Monthly Archives: May 2010

Robin Hood, Historical Fiction and Summer Plans

Life has been quite amazing this week. My parents left on Monday, I had an interview on Tuesday and one on Wednesday and now the one on Wednesday has lead to me having a summer internship. I still need to find a mentor and put together a proposal for it so I can get credit but I pretty much have an internship. Its wonderful, I’m going to be helping a literacy center figure out what’s the best cataloguing option for them and then if it all works helps them implement it.

Now for the long history and historical fiction post that’s been brewing in my head for a while. Fair warning, this is going to be rambly and probably all over the place. I think the best place to be is with Robin Hood, because that was what really pulled me into history and the possibilities of historical fiction. Paul Creswick’s Robin Hood with the N.C. Wyeth illustrations just made me think about another time and world in terms of amazing and real people. Not long after I read it, I started to read biographies and other historical works. This was also the point when I first began to write fanfiction though I didn’t know that’s what it was called when I put Will on the Enterprise from Next Generation.

Milliways has given me a wonderful chance to expand my own ideas about Robin Hood and I love just how much space to play the legend allows. This is actually the reason why I won’t be watching the new Robin Hood movie, because from what I’ve read, Ridley Scott didn’t want to use any of the legend so made up his own story. Even though from within the huge sprawling legend, he could have found just what he wanted. If he hadn’t called it Robin Hood, I would have been there because I enjoy his movies and love Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett and a lot of other people in the cast.

When I started college, I really thought that I was going to become either a Medieval Historian or possibly a teacher, instead I ended up a Classicist and now I’m on my way to becoming a librarian. The explanation for those changes isn’t too hard to show. Randolph-Macon Woman’s College didn’t have that much of a medieval history program, but the classics’ one just pulled me in. Classics caught me with Homer and getting to read him in the original since literature and primary sources are one of my favorite ways of approaching history.

I took one Education class that was fascinating but it felt easy in terms of my other classes. There was such a huge focus on Education trends and not so much on how do you teach. The class did have a practicum where we observed real classes that I enjoyed, but in the end, I didn’t feel passionate about it. Its sort of how I feel after my School Library Management class, I have a huge amount of respect for school librarians, but I don’t think I would be happy in the complex world of a school library. Reading Lies My Teacher Told Me is also reminding me of how broken the US public school system is and honestly I’d rather help a public library, because I know myself and if I wanted to try and fix it, I would until it broke my heart. I attended public school for twelve years and I was very lucky, because I was in a good district, but I had some horrible teachers and a lot of tests. A lot of the issues that are coming up in Lies My Teacher Told Me are things that we talked about in School Library Management, using primary sources, doing more than just teaching the test, but also how hard it can be to change things. Schools at times have a culture where the teacher basically closes the door to their classroom and they run things their way in there and any criticism no matter the form is very hard to take. My professor talked about nudging teachers and I think that’s what Lies My Teacher Told Me is pushing for too, changing as much as you can and get everyone thinking.

I’ve always loved good historical fiction and mysteries though this is a hard combination to get right. The Benjamin January novels on the other hand combine the best of both these worlds wonderfully. I’m sorry that it took me so long to read them, because she tells you about her research and really pulls you into that other time. Now I’m curious to read some of her fantasy, but I’m not sure where to start. I would love any recommendations.

This entry is not quite as organized as I’d hoped but all of these things swirl and combine in my head and so I tend to think of them together. I think I’m going to also post this on my professional journal too. Thank you to anyone who read all the way through this.

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The Disappointment of Borders

One of the great things about living in Ann Arbor is that there’s a Borders and I have a Borders’ Rewards cards, so they’re always sending me great coupons. Today I went into Borders with a coupon and a vague plan.

Lately I’ve been reading some amazing blogs and really thinking about reading outside of my normal range of fantasy books. I had in mind two books in particular, Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves that was recommended on Reading in Color, a blog that I can’t recommend enough. Yet I went to Borders and couldn’t find it or her previous book, I checked their computer and it was supposed to be there but wasn’t. So I went searching for the second one I had in mind, White Cat by Holly Black that was reviewed and recommended on The Book Smugglers, there was a larger selection of Holly Black books but not that one. So I sighed and just did my normal wander through the YA section which is in two sections: regular and sci-fi fantasy, I was struck by just how many white faces there are. I had been aware of it before, but after reading these blogs and taking the course I have been. It becomes even more striking to realize just how many white girls in pretty dresses are on the covers of YA novels.

In the end, I picked up the Rick Riordan book and Lies My Teacher Told Me, but those two books by Dia Reeves and Holly Black are going on my amazon wishlist. I’m going to keep looking and even request a few books from Borders to keep learning so that when I become a librarian, I’m doing more than just introducing the same old books. Since I know there’s so many experiences I don’t truly understand and that the best way to learn is to read wonderful books written by authors who really know. I want any young person to walk into my library and think, oh look, I’m on the cover of that book and for that book to be a good read.

The internet is such a wonderful way to find out all the great books out there that don’t get displayed on the Borders’ shelves or Amazon’s front page, the shame is that I can read about these books but buying them is a treasure hunt. I guess I’ll just keep doing most of my book shopping at used bookstores, because I know they’ll have a greater selection and search online and at my local libraries for the books I really want to read.

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