books and authors

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People and Problems

Posted by on 11 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: books, books and authors, Uncategorized

It seems that all too often, we consider those who are violent or otherwise anti-social to be “others.” An intriguing book indicates that the difference may in fact be smaller than we like to think. (thanks, R, for pointing this out)

Cass R. Sunstein’s review of Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century by Marc Sageman holds many details from the book and studies that have been conducted on small-group interactions and the amplification of the sense of outrage of group members. I was surprised by some of the details, others seemed rather familiar.

While I don’t have time to read the book right now, the review gives me a lot to think about.

Books I am Reading

Posted by on 22 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: book review, books, books and authors, Uncategorized

  • Many Children Left Behind

    Subtitled “How the No Child Left Behind Act is Damaging our Children and our Schools.”  by Deborah Meier et al.  This was published in 2004, but the comments by people from many aspects of the education world are still pretty current. If anything, they have more meaning as time has gone on. I will say that I was surprised at how many of my own comments and arguments they DON’T refute. And how few new ones they present… A sad prediction of the state of our children’s education. public library

  • Tongue Fu! at School

    Subtitled 30 Ways to Get Along Better with Teachers, Principals, Students, and Parents. This is aimed at teachers, but has advice for older students. by Sam Horn.  I like it. This is one that I would like to add to my own bookshelf. Mostly, it seems to reiterate the advice of many good coaches I have read… LISTEN to the person, consider their point of view, and give chances for them to clarify. This author also talks about “phrases to lose” and “phrases to use.”  For example instead of clarifying the statement “this child works really hard on assignments” with the modifier but then continuing with something that detracts from the positive beginning (but she doesn’t have the skills to do well), he suggests using and then continuing with suggestions for further improvement (and she would benefit from extra help in some areas).  This is not to put a false spin on things, rather it is intended to keep people engaged in the conversations so they leave with a sense of being able to do something rather than a sense of hopelessness or anger. public library

  • Including Students with Special Needs

    subtitled A Practical Guide for Classroom Teachers. by Marilyn Friend and William D. Bursick. How practical this really is, I am not sure since I am not in a classroom trying to meet the needs of both average students, delayed students, gifted students and students with behavioral or other needs. I find it slow reading — so far I am about three chapters in after a month. I won’t finish it before my classes start, that is for sure. There is a lot of information in this book, which, though 6 years since the last revision date, is still fairly current. This book goes over definitions, how various federal laws impact service delivery, how funding affects what schools can offer their students… among other topics. There are some sections that deal with specific needs such as autism, or gifted/talented, or health issues. And there is a heavy emphasis on how a regular classroom teacher can make reasonable adaptations to curriculum and with classroom management to accomodate children’s needs. I also appreciate the discussions about how the classroom teacher can (and should) work with other professionals in the schools, as well as the clear reminder that a principal, a parent or a counselor cannot simply tell a teacher to do something without adequate support to and feedback from the teacher. This textbook, like so many today, has additional offerings online and includes website information along with other reference information. found for $4 at the local Goodwill store

  • The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

    by Julie Andrews Edwards. I am halfway through this book. It is, so far, a wonderfully fun, rollicking tale that would appeal to many children. I like that she used some pretty big words and new scientific ideas — especially for the time it was written about 25 years ago. The descriptions are vivid and fun. Still, it is decidedly a children’s fantasy book. Scholastic booksale ~~~I finished it that same night. It was sweet. A great bedtime story for kids! And tired mamas.

Sailing Alone: Pacific Lady

Posted by on 30 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: books and authors, Uncategorized

There is a woman right now, rowing across the Pacific Ocean… Tom has been following her progress with great interest. You can too, at But the really exciting thing is that today I met the first woman to sail solo across the Pacific. There we were, Mother, the stidkid (#1) and I, walking into the local Borders store to get a calendar I wanted and a latte…

And there was Sharon Sites Adams, sitting at the entrance with a small sign, pictures and books. Curious, I wandered over (my paternal unit having built boats and enjoyed sailing and other boating for decades)… and we spent probably ten minutes speaking with her in the process of getting books signed. One for the paternal unit, one for the stidkid.

What an amazing woman! She had just been a little north of here, visiting the boat she had taken on her journey from San Diego to Hawaii… and she had with her the same flag she flew when she sailed from Japan to the mainland U.S. The flag was little tattered, but so would you be if you had sailed thousands of miles!

She, however, was far from tattered. No taller than I am — a little older than my mother, she wore the prettiest pink jacket (and signs her books in pink as well), and is still so energetic. She was so gracious and kind, asking the stidkid what he likes. And when I remarked (after she signed his book and commented she wanted to hear more of his own journeys) that he would have to write to her… she gave him her business card!

So he will have to write to her. Especially since he got his copy of the book today — and the book doesn’t come out officially until September! She put today’s date down when she signed his book…

And I am so inspired. If she could sail across the ocean and deal with storms and isolation (no internet or satellite communites or GPS in 1969) and doldrums… surely I can achieve some of my own dreams! I can get through school, I can be a teacher. I can certainly do the small things I have planned — though not as spectacular and inspiring as her adventures.

Oh — and information about her book!

Pacific Lady
The First Woman to Sail Solo across the World’s Largest Ocean
Sharon Sites Adams with Karen J. Coates
Foreword by Randall Reeves

2008. 240 pp.

Publisher’s website: Nebraska University Press.

Some pages from 1969 (and thereabouts) when the big trip occurred: Mariner Yachts.

I will try to post a review of this book once I have read it!

6th Grade Language Arts

Posted by on 07 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: art, books and authors, children, education, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, Making a Difference, parenting, poetry, school, social justice, Uncategorized

Well, this wasn’t just “my” project, but I had a hand in it, and I feel good about both the planning process and the execution of the unit. I am quite proud that I worked outside my comfort zone in many areas this year, but this particular project was both the most challenging and the most satisfying intellectually.

I worked with the stidkid’s 6th grade Language Arts teacher to pull together a writing unit based on sense of place. We tried to work on both the creative side (how you express a sense of place and have it be both personal and comprehensible) as well as the “conversational” side (working with partners, we asked the children to describe a place they have lived, to take notes as their partner spoke, to reflect back how the writing made them feel). We worked on both free-form writing and the process of personal revision and editing other peoples’ work (I volunteered a section of my writing from the NaNoWriMo project last year as their guinea pig). We talked about how oral histories are taken down — as part of a conversation of a person’s history, often grounded in place as well as in time. We compared oral history to other oral traditions (myth, poetry, legend) that are passed down, and how those also convey a sense of the way people see and interact with their environments.
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Yummy Vegan Knitting (reprise)

Posted by on 25 Feb 2008 | Tagged as: books and authors, food, fun, good things, health, Uncategorized, website review

Lolo, the blogger who writes VeganYumYum, was on the Martha Stewart Show today.

I am not really a fan of Martha Stewart, but I do love to read this blog! It’s inspiring and helpful to me as I try to come up with yummy, attractive things to feed my family.  It was great to see and hear one of my favorite cooks!   And no, she wasn’t using yarn and needles — exactly.

If you didn’t get to see the show in time, don’t despair, a clip of Lolo’s TV debut is at her site: here.

Now, in case you didn’t know, our family is not vegan.  Not even vegetarian.  We have a child who didn’t do well on a strictly animal-free diet. And, to be honest, the grandparents were not helpful when the children were little, being only too willing to take them to McD’s and other meat-and-grease-laden purveyors of comestables.  But, since he really does a lot better with meat in his life, we went ahead and made the adjustment for him.
But for me, I really do best on a vegan diet — or if I really want to break my rule, a few eggs or seafood.

Today, I am home feeling yucky.  A combination of things, I am sure, but I am also sure that it is partly my diet lately. Too many things with meat, too much wheat (not a real allergy, more my body prefers other grains) and sugar, too few good veggies.

So, I have refocused, drinking LOTS of water, and eating one banana and a mug of warm marmite broth. I also admit to a candy cane — the peppermint flavor really helped my tummy calm down. Trying to clear out my system a little without too much movement (a nasty multi-day headache that gets worse with motion) or too much prep time.

And while I recuperate, I am spending a little bit of time reading the food blogs I enjoy, considering my next culinary adventure!

Buon Appetito!

Helping in High School

Posted by on 02 Nov 2007 | Tagged as: books, books and authors, children, education, fun, hope, parenting, reading, school, Uncategorized, words

I never thought I would do it, but I did.

I am helping in one of the kids’ English classes at the local high school.  They have book discussion groups, and I am working with one (my kid and two others chose to read the same book).  Today was the first day I got to sit down with the kids, and I think it went pretty well, considering none of us really knew what we were doing!

I was nervous, but apparently this book is too “highbrow” for the rowdier kids, so I got lucky.  The three boys in this group and I had a great time, and I am looking forward to next week.  There is a lot of good material for discussion — if time were unlimited, two hours’ discussion at a stretch would not be impossible.  I don’t know how many parents bother to volunteer in schools at this age…  but I think it is good that I am there.  If nothing else, these are three children the teacher doesn’t have to monitor for an hour, so he can focus on other students who need more help.  Maybe when this book is done I will keep coming back and helping in other ways.  I would like to.

I would like to recommend this book, but there is a caveat.  There is quite a bit of un-necessary vulgar language and prurient topics…  though the book deals with a teen-age boy’s “coming of age” story, I don’t think some of the passages had to be quite as graphic as they were.  Still, if you can overlook this flaw (which could be rectified with judicious editing and small re-writes), the rest of the book reads well, represents the area I live in beautifully (many passages are quite poetic and inspiring), and isn’t “dumbed down” in any way.  By Jim Lynch, The Highest Tide has been a national bestseller in the United States, and may be available locally in a library near you!

Another Cool Author

Posted by on 11 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: books and authors, children, fun, good things, musings, parenting, storytime, Uncategorized

Well, I admit I still need to read the books, but Stidkid#2 has a new favorite author, it seems.

Lately, he has been reading aloud the Artemis Fowl books, by Eoin Colfer to me while I drive him places or do housework. This is a great series! And one I recommend.  I think I still need to do a decent review on those…

Tonight, he and I attended a local Q&A and booksigning by Patrick Carman, a really fun speaker and “good egg.”  His series of books centered on The Land of Elyon looks like it will be another great find.  Though apparently for slightly younger children than Stidkid#2, it is the genre we enjoy:  kids having great adventures, with a bit of magic and mystery thrown in.  We had already put the series on our list of things to get…  His new series, Atherton is a science fiction story, aimed at an older audience, and will be our next purchase.  And, like many good stories we have all enjoyed (The Hobbit, Winnie the Pooh, Little House on the Prairie), his tales began as bedtime stories, building on the dreams and experiences of his own youth.

What would our lives be like, if we all spent our days dreaming of great adventures, and doing things that make the world more beautiful, more livable, more peaceful?

It was the first time I had done something like this in a long time, and it was good.  Really nice was seeing all the children (from about six years up to the teens) excited waiting in line, not for a sports star’s signature, but for a few words with a real-life author.

Standing in line to get books signed, I fell into conversation with a somewhat tired woman who had an elementary-aged boy and a pre-school girl with her.   But, we moms will do anything for our kids!  So there she was after a long day at work, spending her evening at a book signing, because Mr. Carman had visited her son’s school and sparked his interest.  Not one to deny our children the joy of discovery, we stood at the back of the line for over an hour, to give our kids the chance to meet this man and get his autograph.  And so we talked about parenting, about the worries our kids give us (broken limbs and all), what it’s like to try to provide for your family, what learning is all about.  The usual “moms in line” type of conversation.  And that was very nice, too.

Yoli, if you found your way here from my other website, hello!

Another New Page

Posted by on 09 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: art, books, books and authors, education, fun, good things, hope, poetry, review, school, Uncategorized, wordplay, words

A Writing Notebook Quotes and miscellany about and for writers and writing. It is in the “Literary Pursuits” category in the navigation table. Things in the Notebook will be, like a real notebook, in random order and never sorted… Enjoy!

Another Hero Gone

Posted by on 07 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: books, books and authors, passages, Uncategorized

Well a hero to book lovers, at least.

Tonight I read that Madeleine L’Engle has passed away.  I am sad the world lost two bright stars in as many days…

Here is the yahoo article on her tonight: Obituary for Madeleine L’Engle

I just had our elder child read A Wrinkle in Time as an alternative to the book assigned for a high school English assignment.  The book deals with what makes a hero, and what is really important in life.

A hero:

  • someone who does the important things….  not the glamorous things;
  • a person who keeps trying…  even if not always successful;
  • a person who cares…  even when it hurts;
  • a person who dreams…  even when reality bites;
  • a person who gives…  without expecting in return;
  • a person who knows, down deep inside, that everyone is important…  including themselves.

I wish I were more articulate.  This has been a busy week for me.  I would like to think that I have been living out my life in a way Ms. L’Engle would approve — helping, in small ways, to make life better for as many people as I can.


Posted by on 15 May 2007 | Tagged as: blogposts, books and authors, poetry, Uncategorized

This poem by Eleanor Farjeon beautifully expresses how I feel. Sure, I could spend more energy trying to get it all done…. but that would leave no time for dreaming.

There Isn’t Time

There isn’t time, there isn’t time
To do the things I want to do,
With all the mountain-tops to climb,
And all the woods to wander through,
And all the seas to sail upon,
And everywhere there is to go,
And all the people, every one
Who lives upon the earth, to know.
There’s only time, there’s only time
To know a few, and do a few,
And then sit down and make a rhyme
About the rest I want to do.

Eleanor Farjeon was an interesting person, who wrote many interesting things. Check out her entry at Wikipedia or google her name.

…for some more nice children’s (and adults’) poems with some period illustrations, check out

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