18 December 2008

Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel

These may not be interesting book notes to you, but I feel that my family needs to hear this message on how to be better parents and better followers of Christ. If you find yourself in this situation, then read on. If you are not a parent, these guidelines may help you in dealing with a spouse, coworker, employee, etc.

Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel

If you don't read the rest of the book you can read these on discipline and encouragement - pages 221-225

32. We need to raise strong kids in a grace-based environment, not shelter them from everything to keep them safe.
33. We don’t need Pharisees, but parents who guide their children onto straight paths.
It’s like fishing – put on the hook something they like to eat, not what you like. What you like in church and what they like may be different. Teens, especially, may want to worship in a different way. It is fine as long as it is Biblical and respectful to God.
40. Grace-based does not mean children “get out of responsibility free”. Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice. He took on way more responsibility than we ever will. Leave your cares on Jesus. Embrace truth, not legalism.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present ages, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good”. Titus 2:11-14
self-controlled, upright and godly lives
a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good
41. Look to Jesus as your lighthouse
52. ”Love is the commitment of my will
to your needs and best interests
regardless of the cost”.

Parents have to do what is best for their children. Sometimes it costs us our own opinions, stereotypes, prejudices, and convenience.

66. Parents make mistakes. Ask God to forgive you. Ask your children to forgive you.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms”. I Peter 4:8-10.

112. Groom your children according to their natural bents. Encourage your child’s natural and unique gifts and skills. Help them develop them into assets they can use as adults.
Develop your own skills and talents. How did you develop these? Guide your children to develop theirs. Even if you hate art museums (or sports, or cars, etc.), if your child is into art, go anyway to show that their interests are of intrinsic value.

120. The disciples didn’t practice “safe Christianity”. Let your child explore their own faith. They may get hurt at times. Be there to guide them.
124. Teach your children how to fail and get on with life. Both victories and defeats can eventually be turned into accomplishments. Turn their abilities into assets.

129. Listen to your children. Acknowledge their fears. Pray with them.

134. “Grace-based families are homes where children are given”
a. The freedom to be different
b. The freedom to be vunerable
c. The freedom to be candid
d. The freedom to make mistakes

157. Set reasonable boundaries, Bible based, for your children and be prepared to explain them.

172. Base parenting decisions on truth and fact. Be sensitive to your children’s vulnerabilities.

*185. Be truthful and honest BUT use candor. Candor is a way of communicating freely without prejudice or malice. Frame the truth in a way that does not hurt people. Be honorable in your truth, using a careful forthrightness that guards the other person’s dignity.

193. Ephesians 4:14-15:
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

195. Parents are in charge. They have the ultimate say. Listen to the children’s opinions, however. Let them voice their thoughts and fears. Don’t jump to conclusions. In Matthew 26:39 Jesus is dying on the cross and asking His Father if there are any other possibilities. Even Jesus wondered at times about His Father’s decisions, but ultimately He knew it was the best and only path.
We want an authentic relationship at the heart level with our children.

202. Moses practices intercessory prayer in Exodus 32:11-13. Pray for your children. Ask God to forgive them and lead you to lead them in God’s will.

203. Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

204. Ephesians 4:25-32 selections
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

209. Let children have their “beefs”. Maybe you should bend or break the parenting rules sometimes if it is a reasonable gripe.

213. Grace-based parents realize that their children need security in their hearst, significance in their lives,and strength for the future.

214. Romans 5-8 . We are forgiven by God and should be forgiving in our parenting decisions, but grace is not easy. It is at the price of following God. Pleasing God puts us on a narrow path, but it is a joyous path to follow, knowing we are in the will of God. Take your power for living from God’s love. Then you can give unbounded love to your children. Staying in God’s will will keep both you and them from sin in the first place.

*216. Grace-based children are accepted as sinners who desire to become more like Christ rather than be seen s nice Christian kids trying to maintain a good moral code.

221. When children misbehave: 1. evaluate, 2. discuss, 3. make consequences
222. I love you too much to let you continue in this pattern and grow up with this bad behavior, so I am stopping you from doing it.

01 December 2008

What's on My Desk December 2008

Little Mermaid Ariel's Beginning by Kristen Depken. Children's Fiction, ages 4-7. DONE.
It is Ariel. Nothing particularly memorable here.

Franklin's Thanksgiving by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark. Children's Fiction, ages 3-6. DONE.

The turtle's family and friends gather for a meal. Cute. Homey.

Wonder Pets! Save the Bengal Tiger! by Billy Lopez and Cassandra Berger. Children's Fiction, ages 3-6. DONE.

This has the same plot as every Wonder Pets episode, so if you like the show you will like this book. I wonder why the Wonder Pets board book that I read did not use rhyming couplets, but this paperback did?

Mona in the Promised Land by Gish Jen. Adult Fiction. DONE.

Part of the Jewish book discussion series entitled "Neighbors". A Chinese American grows up surrounded by Jewish Americans in New York State during the flower child era. Is she Chinese? Is she American? Is she Jewish? Is she an rebel? Or is she just Mona, redefining who she is each day, like all the rest of us did at age 15-17.

Here are some quotes from the book. I noted the ones that have the parents pushing their daughters to go to Ivy League schools since they reminded me of conversations that I have heard in my own family. Both of our families have the American dream of a better life for our children through education. In our discussion the leader mentioned that Mona's parents are the subject of another book (Typical American) that describes what happened before this book as the parents become Americanized.

page 100:

[The elder daughter, Callie, has already been accepted into Radcliffe (Harvard) and the parents are pushing the younger daughter, Mona, to excel in school].

"Better and worse, number one and number two, more loved and less. Even now, when they come home, Helen will prepare a dish and say, For you I cooked shrimp and peas, your favorite, whether it is your favorite or not. Indeed, whether you have a favorite or not. For you must have a favorite; if you do not, she will simply pick one for you, because this is the sort of fact they live by. And to understand how Callie got into all those college, you would have to understand how this sort of fact has kept her running the steeplechase all her life. I earn my keep, she said to Mona once. The unmouthed part of the sentence being, Unlike you. And these days, Mona can see better how Callie felt. For now Mona's been signed up for the family project too. After all, one generation is supposed to build on the last, ascending and ascending like the steps of a baby bamboo shoot; and how nice indeed for the parents to be able to say, "The girls go to Harvard"! Mona realizes this herself, the misty elegance of the sound - it lingers in the air like something out of a perfume spritzer".

page 231

"Also she tells him (by way of switching the subject) what it's like to be not Wasp, and not black, and not as Jewish as Jewish can be; and not from Chinatown, either.

'You are a sore thumb, " says Sherman. 'Sticking out by yourself.'

She says, 'I'm never at home.'

He says he knows how she feels; he's in the same ship. She tells him about her family. The fights. And Harvard, Harvard, Harvard! Of course, Barbara Gugelstein's parents want her to go to Harvard too.

'But for my parents, it's the whole point of life, ' she says. 'Jews believe in the here and now; Catholics believe in heaven; the Chinese believe in the next generation.'

'You are their everything.'

'Exactly!' When Mona was a child that was okay, she says, but now that she's older and has a mind of her own, she doesn't want to be their everything anymore.

Sherman knows what she means. He talks about how things are in Japan - about education mamas. The competition. The pressure. Examination hell really is hell.

'Jeez," Mona says, 'it must be great not to be Japanese anymore.'

'I'm Hawaiian now, ' Sherman says - agreeing, but with a disconcerted note in his voice, as if he had almost forgotten this himself".

Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. YA Fiction. DONE.

For some reason I thought this was tied into Harry Potter. Wasn't there some kind of Flamel in Harry Potter? Anyway, this is a decent book although it has nothing to do with Harry. It would appeal to the same audience - ages 9-adult fantasy readers. This book never mentions anything about Harry, but Wikipedia indicates that they are related. I think they must both refer to old legends.

This is the first of a trilogy or more books about two teenagers and a long lived sorcerer and his wife that battle supernatural forces that try to take over the regular human world. The author ties in some historical figures in a fictionalized way as well as legends from European traditions.



Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. Adult nonfiction. DONE.

I think this book was written in response to the Boundaries series and Dr. Dobson's Dare to Discipline teachings. He wanted to show that parenting is more than rules and boundaries, but LOVE as Jesus, and John (from the Gospel of John) would preach. He does not dismiss boundaries or discipline, but admonishes the reader to use these with love and mercy. Don't be a Pharisee!

I Spy Shapes with Boz by Christine Harder Tangvald. Board book. Ages 2-3. DONE.
So far I have read a few Boz books and watched two Boz videos. This is being promoted on the MOPS email list and in Christian bookstores, but Boz is kind of boring. He is no Barney or VeggieTales character. This book is okay at showing shapes in everyday life, but not extraordinary.
Barkus, Sly and the Golden Egg by Angela McAllister and Sally Anne Lambert. Children's Fiction. Preschool-2nd grade. DONE.
This had a good plot but I stumbled over reading some names and words. It seemed like the characters had names with lots of consonents. The use of language was "British-y". I always give extra points for maps in the front and back of the book. If you want to read this aloud, practice some of the words first.
Walt Disney's Lady and the Tramp Jr. Cine-Manga. Children's Fiction. DONE.
This simplified plot from the movie has good images and is very easy to read. It could be used with literacy classes. It is interesting marketing to list this as "Cine-Manga" rather than just call it a children's paperback picture book.
Clifford's Pals by Norman Bridwell. Children's Fiction. Grades k-2. DONE.
Clifford gets in a lot of trouble at a construction site. He learns not to do this again.
Dayton Arcade: Crown Jewel of the Gem City by Curt Dalton. Adult nonfiction. DONE.
This colorful book has photographs, newspaper clippings, other images, and recollections from those who remember the Arcade.

24 November 2008

Oral History at Dayton Art Institute

This is a recording from the Dayton Art Institute "A Grand Day at the Museum", 23 November 2008.

19 November 2008

testing audio recording

I was trying out the digital recorder that we may use for an oral history project. See if you can hear the poem.

04 November 2008

What's on My Desk November 2008

Wheels and Axles to the Rescue by Sharon Thales. Children's Nonfiction Grades K-3. DONE.
I hadn't thought about wheels and axles in a few years, so my knowledge was pretty rusty. I don't know that I remember all the science in this physics book, but the pictures were good.
Inside, Outside, Upside Down by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Children's Fiction ages 2-3. DONE.
This very simple and funny book shows the meaning of these words: inside, outside, upside down, right side up, off, and on.

Cookie's Week by Cindy Ward and Tomie dePaola. Children's Fiction ages 3-6. DONE.
This is a funny, silly book showing things what went wrong in Cookie the Cat's week. We have all had one of those weeks! The ending is just right. I don't know of anyone who would not get a chuckle out of this book. I don't buy very many books, maybe four a year (some of which are used), but am tempted to buy this for someone I know who has a black and white cat named Cookie.

Clifford Goes to Dog School by Norman Bridwell. Children's Fiction ages K-3. DONE.
I think we have all heard of Clifford the Big Red Dog and this is another hit in the Clifford series. My audience asked for more Clifford books.

Assistant by Bernard Malamud. Adult Fiction. DONE.
I am reading this for a Jewish literature book discussion. This is the first in the series that was originally published in English and is set in America. In my estimation, this book is WAY easier to read than the others we have read so far for this reason.
Here are some examples of library scenes. Two of the characters use the library extensively.
page 59:
"Ida said he ought to take some time off, but he answered that he had nowhere special to go and stayed in the back, reading the Daily News on the couch, or flipping through some magazines that he had got out of the public library, which he had discovered during one of his solitary walks in the neighborhood".
page 93:
"Frank, dressed in his new clothes, hurried to the library, about a dozen blocks from the grocery. The library was an enlarged store, well lit, with bulging shelves of books that smelled warm on winter nights...It was a pleasant place to come to...". Then the characters read books and magazines and quietly talk, using it as a gathering place.
page 104:
"Even at her loneliest she liked being among books" and more.
page 106:
Back to the library for books.
"To help him prepare for college Helen said he ought to read some good novels, some of the great ones." They get them at the library.
page 114:
They go to the library again.
page 134:
Stereotypical librarian:
"Frank went every third night to the library and there she was. But when the old-maid librarian smiled knowingly upon them, Helen felt embarassed, so they went elsewhere". The librarian lives vicariously.
Good library public relations: poor man uses public library for education and entertainment.
This 1957 book would make a good "compare and contrast" to 2008 book The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears, which also features a poor grocery store employee disillusioned by the American dream and lusting after a woman he knows he shouldn't have.
Dora Saves the Snow Princess by Phoebe Beinstein and Dave Aikins. Children's Fiction grades 1 -3. DONE.
This features the Dora the Explorer character from television. It reads like a classic fairy tale until we find that Dora was reading a story, then she has to jump into the book to rescue the Snow Princess. The plot then becomes a standard Dora plot - follow the instructions and map to get to the end. There is some interaction with the readers "Now flap your arms like a bird". I was a little confused, but my audience wasn't since the book was set up like one of the television episodes.
Wonder Pets Save the Dinosaur by Josh Selig. Children's Fiction ages 2-4. DONE.
This features Linny, Tuck, and Ming Ming, too from the television show. The plot was so simple it seemed like it was missing something, but it gave an excuse to sing the Wonder Pets theme song about rescuing animals in trouble.
Key to Rondo by Emily Rodda. YA Fiction, ages 10 and up., fantasy. DONE.
Cousins are drawn into the world inside their family music box when their dog is seized by the Blue Queen who rules Rondo, the music box land. This is highly imaginative, and I find that I relate to the less adventurous cousin who didn't want to go on this adventure. I would recommend this fantasy book to audiences from 10 to adult.
Trucktown Smash! Crash! by Jon Scieszka, David Shannon, Loren Long, and David Gordon. Children's Fiction ages 2-6. DONE.
Jack and Dan are two mischieveous trucks that like to smash and crash. They do find an outlet for this energy, but I don't like that they never said they were sorry to those they bothered.
Clifford Visits the Hospital by Norman Bridwell. Children's Fiction ages 4-6. DONE.
Clifford sure is a cute puppy. Even though he isn't supposed to visit the hospital and causes some trouble, everyone ends up smiling in the end because he is just so lovable.
Apples by Gail Gibbons. Children's Nonfiction. Grades 1-3. DONE.
This is a boring book that would be good for report writing, but not very interesting for casual reading. It is very straightforward and factual. The painted pictures are much better than the text.
Tough Trucks by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker. Children's Fiction. Preschool. DONE.
Happy animals show us the kind of trucks that they drive and features of each kind of truck. There is a brief glossary and picture in the back telling us the parts of the truck.
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas and Shannon Stirnweis. Children's Nonfiction grades 3-6. DONE.

01 November 2008

Here's a good title

I have not read this book, yet, but I think it is a good title. This is much better than some one-word-titled book like "Ghost" or "Cars" or "Malice".

I don't need to describe it here because the author has already done so.

14 October 2008


The Short Life and Happy Times of the Shmoo by Al Capp. Adult nonfiction. DONE.
This book examines the life of the Shmoo as reported in Li'l Abner in 1948 and 1959.

I had no idea about the Shmoo of the 1940's and 1950's. My acquaintance with the Shmoo was watching Hanna Barbera cartoons from the late 1970's and early 1980's that had guest appearances of the Shmoo. Maybe it was on Scooby Doo or another show like the Laff-Olympics.
The old Shmoo was lovable and generous, but also hated by others because of his kind nature. What an awful political and cultural observation by Capp that if someone so good-hearted and giving comes along, there are those who want to spoil everything and hate it.

27 September 2008


This isn't a new site, but I always get a chuckle out of it:


Are You My Mother? By P. D. Eastman
Ultra-Condensed by David J. Parker

Little Bird:
Are you my mother?
A Bunch of Animals That Aren't His Mother:
His Mother:

24 September 2008

What's on My Desk October 2008

Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland by Jan Gross. Adult Nonfiction. DONE.

Part of the Nextbook Jewish literature series at University of Dayton.

"Until the outbreak of the war," writes Jan Gross, "Jedwabne was a quiet town, and Jewish lives there differed little from those of their fellows elsewhere in Poland." Then, on a summer evening in 1941, just weeks after Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Polish residents took up axes, clubs, and torches and massacred all but seven of the town's 1,600 Jews. The perpetrators, who were brought to trial in 1949, never received official blame for the massacre, which instead went to the Nazis. Piecing together eyewitness testimony and trial records with a deft historical imagination, Gross details the "potent, devilish mixture" that led Poles to turn on their Jewish neighbors. Originally published in Poland in 2000, the book sparked a national controversy and led to a public reconsideration of the Polish role in the Holocaust.

This book is kind of boring. You can read any one chapter of this book at random and get the point of the book. The author says the same thing over and over again in each chapter:

"In this case the Poles killed their neighborhood Jews. It wasn't the Germans and the Germans didn't make them do it. The Poles did it because they hated Jews".

I think there is enough material for a long article, but not an entire book. If this person was writing for a master's thesis or doctoral dissertation I would give him his degree, but it doesn't have enough to say for wide appeal.

Winter Birds by Jamie Turner. Adult Fiction. DONE.

A bitter old woman comes to live with her Christian nephew and niece. Will she soften up under their care?

This was a fairly good book, but a bit long-winded. The ending was satisfactory and believable.

Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater. Children's Fiction, ages K-3 or for adults who practice civil disobedience as well. DONE.

This is about the 15th time this year I have read this book. See previous blogs.

Greatest Gift: The Courageous Life and Martyrdom of Sister Dorothy Stang by Binka Le Breton. Adult Nonfiction. DONE.

Dayton native. Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. Eco-warrior. Advocate for the Poor.

The world of Amazonian Brazil is in many ways still a wild west that is hard to patrol and justice may be in short supply, especially for the poorest of the poor who are continually trying to eke out an existance.
page 106:
I don't deny that she was a bit of a Samaritan, but deep down the was more of a prophet. Prophets are those who tell forth the will of God - God's deepest desire. The prophet doesn't have a voice of her own. The prophet is the spokeswoman. She speaks for God. She feels this as her mission, feels called to do this. So when we think of Doroty, this is the starting point...
She turns up in Altamira. Tells me her name is Dorothy Stang, she's and American from Ohio, a sister of Notre Dame de Namur, and she wants to work in the Xingu among the poorest of the poor. Wants to give her life for people living in abject poverty.
pages 166-7:
As far as Dorothy was concerned, the sun rose and set around her people. Anyone who came anywhere near got roped in to help. ..They thought of nothing but cutting the forest. They'd never dream of planting a tree! And this sustainable development project had been dreamed up by INCRA, but they'd never got it to work. It was Dorothy who really pushed for it. She truly thought it could be done. Nature became her gospel, you might say. Loving nature, preserving nature, because nature is life...She never rejected anyone, because she always said there was room for everyone, no matter who they were.
You can read many articles on Dorothy Stang in the Dayton Daily News
Flashing Fire Engines by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker. Children's fiction. Preschool-grade 2. DONE. General reminder to self: A book about a loud fire engine and the sounds it makes is not a good choice for a bedtime story.
Skipping Village by Lois Lenski. Children's Fiction. Grades 3-6.
This is a really old one (1927). I interlibrary loaned it from the Cleveland Public Library. In the back I can see the initials of the persons who checked it out from 1955 to 1984.
I read that it is based on the author's childhood in Anna, Shelby County, Ohio. It is a happy-go-lucky book about a comfortable childhood in the early 20th century. Sure, everyone in the family had to do chores, but overall the family was fairly well off and did not suffer from poverty or disease other than common childhood diseases. This would be good for Laura Ingalls Wilder fans. It also has happy little verses at the beginning and end of each chapter. She put in some of her own line-drawing illustrations, too. Some of these illustrations have been colored on thicker one-sided pages. If you need a daily supply of sunshine, the characters in this book, like Pollyanna and Mary Poppins can give you a boost. I think this book is overlooked, but would fit in to many library collections very well. If a teacher is looking for examples of everyday life in the early 1900's, selections would be good to read.

19 September 2008

Summer of Superman Part VIII

Save Superman's house!

Saving the house where Superman was born
By Brad Meltzer
For the past two years, while researching Jerry Siegel's life for my new novel, I asked my friend Mike San Giacomo to take me to the actual house in Cleveland where Superman was created. I wanted to see the exact spot where young Jerry Siegel sat in his bed on that rainy summer night...where a seventeen(!) year old kid stared at his bedroom ceiling and gave birth to the idea of Superman. And so we went. (You can read that whole adventure here and watch the video here).
But the one thing I quickly realized was that this house was in...well...it was in bad shape. The house where Google was created is saved. The farm where Hewlett Packard was founded is preserved. And Richard Nixon’s house is a museum. But the house where Superman — one of the world’s most recognized heroes — was created? It’s a wreck. It's actually a great old house -- painted bright red and blue (really) -- and owned by one of the kindest elderly couples in the world. But as the neighborhood sank, so did the house. When you walk inside, you feel like your foot might go through the floor. The roof is flawed. The paint is a mess. When you look up at the ceiling, you see the exposed rafters overhead. It's a mess. Worst of all, the city of Cleveland let it happen. As the owner told me, “They won’t even give us a plaque. Not even a plaque to say, ‘This is where Superman was created.’” Exactly.Just heartbreaking.And that’s why Mike and I started calling our friends. He called the city of Glenville. I called my fellow comic book writers and artists. Then I called Jerry Siegel’s wife and daughter, Joanne and Laura, who came on as our honorary chairpeople. One thing became clear: if we don't save this place soon, the house will soon go the way of Superman artist Joe Shuster's, which was torn down. Soon after, thanks to the hard work of many, The Siegel & Shuster Society was born.With a name like that, peole keep asking me, “Is that the secret superhero clubhouse?” You better believe it’s the secret superhero clubhouse.And this charitable 501(c)(3) is dedicated to making sure the Siegel House will be saved, and restored, and there so you can take your kids one day.Will we succeed? That depends on you. Really. You. If we want to repair the exterior, and fix the roof, and clear out the rotted wood, we have to raise the cash. Cleveland won’t pay. The big corporations won’t pay. They’re the ones who ignored it. But like the site says, I believe ordinary people change the world. I believe that we — the true fans — can do what Cleveland and everyone else couldn’t

Summer of Superman Part VII

Zap! Pow! Bam! Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage hosts comic-book exhibit
by Michael Sangiacomo / Plain Dealer Reporter
Monday September 15, 2008, 11:59 PM

The single, framed piece of yellowed paper from the early 1940s is unique and priceless in the truest sense of the words. The page has Joe Shuster's story pencil drawings of Superman with an inscription by Jerry Siegel to Batman artist Jerry Robinson. Siegel quips that if he had seen Robinson's art first, he might have hired him to draw Superman. The creators of Superman sharing a moment with the guy who created The Joker.
A comic fan's dream.
That's just one of more than 100 pieces on display at The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, where Zap! Pow! Bam! The Super Hero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950 exhibit begins Tuesday.
What do comic books have to do with Jews?
Don't be a shmendrik; most of the guys who created comics were Jewish.
Starting with young Siegel and Shuster, there were Bob Kane, who created Batman; Joe Simon, who co-created Captain America; Jack Kirby, who co-created Captain America, Fantastic Four and the Hulk; Joe Kubert (Sgt. Rock) and on and on.
Anybody who was anybody in the comic world of the 1930s and '40s was Jewish, as artfully portrayed in the novel "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" by Michael Chabon.
In "Golden Age" most of the art studios were owned by and employed mostly Jewish artists, since those jobs were easier to get and lacked the prestige of higher-paying art careers.
One of those artists, Jerry Robinson, is the force behind the touring comic-book exhibit that originated at the Breman Museum in Atlanta. Most of the exhibits are from Robinson's private collection. Robinson, at 91, is still a comic fan.
Before you go smashing exhibit cases for the rare Batman, Superman and Captain Marvel comics, know this: Few contain full comics. Most are covers with a few pages; some are even well-done duplicates.
"The color covers fade in the light, so we're careful with them," said Judi Feniger, executive director. "We hope that the exhibit will appeal to everyone, especially the boomer generation. Half are audience here is Jewish, so they will appreciate the Jewish aspect of the exhibit."

But the priceless pieces of original art are real, as are the signatures of artists like Will Eisner (Spirit); Simon and Kirby (Captain America) and Robinson (Batman.)
There is a subtle rack of superhero costumes standing next to a wooden phone booth.
The display also includes a tiny theater showing the rarely seen serial "Atom Man vs. Superman." Another theater loops interviews with great creators like Stan Lee (co-creator of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, X-Men and hundreds of other characters for Marvel Comics) and Julius Schwartz, editor at DC Comics throughout the 1960s and '70s and a guiding force behind Superman.
While there, check out the exhibit on Siegel and Shuster, who created Superman while they were students at Glenville High School. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the 1938 release of Action Comics No. 1, the first appearance of Superman.

Sometimes, words -- not only vivid images -- seem to leap off the page in comic books.
Comic-related events scheduled at the Maltz
• Oct. 22: Jordan Gorfinkel (former Batman writer, editor) and Michael Sangiacomo (Plain Dealer comics columnist and author of "Tales of the Starlight Drive-In") will talk about the impact of Jewish comics creators.
• Oct. 26: Harvey Pekar, creator of "American Splendor" comics, talks about his unique brand of comic storytelling.
• Nov. 5: Marc Tyler Nobleman talks about his children's book "Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman," which spotlights Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
• Dec. 7: Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, talks about his days as president of Marvel Comics.

05 September 2008

What's on My Desk September 2008

Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel. Adult Short Stories and Novellas.
Part of the ALA book discussion series, Next Book. In this case, the University of Dayton and local temples are sponsoring it.
These are quite gruesome and show the autrocities of war. In this case, Russia versus Poland shortly after WWI and the Russian Revolution, but the autrocities have been and will be committed in just about any war.
True to Soviet culture, the author was exalted, then executed. You just can't win in Stalin's U.S.S.R. , and if you are a Jew, then you know that the religion has been almost eradicated more than once.

Shack by William Young. Adult Christian Fiction. Realistic Fiction. Metaphorical Theology. DONE.
Bi-monthly MOPS book discussion book. http://www.mops.org/
The cover has a number of favorable reviews from people in different occupations, such as Wynnona Judd and a number of pastors. I didn't realize it was popular until I saw that I was something like number 159 on the library holds list. I had to buy a paperback copy to read this in time for my discussion group.
This is a powerful book and worth a read. It has very cerebral religious discussion, but brings it down to a layperson's level. Not all Christians will embrace this book, but it has some very wonderful insights into the vastness of the love of God for humanity. One reviewer called it a Pilgrim's Progress for today's world. You have to be careful labelling a new book an instant classic, but I think this will be on many reading lists for years to come because of the depth, yet accessibility of the message.
Personally, I put it down for a few days to let some of the thoughts sink in. The reader shouldn't try to rush through this book, but maybe plan to read a chapter a day to savor it. Of course, I waited until right before my book discussion and didn't do this, but if possible, I recommend reading it more slowly. Maybe I will pick it up again in 6 months or so and re-read a chapter or two. Reading this shouldn't replace devotional time, but might make good lunchtime reading or bedtime reading.
I would say go ahead an buy this book instead of getting it from the library, because you probably want to give it to a friend or relative to read after you are done with it. You could donate it to your local church library, too. This way you can discuss it with others after they have read it.

Snow Spider by Jenny Nimo. Children's Fiction. Maybe a 4th or 5th grade reading level.
This fantasy book is set in Wales, so there are plenty of names that I have no idea how to pronounce, but I can still enjoy the book without sounding out the names. I am not sure when this is set, as the family uses some electricity, but also candles, and they live in a rural area with farm animals.

Why Things Don't Work: Plane by David West. 4th grade - adult reading level. DONE.
This series would work well as adult literacy books, too. I have read these aloud to 4 and 5 year olds who don't understand everything, but love the concept of people fixing vehicles and they want to help in the garage, too.
Look for the Wright Flyer reference in this book, then head to Huffman Prairie near Wright Patterson Air Force Base to show children where the Wright Brothers did their flying.
Biscuit Goes to School by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. Children's Fiction - early reader. DONE.
This is a basic reader with large type for easy readability. Booklist calls it sweet, and it is.
Picking Apples & Pumpkins by Amy and Richard Hutchings. Children's Non-fiction. First or second grade reading level. DONE.
The name says it all. A girl goes to a farm to get apples and pumpkins. It uses photography to show the farm.
Pumpkin Town by Katie McKy and Pablo Bernasconi. Children's Fiction. Grades K-3. DONE.
This silly book shows the consequences of spreading seeds wantonly. Be careful where you spit those watermelon seeds!
Happiness and the Human Spirit by Abraham Twerski, rabbi and medical doctor (psychiatrist). Adult Nonfiction.
The rabbi calls on his years of counselling his flock and patients, in particular the drug-addicted, but people of all walks and his years of studying religion, philosophy, and psychiatry to give examples of how to live a happier, more spiritual life through generosity and appreciation.
I had forgotten how upbeat of a person this author is. I used to listen to his radio show on an a.m. station in Sioux City, Iowa back in 1990. It broadcast out of Pittsburgh.
The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese. Children's Fiction K-3. DONE.
I didn't think there was anything very remarkable about this story about a duck in China, but my audience of 4 and 5 year olds really liked it. I guess in 1933 books were more bound to show a spanking than today's books. Now the 4 and 5 year old are saying that the last one in line gets a spank and are calling "La-la-la-la-lei!" to each other like in the book. This book was featured on Reading Rainbow.
I Spy A Pumpkin by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick. Children's Fiction age 2-grade 1. DONE.
I didn't know that they had a junior version of this set. Actually I don't think they needed to make it easier. It was pretty easy for the 4 year old audience to find items, so I guess it is geared for children less than 4.
Measuring Puppies and Kittens and Subtracting Puppies and Kittens. Children's Nonfiction, grades 1-3.
These are cute and educational. I am not a teacher so I am guessing that some things were phrased like a teacher would have phrased them. I guess I haven't thought about how we subtract in, like, 30 years... I think teachers and home schoolers might use these more than librarians and parents.
Lost and Found by Mark Teague. Children's Fiction K-3.
A creative book about what might be in the lost and found box at school.
The Foolish Tortoise and the Greedy Python by Richard Buckley and Eric Carle. Children's Fiction, Preschool.
These are copyright 20th century, but with a timeless folk story feel.
Why Things Don't Work: Helicopter by David West. Children's How-To Books. Grades 3-6. Graphic Novel.
Now I have read all 6 in the series and I do recommend these for school and public libraries. Adults and children can learn about fixing vehicles in this great series. The helicopter book didn't seem quite as great as the others, but hey, no author/illustrator is perfect.

27 August 2008

Summer of Superman VI

USA Today talks about how the murder death of one of the creators may have been the catalyst for creating the superhero.

And in case you missed it, Funky Winkerbean has been dedicating the strip from August 11, 2008 to August 30, 2008 to the origins and continuing story of Superman, mentioning Kimberly Avenue in Glenville (Cleveland) where Jerry Siegel lived (comic ran on August 21, 2008).

18 August 2008

Miami Valley 2009 Big Read

And the winner is...
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Summer of Superman Part V

This is not directly related to the Summer of Superman, but ties in:

Dayton Daily News, Sunday, August 17, 2008, Arts section
Jewish graphic novels get spotlight at Wittenberg
By Andrew McGinn
Staff Writer
SPRINGFIELD — Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, the Hulk and Iron Man.
All Jewish.
Captain America, too.
The comic book industry owes a great deal — maybe everything — to Jews.
But if Jewish artists and writers created the medium, with its countless men in tights, then they also get to take responsibility for elevating comics to the status of literature.
An upcoming reading and discussion series at Wittenberg University will be the proof.
Thanks to a grant from Nextbook and the American Library Association, Wittenberg will host discussions of five graphic novels beginning Sept. 9 under the banner
Modern Marvels: Jewish Adventures in the Graphic Novel.
If capes are your thing, you're out of luck.
But if you're curious about what kind of comic wins the Pulitzer Prize — Art Spiegelman's Holocaust tale "Maus" — this is for you.
Copies of the five books will be given to participants free of charge, which makes space limited.
To register, contact Wittenberg reference librarian Ken Irwin at (937) 327-7594 or kirwin@wittenberg.edu.
The books also will be available to check out at the Clark County and Greene County public libraries.
Matthew J. Smith, associate professor of communication, will lead the discussions, held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays in room 131 of Hollenbeck Hall on the following dates:
Sept. 9 — Will Eisner, "A Contract With God."
Arguably the first true graphic novel, this 1978 book from the creator of the Spirit is about 1930s immigrant life in the Bronx.
Sept. 23 — Spiegelman, "The Complete Maus: A
Survivor's Tale."
Comics were blasted to a whole new level when Spiegelman won a 1992 Pulitzer for this — the story of the Holocaust reimagined with Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats.
Oct. 7 — Ben Katchor, "Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: Stories."
Oct. 28 — Harvey Pekar, "The Quitter."
From Cleveland's perkiest native son (and the writer of "American Splendor"), "The Quitter" is the story of Pekar's teen years.
Nov. 11 — Joann Sfar, "The Rabbi's Cat."
This won Sfar a 2006
Eisner Award — comics' highest honor.
And while we're on the topic of Jewish comic creators, here's one more lasting contribution: Archie.
Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0352 or amcginn@coxohio.com.

04 August 2008

Summer of Superman part IV

This Sunday's Plain Dealer reports on the state of Summer of Superman. Some events have taken place or are planned, but the big thing missing is a statue to Superman in the neighborhood where it was created - Glenview, or where the authors lived - University Heights.

http://www.cleveland.com/ Search for Superman to find the three articles from August 3, 2008. A statue in Metropolis, Illinois is pictured on the front of the Arts section.
If I heard of a campaign to raise money, I would contribute. Superman is a great example to all Americans.

01 August 2008

What's on My Desk August 2008

Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier and Lori Lohstoeter, afterword by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Children's fiction/nonfiction. DONE.
This tells the story of one recipient of the Heifer Project and how a gift of a goat affected her life. The story is fine and all, but I was more impressed by a biography of the founder of the project, Dan West that I saw in a church basement once. One major difference is the biography of Dan West was by some small publisher and didn't get much press. This book is by Atheneum Books and has Hillary Clinton's name to go with it. The cover says for ages 4-8, but the 4 and 5 year olds that I read this to were kind of bored, so I would say for 6-8 year olds is more appropriate. This is a real story of hope and compassion and would be great to read with a church or class collection for the Heifer Project.

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski. Children's Fiction. Newbery award winner, 1946. DONE.
I could definitely see the appeal of this book. The characters jump out of the page. This is a pioneer story set in Florida. I hadn't thought of 1900 Florida as virgin territory, but it was mostly undeveloped and still very wild. The Strawberry Girl and her family get by with their farm, but their no-account neighbors keep causing trouble. How will this be resolved? Recommended for fans of Little House on the Prairie.
The dialect takes a little getting used to, and the native Floridians call themselves Southern Crackers, resentful of any Yankees that might come their way. The author says in the preface that she based the story on interviews and historical data that was originally researched. The Newbery committee must have been impressed by her research.
Lois Lenski is an Ohio author, from Springfield in Clark County. Later she lived in Anna, Shelby County, Ohio and attended the Ohio State University.
I haven't read these books, but maybe I will:
"Lenski published her first written and illustrated book, Skipping Village, in 1927. Her second book, A Little Girl of 1900, was published in 1928. Both of these books are autobiographical, based on her childhood in Ohio; Skipping Village is a fictional name for Anna, Ohio".

Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris. Children's Fiction. DONE
If you liked the Princess Bride, Ever After, Ella Enchanted, Shrek, or Enchanted, then this book is for you. This quirky fantasy is funny, heartwarming, and original, but reads like a familiar favorite with ogres, fairies, princesses, yappy dogs, a wicked queen, and inventions.
Harold and the Purple Crayon: The Birthday Present by Valerie Garfield and Kevin Murawski. Children's Fiction. DONE.
This one didn't seem quite as creative as the others in the series. It was easy to guess the ending. Nevertheless, it is just as sweet as the others Harold books and will give children an idea of what to give their parents for Christmas, birthdays, or Mothers' Day or Fathers' Day.
I had to get this one through interlibrary loan, but upon my recommendation, our children's specialist says she will now buy these Harold books for our collection.
Doctor Dan, the Bandage Man by Helen Gaspard and Corinne Malvern. Children's Fiction. DONE.
I am glad to see that Little Golden Books has reissued some old familiar favorites such as this one. I bought this at my local bookstore. I had not seen the book with the bandages intact before, since this part is quickly separated from the book. This brings back fond memories. As a child my favorite Little Golden Book was Little Mommy and my favorite Little Golden Books plus 45 record played on the Mickey Mouse turntable were the Poky Little Puppy and one about a tuba player (I forget the name of this one). In that one they played the song "Many brave hearts lay asleep in the deep, so beware. Be-ee-ee-ee-ware"! Is it Tubby the Tuba?
Follow up: No. It is not Tubby the Tuba. What was the name of that book?
Skylar by Mary Cuffe-Perez. Children's Fiction. DONE.
A great book for children or adults. Can "pond geese" rise to the occasion and help a lost heron find his way home? Can they aspire to be "wild geese"?
This was really delightful and reminds me of E. B. White or other great writers featuring animal main characters.
Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips. Adult Fiction. DONE.
This is a touching story and a quick read showcasing life in blue collar Alabama during the Great Depresssion. Who put the baby down the well to die? And will the Moore family be able to keep going with enough money to put bread on the table? Can we really blame the woman if she already had 6 or 10 starving children at home?
Here is a quote from aunt of the main character, Virgie. Virgie is wondering if she could somehow afford college.
"An educated old maid was the worst of all, bottom of the list. Aunt Celia said no man wanted a woman who cared more about books than she did about him."
"When I repeated it to Papa, he said, 'It don't pay to be too stupid, either.'"
Amen, brother!
Why Things Don't Work: Race Car by David West. Children's Fiction. DONE.
See comments about others in this series. My favorite part of this book was on pages 28 and 29 where they show different kinds of race cars and races for cars. If I can remember the difference between Formula 1, rally cars, NASCAR, dragsters, demolition derbies, and kart races I will be able to have more informed conversations with people that are into that kind of thing (like my father and one of my co-workers).
Blue-Ribbon Henry by Mary Calhoun and Erick Ingraham. Children's Fiction. DONE.
I chose this book because it is county fair time in this part of the country. Henry is a cat with lots of personality and I think I will read more in the Henry series. This book is kind of realistic, in that the cat doesn't talk or anything, but he is an extremely intelligent cat. It is a nice mix of exaggeration and reality and satisfied the audience who was curious about what we see at fair time. My library has this in the preschool collection, but I think it is more of a 1st or 2nd grade level.
Tubby the Tuba by Paul Tripp and Henry Cole. Children's Fiction. DONE.
This is some older song, but I had not heard of it. The information on the dust jacket says the song sold 13 million copies. I turned the book in forgetting to listen to the included CD recording. That was a mistake. I was wondering what it would sound like since the book makes obvious references to music and sounds. Again, this book is in the preschool section, but it has a number of words and concepts that are not familiar to the average preschooler, or even the average parent or librarian who would be reading it. Instruments such as piccolos, celestes, and French horns are probably not instruments that the children have seen before, but this book could be used to introduce children to the members of the orchestra. I had a hard time pronouncing Signor Pizzicato's name, but with practice was able to do so.

14 July 2008

2009 Miami Valley Big Read

The finalists are:

  1. People of the Book by Geraldine March (fiction)

  2. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (nonfiction)

  3. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (fiction)

23 June 2008

What we can learn from city directories

I can not imagine having this job as seen in a old city directory. A patron pointed it out to me.

This summer's reading

This summer I am helping to evaluate which books to recommend for reading discussions, so I am reading more general fiction than fantasy. I will try to read some YA or children's fantasy to keep up my fantasy quota!
Image from:

04 June 2008

What's on My Desk July 2008

Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Adult nonfiction. DONE. MOPS book discussion.
Yes. This is as funny as I had heard that it was. The author also throws in a number statistics and his opinions on the National Park Service, different states of the union, and more. I should have read this two years ago before I went to Gaitlinburg and saw the Appalachian trail there. The above photo is from my collection.

Journey to the End of the Millennium by A. B. Yehoshuah. Adult fiction. DONE
Not the 1999/2000 millennium, but the 999/1000 A. D. millennium!
This was a tough book to read because it had no dialog at all. Even when a person gave a speech, the speech was summarized and we were told what it was about. The author concentrates on describing the smells and sounds of the time, rather than exactly what was said.
This book was unlike other books I have read in subject matter as well. It discusses the cultural, religious, and ethnic differences between the European Jews and the African Jews , with reference to the Ashkenazi and Sephardi groups. It also focuses on the relationships between the Jews, Muslims, and Christians with foreshadowing that the Christians were becoming more intolerant as the millennium approached.
The plot focuses on the difference between the African Jews (and Muslims) who practiced polygamy and the European Jews who thought it was outrageous.
Random House Treasury Favorite Love Poems, 2nd Edition. Adult nonfiction. DID NOT READ after browsing the poems. When they say favorite what they mean is "favourite", pre - 20th century, mostly British poems which all use obscure language. Words like "lusteth", "thine", and "befallen" are used. I don't see giving this to a teen or adult who wants to woo a lover, unless that lover is an English professor! I did recognize one pleasant one from my high school English class, but the rest are simply too old.
Patrons are better off with the Valentine's Day issue of Ideals magazine. Some of its poems are obscure, but most are accessible. Another idea is lyrics from the folk 1960's era on to modern, 2008 songs. Some of these would be good poems to recite to your love. Maybe a nice Motown love song...
Harold and the Purple Crayon: Harold Finds a Friend by Liza Baker, Carin Greenberg Baker, and Kevin Murawski. Children's fiction. DONE.
I checked this out because I saw a Harold show on HBO that featured Harold's dog, Lilac. Ah, the sweet friendship between a child and his dog! Harold may meet other dogs, but none compares to his good friend, Lilac. I think Lilac may be a sheepdog or afghan hound. Some libraries don't have this new series of Harold books since they are not by the original author, but I think they are worth buying.
Umbrella by Taro Yashima. Children's fiction. DONE. Caldecott Honor Book.
This was an okay book about a girl who wants to use her umbrella. I had a problem reading it aloud, however, because the sound that the rain made was:
bon polo
bon polo
ponpolo ponpolo
bolo bolo ponpolo
boto boto ponpolo
and some variations on this. If you are going to read this aloud, I recommend practicing quite a bit beforehand so you don't end up tongue-tied!
It seems a bit dated (published in 1958) with the use of the words "nursery-school" instead of "day care" or "pre-school", but otherwise it is a nice book that has multicultural appeal (Japanese American girl in New York city) with a universal theme. What kid doesn't like an umbrella and splashing in puddles with boots?
Sanctified Trial : the Diary of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain, a Confederate Woman in East Tennessee by Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain and John N. Fain. Adult Nonfiction. DONE.
This book was certainly a departure from most of the other books I have read on the Civil War. Mrs. Fain (a distant collateral line relative of mine by marriage), wife of a Confederate General, felt that the war was caused by God being angry about the way that slave owners were treating their slaves. In her eyes, one of the worst sins was the mingling of the races by masters with slave women. She did feel that slaves were inferior heathens that had to be converted to Christianity and led by whites. This is certainly not a politically correct viewpoint for today, but she was a typical woman of her time and place.
History of the Slovaks of Cleveland and Lakewood by Jan Pankuch, translated from the Slovak by Rasto Gallo. Adult Nonfiction. DONE (Actually I skim-read it).
This book was first published in Slovak in 1930 and was only recently translated into English (2001). I did not know about the great friction between the Magyars/Hungarians and the Slovaks that started in the old world and continued in the new. The Slovaks felt that the Magyars were trying to take over their churches and subjugate their businesses, even in Ohio. The author's family was Lutheran, and for my research I am more interested in the Slovak Catholic families, but many historical aspects apply to both groups. I recently visited Holy Family Church in Cleveland and saw the church where my grandparents were wed, in an historically Slovak neighborhood. Now the neighborhood it is partially black, partially Hispanic, and partially white. The neighborhood has seen better times, but was never wealthy or prosperous. The railroad tracks repeatedly cross the neighborhood and this is where the jobs were 75 years ago in Cleveland - on the railroad and in the factories that made goods to export on these rails.
Slave Dancer by Paula Fox. Young Adult Fiction. DONE. Winner of the Newbery Award in about 1974. Reading Grade Level listed in the book is 5.9.
This is a truly gruesome book. Even though it won the Newbery Award, if I were a teacher, I would be reluctant to have my students read this in my class. I understand that the slavery trade was horrible and the conditions were nasty, but children do need to be somewhat sheltered in what they read, at least in a classroom setting. Jessie, a boy of about 12, is kidnapped an put to work on a slave vessel as a fifer in 1840. It is his job to make sure the slaves get some exercise so at the end of the voyage their muscles will still be useful.
From the very beginning Jessie is opposed to his job. This is understandable since he was kidnapped, but they never say why he is already opposed to slavery. He isn't a Quaker or from an abolitionist family or anything. He didn't have much experience with it in the past, as a poor boy. Certainly, as the book progresses, we understand why many people would be opposed to the treatment of the Africans. The author does a good job in conveying the misery of the slave existence and it is historically accurate. My guess is that it won the Newbery Award because of the political climate in 1974. It is a fine book and it would probably be well that adults (most likely English, History or Education students) have the visceral experience of reading this. In a classroom setting, however, it would have to be very carefully handled.
Seven Wild Sisters by Charles de Lint and Charles Vess. Adult Fiction (although it is short enough and clean enough to be considered YA or children's fiction: 152 pages).
I read the sequel (Medicine Road) to this novella first (not a recommended course, but painless in this case, see January's blog entry). This book focused on the second sister, Sarah Jane, while the sequel focused on twin sisters Bess and Laurel. I suppose there is room to have a few more books, since only 3 of th 7 sisters have been featured so far.
De Lint is a great story teller and although his tales are original, you would swear that they were written "once upon a time" ago, the way he weaves ancient legends and tales into his fairy stories. I think this author is underappreciated and I hope that more people find his stories.
Harold and the Purple Crayon: The Giant Garden by Valerie Garfield, Don Gillies, and Kevin Murawski. Children's Fiction. DONE.
This is another sweet and imaginative story in the Harold series that has been resurrected since HBO started its cartoon series.
Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron and Matt Phelan. Children's Fiction. Newbery Medal Winner. http://www.ala.org/ala/alsc/awardsscholarships/literaryawds/newberymedal/newberyhonors/newberymedal.cfm
Lucky is a great character, right up there with Ramona and Sheila the Great and Laura Ingalls. She has spunk. She has brains. She has a dog named HMS Beagle so that she will have a companion in her scientific endeavors. She has je ne sais quoi! This is a quick and easy read, set in modern desert California and I highly recommend it to girls and women. It might be a harder sell to boy and men, although Lucky's best friend and annoying-clinger-on-younger friend are both boys.

What's on My Desk June 2008

  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. Adult fiction. DONE. This book starts off kind of slow then BAM! Now we know what will tie the loose characters together: a school shooting. We know all along who did it, but the book tells WHY and we wait to find out the outcome of the trial.

  • Cheating at Canasta by William Trevor. READ HALF, THEN STOPPED. Adult fiction.
    I started reading this and had to stop to look at the author biography, then resume reading. I quickly suspected that the author was not American. It uses a number of English and Irish words, like the Irish word for policeman. His short stories read like the dialog (or dialogue in England-type English) of a play. My guess is that I would like his books as audiobooks better than as print.
    I read about half of this book. Some of the stories were better than others. The title story - Cheating at Canasta was my favorite and worth reading. I just couldn't get into this book.
  • Barbie Fairytopia Magic of the Rainbow, a Barbie Board Book. DONE. Children's fiction.
    We had a hard time following this book. There were too many characters for a simple cardboard book. I think it assumes you have already seen the Barbie movie and bought the Barbie dolls and know the characters. I wasn't sure which one was Elina and which was her friend and who was the bad lady. I will be putting myself on hold for this video at the library now out of curiosity. Great literature this is not.
  • So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger. READ HALF, THEN STOPPED. Adult fiction. I had heard good things about his first book, Peace Like a River, so I thought this might be a good one to read. The author very conceitedly had the main character also be a writer writing a second novel. That is not very interesting, and I couldn't get into the story of a middle aged guy running away to Mexico with his outlaw buddy. The description sounded good, but the reality is that everyone I talked to who read the first book was disappointed in this second novel.
  • Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. Children's Fiction. DONE.
    I love this book! I don't know why I don't already own this except that my copy that I had as a child must have fallen apart. This was popular in its day, but now I had to get this through interlibrary loan. Thank you to the Raymond Library, Raymond, Ohio.
    This book is the antithesis of sensible zoning. In part, because of this book I now have an aqua colored house and a purple colored car that the mechanic has dubbed "Barney". One of our neighbors asked if our aqua color was the final coat of paint then was disappointed when it was, and a drive-by commentator yelled "I hate your house"!
    The plot is that there was a "neat street" where all the houses were the same until one day a seagull dropped a can of orange paint on a house. One neighbor, then many decide that they like their houses personalized, not cookie cutter. They really go all out to show that
    "My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams".
    If you love this book then you should read the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, which is also known by its first line:
    When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.
    Then read "If I Had My Life to Live Over(I would pick more daisies)" by Nadine Stair.

  • Amelia Bedelia and the Cat by Herman Parish and Lynn Sweat. Children's Fiction. DONE. Herman Parish is Peggy Parish's nephew.
    This is a pleasant book, with dear Amelia the housekeeper misunderstanding people's idioms. The audience I read it to did not understand the idioms, either, but did not care. They liked the pictures and the kitten.
  • Bear on the Motorcycle by Reiner Zimnik. Children's Fiction. DONE. As you can guess, it is about a bear who rides a motorcycle. This is an oldie but goodie.
  • Laughing without an Accent by Firoozeh Dumas. Adult nonfiction. DONE.
    Her first book was rather endearing. This follows up and supplements information from the book Funny in Farsi. It isn't quite as good as the original, but still has her charming take on life as a first generation American. She does have a number of opinions on books and libraries which I will quote here when I get a chance.
page 43: Firoozeh discovers the public libary and is amazed at the idea of being able to borrow all the books she wants. In Iran she owned three books and in America their family only bought one book - the Guinness Book of World Records, 1972. I found this particularly amusing since I remember owning the 1976 edition and looking through it for years and years until it finally fell apart.
page 88: "And now I was in college, which were definitely supposed to be the best years of life, and here I sat, on a Saturday night, sneaking a bag of chips in the library".
page 159: Her uncle is never without a book and looked up words in the dictionary whenever he came across ones he didn't know.
p 184: "I stayed in the room happily rereading Love in the Time of Cholera".
p 209. Advice to graduating students. Rule # 5. "Always have a book to read". If you are without one, you can always read a train schedule or Sky Mall.
  • Holly Hobbie's Through the Year Book by Holly Hobbie. Children's fiction/nonfiction. DONE. This book blends Holly Hobbie's lovely American Greetings characters with little poems. I saw that my library had purchased some Holly Hobbie videos and was reminded of this character. This book was published in 1978 and she used sepia tones throughout, so all the illustrations are muffled. The current videos use full color, however. Someone remarked right away that today's Holly Hobbie does not wear a dress, but feminine clothing. This is a far cry from the calico and patchwork Holly Hobbie of the 1970's. Both are cute and well received by girls and their mothers. Although this book seems old fashioned, it is old fashioned in a good way and still enjoyable like Highlights magazine.
P. S. American Greetings is an Ohio company - out of Cleveland. So, if you are an Ohio librarian and considering getting rid of the old Holly Hobbie books, please consider keeping these sweet books. I think they are finding a new audience.
http://www.americangreetings.com/ Also the home of Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake.
P. P. S. The new Holly Hobbie is advertised as the "old" Holly Hobbie's great granddaughter with the same name.
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. Children's Fiction. DONE. Winner of the Caldecott Medal. One of my coworkers who is a mother of 5 and a former children's librarian told me to read this. It is a classic tale of wishing for something, then regretting getting it. I liked it well enough, but it isn't my favorite story. I also watched the Scholastic video version of this book being narrated. That was pretty good, too. (This is the man who brought us Shrek in another book).
  • Why Things Don't Work: Train by David West. Children's Fiction. DONE. This is another fine book in the series. I like the perky grandmother who fixes trains while wearing a green bodysuit and having her hair up in a gray bun.
  • Generation T 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt by Megan Nicolay. Adult Nonfiction. DONE. I am not into crafts, but these look pretty simple. Many require no sewing at all - just scissors and tying. The ones that use lacing are particularly attractive and the key word to the success of this book is AFFORDABLE. Most American teenagers and college students could make these for less than $5.00 using Goodwill t-shirts. I will show this to my Goth library aide who frequently safety pins her clothing. I may be inspired to cut up something to wear to our local Renaissance festival as a pirate-type outfit. http://www.generation-t.com/
  • Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu. Adult fiction. DONE. We are considering if we should make this our One Library, One Book selection for 2009. The Seattle Public Library chose this for their book this year, but I would not recommend this to all audiences. It is a slow, thoughtful book about an African immigrant. I have not known many African immigrants in my life, but I am sure that most of them are not this broody. There is only one "action" scene, and that is when the main character remembers a violent episode from his childhood. http://www.spl.org/default.asp?pageID=audience_current_seattlereads

page 39: The main character talks about a present he received - a book and that he checked out a paperback novel from the library.

page 89: Naomi "had raided the local library for all it was worth". Then the author lists a number of long books.

page 191: Stephanos gives his mother a book of Emily Dickinson's poetry for Christmas.

  • Timbuktu by Paul Auster. Adult Fiction. I was looking for another good dog book, so I thought I would try this one. IN PROGRESS.
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon - Opposites by Jodi Huelin and Kevin Murawski. Children's Fiction. DONE. Adorable Harold demonstrates some opposites by his drawings. Effective.
  • Early Bird by Richard Scarry. Children's Fiction. DONE. I am guessing that this came before his Busy Town series since there is a worm that looks like Lowly, but has a different name. This book shows Scarry's distinct style and appeal. This is a good early reader.
  • Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie. Children's fiction. DONE. This is a take on the country-mouse/city-mouse where one pig stays home and one travels. We see the advantages of travel and of home. The words are okay, but we can tell that Holly Hobbie is known more for her illustrations.

21 May 2008

After you read Marley read...

A Sampling of Dog Books

A Dog Year: 12 Months, 4 Dogs, and Me by Jon Katz, Adult Nonfiction.

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, Children's/YA Fiction.

*Dog Stories by James Herriot, Older Children/YA/Adult Nonfiction.

Lad: A Dog by Albert Payson Terhune, Children's/YA Fiction.

*The Critter and Other Dogs by Albert Payson Terhune, Children's/YA Fiction.

Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight, Children's Fiction.

*Call of the Wild by Jack London, YA/Adult Fiction.

*Clifford, the Big, Red Dog by Norman Bridwell, Children's Fiction.

*Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day, Children's Fiction.

*Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, Children's Fiction.

*Kipper by Mick Inkpen, Children's Fiction.

Timbuktu by Paul Auster, Adult Fiction.

Melanie Travis Mysteries (series) by Laurien Berenson, Adult Fiction.

*Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, Adult/YA Fiction.

* = I have read these.

Magazine inserts

I wonder if there is an easy craft which requires the inserts that fall out of the magazines and newspapers each day at the library?

I must pick up at least three of these a day. Fortunately, we have paper recycling at our library.

I suppose I could look in "Crafts 'n' Things", but I am afraid that something might fall out on me...
I found some uses:


Five Uses for Those Annoying Magazine Inserts
Five uses for those annoying magazine inserts that, no matter how thoroughly you think you have removed them, always seem to fall into your bath while reading.
-Use as coasters for guests you have absolutely no interest in impressing
-Picking up dead flies in the window sill
-Gather up hundreds (not hard to do) and send them to the Editor of your favorite magazine in protest, hoping they will send you free product as a good will gesture (will not work if your favorite magazine is Foreign Affairs or the like. Sorry Larry)
-To write tardy notes on when your daughter is late for school
-Wet, pound into mush, mold into a pot shape, decoupage and plant your favorite perennial inside (Martha Steward Living inserts only)

17 May 2008

Let's Talk About Jewish Literature

I have signed up to read a series of books classified as Jewish literature. This is sponsored by my local public library, a local university, a Temple, and a Community Center. It is brought to us by the American Library Association and Nextbook.

The titles are:
Journey to the End of the Millennium by A. B. Yehoshuah
Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel
Neighbors by Jan T. Gross
Assistant by Bernard Malamud
Mona in the Promised Land by Gish Jen

This does not start until 24 August 2008 (or in the Jewish calendar, 23 Av 5768), so I will report more on this later.

03 May 2008

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Nonfiction books

I have been to some workshops and lectures lately about science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction books currently available from publishers.

General trends in publishing:

*The internet, the influence of graphic novels, comics, and manga have lead to better color photographs or more powerful images being used on covers, and inside both fiction and nonfiction books.

*Bestselling books are looking more and more like graphic novels and less boring pictorially. Is less text bad for literacy or does it encourage reading since a picture is worth a thousand words? Time will tell if this leads to shorter attention spans or attracts reluctant readers.

*The success of Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings movies has lead to the publication of a number of juvenile and young adult fantasy books, but not necessarily a lot more adult fantasy books or an increase in quality adult books. Recently I enjoyed the children's book The Floating Island: the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme by Elizabeth Haydon, but have not read any great new authors for adults.
Thank you to the staff of the Cleveland Public Library and to Brian DeLambre of Joseph Beth Booksellers for sharing information at recent workshops.

26 April 2008

What's on My Desk May 2008

Marley & Me: Life with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan. Adult nonfiction. Humor. I am reading this for a book discussion. This is currently in production as a film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0822832/
I don't know whether I want to slap the author upside the head or kiss him. The title says it all. The dog is goofy, lovable, and very destructive.
I would have at least banished the dog to life outside the house. That way he could only destroy the lawn (and possibly escape).
The back cover says "May very well be the feel-good book of the year. It's definitely the dog lover's book of the year" (USA Today).
If you are looking for other dog books, try Dog Stories by James Herriot, Dog Year by Jon Katz and who can forget, Old Yeller by Fred Gipson and Lassie Come Home! by Eric Knight. I remember reading Lad a Dog by Albert Payson Terhune and The Critter and Other Dogs, also by Terhune, which were written many years ago.
I also read Bad Dog, Marley! by the same author and illustrator Richard Cowdrey. Children's Fiction. DONE. I was expecting this to be one of the stories from the above book, but it is a fictionalized account of a family similar to his with a dog similar to Marley. I guess they thought that having the stabbing scene in a children's book wouldn't work.

The Hungry Thing by Ann Seidler, Jan Slepian, and Richard Martin. Children's Fiction. DONE. It is fun for young children to guess what the Hungry Thing wants to eat by figuring out the rhyming word.

Llama, Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. Children's Fiction. DONE. The pictures and plot were okay with a worried youngster afraid of the dark and asking for Mama to come back in the bedroom, but the sentence structure was odd. I was not certain what they meant by "Llama, Llama Red Pajama". Was Red Pajama his surname? Sometimes they called her Mama Llama and sometimes mama, so the capitalization was not consistent. There do not appear to be a lot of verbs, just sentence fragments consisting of nouns and adjectives. On the cover it says Llama Llama Red Pajama with no comma, but in our catalog it uses a comma. I see that there is a sequel Llama Llama Mad at Mama, and that book one received good reviews in Hornbook, SLJ, and BL, so apparently not everyone was bothered by this. P. S. I thought that the llama looked uncomfortable sleeping on his back and it seems that a llama would sleep curled up like a dog or sheep, especially with that long neck. Sheep in a Jeep was a much better book.

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw and Margot Apple. Children's Fiction. DONE. I listened to the cassette tape and read the book. The tape had a nifty background song and was the author seemed to savor each word, drawing out the book. This is a very basic book and can be read to even the littlest listener (in utero?). It doesn't use complete sentences, either, but somehow the book worked better that the llama book. SPOILER: Do not read if you don't want to know the end. One of my listeners loves it when vehicles crash and often plays that his toy cars, airplane, space shuttle, etc. are crashing, so you know he liked this book (and Trashy Town, too).

Finn by Jon Clinch. Adult fiction. DONE. Clinch has created a new take on Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn character by postulating about Huck's origins, specifically focusing on his father. This is a dark, boding work. If you decide to read it, you should probably have some other lighthearted, humorous book on your bed stand in case you can not face the brooding evil that the book embodies any particular night. I recommend partnering it with something completely dissimilar like a James Thurber work, Chicks with Sticks, or a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Pap Finn is about the lowest of the low in villains. He kidnaps, kills, rapes, steals, lies, drinks, swears, and more. I suppose it might make for a good book discussion book if you could find enough people who can get through reading the whole book without throwing it in a bonfire over his use of the "N" word and more. This might appeal to readers of true crime and mysteries. African American readers, and all readers, should be ware that Pap is a racist as many men and women of this time and place were.

Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi. Adult Graphic Novel. DONE. This one is decidedly edgier that the first as the author experiences more of the world and goes through the process of discovering who she is. Does she want to be an Iranian? Does she want to be a Westerner? Will she follow a traditional or contemporary path? I have read that some people like the first book better, some the second book. It probably depends on the audience. In the second book she is older, but not wiser.

Child's Book of Lullabies by Mary Cassatt and Shona McKellar. Children's Fiction. DONE. It seemed like a good idea - put Mary Cassatt's classy pictures with classic poetry. This is an attractive book and an adult might enjoy it, but the outdated language of the poetry made it too obsure for a young audience. This received good reviews, but my guess is that the reviewers did not actually read these aloud to children. This might make a nice gift for a lady, but not for a child.

My Body Is Private by Linda Walvoord Girard and Rodney Pate. Children's Fiction, but deals with a nonfiction topic - privacy (anti-sexual-abuse). DONE. Let's face it, this is an awkward subject. I read it to my 4 and 5 year old audience because some of them were starting to play "doctor" and I wanted them to know that it was okay to say "no" and want to be left alone. I don't know if they understood everything in this book, but the basic idea came across. I would say that it was written more for a 6-9 year old audience, but my library had it in the preschool section. If you can't find a better book, use this one, but there is definitely room for a different book in this market.

Why Things Don't Work: Motorcycle by David West. Children's fiction/nonfiction. This is another that is hard to say if it is fiction or nonfiction. My library put it in nonfiction. DONE.

It is basically a motorcycle repair manual, but presented in a graphic novel format. I was surprised that this did work as a read out loud book. We broke it up into two reading sessions because it did use rather grown-up words, but my audience would have liked to have had the whole book at once. I really don't care if I ever learn how to repair or ride a motorcycle, but I knew that a certain 5 year old is into vehicles so I tried it out. The 4 and 5 year olds didn't understand everything but did want to see how the two main characters would do in fixing their bike. This falls into the category of kids-who-memorize-all-the-names-and-statistics-of-the-dinosaurs type of book. Some kids will really dig it and others won't. My audience wanted me to bring home more in this series, so I will. There is also one on a helicopter, plane, race car, tank, and train. Stay tuned for more information on this series. In general, I think this is for about a 8 - 13 year old audience, with cross-over appeal to 14-21 year olds or literacy or English as a Second Language groups. It has diagrams, a glossary, and an index in the back. I would definitely recommend buying this series for a middle school or public library. http://www.raintreelibrary.com/

Why Things Don't Work: Tank by David West. Children's fiction/nonfiction. DONE.
This is another that is hard to say if it is fiction or nonfiction. My library put it in nonfiction. I checked this out and was reading it outside my church without thinking about the irony of reading a TANK book at church. When I realized that not everyone might think a tank book at church was appropriate, I put it in my car for later reading. I certainly did not know all the facts about tanks that were contained in this book.

Town Mouse and the Country Mouse by Aesop, illustrations by Paul Galdone. Text is from Select Fables of Esop and other Fublists, R. & J. Dodsley, Birmingham, England, 1764 . Children's fiction. DONE.
This classic telling of the tale used, among others, the words "repast", "consented", and other words that they didn't know, and the illustrations were decidedly old-fashioned, but my preschool audience was fine with that. This is a classic that has withstood the test of time. You could get a newer version, but this one from 1975 is just as good, if not better.

Flight by Sherman Alexie. YA/Adult fiction. DONE.
An angry young Indian is launched into a time traveling spirit journey when life becomes too much for him. He sees the history of Indians in America and the cruel treatment by the Whites.
I was a bit confused by the flashbacks (and so was the main character) but caught on after a while.
I would recommend this to a reluctant teen reader, but not a little old lady.

Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean. Adult fiction. DONE.
An elderly woman is starting to become disoriented with dementia, but her memories of the siege of Leningrad by the Germans during World War II are clear. As a young woman, she worked at one of the world's best art museums and had to help pack up the priceless materials and try to preserve the extraordinary architecture of the Hermitage from repeated bombings, snow, and rain. She and others were slowly starving, but what kept her alive was her memory of the extreme beauty of the art. She does not always know what is reality and what is memory, but the love, memory, and hope made possible by the art makes something great from these sorrowful times. Personally, I am not into art, but this is a lovely book and reminds me of the awe that the Hermitage brings to those who have been there. (I was there in 1992). This book can certainly be incorporated painlessly into a number of curriculums (history, art, world culture, gerontology).

Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock. Adult fiction. DONE.
I read this to evaluate if we should use it for a book discussion.
This is a series of short stories all set in and around Knockemstiff, a small place in Ross County, Ohio where all kinds of every day perversities and atrocities take place. All the characters are poor or blue-collar working class. The time period varies from piece to piece from about the 1940’s – 1990’s. The author says that none of the characters are directly based on people he knew, but certainly inspired by them. Pro: Male viewpoint – a rough and tumble manly man viewpoint, in the words of the author “manly cowboy stuff” (page 43) Pro: Set in Ross County, Ohio, a south-central county. Mentions Pike County (page 25), Route 50 (Route 50 runs east west from Cincinnati to near Morgantown, WV) (page 31), Hillsboro, Highland County (page 33), Greenfield (page 64), Paint Creek (Bainbridge) (page 71), Copperas Mountain, Ross County (page 71), Massieville, Ross County (page 76), Bob Evans (page 105), Mead (page 118). After that I stopped keeping track. Author is from Ohio and as far as I know, still lives in Ohio as he is working on his master’s degree from Ohio State. …Although, I don’t remember any Ohioan ever telling me that he or she lived in a holler (hollow). People in his book say they do. It also talks of knobs, which I thought was more of an Arkansas concept. Pro: Preface quote: “All Americans come from Ohio originally, if only briefly”. Dawn Powell. This quote could be discussed. Pro: Recent book Pro: Nifty map of the fictional town in the front. Pro: Readers of the “Glass Castle” could compare and contrast the poverty and drunkenness portrayed in the two books. Pro: The book is lyrical enough that it might be fun to read selections out loud. Pro: Since the book is made up of short stories all featuring a town, it is easy to stop after a chapter, then pick up later where you left off reading. Con: Not yet available in all desired formats – only print as of June 2008 Con: Uses the words “ass” and “bitching” on the very first page, which will offend some readers. In other places it uses “nigger” and “coon” and other curse words. I think this book is well on its way to being a Banned Book. It has something to offend just about everybody, including, but not limited to: Incest Rape Prostitution Child abuse Masturbation Swearing Racism Drug use Drunkenness Anti-Christian characters Stereotypes Hunting Gutting animals Homosexuality Abusing the mentally challenged Sexually transmitted diseases …but that is what makes the book work. It is about the dirty, grimy, creepy, working-class dregs of humanity. If we choose this book, you can be sure that some readers will object and high school teachers will NOT assign it. If you want to get publicity, then choose this book and see the fur fly! We will not be accused of being boring or safe! The writing is terse and manly like classic short story or novella writings of Bret Harte and Ernest Hemingway. Others have compared it to Winesburg, Ohio, and works by authors Raymond Carver or Flannery O’Connor. In some ways it reminded me of another book I recently read – “Finn” about Huckleberry Finn’s father. My favorite quote: Page 83: “You gotta stop readin’ them books, start watchin’ more TV”.

I recommend that every public library in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky have this book. I do not recommend it for high school libraries.

Dooby Dooby Moo by Doreen Cronin. Children's fiction. DONE. This is a silly sound effects book. The second time I read it, I read the words aloud better. The animals on a farm are practicing for a talent show at the county fair. The ending is laugh-out-loud funny. A Rat Pack fan or Scooby Doo fan might get extra enjoyment out of this one.

Barney Backhoe Loves to Build. Children's fiction. Board book. DONE. The title pretty much says it all. The backhoe is a John Deere, so it is good for John Deere, Handy Andy, and Bob the Builder fans. The book also uses concept words like big, bigger, and biggest well.