Tuesday, December 29, 2009


little girl: (holding a spongebob squarepants book) what level is this?
me: we don't have levels here. what grade are you in?
little girl: third
me: then you can read that book
girl: (eyes wide with excitement) yay, thanks!

and miss dewey decimal saves the day by allowing kids to read books that are interesting!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

hanukkah fairy stops traffic at times square

so i realized i never shared with you my finished hanukkah fairy costume (with faux fur jacket!). sadly, i didn't get a chance to take a picture of the awesome felt menorah oh-so-cleverly glued onto the back, but i think you get the idea.

some costume details to look for:
* actual dreidels sewn into the skirt of my dress
* jewish star "pasties" glued onto ... ahem .... well you can guess where
* blue fairy wand
*hanukkah "dingle hoppers" headband
* jewish stars puff painted on dress to cover booze spilled in previous years ;)

oh, the crafy craftiness knows no bounds.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

reading level riot

before i start my rant let me tell you that i do in fact know some teachers personally, and they are not retarded. i assume these "non-retarded" teachers are not the minority, but evidence has proven the contrary.

so it has come to my attention that someone at the local school is dissatisfied with the library. they work with parents and say that a lot of parents have been complaining that they are unable to find the books that are on their child's "level." complaining to the school, because it is the school that gives the assignments, not us.

now, these reading levels are made up of letters which determine what books the child "can" read. we do not use levels here. when a kid comes up and says "what book would be good for me?" we ask the kid a series of questions and then pick out books for that child. OR , another way to put it is that instead of just pigeonholing a child into a meaningless system, we give each child individual attention and help them find a book which is appropriate and interesting to them. this is how it has been in public libraries since the dawn of children's literature. if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

so this person from the school was complaining that the public library should be organized not by dewey decimal system, or by genre, or author ... oh no! instead the library which serves the ENTIRE community, should be organized by the local school's reading level system. of course! let's cater to just you, local school! forget the community as a whole!

it was even suggested that the school would send help so that we could re-arrange our collection of tens of thousands of books to their liking. then i helpfully suggested that if they want a library that caters to them, maybe they should work on their own school library. surely, it would make sense if the school wants a library that caters to the school's reading level system, why not do this at the school library. see where i'm going here? but alas, the school library doesn't have all the books that ours does. so instead of them working to improve their collection, they figure it will be easier and cheaper to just mess with us. thanks!

you might be asking yourself, "self, what's so bad about reading levels?" well i'll tell you. reading levels are not inherently evil. but here at the library it isn't our job to teach kids how to read or to give them boring reading assignments. our job is to foster a love of reading. so if a kid picks up a book that interests them, we encourage them to read it. maybe it's a graphic novel, maybe it's a magazine, maybe it's a book that's a little too easy for them but they'd enjoy reading it. we don't care! we just want people to read something that they like reading. then later, if they want to read something more difficult, they can read that too.

imagine if adults had reading levels ... i would love to go up to someone and say, "oh i'm sorry sir, you can't read that new dan brown book. the lost symbol is totally below your reading level. here's a copy of the canterbury tales instead." or maybe next time i see a nice old lady picking up a danielle steele novel i should rip it out of her hands and give her madame bovary instead. you catch my drift?

and a few times i have actually encountered kids who wanted to read a more advanced book, but were afraid to since it wasn't on their level. can you imagine? some kid picks up harry potter and then finds out that it's a level above him so he puts it back and picks out something that is less interesting to him. great! what a way to encourage reading!

now, just to further complicate things ... many non-teachers believe that reading levels are a bit of a scam created by the publishing companies. for instance, they sell these "leveled" books in bulk to the schools, and many of the titles are not available for separate purchase by libraries or other individuals. also, many of the titles which are on these reading level lists are actually out of print, and therefore can no longer be purchased.

in the end, i was told i should "meet up" with this school person and "work it out." but i am a bit unclear about what there is to "work out." i think in the meantime, i will just stick to recommending quality age appropriate books to the children. like i'm a librarian or something.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

why miss dewey decimal loves xmas

this may just be my year to finally drive a tractor!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

poetry is always a crocodile

today we had a program which i created called "reading rocks." no, it is not reading a rock, but an affirmation that the art of reading totally rocks. yeah!

in "reading rocks" i will typically read to the kids, usually ghost stories or funny short stories or riddles, etc and then we will do a small craft. it's not the most popular program, but i usually get a handful of kids, which i think makes it worthwhile. there will be reading in the library, damnit!

so today i read the kids shel silverstein poems. turns out shel silverstein actually visited one of the local schools! who knew?! i am slightly less disillusioned with the public school system now!

anyway ... a lot of the times these poems have a little "twist" at the end, so often if the kids aren't paying attention i have to explain what happened in the poem. so i read the following poem about a crocodile with a toothache, aptly named "crocodile toothache:"

The Crocodile
Went to the dentist
And sat down in the chair,
And the dentist said, "Now tell me, sir,
Why does it hurt and where?"
And the Crocodile said, "I'll tell you the truth,
I have a terrible ache in my tooth,"
And he opened his jaws so wide, so wide,
The the dentist, he climbed right inside,
And the dentist laughed, "Oh isn't this fun?"
As he pulled the teeth out, one by one.
And the Crocodile cried, "You're hurting me so!
Please put down your pliers and let me go."
But the dentist laughed with a Ho Ho Ho,
And he said, "I still have twelve to go-
Oops, that's the wrong one, I confess,
But what's one crocodile's tooth more or less?"
Then suddenly, the jaws went SNAP,
And the dentist was gone, right off the map,
And where he went one could only guess...
To North or South or East or West...
He left no forwarding address.
But what's one dentist, more or less?

so at the end of the poem i ask, "what happened to the dentist?" and one very bright kid said "he got eaten."

"that's right," i said, "the crocodile ate the dentist."

and then some of the kids that have trouble listening were all, "ohmygod! the crocodile ate the dentist!" better late than never folks.

so then this bright kid says, "that's what always happens in poems."

"what always happens in poems?" i ask.

"crocodiles," he tells me. "crocodiles are always eating people in poems. duh, it's so obvious."

indeed, smart kid, indeed. too much of the canon of american poetry is littered with crocodile assaults.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

the usps hates hanukkah

you may or may not know that the holidays are a very important time for me. why you ask? because there is one very special day in december when several hundred people dressed as santa claus form a flash mob in new york city and spend about 12 hours bar hopping and causing chaos. oh santacon, how i love thee.

as a cultural jew, i'm sure you can imagine that i have scruples with dressing up as santa (or dressing up as a "slutty santa" as many of my female peers do) so instead i have invented my own fab character ... the hanukkah fairy. my costume consists of a blue fairy costume that i have adorned with dredyls and jewish stars and all sorts of decorations. every year i try to improve upon this costume, adding a blue wig, a wand, etc. often i will hand out hanukkah stickers or chocolate gelt to children i meet on the street. i am SO much cooler than santa.

now, as you can see from the picture here, this costume is a bit slinky and does not provide the warmth that a santa suit does. luckily the last time i participated in santacon it was unseasonably warm. i doubt i will be that lucky again. so i decided this year i would add a nice cropped white faux fur jacket. and i figured i would decorate the jacket with a huge felt menorah on the back and maybe a dreydl on the front. i was thinking letterman jacket style, but made sassy for jews. anyhoo, i found a jacket on ebay and purchased it. i have been waiting oh-so-patiently for it to arrive at the library (i no longer have packages sent to my house since my last post office incident)

but then it never came and when i inquired where it was i learned that the seller had sent it to my home instead of my listed shipping address ... so again we delve into the horrors of the frightfully inefficient williamsburg post office.

1. i call the 800 number and they say they are unclear where the package is ... it is "out for delivery" since 2 days ago, but there is no sign that a delivery attempt has been made. sure, i can see why it would take 2 days to drive the package from the post office to my house. i mean, it is like 10 blocks away. a complaint was filed since apparently, this is contradictory to several different protocols.
2. i was given the direct number to my post office to call and see if i could arrange to pick up said package. (this will involve me missing work to go to the post office since they have shitty hours)
3. i called twice and got no answer. not an answering machine or a busy signal. just no answer.
4. i called a third time and i spoke to someone who immediately put me on hold. after being on hold for 15 minutes i hung up.
5. i called again, a fourth time! and again was immediately put on hold without so much as giving someone my tracking number. this time i waited 20 minutes before i gave up.
6. i called a third time and was quite bitchy and finally i got someone to agree to look for my package. of course, she wouldn't look for it right then. she said she would look for it and then call me if they didn't find it. then i stated that i wanted to come in and pick it up, but i'm not going to miss work just to go there and have them tell me that they don't know where it is. (this happened several times during the post office blues fiasco). so then she agreed to call me either way, if she found it or didn't find it. likely story. i will not be holding my breath for this phone call.

so sadly, the future of the hanukkah fairy hangs in the balance. will i be able to get my coat and not freeze my ass of? only time and incompetant postal workers will tell. if anyone has any suggestions where i can get a cute but inexpensive bolero type shrug faux fur coat please let me know.

Friday, December 4, 2009

an easy reader a day keeps illiteracy away

today while routing in some books, i became re-energized in my plan to read one spanish easy reader a day. certainly, if i read a book a day in spanish it will help me to understand spanish better. no? but instead of an easy reader i couldn't help but read "if you give a pig a pancake" in spanish. what will happen if le das una panqueque a una cerdita? yo no se!

why must i improve my spanish, you ask? where might i be off to next, you ponder? well, my dear beloved poor forsaken blog readers i cannot tell you that just yet. but i will say this: when bolshevics wine and dine you on your one year anniversary, asking you in all earnestness if you will please do them the honor of running away with them ... the answer is always yes. si? si!

of course, i shall miss mi amor el bolshevik as he has just informed me that he will be going to panama for the holidays. ay dios mio!