Archive for November, 2013

Review of God Believes in Love, by Gene Robinson

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

God Believes in Love

Straight Talk about Gay Marriage

by Gene Robinson
IX Bishop of New York

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2012. 196 pages.

Here’s a thoughtful, intelligent, personal, and thoroughly Christian presentation on why it’s time to make marriage legal for gays and lesbians.

Now, I come from a very conservative background. I grew up thinking the Bible was pretty clear that homosexuality is sinful. As I’ve grown up, though, I (obviously?) have far more gay and lesbian friends and co-workers, and I wonder. It was actually a sermon series on controversial issues in my own church that helped me see maybe the Bible is not so clear on that topic after all.

But this book helps me see intellectually what my heart had already figured out. That we’re calling things sinful that God almost certainly doesn’t call sinful.

I appreciate that Gene Robinson does take a Christian approach. He doesn’t say that God is wrong in this area. He very much feels that gay marriage can be God-honoring.

Usually when I review a book on issues, I present snippets from different arguments. This book does present well-thought out arguments that address most issues I’ve seen presented in, say, Facebook posts against gay marriage. But I don’t want to present sections out of context. When I do that, I often get arguments back, as if the quotation is all there is to say, and can be too easily refuted. Let me just encourage you, if you’re honestly interested in this question, of whether Christians can legitimately support gay marriage, to read this book and give it plenty of thought and prayer. I’m glad I did.

I will simply quote from the bishop’s summing up at the end:

I believe in marriage. I believe it is the crucible in which we come to know most deeply about love. It is in marriage that God’s will for me to love all of humankind gets focused in one person. It is impossible to love humankind if I can’t love one person. That opportunity to love one person and to have that love sanctioned and supported by the culture in which we live is a right denied gay and lesbian people for countless centuries. It’s time to open that opportunity to all of us. Because in the end, God believes in love.

aaknopf.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/god_believes_in_love.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 Little Owl’s Orange Scarf, by Tatyana Feeney

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Little Owl’s Orange Scarf

by Tatyana Feeney

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2013. Originally published in the United Kingdom in 2012. 28 pages.

Here’s a fun, simple story that families with knitters will especially enjoy.

Little Owl usually loves surprises. But when Mommy knits him a scarf, it’s itchy. It’s too long. And it’s far too orange.

Little Owl tries hard to lose the scarf, but Mommy always finds it – until the class trip to the zoo.

Then Little Owl gets the fun of picking out yarn for a new scarf. This time, it’s soft and blue. And readers get the fun of spotting where the old scarf ended up.

randomhouse.com/kids

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/little_owls_orange_scarf.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 Hank Finds an Egg, by Rebecca Dudley

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Hank Finds an Egg

by Rebecca Dudley

Peter Pauper Press, White Plains, New York, 2013. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Hank Finds an Egg is a wordless picture book. What makes it utterly charming are the pictures. They are photographs taken of a completely handcrafted scene.

Hank is a little bear, stitched from felt. He finds an egg on the forest floor. The entire forest was made by the artist, with elements that will be important in the plot. We see the nest, up high in a tree, with two eggs still remaining. Hank tries out different ideas for getting the egg back up to its nest, with no luck until the happy ending.

Rebecca Dudley doesn’t change Hank’s facial expression for any of the pictures (except closed eyes when he’s asleep), yet through his body language she manages to convey plucky determination, concentrated effort, pensiveness, and final joy with the result.

The book shows many steps of each process, giving a feeling of motion. There’s so much to talk about here. Without pre-printed words, children will have so much fun telling you what they see.

An adorably cute book without words that will get kids talking.

storywoods.blogspot.com
peterpauper.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/hank_finds_an_egg.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 – Momo, A Usual Dispute

Sunday, November 17th, 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’ll be back with the German classic, Momo, by Michael Ende.

I’ve been busy this weekend, with Sunday my only day off work, so I don’t have a lot of time to spend. But I didn’t want to skip Sonderling Sunday this week, since I missed last week. So here goes!

Last time I looked at Momo, I left off in the middle of Chapter Two, which in German is Eine ungewöhnliche Eigenschaft und ein ganz gewöhnlicher Streit, “An unusual character and a completely usual dispute.” In English, it’s just called “Listening.” We finished the “unusual character” part last time, and now we’re on page 12 in the English version and Seite 21 auf Deutsch. I will dive in with some fun phrases, which I hope will motivate readers to look for this incredibly good book.

auf den Tod zerstritten hatten = “quarreled violently”
(literally, “to the death divided had”)

in Feindschaft lebten = “live at daggers drawn”
(“in enemity live”)

geweigert = “objected”

This one isn’t translated directly, so I’ll do the whole sentence:
Nun sa?en sie also im Amphitheater, stumm und feindselig, jeder auf einer anderen Seite der steinernen Sitzreihen, und schauten finster vor sich hin.
= “So there the two men sat, one on each side of the stone arena, silently scowling at nothing in particular.”
(“Now sat they in the amphitheater, silent and hostile, each on another side of the stone rows of seats, and looked darkly at each other.”)

ein starker Kerl = “a strapping fellow”

mit einem schwarzen, aufgezwirbelten Schnurrbart
= “with a black mustache that curled up at the ends”

mager = “skinny”

verstockt = “stubborn as a mule”

puterrot vor Zorn = “puce with rage”

ballte die Fäuste = “clenching his fists”

Aber da siehst du, Momo, wie er lügt und verleumdet!
=”There you are, Momo, you see the dirty lies he tells?”
(“But there you see, Momo, how he lies and slanders!”)

Kragen = “scruff of the neck” (“collar”)

Spülwasserpfütze = “pool of slops” (“rinsing-water-puddle”)

seiner Spelunke = “lousy inn of his” (“his dive”)

ersaufen = “drown”

Beschimpfungen = “insults”

Schandtat = “assaulting”

Ninos ganzes Geschirr zu zertrümmern = “tried to smash all his crockery”

Krug = “jug”

geschmissen = “threw”

Urgro?vater = “great grandfather”

Schiefen Turm von Pisa = “Leaning Tower of Pisa”

knallroten = “bright red”

Wer nichts wird, wird Wirt. = “This inn is out.”
(I don’t get it, but it comes out literally as: “Who nothing will, will Host.”)

Ah, jetzt wirst du bla?! = “Ah, that’s floored you, hasn’t it!”
(“Ah, now you are pale!”)

Du hast du mich nämlich nach Strich und Faden übers Ohr gehauen
= “You cheated me right, left, and center”
(“You have me namely after line and thread over ear carved”)

Umgekehrt wird ein Schuh draus! = “You’ve got it the wrong way around.”
(“The other way around is a shoe out!” [“The shoe’s on the other foot”?])

hereinlegen = “cheat”

gelungen = “succeed”

geschicktes Feilschen = “skillful haggling”

Pappdeckel = “cardboard backing”

Übervorteilte = “outsmarted”

Getauscht ist getauscht! = “A deal’s a deal.”

Ein Handschlag gilt unter Ehrenmännern! = “We shook hands on it, after all.”
(“A handshake applies under honorable men.”)

jubilieren = “warble”

And to end off the chapter:
Und wer nun noch immer meint, zuhören sei nichts Besonderes, der mag nur einmal versuchen, ob er es auch so gut kann.
=”Those who still think that listening isn’t an art should see if they can do half so well.”
(“And who now still always thinks, listening is nothing special, they wish only once to try, if they it also can do so well.”)

Now we know what to call all those Beschimpfungen we learned from The Order of Odd-Fish. See if you get a chance to use some of these phrases this week!

Review of Star Wars Jedi Academy, by Jeffrey Brown

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Star Wars Jedi Academy

by Jeffrey Brown

Scholastic, Sept 2013. 160 pages.

This is Diary of a Wimpy Kid crossed with Star Wars. It is going to be a huge hit with our library patrons. From the author of Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess comes this graphic novel look at what middle school would be like – if you were training to be a Jedi.

Roan Novachez lives on Tattooine and he’s waiting eagerly for his acceptance to Pilot Academy, when, much to his disappointment, he gets selected by Master Yoda for Jedi Academy instead. Kids used to Star Wars will especially enjoy Roan’s impressions of the characters for the first time.

About Yoda, he says, “Everything up mixed says he, backwards he talks.” He includes translations of the beeps and boops from their droid, and what their Wookiee gym teacher has said this week. It’s all very funny in the context of Star Wars, but it all rings true as to things middle school kids have to deal with – tests, a science project, an election, competition, learning new skills, and navigating friendships. Oh, and making light sabers.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/jedi_academy.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 an Advance Review Copy I got at 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 Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Boxers & Saints

by Gene Luen Yang

First Second, New York, 2013. 2 volumes, 328 pages and 170 pages.
Starred Review
2013 National Book Award Shortlist

Boxers & Saints is a two-volume graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion that took place in China in 1899-1900.

The first volume, Boxers, follows Bao, the third brother in his family and shows his encounter with “foreign devils” and how he becomes an enthusiastic leader of the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist.

Bao receives training from a traveling kung fu master and learns a ritual which enables him and his brother-disciples to transform into the ancient gods of China when they fight. They travel to cleanse and heal China of the foreign devils and the secondary devils — Chinese who have converted to Christianity.

The second volume, Saints, looks at Four-Girl, a Chinese girl who does convert to Christianity, even though she barely understands it. She receives a name (which her family never gave her), Vibiana, when she is baptized.

Though Vibiana doesn’t really understand Christianity, she receives visions of Joan of Arc, and decides to become a maiden warrior, defending against the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist.

The caption on the back reads, “Every war has two faces.” That is the strength of this work. It brings you into the emotions and passions of people on both sides of the conflict. The perspective, in both cases, is from the native Chinese people, and I enjoyed the way when English is spoken, foreign-looking characters are used, since our heroes don’t understand English.

This is a book about war. It is violent and brutal. Our heroes are training to fight and kill. There is much blood, and there are many senseless deaths. It’s not a very cheery book, and no, you can’t call the ending happy.

I like the way both stories had elements of magic realism. Bao had the visions of Chinese gods, and Vibiana the visions of Joan of Arc. The author walks a fine line of letting us see both sides without condemning either side. We see the wild tales each side told about the other — and we can see that, in both cases, they are extreme, designed to stir people up against an enemy. The two stories do intersect, and I don’t think you would ever want to read one without reading the other, which is why I’m reviewing the two together.

This is a powerful look at two sides of a war I knew nothing about.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/boxers_and_saints.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 library books 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 Vader’s Little Princess, by Jeffrey Brown

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Vader’s Little Princess

by Jeffrey Brown

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2013. 64 pages.

This book, along with its companion, Darth Vader and Son will make anyone who’s ever seen Star Wars laugh out loud.

The assumption is what it would have been like if Darth Vader had been a real Dad to his kids. This one looks at life with Leia during the rebellious teenage years. The references to the films, twisting them slightly, are hilarious.

It’s all done as comic panels, so the references to the films are visual as well as quotations placed in a new context.

I like the one where Leia knits her dad a “Cozy” for his helmet. He wears it, looking ridiculous, and thinks, “Just tell her you like it.”

Or, referencing the film: Leia’s sitting down at a table with Darth Vader at the head. He says, “SO, WE MEET AT LAST.” She says to Han Solo, sitting next to her, “Behave yourself, or my Dad will totally kill you.”

On a related note, when Han is frozen in carbonite, Leia’s protesting, “You are so mean! All he did was kiss me!”

I love the way Star Wars is so ingrained in our culture, he can write these comics knowing full well that most readers will know exactly which scenes he’s referring to.

Too funny!

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/vaders_little_princess.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 How To, by Julie Morstad

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

How To

By Julie Morstad

Simply Read Books, 2013. 44 pages.

This picture book reminds me of the classic A Hole Is to Dig, by Ruth Krauss, and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Like A Hole Is to Dig, it looks at everyday things from a child’s perspective, thus making them exceptional.

The text alone doesn’t convey the magic of this book. Each page begins with the words “how to.” We have “how to go fast,” “how to go slow,” “how to see the wind,” “how to feel the breeze,” “how to be a mermaid,” “how to make new friends,” “how to stay close,” “how to disappear,” “how to wonder,” and so much more.

The illustrations are old-fashioned and simple, but so imaginative. On the “how to stay close” page, two girls have braided their hair together. On the “how to make a sandwich” page, kids are lying on top of each other, layered with comforters. On the “how to be faraway” page, a kid is up in a tree.

The book finishes up with exuberant “how to be happy” spreads of children dancing. They forget to mention another way: reading this book!

simplyreadbooks.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/how_to.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 Take Me Out to the Yakyu, by Aaron Meshon

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Take Me Out to the Yakyu

by Aaron Meshon

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2013. 40 pages.

This picture book shows a boy attending a baseball game in America with his pop pop and a baseball game (yakyu) in Japan with his ji ji. In parallel pages, you see how the game unfolds at the two different places – what’s alike and what’s different.

I thought this was fun, because my son got to attend a game in Japan when he was in middle school, and one of his comments was about all the noisemakers in Japan. Sure enough, in this book, the boy’s pop pop gets him a giant foam hand, but his ji ji gets him a giant plastic horn.

There’s a glossary in the back, in case you didn’t catch what all the Japanese words meant, as well as an author’s note explaining some of the differences.

I’ve always liked seeing what little everyday details are the same or different in different cultures, and this book is full of that in the context of a baseball game. Here in Fairfax County, several local elementary schools have Japanese immersion programs, and this book will be perfect for those kids.

KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/take_me_out_to_the_yakyu.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 Bluffton, by Matt Phelan

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Bluffton

by Matt Phelan

Candlewick Press, 2013. 223 pages.
Starred Review

Bluffton is a graphic novel about a fictional friend of Buster Keaton. When Buster Keaton was young, and already a vaudeville star, his family really did vacation at Bluffton, in Muskegon, Michigan, along with a whole group of vaudevillians, complete with an elephant and a zebra.

The book shows what it might have been like for an ordinary kid living in Muskegon, getting to play with Buster Keaton during the summers.

This graphic novel catches the lazy fun of summer, as well as Buster Keaton’s tendency to pranks and tricks. And it imagines what he would have been like to play with. Henry, the ordinary boy in the story, dreams of having an act like Buster.

This book has a lot of heart, and a nice factual foundation. Matt Phelan writes that he has been a Buster Keaton fan since he was a small boy, and his affection comes out in his work.

candlewick.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/bluffton.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!