"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein
29 July 2011
Kuffel, Frances. Angry Fat Girls. New York: Berkeley Books, 2010.
Kuffel details the weight loss and gain of her online group, the Angry Fat Girls (AFG). The women relied on each other for support as their weight went up and down. Kuffel also details various diet plans the women had tried, as well as the emotional issues surrounding weight loss and gain and living life as one of America's extremely obese people.
This was an interesting and unusual book. The title was what caught my attention. I don't necessarily recommend adding it to one's personal library, but it was worth a day's perusal.
27 July 2011
Standiford, Les. Bringing Adam Home. New York: Harper Collins, 2011.
The 1981 kidnapping and murder of Adam Walsh changed the face of America. Parents no longer let their children run out the door with the warning, "Be home by dark." Schools added curriculum about stranger danger and warned children not to accept promises of toys or candy from strangers. I remember being warned of this as early as kindergarten, one time declining a ride home from a classmate's parent, since I knew my classmate but had never met her mother.
The Walshes went on to create America's Most Wanted, a television series responsible for the capture of numerous criminals, and they have fought hard for laws protecting children and harsher punishments for kidnappers. Unfortunately, the police were not able to solve the most personal of the cases, Adam Walsh's kidnap and murder, until very recently. This book details the Walsh case as well as the developments in legislation since 1981. This was an interesting book, although not a happy one.
23 July 2011
Downs, Tim. Nick of Time. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
A good friend of mine introduced me to the Bug Man books, and I've been addicted ever since. This new book, Nick of Time, is slightly different from the other novels, but still definitely worth reading. The ending definitely surprised me, and my only complaint against this book is that it's too short. I finished it in two days and there isn't a sequel yet.
21 July 2011
Kernen, Joe. Your Teacher Said What?! Defending our Kids from the Liberal Assault on Capitalism. New York: Penguin Group, 2011.
I thought this book would be a description of things that have sneaked into the curriculum of our educational system, or bizarre things that teachers are telling students these days, all along the theme of capitalism, progressivism, and our nation's economy.
Instead, this book was a discussion of capitalism, progressivism, and our nation's economy, but with little mention of school, curriculum, teachers, etc. The book itself is fairly interesting, although its bias is quite obvious, but I was disappointed by the misleading title.
19 July 2011
Shaw, Susan. The Boy from the Basement. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 2004.
Charlie lives in the basement of his home. He is being punished, so he is not allowed out of the basement. Every night after his parents fall asleep, Charlie sneaks out of the basement and takes one drink of water from the faucet. If there happens to be enough bread in the bread drawer, he'll eat one piece of bread with peanut butter on it. Then he opens the back door and uses the back yard as his toilet, only to sneak back inside and head back down to his basement. Until one day the back door slams shut behind Charlie and he is trapped outside.
Charlie is picked up by an ambulance and taken to the hospital, where the doctors are concerned about his frail, dirty body and his inability to answer simple questions like "What's your last name?" or "What's your phone number?" This concern is heightened when his parents don't report him missing or attempt to visit him in the hospital for weeks. Why has Charlie been locked in the basement for so long, and what will happen to him when he's released from the hospital?
I found this book to be very sad. It was sad that Charlie, at 12, didn't own any clothes and had not been to school. It was sad that Charlie's father was so consumed by his own issues that he tried to coerce Charlie into lying to the lawyers about his mistreatment. It was sad that Charlie is going to have a lot of catching up to do before he can join the rest of society.
This was a good book, and I am glad that I read it. It's definitely a sad story, but I know there are other Charlies out there. Here's hoping they all find a way to escape.
17 July 2011
Spinelli, Jerry. The Library Card. New York: Scholastic Press, 1997.
This book contains four shorter stories of kids whose lives are changed by a small blue library card. Mongoose chooses the library instead of grafitti and learns fascinating facts about blue whales. Brenda discovers her personality again when the TV is turned off and she has to rely on the printed page for entertainment. Sonseray uses the library as an escape from his home in a car under the bridge. April meets a friend during a bookmobile carjacking.
This book is hilariously entertaining and makes me want to visit the library every day. After all, you never know what might happen there...
15 July 2011
Navarro, Joe. What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People. New York: Harper Collins, 2008.
I have always been fascinated by the psychologists and other professionals featured on crime shows, especially those who can observe an interview and tell if a person is lying or nervous or overconfident, etc. It turns out that there are cues that you can learn so that you, too, can tell when a person is uncomfortable with a particular topic or answer. And it turns out that many of these cues are really beyond our control, so you won't be able to fight against it, either, at least not easily. Although I have made a concerted effort to keep my thumbs out of my pockets while at work this week. :)
13 July 2011
Hiaasen, Carl. Scat. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2009.
I was first introduced to Hiaasen's work with Hoot, a story about some teens who try to save an owl's habitat. I was a bit concerned about Scat, especially when I considered the meaning of the title, but my concerns were not needed.
A notoriously strict science teacher disappears one day on a field trip. The students are told she is taking a leave of absence, and she is replaced by a subsitute who always teaches certain pages of the textbook on specific days of the week. Some of the students are relieved and grateful for the break, but a few are more curious and want to find out where their teacher has gone. This leads them on the track of a panther cub and some men illegally drilling for oil.
This book is entertaining and enjoyable and suspenseful enough to keep a person reading until the end. I would easily recommend Hiaasen's work, in spite of the odd titles.
09 July 2011
Lannert, Stacey. Redemption: A Story of Sisterhood, Survival, and Finding Freedom Behind Bars. New York: Crown Publishers, 2011.
Stacy's father sexually abused her for most of her childhood. No one else in her family believed it was happening. Stacy endured the abuse, counting down the days until she could leave home, but the last straw for her was the day her father raped her little sister. Her father had taken to sleeping by the front door with a shotgun in case the girls tried to sneak out. As she and her sister sneaked out of the house, Stacy shot and killed her father.
Through an unfortunate twist of the legal system, Stacy was convicted and sentenced to life without parole. She spent eighteen years in prison before the governer granted her a pardon and she was able to rejoin the rest of society.
I was expecting this story, especially with its title, to have a religious aspect to it. I was also expecting more emphasis on Stacy's journey of "finding freedom" while in prison and as she was released. Instead, this book goes into great detail describing Stacy's childhood and the abuse she endured, and sadly she did not actually undergo a great transformation in prison. She did detail her journey of healing from sexual abuse, which I appreciated,
This was an interesting story, and abuse survivors may find it to be helpful to read of another survivor's healing, but because of the graphic nature of the abuse descriptions, I cannot recommend this book to the general populace.
05 July 2011
Goldberg, Harold. All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2011.
Okay, I'll admit it: I like video games. I haven't had the means or opportunity to get as involved in video games as I would like, but I do enjoy them. I remember when I stayed at a friend's house in elementary school and we spent an entire night playing Super Mario Brothers on her Nintendo. From the NES and GameBoy to Playstation, Wii, and even casual PopCap games, this book chronicles the development of the video game culture and the way producers of games adjust their ideas to meet people's desires and to continue to challenge an increasingly advanced population of gamers.
Satisfy your inner geek by checking this book out at your local library. You'll be glad you did.