Thursday, May 28, 2009
I will post an old poem about sewing - something which I haven't done a lot of lately. But I have made a few things in my time - enough to know how it feels to be a novice (very novice!) seamstress.
I am in the choice of pattern
and in my fantasy
of how the suit sketched in tweed
will be incarnated in velvet
I am in tissue pieces
laid precisely, pinned snugly
facing the right way
on the wrong side.
I am in the concentration of my tongue
and in the rhythm of my heart
as scissor blades
crunch, crunch, crunch.
I am in the synapses that pass
from instruction sheet to brain
to fingers, in spaces
filled with the conductive medium of faith.
I am on the rolling highway of stitches, even and perfect
seams, smooth and straight
then in the pin-prick that sees
something is wrong; I must rip and return.
I am in the mirror
reflecting shoulders that bag
a waist too tight
and a skirt that sags.
Then at last, after being in gathers, easements
overcast hems and under the hot iron
I am, snug and snazzy
in this garment I have made.
© 2006 by Violet Nesdoly
First published in Poets Online (Archive: February 2006 - "In The Moment" prompt)
Read more poems of work here.
This post is also part of the KidLitosphere's Poetry Friday. This week it's hosted at Irene Latham's blog Live. Love. Explore!
Monday, May 25, 2009
Book: The Thinking Toolbox
Authors: Nathaniel Bluedorn & Hans Bluedorn
Genre: Young-adult non-fiction
Publisher: Christian Logic, paperback, 235 pages
The Thinking Toolbox is a 35-chapter book written by brothers Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn. Its purpose is to help kids and adults develop reasoning and thinking skills.
The book is divided into three main sections: "Tools for Thinking," "Tools for Opposing Viewpoints," and "Tools for Science." Each chapter is a lesson and the lessons build on each other in a logical (of course!) way, though each is self-contained.
The lessons are short. They are introduced with an example or problem to solve, then the concept is taught, and this is followed by a sum-up statement of what was learned. The lesson concludes with exercises, giving the reader practice in applying the concept to real life situations (answers and explanations are at the back of the book).
After the brief introductory "How To Use This Book" chapter, the first main section – "Tools for Thinking"– teaches (Lessons 1 - 8) concepts like what is the difference between a discussion, a disagreement, an argument and a fight; when is it appropriate to argue; what are fact, inference and opinion; and how does one state a premise and come to a conclusion.
I found Lesson 6 in this section, which taught about listing and sorting reasons, the weakest in that the example used to illustrate how this was done was more confusing than helpful. But Lesson 7, "How to Defeat Your Own Argument," was excellent in the way it suggested anticipating objections to arguments. I also appreciated the way Lesson 8 "When Not to Use Logic" taught the importance of knowing when to hold one’s tongue:
But sometimes a different logic takes precedence; the logic of human relationships and emotions. When we realize we should not speak our thoughts we are not being illogical. We are being logical in silence.The second main section "Tools for Opposing Viewpoints" (Lessons 9 - 21) includes lessons on recognizing opposing viewpoints, evaluating the quality of evidence, defining primary and secondary sources, and recognizing and analyzing circumstantial evidence.
In this section I found myself arguing with the sum-up statement of Chapter 12, the rule for analyzing sources: "If you don’t know how a source obtained his information – how he knows what he knows – then the source should be considered unreliable." Come now gentlemen, do you even follow that advice yourself? In this day of information glut, is such a thing even possible? I doubt it. Some tips here on the hierarchy of, say, web and print sources, may have been helpful in explaining how to realistically put this principle into practice. On the plus side, a highlight chapter in this section was Chapter 18, which uses as its example the Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. story from American history.
The third main section (Lessons 22 - 32) teaches "Tools for Science." It covers topics like what are scientific tools, observing, brainstorming, forming hypothesis, setting up experiments and analyzing data.
The book ends with a three-chapter section of games and puzzles. (And if you want more, the authors have set up a web site: www.fallacydetective.com where they invite questions on logic)
The book’s target age range is 13 to adult, although I think younger kids could read and benefit from at least parts of it. It is written in a light-hearted, friendly style with lots of humor and the text is broken up with Richard LaPierre’s cartoon illustrations. I can see this book being a welcome resource not only for home school kids and their parents, but for any kid or adult who is bombarded by 21st century media and its "Believe Me!" messages.
Visit Miss Rumphius Effect for the rest of the Nonfiction Monday posts.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Visit ACPL Mock Sibert for the rest of the Nonfiction Monday posts.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Twitter is a never-ending source of goodies - if you're following the right people...and I have some wonderful follows. Here are a few goodies gleaned in the last little while:
- @susanwrites: "Don't be afraid of backstory. I've written 100+ pages of backstory to learn about my characters - I just won't put it in the book."
- Here's an interview of children's book illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba, on Shelly B's Write for a Reader blog. Check out these Dulemba-drawn coloring pages.
Title: Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You
Author: Bonnie Grove
Publisher: Beacon Hill Press, February 2009, Paperback, 192 pages
If you're one of those people who have looked at your life and thought, I need to make some changes, Your Best You is the book for you. Not to worry if there is a secret addiction, a hurtful past or even a history of failed attempts at change. Author Bonnie Grove, a program developer and trainer, covers all those angles in this compact but complete self-help manual
Grove starts out by explaining her strength-based approach and how it differs from the commonly used method of effecting personal change by working on one's areas of weakness. Using questionnaires, quizzes, self-tests, personal inventories, and journals she guides the reader in discovering personal strengths and then shows how to exploit them to make the desired changes.
In fifteen chapters Grove moves the reader step by step from identifying personal strengths and determining what really matters to him or her, through making the actual changes, to establishing long-term goals. All along the way she stresses the importance of being patient with oneself and acknowledging the progress already made.
Though her method is complex, Grove's instructions are always clear. She uses word pictures to clarify her ideas, e.g. she compares trying out new behaviors to trying on clothes in a store - a visualization which takes some of the heavy seriousness out of what can be a stressful process. She precedes each assignment with a detailed example of the kinds of answers the reader might give when dealing with a variety of issues (e.g. lose weight, stop smoking, deal with a difficult relative). She also states how much time each assignment should take and if it should be done in one sitting or spread over several sessions.
The multi-week program described in Your Best You is built on a solid biblical foundation. Grove explains how acknowledging and using one's strengths is a form of worship. She demonstrates the place of prayer and encourages the reader to be aware of God's presence in every aspect of the change process. Her own transparency in describing her relationship with God serves as an inspiring and encouraging model.
My one small quibble is with the physical design of the book. Though I didn't do the assignments, the book, with its lines, charts and tables to fill out, is meant to be written in. However, the tight paperback binding make that awkward and the small boxes in the tables and charts are too tiny to hold all that's required. A workbook-sized coil-bound book would have been more practical for such a hands-on program. Of course there's nothing stopping the reader from using a separate notebook instead of the paperback textbook to do all that writing. And that would preserve the book for more readers too - always a good thing.
Though I only read through the book and didn’t actually do the program, I wouldn't hesitate to try it in the future or recommend it to others. It is designed primarily for individual use but I'm thinking it might also work well with groups. Each person could work on their own issues with the group members to fall back on for encouragement, feedback and accountability.
From the already successful person who wants to maximize their potential to the one who desires to change destructive lifestyle patterns, Your Best You is a detailed and versatile roadmap to a fulfilling tomorrow.
Read a sample of the book here. Check out the Your Best You blog for news and promotions.
- Would you like to WIN an author-signed copy of Your Best You?
- To enter just leave a comment (including your name) in the comments section of this post.
- Contest ends May 31st. I'll announce a winner here on JUNE 1st. (Sorry, Canada and U.S. residents only)
Friday, May 15, 2009
And so I got to revisit all my books, like the ones I saved from when the kids were little. The battered old board-book - A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson - is one.
I'll bet you can recite with me:
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
O, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside -
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown --
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
Of speckled eggs the birdie sings
And nests among the trees;
The sailor sings of ropes and things
In ships upon the seas.
The children sing in far Japan
The children sing in Spain;
The organ with the organ man
Is singing in the rain.
And finally, this one kids throughout the northern hemisphere must be thinking, if not reciting, at this time of year:
Bed in Summer
In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candlelight.
In summer quite the other way
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
I must keep this old relic of a book handy so that I can introduce it to my grand-baby when he next comes to visit (although at 15 months, he may be a little young... oh well).
This is a post for Poetry Friday.
See all the Poetry Friday blogs at Kelly Polark
Monday, May 11, 2009
Author: Carla Killough McClafferty
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (March 21, 2006), Hardcover, 144 pages
Suggested age: 9-12 years
Juvenile biographies like Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium by Carla Killough McClafferty are why I love non-fiction. This book not only brings Marie Curie to life but adds lots of details from a time in history when radioactivity was a new and unexplored phenomenon.
McClafferty tells Marie Curie’s story chronologically, starting with an incident from her childhood in Poland. Though at 10 she was the youngest person in the class, “Marie was usually chosen to answer the inspector’s questions because of her incredible memory. Everyone knew she could recite a poem by heart after reading it twice.”
We follow Marie as she completes school, works as a private tutor for a wealthy family and finally at the age of 24 travels to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. There she meets Pierre Curie, falls in love and opts for a life in Paris devoted to Pierre, later a family, and science.
The story of radium’s discovery is as captivating as any fiction. We cheer for the Curies as they overcome lack of funds, poor lab space and health problems. Especially admirable is their refusal to take out a patent on this new element, which soon fetched huge amounts of money and could have made them rich. When asked why there were no patents, Marie replied, “Radium is an element. It belongs to all people.”
The section which tells of the world’s initial reaction to radium is chilling in the light of what we now know about radioactivity. We read with horror about medicines laced with radium, rooms where people gathered to drink tea and breathe irradiated air, and factories where workers sharpened the points of paint brushes with their mouths in order to paint the tiny numbers and dials on watches with radium paint.
McClafferty has done a wonderful job of bringing Marie Curie to life by including quotes from letters, journals, and newspaper clippings in the text. Something Out of Nothing is illustrated with lots of photos of the Curies as well as historical items like pictures of products and labels.
The hardback volume is printed on heavy paper. With its black-and-white photo illustrations, the book is an object of beauty on its own.
The story is well-documented with a back section of source notes, chapter footnotes, a selected bibliography, a list of recommended websites and an index. McClafferty, who graduated from the Baptist School of Radiologic Technology, has previously written a book about X-rays and appears to have a good grasp of the scientific aspect of the subject. Yet she writes simply enough for kids to understand. Something Out of Nothing is rated at a 9 to 12-year-old reading level but older kids and adults will enjoy it too. Highly recommended.
- Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity – her life in story and pictures.
- "Radium and Radioactivity" by Marie Curie (Century Magazine 1904 – pages 461-466
Visit Book Scoops for the rest of the Nonfiction Monday posts.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Do you have your Mother's Day gift all wrapped and ready to deliver? Or maybe you're still in the planning stages? Here's an idea...
"This year you could celebrate Mother's Day with more than a card, bouquet of flowers or restaurant dinner. You could write a poem to or about your mother—or memorialize motherhood by expressing how it feels to be a mother.
Below are four kinds of poetry that lend themselves to poems for or about mothers. I have suggested prompts or strategies to help you write them. Hopefully you'll come away with a Mother's Day poem (or poems) that is both universal—because everyone has some experience with mothers—and unique—because the relationship with this special person is a bond like no other..."
Read all of "Poems for Mom"
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Title: Face of Betrayal
Author: Lis Wiehl with April Henry
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers-Fiction (April 7 2009), Hardcover, 320 p.
When Katie Converse, a 17-year-old Washington page home for a Portland Christmas, goes out on December 13th to walk the dog and never returns, the three members of the Triple Threat Club are naturals to get involved. Allison Pierce, a federal prosecutor earns her bread and butter prosecuting family law cases. Nicole (Nic) Hedges’ FBI experience investigating cyber crime against kids gets her posted to the Converse house to work with the distraught parents. Cassidy Shaw, Channel Four journalist, quickly discovers that the position next to her two sleuthing buddies is perfect for breaking new Converse case details nightly.
Katie’s MySpace blog, the philandering ways of her sponsor, Senator Fairview, anonymous threats from a sexual stalker, and a severed hand make for lots of intrigue, tension and red herrings in Face of Betrayal, a detective mystery by Lis Wiehl and April Henry.
Wiehl and Henry’s easy-to-read writing style is perfect for this fast-paced and intricate tale. The chapters, each of which is written from the point of view of one of the Triple Threat club members, are short with many a cliffhanger ending to keep the reader turning pages. Katie’s blog, a voice from where – maybe the grave? – gives the book a touch of modern realism and provides the reader with one more set of clues with which to try to solve the crime on his/her own. Of course the misty cold setting of Portland in the winter doesn’t hurt the story’s ambiance either.
The three strong women who reconnect at their 10-year high school reunion find they have a common interest in crime. Now they meet frequently for coffee or eats and we get to know them on many levels as they discuss life, love, faith and, of course the Converse case. Of the three, the authors give us the closest view of Allison, whose Christian worldview comes across clearly, although Nic and Cassidy are also satisfyingly complex and portrayed sympathetically. In this department, the characterization feels realistic when Nic doesn’t veer from her agnostic belief system, nor does Cassidy stray from her flavor-of-the-month spirituality.
On top of spinning a captivating story, peopled by interesting characters, Wiehl and Henry have managed to weave a variety of themes into their whodunit. Within the story we experience the lives of women making their way in male-dominated careers. Allison is concerned about coming across as seasoned and knowledgeable. Nic has to prove herself doubly – as a female and black FBI agent – while juggling her professional responsibilities with mothering Makayla. Cassidy’s concerns are more with how the HD cameras will accentuate her laugh lines and being big-footed out of the Converse story by superior Madeline McCormick should her sources dry up. Allison’s involvement with a safe house brings up the subject of abuse, especially as it occurs within families. Friendship is also a main theme as the three women are there for each other despite differences of personality and belief.
When asked why she turned to fiction writing after successfully authoring non-fiction, Wiehl said, “… I had an increasingly hard time finding stories I could relate to. And I wanted to read about strong women solving crimes. So, I thought, why not create my own mysteries… fiction stories with a slice of reality about how law and journalism really work.” Wiehl is knowledgeable on both counts, judging from her experience as a trial lawyer and legal analyst and reporter on the Fox News Channel. She has graduated from both the Harvard Law school and University of Queensland. Learn more about her and her books at Lis Wiehl.
April Henry has published seven young-adult mysteries. She blogs at So many books, so little time , and has her own MySpace blog as well.
Bill O’Reilly of Fox News blurbs Face of Betrayal “A blast to read.” I agree – and so do many others. The book sits at #34 on the New York Times bestseller list for May 10th. The hardback edition concludes with a short Reading Group Guide, the transcript of Wiehl’s interview with Bill O’Reilly, and (oh yummy!) the first two chapters of The Hand of Fate, the next Triple Threat novel, available April 2010.