Not only one of the best love stories I've read since Nancy Garden's "Annie On My Mind" (in the early 90s), but especially articulate and eye-opening...moreNot only one of the best love stories I've read since Nancy Garden's "Annie On My Mind" (in the early 90s), but especially articulate and eye-opening to many, I'm sure, on being a teenaged girl in poverty (the kind where you don't have a toothbrush or shampoo, and everyone assumes you're messy/disheveled/wearing clothes that don't fit by choice--and you need to find a way to be proud of your appearance and face the world every day, or worse, the school bus).(less)
If I were a high school history teacher, all my students would read this book. Lanier was the youngest of the Little Rock Nine—the nine black kids who...moreIf I were a high school history teacher, all my students would read this book. Lanier was the youngest of the Little Rock Nine—the nine black kids who went to Central high school after it was forcibly integrated. As a high-achieving, captain of this, queen of that 8th grader, when she heard that Central was opening to black kids, signing up was a no-brainer: it was a much better school, with much nicer equipment and labs, and it was closer to her house than the all-black-by-default high school. She had no idea what was coming. When she showed up to Central the first day, the National Guard was there—to keep the Nine safe, she thought, because crowds were jeering and spitting at them—but the state governor had actually called out the Guard to prevent the black kids from entering (it was the President who integrated the school, not the governor). The Nine were not allowed to participate in any sports or extracurriculars, a shock to the usually-involved-in-everything Carlotta. Many of the Nine didn’t return to Central after the first year. Carlotta, the youngest, entering as a freshman, survived all four years and was the first black female graduate of the school. Fantastic and eye-opening, with a forward by Bill Clinton.(less)
Granted, the two-tone illustrations from a book published in 1974 are probably not going to engage today's kids. But the text remains fantastically fr...moreGranted, the two-tone illustrations from a book published in 1974 are probably not going to engage today's kids. But the text remains fantastically fresh and exciting. Read it, especially to a group of kids before going on a hunt for the perfect rocks for them. "The size must be perfect. It has to feel easy in your hand when you close your fingers over it. It has to feel jumpy in your pocket when you run. Some people touch a rock a thousand times a day. There aren't many things that feel as good as a rock--if the rock is perfect." Charming, magical, and kid-like. (less)
"Perfect Square"=perfect book. Hall's square is perfect on Monday, then gets holes punched in it...and is perfect again, transformed into something ne...more"Perfect Square"=perfect book. Hall's square is perfect on Monday, then gets holes punched in it...and is perfect again, transformed into something new (a fountain!). Then it gets torn...and is perfect again, and so on. A beautiful book about change and transformation and how there are no mistakes in art (and life?), just new opportunities to reimagine. (less)
A short (250 pages), wonderful novel set in Russia during the siege of Leningrad. Lev is 17, an awkward Jewish virgin, picked up by the Russian police...moreA short (250 pages), wonderful novel set in Russia during the siege of Leningrad. Lev is 17, an awkward Jewish virgin, picked up by the Russian police for "looting" (searching a dead German soldier he finds in the street for food--everyone’s starving--or other valuables). Kolya is 20 or so, a cocky, handsome, literature-loving Russian soldier, picked up by the cops for desertion. The two are thrown together in a cell for the night and expect to be executed in the morning. Instead, a colonel gives them a task on a whim: if they can find a dozen eggs for his daughter’s wedding cake in one week (in a country where people have taken to eating rats to survive, where no one’s seen an egg in months, and that’s currently under siege by Germans who would kill them on sight), they’ll be allowed to live. The boys set off. In the space of the next week, Lev will make his best friend, witness brutalities of war he could never have imagined, meet the girl he’ll end up marrying, and kill a man--but the best part of the book might just be the banter between him and Kolya as they slog through the frozen countryside. City of Thieves was published in 2008. I consider it a new classic.(less)
Ready Player One reminded me of The Da Vinci Code--the last half especially is relentlessly paced, and there are similar little puzzles and artifacts...moreReady Player One reminded me of The Da Vinci Code--the last half especially is relentlessly paced, and there are similar little puzzles and artifacts to figure out. It's a fun read, towards the end, when you get past some of the writing's clumsiness and foibles. I strongly, strongly disagree with several professional reviewers' placing it in a pantheon alongside Neuromancer and Snow Crash--RPO is fun (sort of), but not at all visionary like Gibson's and Stephenson's books were. It's set in 2044 but the virtual world the characters spend much of their time in could easily be Second Life in 2006. The book isn't mentally or intellectually challenging, like the titles above, or China Mieville's books, are. Again: RPO's a lot like The Da Vinci Code, with the setting & quest changed. If you're hoping for mindblowing, headstretching ideas, Ready Player One isn't the book to pick up. Ditto for gorgeous or otherwise-interesting prose. There's a place on the shelves and in the summer for Ready Player One just as there's a place for Cool Ranch Doritos: sometimes, empty calories are what you want, and they do fill a craving, however briefly. I was hoping for a book with more nutrients. (I commented on the book at BoingBoing earlier, slightly but not much more eloquently: http://boingboing.net/2011/08/15/read...)(less)
I once had a teacher who said, if one of us was flummoxed as to the accolades given a particular work or writer, "Maybe you just weren't invited to th...moreI once had a teacher who said, if one of us was flummoxed as to the accolades given a particular work or writer, "Maybe you just weren't invited to the party." Though I'm a fan of a lot of Kevin Henkes's books, I was not invited to the party on this one. Two stars feels shabby, but "It was ok" is exactly how I feel. "Billy" has picked up lots of starred reviews and is widely considered a Newbery contender. The stories it tells--about the dread of feeling misunderstood by your 2nd grade teacher, a sibling who both annoys and comforts, wanting to do well on school assignments that go whimsically, parents going through tough times--feel reminiscent of ground better covered (and covered with more charm) in Ramona Quimby books. I recently read Ann Cameron's "The Stories Huey Tells"--another collection of episodes, some funny, some more serious, in a young boy's life--and it held much more magic and feels more memorable to me than Henkes's book. (less)
So short it's practically a pamphlet, Seedfolks manages to be an incredibly insightful book about community, stereotyping, and the suspicion with whic...moreSo short it's practically a pamphlet, Seedfolks manages to be an incredibly insightful book about community, stereotyping, and the suspicion with which we can regard those neighbors of ours that "aren't like us."(less)
A useful, practical introductory or refresher course for designers of everything from websites to maps to instructional videos to signage.
Notes: "Don...moreA useful, practical introductory or refresher course for designers of everything from websites to maps to instructional videos to signage.
Notes: "Don't underestimate the power of watching someone else do something. If you want to influence someone else's behavior, then show someone else doing the same task" (I've added images of parents sitting with and actively interacting with their kids during storytime to the "welcome" sign I put out at Family Storytime, to encourage attendees to do the same). Similarly: "Video at a website is especially compelling. Want people to get a flu shot? Then show a video of other people in line at a clinic getting a flu shot...Mirror neurons at work."
"Mirror neurons are involved in synchronous activity, and there is a certain type of happiness that humans can't get any other way than in engaging in synchronous activity" (like belonging to a marching band, cheering a sports team with other fans, dancing in time as a group, etc)
"Check your images and websites with www.vischeck.com or colorfilter.wickline.org"--to see how they appear to someone with colorblindness. Especially important with charts, maps, graphs. 9% of men and .5% of women have colorblindness.(less)
A library patron recommended "Daemon" to me and I owe him a thanks: it was a blast to read, and I likely wouldn’t have found it otherwise. I think I e...moreA library patron recommended "Daemon" to me and I owe him a thanks: it was a blast to read, and I likely wouldn’t have found it otherwise. I think I enjoyed this book the way some enjoyed Ernest Cline’s "Ready Player One" (which was full of insurmountable holes for me--though I see from other reviews on GoodReads that some had the same feeling about "Daemon"). Similarly to "Ready Player One", "Daemon" starts with the death of a programming and game-writing titan who’s devised a little surprise for humankind. But instead of a contest, Matthew Sobol’s left behind a daemon--a program that, once set in motion, needs no human interference to keep running. Sobol’s daemon is designed to expose and exploit all the weaknesses of society as we know it--perhaps to "prove" that democracy is outmoded in a time when a free individual has access to enough technology and computer power to wreak huge havoc. It was a fun, fast-paced read with lots of things I usually don’t go for (at least not at the movies): explosions, automated vehicles, etc--and it was also smart and full of psychological insights that worked, at least, for me. While it might not be quite as brainy as "Snow Crash" or "Neuromancer", my enjoyment of it felt similar to my enjoyment of those. And it was much, much brainier and more well-thought-out than "Ready Player One". (less)