Category Archives: Activities

Celebrate Fair Use Week 2015

‘Kiss me, Harry,’ Ginny begged.

Harry pushed her away from him with a fist made of self-determination and Bessemered steel. His jaw was as strong and as powerful as a quarry that employs 200 men. ‘How can I kiss you,’ he said, ‘when you lack the ability to celebrate yourself as the highest culmination of your own values?’

‘I don’t care about any of that,” Ginny said. “I just want to feel your lips on mine. Please.’

Harry shook his head, like a proud animal, or the stock market. ‘I could kiss your lips,’ he said, ‘but I cannot kiss your self-esteem.’

–Ayn Rand’s version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as envisioned by Mallory Ortberg.

The doctrine of fair use touches upon several of the hats that I wear: as a creator of copywritten works, as a consumer of entertainment media, as a library patron, and in my work as a web designer who is frequently charged with finding, adapting, and licensing images for client sites.

As an attorney, I’ve had clients on both sides of cease and desist letters–one who was asked to take a book off the shelf because of superficial resemblance to another work, and another whose artwork was commercialized without permission, credit, or compensation.

As an author, I’ve written parodies of pop culture into my stories. I’ve also seen my own characters borrowed by others. It’s painful to see the “children of my mind” written as bad caricatures, and painful in a different way to see them written brilliantly in situations I wish I’d thought of myself.

As a forum participant, I’ve seen people who believe, mistakenly, that the doctrine of fair use allows them to take any creative expression from any source and use it however they choose.

In short, I’ve seen fair use, up close and personal, from a variety of angles, and it’s still just a big fuzzy blob of ambiguous, conflicting, and ever-changing precedent. If you’re confused by fair use, you’re in good company. And if you’re not confused, you’re delusional.

To bring much-needed attention to this topic, February 23rd through 27th of this year has been designated as Fair Use Week, as coordinated by the Association of Research Libraries.

You can follow @FairUseWeek and use #FairUseWeek2015 on Twitter. You can read the Fair Use Week blog on Tumblr. You can participate in any number of panels and events, including a free webcast on the topic.

But to really celebrate Fair Use Week to the fullest extent, I suggest finding some bit of intellectual property that you admire the heck out of and using it. Fairly. Respectfully. Harmlessly. Cleverly. And preferably to the enjoyment and enrichment of your audience.

My contribution to Fair Use Week is a work of Star Trek fanfiction on a website called Skrawl. The thing I like about this site is that once a story starts, it belongs fully to the community. Anyone can write a chapter that they propose as a continuation, and anyone can vote on which of the submitted chapters will become part of the final community-sourced story.

Or you can celebrate the week by taking a moment to recognize the fair uses of intellectual property that you already take advantage of every day.

  • When you find yourself humming a song off the radio, that’s fair use.
  • When you take a selfie with identifiable works of architecture in the background, that’s fair use.
  • When you DVR a TV show to watch at a later time, that’s fair use.
  • When you take notes in the margins of a book, that’s fair use.
  • When you discuss the events of Super Bowl XLIX without the express written consent of the NFL, that’s fair use.
  • When you photocopy your mom’s old recipe for sweet and sour meatballs, that’s fair use.
  • When you hit the retweet button, that’s fair use.
  • And when you use your computer to display the words of a blog entry about fair use, that’s fair use too.

Without this common sense exception carved out of copyright law, we’d likely be dodging C&D letters and subpoenas all day, every day. Thanks, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story!

The use of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story and his 1841 four-factor fair use guidelines to illustrate fair use is an example of fair use.

This unauthorized adaptation of a Harvard Library Office of Scholarly Communication graphic of a Ralph Lieberman photograph of a William Wetmore Story sculpture of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story and his 1841 four-factor fair use guidelines paired with an allusion to a World War II era US Army recruitment slogan is an unnecessarily complicated example of fair use.

Make Soup, Not War

The holidays are almost upon us, and no matter what you celebrate this season, you can bet there will be food involved. Beyond simple sustenance, what and how we eat play an important role in our relationships with others. This month’s National Geographic, which focuses on food, emphasizes “the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, provoke laughter.” Likewise, when presented in literature, food is often a symbol of communion between characters, communities, and even cultures. As Thomas C. Foster writes in his book, How to Read Literature Like a Professor, “…breaking bread together is an act of sharing and peace, since if you’re breaking bread you’re not breaking heads.”

Several middle-grade books feature food and meals in ways that create bonds between characters and cultures. Some even include recipes for parents, teachers, and librarians, who may want to join with their own children or students by reading, cooking, and eating together during this holiday season—or any time of year.

53494In Sharon Creech’s Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, twelve-year-old Rosie has had a falling out with her best friend, Bailey, who is sight impaired. The story begins in the kitchen as Granny and Rosie slice carrots, onions, mushrooms, and celery and simultaneously swap stories about their lives. Granny tells about the best friend she left in Italy. And Rosie explains how Bailey is angry with her for learning Braille. By the end of Part One, Rosie realizes Bailey’s anger stemmed from the fact that reading Braille was his special talent. Rosie then brings soup over to Bailey’s house as a peace offering. In Part Two, the recipe for friendship and bonding includes homemade cavatelli, tomato sauce, and meatballs. As Granny, Rosie, and Bailey mix the ingredients, jealousies are revealed and life lessons are learned. Exact measurements aren’t listed in the book, but it’s clear that Granny Torrelli’s instructions for making soup and pasta are surefire recipes for reconciliation between Rosie and Bailey.

imagesIn Donna Gephart’s How to Survive Middle School, eleven-year-old David Greenberg is having a rough time. When the story opens, his mother has already moved to another state. After that, his best friend abandons him, a bully targets him, and his pet hamster dies. Still, the one constant in his life is his grandmother. She’s always there to comfort him, not only with words, but also with her kugel, blintzes, and famous apple cake. And, although there are awkward family dinners in David’s house and in his friend Sophie’s house, as well, the close connection between food and friendship is apparent when David eats two pieces of Sophie’s strawberry-rhubarb pie and slips the third piece in his pocket. At the end of the book, Gephart includes the recipe for Bubbe’s Jewish Apple Cake—sure to comfort the characters at your table.

imagesRose Kent’s Kimchi and Calamari demonstrates the deep connection between food and culture when Joseph Calderaro, who was adopted from Korea by an Italian family, begins researching his background for a school essay assignment. But how can a calamari-eating, cannoli-loving fourteen-year-old find his Korean identity when there’s no information about his personal heritage anywhere? One way is to lie about it, which he does. But another way is to embrace his ancestral culture over dinner with a neighboring Korean family. Joseph bonds with them over sticky rice, bulgogi, and kimchi. As he comes to accept the fusion of his Korean origin and his Italian upbringing, he proudly describes himself as, “One hunk of Joseph slapped between a slice of Italian bread and a mound of Korean sticky rice.” Finally, he has the topic for his essay: “Joseph the Ethnic Sandwich.” While the book doesn’t contain the directions for cooking kimchi or calamari, plenty of mouth-watering Korean and Italian recipes are available on the Internet for hungry readers.

images-1Dumpling Days is Grace Lin’s third novel about Pacy Lin. In this one, Pacy travels to Taiwan for a month for her grandmother’s birthday celebration. And while it’s sometimes difficult for Pacy to navigate her new surroundings, peach buns, soup dumplings, and other delicacies definitely have the power to bridge the gap between cultures. A recipe for Chinese Dumplings can be found at the end of the book.

Other middle-grade novels about food:

The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaeffer—recipes for tea, sandwiches, and scones are included in the book.

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman—recipes can be found on the author’s webpage under Extras.

Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath—recipes are included at the end of chapters.

If you have a favorite middle-grade novel with food and/or recipes, feel free to serve it up in the comments section. In the meantime, happy reading and eating!

Dorian Cirrone is the author of several books and short stories for children. She blogs about reading and writing (and sometimes eating) at doriancirrone.com/welcome/blog/. Hop on over  for writing tips and occasional give-aways.

Celebrating Stories about America’s National Parks!

Junior_Ranger_logo

courtesy www.nps.gov

Happy Birthday America!

In honor of July 4th, and family travel season, I thought I would write about one of this country’s greatest treasures: The National Parks System. I’ve come to more deeply appreciate the NPS through my middle-grade reading kids, who are obsessed with the “Junior Ranger Program” – a program available at almost all U.S. National Parks and Monuments. On visiting a park – great or small – our children will ask the ranger if they have a junior ranger program. This is usually a printed booklet that asks the kids to to age appropriate activities relevant to the park — everything from taking a hike, attending a ranger talk on geology or nocturnal creatures, reading about a historical event or figure, and then completing various puzzles, activities and games. On completion of a booklet (which may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 or 3 hours), the ranger checks their work and viola! They are sworn in to be junior rangers!

5623805_f520My kids are really excited to collect the various junior ranger badges — there are about 400 in this country and my kids have 72 each — but others enjoy collecting patches, or stamping their “national parks passports” with stamps from various parks. It’s a great way to see America, and have the kids be the instigators and navigators of family trips (rather than the ones who dread going places and drag their feet) But you don’t have to go far (usually) to find a great NPS site – there are many smaller sites that you may not know about right around the corner from you! Just visit www.nps.gov to look at the list of wonderful junior ranger program-containing sites. (There is also a web ranger program, and several you can do online!)

There are many TERRIFIC books for kids to learn about national parks: check out some great lists here and here. When we visit a site, we often try to read something that gets us excited about what we are about to see. There’s undoubtedly a biography, nonfiction or fiction for every middle grade reader that would be appropriate to read about almost every park! Here are some thoughts that might make your summer NPS vacation both informative and literary!

 

1. Visiting Boston’s Historic Sites or just stopping by on your way to the Cape? There are several junior ranger programs in the area. And while you’re clocking miles on I-95 why not give your middle grade biography or history buff Who Was Paul Revere?

Who Was Paul Revere?

courtesy barnesandnoble.com

courtesy barnesandnoble.com

2. Heading to Florida for a beach vacation or to visit Disney? Take a day trip to the Everglades or the several other terrific NPS sites in Florida! Maybe your mystery reader will enjoy Nancy Drew 161: Lost in Everglades. 

3. Going to the big parks in Arizona? What about giving your animal-loving reader that old classic Brighty of the Grand Canyon

4. Of a literary or oratorical bent? What about visiting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s home in Cambridge or Edgar Allen Poe’s Birthplace in Philadelphia or Fredrick Douglass’ National Historic Site in Maryland?

 

Feel free to add your favorite park/vacation related books below! And enjoy your summer exploring this nation’s beautiful parks!

Here’s an adorable link to get your younger travelers excited about national parks:  Sesame Street Explores National Parks