Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Salon: Salman Rushdie!

Do they have exclamation points in Hindi? 
Or is it just understood that everything in India
should be said with an exclamation point?

I just finished Midnight's Children.
It is the masterpiece of Salman Rushdie.
And now I want to end every sentence I write about
this author, this book, with an exclamation point.

Midnight's Children!
A masterpiece!
Salman Rushdie!

My husband and I went to see Salman Rusdie Friday night.
He talks just like he writes.
He speaks in beautiful metaphors
that seem to flow from his mouth
as naturally as rain from dark clouds.

I couldn't take any pictures inside,
so I must be happy with
the picture I took of the marquee.

And this one that I borrowed from the Guardian:

And here is a little Wondersay wordplay to celebrate Salman Rusdie:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Green Books Campaign: Stuff! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Here's the truth.  I'm not that Green these days.  A faint tinge, perhaps, around the edge.
I used to be Green. Here's an old picture of me. See?

I want to be more Green. And I want to live in a world with lots of Green people.

And, so, We Need More Green Picture Books. Like Stuff!

Stuff! doesn't look that Green at first glance. More Blue, really. But take another look. It's a lovely story of a mouse that has too much. He finally is convinced to sell off some of his things. The mouse is astounded to find that having less stuff can be refreshing.

I loved this book. The children at school that I read it with loved this book.

Thank you to Marshall Cavendish for providing me with a copy of this wonderful book. I'll now stay true to the spirit of Greenness by passing this on to my primary school library  (as, please note, I do with every suitable children's picture book I receive for review) where it can be passed on again and again and again.

On Wed., Nov. 10, at 1 p.m., 200 bloggers will simultaneously publish reviews of 200 books printed on environmentally-friendly paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using greener methods, Eco-Libris aims to raise consumer awareness about considering the environment when making book purchases. This year’s participation of both bloggers and books has doubled from the event’s inception last year.

The 200 books to be reviewed are in a variety of subjects including cooking, poetry, travel, green living, and history, and come from 56 publishers from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K. that are participating in the Green Books Campaign. This diversified group of publishers includes both small and large presses who all print books on recycled and/or FSC-certified paper.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Salon: War and P...oetry (and Happiness)

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

I don't think we who have not been in military combat have much notion of what a war is like. Private Peaceful is a very powerful story. We in America seem to have the belief that Vietnam was a uniquely horrific war experience, that other wars were somehow "purer" wars. I don't think a person could read this book and continue to think so.

I grew up in the sixties, a time of hope and optimism about the world. I had expected that by this century people would have developed ways to solve conflict without resorting to sending young people to kill other young people.

I wonder if the stories of war, however brilliantly written, are not always much less horrific than actual combat....

And for anyone who enjoyed Private Peaceful and wants to read more, I suggest The Things They Carried.

Carry a Poem

How often do you go out to your mailbox and find a package has arrived from Kathmandu, Nepal?!

That happened to me this week. Inside the package was the delightful sliver of a book, Carry a Poem. Thousands of free copies of this book were given away in Edinburgh, Scotland during the Carry a Book Project, to “get you reading poetry.” I received it in a bookring through BookCrossing. The book consists of about twenty stories of people and the poems they love. Many of my favorites are here: “Warning” (perhaps better recognized by its opening line: “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple”), an e. e. cummings (“i carry your heart with me”), and even the poem I’d considered adding to the card file accompanying the book, “Sunlight in the Garden”.

I decided to go with a beloved poem, “Orange”. I include it here:

The Orange by Wendy Cope

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange —
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled and shared it with Robert and Dave —
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.

I plan to do a Carry a Poem Project of my own at school in the spring.

Hector and the Search for Happiness by Fran├žois Lelord

I participated this week in the first ever Literary Blog Hop. I visited many blogs.

At almost every blog, bloggers took on the task of defining the word «literary».

Most bloggers were in agreement ; I saw lots of «thoughtful» and many «beautifully written».

Some bloggers felt literary must be, by definition, difficult.

I say no and Hector and the Search for Happiness is a good example.

Hector is a delightfully simple read, but it is nevertheless quite literary. Thoughtful. Wildly clever. Certainly beautifully written.

I must say that I obtained great happiness from reading this book. Definitely simple, however, if that puts you off it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

And the Pursuit of Happiness

Do you know Maira Kalman?

I like her writing.

This week I only finished one book, but it was a good one. And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman.

I often check out books from the library, read them, and return them. Even when I buy books, I usually give them away.

I buy Maira Kalman books and keep them. I read them and then I read them again.

She writes children's picture books as well as grownup books. Honestly, her books for grownups are really just grownup picture books.

A new genre, maybe.

I hope this is okay, but I can't really show you how wonderful Maira Kalman is without showing you a few pages from her books.

Do you see what I mean?
I saw Maira Kalman at the Texas Book Festival. I would have been very sad if I had not gotten to hear her speak. She was not as I'd imagined. I'd expected a morose person. No. She actually laughed a lot. And told funny stories.

She seemed quite wise.

"Reality was never part of our household," she said.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

TSS: Cybils Time! (and Six Book Reviews)

October is winding down but I've had quite the book month. Cybils nominations. My un-birthday book club month. Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon. The Texas Book Festival. And next week at the library:  my identical twin sister, Zebby Zance, will visit to tell the children at my school some spooky stories. (Wish I could tell spooky stories, but, unlike my sister, I am a big baby when it comes to scary tales.) Here's Zebby from last year:

I am very happy with the reading I completed last week. One travel narrative. Two 1001 Children's Books. One 1001 Grownup Book. One book for review. One YA I'd heard lots about.

Here are my reviews:

The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof

I like travelogues. I like books about cooking. The Spice Necklace is a two-fer, about both travel and cooking.

It’s part two of the story of a couple who sold most of what they owned and zipped off to live on a boat (see part one, Vanderhoof’s first book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes, for more information). Now the couple is sailing around the Caribbean, visiting beautiful places, and sampling (and attempting) Caribbean cooking.

 Nothing by Janne Teller

Could this be the bleakest YA ever? It would get my vote.

Here is the story: Pierre decides that nothing matters, walks out of his classroom, climbs up into a tree, and refuses to come down. The others in his classroom feel compelled to try to convince Pierre that some things do matter. Using increasingly bizarre and horrific methods, Pierre’s classmates attempt to demonstrate that things matter.

While I respect what this author was doing with this book, it is most definitely not my cuppa tea.

 Breaking Night by Liz Murray

Liz was born to a mother and father whose lives were ruled by their addictions to alcohol and drugs. From an early age, Liz did not receive enough to eat, skipped school, had no supervision, and, eventually, drifted into homelessness. Yet, somehow, Liz managed to beat all these obstacles, complete high school, and win a scholarship to Harvard. A fascinating story.

Thank you to Hyperion for sending me this book for review.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


Bod, a human boy, is sent to the graveyard to live in an attempt to elude those who would kill him. All of his companions, including his adopted parents, are dead. Bod is educated and kept safe for many years until, one day, his would-be killers return.

I’m not a scary-book-person and this will never be on my list of favorites as a result. But, if you are such a creature, The Graveyard Book just might be on your top ten list.

 Amazon Adventure by Willard Price


Two boys, Roger and Hal, travel with their father down the Amazon in search of creatures for zoos. They fight cannibalistic Indians, piranhas, crocodiles, and even an angry anteater. This is an adventure book filled with excitement and drama and scares. There are any number of not-so-politically-correct moments and, as a parent, Roger got on my last nerve, but I loved reading this book.

(BTW, this is a photo of the actual book I checked out from the Houston Public Library. It has a copyright of 1949. I loved carrying this book around.)

The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

A 1001 Books You Must Read

Mr. Pooter keeps a diary in which he recalls all the events of his days. He seeks to attain social status, but, time and again, finds humiliation instead.

The copyright date on this book is 1892, but the story feels as fresh as yesterday. Funny. A little sad. And, most of all, insightful.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Review: Mockingjay

"What's with this book?" the checker at Target asked me, as he scanned Mockingjay and then bagged it for me. "Everybody's buying this book!"

I'd held off for six days. But I could not wait any longer. Within an hour, I'd bought it and had settled down nicely into chapter one.

I finished it nine days later. Yes, I could have dashed through it that night, but who really wants to finish that last, final book in the series?

So what do I think? Bottom line, thumbs up or thumbs down?

(I don't like spoilers, so I promise to give away none of the plot for the three of you out there who haven't yet read the book.)

Here goes. It's a safe bet I like the series or what I am I doing buying book three, right? So I like the series. And I thought book three was about as good as one and two.

But I want to say more than I like the series or that book three is about as good as one and two. This is what I want to say: The series made me think about our world and violence and tv and human nature. I'm glad it did. I'm hoping that all the kazillion kids reading this book are also thinking about our world and violence and tv and human nature. I'm pretty sure they are.

Because I'm a school librarian, I feel compelled to add that I honestly would not be crazy about my eight-year-old reading this series. It's violent. Read it first, mom.

If you want to read other reviews of Mockingjay, I've very nicely provided links below. And, if somehow I've skipped your review, feel free to add your link in the comments.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Great Picture Books

I read 42 books today.
Picture books.
Good picture books. Great picture books.

A few weeks ago, I ran across a wonderful meme:  What are the ten books that you, as a teacher, could not teach without? I browsed the lists of the participants and then spent most of an evening requesting picture books from the public library.

Here's a photo selection of those I liked best and can't wait to read with the PreK-2nd graders at my school:

Here's a list:
Chalk by Bill Thomson
All Those Secrets of the World by Jane Yolen
Mouse Views: What the Class Pet Saw by Bruce McMillan
Goal! by Mina Javaherbin
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Hero Cat by Eileen Spinelli
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! by Rosetta Stone
The Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed
My People by Langston Hughes
My Little Sister Ate One Hare by Bill Grossman
We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past by Jacqueline Woodson
The Hard-Times Jar by Ethel Footman Smothers
Monkey With a Tool Belt and the Noisy Problem by Curtis Monroe
Animal Colors by Beth Fielding
Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski
Walk On! A Guide for Babies of All Ages by Marla Frazee
Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
Tough Cookie by David Wisniewski
The Bugliest Bug by Carol Diggory Shields
Posy by Linda Newbery and Catherine Rayner
One by Kathryn Otoshi

Now I'm off to order these for my own school library! Thank you, Read and Refine and Enjoy and Embrace Learning for this wonderful meme!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: The Pocket Therapist

Here's a new idea:  Let's choose someone to write a self-help book who knows what she is talking about. Someone who is not a researcher. Someone who is not a psychiatrist. Someone who is not even a therapist.

How about picking someone who is crazy?!

Yes, the author of The Pocket Therapist, Therese J. Borchard, claims she wrote this book by drawing on notes she took from "more than twelve years (i.e., six hundred hours) of therapy" as well as "get-ahold-of-yourself tips...learned in the psych ward."

There you go.

What kind of ideas does this book offer? Borchard provides 144 ideas for sanity, most as simple as breathing. In fact, the very first idea is breathing.

I liked this book, but, to really assess its efficacy, perhaps we need a crazy reader as well. Any takers?

Full disclosure:  I obtained this book from an online trade.