If You’d Been Born in a Different Decade…

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This is pointless and, as many pointless things are, pretty entertaining. And it tickles all my most ticklish geek-bones…. yay!

Time has taken the updated Social Security Administration’s list of popular baby names and created a most elucidating widget. You plug in your name, birth year, and gender. It figures out what rank your name had in that year (for example, my name was the 35th most popular girl’s name given in the year I was born). Then it references the popularity lists for all available decades and tells you what your name would have been, if you had been born then, and if your parents had chosen the name in the same rank spot. Because, obviously, parents pick baby names based on which “place” they’re in, not the way they look or sound or what they mean or who else has them. :)

That doesn’t make a lot of sense when I write it out, does it. I should just show you.

So basically, my name was the 35th most popular girl’s name in 1980. If I were born today, and my parents gave me the 35th most popular girl’s name, my name would be Leah.

Applying similar standards to the entire decade, going back a century:

  • If I had been born in the 2000s, my name would have been Bailey (haha; that was my grandmother’s male doggy’s name)
  • If I had been born in the 1990s, my name would have been Christine
  • If I had been born in the 1980s, my name would have been Susan (really? I don’t know anyone my age named Susan…)
  • If I had been born in the 1970s, my name would have been Renee
  • If I had been born in the 1960s, my name would have been Lynn
  • If I had been born in the 1950s, my name would have been Elaine
  • If I had been born in the 1940s, my name would have been Ruby (and how cute would that have been, with red hair?)
  • If I had been born in the 1930s, my name would have been Bernice
  • If I had been born in the 1920s, my name would have been Eva
  • If I had been born in the 1910s, my name would have been Marion
  • If I had been born in the 1900s, my name would have been Jennie (interesting; I don’t think of this as being a “vintage” name)
  • If I had been born in the 1890s, my name would have been Nora

I decided to do the same trick to Ryan. Turns out his name was the 14th most popular name in his birth year. If he were born today, his name would be Aiden and I would have never dated him based on that alone. :)

  • 2000s: Christian
  • 1990s: Kyle
  • 1980s: Kevin
  • 1970s: Paul
  • 1960s: Ronald
  • 1950s: Stephen
  • 1940s: Gerald
  • 1930s: Raymond
  • 1920s: Arthur
  • 1910s: Fred
  • 1900s: Arthur
  • 1890s: Albert

So if you like names as much as I do, you should go find out what your other names would be, and share your favorite (and its decade) in the comments. I think if I had to choose one of my alternative names, I’d throw way back to the 1890s (Nora, which is an increasingly popular name right now on its own) or possibly try Elaine (1950s) on for size. Not sure why but those are the two that are appealing to me right this moment. And obviously Ryan would have to be Arthur.

The New Book of Days

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Today, in a discard shelf in our school library, I found this book:

The New Book of Days by Eleanor Farjeon, (c) 1941.

The New Book of Days by Eleanor Farjeon, (c) 1941.

 

It was published in 1941. The front leaf informs me that the author (compiler?) has included “a scrap of fun or fancy, poetry or nonsense, fact or fable” for every day of the year. And as I flip through it, I see that it leans heavily toward fancy and nonsense…. especially nonsense.

For example, here is today’s offering:

NBOD 4-28

Hmm. This may prove entirely too intriguing of a “makes no sense out of its cultural context” find not to share. And just think: I’d have something to post every day for a year! Ha!

 

 

Posting Every Two Months Or So

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How do mommybloggers do it? When do parents find time to write? I swear, every drop of my creative energy is poured into being totally interested in the Best Toddler Ever.

It’s been months since a real post. I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I’ll do a quick(ish) update on H’s talking.

We had to miss a speech therapy appointment due to a time conflict, and then our therapist is having surgery, so it’s been a while since she and H have met. Somewhere in there, I guess H just decided that he didn’t really need that stuff anymore, and started yakking. I mean, it’s not like he suddenly opened his mouth and started reciting Shakespeare, but sort of out of the blue he began connecting sounds and gestures to communication, and that was all she wrote. You could almost see it clicking as he figured out that the noises and movements people were making meant something, and that he could get things that he wanted if he did little things like taking our hands and leading us to the object of his desire.

It kind of seems like forever ago (early to mid March) that I was playing with him up in his room, and he turned to his wooden alphabet puzzle and shuffled through the pieces. Then he very deliberately found the Q, held it up, and said “Q!” I froze, shocked; he did it again, with about a third of the letters. How the heck did he learn his alphabet? This is NOT something we’d been trying to teach him! I guess it’s all of the toys and PBS shows… he does love Super Why… We played with this with him and discovered that if we sang the alphabet song and stopped at the natural breaks, he’d tell us the next letter. We never did get a great video, but his enthusiastic “Q!” and “thee-you-thee” (T-U-V) would melt your heart.

And then he turned into a little myna bird (do you, I always thought that was spelled “mynah” until just now, but apparently not), copying back everything anyone said. It started with little things, and then whammo! Everything!

Out of nowhere — and really, no one coached him on this, it was bizarre — he started saying, “Be happy!” So of course we had to jump on that and teach him to say it in response to, “Don’t worry”… and then he started saying that, and that was adorable and silly. Kid can’t say mama and daddy but he knows Bobby McFerrin.

He also sings “choo choo!” at relevant points during “The Chatanooga Choo-Choo,” punctuates the rubber ducky song with appropriate “ba-do-ba-do” and “foh foh foh-de-oh”s, sings parts of “C is for Cookie,” and does a passable Ernie laugh.

On April 11 we were at the bookstore and he was running laps around the picture book section. I was tired and hoping I could get him to settle down for a few minutes, so I picked up a brightly-colored Wonder Woman ABCs board book and called him over. I’m thinking maybe he’ll consent to letting me hold him and read a few pages, but instead he grabs the book away from me, opens it to a random page, points to the large yellow T, and says, “T!” He flipped the pages and I kid you not read every single damn letter in that book. Not the little words, and I guess it’s not too startling that he could recognize letters in a book if he could recognize them in his puzzle, but I was blown away. Since then he’s picked out letters in EXIT signs, television shows, and t-shirts. I keep telling him that he needs to learn to brush his teeth and use a toilet before he has to learn to read, but he’s not interested in my opinion.

This week he’s figured out animal sounds. I guess it’s not that impressive, given his age, that we can bray and he’ll say “donkey,” or we whinny and he says “horse,” but it’s such a huge improvement that it feels to us like he just got his Mensa membership. As of this morning he has monkey, donkey, horse, pig, sheep, cow, dog, and cat. He knows eyes, ears, and nose. He says “uh oh” and “okay” and “oh no” and “hi” and “okay guys” and “kiss” and “bye bye”. Once he said “okay go bye-bye be happy” as we were walking to the car. He says “shoe — feet” and “step up/step down,” except it usually sounds like “sh*t” instead of “step,” but we’ll take it.

He seems so happy. I mean, he’s always loved it when he realizes he’s entertaining. He likes to make people smile and laugh and applaud, and he gets a lot of positive reinforcement when he speaks. If only he knew how happy it will make me the day he says “mama” instead of just knowing what it means!

Also, it might be good for him to learn a few other useful words. I mean, sure, “monkey” comes in pretty handy, but names and things like “milk” or “fix” would probably make his life easier. I know it is my fault that he doesn’t know my name; he’s never had to annoy me to get my attention, or call for me from across the house. I’m too attentive to him, but I don’t regret it. I just really like being in his presence. And I figure he’ll come up with something to call me eventually. :)

(Not) Out of Print

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I am going on an imaginary shopping spree and imaginary-buying myself the following things with imaginary money. Such fun!

Although, I want them all to wear to work. So maybe they would be a tax exemption? Haha!

Out of Print Clothes

I can see it now. The friendly middle school librarian rocking her hyperbole t-shirt (also comes in plot, doppelganger, and bildungsroman; the latter is probably the one I ought to have, being a youth librarian, but I just liked this design) with a date stamp fleece over it, accessorized with library card socks, bag, and coin purse. (That’s a wonderfully big tote bag, by the way. Would hold a great many books and back issues of School Library Journal.)

And of course, H needs this Little Prince t-shirt, don’t you think?

forhenry

And I can polish it off with my book-lover necklace that Meredith got me, or maybe switch it up with this beautiful fairy tale necklace.

398.2

In Which I Feel Something Needs to be Avenged

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I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what books to add to our library’s collection. There’s quite a bit to consider, actually. Informational texts that support the curriculum and standards. Replacing outdated stuff and filling in holes. Fulfilling student and staff requests. Getting the latest installments in popular series. Award-winners, notable books, things the kids really ought to read but probably won’t, things the kids are dying to read but arguably aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

This involves reading: publications like School Library Journal, review websites, publishers’ catalogs, authors’ social media outlets, even stuff like Entertainment Weekly. It involves chatting with teachers, kids, parents, fellow librarians, and other members of the Tribe of Avid YA Readers to find out what they and their kids/friends are loving.

But the best way to find good new stuff, as far as I can tell, is to actually get into the trenches and spend a few quality hours in a bookstore. This is especially true of books that are going to fit into my “guilty pleasure” category: books that will fly off the shelves, that aren’t going to win any awards or teach any Valuable Life Skills, but that will be falling apart from the sheer force of frequent circulation by the end of the year. It’s your Minecraft novelizations, your Ever After High, your Adventure Time graphic novels and variations on the “1,000 gross things you didn’t know about _______” theme. They’re not going to show up on any of the websites or magazines, but they’re must-have items in a middle school library.

Today, while on a quest for junior adaptations of high-difficulty classic novels, I took a break to browse the new middle-grade fiction and found something that immediately caught my eye. Before I even opened the front cover, I knew it had to go on my wish list. Behold:

hulk

 

It was a perfect cream puff. Very popular movie/comic book tie-in. Library-bound so it’s durable and easy to process. Just under 200 pages, in a friendly font that would make it accessible for all but our weakest readers. Marketed for third through seventh grades, ages 8-12. Right around $10, not counting my educational discount. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Ah, I thought. Where there’s Hulk, there might be….

Sure enough, a little ways down I found Hulk’s not-quite-as-puny-god friend:

thor

Excited, I wrote down both ISBNs for future purchase consideration and returned to my intended business. About an hour later, parsing the differences between illustrated adaptations of Great Expectations began to get to me, so I took another walk. And I found the other half of the series:

iron man

 

and

9780316383523

Dear reader, I am incensed.

Let me show you something else. I just Google Image Searched “Avengers t-shirt kids.” Here’s a screen shot of the top page of results. Click it to see it a little bigger and see if you don’t see what I don’t see.

ss

Let’s make it a little more obvious, shall we?

 

Here, what about toys?

Hmm. Funny, but I seem to remember that there was a woman in the Avenger movies. Well, more than one, obviously — Pepper Potts, Peggy Carter, and Maria Hill are all important elements of the films as well — but there’s an actual member of the Avenger team who happens to be female and who also conveniently vanishes when it’s time to print a t-shirt (or, apparently, write a junior novelization).

I’m not the only person to notice this trend. Take a peek at …But Not Black Widow, which points out that Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise is also conspicuously missing one green-hued heroine. The Geekquality blog, with its byline that “all geeks are created equal,” saw it at Target. Mommyish found the gaping absence running rampant throughout the wide world of Disney paraphernalia. There are lots of websites, lots of blogs, wondering the same thing I’m wondering, but what you really need to read is this article from Business Insider. It’s talking specifically about Gamora but I guess it answers the mystery of the missing Black Widow, too. For those of you who don’t have the time to read the article, I’ll grab the important bit:

tcp

Ah, I see. Superhero stuff is for boys, and it would make their little boy parts shrivel up and fall off if they wore a shirt with a female superhero on it or had a female superhero among their action figures.

Come on, guys. We’re officially firmly in the land of Joss Whedon here. Surely we can do better than this?

(I’m not even going to get into the whole “sexist girl’s Avengers shirt” thing. It’s similarly fantastic.)

I’m sorry, but Black Widow kicks ass, and it’s not only girls who think so. She’s a fascinating character with her uncertain alliances, believable vulnerabilities, and refusal to fall into the obvious romantic story lines. She’s witty, assertive, and possesses more common sense at times than the rest of the crew put together. I want to know more about her. I want to read her library-bound middle-grade origin story. I want to wear a shirt with Black Widow on it, and not in some ridiculous “check out my butt” pose.  (Iron Man and the other guys — hey, I’m permitted my biases — kick ass too. I’d also like to read their origin stories. And I do wear shirts with them on them.)

In the defense of author Alex Irvine and his publisher, he does say that these are the “first four” in the series. But why are they separated off like this? Why not release the whole gang at once? Why put Black Widow on the B-side?  And frankly, he hasn’t said yet what, if any, the subsequent books will be. I’m not going to be even a little surprised if Loki and Nick Fury get books before Natasha. Or maybe BW doesn’t even get her own book — maybe this “ensemble cast” book, scheduled to come out in March, is all she gets.

I just don’t get it. I don’t believe that boys really won’t want something that includes the whole team. And frankly, if that is the case, isn’t that something we should be pushing back against instead of enabling? I bet you that if their only choice was “Avengers shirt including Black Widow” (or “Guardians shirt including Gamora”) or no Avengers shirt at all, that they wouldn’t hesitate. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the “boys don’t want girls on their shirts” thing is an invention of adults who grew up in a different era.

I’ve got over a thousand kids who use my library, about half of whom are boys. I’ve got a lot of kids of both genders who love Marvel superheroes. I know a cream puff when I see it; these Avengers books are going to be wildly popular. And when — if — a Black Widow title is released, it’s going to be just as popular. Why? Because my kids recognize and respect fun characters who kick ass and would probably have all kinds of choice words to say if I suggested that they couldn’t read about a female superhero just because she’s a girl.