Sonderling Sunday – Der Lorax

August 31st, 2014

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books. And look what I found at Powell’s books in Portland! A copy of Der Lorax!

Lorax

It’s been many weeks since I last did Sonderling Sunday. No, I’m not going to let it fall by the wayside. But I’ve had a busy summer, including a wonderful vacation in Oregon. And I haven’t posted on my website much lately, because this week my computer broke. But I’ve managed to restore the operating system, and I’m hoping to spend my Labor Day restoring files. And fortunately, I can post Sonderling Sunday without having my files back. While I was in Oregon, I visited my oldest son Josh, and we went to Powell’s Books in Portland. I had no idea they had a small German section — and I found Der Lorax.

Later, my younger son Tim and I had a marvelous time taking turns reading pages of the whole thing aloud. He reflected that it’s probably not as hard as you might think to translate Dr. Seuss — a lot of his words are invented, so just invent a word that rhymes as needed. You’ll see what he means….

And the translation is done by Nadia Budde.

I like the places where they had to put words in the pictures. “The Street of the Lifted Lorax” fits much more neatly than Weg des Entschwundenen Lorax.

I can’t resist giving you the entire first page and sentence:

“At the far end of town
where the Grickle-grass grows
and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows
and no birds ever sing excepting old crows…
is the Street of the Lifted Lorax.”

Auf Deutsch:

Am Ende der Stadt,
wo das Mickergras steht
und der Wind fast versauert, wenn er langsam weht,
und außer den Krähen kein Vogel mehr kräht,
liegt der Weg des entschwundenen Lorax.

(“At the end of the city, where the Micker-grass stands
and the wind almost soured, when it slowly goes,
and except the crows no bird more crows,
lies the way of the vanished Lorax.”)

Here the meaning is changed slightly for rhyme:
“What was the Lorax?
And why was it there?
And why was it lifted and taken somewhere…”

= Was war der Lorax?
Warum war er dort?
Und wohin entschwand er? Denn jetzt ist er fort.

(That last line is roughly, “And to where did he disappear? For now he is gone.”)

This translation makes sense:
“Once-ler” = Einstler

Here’s a section that loses a little something in translation:

“You won’t see the Once-ler.
Don’t knock at his door.
He stays in his Lerkim on top of his store.
He lurks in his Lerkim, cold under the roof,
where he makes his own clothes out of miff-muffered moof.”

= Du wirst ihn nicht sehen
und klopfst lieber nicht.
Er haust ganz oben bei schummrigem Licht.
Er lugt durch die Ritzen. Im kalten Mief
näht er seine Lumpen,
vermuffelt und schief.

(“You will him not see
and knock better not.
He lives at the top in dim light.
He peeks through the cracks. In cold stale air
sews he his rags,
vermuffelt and crooked.”)
Hmm. She didn’t even try to translate “Lerkim.” Not as many made-up words, but it does give the feeling of the Once-ler’s Lerkim.

“And on special dank midnights in August,
he peeks
out of the shutters…”

= Doch an schwülen Tagen um Mitternacht
wird oben der Sehschlitz größer gemacht.

(“But on humid days at midnight
will over the see-slit bigger make.”)

“tin pail” = Eimer

“nail” = Zwecke

“the shell of a great-great-great-grandfather snail” = das Haus einer Ur-Ur-Ur-Uropaschnecke

Here you can see how it’s changed for the sake of rhyme:
“Then he pulls up the pail,
makes a most careful count
to see if you’ve paid him
the proper amount.”

= Dann zieht er den Eimer
hinauf unters Dach
und zählt seinen Lohn
noch hundertmal nach.

(“Then he pulls the bucket
up to the roof
and counts his reward
a hundred times after.”)

Again, I don’t think the translation has quite the same charm:
“Then he hides what you paid him
away in his Snuvv,
his secret strange hole
in his gruvvulous glove.”

= Dann stopft er das alles
hinein in sein Schmoch:
Im schnorrigen Handschuh
Ein seltsames Loch.

(“Then stuffs he it all
into his Schmoch:
In the schnorrigen glove
A strange hole.”)

“Whisper-ma-phone” = Flüsterfon

SLUPP!
Down slupps the Whisper-ma-phone to your ear
and the old Once-ler’s whispers are not very clear,
since they have to come down
through a snergelly hose,
and he sounds
as if he had smallish bees up his nose.”

= SCHLUPP!
saust das Flüsterfon ran an dein Ohr.
Das Einstler-Genuschel kriecht mühsam durchs Rohr.
Hinab durch die Enge,
und aus seinem Mund
klingt es, als steckten ihm
Hummeln im Schlund.

(“Schlupp!
rushes the Flüsterfon to your ear.
The Einstler-Genuschel crawls laboriously through the tube.
Down through the narrows,
and out of his mouth
sounds it, as if stuck him
Bumblebees in the throat.”)

Ah, and I like this page so much, I have to quote it:

“Way back in the days when the grass was still green
and the pond was still wet
and the clouds were still clean,
and the song of the Swomee-Swans rang out in space…
one morning, I came to this glorious place.
And I first saw the trees!
The Truffula Trees!
The bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees!
Mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze.”

= Lang, lang ist es her, noch grün war das Gras,
die Wolken ganz weiß
und der Teich herrlich nass,
und die Schwippschwäne sangen, der Wind trug es fort.
Da kam ich an diesen herrlichen Ort.
Und ich sah die Bäume!
Die Trüffelabäume!
Hier schaukelten sie auf grüner Wiese
die knallbunten Tuffs in der Morgenbrise.

(“Long, long ago, still green was the grass,
the clouds all white
and the pond delightfully wet,
and the Schwipp-swans sang, the wind carried it away.
There came I to this glorious place.
And I saw the trees!
The Trüffela-trees!
Here swayed they on the green meadow
the brightly colored Tuffs in the morning breeze.”)

Well, it’s getting late, and I haven’t gotten very far. So I will save the rest for another day. May you experience grün Gras, weiß Wolken, und ein Teich herrlich nass.

Review of Knitting Yarns, edited by Ann Hood

August 20th, 2014

knitting_yarns_largeKnitting Yarns

Writers on Knitting

edited by Ann Hood

W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2014. 287 pages.
Starred Review

I normally knit while I read nonfiction (with the help of a Book Chair), and naturally this book was a perfect choice. Twenty-six different authors here present musings about their relationships with knitting. Some are non-knitters, but they, too, have interesting stories to tell.

I love the wide range of experiences in this book. These are excellent authors who know how to make their musings interesting and entertaining. Of course, if you love knitting, that’s not a stretch.

In the Introduction, Ann Hood explains how knitting saved her after her little daughter died, and how this book came about.

This idea for an anthology of writers writing about knitting presented itself when I realized how many writers had told me their own knitting stories. To share those stories with knitters and readers seems not only exciting but necessary. I soon realized that the problem wasn’t going to be getting writers to contribute, but rather to find a way to keep so many knitting stories from flooding my inbox. What you have now is a collection of original essays written by some of the most prizewinning, bestselling, beloved writers writing today….

The impressive collection of writers here have contributed essays that celebrate knitting and knitters. They share their knitting triumphs and disasters as well as their life triumphs and disasters. Some of the essays are about the role knitting plays in the lives of these writers, or of their close family members; some essays are about the curious phenomenon of their interest in knitting but their inability to do it and what that means; some are about the importance of a knitted gift they gave or received; others illuminate the magic of knitting. These essays will break your heart. They will have you laughing out loud. But they will all leave knitters and non-knitters alike happy to have spent time in the company of these writers writing about knitting.

If you love knitting, and musing about knitting, that description will be enough.

I think most knitters tend to think of knitting as a metaphor for life in some way or other. I was surprised at how many different viewpoints, how many different ways of looking at knitting, these authors presented.

When I saw that Jane Smiley’s essay had the caption, “The writer discovers what knitting and writing novels have in common, and why she enjoys doing both,” I happily looked forward to a meditation on how both are constructed with a plan and require patient, faithful work. Instead, Jane Smiley proclaimed that in both endeavors, she thinks if you know how it’s going to look, why bother?

My conclusion: How you approach knitting is, in fact, similar to how a writer approaches writing. I approach both with a plan; Jane Smiley thinks too much planning makes them less interesting.

I went through the whole book at the rate of an essay a day and enjoyed it immensely. There’s nothing like knitting with someone – metaphorically or literally – for making friends. Now that I’m finished, I have to think about the essay I would write if I had the chance.

Would I write about my grandma, who knitted all the time? She had a padded canister with a hole in the top out of which yarn came out neatly, and she sat in her rocking chair in the corner and knitted. I loved the pink cabled sweater she knitted me when I was a little girl, followed by the purple granny square poncho when those were in style. The afghan she gave as a wedding present still graces my bed, even though my ex-husband does not. There was a time when my grandma tried to teach me how to knit, but only crocheting stuck. But all I had was dark brown practice yarn. No wonder I didn’t get inspired. I did, however practice crocheting chains and then learning other crochet stitches. But actually buying more yarn? Following a pattern? For some reason, I never thought of doing that.

I learned to knit as an adult, from a book. My son was taking piano lessons on the top floor of a shop in downtown Belleville. On the first floor, there was a craft shop. I bought a how-to-knit book, and this time it stuck! My first knitted object I wisely abandoned, but the second thing was a sweater for my son, and it actually turned out super cute! What’s more, my second son demanded to hold the books when we read books at bedtime, so my hands were free for knitting.

Before that, my main craft was cross-stitching. But when I finished, I’d never get around to framing the things. And besides, do I really want to stick more things on the wall? And besides, you have to look at the fabric when you’re cross-stitching. Knitting is perfect. Most projects, you don’t have to really look at, and all you have to do at the end is sew up the pieces (Still a problem sometimes), and the completed objects have a use – you can wear them in front of all your friends, who would hardly ever see them if you just attached them to your walls.

People tell me they don’t have enough patience for knitting, but I love knitting because it actually gives me patience! Do you know how boring elementary school assemblies can be (except for the five minutes when your kid is up front)? Well, if I bring knitting, I can quietly get something productive done while listening, and thus sit patiently. No matter how boring a meeting is – It’s a chance to knit! And even in interesting meetings, I maintain that keeping my hands busy helps keep me alert and interested. What’s more, it’s given me an excuse to sit and watch a video, or to sit and read nonfiction, for that matter. I’m not being lazy – I’m knitting!

But where my passion lies now is with mathematical knitting. My first Master’s was in Math, and I taught college-level Math for 10 years. But I didn’t particularly enjoy teaching – I’m an introvert. And I didn’t particularly enjoy teaching people who didn’t want to be there.

I do, however, love Math and think it’s beautiful. And one day I was reading a Knitting magazine and had an idea that changed my outlook.

The article told about a blanket someone had knitted that showed how numbers were factored. They took it to school events and had kids stare in fascination – even kids who thought they didn’t like math and weren’t good at it.

Since then, I’ve found a picture of the blanket posted on the internet, “Counting Pane,” created by Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer, “Mathekniticians.” (Lovely! That’s what I must call myself!)

The only problem was that the article didn’t show a picture of the complete blanket, so it wasn’t clear exactly how they were showing the different factors. But I know enough about math. I could devise my own scheme. And I wouldn’t want to do a blanket. Why not a sweater? Then I could wear it and talk with anyone I see about the beautiful patterns involved.

Figuring out how it would work was a huge part of the fun. I found a plain sweater pattern that had a big enough front to make a suitable canvas. I counted up how many colors I would need if I showed the prime factors of all the numbers from 2 to 100, with 1 as the background color. I did some swatches to figure out how to represent two factors, three factors, four factors, five factors, and six factors, with one stitch in between each color, and each number represented as a rectangle of colors. (It turned out that a 7 stitches by 8 stitches grid worked best.) I had fun charting it all out on graph paper, and then finding a yarn with enough different shades (I chose Cotton Classic), and then getting started.

The Prime Factorization Sweater took me more than a year to make, and then I went on to other things. I did create a DNA cabled scarf for my son, following a pattern in a book, and a probability scarf, also using an idea I’d read about. (You choose six yarns that go together well. You knit the scarf lengthwise. At the end of each row, you roll a die to decide which yarn to use next and flip a coin to decide whether to knit or purl. Use the ends as fringe and stop when one of the yarns runs out.)

Long after I’d finished the sweater, I wrote a blog post explaining it. Three years after that, I wore the sweater to the US Science and Engineering Festival, and showed it to Ivars Peterson at the Mathematical Association of America booth. I told him he could read all about it by googling “prime factorization sweater.” He did one tweet – and that day my website got 17,000 hits!

That got me thinking about mathematical knitting again. At last I’d found some people who agreed with me about how cool it was! The original Prime Factorization Sweater had taken so long, and had so many ends to sew in at the end. Could I think of a way to make one that used complete rows rather than a grid?

I found a sleeve-to-sleeve cardigan pattern and decided to knit the factors as stripes. But before I did that, I did the same idea in smaller form with a Prime Factorization Scarf. For the scarf, I used a reversible stitch and did two rows for each factor, with two rows of black (representing 1) in between. I was only able to go up to 50, so I decided to use something that would knit up smaller for the cardigan. Instead of two rows for each color, since the cardigan did not need to be reversible, for each number that wasn’t an exact power of a prime, I knitted all the factors into the same stripe. Powers got a row for each factor.

But while I was starting the cardigan, some babies joined the family! The cardigan had to be put aside. I used the ideas, with a stitch code (rather than a color code) to make a blanket for my little sister’s new baby with a coded blessing. But when my mathematically-minded little brother was due to become a father, I went back to the prime factorization idea. I used the same Cotton Classic yarn as for my sweater, but this time used entrelac blocks – so I didn’t need to have ten different balls of yarn in the same row, and could work with one color at a time.

I liked the Prime Factorization Blanket so much, I hated to give it away. But that got me thinking – Entrelac is an easy way to make Triangles. What if I made a Pascal’s Triangle Shawl? I loved the result – whole new patterns showed up. And after I made the first one, using the same colors as the Prime Factorization Blanket, I thought I’d make one using colors closer together in shade and using intermingled colors rather than blocks of color. (I may have to do a prime factorization blanket that way some day).

The cardigan is much bulkier, more attention-requiring knitting, so now the Pascal’s Triangle Shawl is my travel knitting and the Prime Factorization Cardigan is my at-home while-reading knitting. (I am almost done! In fact, today I ordered more black yarn and buttons for the edging. The bulk of the sweater is done.)

So, yes, when I think of knitting, I think of planning and counting and calculating. There is an aspect for me of being excited to find out what I’m creating – but as with writing, I need to have a plan.

A few people have told me I should sell my mathematical creations, but they take way too long! And besides, it makes me happy to look at them and to share them with people. (I did create a Prime Factorization T-shirt you can buy from Cafepress. And you don’t even have to worry if you spill on it.)

I was reflecting that I’m not sure if I’m going to go back to knitting-by-pattern. (Though I do use a pattern for the basic shapes of my sweaters.) There’s a huge joy in having an idea and planning it out and creating it, stitch by stitch and row by row and seeing how your creation comes out. And there’s something that delights me in seeing mathematical truths before my eyes.

And what was I doing? Reviewing a book? That’s right. For any knitters out there, I highly recommend Knitting Yarns. It will get you thinking about knitting in whole new ways and maybe inspire you to write an essay yourself.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of Anna Carries Water, by Olive Senior and Laura James

August 15th, 2014

anna_carries_water_largeAnna Carries Water

by Olive Senior
illustrations by Laura James

Tradewind Books, 2014. First published in Canada in 2013. 42 pages.
Starred Review

This is a lovely book that takes a situation that would be unfamiliar to most American children and deals with the universal emotions involved in that situation.

Anna’s family lives way out in the countryside, and they don’t get their water from a tap. Every evening after school, the children go to the spring for water. All her bigger siblings carry the water back to the house on their heads. More than anything, Anna wants to carry the water on her head, like they do.

They tell her not to try – she’ll get her clothes wet. She cries when they are right.

But her siblings aren’t mean about it. They tell her not to worry about it, one day it will just happen. And the rest of the book tells about the day when it does. This also has some humor and a relatable situation.

The lovely bright paintings on large pages make the book beautiful.

This book will make a wonderful choice for preschool storytime, but also for any child who wants to do things the bigger kids can do.

tradewindbooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, by Karen Foxlee

August 14th, 2014

ophelia_and_the_marvelous_boy_largeOphelia and the Marvelous Boy

by Karen Foxlee

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2014. 228 pages.
Starred Review

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a marvelous book indeed.

It begins with a prologue where the Snow Queen has the Marvelous Boy shut into a room. She tells him that when the charm wears off that prevents her from hurting him, she will harm him greatly. But the boy whispers that he will find the sword and the one who will wield it.

Then Chapter One begins, like this:

Ophelia did not consider herself brave. She wasn’t like Lucy Coutts, the head girl in her grade, who once rescued a baby in a runaway stroller and was on the front page of all the papers. Lucy Coutts had heavy brown hair and pink cheeks, and she called Ophelia Scrap, which made everyone laugh, even Ophelia, to show she didn’t mind.

Ophelia didn’t consider herself brave, but she was very curious.

She was exactly the kind of girl who couldn’t walk past a golden keyhole without looking inside.

Ophelia is in a large museum in a city far from home, where her father, an expert on swords, is preparing an exhibit. He brought Ophelia and her sister Alice along, hoping it would help them recover after the recent death of their mother.

But Alice doesn’t want to do anything but sit in her room with headphones on, so Ophelia explores the museum and sees the keyhole.

On the other side of the keyhole, an eye is looking back at her. The boy whose eye it is tells her he comes in friendship and means her no harm. But when he starts telling her his story, the things he says are unbelievable. Ophelia is a member of the Children’s Science Society of Greater London, and she doesn’t believe in magic or wizards or enchantments.

But the boy (who says the wizards took his name for his safety) asks Ophelia for help. He needs her to find the key to the door. To do that, he sends her to the 7th floor of the museum, where the Misery Birds are waiting.

And then the key doesn’t even fit the door! The boy sends Ophelia on a total of three perilous quests before she can get him out. And meanwhile, time is running out and the sinister museum curator seems suspicious, and what’s going to happen to Alice?

I like this book because Ophelia is an ordinary girl who comes through. Here’s why she is sure she can’t help the Marvelous Boy:

Of course she couldn’t save the world. She was only eleven years old and rather small for her age, and also she had knock-knees. Dr. Singh told her mother she would probably grow out of them, especially if she wore medical shoes, but that wasn’t the point. She had very bad asthma as well, made worse by cold weather and running and bad scares. Ophelia thought this should have all been proof that she couldn’t possibly help.

My only quibbles about the book involved world-building. It seems to be our world, since Ophelia lives in London. There is an exhibit on Napoleonic Wars in the museum, and another of a Quaker kitchen, and other exhibits that could only happen on our world. But where on our world, even three hundred years ago, is a land ruled by wizards, or a kingdom where a Snow Queen could get away with making it snow for centuries? And where do Herald Trees or Misery Birds grow? And what year is it supposed to be? Ophelia wears glasses, they fly on an airplane, and people wear jeans and T-shirts, but why are no cellphones mentioned?

I would have had no troubles with the story if it takes place in a different world. But in our world? I’m having a little trouble believing in the magic. Though in some ways, that makes it better, because I share Ophelia’s skepticism. And we totally agree that no adults will believe her. I’m sure children won’t be troubled by these details, and the location of the Snow Queen’s country is left mysterious.

But all in all, this is a wonderful, child-sized adventure. Let’s hear it for ordinary, asthmatic, curious children who manage to save the world.

randomhouse.com/kids

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of Impossible, by Nancy Werlin

August 10th, 2014

impossible_largeImpossible

by Nancy Werlin

Speak (Penguin), 2008. 376 pages.
Starred Review

For ages now, I’ve been meaning to read Impossible, by Nancy Werlin. I keep meeting Nancy at ALA conferences and like her very much indeed, and every time I was embarrassed that I haven’t yet read her work, even though I’ve wanted to since before I ever met her. Part of the problem is that I own a copy of her book, so it doesn’t have a due date, so I don’t get around to it as quickly.

But I like to bring my own books on vacation, and I like to bring paperbacks. So when I left for a week in Oregon, I put Impossible first on my list of books to read on the plane. The only problem with that? When I finished, I liked it so much, I didn’t really want to start another book, since I wanted to savor the one I’d just finished. However, while in Oregon, I visited Powell’s, and bought the two sequels, so now on the way home I can continue to feast on Nancy Werlin’s books.

The premise of Impossible is that the ballad “Scarborough Fair” actually happened and tells of an actual curse that was put on a young woman and her daughters after her, and her daughters’ daughters down through the generations to today. An elfin knight demanded her love, and she could only escape if she performed three impossible tasks. And then, eighteen years later, her daughter must perform the three impossible tasks or be caught in the same curse.

What I love about Impossible? All the reasons why Lucy Scarborough’s case is not hopeless. Even though her mother’s a crazy bag lady, she’s been brought up by warm, loving, and wise foster parents. And there’s a young man who truly loves her. So she doesn’t have to complete the challenges alone.

And the story of how she does so is truly beautiful.

I also like the way this unbelievable, impossible curse is woven into a story of a modern-day believable seventeen-year-old girl with ordinary concerns like being on the track team and going to Prom. I like the way all the characters realistically have a hard time believing it and the modern ways in which they tackle the challenges together.

Most of all, I just love Lucy and the people around her. Nancy Werlin has written a brilliant book about True Love.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember us to all who live there
Ours will be true love for all time.

nancywerlin.com
penguin.com/teens

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, which I got at an ALA Annual Conference.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed

August 1st, 2014

tiny_beautiful_things_largeTiny Beautiful Things

Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

by Cheryl Strayed

Vintage Books (Random House), New York, 2012. 353 pages.
Starred Review

My son sent this book to me, and I love it so much. I love his words in the note that accompanied it: “Dear Sugar is… the sort of creature I am startled and pleased to find existing in the world. Like a Mister Rogers of heartbreak and anguish.”

Dear Sugar is an advice column for The Rumpus. There is a lot of heartbreak and anguish here. Definitely not neat and clean situations.

But Sugar (Cheryl Strayed) handles them all with so much grace! She relates things back to her own difficult life experiences and has much humble, practical wisdom to share. And all along, she addresses people with endearments and makes them feel like they’re okay.

I’m going to give some random quotations from her advice below. Perhaps it will give you the sweet flavor.

It’s going to be difficult, but that’s no surprise. The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light. Look hard. Risk that.

Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word “love” to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.

Trust yourself. It’s Sugar’s golden rule. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.

Writing is hard for every last one of us — straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.

You need to do the same, dear sweet arrogant beautiful crazy talented tortured rising star glowbug.

There will be boondoggles and discombobulated days.

But it will be soul-smashingly beautiful, Solo. It will open up your life.

I have breathed my way through so many people I felt wronged by; through so many situations I couldn’t change. Sometimes while doing this I have breathed in acceptance and breathed out love. Sometimes I’ve breathed in gratitude and out forgiveness. Sometimes I haven’t been able to muster anything beyond the breath itself, my mind forced blank with nothing but the desire to be free of sorrow and rage.

What’s important is that you make the leap. Jump high and hard with intention and heart. Pay no mind to the vision the commission made up. It’s up to you to make your life. Take what you have and stack it up like a tower of teetering blocks. Build your dream around that.

You asked me for practical matchmaking solutions, but I believe once you allow yourself to be psychologically ready to give and receive love, your best course is to do what everyone who is looking for love does: put your best self out there with as much transparency and sincerity and humor as possible.

As you are surely aware, forgiveness doesn’t mean you let the forgiven stomp all over you once again. Forgiveness means you’ve found a way forward that acknowledges harm done and hurt caused without letting either your anger or your pain rule your life or define your relationship with the one who did you wrong. Sometimes those we forgive change their behavior to the extent that we can eventually be as close to them as we were before (or even closer). Sometimes those we forgive continue being the jackasses that they always were and we accept them while keeping them approximately three thousand miles away from our wedding receptions.

I’ll never know, and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.

Isn’t love amazing that way? How it can bend with us through the years? It has to. It must. Lest it break.

Perhaps these give you the flavor. But dip into Tiny Beautiful Things and just see if you can come out again.

cherylstrayed.com
vintagebooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, given to me by my son.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of One Dead Spy, by Nathan Hale

July 31st, 2014

one_dead_spy_largeNathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales

One Dead Spy

by Nathan Hale

Abrams, 2012. 127 pages.
Starred Review

Once again, I’m struck by what a brilliant idea it is to show kids history in graphic novel form.

The frame of this series is pure fantasy. Our hero is Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War spy. Somehow, I’m simply not surprised that he’s the hero chosen by the author Nathan Hale, who was born in 1976.

Before the historical Nathan Hale’s scheduled hanging, there’s a silly sequence about how he comes up with his famous line, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” When he does, a giant book with the title, The Big Huge Book of American History appears and swallows him whole. But then he comes back, having seen hundreds of years into the future of this country.

The executioner asks, “How could you see the future in a history book? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Nathan Hale answers, “A giant book just swallowed me whole. Does that make sense?”

But then, to prove he’s seen the future, Nathan Hale begins telling stories to the executioner and the British officer overseeing the hanging. They decide he can tell more stories before he hangs, which is the premise of the series.

And the stories Nathan Hale tells are true, with plenty of invented dialog and put into comic book form.

This first book tells about Nathan Hale’s life and his service in the Revolutionary War. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. (And it’s not long, either.)

Did you know that Nathan Hale wasn’t actually a very good spy? He got caught on his first mission. But he was involved in some noteworthy exploits before he became a spy. I especially found interesting the way the cannons from Fort Ticonderoga got moved to liberate Boston Harbor, and the way General Washington had a fort built and moved into place in one night.

I love the warning on the back cover:

HAZARD LEVEL: Yellow/ Lethal

Riots, massacre, starvation, fever, theft, spycraft, mercenaries, sea warfare, land warfare, lightning, exploding cows, and death by hanging.

Do you know any school-age kids who can resist such a warning?

hazardoustales.com
amuletbooks.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/one_dead_spy.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey, by Loree Griffin Burns and Ellen Harasimowicz

July 28th, 2014

handle_with_care_largeHandle with Care

An Unusual Butterfly Journey

by Loree Griffin Burns
photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

Millbrook Press, Minneapolis, 2014. 33 pages.
Starred Review

This beautifully photographed book tells the true story of an unusual farm – El Bosque Nuevo, in Costa Rica, where they grow butterfly pupae.

This story begins with a museum in Boston receiving a box full of butterfly pupae which are about to become butterflies. Then it zooms to Costa Rica and shows us the screened greenhouses where the butterfly farmers keep the butterflies.

The book shows all the parts of the process, including feeding the butterflies with crushed bananas and sugar water, searching the leaves for predators, making sure the growing caterpillars get plenty to eat, and gathering the ones almost ready to become pupae.

They explain the stages of an insect’s life. The blue morpho caterpillar grown at El Bosque Nuevo changes its patterns dramatically at each stage of molting.

The pictures show workers sorting hundreds of pupae to send out, shows how they are kept in the museum, and finally shows the wonder of a little girl looking at a newly-emerged butterfly.

For those who want to know more, the back matter is most interesting. This is a nice twist on a simple book about butterflies – shows an actual butterfly farm and the entire process of growing a butterfly.

loreeburns.com
ellenharasimowicz.com
lerneresource.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/handle_with_care.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Sonderling Sunday – Duddler Yarue

July 27th, 2014

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books. And my comments work again this time!

This week, it’s back to my stand-by, the book that inspired me to start Sonderling Sunday, Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, by James Kennedy, otherwise known as The Order of Odd-fish.

Sonderlinge 2

Last time, we left off right around the halfway point, on page 208 in the English version, and Seite 262 auf Deutsch.

Just to set the stage, I’m going to write out the whole first paragraph of this section.

Jo and Ian searched the neighborhood, but they didn’t really know what they were looking for. It wasn’t clear what “Duddler Yarue” would look like, and anyway, the streets were almost deserted. After a half hour of wandering, Jo despaired of ever making any headway, and was ready to give up when they saw an effeminate boy smoking a cigarette on the corner. He watched Jo and Ian idly.

Auf Deutsch:

Jo und Ian suchten das ganze Viertel ab, aber sie wussten nicht einmal genau, wonach sie eigentlich suchen sollten. Es war nicht klar, wie dieser »Duddler Yarue« eigentlich ausschaute, und außerdem waren die Straßen beinahe vollkommen menschenleer. Nachdem sie eine halbe Stunde herumgeirrt waren, glaubte Jo nicht mehr daran, dass sie noch irgendetwas erreichen würden. Sie wollte schon aufgeben, als sie einen etwas affektierten Jungen an der Ecke stehen sah, der eine Zigarette rauchte. Er beobachtete Jo und Ian gelangweilt.

“suspicious” = Verdächtiges

“clue” = Spur (“trail”)

“to boil over” = die Beherrschung zu verlieren (“the mastery to lose”)

“rude” = unhöflich

“street wisdom” = Straßenweisheit

“some guy” = irgendein Bursche

“snapped his fingers” = schnippte mit den Fingern (I just like that one.)

“startled and a little pleased” = erschrocken und zugegebenermaßen auch ein bisschen erfreut
(“frightened and admittedly also a little bit pleased”)

“the sights” = Sehenswürdigkeiten

“secret places” = geheime Orte

“I wouldn’t want you to miss it.” = Ich möchte nicht, dass du das versäumst.

“rather enjoying Ian’s jealousy” = genoss Ians Eifersucht

“teetered back and forth” = zögerte unschlüssig (“hesitated indecisively”)

“turnstile” = Drehkreuz

“Ian bought three tokens and went through properly.”
= Der kaufte drei Münzen und warf sie ordnungsgemäß in den Schlitz.
(“He bought three coins and threw them properly in the slot.”)

And that’s it for tonight! A short one, but it’s nice to get back in the swing of it. After all, Ich möchte nicht, dass du das versäumst.

Review of The Adventures of Superhero Girl, by Faith Erin Hicks

July 27th, 2014

superhero_girl_largeThe Adventures of Superhero Girl

by Faith Erin Hicks
colors by Cris Peter
introduction by Kurt Busiek

Dark Horse Books, 2013. 106 pages.
2014 Eisner Award Winner

I didn’t expect to enjoy this graphic novel as thoroughly as I did. It’s made up of strips from a webcomic about a girl who’s a superhero. She can lift heavy objects and leap over tall buildings, but she can’t fly.

In her ordinary life? She’s pretty ordinary. She’s a young adult in a small town that doesn’t have much crime. She’s got a roommate, and she has trouble paying the rent, because she really needs a day job. She has no tragic catalyst in her life that made her a superhero, and she’s always been in the shadow of her superhero brother, Kevin, who is everybody’s favorite and can fly and has corporate sponsorship and looks like a proper superhero.

Superhero girl has some issues. She forgets to take off her mask sometimes when she’s trying to be an ordinary citizen. She goes to a party with her roommate, trying to set her work aside, and gets caught in the thrall of a supervillain who has the power to make everyone think he’s awesome. Then there’s the skeptic, who’s convinced she can’t be a superhero without a tragic back story or a fancier costume. And don’t get started on the time she washes her cape in the Laundromat and it shrinks.

I like what Kurt Busiek says in the Introduction:

Superhero Girl is about life. It’s about being a younger sister, about being a broke roommate, about needing a job, being underappreciated, getting sick, feeling out of place at parties, being annoyed by people carping when you’re doing your best – all wrapped up in the package of being a young superhero in a small-market city where you’re pursuing your dreams but don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

That’s not parody. There may be elements of parody on the surface, but really, that’s rich, human storytelling. It’s telling the truth through humor, and using the trappings of the superhero genre to universalize it, to turn it into something symbolic, so we can all identify with it, maybe more than we could if SG was a paralegal or a barista or a surgical intern. The superhero stuff is the context, the package, and the humanity and emotion and the humor found in it are the content. The story.

This is a story about a young adult starting out in life, pursuing her dream, and struggling to do so. It’s reading that will make you smile.

superherogirladventures.blogspot.com
darkhorse.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/superhero_girl.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!