As comedian books go, this is a solid offer: plenty of humor mixed in with some sound observation, statistics, and advice. Not exactly revelatory sincAs comedian books go, this is a solid offer: plenty of humor mixed in with some sound observation, statistics, and advice. Not exactly revelatory since most of his advice are mere common sense but in our current society where common sense seems to be hard to come by, this is actually refreshing....more
Although so much of the book seems like Common Sense to me, it's always great to be reminded of our own biases and strategies that can alleviate tensiAlthough so much of the book seems like Common Sense to me, it's always great to be reminded of our own biases and strategies that can alleviate tension and reduce misunderstanding and thus foster a positive learning environment for our students. I felt my time worth spent on this volume....more
Ehrlich’s talent as a storyteller is evident in the book. She picked and chose powerful details. She then tailored them for young readers with simpleEhrlich’s talent as a storyteller is evident in the book. She picked and chose powerful details. She then tailored them for young readers with simple and easily understandable words and sentences. The immediacy is almost shocking. Instead of the tales feeling distanced by archaic language or complex sentence structures as often found in the translated versions of the Bible (or Torah), a young reader can digest these stories quickly and see the pictures clearly (also with the help of the colorful paintings.)
I think that’s why I had such conflicting reactions to this gorgeously illustrated religious text. On the one hand, I really admire Ehrlich’s storytelling and distilling skills. On the other hand, all these immediacies bring to sharp relief the brutal and the morally questionable events and behaviors in these stories. Being a non-believer of any religion myself, it was really hard for me to understand how anyone could “fall for” this inconsistent, arrogant, vengeful, deceptive, conspiring, and power-hungry GOD. Some of the lessons that I got from the book are
Since GOD is so fickle, but so all powerful, you’d better always do as told. One’s relationship with GOD is and should be completely based on Fear. All human inter-actions are based on Jealousy and sometimes bad deeds are richly rewarded. Women are to be neglected and are of no or little importance except in bearing sons for the chosen people. The chosen ones should endeavor in eliminating the non-believers and those who believe in other Gods. So, I am left with a huge question: Why, in the year 2013, we need such a retelling of these brutal and morally antiquated tales to children which do not contain in the text itself explanatory notes or questions that encourage discussions for the family? Especially since this is a trade book and conceivably could be read and shared with people who are not of the Jewish faith. (There are indeed back matters with notes and an introduction but I really would have liked to see a more philosophical approach to these tales than the current shape it is in.)...more
Response and reflection to come.. this is too large and too interesting a book to write a short entry about... This book took me 40 days to listen — tResponse and reflection to come.. this is too large and too interesting a book to write a short entry about... This book took me 40 days to listen — the audio book version is about 42 hours long.
There were days that I just couldn’t get myself back to listen to the next segment because the emotional exhaustion experienced in a previous segment prevented me from delving back into the book — mostly because some of the personal stories that Solomon reported are incredibly intense and affecting.
My reaction toward the book changed several times through this long journey: at first, I was just in awe and was glad that I got to learn something about situations that I don’t have personal experiences with — that I learned about Deaf Culture and the polarized opinions on whether deafness should be cured; about families with Little People and the historical and medical aspects of Dwarfism — and the perils and blisses of “cures” such as limp lengthening procedures; about children and adults with Down Syndroms, their defeat and success and what researchers are still finding and what life is like for so many of them…
Then, my relationship with the book changed slightly, listening to the chapters on DS, Autism, Schizophrenia, and Disability. Even though the conditions described differ from chapter to chapter, some recurring themes emerge. Mainly we are shown (and told) by Solomon repeatedly that just because two people or two families have the same “problem” does not mean that they have the same views and reactions on the situation. Indeed, it’s proven over and over and over (yes, there are a lot of repeating patterns in the book, both in the reporting and the reflecting from the author, although there were always new expressions to say the same thing) that each and every situation is inherently complex: there are the matters of the illness (condition,) the matters of the economics, the matters of the societal views, and definitely matters of the heart: the heart of the parents and the children. I complained a bit then about how each chapter seems to repeat itself… and was reminded that perhaps very few readers of this tome would have gone through the book the same manner I did. The way Solomon put together the book allows for essential information and themes to not be lost even if a reader only reads one or two chapters.
I settled down then and became more open minded to the worlds of Prodigies, Rape victims and their children, Criminals and their parents, and Transgender people. I don’t know whether these chapters were better put together or whether my mind was more willing to appreciate them. Nonetheless, I found myself constantly finding revelations and new information worth learning in these final segments. They let me consider situations and hardships and joys that I NEVER contemplated. Yes, I felt like I was made a slightly “better” person by sharing the author’s empathetic and compassionate views and by being more educated about situations that I didn’t really understand before.
The final chapter of Solomon’s personal story of fatherhood (3 families, 5 children, fathered by himself and his partner for others and for themselves) serves as a wonderful and hopeful conclusion to a heavy — in all senses — book.
Since the reports are so thorough and the stories so well told, there might be an illusion that after reading this book, one could feel quite an expert in the ins and outs of these various conditions and their ramifications. I cautioned myself to not “just take Solomon’s words for it” since even though I found myself agreeing with him a LOT, I don’t really know enough about anything presented here (socio-economic, historical, societal, medical, ethical, etc.) to judge the book’s validity in its entirety. Did I learn a WHOLE lot about all these conditions? I sure did. But to me, there is an even more important added value: Solomon’s book is a great reminder for me to pay attention to wide angles on many issues and to consider the multitude of outcomes that changing of one or few small factors could cause.
I am so glad that I got to experience this book this summer. I hope some others do too!
I listened to this historically detailed and intimate personal portrait of Malcolm X over a month: while washing dishes and walking to and from subwayI listened to this historically detailed and intimate personal portrait of Malcolm X over a month: while washing dishes and walking to and from subway stations. I never read the autobiography which has been the prescribed text on school curriculum about Malcolm X, and only encountered him as a historical figure in other nonfiction books, mostly for children, about the Civil Rights Movement. So it is that this is how I got to know the man and his many phases on the road to becoming the internationally influential personality. I learned much about the Nation of Islam (NOI,) and much about the inter-plays between him and other leaders of the civil rights movement — especially Bayard Rustin, whose story has just begun to surface as another major thread of the Movement.
The book is full of painstakingly gathered details of Malcolm’s life — from his parents’ struggles before he was born, the family’s roles as Garveyites, Malcolm’s youthhood filled with brushes against the law and his inevitable imprisonment, his extreme attachment and final rebellion against the Nation of Islam and its doctrines, his many international trips to observe first hand the Orthodox Islam’s practices, and to his final days when he adopted Pan-Africanism and evolved into a much more open-minded commentator on social struggles: that the color of one’s skin does not necessarily dictate one’s political or social views and status.
I cannot but wonder, just as the biographer historian did in the epilogue, how more influential Malcolm would have been to the Movement if he had been given the chance to live beyond his 40th birthday…. (he was murdered just 3 months short of it.) It’s with a heavy heart that I stopped the audio player…
Marable’s words brought Malcolm to life and actor Thomas’ skillful reading of the narrative did the text justice, or perhaps even enhanced it. I really appreciated both for their art.
Just re-read this recently and am still marveling at the genius that was Ursula Nordstrom and all that she did to shape the American Children's LiteraJust re-read this recently and am still marveling at the genius that was Ursula Nordstrom and all that she did to shape the American Children's Literature world. Leonard Marcus did a fabulous job setting up the stage for the readers and selecting the letters to convey all facets of this marvelous editor....more
This is solid reporting from a fairly conscientious writer/researcher, although there is definitely a slight authorial bias: no matter how much is incThis is solid reporting from a fairly conscientious writer/researcher, although there is definitely a slight authorial bias: no matter how much is included in the book about the negative impact the Barbie Phenomenon has on our society, there is always a more positive undertone (or at least, a tone that excuses this plastic doll from her accusations) about the fun, the creativity, and the success this blond bombshell has brought to the populous and the mother company. The main idea seems to be that Barbie does not damage a little girl's self-image, the Society (and the adults in each child's life) does it. I can buy this theory -- and yet at the same time, the investigation in how Barbie has been marketed relentlessly to very young children for decades and the commercialism, materialism, subconscious impact on the idea of what a "perfect woman's shape" should be is offered, but not delved deeply into. For example: there is little discussion on how the "grownups" in today's children's lives were brought up on such an image themselves and thus might be the agents that perpetuate such an "ideal" onto their young children.
Was it completely fun and engrossing to learn about Barbie, its creator, and the history of her? Indeed. My wish for an even more balanced view is purely personal. Were Lee tried to be so completely fair, the book would have probably turned out not carrying an authentic authorial tone. ...more