Kids Book Corner

  • Goose Girl
  • Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH
  • Peter and The Shadow Thieves
  • Peter and The Star Catchers
  • Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper
  • Stella Brite and The Dark Matter Myster
  • The Island of The Blue Dolphins
  • The Phantom Toll Booth
  • The School Library Journal
  • The Sisters Grimm
  • Tuck Everlasting


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life with Noah...The Spring Edition

Noah and the Spelling Homework:

Noah: "I have spelling due Wednesday, will you help me?"

I pulled out the sliding shelf in my desk and said, "Come sit down. Be my friend."

Noah: "You already are my friend...(pause)distantly."

Me: (scribbling down what Noah said).

Noah: "Do you write down everything I say?"

Noah and the Book of Weird Facts

While I was digital scraping photos of Noah's Pinewood Derby he was on the couch reading Rachel's newest Book Fair acquisition Weird But True 300 Outrageous Facts. "Did you..." preceded every entry he read to me. After several entries he said, "Did you know the average yawn last 6 seconds?"

Then, Noah yawned.

Noah asked, "Did you time that?"

Me: "No."

Noah: "Crap!"

Noah and the Harp:

My mom returned my phone call this evening and Noah took the opportunity to speak with her. While they were talking she could hear Eve practicing the piano.
She asked Noah: "Is there any musical instrument you would like to play?"

Noah: (Thinks for a little bit) "The Butt Harp!"

As my mom tells me this story my stepfather, Jim, is listening in the background and adds these clever quips, "I guess you call that a wind instrument." Then, he said: "And he is going to be the one cleaning his own reed!"

I hope to post some layots this week. Later, Peeps!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Visual and Audio...

Roy Blount jr. is hilarious. The review from Garrison Keillor said it very well, "He can be literate, uncouth, and soulful, all in one sentence." I enjoy listening to the NPR show "Wait Wait" and Roy is often a panelist, so when I heard he had written this book I reserved it at the library. If you love language, word usage, and etymology you will appreciate this book. My use of language throughout my years has been a mixed bag. I get some things right and some things wrong. His entry on the word phenomenon is a hoot. He talks about certain words being "sonicky". Sonicky is his word that replaces onomatopoeia.
Blount has personal stories throughout the text and political opinions. On page 243 he gives the example of John Adams and Josiah Quincy who acted as lawyers for the British troops who reacted by shooting into a mob by writing, "...The country wasn't just threatened by jackleg terrorist, it was occupied by an army, and yet people like Quincy and Adams felt strong enough to focus on due process-to resist the occupation but still identify with the occupiers as people. Those were the days."

The story about the eighth/ninth Marquess of Queensberry was strange and intriguing. Another strange story was found in "S" about a 2003 study done with Sulawesi macaques. The macaques would relieve themselves on the computer keyboards they were supposed to use for typing. Blount goes on to say, "Anyone who hasn't felt like that has never tried writing anything."

I had one of those AH HA! moments in the "S" section when I came to the word sesquipedalian. We just finished reading the last book in the series from The Mysterious Benedict Society and one of the recurring characters is named S.Q. Pedalian. The word means a long uncommunicative word used for the sake of showing off. I chuckled for quite a bit thinking about reading those three books and not knowing the joke.

Blount brings up a word that is used euphemistically for the male anatomy. The etymology of the word is unclear. I have heard this word used since I was very young. My stepmother, who is from Alabama, as is Blount, has used this word for as far back as I can remember. My sister, Tracy, uses it as well. It was a surprise to find it so thoroughly researched in this book. Alice and Tracy should have been interviewed for the section.

The comment he has on the word "Veracity" struck a chord with me, "Is not a simple matter. Some people cause more misunderstanding by going around saying exactly what they think all the time, than others by being hypocritical."

One of the things that is great about the book is just thumbing through and stopping on any word that suits your fancy. The entries are mostly come off as stream of consciousness and the tangents are fun. So word lovers give it a try, but be warned of that he has a salty tongue.

::::::::::Surfing MP3s:::

I am working on a short video for next week and came across this song:

::::::::Observation of the Day:::

It is fun to listen to Run DMC, while seating in a chair with wheels.

Must keeping listening to different songs...later!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

For My Favorite Skeptic...

Jessica Hagy has a brillant blog called Indexed. Here are just a few of her "Indexed" cards that remind me of my husband:

Nessie and I wish you a fabulous day!

Monday, March 22, 2010

For Sale?

That flair was posted because it made me laugh and I thought I should pass it on.

***Conversations with Noah:::

A brief history to put this conversation in perspective is that Aaron and Rachel were staying with their respective friends over the weekend. Setting: Sunday morning.

Noah: "Where is Aaron and Rachel?"

Michael: "We sold them."

Noah: "I thought you would have sold Aaron and Eve."

Michael: "Oh, we're going to sell you too, but we just haven't found a buyer yet."

Noah: " Well, I have a bid in to Ebay for some new parents."

These exchanges were quick and matter of fact. Being the bystander in this offered several minutes of laughter.

This morning the estrogen anomaly we call "Rachel" was having breakfast and I was putting butter on a blueberry bagel for her and I stated glibly that salted butter was food of the gods. She quickly said that the food of the gods was curly fries. I repeated my assurance that it was salted butter to wit she replied, "Don't try to reason with me. I've made up my mind."

:::::::::Working on a short video for scouts, so later, peeps!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Some More Book Reviews:

Twists and turns abound in this last installment (maybe) of The Mysterious Benedict Society. I really enjoy the teamwork aspect of the book and how the kids work with shortcomings from themselves and others for the greater good. The quirky kids with extraordinary abilities that find friendship, family, and adventure make for a good book. This was a fun one to read aloud to the kids.

I inadvertantly read this series out of order, but the book was good in its own right. The detective Charles Lenox has a tight knit circle of friends who help him solve the cases that come his way. Lenox yearned to work in Parliament, but for now is leading the life of a respected detective. Lenox is called to solve the disappearance of George Payson a young Oxford college student. Soon things turn tragic and Lenox has to follow the puzzleling clues left behind. The substory of Lenox's love for his long time neighbor, Lady Jane, gives the detective a more rounded character. I look forward to reading the first book in the series, as well as, the third.

I was a fan of Sesame Street growing up, so my interest was piqued when I saw this book come out. This book is a behind the scenes look at what it took to get an idea off the ground during the late 60's and maintain quality of the next twenty plus years. The partnership of driven, clever and creative people who wanted to help children who were underprivileged and falling through the cracks through the medium of television was interesting. The politics, social struggles, personal struggles and financing were eye opening and often frustrating and sad. I was surprised to find out that one of my favorite shows to come out of the collaborations, "The Electric Company", failed to thrive because there were no cute cuddly creatures to market from the show. The grant money is just seed money to start worthy projects, but they have to find independent funding afterwards and "The Electric Company" could not get the additional funds. This book was well researched. The only draw back was, due to the shear volume of information, the jumping back and forth to different people and circumstances going on during the history. Completely understandable though.

I have found it kind of sad that my children never seemed to like Sesame Street. I wanted to share with them my love for Grover, Cookie Monster, The Count, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Kermit, Bert, and Ernie. They did like "The Electric Company" a bit better, but there interest never stayed for long. I still, happily, sing songs and remember sketches from both shows, so thanks for all the happy memories from all letters in the alphabet and all the numbers, too!

Sarah Vowell is a sponge for historical facts and rather thorough on visiting the places that most would find as the minutiae of the historical sites. In this book of essays she focuses on three assassinated presidents, Abraham Lincoln (her favorite), James A. Garfield, and William McKinley. She doesn't shy away from the each of the president's foibles, nor her opinions on their policies. Vowell is upfront about her liberal stance on politics. She was especially outspoken on McKinley's interventionist policies, which she compares to Pres. George W. Bush's preemptive war in Iraq.
I found the background history of the assassins and what they political atmosphere at the time very interesting. In the case of John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices, the information about their plans for killing more than just Lincoln was something that is often glossed over. Vowell gives a strong circumstantial case that Dr. Samuel Mudd was one of the conspirators even though the Mudd family eventually got letters sympathetic to their name clearing campaign from presidents Carter and Reagan.
The bizarre way politics works with James A. Garfield going to speak for a friend to be the candidate for president, but with Garfield's calm demeanor got him chosen instead. Garfield's love of reading was rather endearing to Vowell and to me.
My family and I love to do historical vacations. I find that I always want to know why something happened and the context. I also know that history repeats itself ad nauseum, so trying to stem that cycle is an important job and a service to my kids.
I love the details in this book and find it a quirky treasure for the history lovers out there.

Our new family reading book is, Peter and The Sword of Mercy. I'm already sucked into the book. It is rather sinister and gripping, so far.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gaelic Granny Groupies

My mom went to the elementary school today to play the chanter and shuttle pipe for the kids. The amount of people morphed a bit from a couple of 3rd grade classes to the entire 3rd grade in the cafeteria.

Then she played for 2 Kindergarten teachers. Our intermission was a trip to lunch with our promoter, Crystal Powell, at the Blue Rooster Cafe. Crystal was Eve's pre-k teacher and we have remained friends. She has a child at Camp Creek, as well. Crystal treated us to lunch. The chicken salad sandwich was tasty and the lemon cake divine. While we were at lunch Michael texted me a photo of my brother out with his class at the local mall. The teachers got nervous that a strange man was taking Denny's picture, but Michael explained that Denny is his brother-in-law and Denny vouched for him by standing near him. Small world.
Our second tour consisted of Noah's 4th grade class. They were really complimentary to mom. I was proud of them all. We took an hour break and mom and I helped with some Book Fair invitations for the teachers. Our last stop was Eve's 1st grade class. Mom let Noah and Eve introduce her for their classes. They were both so proud of her. One of the boys was in Noah's class last year, as well, and said he wanted to be in Noah's 5th grade class of my mom was coming back to play next year. One of the 3rd graders from the morning event complimented mom again when he saw her in the library.

I hope y'all have had a great day too!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Beyond the Bog Road...

My mother invited me to go with her to the Eileen Ivers concert held at the Ferst Center on the campus of Georgia Tech. She also had tickets for our good friends Suzanne and Jason (always fun at a concert). The weather cooperated intermittently. The only problem was the frog strangling downpour and being directed by a police officer in the wrong direction to get around a broken down 18-wheeler in the middle of the intersection. I said a choice word (sorry about that to my car companions), but we got turned around and in the parking deck as the rain subsided.
Eileen Ivers was accompanied by an amazing ensemble. Ms. Ivers is an energetic, genuine and consummate celtic fiddle performer. Her show has a running video behind the performers that intersperses HD video footage of places in Ireland and New York, with vintage family and historical footage. Beyond the Bog Road tour informs the audience of the history of the Irish and the reasons they immigrated to places like Canada and America.
Tommy McDonnell, on lead vocals, percussion, & harmonica was a member of the original Blues Brothers Band and boy howdy can you tell. He does that jubilant call and response that I love. His voice hits just the right notes and invites everyone in to enjoy the music.
Buddy Connolly on accordion, whistle, and keyboards was fantastic. One of my favorite parts of the show was the dueling accordion/violin he did with Ms. Ivers. There was intensity, brilliance and humor.
Leo Traversa's bass playing was spectacular. I wish my son, Aaron, was at the concert to hear and see Traversa play. Aaron would have been in awe, too.
Greg Anderson was on acoustic guitar, bouzouki, and back ground vocals. He was such a pleasure to listen to and watch as he helped meld all of these sounds to create an out of this world show.
The changes of tempo in the show were perfect and the invited guest singer, and the Irish step dancers were an integral part of the energy and flavor of the show. This was a toe tappin', hands clappin', hip poppin', and head bobbin' show. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Having great company along for the ride was a bonus. Thanks for the invite, mom!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Cookies, Milk and a Good Book

Rachel, Noah and Eve went in for their yearly check-ups last week. Only Noah needed a shot. He got the Chicken Pox booster. I told him he could squeeze my hand if he needed to. I watched his mouth pop open when the needle went in, then he shut it. I looked at him and asked if it hurt? The nurse had the bandaid ready and was looking for the puncture, but wasn's finding it and asked Noah were it was. Then Noah said, "If shots were as painful as they are rumored to be you think I would be able to find it."

Everyone is growing well and pretty healthy. I asked about Noah's ever present bumps on his face. The doctor said it is a hereditary condition called pilaris keratosis. He also has patches on the back of his arms. The doctor recommended Lac-Hydrin. Noah wondered if that meant he could stop washing with the acne wash I had for the kids. I told him no. His skin has a harder time naturally sloughing off cells, so he gets some acne too. Some treatments list Retin-A, but Eve is allergic and so is my nephew Tyler. It leaves red burned patches of skin where the ointment touches, so that idea is out for any of my kids. The doctor said the condition should lessen as he gets older. Noah seemed to get the majority of the attention on this visit. We had him show the doctor how he can pretzel twist his fingers together in a really disturbing, yet interesting way. I wondered if this was a contributing factor to his poor fine motor ability, but the doctor didn't think so. He said that Noah just appeared to have very lax joints. We joke with Noah that he has little paws, and old man ear lobes, so we know his just has lax joints and connective tissue. Hmmm...interesting.

A fun and busy weekend. On Saturday morning I joined Rachel, Julia, Hannah, and Julia's mom, Karen in front of the Wallsmart to sell Girl Scout cookies at a booth sale. It was chilly, but we enjoyed being silly together. Sometimes people would walk out of the store with their carts loaded with different items and we would yell happily about how well that item went with cookies. I made Karen lose her train of thought when I yelled as a man passed by that cookies went great with Bud Light. Later, Rachel told a customer that cookies went well with birdseed. Hey, we worked with what we had. The girls made up a song to the old "Camp Town Races" tune:

C-o-o-k-i-e-s, Cookies! Cookies!
C-o-o-k-i-e-s, Cookies are our friends! Whoo!

We sold most of our wares with just a few dosidos and trefoils left.

Then, we went to Steak and Shake. I called Michael and invited him to bring Aaron, Aaron's friends Jeremy (who slept over) and Shafer. The place was packed so we had to do two nearby booths. Rachel and Julia crumbled a couple of samoas into their vanilla shakes.

The rest of the day I hung out at my mom and Jim's house and kept an eye on my brother so they could go out to a church activity. Michael stayed with Aaron and Rachel. I was able to finish The Lightning Thief by Riordan. Noah begged me to read this book. He gets very animated when he talks about the series and wanted to be able for me to understand what he was so excited about.

I saw the movie before reading the book, which is not the order I like to do things. I was rather stunned as each chapter rolled by that the only thing resembling the book that was in the movie was some of the main characters and the book title. I was less than unimpressed by the movie, but was willing to give the book a chance. The book is directed at the Middle School aged audience, but really hits the mark for the 4th-6th grade set and hovers there. The perils and adventures in the life of Percy Jackson are explained away as the whims and petty jealousies of the bickering Greek gods. I can see why young kids would find this book quite a lot of fun, but I found it rather tedious and am curious its literary staying power.

On a more positive note about this book series, it lit the flame of reading under my reluctant 9 year-old, and for that I am thankful to Mr. Riordan. I find Noah perched (yes, he perches when he reads. I'll have to post a picture of it some time)reading all the time now. He finished every book in the Percy Jackson series and is reading a Mythology book from his teacher's collection. He is also into the ,Animorphs book series.

Another Book Review:
I am absolutely amazed by Navajo Code Talkers. Thanks to Noah's teacher, who lent me this book of historical fiction of the invaluable contribution of the Code Talkers during WWII, I was able to learn more about their struggles.
I agonized over the way the government tried to strip the tribal peoples of their language and culture. The Navajo, along with other tribes, were physically harmed if they used their language or ways, then were called upon to use that same banned language to assist the war effort with their unbreakable code. They were unable to talk about what they did for the U.S. and freedom until the lifting of the top secret status in 1969.
I found it fascinating that they were very suited to the strenous life of a Marine, except for the cultural mistrust of water, which they overcame. Their stoic nature made it difficult for them to get help for the post traumatic stress that the horrors of war brought to them. The war gave them the opportunity to prove that their language is valuable and if the government and bigotry had won out, than that same government may have sewn the seed of its own destruction. I think these cautionary tales need to be frequently read. We can use this story into other facets of our life to realize the thing we destroy today, or disregard its value is the very thing that may preserve our lives tomorrow.

This is the first in the series of books set in the dystopian world a few hundred years from now when the "Rusties" have left some of the world in desolation. There are cities that rose from the rubble with advanced technology and the desire to stop future aggression and destruction by making everyone virtually the same. You are an "Ugly" until your 16th birthday, then you get an operation to make you physically attractive and almost impervious to illness. You also become rather docile. This life of perfection is the thing that most uglies desire. Tally Youngblood, the main character, looks forward to her operation, but in the mean time likes to do "tricks" to pass the time. Tally learns that there are people in "The Smoke" that want to live the rest of their lives ugly.

The book is aimed at the young adult group and really hits the mark. I thought the ideas were a great extension of an old Twilight Zone episode. The book is fast paced and interesting throughout. The character of Dr. Cable is a good foil for Tally's character. A good start to the series.

The second in the series finds Tally "Pretty". She finds friends in a clique called "The Crims" who did a lot of tricks during their ugly days. She lives in a world of beauty, parties, limitless food (with calorie purgers), yet is visited by feelings of inadequacy and longing for something she can't quite remember.

This series is like watching a chess match. The interesting thing is that Tally Youngblod's character seems to shift from pawn, to queen, to pawn again. Again the pace is fast and the pretty language is kind of Valley Girlesque, but appropriate. A solid sequel. I look forward to the third book.

The book I'm reading now is, Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell.

Well, Michael made a yummy late lunch of scrambled eggs, bacon, and sweet potato/russet potato hashbrown, so I'm ready to curl up with a book. Two kids are in timeout for fighting and the other two just got out. There is an air of peace in the house, so maybe I could slip in a nap too?