conuly: (Default)
And I still do! I'm eagerly awaiting the next Knight and Rogue book, and I know how l o n g that is going to take!

I have to say, though, recently I've found another author I enjoy just about as much, and that is definitely Frances Hardinge. Why those books take so long to come out in the US I do not understand, but they are definitely worth venturing down to the children's section to buy. I cannot heap enough praise on these books, so I hope "as good as Hilari Bell, whom I adore" will do. That is very high praise!

*giggles*

Mar. 14th, 2012 11:57 pm
conuly: (Default)
Yes, this is pretty much how the first Hunger Games book goes. But it's not as funny in long format.

Reading through this, it's obvious that the poster never read Collins' other work, the Underland Chronicles. It's ostensibly aimed for a younger audience (at least, it's shelved for a younger audience in bookstores and libraries, so make of that what you will), but in the course of five books... hell, five PAGES, you can pretty much expect people to die. They get eaten alive by carnivorous gnats, people! And when they're not dying, people are poor and life just sucks. God I love those books.
conuly: (Default)
It's a good enough book, and I have every expectation that the author will continue to improve in any sequels (and there are bound to be some).

One thing kinda bugged me, and it relates to the premise and long-ago backstory. It's ignorable because there are other explanations, but I still felt, well, bothered by it.

This isn't so spoilery )

Anyway, other than that it's a pretty good middle-grade book.
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
That book was much much MUCH better than it had any right to be, and now I amble over to the author's site to see about a sequel, and this is what she says:

"The slightly longer answer is that I’d be willing to write one, but book one has to sell more copies first. So your hopes may be dashed, but don’t lock them in a box and bury them just yet."

Do you read that? Read it again.

Now, the genre might not be your thing, but I'm sure you can think of somebody who'll like it. Please (really), buy yourself a copy (or somebody else a copy) so I can get my sequel.
conuly: (change history?)
What we're reading next, I have no clue. I'm welcoming suggestions! Something a little lighter where nobody dies of smallpox. (That's the part we just finished, with her little brother dying of smallpox. I didn't tell the nieces, but things don't cheer up until the end of the next chapter either.) I mean, this is a great book, don't get me wrong, but I like to alternate in all respects. Maybe we can read The Exiles or, I don't know, Dancing Shoes or something. (Huh. Where *is* my copy of Dancing Shoes?)

Question: What can I do with paperback books to make the cover last longer? Or to preserve covers that already show signs of wear and tear?

Also, I'm going to have to start another running list of chapter books to purchase. If anybody wants to contribute, let me know. I also need advice (and lots of it!) on graphic novels. For the love of god, do I ever!
conuly: (childish)
Better than Ana was at her actual age, but not quite as well as during the same part in her school career, if that makes sense.

Both of them had, at this point, a problem with guessing. But they guessed totally differently!

Ana, at this stage, would look at the first few letters and make a guess based on how they should all sound... even if it didn't make sense. So if she had a sentence that ran something like "We all live on the Earth" and she was tired by the end of it, she might read "Earth" as "earring" or "eats" or some nonsense word that sorta sounds right.

Evangeline, looking at that same sentence and being just as tired at the end of it, is much more likely to make a guess based upon the sense of the sentence. So HER guess might come out as "planet" or "world".

This has the result of making Evangeline sound like a much better reader, and the fact that she pays attention to what the words mean is very good... but in the end, I don't really want either one of them guessing at all. When they do (and they don't guess right), deep down I feel like shouting "STOP GUESSING! JUST READ IT! R E A D!"

But I try not to do that. I doubt it's helpful. I know, being able to figure things out from context is an important skill, and Ana, at least, is reading well above grade level, so why worry?

But it really annoys me. I mean, really.

Here's something else about reading, and I'm allowed to post this on the condition that none of you ever mentions it to anybody who might ever meet Evangeline, ever. You're swearing an oath by reading onwards!

When they read, they like to pretend they're characters in the books they're reading. (And to an extent they do this when watching TV too.) So if I read about how Omakayas felt bad because her sister Angeline teased her (we're reading The Birchbark House now. Good book, but it's about to get REALLY depressing), Evangeline will go "That's me, I feel bad!" or start to "cry" at the same time I'm reading because "My sister was mean to me". Evangeline especially listens very closely for any mention of HER chosen character in whatever book we're reading. (She was Diana when we read Anne of Green Gables. She still IS Diana sometimes.)
conuly: (brain)
This is unfortunate for them, but it's a reminder for the rest of us to support our local bookstores when possible. Borders isn't a great loss, but small bookshops, where they still exist, are real gems.

With that said, there's one very good thing about this closing, and that's Going Out of Business sales! Who can resist? (I wonder if I can snag some bookcases....)
conuly: Fuzzy picture of the Verrazano Bridge. Quote in Cursive Hebrew (bridge-hebrew dvora)
(I've really got to get the rest of the books.)

We started it before, but wandered off for a bit. Now we're going right through.

Now, I'd like to visit the Tenement Museum when we're done... and maybe see if I can find their library, stop by the playground, that sort of thing. (Was the playground even there when the book is set? I know it's one of the first playgrounds in the nation.)

Here's the thing. There are two tours that have to do with the right time period and Jewish families, and since this is a book featuring a Jewish family I want to go on the right tour. One of them is designed for families (kids 5+) and you can wander around and touch the stuff and all. The OTHER one seems closer to Sidney Taylor's family, though... but it's really for a slightly older group, 8+. The tickets are very expensive, and kids don't get that big a discount, so it's not like we'll take two tours this year.

Oh, I'll probably do the one that allows for more participation. I just hate having to make a choice!
conuly: (childish)
There's one that just came out at B&N, Sidekicks. If you like kidlit, you absolutely must read this book. Be sure you get the right one, apparently there are a lot of similarly identically titled books out there for this age group.
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blog still_burning)
and look up Amazon reviews for the Little House books!

Specifically, commentary to negative reviews. No, I'm not sure why I do this to myself either.

Now, typically when mocking Amazon reviews I add my own snarky commentary, but I'm not sure I'll bother this time. Many of these comments, I'm afraid, just kinda speak for themselves.

(Still not sure what I'm going to do with my boxed set of the LH books. Reading them to the nieces is out. Giving the books to them to read sans adult input is definitely out. And I'm not tossing them either. They were a special Christmas present. So... yeah, I don't know.)

So, on to the... uh, the fun!

Read more... )

And that is pretty much it for "replies to negative comments". There's a handful of them for all nine or so books. (And you may not realize it, but these books have already been slightly edited.)

Well, that's depressing. Really, it is.

On that note, we're halfway through The Penderwicks. Maybe we'll do Owlboy next.
conuly: (disaster)
I'm going to need to decide on our next book pretty fast. Ana is pushing for Harriet the Spy, but I'm not really sure. We'll probably finish it Sunday, as Jenn's at work for the day and I'll be with the girls.

Like I said, it's a really weird feeling re-reading the book after all this time, and knowing what I do about how it all ends. Every time we get to a part that I know is foreshadowy, and that I'd forgotten about, I feel all weird about it. I actually burst out laughing when "Harry had an uncomfortable feeling that Snape could read minds". Really, Harry? You don't say!

"Why are you laughing, Connie?"
"Oh... nevermind, it won't really be funny for several books, and we're not going to read them that fast."

At school they're encouraged to predict events while reading, and I'm delighted to see that they've successfully guessed that Snape is out to kill Harry and get the stone for himself. They haven't tied this all to ol' Moldy, but that's all right. Boy, is it going to be fun to see their faces when the plot is twisted! I'm all twitchy with anticipation!
conuly: (disaster)
(And I have no intention of going through the series in one big lump either. Book 1 is fine for their ages, but book 7? NOT EVEN CLOSE. I'm going to stretch it out a bit.)

Reading any of my Old Favorites is like this, and one reason I insist on reading a chapter book with them even as they're outgrowing daily doses of shared picture books. (Well, Ana is, she reads them on her own mostly now, Evangeline still needs it because she can't read yet... but we'll get on this in a minute.) But Harry Potter is, well, Harry Potter. It has had so much massive (massive) discussion.... Well!

And now this leaves me with dilemmas. Should I point out to the nieces the small size of Harry's year (along with the fannish muttering that this implies a massive die-off and lack of births during and just after the first war)? Should I mention all the meaningful names as they show up? Like, if we get to PoA, should I point out that Remus is basically named Wolfy McWolfman? (A name like that is just asking for trouble. It's like Swiper on Dora. WHAT was his mom THINKING? If she'd named him "Giver" or "Sweetie" instead he'd never be a pain!) Should I mention what we know about Dean Thomas from interviews, namely that his dad was a wizard who got killed for turning down the DE? Man, I feel like one of those people who worries that their child might grow up thinking Greedo shot first!

Of course, I can't even remotely do accents when reading, so I feel silly every time I get to one of them whose accent is clearly spelled out (mostly Hagrid). How do other people handle accents when reading, anyway?

As far as Evangeline goes, I asked her teacher what level she is so I can clear out some of our older books (which I'll do when she goes back to school - she and her sister are home sick today), and her teacher said "D". This is pretty much where she ought to be at the end of this year, so I'm not concerned - she's not at all behind, nor is she so far ahead that she's likely to be bored.

Except yesterday I caught her reading "The Fire Cat", which is... not D level. But I'm thinking she may have had it partially memorized.

Ana, for her part, has discovered a profound addiction to graphic novels. She started with Rapunzel and now... sheesh. I know precious little about graphic novels for her age, but I'm learning fast!

Well, that last part was random. Let's get back to what's important - Harry Potter, and also - what are we reading next? (No, really. What ARE we reading next?)
conuly: (brain)
The decide to name their new addition "Zsa Zsa" because, you know, it's the last Z name. This is because their mother's naming scheme is devoid of all reason and sense. It is, in fact, quite possibly worse than naming all your children with the same initial, something that goes fine for the first three kids and then all goes to hell afterwards. (But then, the family in the book at least don't have to contend with both a Johanna and a Joy-Anna, much less a Jinger.)

Which is all well and good, but Zsa Zsa (short for Erzebet, which makes it, of course, yet another diminutive of Elizabeth) doesn't exactly have an easy pronunciation according to English orthography.

There's always Zsa Zsa Gabor, but would the kids have known about her? Not likely. And that baby name book doesn't come with a pronunciation guide. And yet, not one of the kids goes "Zsa Zsa? Huh? How do you say that?" when they decide upon this! No, they just go "Oh, that's cute" and move on!

There is something seriously wrong here. I know it was the end of the book, but spare a few paragraphs for them to realize they have no idea what they're calling the cat they've just named. (Whoops, spoilered again.)
conuly: (disaster)
First, let me just say that I had completely forgotten how epically horrible Mrs. Rosso's morning sickness is in the end of the book (whoops, spoiler). And she went through that nine previous times? Lucky for her it all went away after she found out it was only pregnancy. Barbecues for everybody! *eyeroll*

Anyway, Ana requested that the NEXT book have no romance, no heroes, nothing scary, and no kissing. I thought about it, promised her two out of the four, and opened up Harry Potter, which I'd just found on my floor.

It has been years since I've re-read the original Harry Potter. Or any of them, for that matter! So even though I know how it all turns out (capslock ahoy!) I'm able to get into this book as though it's all new to me. It's all so light compared to the end of the series! (You can decide whether I mean it's light in tone or in actual, physical weight.) Evangeline, hilariously, saw nothing amiss in keeping one boy in a closet while the other has two bedrooms. Oh well. Every time we go to swimming the two of them take turns locking themselves in the lockers. I've gotten Ana with that - locked her in, went to the door, and pretended to leave! This didn't deter her, though, and I may have to use stronger methods to keep her from doing this in the future. *sigh*
conuly: (big damn hero)
http://www.unshelved.com/2011-3-4/

On a semi-related topic, I recently (and randomly) found myself at Amazon's page for the BSC graphic novel.

There are two negative reviews, which are just lol-tastic:

"While graphic novels certainly have their value and place, I feel it cheapens this series--turning a classic series into little more than a comic book. Don't underestimate your child's intelligence--get her the originals."

"Don't get me wrong, I am sure this "book" is cute, but it is NOT the Babysitter's Club. It is a cartoon, and I am highly disgusted that after this many years they are publishing it as a "graphic novel" instead of giving us a reissue!"

To both these comments I have to say... are we talking about the same Baby-Sitters Club I grew up with? I don't see how you can "cheapen" a series churned out one-a-month by a set of ghostwriters, written on a permanent 4th grade level despite the fact that the characters were supposed to be in the 8th grade. Underestimating their intelligence? Dude. It's the Baby-Sitters Club. I read them as voraciously as the next girl, but let's not pretend they ever estimated our intelligence in the first place!
conuly: Picture of a dandelion fluffball. Quote: "What is harmless about a dreamer?" (dreamer)
No, we've been doggedly plodding through Anne of Green Gables. It took us two different copies (and, at least twice, Project Gutenberg) but we finally made it through the entire book of little print and absurdly descriptive landscapes. You have no idea how many passages I just cut from that book in the hopes of making it through a little faster. "No, we don't need three pages on the trees, Anne, let's move along to the action already!"

Ana loved the book, and Evangeline sat through it happily enough, but by the time we were done (this evening) I was more than ready to move to something a lot lighter.

So now we're reading Ten Kids, No Pets.

...

Why on earth did Ann M. Martin give the twins their own twin language? It's actually not as common as all that, and my understanding is the words are generally real words that happen to be babytalked, so you can generally figure out the "etymology" of the words if you pay attention. And the kids are in the fourth grade when the book starts... so shouldn't they mostly not be doing that in public too much? Speaking in a private language in a new school strikes me as a good way to not get friends.

What is it with her and twins anyway? There were like three or four sets of twins (and the triplets) in the BSC books as well, weren't there?
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
And I was! Giveaways are impossible to resist, after all.

But I haven't been lately, and there's a reason for that. I haven't been reading as much to the nieces.

This is not because I am a terrible person who wants them to grow up illiterate... although when we're going at a snail's pace because Ana has pulled out ANOTHER book to read as she walks and I've run out of hands after confiscating the first two, let me tell you, sometimes I *am* a terrible person who wants them to grow up illiterate. (Alas, it is clearly too late.)

Instead, it is because Evangeline is only interested in reading to me (Dick and Jane if I forget to hide the books, Elephant and Piggie if I do not forget - SHE read the new one to ME, and her books in a bag incessantly), and because whenever I manage to carve out time to read to her Ana sits down with her library copy of Rapunzel's Revenge and Evangeline abandons me to hear what happens next!

This will not happen anymore! NO MORE! I am returning that book TOMORROW!

Because I gave in and bought our own copy, and Calamity Jack as well.

It's not only her sister that Ana reads to. Apparently she's been hosting read-alouds of Rapunzel's Revenge at her school as well.

...

Well, it *is* a pretty awesome book. Doesn't mean I'm not going to start hiding it if this doesn't let up, though. I can't get a book in edgewise!
conuly: A picture of the Castleton Castle. Quote: "Where are our dreams? Where are our castles?" (castle)
(And to tell the truth, even if I did, comms like "50 book challenge" wouldn't help. That's less than a book a week!)

But since I know a lot of people do, here's two new challenges that I've seen around.

First, Books1001, their goal is to hit as many of the "1001 books you must read before you die" within a year as possible. (As a group, that is.)

Secondly, here's the picture book reading challenge. Which I *did* enter because... monthly prize drawings! That's the sort of book challenge I understand!
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
A few weeks ago (more like a month) we were walking to the library, and, as it was a windy day, the last of the leaves were falling off the trees. Ana and Evangeline jumped to catch them and I said "Each leaf is a happy day!"

This isn't really spoilery, but just in case )
conuly: Good Omens quote: "Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous!" (armageddon)
This has been linked around a bit today.

We observed Columbus Day by finishing Ana's homework (her teacher doesn't know it's late because I simultaneously forgot about it and, in a bid to be helpful, tossed the wrong folders into the bags. D'oh! This is why they're supposed to pack their OWN bags!) where she's supposed to fill out "The five W's" on a book - WHAT happens, WHO is there, WHY does it happen, WHERE and WHEN does it happen? This is so not the right order, but that pales compared to the fact that she's supposed to write in little boxes that don't have lines to write on. She needs the lines still!

At any rate, the book Ana picked actually happened to be A Coyote Columbus Story, which... *giggles*

It's a pretty good book.

Articles!

Oct. 8th, 2010 10:12 am
conuly: (Default)
In Fierce Opposition to a Muslim Center, Echoes of an Old Fight

The comments are absolutely worthless, but get a load of this gem:

"How true. We all remember Catholic suicide bombers and how they wanted to replace the US constitution by biblical law (is there such a thing?) and how they chanted "My Catholic God is Great" after cutting the heads of innocent Protestants"

1. No, honey, that's the largely Protestant fundies you're talking about.
2. I guess nobody remembers the Spanish Inquisition anymore?


Read more... )

Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children
A woman misquoted in the article has her comment here.

My view is that if picture books aren't selling, it's because they only come in hardcover! I don't want to spend $16 on a new picture book when I can spend half that price on a longer chapter book! Sure, I can buy used, but that doesn't help the new books get printed, does it?


Read more... )

Some states may be drugging incarcerated kids to control their behavior. Well, no shit.

Here's a quote from a brilliant guy who thinks the government is going to force people to eat their veggies. LOL!

Children need more play

Not enough PWDs on TV, again I say "well, no shit"

Let's not forget the extrasolar earthlike planet

An article on renegade female Catholic priests.

Migrant ‘Villages’ Within Beijing Ignite Debate


Read more... )

An article on Romansh

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One on dishes LIKE ratatouille

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We may have found the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder!

Read more... )
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
A few weeks ago I read this book The Candy Shop War.

It's a fun, exciting book, and I don't recommend it because of how the author deals with race (which is to say, pretty badly.)

And I wrote a review about it! On Goodreads and LibraryThing I'm not alone, and on Amazon I largely am, but that's to be expected.

Anyway, I got into a conversation about it on somebody else's review.

Read more... )

WTF? Did I not just say how I'd rather he describe all his characters, of all races? I'm sure I did. Am I wrong? Is this miscommunication on my part, or willful misunderstanding on theirs? Because I just don't see what went wrong.

OMG!

Oct. 2nd, 2010 10:24 pm
conuly: Picture of a young River Tam. Quote: Independent thought, independent lives, independent dreams (independent)
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9292420-understanding-english-language-variation-in-u-s-schools

If I win this, I'm handing it in turn to every teacher in the nieces' school.

Asking to find "the short vowel" in dog. Running right up into that pin/pen merger, three years running. Something's gotta give, sooner or later.
conuly: Discworld quote: "The new day is a great big fish!" (fish)
And I have a copy. Obviously it's been out, but I just got my copy today.

This book is every bit as good as it sounds. (Well, duh. It's Elephant and Piggie! Being meta! What's not to love?)

I had told Evangeline about this book BEFORE it came out. The concept just blew her mind - "They are in a book? They know they're in a book? How do they know?"

Me: I don't know. Maybe WE are in a book.
Evangeline: No.
Me: We could be.
Evangeline: No we couldn't.
Me: How do you know?
Evangeline: Because if we were in a book, there wouldn't be any wind, and we wouldn't be walking and talking.
Me: Would we know that?
Evangeline: WE ARE NOT IN A BOOK!

This is the first book in which Piggie doesn't merely break the fourth wall, her normal gig (ah, all those snarky asides! We even start with one, a wink and a whispered "thank you!") but actually leans on it. (Seriously, her hands get all white where they're smushed up against the page.) She hangs from the speech bubbles! She makes us say BANANA! She turns pages! (She even bends back the cover, which is weird when you consider it's a hardcover book.)

I'm not really sure where Mo Willems can go from here. And the next one isn't out until January. I just don't know what he's gonna do with it, but I'm waiting!
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
A few weeks ago I reviewed Abby Carnelia's One and Only Magical Power. I mostly liked the book, except that it had a lot of what I felt - and still feel! - was very clunky writing.

I should've just said that, but I was hopped up on a night of TVTropes and instead wrote a super duper long review. Which I was a little embarrassed over, but not enough to edit later. (It's not my best review ever.)

Now, when you write a critical review, even if it's just a little critical, you're likely to get replies from people who are personally offended that you might care what the capital of Turkey is, or that you think it'd be nice for there to be more than 0 black people in an alphabet book, that sort of thing. (And let me tell you, I am positively generous with points when I'm giving a critical review!)

So I was pleasantly surprised by the response by the author. What's this? No hissy fit? No temper tantrum? DUDE.

Admittedly, my surprise has a lot to do with the recent Christopher Pike fiasco. In the normal course of things I'd just smile a little, but now I'm making a post to say two things:

1. THIS is how you handle comments. You reply in a civil and polite manner, and you do so openly and honestly without hiding your identity in any way.

2. Aside from what I considered clunky writing, I liked the book. The premise (and the hidden premise behind it) was actually pretty interesting, and the plot moved along nicely. Would I suggest you pick it up as an adult who happens to read YA? Maybe not. Would I suggest you pick it up for your kid, classroom, or library? Definitely. It's not a must-have book, just a nice one, but I'll pass on any number of must-haves for an author who is also a good (or at least decent) role model. (And for that matter, not many books do fit my list of "must-haves", so it's no criticism to say this isn't one of them. That list is never longer than 10 or 15 books long... and I've got more books than that on my mantel! Eva's kindergarten teacher today said it's okay to re-read books for the book log because "you may not have 40 books at home" and I just quietly sighed to myself. NOT HAVE 40 BOOKS? Do they at least go to the library?)
conuly: Quote: "You only wish you were as cool as I am" (cool)
Christopher Pike has a new book out. You may remember him from such forgettable tripe of your teen years as... as... well, I forget.

Point is that the book is full of easily checked inaccuracies. For example, he placed a random desert in the heavily religious nation of Turkey, the capital of which is Istanbul. (At least it's not Constantinople, right?)

I would've put it down after Istanbul (the real capital, of course, is Ankara), but I'm strict about this.

This poor girl persevered until she was fed up enough to write a ranting review of it, prompting "one of Christopher Pike's editors" to come by and flame her. His own reviews are... effusive, to say the least.

Sadly, it turns out that Michael Brite is, in fact, Christopher Pike (omg i am so surprised)... or else a seriously pathological liar. And he admits to having multiple accounts, which explains some of the other glowing reviews out there. I was wondering who these folks were who kept popping up to claim that whichever Pike book it is is better than various classics of literature. Now we know.

It's pathetic enough for an author to do this once, under one assumed name, but repeatedly? I have no words to describe how unbelievably, unbearably sad that is.

Also, I had no idea this made it to Fandom_Wank.
conuly: Picture of a dandelion fluffball. Quote: "What is harmless about a dreamer?" (dreamer)
New Kellogg School Research Suggests a Colorblind Approach to Diversity May Frustrate Efforts to Identify and Confront Discrimination. No duh.

The Disease Called Perfection.

Time Lapse video of a compost pile

This WTF? inducing post by Nikki Grimes

An article on getting boys to read that confirms that literacy does not mean you understand logic.

"Dr. Robert Weis, a psychology professor at Denison University, confirmed this suspicion in a randomized controlled trial of the effect of video games on academic ability. Boys with video games at home, he found, spend more time playing them than reading, and their academic performance suffers substantially. Hard to believe, isn't it, but Science has spoken."

Or maybe boys who prefer video games to books are more likely to have video games than books.

"The secret to raising boys who read, I submit, is pretty simple—keep electronic media, especially video games and recreational Internet, under control (that is to say, almost completely absent). Then fill your shelves with good books. "

And you're also going to keep them from playing sports, you're going to keep them from exploring outside, you're going to keep them from having swordfights inside, you're going to keep them from masturbating, you're going to keep them from doing chores, right? Because the choice is screentime or books, not books and EVERYTHING ELSE, right?

That link comes from here which ultimately I got from here.

On bikeshare programs (and similar)

"But the question is whether most consumers would ever accept time share ownership of a bike or a blender. After a bike share program began in Denver, one gubernatorial candidate in Colorado attacked the program as un-American. "

Yup, you got it, a business model that allows you to pay to share a bike is un-American. Capitalism isn't American!


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Some Obama Allies Fear School Lunch Bill Could Rob Food Stamp Program

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Old West Traditions, and Tensions, at Rodeo

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At Sukkah City, Religion Meets Whimsy

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This house is only a few blocks from mine
Pics!


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Their Moon Shot and Ours

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Achieving Techno-Literacy

Read more... )
conuly: Good Omens quote: "Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous!" (armageddon)
It's a YA book about a girl who doesn't, in fact, speak, because (sorry for the spoiling, but it's necessary to understand the post) she was raped over the summer.

One of those books that makes high school reading lists when teachers are bored with reading the classics.

Well, this unmitigated fool has determined that the rape scene in Speak is "softcore pornography". (The link is not to him, but the post where I first read about this.)

Pornography, to my understanding, has to be stimulating, titillating, and fun. The rape in Speak is sickening. And not - let's be absolutely clear here - sickening because I think children are reading softcore porn in school, but sickening because reading it makes me feel nauseous at the very thought of what's going on.

It's well-written, and it's never once been what I've pulled off the shelf because I was bored and thought a little masturbation would help with that.

It's not pornography. Not in any sense of the word. What's very sad is that it seems like for many girls and young women this might be one of the few ways they have of dealing with their own rape. The library book with accounts of rape and assault written on the back pages parallels a scene in the book itself where the protagonist writes her rapists' name on a bathroom stall, and comes back to find whole conversations written about what else he's done.

And it's not that this book is so wonderful in and of itself. Any other well-written book would do. It's that this asshole's attitudes (which he didn't just make up out of the ether) are the same exact ones that keep these people from speaking up! This twit, this misbegotten barely-literate pest, he's part of the problem here! Oh, it makes me so mad. I could absolutely spit.

So, you know, though I don't want to give this person any more attention (let's not encourage him in his ignorance here), I feel I should spread the word so that if somebody tries giving you that line, even if you have no idea what they're talking about, you can smack them hard and tell them why they're wrong.
conuly: Picture of a sad orange (from Sinfest). Quote: "I... I'm tasty!" (orange)
What the hell am I reading to the nieces? I need to pick a chapter book, TODAY!

There's just too many books....

(And yet, and yet, and yet there's also never ENOUGH books. Funny how that works out. Any suggestions?)
conuly: Discworld quote: "The new day is a great big fish!" (fish)
(Again.)

And I got shuttled off to the hospital for one two three four five six seven EIGHT hours while both our phones died. Yay!

Luckily, I brought a book. (I always bring a book.) In fact, I brought several books. In fact, I brought the first several books I could find, which turned out to be my boxed set of The Underland Chronicles. I've wanted to re-read both Hunger Games books waiting for the third, but one of them got LENT OUT (who the hell lends out other people's books, anyway?) so this is the next best thing.

I hadn't re-read them in a while, but I managed to go through all of them while there. Well, what else was I going to do? (You know what I could've done? I could've walked home and picked up my recharger and walked back, that's what I could've done. I didn't do that.)

So as I read them, a few things occurred to me:

Read more... )
conuly: Dr. Horrible quote: All the birds are singing, you're gonna die : ) (birds)
Stork Raving Mad.

I'm not really spoiling (spoilering?) much if I say that only a few chapters in and Meg has discovered a dead unpleasant person in her house. Same old, same old. The series is far enough in that she's not going to be a suspect, even though she stumbled across the body in her own home. They already covered the "Oh-my-isn't-it-suspicious-about-the-bodies" thing several books ago, didn't they? Every mystery series eventually has to pass this hurdle, and then the cops stop being suspicious forever after (especially if one of them is the heroine's boyfriend, naturally). They've acknowledged that the whole premise is silly and it will never come up again. Got it.

But thinking logically, if these characters knew they were in a book series - wow, what an opportunity! What I really want to see one day is a book, several books in of course, where the housewife/teacher/mom/librarian/blacksmith (that's Meg!) snaps and just goes on a rampage and kills everybody who gets in her way, safe and secure in the knowledge that she'll never be caught because, duh, she's the heroine!

And then she can be caught and go on to solve (or unsolve, when it's a wrongful conviction) crimes in prison. Or can NOT be caught, very Roger Ackroyd (am I allowed to reference books I haven't read? I'm going to anyway), that doesn't matter. It'd be something different, anyway.

But no. None of these people ever realizes the potential of their... interesting predicament.
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
Sheesh. Soon as I get paid again, that sucker is going on pre-order. Yes, yes it IS.

I think I'm going to, over the course of the next year, pick up every one of those books AGAIN for donation to the school. Maybe twice - once for Evangeline's class, and once again for the library.

Funny thing about Evangeline. She went through this whole year being called "Eva" because that's what we wrote down on all her school supplies. It was just easier. But lately she's been wanting us to write down her FULL name, and trying to do that herself, so I finally asked what she wanted to be called. So now she thinks she wants to be Evangeline to the general public. Jenn is going to try that out, she said, and it's easy enough for school, we'll just write down her long name on her pencil case and crayons and whatnot. (That was random, yes.)
conuly: A picture of the Castleton Castle. Quote: "Where are our dreams? Where are our castles?" (castle)
Fan of Newsies, picture books, AND biographies?

Check this out.

This is actually a pretty good book about the actual events (not the Disneyfied version of history) of the strike. Among other things, the hero is Kid Blink, who actually was a leader in real life... unlike in the movie where the leaders are all the pretty guys and Blink is a very minor background figure. (Fan of fixing the erasure of disabled people in history?)

Don Brown (not who you're thinking!) has rapidly become one of my new favorite picture book authors because of his biographies, and this one is no failure. You really should check out a copy.
conuly: Discworld quote: "The new day is a great big fish!" (fish)
That's only four and a half months away! And believe me, I've been waiting for this since I finished Goblin Wood (which was either my first or second Hilari Bell book) and it was a stand-alone novel. But now it's gonna get a sequel : )

And yes, I have this book on pre-order. *virtuous* A whole 6% of the price goes to help the nieces' school! It's my auntly duty to buy as many books as I can through this little marketing scheme.

I'd say I can't wait, but that expression really annoys me. I have a choice of a. wait b. kill myself rather than wait or c. invent time travel. Obviously c isn't happening, and b would leave me frustrated forever, so clearly I can and must wait, but I'll just be really annoyed at the necessity.
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
http://www.newyorkstreetgames.com/buy.html

I can put the book in with the rest of my collection of kid's games books that I'm slowly trying to build up. (In between my plans to repurchase every last book I carelessly gave away when I thought I'd outgrown them, stock up a good poetry library for the nieces, stock up a good fairy/folk tale library for them (not just picture books, of course), and buy up as many Mother Gooses as I can. Oh, and the bookcases thing.)
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
Slightly more than half the picture books (don't get me started on the chapters....) are neatly tagged and back on the shelf. There were a few I guessed ("Well, the other four in this series are all 'J', and this one isn't that different from them, so I bet it's a 'J' too"), but mostly if I couldn't find the info I put it neatly in a stack to deal with later.

I've learned a few things. First, I've learned that we have a preponderance of J, K, and L books. Hey, that's the level Ana's on - rock! We also have some M, N, O, and P books, and some H and I books. (And that's just the picture books. I'll get to the chapter books later.) However, everything easier than H, we don't really have, so I'll pick some up this summer so when Evangeline starts reading she'll have some books at home for her to read.

Also, I've learned that half our books aren't listed under Scholastic Book Wizard. I have *got* to find another way to get them tagged up. Having half of them done is just... not gonna happen.

HELP ME!!!!!
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
I LOVED this book as a kid, and I couldn't for the life of me remember the name, so I finally asked on what_was_that_book and they told me. And I ordered a new copy, and would you believe it came with two pages ripped clear out? When I order used picture books I'm fairly tolerant of mild scribbling or tears - I'd rather see a loved book than a pristine one anyway, and children can be hard on the things they love - but this was a bit much. So I got me my refund and sent off for aNOTHER new copy, and it came, and it's here - and it's from Agbu Armenian Elementary School and so it has what I presume to be Armenian on the inside of the cover! Awesome!

Which reminds me. A few days ago I bought some band-aids. I decided to splurge a little and really make the nieces happy, so I bought character band-aids - a box each Barbie, Disney Princess, and Dora. And as I picked up the boxes I went "That's weird, it has bumps - wait! BRAILLE!" (Each niece had the same reaction, except that I'm the one who shouted BRAILLE! for both of them, too.)

I don't have the boxes to hand, but what's weird is it doesn't seem to say "Band-aids" or any variation thereof. I just looked up the Braille alphabet, and it looks like the first letter (which I remember how it looks by virtue of it NOT looking like the six letters I know - a, b, c, d, r, and w) seems to be "m". (So now I guess I know seven letters?) What on earth does it say, though? I could just run up and get a box, but I'm a. lazy and b. slightly daunted at the idea of abbreviations anyway. (If nobody helps me, though, I'll do what I must.)
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
The ones on Blubber are great. Some of them make good points, but they're so caught up in their own SHOCK and HORROR that they're utterly useless. (Especially the ones who claim that the book is unrealistic because a. kids in the fifth grade don't act that way or b. the bullies never get caught. You might criticize the book for portraying this, sure, you might prefer a neater ending where everybody is friends or where the mean girls get what's coming to them, got it - but that doesn't mean it'll be more realistic that way.)

But my favorite runs like this.

A woman's daughter was reading Blubber, came to a point where one character calls another a "bitch", showed the page to her mother and said "I don't think I should be reading this", whereupon the woman came to amazon to complain that NOW she had to READ all these BOOKS before giving them to her daughter, and WHO has the TIME!!!

To which I say:

1a. Your daughter clearly already knew the word "bitch" or she would not have been able to identify it in writing.
1b. She also knew that one doesn't use that word in polite conversation.
1c. And she ALSO decided she should not read books using this sort of language.
2. Blubber is not exactly a weighty tome. And yes, if you intend to censor your child's reading, you need to make it a point to be familiar with WHAT they are reading. It's not the author's job to guess what sort of books you won't let your kid read. (My parents didn't censor our reading, but they read most books we read, and why not?)

I mean, here's what I don't get. It's one thing to say "I don't want to teach my child that word" or even "I don't want to create the false impression that I think that language is okay". But she's already succeeded at that! What on earth is she worried about at this point? (For the record, the main character takes the time to explain that her parents don't mind about language so long as they don't go screaming it around the house. This is a perfectly valid parenting philosophy, and the kid is aware that it'd be a bad idea to call her teacher a bitch to her face, which is just about all we can hope for when it comes to profanity. At some point you can't duct tape their mouths anymore.)
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
A little boy girl heads off to take a walk the rodeo. She encounters three tigers seven rattlesnakes and gives them her clothes. But when they start fighting and turn to butter eat each other up, she gets her clothes back. Yay!

Gosh. That story sounds familiar. I love retellings, but I wish they'd credit the source. Well, maybe they do on the book proper. (Maybe Bannerman got her idea from somebody else and didn't make it up out of her own head?)
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
I'd been putting it off because I couldn't work out the logistics of where to put the "keep" pile. I finally decided that there's a simple, if somewhat annoying solution: Just toss them on the floor, I can put them away later!

So walking through my living room is still a hazard. At any moment you might slip on a book, fall, and break your back. But at least you won't pull down all the other books in a twisted reenactment of the Collier brothers. And hey, you'll have something to read!

My keep list so far includes: The Martine books
The few BSC/SVT/Goosebumps books we still have (I gave most of them to the school in the 8th grade, which is how I met Lizziey, actually)
Most of the murder mysteries if I've seen anybody read anything else in the series lately
Any classics that aren't currently in the public domain
The Tortall books (OMG!)
Most of the YA and kidlit, in fact
My concise edition of Norse and Greek/Roman mythology I got for my birthday when I was eight or so (which is why my father is buried with an obol under his tongue, fun fact!)

My toss list?

Three copies of Roget's Thesaurus (and counting!)
2 English-Hebrew dictionaries
1 copy of the 3rd year of Latin for Americans (and no, I didn't steal that from Stuy, we already had a copy, I have no idea why)
Every Gor book (uh....)
Our Bible (I'm not sure I shouldn't actually throw it out, it's in somewhat embarrassing condition)
The Concise OED (somebody ELSE can get a magnifying glass on that thing! It's in like 1 point font!)
Our Funk and Wagnall's Encyclopedia
4 dictionaries
1 Spanish verb book
2 French verb books
1 Latin-English dictionary
1 Dutch-English dictionary
2 Greek-English dictionaries
1 first year German textbook
1 Cajun French textbook
Half a dozen random cookbooks
Various Star Wars Novels (Jenn, you want, you help!)
Various vintage Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drews and Wonder Boys books

I'm debating the merits of keeping a few of the reference books. Mostly I'm operating on the assumption that if we ever need it, we can buy another copy... but some of these were expensive enough the first time around. Sure, you only need that one Art History textbook once in your life, when you take Art History... but that's a required course, isn't it? Odds are both nieces will need it in just a dozen years or so.

Oh, listen. We have a wide variety of books. If there's something you want, go ahead and comment about it. I'll keep an eye out while I sort.
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
On April 24th, the ETG is participating in this... event they run yearly. One of the main attractions, as far as I'm concerned, is the bookswap. If I play my cards right, I can get my living room back. The place is literally floor to ceiling with books... and when I say literally, I mean the place is literally floor to ceiling with books. There's a liiiiiitle itty bitty path to get from the front to the back of the house.

And much though I am loathe to say it, we actually don't need - or want! - many of those books. (If we really want them, we may have multiple copies anyway.)

So I'm going to sort through the books, group the ones we're keeping, and hopefully ditch most of the rest of them. I could just leave them on our neighbor's wall (this "thing" she does where people leave their junk on her wall and other people take them away, kinda like a poor man's freecycle), but I like having a deadline. And when I go there, I'll try, with a herculean force of will, to NOT get any new books! *crosses fingers*

So, yeah, this is my plan. It's a good plan. There must be somebody out there who truly, desperately needs more dictionaries than they can shake a stick at. Old dictionaries, too. (I have to admit, it's scary to realize that for all our glut of dictionaries I still actually need a new one.)

Now, on the subject of books, my sister has a plan to turn the ceiling in the girl's room (which is a dormer, so the ceiling touches the floor) into a big bookcase. This is an awesome plan. Now we have room for all our chapter books! And let's face it, a mostly tend to buy kidlit and YA anyway, so I don't mind letting them store those books for me! (Turning THEIR room into the library is a heck of a lot better than turning MY room into the library, which is what people often think we should do.) So once again, I ask you - any chapter books we urgently need to buy? Fond memories? New ones I might've missed? I am not getting the entire BSC, Goosebumps, or Sweet Valley canon, but just about anything else is fair game!

And since we're still still on the subject of books, I've made two momentous decisions recently.

The first is to go through the picture books, suck it up, and label them with their Guided Reading Levels if I can find 'em online. (How are those even determined, anyway?) That's the system the niece's school uses, and it'll be convenient to say, when they go to read for school (as opposed to reading for fun, of course) that they should stick more or less on the level they're theoretically on. So I'll take a day or two to do this.

The second is to start adding chapter books (!) to my librarything and goodreads libraries. The horror! (I may double up and label THESE with their reading level too!) I had originally decided not to do so because I have such a fucking lot of them. (And we're still just in kid's books!) This will clearly have to wait until after we clear out the unwanteds. I mean, duh. Can you guys give me some moral support for this?
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
It's another postapocalyptic dystopia, which is why I picked it up.

As dystopias go it's a bit slow-going, but it's not that bad, until I get to the following line: "Her father was an autodidactic tailor who had never needed a pattern". Autodidactic? Autodidactic? What, pray tell, is wrong with the simple phrase self-taught? Sheesh. There's a time and a place for that sort of language. You don't sound smarter for adding more syllables just for the heck of it, you know.
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
We have a lone crocus in our yard. We did eventually decide to go with a ramp, and all our yard got torn up, but we now have a crocus. Which is really weird, because I don't recall ever *having* crocuses in our yard before at all....

Our chamomile is also rebounding (as are our terrible weeds...) and two little lettuce plants coming up from the dirt. But mostly we're starting from scratch. Again. I look forward to the chance to agitate for putting in fruit trees.

Ana was the one who noticed the crocus, and I reminded her that it's the first flower of spring.

This got me thinking. A few weeks ago, out of boredom, I looked up "Katniss" to see if it was a real plant, and lo and behold it is. Katniss is a Native American name for it, though. The common English name is "Arrowhead". Meaningful! And then I remembered that Primrose indicates "first love", which didn't make sense at all, but I looked up primroses and found out that they are, in many areas, one of the first flowers of spring. (Not so much here, they're not native to the US.) So it is vaguely meaningful for a kid who was destined (sorta) to be called to kill and die at the earliest opportunity. (Except that didn't actually happen, as a matter of fact, but it could have.)

That the crocus is the first flower of spring (that and forsythia, which is popular enough) is something so ingrained in my thoughts that I can say it without thinking. But now, I remember a book that had a character say that it's spring when you can step on a daisy, and now primroses can be a first flower of spring, and in some areas the robin is the first *bird* of spring, but if I've seen one I don't know it.

So what IS the first sign of spring where you're from? Is it a plant or flower? Is it a change in the weather - getting warmer, raining more? Is it an animal, robins or... I don't know, some migratory critter? Is it seeing children bringing home lion and lamb crafts from preschool and kindergarten and the first grade (in much the same way that they bring home snowflakes in December and hand turkeys in November, yes)? Is it people dressing in brighter colors or lighter clothes? How do you know spring has sprung?
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
A report by Amnesty International on the shocking (!) rate of death in childbirth in the US.

Apparently more than two woman a day die of pregnancy related causes... if this information is even accurate, which it might not be.

And those two woman? Are probably black. Black woman are four times as likely to die from pregnancy related complications than white woman, even though they aren't any more likely to suffer from complications such as hemorrhage.

I'm not actually shocked or surprised by this, of course.

Here's an article about the fight in Ethiopia to eliminate bride abduction. It's fascinating. (Also, it gave me nightmares. This article gets its very own trigger warning for its descriptions of rape.

Oh, and I have two quick posts on Jewish literature, particularly fantasy:

Click
Click
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
Now, you have to understand that it's not at all unusual for me to blow half my pay on books... used books, even. And my family has a membership at B&N, and believe me, that thing can pay for itself within two shopping trips. (I'm trying to convince my mother to buy online now, because of the boxtops thing, because really, 3% of our book-buying budget is a LOT of money for the school.)

And I'm still a little embarrassed.

Bought the girls a dictionary. I know, I know, we're covered in dictionaries, but we don't have a children's dictionary (well, we didn't, anyway) so I thought this would be useful.

Oh, and I bought another "Silly Dilly" songbook, Take Me Out of the Bathtub.

Now, when I got the Silly Dilly Manners book I looked online and was annoyed to find somebody complaining that the songs were too obscure unless your kid is in an "advanced music class". I even made a poll about the subject. The same issue comes up with this book, and the champion complainer on the subject also whines that "children should learn to speak right". What foul word caused this complaint? Was it ain't? Sewiously?

No, it was "Disgusty". As in "I'm dirty, I'm dusty/I somethingsomething musty/being a slob's/a full time job/I guess I am disgust-y".

You know, my inner response to this is the same as it always is: Some people just don't like books. They don't like wordplay, and they don't like people having fun, and they don't like puns or language change or poetry or music or anything nifty that can be done with words. (This person has a better complaint about the lack of manners in this book, but children learn manners the same place they learn language: from the people around them. One book will not screw that up.)

So I read the book to the nieces last night, and sure enough, Evangeline backed up my comment about how hearing a humorous mispronunciation a few times will not cause your child to be illiterate by making a face and asking "What, is he two? It's not disgusty, it's disgusting. That's silly."

Of course, this may herald in the end of the sillies for both of them. Already, Ana doesn't like me having fun. If that happens to Evangeline, I'll be all distraught :(
conuly: (Default)
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/guest-column-like-water-for-money/

*boggles*

How the heck does Terry Pratchett know all this obscure stuff, and is the Annotated Pratchett ever gonna update again ever?
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
It's a Korman book. Good book. The whole plot revolves around our protagonists trying to simultaneously do their impossible weekend homework (ten questions on random subjects with no clue how to find out the answers, the goal is to learn how to think creatively and find information) and work on their radio show. Naturally, their brains come up with "have a quiz show!" because, after all, nobody is going to call in an answer unless they KNOW the answer, right? So now they just have to keep their teacher from finding out.

And it hit me, midway through this book, that nowadays it makes no sense whatsoever. I mean, plots of books rarely make sense when you think about them, because if they made sense they'd be boring (who wants to read about their own life, seriously?), but more than that. Nowadays, if I gave a kid a list of ten random questions and asked them to find the answers, they wouldn't agonize about it, they'd just go to Google. End of problem.

(My mother, when watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", gets very annoyed whenever they phone-a-friend. She says it'd be so easy to have your friend go to google for you, but none of them do that. I wonder what happens if you phone your friend at the very moment your friend is in the bathroom. Do they answer from the bathroom? On national TV?)
conuly: (Default)
Panem. Bread. The nation is the metaphorical bread to the circuses of the Hunger Games. Duh. (And this is why all the Latin-esque names among the ultra-elite of the city, naturally.)

Yeah. They're kinda missing half that entire equation, but it's good that they, you know, tried. Sorta.

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