There was a whole bunch of stuff to be unhappy about in 2011.
I do not like 2011.
But, and this is a big but:
There was also a dizzying plethora of stuff to be happy about.
I read many, many good books.
I met, virtually and face-to-face, many fine human beings.
I am listing some of them here, in no particular order.
Stick, by Andrew Smith. All of Andrew's books are intense and give me hope. My students love his books. I have a deep and abiding affection for Andrew's blog and the community of his blog. I love how he writes. No one writes like Andrew.
How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr. I have written about Sara's impact on me, and on my writing. Sara's blog is also a happiness--music suggestions, inspiration--always some new insight. Her writing is so lovely that it makes my heart hurt, but in a good way. Her books are always out of the classroom library as well.
Matthew MacNish provided some of the merriest moments of the year. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Matthew yet. But I have learned a great deal from his blog, which you should visit if you haven't yet. Among other things, he is a query-maestro, and he and his community of followers critique queries. Near Halloween I was visiting my mother, and Matthew did a blog about favorite monsters.
The monster in this post was the dreaded, and dreadful, Gelatinous Cube. My mother and I had several intense and entirely serious discussions about the GC, which I relayed to Matthew by email. My mother's conclusion, after several email exchanges with Matthew, was that Gelatinous Cubes and lawyers are pretty much the same thing. Talk about trenchant insights.
Joe Lunievicz is this incredible human being. I mean it. I haven't met him, either, but I read his book Open Wounds because Andrew recommended it. I can't, and don't want to, forget a single thing about this book. It is beautiful. I am devoted to one of the characters, Lefty. Joe is a competitive fencer. He is a rugby fan, and played the game for a long time. (I am getting all this info from his webpage). He served in the Peace Corps and works in so many ways to make the world a better place that you have to read it yourself Plus, my students who have read Open Wounds still talk to me about it. One of my students took it out to read over the holiday break.
Another highlight was the Bridge to Books event, The Why Chromosome: Why Boys do Read. I know boys read because I teach, and my students read. What chaps my hide is when people talk about boys like they are stupid, or "other". I have written about this before. So there was a lot of joy at this event, where a panel of men who write talked about writing. I bought all of their books from the fabulous hosting venue,Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop, and each of these men gamely autographed them "to the Angel Potatoes", which is what I call my students.
But wait, there's more.
I met so many people through this blog and other blogs.Non, Jessica, Wiley, Emma B.,Christina, Farawayeyes, OldKitty, Annie, Donna, Peggy, Jonathan, T.B., Helene, Carrie, Michael, Matthew--all of you. This is a big happiness.
Peggy Eddleman and Shannon Whitney Messenger are two people I know through the blogosphere whose hard work paid off with sales of their books. This gives me happiness.
Michael Grant's books are awesome. Read them. Also, following him on Twitter makes me happy because he tweets rarely but they are always worth reading.
Daniel Kraus. Rotters. The Rat King. I am obsessed.
Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star was creepy and real and true. Happiness!
I have so much more, but I don't want to be the person thanking the Academy who still talks through the music.
In many ways, 2011 was a relentlessly cruel year.
All the more reason to celebrate the kind, the true, the human.
Joy to you all.