Posts Tagged ‘Marcus Lehmann’

Ridiculous Avoidance

Friday, 7 November 2008

Still no camera charger, so I can’t show you the handbag I’m making, or the matching corsage (both from Erika Knight’sĀ Essential Crochet, seeing as my flatmate gave me the book and the yarn – both deep purple! – at the same time. to put on my coat when I go out with it. I’m really quite happy with both, although there is some finishing up to do. I’ve bought lining material for the bag, and a friend has offered to sew it all up, so I basically need to decide what to do about a handle for it, and attach a safety pin to the corsage. I did the large size of the pattern for the latter, with a chunky wook (instead of crochet cotton!) so it will perhaps make more of a statement than I meant it to, but I think the pair of items are going to use the two skeins I was given quite well.

There are no visiting teddies here just at the moment, which gives me a few days to sort out charging the camera…

In the meantime, I have been reading a decent amount, although I’m still a couple of weeks behind the book-per-day aim.

276. Foul Play by Tom Palmer

Football fan and wannabe detective who doesn’t mind skipping school for a good clue to the current mystery, Danny is basically a good kid who squabbles with his older sister but gets on well with his father. He gets a bit too personally involved with the strange events happening at the local football stadium one night, however…

This book is absolutely calculated to appeal to reluctant boy readers, but it’s not bad for all that!

277. Akiva by Rabbi Meir Marcus Lehmann

I said a bit about this book last week, in comparing it to And Rachel Was His Wife. I think the main thing I’d add is that the latter is character driven, while this has imparting information and a point of view as its objective. It’s very good for all that.

278. Artist Trading Cards by Leonie Pujol

Maybe when I finish the Masters I could take up ATCs…

279. Graphic Biographies: Martin Luther King Jr by Gary Jeffrey & Chris Forsey

Any other day [than Wednesday – the rest of this post has taken me awhile] I’d ignore the current Politics (with a big ‘P’ – I don’t think one ever can fully ignore small ‘p’ politics), and focus on the ones discussed in this and the following few books, but I think every (American, but not only) politician who mentions dreams in a speech knows their listeners will think of Martin Luther King Jr (and the ‘American Dream’ too), and I am pretty sure Barack Obama wouldn’t mind that today.

280. Graphic Biographies: Harriet Tubman by Rob Shone & Anita Ganeri

It’s rather longer since Harriet Tubman escaped slavery, and helped others both in the journey and the life after slavery. America has had a long struggle towards full equality of all its communities, as has every country out there. I’d be interested to know of some that have really got there, even if only in law. While the explicit (and legal) inequalities Tubman (and King, and Mandela) fought against are now much diminished and more subtle, in many ways that makes them harder to fix.

281. Graphic Biographies: Nelson Mandela by Rob Shone & Neil Reed

So, after all the politics, the series of books is a good one! The graphic story is well told and drawn, and each book has a couple of standard non-fiction style pages before and after it, to give context. I haven’t read the ones on entertainers, many of whose stories, like Mandela’s, have not come to an end yet.

282. Who Was Mary Seacole? by Paul Harrison

Seacole was a visionary front line nurse. More front-line than Florence Nightingale, and well known in her day.

Still wading through all the books to be discussed in this post by Friday, and today’s Sheldon tickled me. (Although it’s now got me thinking that I have no good excuse for not having finished the Braille Primer yet…)

283. Natural Disasters: Forest Fires by Laura Purdie Salas
284. Blazing Bush and Forest Fires by Louise and Richard Spilsbury

Yes, these two are on the same topic. Both are good, and I can’t decide which one to recommend over the other. The first tends to briefly tell the story of a particular memorable fire in history, and from there give facts, whereas the second gives information and then shows example pictures and tales, so it really depends which approach suits your purpose, taste or child.

285. You Wouldn’t Want To Be A Victorian Miner! by John Malam

Quite true, you wouldn’t, especially as a child! This is a most informative, well done series. It’s also reminded me of a film I saw (on television) as a child, but that I can’t find on IMDB. It was about a small mining village in England (or possibly Wales) where the mine was to be modernised, or closed, or something, and the pit ponies were to be killed rather than bringing them back above ground, I think. The local children get very upset about this, and after their protests get them nowhere they go through one of the old unused mine shafts (?) and kidnap the ponies. Being a children’s film it all ends happily, of course, with the ponies allowed a field to retire into. I can’t remember the title or other details, so if anyone has any ideas, I’d appreciate it.

286. I Wonder Why Volcanoes Blow Their Tops and other questions about natural disasters by Rosie Greenwood

The focus here (which surprised me) is not volcanoes, but natural disasters, but all are interestingly described, with bright clear pictures.

287. Waiting for Anya by Michael Morpurgo

My plan is to gradually read my way through Morpurgo’s canon, because he presents big historical (and other) issues in affecting and enthralling stories that children and adults like. This one is set in a French village on the Spanish border during WWII. The adult men went to fight and many are now prisoners of war, including Jo’s father, so the women, children and older or disabled men are getting on with looking after each other and the sheep without them. Apart from this absence the war has stayed away from the village for three years, until a unit of German soldiers is billeted upon them to guard the border, and Jo discovers there are more impacts than he realised.

288. Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy

So, Scarlett is a very troubled twelve-year old who has just been kicked out of her fifth school since her parents split up three years previously. People do seem to recognise that counselling might help, or have helped, but since they only ever threaten her with it (rather than offering it to her) that isn’t going to happen. After cycling through living with her mother, her grandmother, her uncle and her mother again, this city girl’s latest ‘last chance’ is to be sent to her father, his new wife and stepdaughter in a cottage in rural Ireland, and she doesn’t want to go.

289. My Special Brother by Rena Schiff

Far better than I thought it would be (I have to admit to letting the garish cover put me off over the years), this is the slightly fictionalised story of a 1960s Orthodox Jewish family in New York who buck the expectation that disabled babies will be left at the hospital to go straight into care, and bring their youngest son (who has Downs) home to be a beloved member of the family. Thankfully most of these explicit expectations have now been overcome, and there is ever more provision and support for children and adults with disabilities to receive extensive education and live as productive respected members of the community [although there is a lot more for us all to do] but this family worked their way through the prejudices and ignorance, and then allowed their story to be told to explain things to the rest of us. I’m making it sound very worthy – really it’s a good story too.

290. Just Between Friends by Sara Wiederblank

A definite relationships novel, this has four friends in their mid twenties dealing with how their expectations have either not been met, or have been met but still don’t entirely satisfy. One of those frustrating (but often frustratingly real) tales where the reader wants to just make the characters sit down and talk to their spouses or other loved ones!

291. Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age by Raymond Briggs

Fungus the Bogeyman remains my favourite Briggs protagonist, but this is amusing. I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone who didn’t know a bit about the Stone Age already, as most of the story revolves around the anachronisms within our understanding of it.

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Pairs of Books

Friday, 24 October 2008

The month of Jewish festivals is ending, and I’m back at work on Monday, so my flatmate and I are going away for the weekend. Unfortunately I still haven’t found the cable to recharge my camera battery, so unless it turns up while I’m packing there won’t be any pictures, even ones for me (rather than the world), unfortunately.

Guliver Beal is going to move on today, as well. He’s been a great guest, and I’m looking forward to the next teddies when they come my way.

I’ve finally done some more crocheting, although it was a trim I did for a friend‘s knitted garment, so not mine to show you. I hope she likes what I’ve done!

So, for the books. There are five there, because I haven’t yet finished the pair for one of them, but the comparisons can be made already, I think. Hm, what does it say that that’s the pair of physical books, rather than the other four Librivox audiobooks?

271. The Tale of Grandfather Mole by Arthur Scott Bailey
A children’s garden tale, where Grandfather Mole interacts in his iconoclastic way with the other wildlife. I particularly like the way the animals behave as animals – rather than as miniature humans – although they do talk to each other. The reader is Australian (I’m pretty sure), and the author American, although the animals are basically those traditionally found in British literary gardens.

272. The Biography of a Grizzly by Ernest Thompson Seton
This one is more specifically the potentially real tale of a bear’s life. This bear doesn’t speak as a human, although he has a name and some basic emotions. It sounds well researched.

273. Graustark by George Barr McCutcheon
This one came up as a newly completed work on Librivox, and referencedĀ The Prisoner of Zenda as a more famous example of the genre, so I listened to that next, and have now downloaded the sequel. Hopefully the Graustark sequels will come up eventually too. Anyway, they aren’t as similar as I thought they might be, and I greatly enjoyed both.

I didn’t find it that hard to guess many of the upcoming plot points, but it’s hard to know is that partly because the genre has become so classic these days. There are some stereotypes that are not so acceptable these days (particularly the harping on the difficulties of the Princess being both ruler and girl – rarely woman) but that is to be expected over a century later. I just wish I saw less of it in modern novels…

274. And Rachel Was His Wife by Anonymous (ed. Marsi Tabak)
This is a modern classic among Jewish novels, and I’m pairing it with a real classic, that I’ll probably finish this weekend, Akiva by Meir/Marcus Lehmann, since they tell the same tale, of the Talmudic Rabbi Akiva and his wife Rachel, who inspired him to learn and become the great scholar, teacher and leader. Both are working from the somewhat scanty historical record. The Gemara does not set out to tell these people’s life stories; it gives over their teachings, and uses anecdotes from their lives to show specific points. Perhaps because of this, while both books show mostly the same events, Rabbi Lehmann makes his couple about a decade younger when each historical event happens than they are in this book.

This book is written as the occasional journal of a fictional friend of Rachel’s, who changes and grows over the years, and tells the dramatic communal as well as personal events of these important decades. Highly recommended.

275. The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope

This one is another reflective first person account, that shows the emotional impact of the (rather fantastic) events. It deserves to be the classic it is.