Archive for the ‘Readalouds’ Category

Review of The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed, by Helen Cooper

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

boy_who_wouldnt_go_to_bed_largeThe Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed

by Helen Cooper

Dial Books for Young Readers, New York, 1997. First published in Great Britain in 1996.
Starred Review

I’m posting a review of this Old Favorite in response to Travis Jonker’s critique on his 100 Scope Notes blog of the current best-selling children’s book, The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep.

You see, I believe that if you want mesmerizing and hypnotic in a children’s bedtime book, you actually don’t have to sacrifice lovely pictures and beautiful, lilting language.

When my son was a toddler, my then-husband brought this book home after one of his trips to England. It was the British version, so the title was The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed, but all else was the same.

My son couldn’t keep his eyes open when we read this book to him. Before long, he wouldn’t let us read it at bedtime, because he knew full well it would make him fall asleep.

The book starts with the boys mother telling him it’s bedtime. But it’s still light, because it’s summer, and the boy doesn’t want to go to bed.

But the boy revved up his car…
vrrrooom-chugga-chug…
then drove away
as fast as he could,
and the mother couldn’t catch him.

The boy drives into a lavish dreamscape in his little red car, with a determined look on his face.

The boy meets many creatures and things on his journey and asks them to play, but everyone is much, much too tired.

The language is rhythmic and mesmerizing — but definitely not in a boring or didactic way.

He hadn’t driven very far at all
before he met a tiger.
“Let’s play at roaring,”
said the boy.

But the tiger was too tired.
Nighttime is for snoring,
not roaring,”
yawned the tiger.
“Come back in the morning.
I’ll play with you then.”

The pictures have the soft golden light of a long summer sunset.

He sees soldiers too tired to parade any longer. I like the train (with the dreamscape quickly getting darker), and all the toys in the train cars have their eyes closed:

He stopped for a moment
as a train rolled by.
“Race you to the station,” called the boy.

But the train was too tired.
“Nighttime is for resting, not racing,” said the train.
“I’m going home to my depot, and so should you.”

Of course, parents do not need instructions to read all this in a sleepy, tired, drowsy, weary voice.

When he meets musicians, they’re too drowsy to play music for dancing. They suggest that the boy give them a ride home, and they’ll play a lullaby instead.

The musicians played
such a sweet tune
that the sun was lulled
to sleep and the
moon came out.

The boy’s car went slower …
and slower …
and slower …

and soon the musicians were sound asleep.

Then the boy’s car stopped….
It had fallen asleep too.

The boy tries to get help from the moon hanging in the sky, but even the moon is too tired!

“It’s bedtime,”
sighed the moon drowsily.
And even the moon closed her eyes and dozed off.

Soon, the boy is the only one awake, and all the world around him is sleeping.

But there was someone else who was not asleep.
Someone who was looking for the boy …

Someone who was ever so sleepy,
but couldn’t go to bed until the boy did.

It was the mother.
And the boy hugged her.

The picture of the mother holding the boy here is suitable for framing.

The mother trundles and bundles the boy back to bed. With a big yawn, he gives in to sleep. And the last words of the book are:

“Good night.”

One fun thing about the book is that the dreamscape of the boy’s adventures matches the toys and furniture you’ll find in his room.

The language is so lovely, the paintings are magnificently soft and warm and beautiful, and the tired, tired creatures and things will get any little one yawning.

So my suggestion? If you want to hypnotize your child at bedtime, do it with delight. Try The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed. Put some sleepiness in your voice, and I challenge you to stay awake, let alone your little one.

Because, after all, nighttime is for snoring, not roaring; dreaming, not parading; and resting, not racing. Good night!

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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.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise, by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

hoot_owl_largeHoot Owl

Master of Disguise

by Sean Taylor
illustrated by Jean Jullien

Candlewick Press, 2014. 48 pages.
Starred Review

This book makes me laugh out loud — and then I can’t resist reading the whole thing aloud in a dramatic voice. I think I will be booktalking this book with the younger elementary school grades this year. It uses simple sentences and is easy to read, and is brilliantly funny.

The stage is set on the page before the title page:

Watch out!
I am Hoot Owl!
I am hungry.

And here I come!

One by one, Hoot Owl spots a tasty animal. His narration includes dramatizations like this:

The darkness of midnight is all around me.
But I fly through it as quick as a shooting star.

And look there . . .
a tasty rabbit for me to eat.
Soon my sharp beak will be gobbling that rabbit up!

The next page contains a refrain that is repeated with all the objects of Hoot Owl’s desire:

Everyone knows that owls are wise.
But as well as being wise,
I am a master of disguise.

I devise a costume.

Look —

I disguise myself as . . .

With the rabbit, he disguises himself as a carrot. With the sheep, he disguises himself as a mother sheep, with the pigeon, he disguises himself as an ornamental birdbath, and with the pizza, he disguises himself as a waiter. Which one of those disguises do you think works? With which one of those disguises do you think the prey does not go away?

So the final joke is, forgive me, a hoot. But along the way, I love Hoot Owl’s dramatic attitude. The atmospheric lines in between finding prey are wonderful:

The night has a thousand eyes,
and two of them are mine.
I swoop through the bleak blackness
like a wolf in the air.

How can I resist reading this aloud?

And look there . . .

a pigeon stands,
trembling,
afraid that
a dangerous
creature-of-the-dark,
such as an owl,
might be passing by!

When Hoot Owl finally does satisfy his hunger, the world can sleep again…

Until Hoot Owl returns.

candlewick.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/hoot_owl.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.

What did you think of this book?

Review of A Library Book for Bear, by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton

Friday, March 6th, 2015

library_book_for_bear_largeA Library Book for Bear

by Bonny Becker
illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Candlewick Press, 2014. 40 pages.
Starred Review

I do so love the Bear and Mouse books by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton! Just when I thought I couldn’t like them any more, the fifth book is about a trip to the library.

The whole pattern of the book is similar to those that have gone before. The beginning sets the stage:

Bear had never been to the library.
He had seven very nice books at home:
three about kings and queens, three about honeybees,
and one about pickles.
Bear was quite sure he had
all the books he would ever need.

Naturally, it’s Bear’s friend Mouse who convinces him to come to the library. There’s a nice little twist in their method of transportation. (I hadn’t seen Bear leave his house before.)

Bear skated and Mouse rode in the basket to the library, the wind rippling nicely through their fur.

As the pattern with the Bear books inevitably includes Bear getting angry and talking VERY LOUDLY, and since they are, after all, on a trip to the library, readers in the know will be getting ready for a problem.

In this case, there’s a nice paradox in that what Bear bellows is, “QUIET VOICES IN THE LIBRARY!”

I must say that the librarian deals with it beautifully, and it’s no spoiler to say that after enjoying Storytime, bear goes happily home with seven new books, one oh-so-appropriate one of which Bear reads to Mouse that very same day.

Two things are consistently delightful about this series: the illustrations and the language.

The illustrations are cartoons, which always amaze me when they communicate depths of emotion — as these inevitably do. In this book, I especially like the drawing of the round stepstool with rubberized top — exactly the same kind we use at our library. There are plenty of little details like that, but consistent on every page are the wonderful expressions on faces.

And the language! Bonny Becker does not talk down to kids, and it gives a melodious tone to her books. They simply beg to be read aloud, and I have read them happily to age groups from preschool to third grade. Bear says things like, “Completely unnecessary,” “Most excessive!” “Terribly extravagant!” “I can assure you that pickles are quite interesting!”

Another delightful offering from Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton. How do they keep it up so consistently?

candlewick.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.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Froodle, by Antoinette Portis

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

froodle_largeFroodle

by Antoinette Portis

A Neal Porter Book (Roaring Brook Press), New York, 2014. 32 pages.
Starred Review

I just got back from a vacation in Oregon, where I stayed in the home of my sister and her toddler daughter Alyssa, who is learning to talk and make animal sounds and all those good things. When I read this book, I so wished I could read it to Alyssa! I will have to settle for a Preschool Storytime. Now, it will go over best with kids who already know their animal sounds, so they will know how silly this book is. But no matter what the age, you will certainly find kids repeating the silly, jazzy words.

Here’s the story: All the animals and birds in a particular neighborhood make the normal, expected animal sounds. Until one day, out of the blue, little brown bird decides she wants to sing something new, maybe something silly, like “Froodle sproodle.”

The other birds are upset, especially the biggest bird, Crow. But before long, more silliness slips out, and it begins to spread. Cardinal says, “Ickle zickle! Pickle trickle!” And next thing you know, even the peace-making dove has joined in with “Oobly snoobly!”

Little Brown Bird, Cardinal and Dove continue singing jazzy songs together, until even Crow can’t resist. The neighborhood will never be the same.

What makes this book so fun is that the sayings are admittedly silly. Crow even gives his reason for participating as “Everyone knows there is no such thing as a silly black crow.” But the sayings are also jazzy and catchy, and I’m guessing that kids who hear this book read will be no more able than Crow to resist joining in.

mackids.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/froodle.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.

Review of Shh! We Have a Plan! by Chris Haughton

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

shh_largeShh!

We Have a Plan!

by Chris Haughton

Candlewick Press, 2014. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Chris Haughton’s books are tailor-made for storytime. His style is distinctive and unusual – but the bold and bright colors will show well in the front of the room. And the repetition will have kids quickly chanting along.

The situation is four friends going through a forest. The littlest one sees a lovely red bird. He says, “Hello, Birdie.” The others shush him with the words from the title.

Their plan?

tiptoe slowly
tiptoe slowly
now stop. SHH!

ready one
ready two
ready three . . .

GO!

The pictures show the three sneaking up on the bird with a net, and then landing in a confused heap while the bird flies serenely away.

The same pattern continues a total of three times, with results that will set kids laughing. Finally, the littlest one uses another approach, with very different results.

This is a book that children will quickly learn to “read” themselves. Definitely fun – and there’s also an opportunity for them to notice that bread works better than nets.

madebynode.com
candlewick.com
fsc.org

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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 How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, by John Van Epp, PhD

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

how_to_avoid_falling_in_love_with_a_jerk_largeHow to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk

The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind

by John Van Epp, PhD

McGraw Hill, New York, 2007. 326 pages.
Original title: How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk.
Starred Review

Nine years after my husband left me, I’ve finally started dating again. And I’m finding it’s not for the faint of heart! I’m also finding that I’m so starved for male affection, it’s easy to let my feelings run away with me.

My sister is a Marriage and Family Counselor. For my 50th birthday, to celebrate that I’ve joined some online dating sites, she gave me a copy of this book, which she recommends to clients. Mind you, I haven’t had a date since I read the book, but the ideas make a lot of sense to me, and I’m hoping to get chances to put them into practice.

His promise is that he can help you keep your head when following your heart. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? The basic tool he teaches people to use is the Relationship Attachment Model. Here’s where he describes it (with a helpful diagram):

The five fundamental dynamics are the depth to which you know, trust, rely on, have a commitment to, and have sexual involvement with another person….

Picture a sound system’s equalizer with five up-and-down sliders evenly placed across the face of the board. The slider on the far left represents the extent to which you really know a person. As you move the bar on this slider up over time, you signify a richer, fuller, and more personal knowledge of the other. The next slider represents the range of trust you have for that person. This bar rises to denote a deeper, more positive, confident trust in your partner. The third slider represents the extent to which you rely on this person. Moving this bar up indicates the greater ways you depend on this person to meet your most significant needs. The fourth slider represents the range of commitment you have established with this person. The slider for this dynamic rises to signify greater levels of commitment expressed within your relationship. The final slider, on the far right, represents the degree of sexual touch and chemistry that exists between you and your partner. Elevating this slider signifies increases in the passionate chemistry and sexual contact with your partner….

Not only do these dynamics stand on their own as channels of bonding in your relationships, but they also interact with each other to produce a mix of the overall attachment in a relationship. As soon as you imagine some of the sliders up and some down, you immediately gain a sense of the mixed nature of love and attachment. In the same way that the controls on your equalizer affect the different tones of the overall sound of your music, the blend of the different levels of these five bonding relationship dynamics produces the “sound” of your attachment.

When all five are at the top level, the feelings of attachment are strongest. But when even one is low, attachment is weakened and your feelings of closeness become mixed. You are easily confused, hurt, and doubtful. The balance of all five bonding dynamics determines the healthiness of your relationship and the clarity of your perspective on your partner.

Here lies one of the most important keys to building a healthy relationship: keep a balance among the five relationship dynamics. Whenever the relationship dynamics shift out of balance with each other, you will feel unsafe, experiencing feelings of hurt, betrayal, confusion, mistrust, unfairness, anger, loneliness, or any combination of these. But when you keep these five dynamics in balance with each other so that you are not moving further ahead in one area than in any of the others, then you are securely planted in the safe zone.

There is one basic rule for guarding the safe zone: never go further in one bonding area than you have gone in the previous. This rule is based on the view that the five bonding dynamics have a specific order and logic to them: what you know about a person determines the degree you should trust him or her; this trust directs you in choosing what personal needs you can rely on him or her to meet; you should become committed only to the extent that you know, trust, and depend on that person; and finally, any degree of sexual involvement is safest when it matches the context of the overall intimacy reflected in the levels of the other four dynamics.

Slipping out of the safe zone explains the most common mistake people make in relationships: when the levels of the five dynamics are out of balance, then the emotional bond becomes unhealthy, and you tend to overlook crucial characteristics of the other person that should be exposed and explored. Thus, your love becomes truly blind. Or without knowing why, you wind up rationalizing characteristics and experiences that create a vague sense of unease.

This is by no means all that’s in the book. In fact, there’s almost too much detail. I felt like the author went on and on about what you need to know. But he continued with each of the relationship dynamics, explaining ways to strengthen that area, and providing plenty of examples and counterexamples. And the nice thing is that the big picture message is clear and easy to visualize.

And lest you think this model won’t work or is impossible to carry out, the author refers to multiple studies that back up his views on how to build a healthy and happy relationship.

Definitely food for thought. I hope I will get to try it out!

johnvanepp.com
mhprofessional.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 sister on my 50th birthday.

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 Don’t Say a Word, Mama, by Joe Hayes

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

dont_say_a_word_mama_largeDon’t Say a Word, Mamá

No Digas Nada, Mamá

by Joe Hayes
illustrated by Esau Andrade Valencia

Cinco Puntos Press, 2013. 40 pages.

Here’s a charming story told in both English and Spanish, and one that’s worth telling in either language.

Rosa and Blanca’s mother has always been proud of how good her daughters are to each other. When they grow up and each grow a garden, each wants to share her bounty with her beloved sister.

First, when their tomatoes harvest in abundance, each sister goes to Mamá and tells her plans to share her windfall with her sister.

Of course, Blanca took some of her tomatoes to her old mother too. She told her, “My poor sister Rosa has a husband and three children. There are five to feed in her house. I have only myself. I’m going to give half of my tomatoes to my sister. But it will be a surprise. Don’t say a word, Mamá”

Both sisters have the same idea, and they don’t even notice the other sneaking to their house in the dark. Mamá sees, but she’s sworn to secrecy.

In the morning, when the tomatoes have mysteriously multiplied, each sister decides to give some of the overflowing tomatoes to her mother.

Mamá now had a very big pile of tomatoes in her kitchen. She shrugged her shoulders. “Oh, well,” she said, “you can never have too many tomatoes.”

The same thing happens when the corn is harvested. But when it comes time to harvest the chiles, Mamá decides that she may not say a word, but she will have to put a stop to the silly charade her loving daughters are carrying out. Because what will she do with all those hot chiles?

This has the humor and charm of a tale worth telling, no matter which language you choose to tell it in.

cincopuntos.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 The Magic Bojabi Tree, by Piet Grobler and Dianne Hofmeyr

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

The Magic Bojabi Tree

by Piet Grobler and Dianne Hofmeyr

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2013. 32 pages.

Here’s a picture book that begs to be read aloud. It’s set in Africa during a drought. All the animals are hungry. They find a tree covered in red, ripe fruit smelling of sweetest mangoes, fat as melons, and juicy as pomegranates. But there is an enormous python twined around the trunk of the tree, holding the branches out of reach. He will only move if they can tell him the name of the tree. And only Lion, the King of the Jungle knows the name of the tree.

One by one, the animals go and ask Lion the name of the tree. One by one, the animals forget on the way back. Finally, tortoise goes slowly and carefully and makes a song of the name of the tree.

This story has plenty of fun in the animals’ attempts to remember “Bojabi” – “Bongani”? “Munjani”? And of course tortoise’s chant will be one that will entice children to join in.

Just right for Storytime.

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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 Old Mikamba Had a Farm, by Rachel Isadora

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Old Mikamba Had a Farm

by Rachel Isadora

Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), 2013. 36 pages.

Old Mikamba indeed has a farm – a game farm on the plains of Africa. The format is the same as singing about Old MacDonald’s farm, but the animals are quite different.

There’s a baboon, with an Ooh-ha-ha. There’s an elephant, with a Baraaa-baraaa. There’s a dassie, with a trill-trill. There’s a warthog, with a Snort-snort. And finally, there’s a lion, with a Roar-roar. Altogether, fourteen African animals are featured with lovely mostly collage illustrations.

A page at the back tells a paragraph more about each of the animals.

This is a lovely twist on a familiar song that is sure to be a hit at Storytime. If fourteen verses gets long, you can always skip some pages, but be sure to always finish off with the lion! And you thought you knew what farm animals were!

penguin.com/youngreaders

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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 Grandma and the Great Gourd, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Susy Pilgrim Waters

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Grandma and the Great Gourd

A Bengali Folktale

retold by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters

A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2013. 32 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a wonderful folktale, marvelously told. The pictures are exquisite, giving the flavor of India. The story is sprinkled with sound effects that aren’t ones native English speakers would naturally use. There’s the repetition of a folktale, and a lovely predictability — with a twist.

This is a book for school age kids, with the text on the long side for preschoolers. With that in mind, the telling is sure to engage their interest.

Here’s how it begins:

Once upon a time, in a little village in India, there lived an old woman whom everyone called Grandma. She loved gardening and had the best vegetable patch in the village.

Grandma lived by herself in a little hut at the edge of the village, next to a deep, dark jungle. At times she could hear herds of elephants lumbering on forest paths, thup-thup-thup, or giant lizards slithering over dry leaves, khash-khash.

She didn’t mind because she had two loyal dogs, Kalu and Bhulu, to protect her. They also helped her with garden chores.

When Grandma crosses the deep, dark forest to visit her daughter, she encounters three fierce animals who want to eat her up. But this is how that goes:

Grandma’s heart went dhip-dhip, but she didn’t let the fox see how scared she was.

“If you’re planning to have me for breakfast,” she said, “that’s a terrible idea. See how skinny I am? I’ll be a lot plumper on my way back from my daughter’s house because she’s such a good cook. You can eat me then, if you like.”

“That sounds good!” said the fox, and he let her go.

Of course, to get home after visiting her daughter, and indeed growing plump, Grandma must outwit the tiger, the bear, and the fox. Her plan works on the tiger and the bear, but the fox is more clever and confronts her. However, there’s a lovely satisfying ending, for which the groundwork was laid at the very start.

This has all that’s good about a folktale, including being one you’ll want to tell again and again.

mackids.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/grandma_and_the_great_gourd.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.