Updates in Books

I’ve updated and fixed several things in the book section of the site. Notably, many of the pages now have pictures of the book cover. Not all of them do, I’m working on that. I’m going to try including cover images as often as possible.

Book: The Emerald Wand of Oz

The Emerald Wand of Oz
Sherwood Smith
Ill. by William Stout
2005

I really enjoyed this book a great deal, which surprised me. The beginning really turned me off (it reminded me a little too much of Dorothy – Return to Oz), but the book got much better after a while. I liked the realism of the characters, even the classic ones, even when I had to wonder why they had been included (it felt like Smith chose a random selection of characters to use and never altered it when it became apparent that some of them were totally unnecessary). Scraps in particular felt wonderfully real. The plot was interesting, if rather thin (a lot of extra space in the book where “other stuff” happens). I liked the inclusion of the Nome prince.

I did have a few issues with the book. The first was basically the first third of the book. In it two girls from Kansas (who are strangely convinced that they are related to Dorothy, who never grew up and moved to Oz with her aunt and uncle who never had kids, so where these relatives came from is somewhat of a mystery) get swept to Oz in a tornado. Actually, how they got there is kind of confusing, but it’s an Oz book so a little confusion on technical issues is to be expected. Then they spend a third or more of the book grooming multicoloured unicorns. Yep, unicorns. Never knew there were unicorns in Oz? Me neither! Nothing happens in this entire section. They argue and groom unicorns. That’s it. It’s really boring and really tempted me to put the book down. The second issue was all the loose ends. I realize that he’s setting up for a sequel or two, but the sheer number of loose ends in this book was ridiculous. Even assuming sequels, a book should kind of be able to exist on it’s own. I’m not sure this really can. I didn’t leave the book thinking “cool story, I wonder what might happen later?”; I left it thinking “but what about the clouds, and Dorothy missing, and …”. It really hurt the experience of reading the book.

The witch was the niece of the Wicked Witch of the West, which seems to be the current trend in Oz books. She was inconsistently portrayed (especially between the illustrations and text), but otherwise a pretty good character. Her magic made a teenager kind of sense rather than simply being a copy of the Wicked Witch of the West’s style. I particularly liked her transformed guards with their tiny, easily confused lizard brains. The whole section of the book that took place in the witch’s castle was well done. The pacing was good and the characters found some clever solutions to problems (the Scarecrow in particular was used wonderfully in this section).

The illustrations were beautifully done, particularly the wonderful cover picture of Princess Ozma, which is just lovely. They were spaced nicely throughout the book and usually very appropriate to the section they were in. My only issue was the occasional inconsistency between the illustrations and the text. Several times the witch is described wearing a pretty, long purple gown, but in the illustration she is wearing jean shorts and a button-down shirt that is too big for her. It’s a rather jarring difference. The art is exceptionally well done, however, with nice references back to original Oz art by Denslow and Neill. The portraits of the original characters such as Scraps and Jack Pumpkinhead are charming and very reminiscent of the original books.

Overall I really liked this book, despite its frustrating aspects. I look forward to the sequel and hope that it will be even better than this one!

Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle
1969

This is such a classic I almost didn’t write it up for the website. I decided that I should write it, though, partially because it is such a classic. It’s such a fun book. There isn’t anything particularly spectacular about it, so it isn’t incredibly obvious why it would be a classic, but perhaps that is part of it’s charm. It’s so appealing because it is so simple and unassuming. The pages with holes where the caterpillar chewed through things are a constant fascination for children and the bright colours and simple story make it memorable for everyone.

The book is just so well put-together. The pacing is wonderful with parts that move along slowly and parts of the story where the story nearly runs forward. This is partially helped by the oddly sized pages and holes. The bright colours and oversized images are incredibly appealing and it’s hard not to smile when flipping through the book.

This book really is a classic and deserves to be. It is my favourite of Carle’s picture books! I highly recommend it, but since most people have probably seen and read it already, it doesn’t mean much for me to recommend it!

Book: Someday is Not a Day of the Week

Someday is Not a Day of the Week
Denise Brennan-Nelson
Ill. by Kevin O’Malley
2005

This is a wonderful picture book that very accurately shows how it feels (especially when you are young) to be told something fun is going to happen… someday. The little boy’s excitement is so real it’s almost contagious, but his disappointment is also that real – it’s almost tangible. It has a jarring effect on an adult because one is forced to realize that vague promises are pretty much a staple in our conversations, especially with young children. The scene where the boy looks for “Someday” on the calendar is so cute and almost heartbreaking!

The pictures are adorable and full of energy. They match the story wonderfully well. I loved the expressions on the child and the adults around him. The details in the backgrounds are wonderful as well.

This is a wonderful book. I highly recommend it!

Books: Yay, You! Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On

Yay, You! Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On
Sandra Boynton
2001

This is a great graduation/life change book, one of the best I’ve ever seen on the subject. It’s funny and full of Boynton’s characteristically funny pictures. It talks about how not knowing what’s coming next is scary, while knowing where you intend to go is exciting but not necessary. It shows various animals doing different things and while some may seem trivial (like the adorable animals “contemplating the size of their thighs”), none are inherently less valid than any others.

The drawings are typical Boynton, full of hippos and other creatures. They are very funny and one can’t help but smile at such images as the meditating cow saying “OOM”. The pictures are perfectly paired with the text, and I think some of the text would loose a lot from being paired with any other images (or with none at all).

I loved this book and would definitely give it as a graduation gift (or even buy it for myself). It’s witty and fun and full of celebration.

Books: The Very Best Daddy of All

The Very Best Daddy of All
Marion Diane Bauer
Ill. by Leslie Wu
2004

This is a very sweet book portraying animal fathers and what they do for their families. It is obviously intended as a Father’s Day type of gift book, but it is a cute picture book nonetheless. Each animal father is shown in a wonderful nature-study-like drawing that might have been inspired by a National Geographic photograph. The text tells about one thing that each father does for his family, from hatching eggs to comforting and protecting the mother. I liked very much that no contribution was shown as any more valid or important than any other contribution. It is evident that the author feels that anything done for the family is important, no matter how small the thing might seem.

The end is rather cliché and obvious, but the text is otherwise very good. It pairs wonderfully with the animal drawings. I would absolutely recommend this book for a child, even one whose father is largely out of the picture. It shows that even fathers who aren’t around are important.

Book: Hello Kitty: A Day With Papa

Hello Kitty: A Day With Papa
Mark McVeigh
Ill. by Jean Hirashima
2005

This is a cute little book about the Sanrio character Hello Kitty. She decides to spend a day with her father and he teaches her how to play baseball. The pictures are simple and colorful, as most Sanrio art is. The story is simple, but very sweet. I liked that the writing was simple and clear, as uncomplicated as the illustrations.

I very much liked that this book is about a little girl who learns to play what is usually considered a boys’ sport, but she gets to stay a little girl while doing it. Her batting helmet is pink with a bow, but she is just as good at the sport as the boys and girls who join her and her father near the end of the book. I like that Hello Kitty can be girly and good at sports at the same time.

The book isn’t brilliant, but it is cute and fun and the message is really good. I like that the message isn’t undermined at all, like in many books. This is a cute book and certainly a good one for kids (both boys and girls). I’ve been generally impressed with the Hello Kitty books so far!

I’m a Nerd! Who’s shocked?

This quiz found through Blog of a Math Teacher.

Pure Nerd
82 % Nerd, 47% Geek, 21% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally
smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up
all of the traits and tendences associated with the “dork.” No-longer.
Being smart isn’t as socially crippling as it once was, and even more
so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be
replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.

Congratulations!

Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you’re interested in either of the following:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Professional Wrestling

Love & Sexuality

Thanks Again! — THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST


My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 94% on nerdiness
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 69% on geekosity
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 22% on dork points

Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid

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Gaming Style Quiz

Found this quiz on John Kovalic’s blog.

You scored as Storyteller. You’re more inclined toward the role playing side of the equation and less interested in numbers or experience points. You’re quick to compromise if you can help move the story forward, and get bored when the game slows down for a long planning session. You want to play out a story that moves like it’s orchestrated by a skilled novelist or film director.

Storyteller

92%

Method Actor

75%

Tactician

50%

Specialist

42%

Power Gamer

25%

Casual Gamer

17%

Butt-Kicker

0%

Law's Game Style
created with QuizFarm.com

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