Review of Real Love, by Sharon Salzberg

April 17th, 2018

Real Love

The Art of Mindful Connection

by Sharon Salzberg

Flatiron Books, 2017. 305 pages.
Starred Review

I’ll confess right up front that I don’t really feel like I used this book as it was intended – and yet I still got wonderful things out of it.

The book includes meditation exercises at the end of each chapter. They sound like great exercises. I didn’t take up meditation and didn’t do the exercises.

But the book also gave me profound things to think about and things to notice and encouraged me to be more mindful in my everyday life. I’ve got a big list of pages with quotations I’m going to post on my Sonderquotes blog – There’s so much wisdom here!

I hesitate to pick up a book with love in the title, since I live alone and am not in a relationship. This book isn’t just about romantic love, though. It’s about real love, the kind of love that touches your life every single day. Even lovingkindness for people you walk past on the street.

Here’s what the author says in the Introduction:

This book is an exploration of real love – the innate capacity we each have to love – in everyday life. I see real love as the most fundamental of our innate capacities, never destroyed no matter what we might have gone through or might yet go through. It may be buried, obscured from view, hard to find, and hard to trust . . . but it is there. Faintly pulsing, like a heartbeat, beneath the words we use to greet one another, as we ponder how to critique others’ work without hurting them, as we gather the courage to stand up for ourselves or realize we have to let go of a relationship – real love seeks to find authentic life, to uncurl and blossom.

I believe that there is only one kind of love — real love — trying to come alive in us despite our limiting assumptions, the distortions of our culture, and the habits of fear, self-condemnation, and isolation that we tend to acquire just by living a life. All of us have the capacity to experience real love. When we see love from this expanded perspective, we can find it in the smallest moments of connection: with a clerk in the grocery store, a child, a pet, a walk in the woods. We can find it within ourselves.

Real love comes with a powerful recognition that we are fully alive and whole, despite our wounds or our fears or our loneliness. It is a state where we allow ourselves to be seen clearly by ourselves and by others, and in turn, we offer clear seeing to the world around us. It is a love that heals.

And here’s the progression the book follows:

Our exploration begins with that often-forgotten recipient who is missing real love: ourselves. We expand the exploration to include working with lovers, parents, spouses, children, best friends, and work friends, divorce, dying, forgiveness – the challenges and opportunities of daily life. And we move on to exploring the possibility of abiding in a sense of profound connection to all beings, even those around whom we draw strong boundaries or have tried in the past to block. We may not at all like them, but we can wish them to be free (and us to be free of their actions defining us). This vast sense of interconnection, within and without, leads us to love life itself.

I am writing this book for all who find that yearning within to be happier, who dare to imagine they might be capable of much, much more in the matter of love. And I am writing for those who at times suffer in feeling, as I once did, unloved and incapable of changing their fate. My hope is that through this book I can help you cultivate real love, that beautiful space of caring where you come into harmony with all of your life.

Reading a little bit from this book each day left me inspired and energized. Check out the quotes I chose on Sonderquotes, and if those speak to you, there’s a lot more where they came from. This book is about becoming a more loving person.

sharonsalzberg.com
flatironbooks.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 The Art of Storytelling, by Professor Hannah B. Harvey

April 12th, 2018

The Art of Storytelling

From Parents to Professionals

(The Great Courses)

by Professor Hannah B. Harvey

The Teaching Company, 2013. 24 lectures on 12 CDs.
Starred Review

This is another one a friend recommended to me, but I didn’t actually put on hold until I heard him recommend it to someone else. I’d long thought I’d like to listen to one of the Library’s “Great Courses,” but wasn’t sure where to start. So when I heard this one highly recommended, I decided to start there.

One of the best things about listening to these lectures was that I began noticing, more than ever, how many stories fill my days. Shortly after I began listening to the course, a friend told me and a few other people the story of her daughter’s difficult pregnancy. She had us on the edge of our seats and rejoicing with her in the outcome – and I realized she’d done everything right in connecting with her audience and making us feel the emotions along with her. But I wouldn’t have even noticed it was storytelling if I hadn’t been listening to this course.

Now, this material is pretty obviously applicable to my job. After all, I conduct storytimes regularly! Though I do feel strongly about reading books in those storytimes, so I’m not going to switch over to the same form of storytelling she’s talking about – but so many of the ideas and techniques are applicable.

And it’s also applicable to something I’m doing lately – going to classrooms and talking about the Newbery Medal and what it’s like to be on the committee. Listening to that is helping me to focus on connecting with the audience and telling it as a story – not just as a list of facts about the medal. I was even on a county podcast, and the interviewer asked me *why* I would want to do this, and I floundered for a bit – and then thought of a story to tell that explains it – about that moment of thinking a book is so good, I wish I could tell the whole world about it. Being on the Newbery committee, I really get to do that!

But back to this lecture series, the subtitle says “From Parents to Professionals” – the lecturer very much believes this is applicable in board rooms and living rooms both – and I have to agree with her. What’s more, the more I think about it, now that I’m aware of storytelling principles, the more opportunities I am going to find to use storytelling to communicate more effectively.

thegreatcourses.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 Crown, by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

April 7th, 2018

Crown

An Ode to the Fresh Cut

by Derrick Barnes
illustrated by Gordon C. James

Bolden Books (Agate Publishing), Chicago, 2017. 32 pages.
Starred Review
2018 Newbery Honor Book
2018 Caldecott Honor Book
2018 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
2018 Capitol Choices selection

It’s not often that a picture book wins Newbery Honor. Because the Newbery is given specifically for the text. In this case, we can’t write it off as a fluke, because not only did the 2018 Newbery committee think the text of this book was worthy of honor, the 2018 Coretta Scott King committee singled it out for the author’s work. Mind you, it also got honor from the 2018 Caldecott committee and from the 2018 Coretta Scott King committee for the illustrator’s work. So this picture book garnered a truly amazing four Honor awards.

This book is about a black boy getting a haircut. But also about a black boy feeling great about himself.

Here’s what the author says he was trying to do in a note in the back:

Mr. Tony was my barber in the sixth grade. To get to his chair, I rode the Prospect southbound Metro bus to 63rd St. every Thursday, the day of the week my mother would leave eight dollars on the kitchen table so that I could get my hair cut. Walking out of that shop, I never felt like the same kid that went in. I couldn’t wait for Friday morning so that Carmella Swift, my girlfriend, could see how perfect my box was shaped up. I knew she’d bug out about the two parts on the right side of my head, which, in my mind, made me look like Big Daddy Kane. There was no way she’d resist my ruler-straight hairline, a precise frame for my smiling, brown, 11-year-old face. That fresh cut made you more handsome. It made you smarter, more visible, and more aware of every great thing that could happen in your world.

With this offering, I wanted to capture that moment when black and brown boys all over America visit “the shop” and hop out of the chair filled with a higher self-esteem, with self-pride, with confidence, and an overall elevated view of who they are. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins. It’s how we develop swagger, and when we begin to care about how we present ourselves to the world. It’s also the time when most of us become privy to the conversations and company of hardworking black men from all walks of life. We learn to mimic their tone, inflections, sense of humor, and verbal combative skills when discussing politics, women, sports, our community, and our future. And really, other than the church, the experience of getting a haircut is pretty much the only place in the black community where a black boy is “tended to” – treated like royalty.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut focuses on the humanity, the beautiful, raw, smart, perceptive, assured humanity of black boys/sons/brothers/nephews/grandsons, and how they see themselves when they highly approve of their reflections in the mirror. Deep down inside, they wish that everyone could see what they see: a real life, breathing, compassionate, thoughtful, brilliant, limitless soul that matters – that desperately matters. We’ve always mattered.

All the honor this book earned is testimony that the author and illustrator pulled this off with flair.

Every person in the shop will rise to their feet
and give you a round of applause
for being so FLY!
Not really . . . but they’ll look like they want to.

You’ll see it in their eyes.

The first time I read this book, I wasn’t sure who I’d recommend it to besides black and brown boys. But this book is a celebration! It’s going to uplift anyone who reads it. And I, for one, am now in a position where it’s just a little easier to see that kid coming up to the information desk as the living, breathing, compassionate, thoughtful, brilliant, and limitless soul he is.

As with all picture books I review, you really need to check out this book yourself and enjoy the pictures to get the full experience. This one’s highly recommended.

agatepublishing.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 One Dark Throne, by Kendare Blake

April 6th, 2018

One Dark Throne

by Kendare Blake

HarperTeen, 2017. 448 pages.

I read Three Dark Crowns last year for the Cybils awards, so I wanted to find out what happened next. Unfortunately, I had trouble remembering all the characters and all the situations – the author doesn’t do a whole lot of reviewing.

This fantasy series is a cross between a typical fantasy kingdom and The Hunger Games. In this world, each generation three queens are born as triplets. When they come of age, they have a year to kill each other. The one queen remaining at the end of the year will rule the island under the Goddess until she gives birth to triplets herself.

One Dark Throne is the story of what happens after the competitive year starts. Katharine, who has been brought up with the family of Poisoners, the family that has controlled the throne for generations, has drastically changed because of the events at the end of the first book. (I won’t say more, but it’s partly because I didn’t completely remember them.)

Arsinoe, who has been brought up with the naturalists, has surprised everyone – but she is harboring a secret. And Mirabella, who was once considered the certain winner, seems at a disadvantage.

Since the author has made you care about all three queens and the people surrounding each one, the reader definitely doesn’t want any of the queens to die. But they must.

This story was a little more confusing to me, because of the aforementioned forgetting of details from the first book. I’m not crazy about this bloodthirsty island. I’ll say only that people you care about die in this book. However, the story is not finished.

The author has spun an inventive fantasy, a world that’s unique and complex, however bloodthirsty. Because you’re seeing the world of each one of the three queens, there is a large cast of characters, though – which is what makes it difficult to remember details after a year away.

There’s lots of intrigue going on, and she does make you want to find out what happens next. I think I almost want to recommend reading these books when the series is finished, so you aren’t prone to forget the previous book when you start the next – then take them all up in one binge of reading. I do hope that the final volume will make the journey worth it. And I probably won’t be able to resist finding out (depending on how much I’ve forgotten by then).

kendareblake.com
epicreads.com

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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 Which One Doesn’t Belong, by Christopher Danielson

April 5th, 2018

Which One Doesn’t Belong?

A Shapes Book

by Christopher Danielson

Stenhouse Publishers, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review
Mathical Award Winner

I’m reading and reviewing this book during my Newbery year even though it was written in 2016 and isn’t eligible – because it makes my mathematical heart sing!

The idea comes from the old Sesame Street song – “One of these things is not like the other” – except on these pages, all four shapes can be the correct answer!

The book starts with an example and explains why you might have chosen any of the four shapes. (There’s also an emphasis that there’s not just one reason to choose any given shape.)

Here’s the explanation that follows the first example:

On every page of this book, you can choose any shape and say that it doesn’t belong.

The important thing is to have a reason why.

How is your shape different from the others?

What if you had picked a different shape?

While the question is the same on every page, some pages are more challenging than others.

You may need to put the book down to think and come back later.

So when you’re ready, turn the page and decide which one doesn’t belong.

It’s interesting to me that no answers are given – not even on the website. I didn’t figure out a good answer for every shape – I guess I need to keep thinking!

At the back of the book, the author says this:

I made this book to spark conversations, thinking, and wonder.

I hope you will see similarities and differences in unexpected places.

I hope this is a book you will leave open, think about, and return to. I hope you will share it with others.

I hope you will send me your own sets of shapes to challenge me to say which one doesn’t belong.

Find me at talkingmathwithyourkids.com

Sparking conversations! Encouraging critical thinking! Wow!

As a former math teacher, one of my favorite things about this book is the way it teaches there is not only one right answer. And that there might be different reasons for any given answer.

As far as I’m concerned, the Mathical Book Prize was well-deserved. I’m not sure when I’ve been more excited about a math book for kids.

On the website, a parent talks about discussing the book with a four-year-old – and yet the puzzles aren’t boring for an adult with a master’s in math. How often can you say that about a book?

talkingmathwithyourkids.com
stenhouse.com

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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 Mango & Bambang: The Not-a-Pig, by Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy

April 4th, 2018

Mango & Bambang

The Not-a-Pig

by Polly Faber

illustrated by Clara Vulliamy

Candlewick Press, 2016. 135 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a beginning chapter book – four chapters with abundant pictures – that is most unusual and utterly charming.

We first meet Mango Allsorts, a girl who is good at all sorts of things.

She had a nearly black belt in karate, and she could jump off the highest diving board at the swimming pool without holding her nose, use the Sicilian Defense when playing chess, and wiggle her ears while sucking on a lollipop.

She was also learning to play the clarinet. Sometimes the sounds that came out of the bottom were not exactly the sounds Mango had meant when she blew into the top, but Mango knew that she just needed to keep practicing and soon she would be good at that, too.

Mango had a lot of time for practicing; her papa’s long hours balancing meant she had to find her own things to do. Becoming good at those things kept her busy. And being busy was important, living in a very busy city, full of other busy people being good at things.

Because otherwise Mango might have been a little lonely.

It was on a Wednesday that everything changed. It’s important to note that it was a Wednesday. A Wednesday can seem a bit of a humpish, nothing-y sort of day, but even humpish sorts of days can hold the unexpected.

In this case the unexpected was a hump.

As a matter of fact, the unexpected is a tapir who is blocking all traffic in the city, hunkered down on a crosswalk because he thought he saw a tiger.

Mango knows how to be calm and listen. She talks gently to the tapir and invites him to her home for banana pancakes.

It takes much coaxing and reassurance, and some false starts, but Mango gets Bambang to trust her and come home with her for a visit.

Walking home with her new friend, Mango found herself feeling not perfectly certain what having a tapir come to stay might involve.

And that was a very exciting feeling indeed.

The remaining chapters deal with the adventure of having a tapir as a long-term visitor and best friend. First, Bambang finds a pool that suits him, then he deals with a sinister Collector, and finally he gives Mango exactly what she needs to be able to play her clarinet in a concert.

I liked the writing style from the moment I opened the book, and a story about a girl and her friend the tapir is certainly something new. Best of all, the spine of the book has a prominent number 1 on the top, so I’m pretty sure there are more adventures to come.

Beginning chapter books often seem rather boring to adults, since they are generally concerned with everyday things that are important to young children. Well, when the topic is fitting a tapir into those everyday concerns, things rapidly get quite interesting. There are pictures on every spread, and this book provides ample rewards to a reader ready for new adventures.

candlewick.com

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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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Newbery Notes – Getting on the Committee

April 3rd, 2018

It’s time for Newbery Notes! I’m going to try to blog about my time on the Newbery committee. Though we’ll see how long I last – I’m already feeling like any time I’m not reading is time squandered.

But I’m setting my alarm for 30 minutes, and I thought it would be fun to try to blog about the process – WITHOUT mentioning any particular books – each week.

Let’s start with the current stats! I have now received 119 books from publishers. Though 42 of those were advance reader copies – and I’m trying to limit myself to reading published books now that I have so many to choose from. Because any book that is a contender, I will need to read in published form – so might as well start that way. But the point is – there are a lot of books. And I’ve only been receiving books from publishers for a few weeks, and it is only April.

Newbery-eligible books I’ve read so far:
68 Middle Grade books – 14,237 pages
21 Young Adult books – 6,804 pages
111 Picture books – 4,364 pages

Grand total: 200 books even! And 25,405 pages.

And the truth is, I’ve hardly made a dent in the books I’d like to get read. I need to be ruthless and not finish a lot more of the ones I start. (Those totals, by the way include 10 books that I did not finish once I figured out they weren’t really in the running.)

There are 15 committee members. Now what we’re trying to do is get as many books read as possible – to try to catch all the books that should be contenders. And we suggest books to the rest of the committee each month. In fact, I have a book I read much earlier in the year that I think I’m going to reread in published form to figure out if I should suggest it. Suggestions are books that everyone in the committee will read – but we’ve been asked that if we can resist suggesting a book, to do so.

But I was going to talk about how I got on the committee in the first place.

Newbery committee members are all members of ALSC, the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of ALA, the American Library Association.

8 of the committee members are elected by ALSC membership from a ballot of 16 people. The rest are appointed by the ALSC president. I was elected.

But how do you get elected? Well, that’s something of a mystery. Some of my ALA member friends were just discussing on Facebook what factors they take into consideration when voting. I was first on the ballot four years ago, and missed it by 15 votes (out of about 800). At the time, I’d thought that my website of book reviews would make me a natural choice. But apparently not all children’s librarians think that writing a blog is the experience I think it is!

My first step was attending the William Morris Seminar on Book Evaluation. These seminars are offered every two years at ALA Midwinter Meeting, and were designed to train people to be on book and media evaluation committees such as the Newbery committee.

The catch is that you have to apply to go to the seminar. I applied to the first seminar in 2008 – and did not get accepted. I applied again in 2010 – and did not get accepted. I applied again in 2012 – and got to go! The staff of the seminar included committee chairs from several different committees and we practiced discussing books and talked about the requirements, and it was an awesome day.

At the seminar, I did ask how you get on the committee. They encouraged us to put our own names forward – so I did. I nominated myself in 2012 and was on the ballot in 2013 – that’s how long the process is.

But they also said that you have a better chance of getting appointed to the committee if you are active on other ALSC committees. So I spent two years on the Children and Technology committee, two years on the Grant Administration committee, and then served for a year as the chair of the Grant Administration committee.

Then in 2016, I was finally ready to put my name forward again. In the meantime, they’d tightened up the policy – I CANNOT write one word online about any eligible book until after our decision is announced. I also cannot ever say anything about any opinion of the committee – only my own personal opinions.

Well, as it happens, I have 170 book reviews written that I haven’t posted yet – before my Newbery year even started. So I’m looking at it as a year to catch up on posting old reviews. (If I can find time to do so between reading books.) I’m also writing reviews of the books I read – in order to remember them. And I’m writing the reviews before I’ve spoken with *anyone* else about the books – so it is only my own opinion. I can post those reviews after our decision is announced.

In September 2016, they told me that my name would indeed be on the ballot. But I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone until the roster of candidates was officially announced. This time, I asked them when I would be able to tell people (the first time, I’d forgotten to ask that). They said early November. Well, it ended up being the same day we found out who won the national election – so people weren’t terribly interested in my news, but I did make a webpage explaining why people should vote for me.

And, yes, I campaigned. This time, I went to ALA Midwinter meeting and passed out cards. What’s more, that year there was a mini-ALSC Institute going on, so I was able to target ALSC members.

The cool thing about passing out the cards was that these were children’s librarians, and I met some great people. Almost all of them thought being on the Newbery committee would be a wonderful thing, and some asked how I got on the ballot. I hope I inspired others to try in the future!

Voting was mid-March to early April, and on April 12, 2017, I learned I was on the 2019 Newbery committee! You can see it’s a very long process.

And I’ll talk more about the process next week.

Review of Pastrix, by Nadia Bolz-Weber

April 1st, 2018

Pastrix

The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint

by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Jericho Books, 2013. 206 pages.
Starred Review

A big thank-you to my friends Charles and Laura who gave me this book for Christmas after convincing me to read Nadia Bolz-Weber’s next book, Accidental Saints, which was a 2017 Sonderbooks Stand-out. I already had this book checked out from the library, but it was nice to have my own copy to keep and to mark the good parts.

The book is autobiographical, telling how the author went from being an alcoholic on the road to self-destruction to become a Lutheran pastor, or pastrix, as some call her to try to insult her. She has adopted and redefined the term to mean a female ecclesiastical superhero.

She first felt called to be a pastor when she was asked to give the eulogy when a friend hung himself. She looked around and realized this:

These were my people. Giving PJ’s eulogy, I realized that perhaps I was supposed to be their pastor.

It’s not that I felt pious and nurturing. It’s that there, in that underground room filled with the smell of stale beer and bad jokes, I looked around and saw more pain and questions and loss than anyone, including myself, knew what to do with. And I saw God. God, right there with the comics standing along the wall with crossed arms, as if their snarky remarks to each other would keep those embarrassing emotions away. God, right there with the woman climbing down the stage stairs after sharing a little too much about PJ being a “hot date.” God, among the cynics and alcoholics and queers.

I am not the only one who sees the underside and God at the same time. There are lots of us, and we are at home in the biblical stories of antiheroes and people who don’t get it; beloved prostitutes and rough fishermen. How different from that cast of characters could a manic-depressive alcoholic comic be? It was here in the midst of my own community of underside dwellers that I couldn’t help but begin to see the Gospel, the life-changing reality that God is not far off, but here among the brokenness of our lives. And having seen it, I couldn’t help but point it out. For reasons I’ll never quite understand, I realized that I had been called to proclaim the Gospel from the place where I am, and proclaim where I am from the Gospel.

What had started in early sobriety as a reluctant willingness to start praying again had led to my returning to Christianity, and now had led to something even more preposterous: I was called to be a pastor to my people.

This book is about that journey, and is filled with many stories along the way of people touched by God’s grace – including herself (not in a prideful way – when she really needed it).

There’s lovely stuff here, as well as convicting stuff. Nadia Bolz-Weber is a gracious person because she doesn’t claim to have it all together, to be doing everything right, or to have the only right way to God. Her writing helps me see God’s amazing grace manifested in and displayed toward all of God’s children in all their messy glory.

sarcasticlutheran.com
jerichobooks.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 Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, by Ben Blatt

March 28th, 2018

Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve

What the Numbers Reveal about the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing

by Ben Blatt

Simon & Schuster, 2017. 271 pages.

In the final paragraph of this book, Ben Blatt tells us:

The written word and the world of numbers should not be kept apart. It’s possible to be a lover of both. Through the union of writing and math there is so much to learn about the books we love and the writers we admire. And by looking at the patterns, we can appreciate that beautiful moment where the pattern breaks, and where a brilliant new idea bursts into the world.

Anyone who reads that paragraph and knows anything about me will understand that I loved this book. It’s a big data approach to literature, a statistical look at good books.

Seriously, what the author did here was take a huge amount of digitized texts from the classics (award-winning books or books on “best” lists) and from bestsellers and (for comparison) from fan fiction. Then he ran the numbers, asking a wide variety of questions. And discovered some fascinating things.

Do great writers actually use fewer -ly adverbs? Can you tell the difference between books written by women and books written by men simply by the words used? Can you figure out who really wrote a book, the big-name author or the coauthor? Do people follow their own advice (such as leaving out exclamation points and getting rid of “very”)? Are bestsellers getting dumber? Do Americans write “louder” fiction than British writers? Who uses the most cliches? And the one hinted at in the title: What are a writer’s favorite words?

You can probably learn something about what makes good writing from these insights, but mostly they’re just a lot of fun to think about. Who knew, for example, that Danielle Steel has begun 46% of her books with a sentence that refers to the weather? Or that Neil Gaiman’s favorite word is “unimpressed”? But that wouldn’wwwt have made as good a title.

SimonandSchuster.com

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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 When a Wolf Is Hungry, by Christine Naumann-Villemin, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

March 24th, 2018

When a Wolf Is Hungry

by Christine Naumann-Villemin
illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers, 2017. 32 pages.

I have a thing for books where someone gets eaten – or eating gets thwarted. When a Wolf Is Hungry falls into the latter category.

This is a book for sophisticated readers – more for elementary school readers than preschoolers. What’s going on is subtle, and a lot of fun when we finally see what’s happening. Here’s how it begins:

One Sunday morning, Edmond Bigsnout, lone wolf, left his home in the woods with a great big knife in his paw.

Edmond had a hankering for some rabbit.

Not just any ordinary cottontail, though. What he craved was a grain-fed, silky-haired rabbit, one with just a hint of sweetness. A city bunny.

So Edmond heads into the city.

He stopped in front of a tall apartment building.
He checked the names next to the buzzers and found exactly what he was looking for:
Max Omatose, miniature rabbit
5th floor

Oh, Edmond was so happy!
With the point of his knife,
he pressed the button for the elevator.
Ding!

Inside the elevator, he set down the knife and adjusted his bow tie.
(Just because a wolf is hungry, that doesn’t mean he can’t be fashionable.)

But of course, he forgot his knife in the elevator.

A turkey finds the knife in the elevator and says it’s just what she needs to cut this cake. So when Edmond comes back, it’s gone.

So he returns to try again with a chainsaw – and a bear asks to borrow it to trim a hedge on the roof. Similar fate befalls a rope, a big pot, and his barbecue grill. That one is borrowed by a lovely young wolf who thinks he’s a new neighbor.

When he’s had too much and decides to just eat the rabbit with some mustard, there’s a note on the rabbit’s door saying “I’m on the roof.” When the wolf reaches the roof, he finds all the apartment residents he encountered before, including the lovely young wolf. He finds out why they wanted to borrow his things – and let’s just say he makes some new life choices.

This one isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s understated and lovely and a happy ending for everyone.

krisdigiacomo.com
Eerdmans.com/youngreaders

Buy from Amazon.com

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