Rick Riordan Author Signing

Provo was one of only eight stops on Rick Riordan’s tour promoting his latest book, The Serpent’s Shadow -book three of the Kane Chronicles.  BYU Bookstore was honored to be the bookseller for the event.  And it was an EVENT.  
picture via http://rickriordan.blogspot.com

If you worry about the future of books you should have been there.  The excitement was palpable.  Rick Riordan clearly has established a rock-star status with these readers.  All he had to do was mention the name of a character in the books and cheers would erupt.  He announced that his next series will be housed in Norse Mythology and the cheers may have loosened the roof girders.  

The audience was the perfect blend of courtesy and enthusiasm.  They loudly expressed their love of the books but they listened just as avidly.  My booklover’s heart reveled in the sight of young readers caressing the covers of favorite titles and flipping through books they could hardly wait to meet.  

Call it hyperbole if you will, but lives were changed that night.  Reading was validated.  When readers experience that magical rapport with an author the possibilities of writing and its power changes them, I believe, forever, empowering them to dream without bounds, to read further, to discover the world beyond their limited scope.  

Mr. Riordan was gracious, unpretentious and charming.  He signed over one thousand books in an hour and a half.  You can buy signed copies of most of the books at the BYU Bookstore or at byubookstore.com.  Provo Library merits high praise in their presentation, their dedication to readers and books, and not least of all, for providing this magical experience at no charge. Kudos to them!!


See Rick's post on his signing party in Provo here.

Get the first book of the Kane Chronicles at byubookstore.com.

Beehive Awards

Winners of this year’s Beehive awards are always a good place to start when you are looking for something to read no matter how old you are.  The Children’s Literature Association of Utah CLAU conducts the Beehive Award contest every year.  Adults put in extensive hours of reading and discussion to winnow a list of nominees from the thousands of books published for young readers each year.  The five nominee lists are then opened to young people state wide to vote for their favorites.

See this list at http://www.clau.org/
The winners are announced in April.  Go to clau.org for a list of past year’s winners and this year’s nominees.  

You will find something for everyone.

There have been quite a few Candy Bomber books written and Tunnell’s is my favorite.  The photos are from Gail Halvorsen’s personal collection.  The story is well written.  You don’t have to be a history buff to be completely drawn into this compassionate Utah connection to post WWII recovery. 

Shark vs. Train illustrator Tom Lichtenheld will be in Utah in July as a guest at the Books For Young Readers Symposium – for details see http://ce.byu.edu/cw/bfyr/index.cfm

Do you agree with me that no one outgrows “kids” books?  If you do let us know what your favorites are.  

You’ll see a few of mine in a future post.


Summer Reading Plan

Around here, most of the children are getting out of school soon; for students at BYU, most of the students left for the summer over a month ago. What better time is there to sit out in the warm sun and pull out a good book?

That's right, it's the time when libraries pull out summer reading programs for children, young adults, and adults alike. My dad always asks me the perennial question in the month of May, "What are you going to read this summer?"

Well, I have a light reading list this summer seeing as I'm doing summer classes, but this is what I hope to read this summer:
And I'm hoping to pick up a few more tutorials on website and graphic design. I am very partial to non-fiction lately.

What's on your summer reading list?

Come check back with us this month as Anita shares books that are excellent for summer reading.


Shakespeare's Love’s Labour Lost

Perhaps this is a single college student concern, but I found I ask the question that King Navarre would ask in a modern context: should I focus my time on academics and professional development or should I focus on a social life and dating? Often it seems that the answer doesn’t come when conscious decision making is involved.

In this Shakespearean comedy, King Navarre and his three lords decide they are going to dedicate three years to studying, and during that time they will fast and avoid women. It seems that when it comes to dating and courtship, it can’t be determined when it will happen. King Navarre and his court discovered this when the Princess of France and her ladies came to visit. After breaking their oaths, most of the kings’ court discovered that the others had broken their vow to study and instead spent their time writing declarations of love to the women. "These are barren tasks, too hard to keep, Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep! (1.1.48)

I can only imagine what this would do to a class grade.

Unlike other Shakespeare comedies, the characters don't end up together in the end. Instead, the women head home and claim they will return in a year.

Love's Labour Lost stands as an example of the frustration of pursuing love over other endeavors and not reaping the rewards from the pursuit. If nothing else, perhaps King Navarre and his royal court have grown more wiser from their affair with the French royal court. Hopefully their academics can be salvaged and they will keep the affections of their lovers.

Macbeth, an Example

When you think of some of Shakespeare’s works, Macbeth is often one that comes to mind; the tragedy that rooted from ambition. To quote Shakespeare himself, “Can one desire too much of a good thing?” In this case, the answer unfortunately is yes.

I feel like it all began when the three witches told Macbeth that he would one day become king. Even though his nature was not naturally inclined to do evil deeds, when King Duncan declared that he would spend the night at Macbeth’s castle, Macbeth decided to take control of his destiny and killed the King during the night. Fears of getting caught soon crept in leading Macbeth to take part in the additional deaths of the guards, Banquo, Lady Macduff and her child. His tyrannical reign soon lead to his demise.

I think one of the main lessons we can gain from Macbeth is the dangers of unbridled ambition. In each of our lives, there is always a point where we can decide to go forward with something or chose an alternative course. It was once Macbeth drew the hand of death on King Duncan that his fate was sealed. There was no turning back.

Let us remember the tragedy of Macbeth, keep our ambitions in check, and surround ourselves with those who encourage us to do what’s right.

A Midsummer’s Night Dream – A Tribute to an Idealized Summer

I love summer; it’s the time of year where I start believing many more things are possible, where things start anew, where love and dreams come alive again. It’s a time where things, as Shakespeare says, can occur just as quickly as a dream. Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” captures the theme of dreams in the last lines which the character Puck says,

“If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended:

That you have but slumbered here,

While these visions did appear;

And this weak and idle theme,

No more yielding but a dream,

Gentles, do not reprehend.

If you pardon, we will mend.”

This theme is established from the beginning when Hippolyta says, “Four days will quickly steep themselves in night, / Four nights will quickly dream away the time” (Act I.i 7).

How quick summer flies, and sometimes the friendships we create come and go just as fast. I first picked out this Shakespeare novel for class and I noticed it was incredibly short. Perhaps Shakespeare designed the play for this length to show how this story goes very quickly and obscurely, like a dream.

Another theme was love's struggle. Haven't many authors of love stories written on summer love and the hardship? This novel could serve as the precedent for many to follow. Lysander worded it best to his lover, "The course of true love never did run smooth" (I.i.132–134). 

Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream is a excellent summer read because it's light-hearted, a fast read, and it brings forth the spirit of love and dreams of summer evenings. 

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - A footprint for entertainment?

Romeo and Juliet. Where to start with this incredibly famous tragedy?

Romeo and Juliet is the archetype story for love in English literature. The names alone imply romance in any other context.

Have you noticed that many romance movies follow the format of this Shakespearian tragedy?

The Romeo-Juliet love affair occurred in a total of three days. Romeo is an emotionally-charged character, driven by his deep desire to love. Although he claims a love for Rosaline, he decides on sight that he loves Juliet and develops a more “mature” love because she returns the affection. Once decided, Romeo acts on feeling rather than logic to convince Juliet his dedication to her when he enters the Capulet’s home and climbs up to her. After Romeo kills Tybalt, there grows a tension between Juliet when she realizes the fault of her new husband, but she decides to accept his flaw and they reunite.

I don’t know about you, but several movies with parallel attributes came to my mind as I thought about this story: Titanic, Just like Heaven, The Proposal, Hitch, The Prince and Me, and Letters to Juliet. Shakespeare made three the magic number for romance: three dates, three nights, or three events before the characters fully decide they love the other more than anything else.

That’s all of the movies I can connect on the top of my head, can you think of any others that tie into the Shakespeare format?


King Lear, a Shakespeare tragedy

The same weekend I watched Twelfth Night, I also saw King Lear. Needless to say it has a much different tone.

King Lear has a near-and-dear sentiment to me. I not only saw it outside on a beautiful summer evening, but also studied it in my high school English class. My teacher was very passionate about this play and it rubbed off on me.

King Lear creates strong imagery that, after seen, leaves a deep impression. The scene where the Earl of Gloucestor has his eyes gauged out stays in my mind vividly. And how could it not? When my teacher explained that Shakespeare created this disturbing scene, the point was to have mankind strongly repudiate it, and instantly acknowledge that everything about it was morally wrong. 

When I wasn't in the theater and I was sitting in class I gained a different insight: the framework of a tragic hero.

This concept says that the main character has a tragic flaw, a mistake which he tends to make at the beginning of the story and the consequences of his character trait or action follow him to the end of the story. The tragic hero is defined as a great and noble character, in fact the most noble, so his mistake (or "tragic flaw") affects everybody in his association. In Shakespearean tragedies, no character comes out with a decent ending.

King Lear was a harder one to read than Macbeth or Hamlet because, although he was stubborn old king, he was an older man than most of Shakespeare's tragic heroes, and in a much more venerable condition. When Lear lost his mind it was hard to watch and created a greater sense of sympathy than any other of Shakespeare's tragic characters. 


Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

It’s Shakespeare season. You know, when multiple places around the United States (and the world) start launching productions of Shakespeare’s plays. Several years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a Shakespeare Festival with my parents and see some live productions in a traditional format.

The first Shakespearian play I saw was Twelfth Night. And what an excellent starter. I can’t recall a play that I’ve attended where I laughed harder. And this confirmed to me the notorious statement made about Shakespeare’s plays:

Shakespeare’s plays are meant to be seen, not read.

I didn’t read Twelfth Night before I went. I read the playbill’s introduction and I don’t feel like I missed much. In fact, I think I may have enjoyed it more. I had no expectations of what faces Malvolio would react to. I didn't imagine where stage direction would be beforehand. It was great.

My favorite moment that sticks years later is the moment when Viola’s identity is revealed (spoiler alert, sorry). And it was not because of what Viola particularly did, but rather Orsino’s face after he realized that Viola was not his male servant Cesario. I found the greatest humor in the actors’ reactions and the constant motif of gender uncertainty and ambiguity. The fun was in how the text was interpreted rather than just the text.

If Twelfth Night ever comes to town again I plan on seeing it again, it's an excellent Shakespearean comedy to watch.

What Shakespeare play do you want to see?