Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Long Time No See

With our summer reading program nearing our way, certain things get put on the back burner. Thankfully, I'm ready to blog again, and I have two excellent books to tell you about. Whenever an important anniversary of an event or the birthday of a famous person occurs, a mini-storm of books is inevitably produced.  2012 marks the 100th anniversary of both the founding of the Girl Scout movement and the sinking of the Titanic. We've ordered a number of books, written for children or adults, in honor of the occasions. 

The First Girl Scout

We actually have three brand new books about Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts.  Here Come the Girl Scouts! is aimed at young elementary school students, while Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts is for adult readers (must read that book this year). The First Girl Scout is ideal for upper elementary and middle school readers.  Ginger Wadsworth, a former Girl Scout, is obviously very admiring of Low, but this is a balanced account of this unique woman's life.  Due to her hearing loss, Low had to overcome quite a few obstacles in order to achieve her greatness (the pictures of the hearing aids/trumpets that she would have used are extraordinary). Her husband's infidelity is remarked upon, but not sensationalized.  Well worth the read for current and former Girl Scouts.

Voyagers of the Titanic

I'll come right out and say that Titanic obsession bothers me. I won't bore you with the whys and wherefores, but it does. Which is why I've pretty much avoided, as much as I can, all the hoopla over the 100th anniversary. However, when you work in a library and regularly read reviews of books, it's difficult to avoid the deluge of books that have made their way to our shelves. I also have a different feeling about books written about the Titanic than I do about, say, cruises and restaurants that recreate the "last (first class) meal" on the Titanic.  The fact that Voyagers of the Titanic focused on the people involved with the Titanic and the aftermath of the disaster intrigued me. It's a sobering reminder that behind all the lost glamor represented by the sinking of the Titanic were devastated families and guilt-ridden survivors who were never the same again (in an age and society, especially for the English passengers, that did not have a name for or understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The book's strength and strong impact come in the telling of the immediate aftermath of the disaster, in which the streets of Paris were filled with anxious and grief-ridden Americans (initially, the news was not that grave), and an English school in which several hundred children lost a parent or relative on the Titanic. This is a heartrending read, especially when reading how many teenage boys were not recognized in the "women and children" edict, the chilling cries heard by passengers rescued by lifeboats, and the shame felt by survivors (one teenager was told by her mother to never, ever tell anyone that they had survived the Titanic), especially by the men, who suffered a great deal of public ridicule. This is a remarkable account which strips away the bloat and craziness of Titanic mania and shows the humanity of the passengers, crew, and ship builders.

Next post: new books for May! Wheee!

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