Monthly Archives: August 2020

‘I Am the Cook’

Kenny Brechner - August 27, 2020

“Hi Kenny, this is Ellen Resman. I am the cook at the Strafford School and was told to pick out $500 worth of books. Would it be possible to have you pick out the books? I have pk-8 grades at our school.”

I received that email a few days ago. The name and school name have been changed for privacy. Reading it with decades of experience in serving rural school libraries, the email was neither surprising nor far from the norm. A little out of the norm, sure, but not much.

To explain why. let us answer a few questions.

How did it happen that a person whose primary job is school cook was tasked with picking out books?

Devaluing expertise in school librarians is an entrenched state of affairs here. In Maine, each district is required to have at least one librarian with a Masters in Library Science (MLS) degree. The rest of the school libraries are usually staffed by ed techs. The pay differential between a librarian with an MLS and an ed tech is vast. Ed techs get minimum wage, have no benefits, and have no pay over the summer. From an operational standpoint, the distance between an ed tech ‘librarian’ and a cook is nonexistent. Gym teachers, bus drivers, and receptionists have all, in my direct experience, made the lateral transfer into ed tech library positions.

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The Celebrity Picture Book Challenge

Kenny Brechner - August 19, 2020

When famous people write picture books the world is the winner
So many people hungry for schmaltz have a 32 course dinner

They have excelled at acting, governing, singing, leaping, writing novels or thrillers
And now with dubious assurance reach their hands to picture book tillers

When a  celebrity rhymes it must be admitted
That on the surface it seems like a crime was committed

In well trafficked life messages they abound
With leaden morals the couplets resound

If fame makes their otherwise noisome words sound great
Be thankful that celebrity picture books creates of them a spate

So let us drown in their insipid provender
To their odious charms let us surrender

Challenges these books urge us to undertake
And so in our endeavor should you surely partake

And what is our challenge?
What shape our literary phalange?

The most dreadfully meaningful rhyming couplets submitted will, as you surmise,
Win an unnamed yet desirable prize

So cast your entry into the comments below
And fame or something like it victory shall bestow.