November 3rd, 2008


Voting & Banned Books & Tolerance & Commercials & King & King

Blog the Vote: Why Voting Matters

Colleen and Lee set up a very special one-shot blogging event called Blog the Vote. This one-shot blog tour of November 3rd, 2008 encourages bloggers to post about why they personally think voting matters.

Anyone may participate. Leave the link to your Blog the Vote post with Colleen to ensure that it will be included in the round-up.

Want more backstory? Learn what inspired Colleen and Lee to create this blogging event.

Here's my entry:

Your Vote Counts

Every single vote counts.

Your vote counts.

If you are eligible to vote, please do. Registering only takes a few minutes. Voting only takes a few minutes. The result of those votes will have a direct impact on your life, your community, your nation, and your world.

If you are eligible, please become a registered voter. Become an active voter. Become an educated voter. Research the candidates, the propositions, the positions, and the topics addressed in this coming election so that you will really know everyone and everything on the ballot.

The location of your polling place is printed on the election-related pamphlet(s) you got in the mail. Bring that pamphlet and your ID card with you to the polls.

There's really no excuse not to vote. Do not say you're too busy to vote. Your voice, your mind, your rights, and your opportunities are important. Voting doesn't take that long. Tuesday has 24 hours in it, and many polling places are open at least 12 hours on Election Day. That means you have plenty of time to vote and plenty of time to work, sleep, and play. Please make the time to vote.

If you work and don't have that day off, don't worry. There are laws in the majority of the United States which grant employees time off to vote.

You can also go before or after work. Let me break it down for you: If you work mid-day or at night, go before work. If you work in the day, go after work. If your workplace is near your polling place, you might even go on your lunch break. Take a few minutes out of your day to prove that you are a proud, informed citizen.

For those unable to get to a polling place the day of the election, there are other ways to vote, such as absentee ballots and mail-in ballots, which you may fill out while in the comfort of your own home. You may wear your pajamas and eat ice cream while casting your vote for positions and propositions which will touch you, your family, your friends, and your country.

Do you know how many people, how many nations wish they could say the same?

Voting & Banned Books & Tolerance & Commercials & King & King

Early in the month of October, I saw a television commercial in which a happy little girl comes home from school holding the picture book King & King. She tells her mother that she read this book in school where a prince marries a prince, and she learned it's okay for her to marry a princess.

But wait! Don't cheer yet! Just when you think this commercial is preaching tolerance and supporting the book, the mother takes the book, frowns, and shakes her head. Then a man walks on screen in front of the mother - a green screen effect with the previous setting happening on another screen behind him - and looks directly at the camera as he encourages the audience to vote yes on Prop 8, a proposition that would ban gay marriage.

No, Mr. Man in a Suit. I don't think so. I do not support book censorship, nor do I support intolerance.

If I were in that kitchen, I would show my I Read Banned Books! bracelet to Mr. Man in a Suit and Ms. Disapproving Mother, gently ask Ms. Disapproving Mother for the book, then sit down on the tiled floor, show the little girl the cover of King & King on the bracelet, and read the book to her again. Then I would tell her that she could read whatever she wanted to read and marry whomever she wanted to marry when she grows up. I would help her sound out big words in books and give her accurate definitions. I would tell her that you don't have to be married to be happy, but that if she finds someone that makes her happy and wants to get married, go for it. I would encourage her to follow her heart, wherever it may take her, as long as she doesn't hurt herself or anyone else. I would hope that she realized her potential and enjoyed life to the fullest.

We are given so many freedoms in America, freedoms that other countries and people do not have, freedoms that so many people have died for, freedoms which are remarkable and wonderful. We ought to celebrate and appreciate these freedoms.

I'm blogging about this because the commercial involved a children's book. Seeing King & King used like that, in a negative fashion - I just can't believe it. It's eerie to think that that lead-in could have been a good thing, had the mother smiled instead and said, "You're right, princess. When you grow up, you can marry the person you love, if that's what you want. May I read the book with you?"

I'm single, I'm straight, and I'm happy as I am. I think it should be legal for two people to get married if they want to get married, regardless of gender, race, height, eye color, hair color, or ring size. (Of course, I hope those getting married are of sound mind and the proper age, and that they truly want to get married.) If you fall in love with someone and have that person fall in love with you, then have a good, solid relationship, I think you're lucky, and I congratulate you.

On November 4th, I will be voting for tolerance.

I will be voting for freedom.

I will be voting.

A Commercial I Do Like

Liberty Mutual has a fantastic commercial about voting. Instead of being about political parties or propositions or 'sides,' it's simply about motivation and responsibility, about getting out there and voting. It features actress Teal Sherer and is available for viewing at the Liberty Mutual website, where they've given the spot the simple title of "Election."

Poll Your Kids: Getting Those Under 18 Involved in Elections and Politics

I learned of Take Our Daughters to the Polls, encouraged by The White House Project, from Claire Mysko's blog. She in turn learned of it for Deborah Reber. I guarantee that, after you watch this video, you will be moved not only to vote, but to take your children to the polls.

I have been active in Presidential elections in my own way even before I was old enough to vote. As a kid, I went to a few polls with my mom. I always knew exactly who I'd vote for, if I was old enough. I clearly remember bringing home a newsletter from school about the election of (insert year here) with the two Presidential candidates on the cover - and I had put a large 'X' over one of their faces and circled the other one. My mother, ever so awesome, didn't blink an eye. She encouraged me to talk about why I preferred one candidate over the other and really listened to what I had to say.

Once I was finally old enough to register, I did, happily and proudly!

Those of you reading this post that have kids: Please take them to the polls when you vote! :) Beforehand, talk to them about the voting process. Discuss the Presidential race as well as other items and propositions on the ballot, then let them cast their own votes in mock ballots.

...and those of you who aren't quite voting age: Please go to the polls with your parents or your older siblings or older friends!

If you do either of these things, as the parent/adult/voter or as the kid/teen/future voter, please feel free to leave comments on this post and tell me all about your voting experiences!

Responses to This Post

Thank you for all of the fantastic comments on this post. Keep them coming!

Adrienne, a librarian, commented that she's had to defend this book's presence in her library's collection twice since she bought it. I told her she ought to carry it around at all times. Then I said: "What if you carried around a different banned book every day? Either select seven, one for each day of the week, or 365 (366 for leap year!), one for every day
of the year."

Sarah Rettger then added: "Carry it around and take a picture - I'm sure that could be turned into a great photocollage." I agreed. Sarah then took some fantastic pictures of people reading banned books.

If any of you out there in the land of blogs & books snap a picture of yourself & your kids/students/patrons reading or holding King & King or any other banned or challenged book, please post a link to the images in the comments below!

Other Bloggers Speak Up

Visit Chasing Ray for the comprehensive list of Blog the Vote posts. Thanks to Colleen, Lee, and Gregory for investing their time into this project and putting together that list.

Check out MotherReader's post about voting. She was kind enough to link to this post in her own.

Also read Christopher Golden's blog post asking Californians to vote no on 8 and vote no on H8TE.

Find out how and why various readergirlz divas rock the vote.

Related Posts at Bildungsroman
I Read Banned Books: Celebrating Intellectual Freedom and Literacy
Bildungsroman Tag: Banned Books

In closing:

Please vote on November 4th.

Thank you.

Interview: Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Last month, I interviewed author Helen Hemphill for GuysLitWire about writing for guys and writing from a male perspective. This month, I posed some of the same questions to author Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, whose newest novel for kids, The Floating Circus, involves an injured orphan boy, a freed slave, an elephant, and a circus boat.

I have posted this piece at GuysLitWire as well.

Do you approach your stories differently depending on the gender of your protagonist?

I'd like to say no, but when I wrote The Floating Circus I really concentrated on what my 12 year-old son, Cole, would like to read and I know that influenced my choices to make it feel more adventure-novel than historical.

Do you feel comfortable writing in a male voice? What are the challenges you face when writing in a male voice - and/or writing for boys?

As a writer, I get to access that part of myself which is more masculine, and that's lucky because in society we don't allow ourselves much wiggle room in this arena without serious social repercussions. I will tell you that the cadence, word choice and rhythm of Solomon's words is based off the way my dad speaks. I hear his voice whenever I read Solomon's words.

Collapse )

Read my 2007 interview with Tracie Vaughn Zimmer.

Read my review of Tracie's first novel, Reaching for Sun. Reviews of 42 Miles and The Floating Circus to come soon. (I have had them written in my handy dandy notebook here for a while and simply need the time to type them up.) Also check out my Verse Novels booklist.

Visit the author's website.
Fringe, contemplative, swing

New Tag: Gender Bias

My recent interviews with Helen Hemphill and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer for GuysLitWire will most likely turn into a series of similar interviews or articles, fueled by my desire to minimize and eliminate gender bias. I wrote about this at length in the piece Just Say No to Gender Bias, I have spoken about it time and time again with my regular customers and friends (especially Christopher Golden), and I'm the female half of He Said, She Said, an ongoing back-and-forth one-on-one book discussion feature with Book Chic, a male book reviewer. Oh, and I've also written a play about gender bias.

Yes, I think it's safe to say I'm passionate about the subject.

Now I have created a gender bias tag to mark related posts.
wings, believe

Midnighters by Scott Westerfeld

When I blogged about the trilogy at SparkLife last week, I didn't consider Daylight Savings Time. Then yesterday, when I "gained" an hour of time, I thought of Scott Westerfeld's trilogy and snickered to myself. Then I checked outside for frozen raindrops.

When Jessica Day moves to the seemingly sleepy town of Bixby, Oklahoma, she has no inkling that she'll learn the town's supernatural secrets one sleepy night. When she wakes up at exactly midnight, she sees raindrops outside which appear to be frozen - not made of ice, but rather, suspended in mid-air. She cautiously, carefully treads outside and takes in all of the quiet beauty of the night. She thinks it's all a dream . . .

. . . until her new classmates tell her otherwise. Dess, Rex, Melissa, and Jonathan are connected by the time they were born: the stroke of midnight. This is a stroke of luck, for better or for worse, for it permits them to move around the town during the Secret Hour that starts at midnight, when everyone and everything else freezes. Each teenager has a cool ability which is truly unique. Thanks to Westerfeld's creative mind, even those powers you may think are typical of sci-fi stories, such as flying, have a new spin. He also makes math a superpower. Woo hoo! These powers are tested when the group has to fight the Darklings, creepy creatures literally from another time, creatures that can ONLY move around during the Secret Hour. Research, plans, patterns, steel, and thirteen-letter words must be prepared, and sacrifices must be made.

Read the trilogy in order:
The Secret Hour
Touching Darkness
Blue Noon

Here's the piece as I wrote it for SparkLife:

Have you ever wanted to make time stop? How you ever wondered what it would be like to read minds or to fly? In Scott Westerfeld's innovative trilogy Midnights, five teenagers with very interesting abilities band together and use their skills and their wits to defeat the forces of darkness.

Though Bixby, Oklahoma may appear to be a sleepy little town, it's anything but. That's what Jessica Day learns when she moves there with her family. One night, she wakes up exactly at midnight and sees raindrops suspended in mid-air. She dares to venture outside and is delighted by the diamond-like drops, the quiet night, the thick clouds. The drops burst when she touches them. The next morning, she wakes up smiling, thinking it was all a dream.

Soon, though, she learns it wasn't a dream - it was an extra hour, The Secret Hour, that happens in Bixby at midnight. The only people that can move around at that time other than Jessica are Dess, Rex, Melissa, and Jonathan, all of whom were born at midnight. There are also the Darklings, creepy creatures, who can ONLY move around in that hour. Darklings fear little, other than steel, and thirteen-letter-words to ward them off. The story continues in Touching Darkness and concludes in Blue Noon. The second book will put you on the edge of your seat, and the third book will knock you right off of it.

Which of the Midnighters' powers would you like to have? What would you do if time froze all around you?

Related Posts at Bildungsroman:
Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld
The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Interview: Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld

... and the now-defunct SparkLife link.