There was some scary book news this week, or at least very disappointing news. A memo was dispersed to Chicago Public Schools asking teachers to remove all copies of Marjane Satrapi's award-winning graphic novel about the Iranian revolution, Persepolis, from classrooms and libraries. At first, CPS administrators had no comment, but after the memo went viral and groups like the ACLU got involved, they issued a letter backpedaling to say that it was misinterpreted and "all schools" was meant as only seventh grade classrooms. This article does a great roundup of the timeline. My favorite bit is when the teachers union responded with a statement about hoping the school system isn't going back in time to the 1950s. Right on. Equally scary yet absurdly hilarious is the fact that voucher schools in Louisiana are using textbooks that say, and I am not kidding, that hippies did not bathe and worshiped satan, that the KKK did great community service, and that dragons are real. Voucher schools were declared unconstitutional in December 2012 but are still functioning because the issue is up on appeal.
Google announced this week that several of its features would be shutting down in the next few months, including Google Reader. If, like me, you have been reading some or all your blogs in Reader, there have been many posts all over the web, from tech blogs to reddit on how to find the best replacement, however, I tend to think that we should wait until July gets closer because there might be an even better alternative by then. At the very least, we can get opinions from people who have been using alternatives for months. In any case, everyone should take the time to back up their Google data. You can use their Takeout service to backup everything from your contacts to your drive files and it saves as a .zip file. After doing it for your Reader files, you'll be able to import all your subscriptions to another service.
A few of our favorite authors spoke on various subjects this week: Sara Zarr talked about her upcoming book, The Lucy Variations, including the challenge of moving to a third-person narrative. (which, spoiler alert, was actually one of the reasons all three of us did not love it as much as Zarr's other work) Stacia Kane, author of the Downside Ghosts series, reposted a story from years ago about embarrassing herself when she was first starting out and met an "author" and reminded readers why writers love to hear from them. And Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved sounded off on NPR after being awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her contribution to children's literature.
Martin asks Paterson how she has been able to remain so close to what it feels like to be young.
- The Random House Hydra imprint vs. SFWA feud over contract terms, which we covered in last week's O & E, is still ongoing. Publisher's Weekly reported on further developments and then on Random House changing its contract terms.
- Fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries? Well perhaps you'll like this YouTube adaptation of Game of Thrones, reimagined as taking place in a high school. Spoiler: You might recognize a familiar face or two from LBD in the cast.
- Literary nonprofit First Book will be awarding $500,000 to Lee & Low and HarperCollins to print more multicultural books for children.
In a 2012 study, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison evaluated some 3,600 books, looking for multicultural content. Of the books examined, 3.3 percent were found to be about African-Americans, 2.1 percent were about Asian-Pacific Americans, 1.5 percent were about Latinos and 0.6 percent were about American Indians.
- Stephenie Meyer wrote a piece for The Guardian about Twilight, traditional romance, and working with women.
- Also from The Guardian, an article about the success (or the success?) of attempts to balance the scales for women in literature.