Sunday, April 01, 2007

Woe is me - I think I may becoming a morning person! I was awake before 7 a.m. and I can't even blame it on Sophie or the sun as she was still asleep when I woke up and it is dreary and gray today. I tried to snuggle in my down pillows and force myself back into delicious sleep, no such luck. All kinds of things relating to books, my classes, and our new house were scampering about in my head. So I gave up and got up. Well, not completely - I am sitting in bed with the laptop, a Diet Coke and a Luna bar. And, I have a very perturbed cat sitting next to me giving the laptop the evil eye because it is in her place!

Went to dinner with a couple of friends last night at a really cute little Italian restaurant, Atavola, that I didn't even know existed. I am not much into Italian due to the cheeses but I had scrumptious mahi and rice that were lightly flavored with citrus and coconut milk. Great food and good company, what more could you want for a Saturday night? Came home and caught the last part of the Jodi Foster movie, Flightplan, where her little girl is kidnapped and hidden on a plane. Very interesting - would like to see the entire movie. Foster is one of my favorite actors and my favorite of her movies is Nell, about a woman who was raised in a remote cabin by a mother whose speech was affect by a stroke so Nell speaks the same way. Beautifully done movie and a stunning performance by Foster.

Now I want to talk about a not so stunning book, but one that has stayed with me - Night of the Bat by Paul Zindel. As I was trying to fall back to sleep this a.m. I started thinking about our personal connection to books and why what we abhor or delight in has so much to do with our life experiences. And, we are as likely to remember a book we detested as much as one we loved. Not that I detested Night of the Bat, it just hit too close to my "fear factor". I grew up in a house that had bats in the attic - literally. My parents tried everything they could think of, including pouring DDT down the insides of the walls, but nothing deterred these bats. And, in the heat of the summer they would find their way through cracks and crannies and end up flying around our house. I was terrified of them and the way they would swoop down at you. There were more than a few nights of my screaming my head off and one of my three older brothers chasing it around upstairs with a broom until he killed it and then it being slipped into the woodstove to be incinerated. I can close my eyes and hear the flittering of their wings and the chittering in the walls at night as they left for their nightly feeding on the mosquitoes that were in abundance. To this day I am terrified of bats and they are such small little things, but so darn ugly! So you can imagine how I was feeling as I read Zindel's gross-out book about a mutant bat in the Amazon jungle that is the size of a small car and intent on sucking out your brains. I thought it might be therapy for me to read this. So there I was, laying on my stomach reading, safe and sounds in our big king sized bed, when Steve came quietly in behind me and touched my foot to get my attention. Oh boy did he get my attention! I let out a scream that would have matched Drew Barrymore's little girl scream in ET in its volume and intensity. So, what are the chances of me ever forgetting this book? Zip!! The writing is mediocre and the characters are not well developed, but the fear 15-year-old Jake has as the huge bat is advancing toward him hits too close to home for me. Why books stay with us can be very personal!

From a librarians point of view, I would have all of Zindel's gross-out books in my MS and HS library because they are quick and easy reads and will meet the needs of the readers who like horror and an adrenalin rush. All you need to do is put one of them face out and you have teens' attention. The Night of the Bat has a closeup of a bat's face/mouth, with saliva dripping from its fangs. The paperback cover of Reef of Death is of the mutant sea monster - less scary to me than the hardback which shows the legs of a swimmer with the monster coming up from below. Now that is creepy!

I know - I'm weird. Who wakes up thinking about bat books. I am sure it had to do with the fact that one of my students had Zindel's book in a bibliography that I recently graded, but what is somewhat disconcerting is that I have read hundreds of much better written books since I read Zindel's bat book that I have forgotten. That personal connection to a book can make you remember even the ones you most certainly could have forgotten!