
"We have only one life, but through books we can lead other lives."
"Other people have lives and I just read."
I think that Pearl actually has a pretty cool life. I hope she keeps reading and writing for us.
Pearl, Nancy. Book crush : for kids and teens -- recommended reading for every mood, moment, and interest. Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 2007. ISBN 1570615004