Donkeys; plus Monday Magpie, disability & neurodiversity representation edition

Yesterday I happened to see an announcement for a Paideia class to be held on the front lawn of the college, about packing with donkeys! I had been planning to take a walk down there anyway, so Sang and I went to see some donkeys. They were wonderful! Vera and Hattie, mother and daughter, did not want to be more than a few yards away from each other. They accepted as much petting and brushing as they could get and let people lead them around. Donkeys, their human Jessica said, are a good “starter equine” because in place of a horse’s instinct to spook and run, their instinct in the face of fear or uncertainty is to brace their legs and stand still until it’s sorted. They’re unlikely to buck or kick or rear, and can carry 80 pounds each pretty easily.

Vera is named after Vera Katz, the Portland mayor who signed the ordinance allowing livestock in city limits. Two donkeys per household is the limit in Portland, and really the minimum non-zero number as well, since a solitary donkey would be sad and lonely. Unfortunately, this climate is a bit wet for them– the lush green grass will give them something like diabetes, and standing on wet ground all the time is hard on their feet. They need dry quarters and hay to eat, here.

I was so glad I went! The rest of the weekend was good too– Bookherd hung around the house with us, and we watched all of season 3 of The Good Place in two days, and ate winter foods like tuna mac and scalloped potatoes.

This morning the ALA Youth Media Awards and American Indian Youth Literature Awards were announced. So many books I haven’t read! But I did know a few:

  • Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales, won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award. Her amazing photo essay about how she made the book
  • Hey, Kiddo, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, won the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. He did the ink washes and digital spot color in burnt orange himself because the book was so personal and he wanted it to be all by his own hands.
  • Front Desk, by Kelly Yang, won an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. I have a soft spot for books about kids living in a hotel/motel. And the way this kid gets things done is cheering despite the slightly unrealistic ending.
  • I didn’t realize the AIYLAs were every two years. Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline (Metis), was published in 2017 and won the Young Adult category.
  • Darius the Great Is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram, which I think I’ve already talked about here a couple of times, won the William C. Morris award (debut book for teens) and an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature!

My Monday Magpie selections, geared toward writing and representation:

  • The Fries Test: Does a work have more than one disabled character? Do the disabled characters have their own narrative purpose other than the education and profit of a nondisabled character? Is the character’s disability not eradicated either by curing or killing?
  • Autism From the Inside. Katherine May nails down why first-person narratives of autistic characters written by non-autistic people have come out so untrue. Short list of books by autistic authors at the end.

Friday Five: Books

This Friday Five popped up at just the right time!

1. Do you enjoy receiving books as holiday or birthday gifts?

Yes, very much! Even if it’s a miss, a book gift illuminates what someone thought would interest me. And they’re easy to keep and easy to pass along.

2. What book are you reading (or, what is the last book you read)?
3. Are you enjoying (or, did you enjoy) that book? Why or why not?

It’s so good. A YA novel called Darius the Great Is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram.  Darius is a teenager who loves tea and lives in Portland– his mom is Persian, his dad is white, he has an adorable younger sister, and the whole family goes to visit Iran because his grandfather there is ill. The writing is SO smooth and funny and true. The author is great at introducing bits of Farsi and Persian cultural notes and character notes, and using them thereafter effortlessly with zero didacticism. Darius and his dad both have depression, for example; it manifests differently in each of them, they take different meds for it, and this is all just how it is– it never feels like “and now this story (or even this page) is About Depression.” I’m on page 78 of 312 and so far it’s exceeded all my expectations.

4. About how many books do you read in an average year?

100-120, somewhere in there.

5. What are some of the books on your to-read pile (or list)?

I want to finish my reread of Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis series before the end of the year, so Imago is next on my list. I also have some fun SF that’s not gonna renew for me at the library– Martha Wells’ Rogue Protocol and Becky Chambers’ Record of a Spaceborn Few.