Sunday, May 13, 2007

Put me in, Coach

I like books. Yeah ok maybe I don't have to point that out.

But I'm not talking about reading books, though I do sort of remember what that's like and sometimes I still get to do it. Mostly books about serial killers and epidemic disease. The rest of the time I read MIT Technology Review and American Libraries and boingboing. For reasons related to one or another of my jobs, I have to keep up on certain things.

But I LIKE books, I like picking up a book and going, "OH yeah, this one will be PERFECT for Kid X." There are so many crap books out there, it feels like a gift to encounter one that was made by a person who also likes books. And who likes kids.

I'm picking out this year's books for the school library. Updating the collection and filling in holes. It's a privilege, and a challenge that I enjoy. The school librarian tells me, "We need puberty, and also some sports biographies, wrestling if you can find them. The Holocaust, and hair and makeup." and I get to ferret out new good books on those topics.

Ohhh, I can't WAIT for the kid who wants hair and makeup to get a load of The Looks Book or D.I.Y. Girl! There are a couple puberty books, notably What's Going On Down There?! that I am very happy about. Also, this year has seen some new, inspiring and beautiful books on the Holocaust.

I totally snagged Joseph Bruchac's Warriors for the little lacrosse nuts. For those of you not from around here, lacrosse is a big sick Maryland thing. It's like the hardest sport there is. In fact, I swear, if you had to play it with your shoelaces tied together, that would not be much of an additional challenge. The lacrosse unit in P.E. in high school was my springtime nightmare. The play is like field hockey, if I remember right, except you have to cradle a hard rubber ball in the "pocket" (if a 2-inch-deep triangular crotch woven of inflexible rawhide can be called a pocket) of a stick held above your head. While running. It's like an insane spoon race, with body contact. But some kids are just maniacs for it, they're NOT interested in reading about ANYTHING else, and they can't understand why I can't hand them biographies of famous lacrosse players written for kids. You know what? NAME me one famous lacrosse player. Oh, did I hear you say "Well there's Jim Brown, the famous sex machine and football player, whose natural sport is said to have been lacrosse"? Yeah well eight year olds don't know who Jim Brown is. So shut up.

Anyway. There are other sports than lacrosse, even here in Maryland, and there are kids who want to read about their sports heroes. LeBron James (him I've heard of, Mr. Librarian is a Cavs fan). Cal Ripken ("Saint Cal" for those of us who live in Baltimore). Anything hometown would be good, so I went looking for juvenile biographies of Orioles and Ravens. Hm. Huh. I see plenty of Yankees, which, uh, no, does not go over well in this town. I see players for every football team on the map, but strangely, no Ravens. I ask Mr. Librarian. He mentions some names that are familiar to me only because the stories of their arrests make the non-sports sections of the paper.

Here's a tip, athletes: if you want people to write inspirational books about you for youngsters, don't get into a car drunk. Don't buy or sell drugs. For god's sake don't stab anyone. Nobody will ever write a kids book about you.