Archive for September, 2013

Review of Dodsworth in Tokyo, by Tim Egan

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Dodsworth in Tokyo

by Tim Egan

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013. 48 pages.
Starred Review

Dodsworth and the Duck have been in New York, Paris, London, and Rome. Now they take on Tokyo.

This fabulous series of chapter books for beginning readers introduces a few customs and places from the host cities, while leaving the readers wondering, What will the Duck mess up in this place?

In Tokyo, the duck gets along amazingly well. He finds a kendama, and he is remarkably good at playing with it. But can he really stay out of trouble?

Pictures go along with the story. The characters are animals rather than people, and it’s all done in Tim Egan’s understated cartoon style, but with a Japanese setting.

The duck ran across a row of taiko drums.
The patter of his feet fit the music perfectly.
The crowd cheered.
“Don’t encourage him!” yelled Dodsworth.
The duck grabbed a rope and swung over the festival.
The crowd cheered again.
“This won’t end well,” said Dodsworth.

Hmhbooks.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/dodsworth_in_tokyo.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 Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum, by Meghan McCarthy

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Pop!
The Invention of Bubble Gum

By Meghan McCarthy

A Paula Wiseman Book (Simon & Schuster), 2010. 40 pages.

This nonfiction picture book tells the story of the invention of bubble gum. Walter Diemer, the man who came up with the breakthrough, was actually an accountant in the Fleer candy factory. He started watching a pot for a chemist, and ended up testing out new combinations. He finally found the formula for bubble gum. Pink was the only color he happened to have on hand, so that was the color of the new invention.

This simple story is told with big bright illustrations. It’s true, and it’s about something near and dear to children’s hearts, so this is an excellent choice to get kids interested in nonfiction. Notes at the back tell more about Walter Diemer and facts about gum.

I’m posting this review today in honor of Nonfiction Monday, hosted today at A Mom’s Spare Time.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/pop.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 my own copy, which I got at an ALA 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.

Sonderling Sunday – Momo, Listening

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

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, or, in this case, the English translation of a German children’s book.

This week, I’m going back to one of my all-time favorite books, Momo, written in German by Michael Ende. Last time I covered Momo, I got through the entire first chapter, and also got to explain a little of why I love it so much.

This time, I’m going to dive in, beginning on Zweites Kapitel (“Second Chapter”), Eine ungewöhnliche Eigenschaft und ein ganz gewöhnlicher Streit. The chapter is, however, simply titled “Listening” in English. A literal translation of the German title is “An unusual character and a completely usual dispute.” A little more descriptive, don’t you think?

I like the first sentence, so I’ll quote the entire thing:
Von nun an ging es der kleinen Momo gut, jedenfalls nach ihrer eigenen Meinung.
= “Momo was comfortably off from now on, at least in her own estimation.”

mal mehr, mal weniger
= “sometimes more and sometimes less”

wie die Leute es entbehren konnten
= “what people could spare”

unentbehrlich = “indispensable”

nach und nach = “in time” (“by and by”)

feststehenden Redensart = “stock phrase” (“fast-standing phrase-type”)

unglaublich klug = “incredibly smart”

geheimnisvollen Spruch = “magic spell” (“mystery-full speech”)

And the key word of the book:
Zuhören = “listening”

I like the way the author addresses the reader:
Das ist doch nichts Besonderes, wird nun vielleicht mancher Leser sagen, zuhören kann doch jeder.
= “Anyone can listen, you may say — what’s so special about that?”
(Literally: “That is in fact not special, will now perhaps some reader say, listening can anyone do, actually.”)

Aber das ist ein Irrtum.
= “But you’d be wrong.”

ganz und gar einmalig
= “quite unique”

Momo konnte so zuhören, da? dummen Leuten plötzlich sehr gescheite Gedanken kamen.
= “She listened in a way that made slow-witted people have flashes of inspiration.”
(“Momo could so listen, that dumb people suddenly very clever thoughts came.” — Good thing they didn’t translate it like that!)

Aufmerksamkeit = “attention” (“out-marking-ness”)

Anteilnahme = “sympathy” (“interest-taking”)

ratlose oder unentschlossene Leute = “worried or indecisive people”
(“advice-less or un-closed people”)

Schüchterne = “shy people”

I like the conclusion of this section:
Und wenn jemand meinte, sein Leben sei ganz verfehlt und bedeutungslos und er selbst nur irgendeiner unter Millionen, einer, auf den es überhaupt nicht ankommt und der ebenso schnell ersetzt werden kann wie ein kaputter Topf – und er ging hin und erzählte alles das der kleinen Momo, dann wurde ihm, noch während er redete, auf geheimnisvolle Weise klar, da? er sich gründlich irrte, da? es ihn, genauso wie er war, unter allen Menschen nur ein einziges Mal gab und da? er deshalb auf seine besondere Weise für die Welt wichtig war.
So konnte Momo zuhören!

= “And if someone felt that his life had been an utter failure, and that he himself was only one among millions of wholly unimportant people who could be replaced as easily as broken windowpanes, he would go and pour out his heart to Momo. And, even as he spoke, he would come to realize by some mysterious means that he was absolutely wrong: that there was only one person like himself in the whole world, and that, consequently, he mattered to the world in his own particular way.
Such was Momo’s talent for listening.”

Let’s face it, with this book, it’s not so much about the cool words as that I so love what they say!

Anyway, that was only the “Unusual character” part of chapter two, but I’m trying not to go on so long, so that will do it for tonight!

In honor of Momo, try a little zuhören this week!

Review of Surviving Survival, by Laurence Gonzales

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Surviving Survival

The Art and Science of Resilience

by Laurence Gonzales

W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2012. 257 pages.

Surviving Survival looks at people who have survived traumatic experiences — and looks at how they live the rest of their lives afterward.

Your experience of life in the aftermath may be even more dramatic, sometimes more painful, than the experience of survival itself. But it can be beautiful and fulfilling, too, and a more lasting achievement than the survival that began it all. What comes after survival is, after all, the rest of your life.

Many of the people whose stories he tells survived horrific experiences. They range from shark attacks and bear attacks to loss of a child or maiming in war. He tells many, many stories, and they don’t all end happily. I found myself getting depressed when he said he needed to balance it out by showing people who did not overcome!

The author doesn’t sugarcoat what these people lived through and now face every day. He explains why the aftermath is so difficult, and looks at many different strategies that work for these people as they live out the rest of their lives.

This book is mostly fascinating. And though I sincerely hope I will never face trauma at the level of the author’s examples, everybody faces smaller traumas throughout their lives. And the author shows techniques that can help you recover from those traumas and live a fruitful life.

One insight that struck me early on involved my vestibular migraines. I had a stroke a year and a half ago. It was in my cerebellum, the center of balance, and was manifested by the room suddenly spinning. After the stroke, I started getting, for the first time in my life, vestibular migraines. They aren’t headaches, but the mechanism is similar to migraine headaches. But instead of head pain, I get a vague dizziness. And it reminds me of nothing so much as my stroke. And that scares me.

This book explained to me why that’s so, why it’s going to take a long time before that’s not a perfectly normal reaction. Here he’s talking about someone who was shipwrecked and witnessed the deaths of her friends.

Much of what the brain does is unconscious. It works behind the scenes to forge memories of what is dangerous and what is beneficial so that in the future we can respond correctly and automatically. During her crisis, Debbie’s brain was working overtime to map out those memories in preparation for the next assault. In the brain, the cardinal rule is: future equals past; what has happened before will happen again. In response to trauma, the brain encodes protective memories that force you to behave in the future the way you behaved in the past. Any sight, sound, or smell, any fragment of the scene in which you were threatened, can set off that automatic behavior. The trouble was that in all likelihood, Debbie would never again face a similar hazard. It is rare to be shipwrecked…. In other words, Debbie’s natural and normally useful systems for forming important memories were working on a job that had no practical value. Indeed, those systems were working to make her miserable.

And that’s not the only effect of trauma. Laurence Gonzales examines many, many cases, and looks at people with varying degrees of coping. At the end of the book, he summarizes what he’s learned about rising above survival and living well after trauma.

This book is fascinating like a train wreck, but it throws in good insights for living along the way.

wwnorton.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/surviving_survival.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.