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April 2013

Claudia Kishi and the quest for personal style

Remember Claudia Kishi? Junk food hoarder, terrible speller, burgeoning artist and founding member of The Baby-Sitters Club.
claudiacartoondescriptionCROPPED
If you don’t know Claudia, you should. But not necessarily because of her role in one of the biggest pre-teen book series of the 1990s (the last title was published in 2000), or because she was one of the few literary role models for Asian-American girls coming of age in that decade (OK, actually, you should definitely know about that). What’s important here is that in the 21st century Claudia Kishi has taken on a new life: Style Icon. The internet is bursting with blogs and tumblrs dedicated to Claudia and her unique, thoroughly DIY, and ultimately undefinable fashion sense.
Here’s a fan art rendering, from the claudia kishi diaries tumblr linked above, of a typical Claudia outfit (if there is such a thing):
claudiaart
And here’s the description, from the Baby-Sitters Club Super Mystery #2: Baby-sitters Beware:

“Claudia was wearing leggings, too – purple ones – with black Doc Martens, red slouch socks, black bicycle shorts over the leggings, a big t-shirt with the words “This Might Be Art” scrawled on it in purple (I knew she’d made it herself), and an old black suit jacket of her father’s, with the sleeves rolled up… Claudia’s earrings were purple feathers (she made those herself, too).”

Here’s the thing about Claudia: even if the shorts-over-leggings or homemade jewelry look isn’t for you, she represented (and still represents) something very important for young girls on the verge of adolescence: fearless self-expression. Her modern style icon status isn’t so much about what she wore (check out this great quiz for examples of how Claudia’s outfits wouldn’t necessarily look so amazing on actual people), but about why she wore. Fashion is frequently dismissed as frivolous, superficial, too girly, and a host of other descriptors meant to deny it as a topic worthy of serious consideration. And while a simple search for “fashion studies” or “fashion theory” or “fashion history” will swiftly disprove this assumption, there remains the very consideration-worthy matter of personal style.

More than just a means to look good, personal style is a path to self-exploration and self-expression. It’s not the only way, of course, but it should be respected as a valid option. It is also a way to take back some control from the usual channels that get to define what is trendy, or beautiful, or worthy of admiration. I suspect the reason many now-grown former readers of the Baby-Sitters Club, as well as new fans, identify so strongly with Claudia is that she beautifully illustrates how creating your own hard-won, trial & error, always-evolving fashion sense can be a crucial part of a person’s development.

And, since Claudia would likely roll her eyes at how serious I’m getting about this, we should allow her the final word:
 “I think clothes make a statement about the person inside them. Also, since you have to get dressed every day, why not at least make it fun?”
(BSC #2, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls)

The Book that Inspires Crimes Against Food: Redeemed

I had very lofty goals for this round of food-in-books blogging. I had been mentally preparing to make the Lamb and Prune Stew from Hunger Games for about 2 weeks. But there was a hitch: I’m not a big fan of lamb. Or prunes. And I hadn’t yet figured out how to get around that seeing as those two ingredients are the only ones listed in the book. So I waited, and thought, and waited, and thought. And the next thing I knew, it was the day before this blog needed to be done and I had not gotten any closer to making the stew. I needed another option and FAST. And one classic food book popped into my head: Green Eggs and Ham. We’ve all read it. And now, I was going to cook it.

I did not make the prunes and lamb, instead I made Green Eggs and Ham. (Ok, Seuss-ing over.)

A quick google image search turned up some pretty attrocious versions:

Clearly taking this dish literally could lead to some dark places. I knew I had one rule: no food crimes could be committed in the name of this adventure. Setting aside any food-coloring methods of turning this classic combo green, there was clearly only one choice: basil pesto. This simple sauce is naturally green from the basil, and I predicted (correctly) that the flavor would go nicely with eggs and ham. I put the items together–the green, the egg, and the ham–in the form of a sandwich, and BOY did that turn out great. My ham in this tasty concoction was proscuitto that I crisped up in the toaster oven. I layered that with a fried egg on a toasted a brioche roll.

photo-4

After a healthy dollop of basil pesto (store bought–sorry fans, I was SUPER lazy this time around) and a few shavings of pecorino cheese, the sandwich came together. And what a sandwich it was. Salty from the proscuitto, bright from the basil, creamy from the slightly runny egg yolk–this sandwich had it all. Just as Green Eggs and Ham may be the quintessential Dr. Seuss book, this sandwich should be the quintessential version of the dish itself.

photo-5

 

I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you, Sam-I-Am!

Library Closed Friday, 4/19/2013…but you can still access Library resources

Boston is under lockdown and Wheelock College is canceling all activities for today.  Since that means the Library is closed, and since this is a research-heavy time of the semester, we would like to remind you that you can still access Library databases from home, using the same logins you use for all your other Wheelock stuff (like the portal, your Wheelock email, etc…)image from memecenter.com

Don’t know where to start in your research?  Check out the huge search box on the Library website.   Visit our Research Guides for information on what databases and websites are recommended for your field of study.  Need citation help?  Visit the Library’s Citing and Writing page for guides on APA, MLA, and Chicago.

Information on how to use the search box can be found here: http://www.wheelock.edu/library/using-the-search-box

Check your emails regularly for Wheelock updates.  Stay inside and be safe!


Name this blog and WIN BIG!

blog convo

The library blog needs a new name!  Can you help us out?  You can win a $15 Amazon Gift Card… not to mention lifelong celebrity, and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve left your mark on Wheelock College.

So you can get a good idea of what name might fit, here are the kinds of things we currently post here:

  • reviews and musings on YA fiction and children’s books
  • historical photos from the Library Archives
  • research tips and tricks
  • recipes and styles inspired by literature
  • news about events and displays in the Library
  • new books in the library, and other stuff you can borrow

Entries can be submitted by emailing yan@wheelock.edu, or by submitting a paper entry form at the library front desk.  You can even submit an entry by leaving a comment on this blog post.  Just remember to leave your Wheelock email (the address won’t show up publicly) so that we can find you if you win.  The contest will close on Tuesday, April 16… so get those entries in soon.  And thanks!


With All Due Respect and Apologies to Louisa May Alcott

I have spent a lot of time reading young adult fiction, and even more writing about young adult fiction.  I decided that it was time that I try my hand at it.  I drew inspiration from both classics and newer popular works.  I selected what I thought to be the most beautiful aspects of each and loving stitched them together to form a perfect narrative.  For isn’t that what one gets when cobbling together fragments of perfection—perfection even more glorified?  Wasn’t there a book exactly to this effect?  I’ll make a note to look that up later.

lord of the filesHere for the first time, please find my synopsis for the first of my trilogy, “Lord of the Files.”

The story begins in a barren wasteland.  The Earth has been decimated by nuclear war that caused technology to evolve into consciousness and rebel against the remaining humanity.  Computers amassed a robotic army.  However, a clever human resistance developed a virus that caused the robot army to turn into zombies.  The zombie computers turned on one another; further mass destruction ensued.  Unfortunately, this also backfired against the human resistance.  The computer virus similarly attained consciousness, evolved, and infected most of the remaining population.   The humans turned to vampires, werewolves, and witches.

Into this brutal landscape, young Chastinence is introduced.  She is a witch, pure of heart and spirit.  Her mean surroundings do little to diminish her beauty, her musical talent, and her kindness.  Her mother, the most powerful witch the world has known since the fifth apocalypse, dies tragically from consumption shortly before Chasitnence’s fifteen birthday.  This is particularly calamitous because Chasitenence’s mother was to pass on the Knowledge of the Ages when Chassy came of age at fifteen.  “My birthday just won’t be my birthday without any presents,” Chassy grumbles.

Chastinence, blind with grief, leaves the underground paradise her mother created to embark on a journey to find the power that belongs rightfully to her.  She is captured by a militant human sect that forces her to participate in a public fight to the death.  She considers escape, but realizes thousands will suffer if she does not battle in their stead.  She meets Frosh, a dark and handsome opponent.  She is intrigued by his obvious secrets.  Her desire for him awakens her latent witch powers, and together the two escape the arena, find a cache of zombie robots to destroy the ruling militia, and band together with seven other survivors to rebuild a humanish population.

All should be well, but soon Chastinence discovers Frosh is a vampire werewolf elf.  She swears her allegiance, limbs, veins, and changelings be damned.  Frosh, touched, emotes.  A lot.  The two realize they will have to make a new life in a little house on the toxic prairie. Chastinence welcomes the challenge; she is blessed with many werewolf vampire elf daughters.  “Oh, my girls,” she says at the end of book one, “however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!”

I’m currently fleshing out book two.  But know that a surviving robot Holdon Caufield makes a bid for Chastinence’s affections.  A love triangle threatens the peace Frosh has worked so hard to find for himself and his family.  Its working title is “Hunger Dawn.”  I’m pretty sure these books will be the next best sellers.  Get your copies early.