Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I am having a terrible time focusing on anything right now other than Hurricane Rita and the possibility it will to do to the coastal region of Texas what Katrina did to New Orleans and surrounding areas. Friends who live in the Brownsville area have already loaded up their travel trailer and headed inland. Thank goodness. UHCL has closed down until Monday and my online chats are cancelled for this week. I feel so helpless and guilty as the weather is beautiful down here in the VI. Sunny, breezy and in the 80s. After living in the Houston area for years I feel like my "home" is in danger and I can't even be there to help. My thoughts and prayers are with all my friends, students, and everyone else in the Texas coastal areas.

Haven't read a YA book in the last couple of days as I am reviewing a new YA Literature university level text for VOYA. As I read through the lists of suggested novels I get more and more frustrated with the range of novels listed, with no suggested interest levels. Children's books are in the same list with adult titles with older teen appeal. This has been my biggest frustration with any textbook I use for teaching YA Literature - the flow of children's and adult novels into the realm of YA fiction. I know the general definition of YA literature as anything teens will read. But, that doesn't help the instructor who is trying to get her students to focus on the novels that are intended for teens and exposure to the authors who write for teens - Crutcher, Giles, Lynch, Flinn, Zeises, etc.

It also what frustrates the heck out of my students as they want to focus on the novels for "tweens" - those books for 10-12 year olds as they end up on BBYA and other recommended booklists for young adults. Those are the ones I DON'T want them to focus on. The tween who loves Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn Dixie is at a very different emotional and maturity level than the 17 year old who is reading Lara Zeises' Bringing Up the Bones. How does one course effectively cover all of the literature for ages 12 through 18? If I had my druthers I would only focus on the books for 15-21. Enough of my whining for now, but I am sure my frustration level will stay high as I finish evaluating this textbook.

Anyone who reads my blog knows I am a Christmas fanatic and love anything to do with the Holiday Season. So I was excited to read The Finest Christmas Tree by John and Ann Hassett. The cover art with the tree being pulled behind a tractor brought a smile to my face. I closed my eyes and saw my dad and brothers hauling in the spruce tree still covered with bits of ice and snow, arguing over which was the best side to face out while I couldn't wait to start decorating it. We could cover up any hole, no matter the size, with enough tinsel. :-) Anyway, the book addresses what happens when artificial trees become the rage and Mr. Tuttle doesn't make enough money from his cut Christmas trees to buy Mrs. Tuttle her annual Christmas hat. It might be time for him to sell his tree lot for toothpicks. But a mysterious letter stating that his helpers would be arriving to pick out his finest tree brings Mr. Tuttle back into the Christmas spirit. The ending is a bit anti-climactic, but I still like the book and look forward to reading it to MJ and Allyson.

I really do need to do some grading in WebCT before UHCL closes it down.