Mo Willems books are SO cute. This one would be fun to read out loud to/with kids because Pigeon is begging and pleading to drive a bus, so it would bMo Willems books are SO cute. This one would be fun to read out loud to/with kids because Pigeon is begging and pleading to drive a bus, so it would be fun to make all the begging and pleading voices.
I also love how no detail is left out in the illustrations. Even the endpapers are funny -- Pigeon in various poses (cool guy; feet up in the air; etc.) while driving a bus. Right there, before the book even started, had me giggling. And I'm not even the target audience! ...more
In the research notes of The Voyage Of The Continental, a YA historical fiction about Asa Mercer bringing women to Seattle from the East Coast in 1866In the research notes of The Voyage Of The Continental, a YA historical fiction about Asa Mercer bringing women to Seattle from the East Coast in 1866, the author, Katherine Kirkpatrick, mentions this book as another historical fiction (but for adults, rather than YA) account of "Mercer's girls."
While the book is technically about a girl who went on Mercer's expedition, it's not really *about* the expedition, at least not in my mind. The voyage doesn't even begin to start until page 94, and it's not until page 106 that the trip finally begins! You're almost 1/4 of the way through the book before the journey even starts! And in those 94 pages before the girls make their way to the boat, you get A LOT of story that didn't seem relevant. I didn't really care about the creep that the main character's cousin was supposed to marry. She's not even going to Seattle! Why do we care? And then once they did start on the voyage, Rucker skips huge chunks of time. I think it was mentioned that they were on the shores of New Jersey, then some stuff happened, with no reference to time or distance elapsed, and the next thing we know, they're in Rio! Then the main character has a romantic encounter with someone on the ship, and then they're in San Francisco! Wait a minute!! There should be a whole lot of time between those cities -- don't just skim over all the details of what happened on the ship! Seasickness! Confinement! The question of how everyone's going to pay for the trip! Give me more than "Oh, he was dreamy. I'm so happy! But he's a scoundrel! No, I'm still happy! Now we're in love! Ta-da! We're on the other side of the continent! We've arrived!"
This book might be okay if you're more into the romance of the story, and care less about the actual Mercer story. If you want to read about Mercer's expedition and the trials and tribulations of bringing a boatload of women to help teach, nurse for, and populate a wilderness town, this isn't the book for you. And since I don't care about romance stories (How many times do we need to talk about a young woman's breasts?!?) or girl-meets-boy / happily-ever-after stories, and I *do* want to read about Mercer's trip, then this wasn't the book for me....more
Like The Voyage Of The Continental, this is a YA historical fiction about Mercer's girls, the women, young and old, that Asa Mercer brought from the ELike The Voyage Of The Continental, this is a YA historical fiction about Mercer's girls, the women, young and old, that Asa Mercer brought from the East Coast to Seattle to help populate the new city. In contrast, however, The Voyage of the Continental is mainly about the trip itself, but Petticoats West focuses more on life after the ships arrived in Seattle and the girls starting their new lives.
Whereas The Voyage of the Continental had a lot of history, and was researched using Roger Conant's journal and articles about the trip, Petticoats West is much lighter in the factual history, but much richer in details about the surroundings and other descriptions....more
I LOVED this book when I was a kid. I enjoyed the Ramona books, and I loved the TV show (Sarah Polley was the *perfect* Ramona!) so this book was beyoI LOVED this book when I was a kid. I enjoyed the Ramona books, and I loved the TV show (Sarah Polley was the *perfect* Ramona!) so this book was beyond amazing for me. I loved the show so much that when I read this book, I could remember every detail about every scene they talked about. Loved, loved, loved this book! I read it over and over. And over. ...more
I love Ramona. I always loved reading her books as a child, and the little scamp is still endearing today.
Reading the books now, though, made me laugI love Ramona. I always loved reading her books as a child, and the little scamp is still endearing today.
Reading the books now, though, made me laugh at how dated they're becoming. Kindergartners walking themselves to school? I've never known of a five-year-old allowed to walk to school without an adult or older sibling. Was it a simpler time in the 1960s, with less traffic and fewer scary people? Or was it because Ramona lived in a small, friendly town? And the purple-ink copies from a ditto machine? Can kids today even begin to imagine what that means or looks like?
But Ramona, herself, still holds up. She still gets into trouble that kids today would understand (like wanting to be the best sleeper in kindergarten, so she makes sleeping noises, like snoring, which makes the rest of the class laugh), and still has the same feelings kids today would understand (like having to make a noisy fuss so she, the little five-year-old, would be listened to among the adults and pre-teens in her life and neighborhood; or thinking her teacher no longer loves her, since she was scolded in class). Some of the details of Ramona's life may not continue to resonate with kids as the decades go on, but the stories and feelings still will....more
It was okay. Maybe I'd like it more if I'd grown up with it.
I do I like the onomatopoeia ("kuplink! kuplank! kuplunk!"). That seems like it would be sIt was okay. Maybe I'd like it more if I'd grown up with it.
I do I like the onomatopoeia ("kuplink! kuplank! kuplunk!"). That seems like it would be something a little kid "reading" along would like to do -- saying the sound words when they come up.
I also like the parallel between Sal and her mother and the bear cub and his mother. In the illustrations, the bear cub follows his mother up the hill just like Sal follows her mother up the hill, but going different directions. I could see how this would be a nice visual (possibly subliminal) for kids. There's also the parallel between the two mothers thinking about storing food for the winter, as well as what happens between Sal/the mama bear and the bear cub/Sal's mother. ...more
I have to admit: I'm reading this because of Clueless. It's on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, but not being a fan of Austen and herI have to admit: I'm reading this because of Clueless. It's on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, but not being a fan of Austen and her kind (and yet, when I read her books, I enjoy them...), I didn't add Emma to my to-read list. A Victorian girl who always wants to play matchmaker, but finds out she doesn't know as much as she thinks she does? Please, that sounds so stereotypical and blasé. I decided to pass.
But having read As If!: The Oral History of Clueless, my passing curiosity of how the two are related became a need to know. So now I'm reading Austen, thanks to Beverly Hills Cher. And as I read, I keep trying to find connections: "Oh, Emma's giving advice to Harriet like Cher gives to Tai, thinking she knows what's best. I wonder if "Mr. Elton" is Elton" (or as Tai calls him, "El'on"). I can't just sit and enjoy the book on its own!
So now I've finished it, and I enjoyed it. It wasn't as good as some other Austen I've read, but it was a good story. The whole naive-matchmaker aspect wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and the various pairings and mis-pairings kept me guessing to some extent.
That said, here's where I found parallels between Cher's world and Emma's world (Feel free to chime in with ones I missed, or tell me if you think my assessment is wrong): (view spoiler)[ 1. Cher = Emma; Tai = Harriet (the plain new girl whom Cher/Emma takes under her wing, especially in finding love); Josh = Mr. (George) Knightley (the "brother" who's not actually a brother, who teases his not-sister while also trying to make her a better person, and who becomes a love interest for the not-sister); Elton = Mr. Elton (one, the name. But also because Tai/Harriet falls in love with him and keeps mementos in a box, one of which is related to an injury [Tai keeps the towel Elton put ice in when she's knocked out at the Val party, and Harriet keeps the court plaster Mr. Elton uses when he injures himself with scissors].) Christian = Frank Churchill (one, again, the name, but less so this time: now we have "Christian" paralleling the "Church" in "Churchill". Also, Christian and Frank Churchill are the dapper new young men who come in to town after the action of the story gets going. But Frank's not gay, so he's not *completely* the same as Christian, although his secret engagement *is* a bombshell, like when we/Cher find out Christian is gay.) 2. Tai/Harriet comes over to Cher's/Emma's house to destroy the box of mementos [in a fire for both of them, I think] once Elton/Mr. Elton has done her wrong. 3. Tai/Harriet falls for Josh/Mr. Knightley after he "rescues" her by dancing with her when no one else will. 4. Then the startling revelation that "I love Josh"/Mr. Knightley (*cue fountain in background*) (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'll begin by saying that this might be an obscure book or reason for a book to people outside the University of Washington or the sundial community.I'll begin by saying that this might be an obscure book or reason for a book to people outside the University of Washington or the sundial community. Or maybe not; what do I know?
Woody Sullivan is ... well... he looks a bit like an eccentric scientist, with his scraggly beard, hiking shorts, and high socks. I took his History of Science, Physics, and Astronomy class at the UW my first official quarter at the school, and boy was I intimidated. He's hella smart, and I felt totally out of my element when I tried to follow all of his lectures about the history of science and about how this scientist led to that scientist, and this theory interwove with that theory. At some point, though, I learned that he makes sundials, which is pretty cool.
But I didn't realize the grandness of his sundials until I was long out of the UW. I mean, Bill Nye! He's worked with Bill Nye the Science Guy (which, in the Seattle area, is WAY cooler than it is to the rest of the world. I mean, I understand that Bill Nye is impressive everywhere, but in Seattle, he's even more of an icon)! And put a sundial on Mars?!? His sundials are so spiffy that local media will do a story on him every now and then, which is a far cry from just the mad scientist teacher I thought he was (He made us shock ourselves with Leyden jars or some other contraption he showed us on a tour of the spooky basement of some crazy science building! I still don't know where we were that day or how we got there. But there it was: a spooky basement with crazy contraptions lining the hallways.)
Okay, so he makes sundials that are pretty cool and have gone to other planets. THAT is cool. But then I didn't know how even bigger he was in the science community, in general, until I was listening to a podcast (a local podcast, sure) earlier this year and he was mentioned in reference to the search for life in other parts of the universe, and his many books and articles were mentioned. What? He's written books? He's enough of an expert that he's referred to by other members of the science world? What? The crazy guy I had for that one class? Really?
So then I started looking up his work, and found this book: The New Astronomy: Opening the Electromagnetic Window and Expanding Our View of Planet Earth: A Meeting to Honor Woody Sullivan on His 60th Birthday. They had a conference in honor of his birthday! With scientists from around the world presenting papers! Holy crap! I was in the presence of greatness that quarter and never realized it!
So now the book: there are 18 articles about various topics in science and astronomy, including astrobiology, radio astronomy, and... sundials! Some of the articles are really good, some went over my head, some were brief overviews of a topic or a specific scientist, and some were just short and I wasn't sure why they were included. But my favorites, by far, were the two about sundials: sundials in history, making new sundials, making art out of sundials (The UW had an art/science class where the students learned about, and then made their own, sundials! I wish I'd been there!), and making other optics-related art.
So now everyone should look up Woody Sullivan and his sundials. They're pretty damn cool! And if you've ever thought about looking for life on other planets, think about Woody when you think about SETI....more
Another interesting book about the different aspects of life at Bletchley Park, from the jobs to the different personalities to their recreation to thAnother interesting book about the different aspects of life at Bletchley Park, from the jobs to the different personalities to their recreation to the legacy of the Park and restoring the Park as a museum to tell the story of the Park and its codebreakers....more
I love the movie Clueless, and I know it's a popular movie (otherwise, why would they show it on TV so often?), but I don't think I realized it was enI love the movie Clueless, and I know it's a popular movie (otherwise, why would they show it on TV so often?), but I don't think I realized it was enough of a cultural icon/phenomenon to warrant its own book. I guess I was wrong.
The book is an oral history (Duh!) about the making of the movie and the impact it's had on pop culture, the movie industry, girl power, etc. Chaney interviews pretty nearly everyone you could think of when talking about the movie: all of the stars (even some "Who?" characters), the writer/director, producers, makeup department, wardrobe department, music department, the studio, PR, bands that were on the soundtrack... If they had a major hand (and even some not-so-major hands) in the movie or its process, their words are in here, which makes for a pretty thorough take on the movie. Oh, right, also Jane Austen scholars, pop culture scholars, members of the fashion industry... I think the only people not interviewed were 1) me and 2) the friend who introduced me to the movie.
I'm not sure I completely agree with every conjecture Chaney and some of the scholars make, like that Clueless inspired X, Y, and Z teen movies or Austen revivals (Just because they came later doesn't mean they were inspired by. To refer to Pres. Bartlet, "Post hoc ergo propter hoc: After it therefore because of it. It means one thing follows the other, therefore it was caused by the other. But it's not always true. In fact, it's hardly ever true." *sigh* West Wing, how I love you.), but I will agree with them on some of their claims that it's perhaps the *best* inspired-by-Austen movie, or (one of) the best girls-aren't-stupid movie. And it definitely did inspire a new lexicon, and perhaps some fashion (Although, one of the interviewees said that *everyone* in her school the next year was dressed like Cher and her classmates. Dang, I knew I was from Hicksville [okay, not really], but *no one* I knew or saw dressed in any way like the movie. We all just kept to our jeans and t-shirts, or maybe some fancy blouse for the more fashion-minded. Not even a fuzzy-topped pen to be seen.).
Even if you don't agree with the bold and grand statements put forth by the interviewees and Chaney, this book is still a great trip down memory lane. After reading about the TV show, I decided it's been a few years (uh... decades?) since I saw the show, so I decided to Google it, and found a whole slew of episodes on YouTube (and I was quite amazed by how much of the episodes I still remember, and the fact that I immediately began singing along with the theme song, word for word!) And the Clueless (TV show) Barbies! I remember when those came out!
So yes, this is definitely a fabulous trip down memory lane, and has quite a bit of insight into the casting process, scriptwriting, shopping it to studios, logistics of filming and advertising a movie... on and on. ...more
This is, quite possibly, one of the best examples of how to do a book based on interviews and oral histories. Maybe it's just that I'm still basking iThis is, quite possibly, one of the best examples of how to do a book based on interviews and oral histories. Maybe it's just that I'm still basking in the afterglow of reading a good book, but it seems like Smith seamlessly wove oral histories, personal interviews, and correspondence, along with websites and other books, into a history that sounded like these women were telling me their stories.
And what a story it is. You've got the espionage and tactics of getting German and Japanese secret messages during World War II; you've got the intelligence of the people who figured out how to break the codes in those messages; you've got the persistence it took to break the codes; you've got the work it took to translate them once the codes were broken; you've got the "elbow grease" of all the people who were responsible for recording the messages, making sure they checked out, moving them from one part of the operation to the next; etc. And to think that, even though a lot of 1940s intelligence is presumed to be [or is depicted as, in movies and TV] male, more than 8000 of the 12,000 employees at Bletchley Park were women.
In addition to their stories of the codebreaking operation, we also hear about their lives as young women, young women during the war, and young women who loved and lost during and after the war. Pretty remarkable stories. ...more
This book basically has two functions: 1) to describe Bletchley Park's service during World War II, and 2) to put forth military and communications leThis book basically has two functions: 1) to describe Bletchley Park's service during World War II, and 2) to put forth military and communications lessons learned during WW II to be used in the future.
I enjoyed the Bletchley Park part of the book, although Welchman's descriptions of machines (Engima and the decoding bombes) and their operations sometimes were too technical for me. I also liked The Debs of Bletchley Park and Other Stories more as a behind-the-scenes of the operations and people at Bletchley, but this book provided another perspective.
The second function of the book (which takes up roughly the last 1/3 of the book), however, didn't do it for me as much. I don't have a big desire to know about military tactics, although the way he relates lessons learned during WWII was sometimes interesting; plus, the book is over 30 years old, so I don't know how much of it is still true. And that's the other thing: I'm not in a position to actually take any of the advice he gives (in case you don't know me, I'm not a military general or a person in high position in the US military or government), so I don't know if his recommendations have been put into practice, and I wouldn't know how to forward them anyway (not being a high-ranking member of the military or government). So for me, the last 1/3 was superfluous. ...more
A good primer on what half is and what it looks like -- half a pizza, half a drink, half a package of cupcakes, etc.... And how you can split things tA good primer on what half is and what it looks like -- half a pizza, half a drink, half a package of cupcakes, etc.... And how you can split things to share with your sibling if your mom forces you to be nice :)...more
Holy moses. This book is LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG. It's not that I mind long books, it's that this book is so dense! It's really about 4 major topics, anHoly moses. This book is LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG. It's not that I mind long books, it's that this book is so dense! It's really about 4 major topics, and Hodges includes a whole lot of minutiae about each topic: Turing's life in general; cryptography/Enigma/WWII; the invention of the computer; and Turing's homosexuality (which, even though it's part of his life in general, it's such a large topic). So take 4 major topics, add EVERY little detail about each of them, and then smoosh them all into one book, and you get one LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG book.
So, on the one hand, this book is good because it's detailed, and so it makes a good biography. On the other hand, though, there are SO many aspects of Turing's life (his family, his personal life, his work, his friends), and with ALL those details, my eyes started to glaze over quite often. Plus Hodges makes a lot of outside references/analogies (I don't need you to keep comparing people and situations to characters and events in Alice in Wonderland), and includes SO much detail about the history of certain topics, that I personally felt like a lot could have been cut out.
Just for reference, if you're reading this book for specific topics, here's a rough guide (obviously each of these topics is mentioned in more than just the pages I'm listing, but the meat of the topics are in these pages): cryptography/Enigma: pages 185-331 invention of computers: starts around page 394 Turing's homosexuality at the end of his life (his "crime" and how it relates to the end of his life): pages 565-614 and he dies 50 pages before the end of the book!...more
I wasn't that thrilled reading this book. I do see how it could be a great book for young readers (5th through 7th grades, probably), but I personallyI wasn't that thrilled reading this book. I do see how it could be a great book for young readers (5th through 7th grades, probably), but I personally didn't like it much.
I think part of my problem was that I was so torn about whether I liked Artemis Fowl. He's a 12-year-old evil genius, and I think we're not used to *young* evil geniuses, so it's unsettling that this boy is SO smart, and yet uses it for not-good. The evil genius is not an uncommon character, but it's uncommon for a young evil genius. We want our smart kids to do *nice* things and be nice people. We're used to adults being jaded or evil, but we want (or expect, or are used to) kids to be nice and use their intelligence for good, not for greed! So I think I was sort of unsettled that this brilliant 12-year-old was only using his smarts for greed and harm.
I also think the language at times was a little off-putting for someone who doesn't need dirty talk to be lured to read a book. Again, I can see how this would work for a certain set of readers, but you don't *need* to talk about dwarves expelling dirt and gasses, and fairies or leprechauns swearing or almost swearing much worse. It's not necessary. But I *will* say that Colfer seems to have a great gift of descriptive language -- even when he was describing things like dwarves expelling gases and dirt, he used language like "expelling" and describing the action and results, rather than going for the cheap-shot crassness of "Mulch farted," or something like that.
And the storyline itself is decent, especially for the target audience: fairies, leprechauns, dwarves, trolls, gold, scheming. Again, I can see how this could be a good book for that tween/early-teen group, especially for tweens/early teens who aren't normally in to reading, but for me, it wasn't interesting enough to keep me riveted throughout the book....more
First of all, this is a book about dance and the ballet, so it gets points from me right there.
But, more importantly, it is SO beautifullyHoly. Moly.
First of all, this is a book about dance and the ballet, so it gets points from me right there.
But, more importantly, it is SO beautifully written. Shipstead writes about the ballet in ways that I can't even fathom. I mean, she's obviously a talented and gifted writer, but she describes things (both things about the ballet, and things about normal life, but written with ballet metaphors) in ways that I wouldn't have thought possible by any human. It's as if ballet were writing (and boasting) about itself.
The story--which isn't entirely about ballet; ballet is simply (but not simply) one of the main characters--is also a riveting story, with a love triangle... or perhaps a love square between a woman, a dancer, ballet, and a non-dancer, and all the twists and turns (pirouettes and fouettes) between them.
*sigh* This was such a good book that I made a noise when I finished the final page. I don't even know what kind of noise it was. Sort of a contented sigh crossed with a sigh of heartbreak crossed with a mid-ecstasy yelp. I have never made that noise when reading before, so it *must* have meant something good. ...more