Oct. 4th, 2010

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Will Manley, in booklist, Jan 1&15, 2010:

"It’s been blissful. For about the last 10 years, the number of “libraries are dead” articles appearing in professional journals has greatly diminished. But now that we are in the middle of the Great Recession, the gloom-and-doom articles are back. There is a big irony here. While more and more commentators have proclaimed the death of—take your pick—libraries, books, or reading, the number of patrons using libraries has been on the rise.
Is there another profession in the world that is as self-abusive as librarianship? Do other professionals beat themselves up as much as librarians? Do plumbers hold conferences about the future of plumbing? Do janitors fret about the development of robotic vacuum cleaners? Do taxi drivers whine that light-rail lines will put them out of business? Why are librarians so pessimistic when their libraries have never been more popular with the public?"

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Someone I read complained about how unliberated the concept of this manga series was: a young girl wants to find the 'prince' who saved her life and cook him the best dessert in the world. I was intrigued, especially when I looked into it an discovered that the heroine also wants to be a world-class pastry chef like her parents.

All the females in our house plowed happily through all 10 cream-puff volumes of this series. The plot is frothy and with the usually girl manga elements-- which guy will she chose? How can she get along with the mean girls? How can she (and other characters) balance family, personal, and friend ties? What will she do with her life? On the other hand, there are serious touches (someone dies, for instance), and the heroine makes (good) life choices and uses food to bring folks together. MeMe Roth would disapprove of Kitchen Princess' comfort food focus, but her desire to teach others is a plus in my book.

Graphically presented recipes for the main dish in each episode appear at the end of the books. Dessert making isn't my thing, but I did like the presentation.

I don't feel the need to own this series, but it did get me started reading manga, and I thoroughly enjoyed these. And no, I didn't feel it was particularly unliberated, except in the usually tween-fluff way.
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In a world where most people have a invisible, unsensible 'fairy', which gives good luck in a particular thing, not all fairies are created equal; and some can be downright difficult. Our heroine, attending a high school for sports stars, finds her parking fairy especially difficult to live with, and so she's taking steps-- by never riding in cars or other transport, she hopes to starve away her fairy. The unintended consequences of her plan tangle her up with a fairy expert, a girl with a boy-crazy fairy, and some difficult choices.

This is a fun, funny, teenage angst novel with magic-like elements, which is why our 11-year-old picked it up and enjoyed it. While there's some moral in here (our heroine finds out first hand why having a boy-crazy fairy isn't a good thing, and why the owner of such a fairy has social troubles, not to mention that her big, famous hometown might be just a *little* parochial), there's no heavy-handedness here. This is a fun read, and at least to me, reads true to teen thought processes. Adults may be concerned about some remarkably stupid choices of some of the characters, but again, that's true to life too-- even if it merits a family discussion among the readers.


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