Challenge Resolved in WI: Chinese Handcuffs and The Kite Runner.

From Waukesha Now:

Karen Tessman, a parent of a Waukesha West High School student, filed a complaint in July to have the books "The Kite Runner" and "Chinese Handcuffs" removed due to the "extreme violence" she said is depicted in each book. 

Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner," which was No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, is part of the district's curriculum, having been previously approved by the district in 2006.

But the district's Consideration Committee, a subcommittee of the School Board, still took up the complaint on Wednesday. 

"Chinese Handcuffs," a 1989 young adult novel written by Chris Crutcher, is not part of the district's curriculum but is housed in school libraries. 

Tessman said at the meeting that the books are "desensitizing" students to violence.

"They don't need this kind of violence brought into their lives," Tessman said.

The challenge committee voted unanimously to keep the books in the school; Tessman plans to appeal to the school board.

Previously in Waukesha: Even more on Cameron Post AND a new challenge!

Previously in Waukesha: Roundup: Challenge Updates.

Related: NCAC: Not the First Time Around.

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Challenged in TX: YA vampire stories, in general.

From Your Houston News

A Shepherd minister is leading a petition to have certain books removed from the shelves of the teen section at Austin Memorial Library.

The books include Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, and all other books aimed at a teen audience that perpetuate a theme of vampires in relationships with young teens.

Phillip Missick, pastor of King of Saints Tabernacle, is concerned that the books and others do not bend a child’s character in a positive way.

In the article, said pastor refers to a stuffie of Dobby the House Elf as "demonic", and isn't particularly impressed by the library's Sorting Hat, either. He's circulating a petition asking the library to shut down the "occult" room and "purge" the books from the shelves, but some of the people who originally signed it have since asked for their names to be removed:

Among those who signed the petition are Rev. James Holt and Rev. Earl Faust of Cornerstone Church of Cleveland, and Rev. Carl Williamson of Calvary Baptist Church. Williamson has since sent a letter to the city apologizing for not “exploring all the facts before signing.”

And the moral of this story is: ALWAYS READ PETITIONS BEFORE SIGNING THEM.

Spider-Woman Butt: Column A, Column B.

Spider-Woman #1

Spider-Woman #1

Variant Spider-Woman #1 Is she wearing fabric or body paint?

Variant Spider-Woman #1

Is she wearing fabric or body paint?

So, on the one hand, barf. (And while the variant is CLEARLY the worse of the two, I am fascinated by Silk's proportions on the official cover. Did she have ribs removed? Could her torso and head and arms really be supported on such a tiny waist?)

But on the other, the uproar brought the series to my attention, and NOW I CAN'T WAIT FOR NOVEMBER BECAUSE I WANT TO READ IT NOW, NOW, NOW.

Recently @KirkusReviews...

...I wrote about Susan McBride's Very Bad Things:

It’s a mystery set in a boarding school that involves a girl’s disappearance; a severed hand in a box; secret tunnels; blackmail; date rape; a star athlete set up not once, but twice; arson; an orphan who is adopted only to be orphaned again; a friendship that involves some serious one-way obsession; and, toward the end, some Phantom of the Opera–style action.

I should have loved it.

Holy cow, so many issues.

And last Thursday, I wrote about Rin Chupeco's The Girl from the Well:

If you’re at all squeamish, you’ll want to give Rin Chupeco’s The Girl From the Well a wide berth. If you prefer your narrators to be unequivocal White Hats, ditto. If seeing the aftermath of violence to women and children is a trigger, avoid. But. If you enjoy seeing child predators get their just desserts in Andrew Vachss’ Burke books, and if you liked the moral ambiguity of the title character in Anna Dressed in Blood—as well as the gruesome details of her rage-fueled violence—it may well be a good fit.

Summer Reading 2014: Second Dispatch.

Apologies for my absence! It was due to a combination of having a very welcome houseguest (who blazed through four Mary Stewart books during her stay); my inability to be online without focusing on what's currently happening in Ferguson; and the sudden exhaustion that arrived when I realized that, with the exception of this week's Craft Table Activity and the Ice Cream Social this Saturday, that the 2014 Summer Reading Program is over.

So, just for kicks, here's a list of everything we did (minus the stuff I chronicled in my previous post):

Craft Table Projects!

Name Rockets: I just put up an example, made sure that the table was well-stocked with construction paper (full sheets and scraps), markers, crayons, yarn/ribbon, glue sticks, and scissors. Oh, and some alphabet stickers that I found in a cupboard and some punch-out paper letters that someone recently donated. Some kids went simple (write name on rectangle, glue triangle to the top, glue yarn "flames" to the bottom), while others got more complex (more along the lines of my example, but some even went further: 3D!).

Expand an Image: This is an especially good one if you've got a backlog of magazines to weed. (WHICH I DID.)

Cubist Portrait: I put out some image-heavy books about Picasso and cubism, made an example portrait along these lines, and let them go to town. This is another, similar project that I might work in at some point in the future, and wow, if I get my hands on some pastels at some point, LOOK HOW PRETTY.

This? Is what is left after a week on the craft table.

Macaroni Necklaces: The weekend before this project, I dyed 8 pounds of pasta. Which, it turns out, is a LOT OF FREAKING PASTA (that picture is just the remnants-->). As it was really humid that weekend, I found that it was all still a bit sticky, even after baking in the sun for two straight afternoons. So I baked 'em on super-low for a while, which seemed to do the trick. SO POPULAR, this craft. I'll definitely be working it into the regular rotation.

Space Ship Portholes: This is this week's project, and judging by the reaction of the two groups of kids who just descended on the craft table, I'd say it's going to be a hit. I especially love that they're mixed media, so the kids were drawing and cutting out aliens as well as using those sticky foam stars and pipe cleaners and whatnot.

One-time Programs:

Kite Suncatchers: Contact paper, construction paper, tissue paper, yarn, et voila! This project is SO adaptable, in that you can do leaves, flowers, butterflies, etc.

Homemade Watercolors: Even though I didn't go with the Fizz! Boom! Read! program, I did look for some science-y type ideas when I was putting the schedule together -- it turns out you can use common household ingredients (with BONUS baking soda/vinegar action!) to make your own watercolors from scratch. The participants all mixed up a few colors, divided the paint into condiment cups (another random supply I found tucked away in a cupboard here), and then traded so that everyone had a good mix to bring home.

Colorblend Coffeefilters: Coffee filters, markers, spray bottle, hair dryer (to speed up the drying process). This one was geared towards the littles, but the older kids (and adults) ended up getting into it too: using their decorated filters to make peacocks and popsicle stick puppets (mostly skirts and wings) and butterflies and flowers and so on.

Marshmallow Catapults: Surprise, surprise, BIG HIT. They built them inside, and then trooped outside to have distance contests. (Well, the kids who didn't just hang around, shooting marshmallows into each others' mouths trooped outside to have distance contests. It suddenly occurs to me that that could have resulted in a hideous choking incident, but happily, it did not.) 

Balloon Rockets: Another one for the littles. Colored rockets, taped straws to the back, threaded them onto twine pulled taut between shelves, attached an inflated balloon and LET FLY. There was a LOT of shrieking, and many AGAIN! AGAIN! demands.

Soap Bubble Prints: I still love this idea, though the program itself kind of devolved into finger painting. Which was still fun.

Rubber Band Splatter Painting: Oh, man. EVERYONE had paint on their faces by the end. Which was pretty hilarious. As I told some of the parents, I might have to invest in some goggles going forward. Also, YAY JOSHIE for whipping up some frames for this at the last minute.

Magnet Painting: We used Joshie's frames for this one, too, and it went really well -- we got strong magnets from the hardware store, and the ball bearings were definitely preferable to the washers.

Star Party @ Starfield Observatory: There's an observatory about five miles away from the library that offers free guided tours of the sky. We saw Saturn! And the International Space Station! IT WAS AWESOME.

Sharpie Tie Dye: Some kids loved their new shirts so much that they whipped off what they wore in and wore their new duds out. 

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Glow-in-the-Dark Comets: We used black plastic sheeting instead of shopping bags, but the principle was the same. It's a good thing the library was mostly quiet, because there were a LOT OF COMETS WHIZZING AROUND.

Build-Your-Own Constellation Viewer: THIS ONE. I was really worried that this would be a bust -- it only occurred to me two days before that I should have been saving paper towel rolls all summer, but we used cardstock instead, and everything totally worked out fine! Everyone made two or three, and kids got progressively more elaborate with each one.

SO, PHEW. Suddenly I don't feel so wimpy for being so exhausted. I think I'm going to slink home and watch a Bollywood movie.

Previously: Summer Reading 2014: First Dispatch.