Blogroll Added!

I’ve been meaning to add a blogroll to my website for a while now, I just didn’t know how to do it and didn’t want to bug Michael about it too much. But now it is here! Michael set it up and I was able to add it to the list of “Pixie Pages” on the sidebar. I read some great blogs and they totally deserved to have a link here (putting them on the sidebar would have made the page absolutely huge, so they get their own page). Go check them out!

Book Quiz!

Ok, this was a pretty cool quiz. It has over sixty possible matches! I’m apparently “The Giver”.



You’re The Giver!
by Lois Lowry
While you grew up with a sheltered childhood, you’re pretty sure
everyone around you is even more sheltered. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, you were
tapped on the shoulder and transported to the real world. This made you horrified by
your prior upbringing and now you’re tormented by how to reconcile these two lives.
Ultimately, the struggle comes down to that old free will issue. Choose
wisely.


Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Comic

Good comic today from Doonsbury.

Standardized Tests are the Worst Things Ever

Go read this wonderful piece about why standardized testing is a very very bad thing as it stands in this country. Many of you who know me in real life have likely heard my very vocal views on the subject, but this piece is much better written than my rants usually are. It’s great. Now I wonder if I could find a way to send 5,000 copies of it to every official who advocates standardized tests? Probably not. I can’t afford either the paper or the time, I’m too busy brushing up my Latin for the SAT II subject test. Oh well.

Book: Where’s My Teddy?

Where’s My Teddy?
Jez Alborough
1992

This is a cute picture book about a little boy who goes looking in the woods for his lost teddy bear, only to find a giant teddy instead. The story is cute, and the end is funny, but the book felt rather unremarkable. The text is all rhyming and there are many rhymes in the book that feel decidedly forced. I would much rather the text not have rhymed.

The illustrations were cute, but very exaggerated, almost too much so. The style was extremely typical of picture books and thus it didn’t stand out as anything particularly special.

This is a cute book, but it’s not anything remarkable. I wouldn’t go out of my way to find this book, but I would read it to a child if it was around.

Book: The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf

The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf
Gerald Morris
2000

This book is a children’s fantasy novel that elaborates on the story of Lynet from the King Arthur legends. The story as it was written in L’Morte de Arthur is rather confusing and doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Morris does a decent job of sorting through the various pieces of the story and creating a background that fuses them together in a way that makes much more sense.

The writing is decent throughout the book, but it really shines in the dialogue where the characters become very human and a healthy dose of humour is aloud to show through. In the passages that are not funny, however, the writing is average for a novel of this type. The characters are decently drawn, if somewhat two-dimensional at times. They are much more real that L’Morte de Arthur shows them to be.

I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t anything particularly spectacular. If you like Arthurian legends, this is a great read and makes much more sense than the legend it is based on, but if that aspect of it doesn’t matter to you, there are better children’s fantasy books out there.

Book: The Wedding Ceremony Planner

The Wedding Ceremony Planner
Judith Johnson
2005

Obviously, I read this because I’ve been working on my wedding ceremony. A non-denominational minister who has been performing weddings for some time wrote this book. It is laid out with guidelines for dealing with attendants, family, finding an officiant, and countless other issues that come up in dealing with a wedding ceremony. The most useful part of the book for me was the section that broke down the parts of a wedding ceremony and provided tips of what works and what doesn’t as well as sample passages, statements and vows from ceremonies she has performed in the past.

The book was excellently written and laid out; it is designed to be used as sort of a guide to planning the parts of the ceremony. It has useful worksheets and tips throughout the book, but the worksheets are also collected at the back for easy reference. I found the sample vows and readings wonderfully helpful, but there were some things wanting in the book. The section about rituals from religions and cultures other than Christianity was a bit wanting. She only described a few rituals and she isn’t very clear how to work them in. The section kind of feels like it was tacked on because some said she should have it. I would have liked a much more comprehensive chapter, or at least a list of suggested reading for finding rituals from non-Christian traditions.

In general, I really found this book useful. It had some flaws, but is well organized and interesting. I recommend it to anyone trying to plan a wedding ceremony, but also suggest you find some other sources if you want anything non-Christian in your ceremony.

Pooh Adore*Ables Books

There is a new series of books for babies, toddlers and preschoolers from RandomHouse publishers that look really cute. They are called Pooh Adore*Ables and I think they look wonderful. I want to find these books and look at them to see if they are really as good as they look. I love that at least one of the baby songbooks seems to be based directly on an actual song from A. A. Milne’s books! The art is darling and I love that Piglet is just as featured as Pooh (more on the website). Check them out. I’ll try to get my hands on some and give you a review or at least more educated opinions later!

Firefly Quiz

Viv posted a link to a quiz based on the characters from “Firefly”. She got Jayne (which does seem weird to me). I went and took the quiz and my results were that I am most like Zoe. I love Zoe, but I’m not sure about those results. Oh well, it was fun to take!

Scholastic to Publish Children’s Graphic Novels

Scholastic announced at ComicCon that they are launching a new line of books for children. Each one will be a graphic novel. Some are original material while others will be adaptions of books originally written as novels (a series of Babysitter’s Club books, a Goosebumps series and an adaption of The Last Unicorn were all mentioned).

Graphic novels have been a touchy subject with parents and teachers in the past, often being dismissed as void of educational value and rarely considered “real” books, but lately that has begun to change. The problem of “reluctant readers” (children who either don’t read because they struggle with it or children who don’t read because they simply don’t like to) has become a major issue, and so many studies on the subject have been given more weight when considering appropriate reading material for children. Many of these studies show that graphic novels are a really good way to get “reluctant readers” to read. The kids find them more accessable (pictures, fewer words in a line, and other visual cues make them seem easier to approach) and so are often more likely to read them than traditional novels. Seeing them as little more than long comic books (which never go over terribly well with parents and teachers), schools and libraries have been reluctant to supply them. Many schools and libraries are now far more open to carrying graphic novels, however, because of the marked difference it makes in getting kids to read.

Scholastic has always been big on supporting education and printing books that will help teachers and parents without turning off kids too much. This is a pretty big move for them, but it is not out of line with their track record either. I look forward to seeing these books published, hopefully seeing other publishers follow suit, and seeing a growing respect for the genre in the field of education. I will be interested to see if it makes a noticable difference in reading level and willingness among kids to have more access to these kinds of books (my suspicion is that if they become easily avalible, it will).

You can read about the announcement here at Comic Book Resources.

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