Archive for April, 2016

Review of Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

seveneves_largeSEVENEVES

by Neal Stephenson
performed by Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron

Brilliance Audio, 2015. 32 hours on 25 discs.

When I told a coworker how much I liked The Martian, he recommended Seveneves. I’d long meant to read some Neal Stephenson, so I took on the project, listening in the car over the course of more than a month. (Fortunately, no one had a hold on the audiobook before I finished.)

First, the good things. This book, like The Martian, has a huge emphasis on technology. Almost all of it is made to sound plausible, with facts given in context and people using actual science to solve their problems.

And they are truly formidable problems! The situation in the book is this: Something (called “the Agent”) from outer space blasted through the moon and blew it into pieces. At first, people just think of it as an amazing curiosity in the night sky. But then a collision happens between two pieces of the moon – and scientists realize that there are going to be more and more collisions until finally, in about three years, the earth’s atmosphere will be filled with meteorites and everything on earth will be incinerated. This “hard rain” will last about five thousand years.

So – the people of earth begin making plans. They’re going to send up pods that can be attached to the International Space Station and try to save humanity by sending people into orbit.

More than half the book concerns these efforts of making a place for humanity to survive on the International Space Station. Then we fast forward five thousand years when their descendants begin to go back to New Earth.

I’m afraid I’m not crazy about this book. But once I’d listened to hours and hours, you can be sure I figured I might as well finish. The book is rather depressing. Besides the 7 billion people who die on earth, there are occasional scenes of gruesome violence. This book doesn’t paint a nice picture of the human race. You’d think with such high stakes, people would work together a little better.

I’m sure the science is well-researched – but I didn’t buy it at every stage. Supposedly the human race survives in space after getting down to seven living women (the Seven Eves). This is with the help of state-of-the-art genetic engineering equipment, but that was still something of a stretch. I also wasn’t sure I believed that after five thousand years there would still be seven distinct races.

And five thousand years later, ready to move back onto the planet, humans are at war with one another. There’s a huge Cold War going on between certain sets of races. Depressing to think that humans would have learned nothing in five thousand years.

Of course, the whole premise of the book runs counter to a Christian world view. Indeed, in the book after the destruction of earth, all religions die out among humans. Because 7 billion people died.

So this is indeed an interesting book because of the technology described. The story does have many moments of tension and amazing but plausible overcoming of great odds. But if you’re looking for heart-warming, definitely look somewhere else.

nealstephenson.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/seveneves.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?

Prime Factorization Coloring Sheets

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

I’ve posted several Prime Factorization Coloring Sheets on my Sonderknitting page lately.

I decided I should try coloring them myself, so I could post a thumbnail of each one. I had a lot of fun doing it, and was reminded of lots of cool properties I discovered from knitting my prime factorization sweater and looking at these charts.

I have a manuscript for a math-related children’s nonfiction book about using math to make codes with colors. Originally, I put several of these charts into the book — but I eventually decided it was a distraction and decided to put them on my website instead.

But they show all sorts of cool things!

First, there’s the ten-by-ten prime factorization chart using ordinary, decimal numbers.

pf_chart_hand_colored_for_blog

Coloring this chart gives you a great feeling for factorization and multiples. I posted about watching a second grader color it. I think of it as more for older kids, who are learning about primes and multiples, or indeed adults, in keeping with the adult coloring book craze. But watching a second grader color it assured me that it can give insights to anyone. (I made the instructions such that you don’t even have to know how to multiply. Just color every second square the color for 2, every third square the color for 3, and so on.)

Now, in my original sweater, I put rows of 8 on the back and rows of 2 and rows of 3 on the sleeves. The prime factorization charts in different bases are the same idea.

First, they give you a feeling for how different bases work.

Here’s the sheet for octal, base 8:

octal_chart_hand_colored_for_blog

You can color it exactly the same way as you did the ten-by-ten chart. Color every second square with the color for 2, every third with the color for 3, and so on. If you take the time to do that, you’ll grasp how the numbers count up to 7 and then use the next digit, since place value in octal gives the ones digit, the eights digit, and the sixty-fours digit.

The chart also makes a good way to translate between octal and decimal. (Though you can just multiply the eights digit times eight and add the ones digit.)

But I enjoy some of the other patterns.

The first, most obvious pattern is that in the decimal chart, the multiples of 5 and the multiples of 2 line up vertically (as well as the multiples of 10, which are both). That’s because 10 = 2 x 5.

In the octal chart, the multiples of 2 line up vertically, since 8 = 2 x 2 x 2. So do the multiples of 4 — each with two factors of 2, and the multiples of 8 — each with three factors of 2.

In the Base 6 chart, as you’d expect, the multiples of 2 and the multiples of 3 line up vertically. (And the multiples of 6, with a factor of 2 and a factor of 3, do as well.)

base_six_hand_colored_blog_size

But it’s also fun what happens to the color for Base Plus One and Base Minus One.

In the 10×10 chart, look at what happens to the color for 11, orange, and the multiples of 11. They go diagonally to the right up the chart: 11, 22, 33, 44, . . .

In the 10×10 chart, 9 is represented by two sections of blue, for 3 x 3. These colors go diagonally up the chart in the opposite direction: 9, 18, 27, 36, . . .

In the 8×8 chart, the octal number 11 is the decimal number 9 — so it is still represented by two sections of blue. But since 9 is one bigger than our base in that chart, the two sections of blue go diagonally up the chart to the right — just like 11 in the decimal chart.

In the octal chart, the color for 7, purple, goes diagonally up the chart to the left, with the octal numbers 7, 16, 25, 34, . . . .

In the 6×6 chart, we’ve got the same patterns, this time with 7 (which is 11 in base six) and 5.

7 (purple) goes diagonally right up the chart, and 5 goes diagonally left up the chart.

And we’ve got the same patterns in a 7×7 Base Seven chart:

base_seven_hand_colored

Notice that since 7 is prime, no colors line up except purple, the color for 7.

And the colors for 8 and 6 go diagonally up the chart.

The Hexadecimal chart in base 16 is even more interesting:

hex_hand_colored_blog_size

Notice how all the multiples of 2 line up vertically, with multiples of 4, 8, and 16 also lined up.

11 in Base 16 is decimal 17, which is brown, and it acts like all the other 11s, going diagonally up and to the right.

1 less than 16 is F = 15, and the blue and green colors for F go diagonally up and to the left.

Before I finish I want to mention one more pattern I noticed from looking at these charts. It’s the familiar trick in Base 10 of the rule for figuring out if any number is a multiple of 9: Just add up the digits, and they will be a multiple of 9.

The reason this works is that 10 is congruent to 1 mod 9.
In base 10, each decimal place represents a number multiplied by a power of 10.
In base 9, that’s going to be the same as multiplying by 1 — so if you add up the digits, you get what the number is congruent to mod 9.

If none of that made any sense to you, just know this:
If you add up the digits of a base 10 number (and if you get a number bigger than 9, add them up again), your result is the remainder you’ll get if you divide the number by 9.

Since multiples of 9 have no remainder when divided by 9 — the digits of multiples of 9 in base 10 always add up to multiples of 9. (And by the same reasoning, the digits of multiples of 3 in base 10 always add up to multiples of 3.)

But you might have noticed when looking at the diagonal colors:

In Base 8, the digits of multiples of 7 always add up to multiples of 7.

In Base 6, the digits of multiples of 5 always add up to multiples of 5.

In Base 7, the digits of multiples of 6 always add up to multiples of 6.
And the digits of multiples of 2 always add up to multiples of 2.
And the digits of multiples of 3 always add up to multiples of 3.
(Use the colors to tell which numbers these are in Base 7.)

In Base 16, the digits of multiples of F (15) always add up to multiples of F.
And the digits of multiples of 5 always add up to multiples of 5.
And the digits of multiples of 3 always add up to multiples of 3.
(Use the colors to tell which numbers these are in Base 16.)

Forgive me, but I think these patterns are Awesome!

Let’s face it, you’ll see them much more clearly if you color the charts yourself!

Download the coloring charts at Sonderknitting!

Happy Coloring!

New Sondy’s Selections Page

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

My church is in the process of building a community resource center, which we will use as our meeting place on Sundays. We also hope to make it a place used by our community, which will include preschool and kindergarten programs.

Every preschool or kindergarten program needs books! As we’re in the process of building, I’m going to slowly make a list of high quality books that I think our church should purchase to have in the classrooms.

I’ll break the lists into three categories — one for preschool, one for Kindergarten, and one for specifically Christian books. There will definitely be some overlap, but this will be based on how I think of them. I’m a little sorry that the “Christian” category won’t be very large. I get books from the public library and don’t encounter as many books for Christians. But I’m starting this page off having just reviewed a wonderful picture book about the life of Jesus, so that will be my first book to post.

I’m going to build these lists slowly, adding to them little by little. If you have suggestions, use this post. I’ll keep the list updated on my new Sondy’s Selections page.

My previous Sondy’s Selections posts and page were my personal top ten lists of books for different age ranges. This new list will be my ideal collection of books for a church preschool and kindergarten.

Happy Reading!

Review of Miracle Man, by John Hendrix

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

miracle_man_largeMiracle Man

The Story of Jesus

by John Hendrix

Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York, 2016. 44 pages.
Starred Review

This is a picture book telling about the life of Jesus Christ, done by an accomplished picture book illustrator.

Now, I personally am not completely crazy about the book, since I have my own conception of Jesus’ story, and there’s some necessary simplification. For example, he gives Andrew’s lines to Peter (the only disciple named in this book, besides Judas) in the story of the feeding of the five thousand.

But the more I look at this book, the more it’s growing on me. John Hendrix makes the characters in the story look like Jews. Jesus looks tough, and his clothes are a little ragged. But the most interesting feature is that he makes the words of Jesus part of the art and larger than life.

The author introduces Jesus like this:

On a day that didn’t seem at all unusual, there came an unusual Man. He looked like any other man, but he was like none who had ever lived before. This Man was God’s son. When he spoke, his words made things happen. His words came . . . ALIVE

[ALIVE is spelled out by butterflies in the illustration.]

The stories told about Jesus include calling the disciples and the miraculous catch of fish, healing a leper, healing the paralytic (after his friends broke through the ceiling), and calming the sea. I especially like the author’s paraphrase of Jesus’ words after he stops the storm:

I am the Son of the living God who made the water and the winds. Did you forget who was in your boat?

The story goes on with the feeding of the five thousand and Jesus walking on the water, including Peter walking on the water. (“Peter, have faith in my feet, not your own.”) Then we come to the Last Supper and Judas’ betrayal.

The crucifixion is mainly alluded to — very tastefully done for a picture book — one page with Jesus carrying the cross and then a grand scene with the heartbroken disciples, and the women in a corner with Jesus’ body, and the very walls of Jerusalem seeming to say, “It seemed the miracles had COME TO AN END.”

Then we have a spread from inside the empty tomb, graveclothes on a ledge, and Jesus outside in the light looking at a butterfly.

But God’s Son, Jesus, the Miracle Man,
had in store one last glorious miracle . . .

I haven’t seen another book about Jesus’ life quite like this one. The word that comes to mind is Majestic.

The Author’s Note at the back explains why John Hendrix wanted to tell this story. I liked hearing that he was fascinated as a child by the words of Jesus in red in his Bible.

You may have heard about the life of Jesus many times before, but my hope is to share the familiar story with you in a new way. Perhaps the best way to experience the Easter story is to momentarily forget about the trappings of religion around it and see the man at the center. In my experience, the story changes when we think of the people who experienced Jesus in person during the time he walked among us. Those people didn’t have a steepled church building or know anything about Christian theology. They simply met a man, some of them for only a brief moment, and they were changed forever.

Most of all, the author’s love for the Miracle Man shines through. This book is a wonderful way to tell children about Him.

johnhendrix.com

Buy from Amazon.com

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

Sonderling Sunday – Jinx in Das Haus des Zauberers

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

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, creating a Very Silly Phrasebook for Travelers.

This week, let’s go back to Jinx, by Sage Blackwood, known in German as Jinx und der magische Urwald.

Jinx

Last time, we finished Chapter One, so this week we’re starting Zweites Kapitel, Das Haus des Zauberers, “The Wizard’s House.”

We’ll look at interesting phrases and how they are translated. My sister’s visiting Germany this week, so bonus points to her if she can think of ways to use these phrases.

The first sentence (its own paragraph) of this chapter is interesting enough to write out in its entirety here:
“And that is how Jinx came to live with a possibly evil wizard and twenty-seven cats in a huge stone house that stood alone in its own clearing, protected by invisible wards that kept monsters out but let some very strange visitors in.”
= So kam es, dass Jinx bei einem möglicherweise bösen Zauberer und seinen siebenundzwanzig Katzen einzog, in ein großes Haus aus Stein, das einsam auf einer Lichtung stand, beschützt von unsichtbaren Wachen, die Monster fernhielten, einige sehr merkwürdige Besucher jedoch einließen.

“a very satisfactory dinner” = ein höchst schmackhaftes Mahl

“pie” always seems to get translated Kuchen, though it’s not really the same thing. (But Kuchen isn’t really the same as “cake,” either.)
“pumpkin pie” = Kürbiskuchen.

“rafters” = Dachbalken

“barrels and shelves” = Fässern und Regalen

“probably something evil” = vermutlich für etwas Böses

“Jinx was annoyed at being laughed at.”
= Jinx ärgerte sich über den Spott.

“hasten the process” = den Prozess beschleunigst

“drop dead” = tot umfällt

“formidable enemy” = einflößender Feind

“Put that nonsense out of your head.”
= Schlag dir diesen Unsinn aus dem Kopf.

Try finding a reason to say this:
“bottle-shaped blob of terror”
= flaschenförmigen Schreckensklecks

“swear word” = Schimpfwort

“chipmunk” = Streifenhörnchen

This is fun:
“worse and worse” = immer schlimmer

“How darling!” = Wie reizend!

“puff” = Lufthauch

“spiral staircase” = Wendeltreppe

“scattering cats” = verscheuchte mehrere Katzen

“a many-colored patchwork skirt” = einen bunten Flickenrock

Now isn’t it lovely to have one word for this?
“mustache of foam” = Schaumschnurrbart

“dragon scales” = Drachenschuppen

“a red polka-dot kerchief” = ein rot getupftes Tuch

“worrying” = nachgrübeln

“wormwood” = Beifuß

“cackled” = gackerten

“suck your soul out with a straw”
= den Menschen die Seele mit einem Strohhalm aussaugte

“stack your bones up crisscross”
= ihre Knochen kreuzweise übereinanderstapelte

“campfire” = Lagerfeuer

“scrubbed” = schrubbte

“night-blooming bindweed” = Nachtblütenwinde

“zipped” = sausten

“hurtling” = brauste

“He saw footprints, hoofprints, and claw prints frozen in the mud.”
= Er sah gefrorene Spuren von Füßen, Hufen und Tatzen im Matsch.

“zooming” = schwindelerregend

“shakily” = mit wackligen Beinen

“Simon flickered irritation at him.”
= Simon funkelte ihn ärgerlich an.

And that’s it for Chapter Two! I hope things won’t get immer schlimmer and you won’t encounter any flaschenförmigen Schreckensklecks. But now if you see a Schaumschnurrbart, you’ll know what to call it.

Review of The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

war_that_saved_my_life_largeThe War that Saved my Life

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
read by Jayne Entwistle

Listening Library, 2015. 7.5 hours on 6 compact discs.
Starred Review
2016 Newbery Honor Book
2016 Odyssey Award Winner
2016 Schneider Family Award Winner

I always try to listen to the Odyssey Award winner, since it is given to the best children’s or young adult audiobook of the year. This year, the winner was also a Newbery Honor book and a Schneider Family Award winner, so I already knew it was something special. First, I got to listen to Echo, which was also a Newbery Honor book but the only Odyssey Honor audiobook. It was so good, it was hard to imagine an audiobook being chosen above it.

Even with that much build-up, when I listened to The War that Saved my Life, I was not at all disappointed. This was one of the few audiobooks that, when I got to the last CD, I brought the book into the house to finish listening, rather than wait until the morning and my next trip to work. It was way too good to wait!

I should say a word about the narrator, Jayne Entwistle. I’ve listened to other books she’s read, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place and >As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust. I always enjoy her distinctive voice. Now, I do enjoy almost all English accents, but Jayne Entwistle does an excellent precocious little girl. And she does a fine job making the voices of the various characters distinctive. In this case, she didn’t need to do as many voices as in The Scandalous Sisterhood, and she put just the right character into each of the voices she did portray.

The story in The War that Saved my Life is heart-wrenching. The story is told by Ada Smith. She’s got a club foot, though at the beginning of the book, she doesn’t know that’s what it’s called. She only knows that her foot is disgusting, according to her Mam, and she’s not to let anyone see her. She must stay in their one-room apartment in London.

It’s bearable for Ada when she has her little brother Jamie to watch over. But as Jamie’s getting old enough to go to school, he’s also old enough to start playing outside. Ada’s heart is torn being alone in the apartment. So she decides to teach herself to walk.

Not long after, they learn that London children are going to be evacuated to the country because bombs will be coming from Hitler. Mam hasn’t decided if she’ll send Jamie. Ada asks about herself.

Mam still didn’t look at me. “Course not. They’re sending kids to live with nice people. Who’d want you? Nobody, that’s who. Nice people don’t want to look at that foot.”

“I could stay with nasty people,” I said. “Wouldn’t be any different than living here.”

I saw the slap coming, but didn’t duck fast enough. “None of your sass,” she said. Her mouth twisted into the smile that made my insides clench. “You can’t leave. You never will. You’re stuck here, right here in this room, bombs or no.”

All of that happens in the first two chapters.

But Ada decides then and there that she will leave with Jamie. Her Mam doesn’t know she can walk, and Ada steals Mam’s shoes and sneaks out with Jamie to get there early on the day the children are evacuated.

Once they’re in the country, Ada and Jamie are indeed the last ones picked. The “iron-faced” woman in charge takes them to the home of Susan Smith. Susan doesn’t want children. She is mourning the loss of her “very dear friend” Becky, who lived with her and kept horses.

There’s still a pony named Butter out in the field, and Ada is fascinated with it. The story that follows shows us clearly how Ada’s life is saved. Susan’s and Jamie’s lives are changed along the way.

Words can’t adequately describe this book and how brilliantly the story is woven. The two short chapters at the beginning prepare us for how deprived Ada is, but it’s more fully revealed as she comes out of the room and copes with the country.

Here’s a bit from their ride on the train:

The buildings ended and suddenly there was green. Green everywhere. Bright, vibrant, astonishing green, floating into the air toward the blue, blue sky. I stared, mesmerized. “What’s that?”

“Grass,” Jamie said.

Grass?” He knew about this green? There wasn’t any grass on our lane, nor nothing like it that I’d ever seen. I knew green from clothing or cabbages, not from fields.

Jamie nodded. “It’s on the ground. Spikey stuff, but soft, not prickly. There’s grass in the churchyard. Round the headstones. And trees, like that over there.” He pointed out the window.

Trees were tall and thin, like stalks of celery, only giant-sized. Bursts of green on top. “When were you in a churchyard?” I asked. What’s a churchyard? I might have asked next. There was no end to the things I didn’t know.

Later on, it seems utterly realistic that, rather than being grateful, Ada gets frustrated and annoyed with all the things Susan tells her, full of words she doesn’t know. When Susan makes a beautiful dress for Ada for Christmas, she has a complete meltdown, unable to feel that something so nice can be for her.

But most of the book is filled with little victories. Ada learns to use crutches. She learns to care for Butter. She learns how to go among people and makes friends.

And the backdrop of all this is the war, which does come even to the countryside. And the looming question of what will happen when Ada has to go back?

This is a beautiful book. Even though I listened to it, I’m going to keep my Advance Reader Copy, because I am going to want to treasure Ada’s story again. I’m sure I’ll notice subtle emotional cues I didn’t catch the first time.

How can I tell children about this wonderful book? I may decide to play up the bombs and spies (Yes, they are both in there). This is ultimately a book about the value found in every person and how love can save your life.

kimberlybrubakerbradley.com
listeninglibrary.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/war_that_saved_my_life.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 audiobook 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 My Two Blankets, by Irena Kobald & Freya Blackwood

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

my_two_blankets_largeMy Two Blankets

by Irena Kobald & Freya Blackwood

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2015. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This is a simply lovely book that poetically shows the reader what it feels like to be an immigrant in a country where you don’t know the language.

On the page where our narrator says, “Nobody spoke like I did,” we see strange shapes coming out of people’s mouths all around.

When I went out, it was like standing
under a waterfall of strange sounds.
The waterfall was cold.
It made me feel alone.

I felt like I wasn’t me anymore.

When I was at home,
I wrapped myself in a blanket
of my own words and sounds.
I called it my old blanket.

My old blanket was warm.
It was soft. It covered me all over.
It made me feel safe.
Sometimes I didn’t want to go out.
I wanted to stay under my
old blanket forever.

She meets a girl in the park. Slowly a friendship develops, with shared activities. Slowly she begins to learn words of her new home.

At night, when I lay in bed
under my old blanket,
I whispered the new words
again and again.

Soon they didn’t sound so cold
and sharp anymore.
They started to sound warm and soft.
I was weaving a new blanket.

The new blanket grows warm and soft and comfortable as the old one.

The metaphor used in this book is cozy and accessible. Readers will feel happy with the immigrant child as she finds joy in her new home. The soft pictures beautifully accompany the text, dipping into the metaphorical when the blankets are described.

We read on the back flap that the author was inspired to write the book by a friendship that developed between her own daughter and a Sudanese child. She teaches aboriginal children in Australian outback communities who use English as their fifth language.

This book is a lovely way to build bridges of understanding.

freyablackwood.com.au
hmhco.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/my_two_blankets.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 Exploring Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

exploring_calvin_and_hobbes_largeExploring Calvin and Hobbes

An Exhibition Catalogue

by Bill Watterson

Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City, 2014. 151 pages.

Can we all agree that Calvin and Hobbes is one of the best comic strips of all time? (I say “one of” because: Peanuts. I don’t even want to decide between them, but the fact that it’s very close says worlds about Calvin and Hobbes.)

This book is a retrospective. It accompanies an exhibition at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Besides a representative (and wonderful) sample of the strips, it’s got an extended interview with Bill Watterson at the front of the book, and includes some strips that influenced him as well as some examples of his early work before Calvin and Hobbes.

In some ways, reading this book is less satisfying than sitting down with one of the old collections. It did make me want to sit down with one of the old collections. It gives you tastes and reminders of this wonderful strip. It brought me back to the 80s when I was a newlywed and the early 90s when I was a young mother. Both my kids read these collections over and over when growing up.

My sister used to tell me when I had kids, they’d end up just like Calvin. And I have to say, if they gained some of Calvin’s curiosity and creativity and divergent thinking, who am I to say that Bill Watterson didn’t have something to do with that?

It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy . . .

Let’s go exploring!

andrewsmcneel.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/exploring_calvin_and_hobbes.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 Two Friends, by Dean Robbins

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

two_friends_largeTwo Friends

Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass

by Dean Robbins
illustrated by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko

Orchard Books (Scholastic), New York, 2016. 32 pages.

Here’s a simple picture book telling a story from history about Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. The two were friends and both lived in Rochester, New York. There’s a statue there showing the two of them having tea. This picture book dramatizes one such occasion, mostly using it as an opportunity to talk about both of their lives and how similar they were.

The language is easy for children to understand:

As a girl, Susan wanted to learn what boys learned.
But teachers wouldn’t let her. . . .

Susan wanted something more.
She read about rights in the United States.
The right to live free.
The right to vote.
Some people had rights, while others had none.
Why shouldn’t she have them, too?

Susan taught herself to give speeches.
Some people liked her ideas about rights for women.
Others didn’t.

The similar language used about Frederick Douglass highlights their similarities.

Frederick grew up as a slave in the South.
Slaves had to do everything the master said, but Frederick wanted something more.
He secretly learned to read and write.
New ideas thrilled him.

Frederick read about rights in the United States.
The right to live free.
The right to vote.
Some people had rights, while others had none.
Why shouldn’t he have them, too?

Frederick escaped from his master and headed north.
He taught himself to give speeches.
Some people liked his ideas about rights for African Americans.
Others didn’t.

Beyond this, there’s basic information about how the two supported each other and were friends. And the pictures are marvelous.

A lovely introduction to the topic of equal rights for young readers.

deanrobbins.net
seanqualls.com
selinaalko.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.

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Review of Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine, by Laurie Wallmark

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

ada_byron_lovelace_largeAda Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

by Laurie Wallmark
illustrated by April Chu

Creston Books, 2015. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Hooray! A picture book biography of Ada Lovelace, a great female mathematician, the person who wrote the first computer program.

Now, for me, I preferred the graphic novel version of fact mixed with fiction found in The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, but this picture book is perfect for kids, firmly establishing that women can be truly great at math and computer science.

As a picture book biography, the book gives many pages to an incident in Ada’s childhood. Here’s the text that begins a section where Ada was trying to invent a flying machine and ended up playing in a cold pond and catching pneumonia:

And with her mother often traveling, Ada was lonely. Her journals, filled with pages of inventions and equations, kept her company.

The best part was when her sketches flew off the page and became real.

The accompanying picture shows birds flying just out of reach, including a mechanical bird. This may be unfortunately misleading – it looks like the book has turned to a book about a magic, rather than a factual biography. In fact, in the rest of the book, the illustrations simply show what’s described. Okay, there’s one exception where Ada was blind for a time from her illness, and we see what she’s imagining as she sits in the corner of the picture with eyes closed. But this flight of fancy is much more clear as a flight of fancy.

I came up with one other complaint. The book talks about Ada using Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine to calculate 12 times 15. The picture shows Ada looking closely at the machine with a completely different number showing. That’s a little confusing.

But those are admittedly minor complaints. The author nicely explains how Ada Lovelace wrote a computer program before a computer actually existed – based simply on Charles Babbage’s plans for one.

The paintings illustrating the book are gorgeous. Except for that one quibble where it’s not clear yet that the illustration is symbolic, they wonderfully accompany the story and shed light on the events, adding variety and interest.

Because Babbage never finished building the Analytical Engine, Ada never got to see her program run. But the influence of her work lives on. More than one hundred years before the invention of the modern computer, Ada had glimpsed the future and had created a new profession – computer programming.

Ada couldn’t know that one day a computer language would be named after her — Ada. And one of Ada’s uses? To guide modern flying machines.

The girl who needed crutches ended up flying after all!

lauriewallmark.com
aprilchu.com
crestonbooks.co

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/ada_byron_lovelace.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?