Up close and personal with a 24 day old peregrine falcon chick. This is what it must feel like to be a NatGeo photographer.
Confession: I became obsessed with peregrine falcons for a time after reading Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain as a child. During recess, I would scan the skies for the definitive peregrine silhouette, widespread wings and long tail feathers, and wonder if I could track the bird to a cliff side nest where I could snatch a chick to raise as my own, as Sam did with Frightful. (Granted, that was probably illegal, even back in my day, and I could never tell kites, hawks, and sometimes, low flying crows apart.)
Nevertheless, I had the chance to live my childhood dream when I got to pet four fluffy chicks that were temporarily removed from their lofty water tower nest for banding. At 24 days old, the chicks were too young to do much except flap their wings and squawk indignantly at being handled in such an undignified manner.
This is exactly what it looks like. The chick is temporarily placed into a purple plastic pumpkin so it can be weighed on the scale. Females are larger and heavier than males.
Give them another two weeks to grow, and they’ll be soaring and swooping with the best of them.
In two weeks, these primary feathers will be light, long and strong enough to help this guy or gal reach speeds of up to 220 mph during dives.
I later found out there’s a whole color-coded system for banding peregrines. The chicks I touched were banded with black over red ankle rings, signifying that they were from the eastern U.S., even though they were technically Midwest/Great Plains birds. I should find out what that’s about.
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Confession: ever since we set foot in the young adult department at the Cambridge Public Library and casually asked librarian Maya Escobar for book recommendations, we’ve been secretly plotting how to get her to do a Q&A with us.
When we finally got around to asking her about the state of YA–including common misconceptions about YA books and readers–and what it’s like to be a YA librarian, she graciously agreed.
Photo courtesy of Maya Escobar, who’s clearly showing off her love of comics!
1. How did you become the CPL YA librarian?
I first worked at Cambridge Public Library part time, mostly in the evenings, when I first got out of college. I worked at the checkout desk and met and observed all kinds of interesting folks — not just library visitors, also my co-workers! Then I went off for a bit and worked in graphic design and publications, ending up at a nonprofit called YouthBuild USA. I really liked being back in a nonprofit setting, which was also geared towards improving the lives of young people. But I missed having more face-to-face interactions with those people; I was mostly sitting in front of a computer, working on layout and editing.
Around that time I ran into CPL’s director, Susan Flannery, on the T, and she said if I ever wanted to come back to the library she was sure there would be something for me. So I went in for an informational interview with the current head children’s librarian at the time, and learned more about what was involved in becoming a children’s librarian. I decided that I wanted to go for it, and applied to the GSLIS program at Simmons and an entry level position at CPL at the same time. And those both worked out! So here I am
2. Best job perk?
I work with really wonderful, smart, creative people! And the children’s staff at Main has always been made up of a fun group of people who are really passionate about this work and have wonderful senses of humor. I also like not having a formal dress code. After working in the financial district, I can tell you: khaki pants NEVER AGAIN.
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Credit: SLJ Battle of the Kids’ Books
It’s almost time for my favorite kidlit event of the year: SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books. This year’s a bit tough, because I know nothing about most of the judges. I’ve only read the books of four of the judges: Frances Hardinge, Cece Bell, Mariko Tamaki and Ann M. Martin. So my predictions are even more random than usual. Here goes…
3/7 Judge Michael Buckley
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler vs Challenger Deep
3/8 Judge Maris Wicks
Drowned City vs Echo
3/9 Judge Melanie Crowder
Gone Crazy in Alabama vs Goodbye Stranger
3/10 Judge Erin Kelly Entrada
The Hired Girl vs I Crawl Through It
3/14 Judge Tim Federle
The Marvels vs Most Dangerous
3/15 Judge Frances Hardinge
My Seneca Village vs Nest
–I’m counting on Hardinge to choose the book that least resembles the types of books she writes. It’s worth a shot, especially since I found Nest a bit lacking in character development.
3/16 Judge Cece Bell
Nimona vs Rhythm Ride
–I’m using the opposite reasoning here with Cece Bell. Besides, Nimona is fantastic.
3/17 Judge Pamela S. Turner
Symphony for the City of the Dead vs X: A Novel (more…)
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It’s been a while since we’ve put Daleks in the library. The kidlit library, that is. So because it’s the weekend, just for fun, hold on to your sonic screwdriver because it’s about to get geeky:
In an old house in Skaro, all covered with hand mines, lived twelve little Daleks in two straight lines.
Exterminating baobab trees, one asteroid at a time. First B-612, next the universe. Exterminate!
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Last year I wrote about various authors’ favorite motifs, and what you can tell about their real-world obsessions based on their books. I’ve thought of a few more, including:
E.L. Konigsburg: when I read The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World, I couldn’t stop thinking about the similarities to The Mixed-Up Files. Now I’ve picked up The Second Mrs. Gioconda, and it’s clear that Konigsburg had a real appreciation for art, and a fascination with the creators and caretakers of that art. We’d all be more art-savvy if teachers taught art history the way Konigsburg wrote her books.
Maggie Stiefvater: any reader of the Raven Cycle will recognize Stiefvater’s obsession with cars…and as her blog confirms, she owns a racecar with a license plate that makes law enforcement nervous.
Rick Riordan: This one’s so obvious it’s almost cheating, but when you consider all three of his kids’ book series are based on ancient world mythologies (Greek/Roman, Egyptian and Norse), it’s a pretty good bet that mythology is more of a hobby or obsession than a convenient plot device.
On a related note, Kathi Appelt probably has a similar interest in myth, though she’s more about folktales and legends, which she transforms to fit her stories. The mermaids in Keeper are self-explanatory, and the Sugar Man is based on the Sasquatch, but the ancient snake in The Underneath is harder to pin down. Perhaps she’s based on a local legend or Native American myth?
Jeanne Birdsall: music, of course, with a preference for classical and Broadway tunes. Now that Jeffrey and Batty are both accomplished musicians, I can’t wait to see the music referenced in the next and final Penderwicks book.
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