Friday, December 23, 2011

BLURBS ABOUT NEW BOOKS: PR and advertising for the school library

     I keep meaning to do this whenever we're able to buy some new books for the library (which is not often anymore), and this time I finally did.
     We received $500 from our PTA in the form of an Amazon gift credit, which we immediately spent. We were able to order 45 books, most of them new fiction, but also a handful of NONfiction. I'd been reading reviews in Booklist, and found  some things I thought would be perfect for us.
     Once all the books were processed (which was quick, due to my lightning-speed efficiency), I was afraid the nonfiction might get lost on the shelves, so I composed the following message to "all staff," by pasting in summaries and pics from Amazon. I included some fiction that was noteworthy for being dystopian, and/or just cool.
     I got a good response from some of the teachers, one of them came in immediately to check out Things I've Been Silent About because she saw it was by the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Then students started coming in asking for books I'd put on the list, and when I asked them where they heard about them, they said one of the teachers had forwarded my original message with the book blurbs to her students. Cool, right?
     Anyway, here's the message I sent out, and maybe YOU'LL find one of these books worth seeking out...

     Here are some new books of note we recently received for our library. This is just a small sampling of the books we were able to order thanks to the PTA. Some of these may fit into your various curriculums, or make good recommendations for certain students. J

The Third Wave: a Volunteer Story by Alison Thompson
Alison Thompson, a filmmaker living in New York City, was enjoying Christmas with her boyfriend in 2004 when she saw the news reports online: a 9.3 magnitude earthquake had struck the sea near Indonesia, triggering a massive tsunami that hit much of southern Asia. As she watched the death toll climb, Thompson had one thought: She had to go help. A few years earlier, she had spent eight months volunteering at Ground Zero after 9/11. She’d learned then that when disaster strikes, it’s not just the firemen and Red Cross who are needed—every single person can make a difference.
With $300 in cash, some basic medical supplies, and a vague idea that she’d go wherever she was needed, Thompson headed to Sri Lanka. Along with a small team of volunteers, she settled in a coastal town that had been hit especially hard and began tending to people’s injuries, giving out food and water, playing games with the children, collecting dead bodies, and helping rebuild the local school and homes that had been destroyed. Thompson had intended to stay for two weeks; she ended up staying for fourteen months. She and her team helped start new businesses and set up the first tsunami early-warning center in Sri Lanka, which continues to save lives today. 

Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in 21st-Century America by Michael Ratner
In the Age of Terrorism, the United States has become a much more dangerous place—for activists and dissenters, whose First Amendment rights are all too frequently abridged by the government.
In Hell No, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the country’s leading public interest law organization, offers a timely report on government attacks on dissent and protest in the United States, along with a readable and essential guide for activists, teachers, grandmothers, and anyone else who wants to oppose government policies and actions. Hell No explores the current situation of attacks upon and criminalization of dissent and protest, from the surveillance of activists to the disruption of demonstrations, from the labeling of protestors as “terrorists,” to the jailing of those the government claims are giving “material support” to its perceived enemies. Offering detailed, hands-on advice on everything from “Sneak and Peak” searches to “Can the Government Monitor My Text Messages?” and what to do “If an Agent Knocks,” Hell No lays out several key responses that every person should know in order to protect themselves from government surveillance and interference with their rights.
Beginning with a preface by Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a frequent legal commentator on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR, Hell No also includes an introduction on the state of dissent today by CCR board chair Michael Ratner and Margaret Ratner Kunstler. Concluding with the controversial 2008 Mukasey FBI Guidelines, which currently regulate the government’s domestic response to dissent, Hell No is an indispensable tool in the effort to give free speech and protest meaning in a post–9/11 world.

Things I’ve Been Silent About: Memories of a Prodigal Daughter
by Azar Nafisi
Azar Nafisi, author of the beloved international bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran, now gives us a stunning personal story of growing up in Iran, memories of her life lived in thrall to a powerful and complex mother, against the background of a country’s political revolution. A girl’s pain over family secrets; a young woman’s discovery of the power of sensuality in literature; the price a family pays for freedom in a country beset by political upheaval–these and other threads are woven together in this beautiful memoir, as a gifted storyteller once again transforms the way we see the world and “reminds us of why we read in the first place” (Newsday).
Nafisi’s intelligent and complicated mother, disappointed in her dreams of leading an important and romantic life, created mesmerizing fictions about herself, her family, and her past. But her daughter soon learned that these narratives of triumph hid as much as they revealed. Nafisi’s father escaped into narratives of another kind, enchanting his children with the classic tales like the Shahnamah, the Persian Book of Kings. When her father started seeing other women, young Azar began to keep his secrets from her mother. Nafisi’s complicity in these childhood dramas ultimately led her to resist remaining silent about other personal, as well as political, cultural, and social, injustices.

The Most Dangerous Man in the World: the Explosive True Story of Julian Assange and the Lies, Cover-Ups and Conspiracies He Exposed
by Andrew Fowler
The battle lines are drawn: freedom of speech against the control of the State. The Internet is the battle ground. In this war there will only be one winner. In The Most Dangerous Man in the World, award-winning journalist Andrew Fowler talks to Julian Assange, his inner circle, and those disaffected by him, deftly revealing the story of how a man with a turbulent childhood and brilliance for computers created a phenomenon that has disrupted the worlds of both journalism and international politics. From Assange’s early skirmishes with the “cult” of Scientology in Australia to the release of 570,000 intercepts of pager messages sent on the day of the September 11th attacks and on to the visual bombshell of the Collateral Murder video showing American soldiers firing on civilians and Reuters reporters, Fowler takes us from the founding of WikiLeaks right up to Cablegate and the threat of further leaks in 2011 that he warns could bring down a major American bank. New information based on interviews conducted with Assange reveal the possibility that he has Asperger’s syndrome; the reason U.S. soldier Bradley Manning turned to an ex-hacker to spill military secrets; and how Assange helped police remove a “how to make a bomb” book from the Internet. The mother of one of his children also talks for the first time about life with Julian when he was setting up WikiLeaks.

Will Eisner: a Dreamer’s Life in Comics
by Michael Schumacher
In Will Eisner: A Dreamer's Life in Comics, Michael Schumacher delves beneath Eisner's public persona to draw connections between his life and his art. Eisner's career spanned a remarkable eight decades, from his scrappy survival at the dawn of comics' Golden Age in the late 1930s to the beginning of the twenty-first century, when Pulitzers began going to graphic novels (a term Eisner is widely credited with creating). Schumacher's extensive research and interviews with Eisner's family, friends, and colleagues, as well as other comics creators who have built upon his work, create a detailed portrait of Eisner the man and Eisner the artist.

The Dreamer (biography of Pablo Neruda)
by Pam Munoz Ryan
A breathtaking illustrated novel from Pura Belpre Award winner, Pam Ryan, and MacArthur fellow and three-time Caldecott Honoree, Peter Sis!
From the time he is a young boy, Neftalí hears the call of a mysterious voice. Even when the neighborhood children taunt him, and when his harsh, authoritarian father ridicules him, and when he doubts himself, Neftalí knows he cannot ignore the call. Under the canopy of the lush rain forest, into the fearsome sea, and through the persistent Chilean rain, he listens and he follows. . . Combining elements of magical realism with biography, poetry, literary fiction, and sensorial, transporting illustrations, Pam Muñoz Ryan and Peter Sís take readers on a rare journey of the heart and imagination.

Treasury of Greek Mythology
by Donna Jo Napoli

This book on mythology is noteworthy because it's by a really awesome writer, Donna Jo Napoli, who usually writes fiction.


by Marie Lu
(Fiction) What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

This Dark Endeavor: the Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
by Kenneth Oppel
(Fiction) Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real.
They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only peaks Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.
Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrads life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.

by Ally Condie
(Fiction- sequel to Matched) In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.
Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.



     One of my favorite students, a library regular, brought me this adorable handmade blue origami owl and a very nice letter for Christmas. In the letter she thanks me for speaking to the school's Gay/Straight Alliance club at a few of their recent meetings, and for being an "awesome librarian." She goes on to explain in a diagram with arrows how her thought process arrived at the owl being blue. She even drew Totoros, and suggested I might like Studio Ghibli's films, if I hadn't already seen them. (I have, and I LOVE Totoro, of course)
     That owl had to have taken some major time and effort, LOTS of little cunningly-folded pieces of paper, and it is solid! What a sweet thing to do.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


          Finally one of our students brought up the "Steampunk" genre in our last library book club meeting. She was way excited about it, eyes wide and mind on fire. I thought, NOW is the time to put together a bibliography on Steampunk books for our students!
          A few years ago at a writer's conference I attended a presentation by David Gale, Editorial Director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. He told us that "Steampunk" was going to be the next big thing in children's publishing, and blow up all over the place.

Feel free to reproduce this image if you like, we put it on one side of our bookmark, with the reading list on the reverse.

          Here is the list we came up with, using only books currently in our library collection. Some of these have all the elements of Steampunk, some of them may only have a few. If a particular title seems not Steampunky enough for you, just consider it "recommended if you like..."

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi (graphic novel)
The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby
The Death Collector by Justin Richards
Doctor Illuminatus by Martin Booth
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce
 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Gotham By Gaslight (“Batman” graphic novel)
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
“Hollow Fields” manga series by M. Rosca
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
“The Infernal Devices” series by Cassandra Clare
“Keys To the Kingdom” series by Garth Nix
Larklight by Philip Reeve
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
The List of 7 by Mark Frost
“Monster Blood Tattoo” series by D.M. Cornish
Nick of Time by Ted Bell
Pastworld by Ian Beck
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters
Worldshaker by Richard Harland

          If you're not sure what Steampunk is, think Victorian Science Fiction, with fantastical machinery using steam power. Gritty London streets, either in the actual Victorian era, or influenced heavily by it. Top hats, goggles, cogwheels and clockworks... Jules Verne and H. G. Wells are considered the grandfathers of Steampunk. You tend to find mechanically-inclined strong female characters in Steampunk.
          Here are some other core Steampunk titles, which may or may not be appropriate for junior high and/or high school libraries:

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter
The Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann, Paul Morrissey, & Janet Lee
Steampunk by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul D. Filippo
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

          Incidentally, I remember first hearing about Steampunk way back in about 1993 when I was working at the Santa Ana Public Library in the children's and young adult section. Just sayin'. The genre ain't NEW, but apparently there's a resurgence. Which is cool for those of us who work with teens.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


     I've been reading The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson's engrossing nonfiction book about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and the murders that took place in conjunction with it. This morning I came across this line:

Visitors also encountered the latest and arguably most important organizational invention of the century, the vertical file, created by Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System.

     When I read that I actually GASPED ALOUD, and immediately turned the corner of the page down, so I wouldn't forget where to find it. I am such a nerd.

Friday, October 28, 2011

FUN WITH CAPTIONS: Mother Teresa, the Vampire

A horrible screech blasts from her withered mouth, bathing the infant in flecks of grave dirt and foul blood-scented breath. Mother Teresa's claw fastens greedily around the baby's skull. Her fangs lengthen with hunger, her eyes solid black with longing...

     (Actually, I discovered this image on the cover of a book that was recently donated to the library. Mother Teresa's Reaching Out In Love: Stories. But seriously, look at her! She's totally gonna eat that baby, and I can practically hear the pterodactyl-esque screech coming from her open mouth.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


     A friend of mine from a public library shared this email with me, which they had received from a co-worker:
Two parole officers came to children’s desk looking for an Hispanic man, in a wheelchair, with missing teeth.  I had not seen such a person since I came on children’s desk at 12:15.  They said they would go out to their car and return with a photo of him and a card with their number so we could call if we saw this man.  They never returned.  They said this man should not be in the children’s section. 

     No shit, right? I love the description of this dire individual. This is normal for the public library.

Friday, October 14, 2011

eBOOKS and eREADERS - Shut up about it already!!!

          Dude, I don't even know where to BEGIN. I am not afraid of new technology, but I AM afraid of people who want to jump on the latest digital trend before the kinks are worked out.
          A few months ago one of our parent-run funding committees started asking about getting eBooks and eReaders into our school library.


          We have NO YEARLY BOOK BUDGET, and exist purely through special funding like parent organizations, donations, and book fair profits. We are still FAR below the district average for actual print material. We have less books than any other library in this school district. It seems like we need to at least fix THAT, before we start on something that seems like an "extra" to me.
          Plus, eReader technology is changing as we speak, and so are the DRM (digital rights management) that govern eBook usage. Nobody can agree which device or format is going to triumph. Will it be Amazon with their Kindles that read kindle-formatted eBooks? Or will it be Barnes & Noble with their Nooks, which read ePub format? Will it be iPads, which read ePub or pdf formats? Technically, iPads could read Kindle, too, since you can download Kindle for PC for free. It's all confusing and in flux.
          Oh- and you can get either Kindle or Nook for PC, as free downloads.

New and rapidly-changing technology

          So, with all this new and rapidly-changing technology, THIS is a good time to spend a ton of money on one of the options, right? Before we can tell which one is best? Especially for a school with no real funding? It reminds me of the early days of videotape technology, when my family chose "Beta" over "VHS," and bought the machine and a bunch of tapes before VHS obliterated Beta.
          I was asked by this particular funding group to do some "research" into the whole eBook/eReader thing, which I gladly agreed to do. But once I returned with many articles and reasons to support NOT jumping on that trend right now, they didn't want to hear it. Even when I bring up the fact that unless they're willing to purchase an eReader for EVERY student at our school, then it's not an equitable practice, they STILL are not discouraged from it. We're a PUBLIC school library, don't we have to provide equal access to whatever we provide for our students?

Don't we have to provide equal access?

          They're talking about buying maybe 10 Nooks for the library, or something like that. In a school with 1,200 students, how exactly do you decide which 10 students get to play with the Nooks? And what about actual eBOOKS? Those cost money, too. On average they cost as much as print books do, and the Librarian and I both would rather have actual print books that every student could read, whether they are one of the select few to get their hands on an eReader or not.

Wouldn't take long at all for them to be
damaged, stolen, or lost

          Can you imagine the waiting list nightmare that would be created by having just a handful of brand new eReaders? And if you work in a library, you know it wouldn't take long at all for one or two of them to be damaged, stolen, or lost.

"Overdrive," costs $4,000 yearly

          A big reason I object to this whole idea is that technically, an eReader is "equipment," which we library techs are not supposed to have to manage.  The eBook files are the "books," so I could see us eventually having an online database of eBooks for download in multiple formats (for whatever the student happens to have access to), but the current standard for this is "Overdrive," which costs $4,000 yearly. We just don't have that. We're lucky if we manage to scrounge up $2,000 for new books in any one year.          

          Just last week we had a meeting of all Library technicians. I had asked that "eBooks & eReaders in our public school libraries" be put on the agenda. At first our coordinator seemed confused by this wording, specifically that I made a point to indicate PUBLIC school libraries. We all know we're a public institution, of course, but I think this is a good time to remind everyone what that means, as far as accessibility.
          eBooks would not be accessible to more than an extremely SMALL portion of our student body, even if we purchased a handful of eReaders. But we didn't even have to go into the "equitable practice" angle of the issue.
          Our coordinator quickly assessed the situation after I explained it, and said that any purchase of technology at this point would be premature, because there has not been a district standard set, yet. There is a committee that reviews new tech stuff, no matter what the funding source is, and eReaders would have to be proposed to them, and go through a review process.
          As soon as we explained this to our admin, the ongoing (and seemingly neverending) discussion seemed to come to a grinding halt. Which is exactly what I was hoping. For now, at least.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Halloween's ON, witches!
           Banned Books Week is over, so I spent yesterday re-decorating the library for Halloween. Yay! The first thing I pulled out of the back room was my mom's awesome feathery witch hat, which I stuff over an artificial fern in a black urn, and set on top of an upturned black plastic witch's cauldron. Then I set that in the center of an artificial black wreath. (Well, it really is a wreath, but you know what I mean) 
          The color scheme is chartreuse green and purple. I recently discovered that CM School Supply, which has a nearby location, has these handy-dandy giant rolls of colored paper. Plus they have the wavy border stuff I love, in a panoply of fashionable colors.  ;)

"Dare To Be Scared" poster, and "Halloween in Wonderland" scrapbooking papers, plus vintage ghostie and pumpkins, and a simple hand-crafted black construction paper bat with White-Out eyes

          When I first put that "Dare To Be Scared" poster up (it's new this year), one of our library regulars told me it really freaks him out, and he'll be glad when Halloween's over and that creepy guy won't be staring at him anymore.
          I said, "Yeah, he IS pretty creepy. Can you imagine if you were walking home alone one day, and you turned around and HE WAS FOLLOWING YOU?!"
          The kid said, "I get a ride to school, Mr. Kovac."
          I said, "Well, what if you're sitting in class one day, and you turn around and HE'S SITTING IN THE DESK RIGHT BEHIND YOU?!"

Jinkies! There's even a RAVEN perched atop the sill! And are those GLOWING SKELETON HEADS?!! So chilling!

"The horror... the horror..."
          The big bulletin board has all my old handmade Halloween stuff. I made the spider way back in the early NINETIES, when I was working at the Santa Ana Public Library, in the Children's Room! I was basically their art whore, so I was given plenty of time to make arty things in the back work room. It was only recently that I thought to make clip art books for the spider to be reading. Now he represents people who read a bunch of books at one time. (I admit sometimes I do that)
          It's too bad you can't really see the details on the building there, but it's a spooky library, which I drew in black over dark grey paper. I think it looks really cool and subtle in person, but doesn't show up in pictures.
           At the back of the room over history and biographies is a long bulletin board that still had a summery display asking "What did you read over summer break?" so it was way past due (pun intended) for a change. Now it's Frankenstein's monster, and bats.  

Frankenstein's monster "Library Good!" poster, plus clip art stuff
Google image search for "bat clip art"

Google image search for "bat skeleton" and "fancy frame," and a few layers of colored paper
          Near the front half of the library is a long bulletin board that used to have a cheery smiling pencil and "Welcome!" in big letters. Now it's all skulls and weird scenes.

Clip art skulls, and posters from Chris Van Allsburg's Mysteries of Harris Burdick

          I've been using the posters from the "portfolio version" of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick for years. It comes in handy for creative writing workshops AND decorating! In case you haven't seen it, here's a link to it on Amazon (be patient for the widget/link to load, it may take a few moments):

          Recently I saw there is a new "Harris Burdick" book, which is an anthology of new tales by prominent children's and YA authors, who have used the tantalizing illustrations as inspiration. But the book is getting mostly bad reviews, because people seem to like Van Allsburg's pictures specifically for their unexplained eerieness. Despite the quality of the stories in the new anthology, the stories just aren't going to live up to what fans of the original have been imagining in their OWN heads for the past 27 years. (And yes, it really has been that long since the original book came out!)

Our cylindrical display case done up like a "cabinet of curiosities" 
           Our "cabinet of curiosities" has a rubber skeleton and various stuff from Michael's, or wherever, plus fake grass at the bottom with little "tombstones" I made out of construction paper and metal bookends. Plus some spooky-looking books. We're lucky to work with students who don't (often) steal things. We leave the case unlocked so they can get to the books inside.

Oh my gosh, the Reference Section is suddenly TERRIFYING!!!
          That raven on the pedestal is from Michael's, fairly cheap. I put a little "Nevermore" tag around its neck. The little orange plastic witch is a total vintage thing the Librarian brought in, from when she was cleaning out old decorations from storage. I love it.

I did a variation of this same Poe shrine last year
          The Librarian brought back some cool things from her visit to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. We now have parchment reproductions of some of Poe's poems in his own handwriting.
          The raven is just more Google image search clip art, and so is the little pic of Edgar in the clip art frame. I made the "curtains" last year out of construction paper.
SNEAKY TIP: when I'm printing clip art images and I don't have copy paper in exactly the color I want, I frequently find construction paper that's the right color and cut it to 8 1/2" x 11" and put that in the printer.

If you wanna see 2010's Halloween bulletin boards in our library, click HERE.

Monday, October 10, 2011

RECOMMENDATIONS : My favorite books for Halloween!

          Here are 18 of my Halloween reading picks, but please be patient, for the "widget" takes a few moments to load... In the meantime sit quietly with your hands clasped and both feet flat on the floor. No fidgeting.  

Friday, September 30, 2011


          I love working at a school where a heavy tome like the one you see above, on ETIQUETTE of all things, actually checks out. Not only that, but it was returned in perfect condition, despite its unwieldy size. You could kill somebody with that.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


          Yesterday an English teacher who has 7th and 9th grade classes sent this request to the Teacher Librarian and me:

"I wonder if you can help me with our writing unit. We are finding examples of descriptive writing as a class. I would like students to note the unique styles different authors use while articulating through the same stylistic devices. Would either of you be able to pull some books/pages for me to introduce strong description? They will be reading a page--not a whole novel/book. I would love to have 10 books to use for an activity. I plan to have them do a Gallery Walk, where they read and discuss the style and impression."

          The Librarian found some examples online, citing passages from picture books, since students could easily read an entire picture book and talk about the descriptions.
          As soon as I read the English teacher's request, some of my favorite authors' names had started popping into my head, so I began pulling books and putting post-it notes on pages with good description. This is what I came up with. Of course, these are examples of what I PERSONALLY consider quality literature. Incidentally, I haven't actually read Kerouac, but I know some of our kids dig him, so I found a passage I liked.

The following excerpt is from Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Out of the gravel there are peonies growing. They come up through the loose grey pebbles, their buds testing the air like snails' eyes, then swelling and opening, huge dark-red flowers all shining and glossy like satin. Then they burst and fall to the ground.
     In the one instant before they come apart they are like the peonies in the front garden at Mr. Kinnear's, that first day, only those were white. Nancy was cutting them. She wore a pale dress with pink rosebuds and a triple-flounced skirt, and a straw bonnet that hid her face. She carried a flat basket, to put the flowers in; she bent from the hips like a lady, holding her waist straight. When she heard us and turned to look, she put her hand up to her throat as if startled.

The following excerpt is from The Rose and the Beast: fairy tales retold by Francesca Lia Block

She came that night like every girl's worst fear, dazzling frost star ice queen. Tall and with that long silver blond hair and a flawless face, a perfect body in white crushed velvet and a diamond snowflake tiara. The boys and girls parted to let her through--they had all instantaneously given up on him when they saw her.
     I felt almost--relieved. Like that first night with him but different. Relieved because what I dreaded most in the whole world was going to happen and I wouldn't have to live with it anymore--the fear.
     There is the relief of finally not being alone and the relief of being alone when no one can take anything away from you. Here she was, my beautiful fear. Shiny as crystal lace frost.

The following excerpt is from The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

     Behind one door, Tom Skelton, aged thirteen, stopped and listened.
     The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats.
     Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows' Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.

The following excerpt is from The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

No human eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of Hill House seemed awake, with a watchfulness from the blank windows and a touch of glee in the eyebrow of a cornice. Almost any house, caught unexpectedly or at an odd angle, can turn a deeply humorous look on a watching person; even a mischievous little chimney, or a dormer like a dimple, can catch up a beholder with a sense of fellowship; but a house arrogant and hating, never off guard, can only be evil.

The following excerpt is from Moominvalley in November by Tove Jansson

     The forest was heavy with rain and the trees were absolutely motionless. Everything had withered and died, but right down on the ground the late autumn's secret garden was growing with great vigour straight out of the mouldering earth, a strange vegetation of shiny puffed-up plants that had nothing at all to do with summer. The late blueberry sprigs were yellowish-green and the cranberries as dark as blood. Hidden lichens and mosses began to grow, and they grew like a big soft carpet until they took over the whole forest. There were strong new colours everywhere, and red rowan berries were shining all over the place. But the bracken had turned black.

The following excerpt is from Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac

     Those afternoons, those lazy afternoons, when I used to sit, or lie down, on Desolation Peak, sometimes on the alpine grass, hundreds of miles of snowcovered rock all around, looming Mount Hozomeen on my north, vast snowy Jack to the south, the encharmed picture of the lake below to the west and the snowy hump of Mt. Baker beyond, and to the east the rilled and ridged monstrosities humping to the Cascade Ridge, and after that first time suddenly realizing "It's me that's changed and done all this and come and gone and complained and hurt and joyed and yelled, not the Void" and so that every time I thought of the void I'd be looking at Mt. Hozomeen (...) Stark naked rock, pinnacles and thousand feet high protruding from immense timbered shoulders, and the green pointy-fir snake of my own (Starvation) ridge wriggling to it, to its awful vaulty blue smokebody rock...

The following excerpt is from Threshold by Caitlin R. Kiernan

(NOTE: these aren't typos, Kiernan's style is to sometimes smear her adjectives/adverbs together for effect)

Alice Sprinkle has hands like a bricklayer, sturdylong fingers and calluses and muscle, all the white and inconsequential scars that come from twenty years spent climbing around in limestone quarries, shale quarries, road cuts. Scars and the damage the sun does to a woman's skin, the fine wrinkles and her nails thick and nubby, a fresh Band-Aid wrapped around her left index finger; Chance smiles politely at her across the cluttered kitchen table and pours Alice another cup of coffee.
     "I just can't see any reason for it, Chance," Alice says and sighs, lifts her grayblue china cup and blows hard on the steaming black liquid inside. Breath to send tiny ripples across the dark surface, and "It's a goddamned, stupid waste," she says.
     "You really don't have to keep saying that," Chance says quietly, trying to sound confident, trying to sound like she doesn't know she's losing this argument again, and she drinks her own coffee, scaldingquick mouthful and a glance out the kitchen window at the summer night filling up the backyard. July night full of crickets and the metronome cicada thrum, a little cooler now because of the thunderstorms this afternoon, and the grass out there will still be wet, the soil underfoot still damp.

The following excerpt is from The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli

Luscious rose brittles capture the light in air bubbles that seem to move on a sunny day. They line the outer walls. Bright red buttery caramels form a cornice on every window. Palest of jellied gumdrops stick up in cone-shaped mounds along the roof. I know they are delicious, though I do not indulge myself. Their sight is enough of a pleasure. The entire log house is decorated with candies. I've achieved a harmony of lights and darks that would bring a flush to my Asa's face. I know that. Or maybe I just fool myself into believing that.