06.23.11

Memories of Bridget

Posted in Bridget at 11:39 pm by Janet

I found out about Bridget’s passing while I was in Scotland. The day after I heard the news, I wandered around Glasgow in a haze, stopping at every chocolate shop I passed and trying on fancy dresses in Bridget’s honor. Despite my decadent tributes to Bridget, I don’t think the reality of what has happened has really sunk in. In trying to make sense of her death, I’ve been thinking about Bridget and her family a lot. I haven’t come to any kind of resolution or closure, but I have remembered many of the fun times we had. And nearly everything I did with Bridget was fun. It’s hard to pick just a few favorite memories, but I’ll have a go at it. Please add your own memories in the comments. Bridget, we miss you, to say the very least.

The first time we met
When I moved to Madison to go to library school, my friend Cailin told me that her friend Barrett’s red-headed girlfriend was also starting library school. I should keep an eye out for her, Cailin said. Sure enough, one afternoon when I was working in the CCBC, I saw a red-headed girl look around the library and then go into one of the book discussions. I spied her again later that week at the SLIS Friday night showing of Party Girl. I think I started talking to her in the bathroom. I asked her how the CCBC book discussion was and the conversation took off from there. Secretly, and I’ve never told anyone this, I wanted to talk to her because I knew my roommate, who had accompanied me to the movie in search of available librarian women, would think she was hot. I thought his motivations for coming with me were lecherous. If this was indeed the red-headed girl Cailin had told me about, she definitely had a boyfriend, and my roommate’s advances would be repelled. (So sorry Bridget!)

Bridget, the roommate, and I went out to the Union terrace. My memory is a little fuzzy here. I know I was drinking beer. Perhaps that’s why I don’t remember? That’s when I found out that Bridget didn’t drink. Anyhow, either Cailin or Barrett or both of them showed up and it became clear that we had friends in common. Barrett must have shown up for sure, because I remember thinking that Barrett kind of talked like Bridget and that somehow showed that they were in love. And also my roommate totally got shot down.

The funny thing is, even if we hadn’t run into each other in the bathroom of SLIS or the CCBC, I’m pretty sure Bridget and I would have been friends anyway because of the Cailin connection.

Making The World’s Fastest Librarian
I had so much fun giving everyone the evil eye as Mary/Bridget’s nemesis. Watching Bridget and Barrett go through their creative process was fascinating. Their quirky choices always seemed just right. They are masters of satire.

I’ve watched that movie a bajillion times by now. Have you ever noticed how Barrett’s camera lingers on Bridget? I think only someone who’s in love with her could have edited it that way. It’s very sweet.

The night Bridget came to the Caribou

I bet you don’t believe me! One night Ryan and Andrew and I were drinking there, and we somehow convinced Bridget to come meet us. I believe we were working on one of our, uh, guerrilla writing projects. Can you even imagine Bridget in a tiny, dark, greasy, smoky (but strangely charming) bar? She was a great sport about it, but it was really odd to see clean-living Bridget in such a den of inequity. I’m pretty sure that one night was what gave her cancer. The Caribou was probably the most unhealthy place she ever set foot.

The time I almost burned down Bridget and Barrett’s house making sushi

Somehow, we managed to start a fire while making raw food. Also, one of the cats ate our spicy tuna. And liked it.

The time we had a Viking funeral for our problems

It was the fall after we graduated from library school. For one reason or another, things weren’t going very well for Bridget, Amanda M., or me. We decided to symbolically banish our problems. We went over to Lake Monona. We wrote or drew each problem on a small piece of paper. We floated each piece of paper on a dry leaf and tried to set it on fire as we pushed it out into the lake. Unfortunately, it was windy and it didn’t work very well. The leaves and the paper just wouldn’t catch fire, and they didn’t float very far. Also the other people in the park were giving us funny looks. So we went back to Bridget’s house and drank hot chocolate and threw our problems in Bridget and Barrett’s wood-burning stove and watched them go up in smoke. I can’t say this technique worked, because soon after that I moved to Kenosha, but it did make me feel better for awhile.

Visiting Bridget and Barrett in Portland

I visited Portland in spring of 2010. Bridget loved Portland. I could see she had good reason—it was sunny, beautiful, and blooming. She had good friends there who watched out for her. Bridget was somewhere in the middle of chemo and she was moving kind of slowly. We went to the Two Tarts bakery and also ate some unusual chocolates and some Thai food. Bridget had lost her hair, but she hadn’t lost her joy in life, or her appetite.

Reading Bridget’s book

I knew Bridget was working on something good, but I was always hesitant to ask. I never know if writers want to talk about their work with someone who’s not really a part of their creative process. This winter Bridget let me read the book. I was pleasantly surprised. For some reason I was expecting realistic fiction, and Poison is fantasy. Unsurprisingly, it’s also a delight. Bridget’s sense of humor and ebullient personality really show through. It was really refreshing to read a fantasy book that doesn’t take itself too seriously but still tells a rollicking good adventure story. I can’t wait for Poison to come out and for the wider world to have a chance to appreciate Bridget’s sparkling creativity and effervescence.

Posted in Bridget at 11:16 pm by Janet

Bridget and Janet at the Two Tarts, spring 2010

Bridget and Janet at the Two Tarts, spring 2010

04.12.11

Breaking News! ALSC Awards

Posted in Awards at 10:13 pm by Janet

The ALSC awards were announced in January. I know you have all been waiting impatiently to find out what the Tarts think of them! Well, today is your lucky day. You can stop holding your breath now. Really, don’t turn blue over this. Come on, breathe.

Moon Over Manifest
Lots of ink has been spilled over the Newbery winner, so I won’t add much. This historical novel flashes back and forth between the Depression and World War I. Abilene’s father sends her to live in Manifest, Kansas, for the summer. She discovers a lot about the town’s past, but what she really wants to know about is her father. Lots of appealing characters with cleverly intertwining threads between them. Did you notice it’s about an only child? (Oh no no no, I didn’t forget about my only-child rant.)

Ship Breaker

Yeah, the Printz winner was all right. I liked it, I didn’t love it. I think the premise–post-apocalyptic, post-mega-hurricane Gulf Coast and New Orleans–was more intriguing than the actual story. What happens after New Orleans, its successor city, and the Gulf Coast are destroyed by hurricanes? All hell breaks loose for the workers who are left clean up the mess of the giant corporations who helped wreck the environment. It seemed like the action took nearly half the book to rise. Are teens still paying attention at this point? Not sure. Again, the story of an only child. Best thing about this book? The author’s name, Paolo Bacigalupi, is really fun to say.

Almost Perfect
The Stonewall (GLBT award) winner was so refreshing to read. I can’t remember the last realistic fiction book I read. After reading (yet another) dystopia and a historical fiction book, it was such a relief to read a book about a kid (not a vampire!) living in modern, normal times. Oh yeah, and it was thought-provoking, too. Logan falls for the new girl…until he finds out that the new girl is actually a boy. Sage turns out to be transgender, fighting to transition from male to female. Logan struggles with his feelings for Sage and his feelings for himself about having feelings for Sage. Their relationship goes to extreme highs and lows as they wrestle with some big questions. How important is the gender of the person you love? How do you define someone’s true gender? And how do you reconcile those things with being a teenager in a small town? Lots to think about here and a good story to boot. (It was also nice that both Logan and Sage had siblings.)

What did YOU think?

02.08.11

Bridget Gets Caught in the Trappings

Posted in Favorite Books at 4:45 pm by Bridget

I just finished Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by the dynamic duo of Rachel Cohn and David Levithan and loved it. Lily leaves a notebook at The Strand next to one of her favorite books with clues that take the finder of the notebook around the store to other clues in other books. There are, of course, restrictions that pop up in the clues like, “If you are not a teenage boy, put the notebook back where you found it.” Luckily for Lily, it’s found by Dash who not only plays along, but sends her clue hunts right back.

Some of the things I love about this book:

–It’s refreshing to read a book with New York teens who are completely unique and not your run-of-the-mill hipsters.

–Both main characters are crush-worthy.

–The clue hunts take them to all sorts of interesting places.

–Side characters are GREAT.

–Both main characters grow and change in a believable, organic way.

AND

–It has a kick-ass title.

I know that a kick-ass title shouldn’t rank on my list, but as soon as I heard the title I wanted to read the book. Great character names, plus the fabulousness and intrigue of a whole book of dares. The title leads to the great concept of two characters using a book of dares to get to know one another and explore the world in a non-digital way.

The title is intriguing much like the duo’s first book Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. With N&NIJ you want to know more about this couple and their playlist. At least I did. And then to actually have a playlist for the book on the web that you could put together yourself? I loved it. The book didn’t disappoint either.

This has made me question whether or not I’m just a sucker for a great hook–seduced by a concept or a great title.

But in both cases I ended up really loving the book. Why not let yourself be seduced by the ribbons and bows when the substance of the book lives up to it?

On the other hand, I have to admit, I never read Cohn and Levithan’s second book.

Because of the title.

I know, they’re fabulous writers, I love two of their other books, I would probably love their second one too.

But Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List? Really? There’s NO kissing right in the title!

Bridget

01.12.11

Children of the Revolution

Posted in Favorite Books, Random at 10:55 pm by Janet


Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly features some of my favorite things: France, Radiohead, the Smiths, and an accurate depiction of an archivist! (I’m looking at you, Mr. Archives Cowboy.) Ahem. “My job, here at the Abelard Library, is to get information. And Yves Bonnard’s job is to stop me. Yves G. Bonnard, head archivist, aka the Great and Powerful Oz, aka the Grand Inquisitor, aka the Antichrist.” Angsty American teen Andi is doing research in Paris, and she’s running up against every roadblock an archivist has in his acid-free bag of tricks: demanding an archives pass that’s available only with a very specific photo id, closing for lunch, an insistence on filling out call slips properly, shushing, scolding for not wearing the white cotton gloves, and ejection for cell phone use. Dead on. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why archives should not be mentioned in the same breath as libraries. They are not for people. Their holdings are not meant for actual use. They are run by crazy hoarders. What is the point of having a bunch of stuff if no one is allowed to look at it? If a tree falls alone in the forest, does anyone hear it? Set the historical documents freeeeee!!!!

Whoa, my intention was not to rail against archives, although I’m always happy to do that. I really meant to talk about Revolution. Andi is a rich hipster girl half-assedly attending a private school in Brooklyn. Since the death of her younger brother a few years before, Andi and her family have been falling apart. Her mother has disappeared in her painting, her father is immersed in his new marriage and his duties as a world-famous geneticist, and Andi is in a drug-addled funk. Then Andi’s father insists that Andi accompany him to Paris for winter break. There, Andi finds the diary of Alexandrine, a Parisian actress once entrusted with entertaining Louis-Charles, the dauphin. While she’s supposed to be doing research for her senior project about a French classical musician (hence the trips to the archives), Andi gets sucked into Alex’s world. Somehow Andi’s obsession with Alex’s quest to save the dauphin, Andi’s love of classical and rock music (Radiohead, the Smiths, etc.), and her new relationship with a French musician all intertwine to help Andi move forward with her life, leaving some of her grief behind.

Donnelly’s done a great deal of research about France and about music. Andi is a compelling, smart, and witty character whose pain is all too real. I’m still trying to figure out how all the pieces of the story fit together, but whatever the answer, all the story lines are vivid and made me want to keep reading. This is one Revolution that should not be put down.

Oh, hey, did you notice that Andi is an only child? It’s a huge part of the story. The author definitely intended for her to be an only child, what with the dead brother. No authorial laziness there. Andi is grappling with a tragedy that has left her as an only child. Of course that gets into images of families with only one child–is the only child a sign of a family’s tragedy, pain, or loneliness? I’d say no, not necessarily, but that’s a topic for another post and another time. You all have a Revolution to start.

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