Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

A running beat

Sunday, 27 March 2011
Cover of Heartbeat

Cover of Heartbeat

26. Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

A bit more than a month ago I discussed Cloud Busting by Malorie Blackman, and said it reminded me of this, so thought I should read this one again.

In both books the narrator uses a school project to understand more about both themselves and the others in their lives. In Cloud Busting that is the poetic tale itself, whereas here it’s the drawing project whereby Annie draws the same apple every day for 100 days. (I’ve thought that might be an interesting project even for someone not as artistic as Annie – ie me – but haven’t followed up on it. I’ve got enough ongoing projects for the time being.)

Another difference is that whereas Cloud Busting is basically about one relationship, Heartbeat is about several, and Annie negotiating her place between them. It’s more of a feel-good piece than the other, but is no less valuable because of that.

Busted Beat

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Cover of Cloud Busting

Cover of Cloud Busting

54. Cloud Busting by Malorie Blackman


Like Heartbeat by Sharon Creech, which I discussed here a couple of years ago, this is told in first person poetry. The topics (beyond the obvious growing in maturity, since both are about young adolescents) are quite different, however. This is a bullying story with a bit of a difference, since it’s told by a guilty ex-bully who in many ways feels he’s got off too lightly.

I’ve given a fair bit away, here, but it’s a very good book and well worth the read.

Free Books!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Eight Hamodia books

Eight Hamodia books

We just got our prize from a Chanuka raffle, and it’s a nice one. Expect reviews of at least some of these in the next few months.

As for free books for the rest of you, I just learned of new ways to access the cornucopia of material available on Project Gutenberg, Librivox and elsewhere. (I’ve recommended both of those sites here many times before.)

E.C. recently recommended a freely downloadable Kindle application for the PC, which you may find useful for paid products or free ones.

Somehow I missed it three months ago when it apparently started, but is now offering random rateable chapters of Librivox books to listen to. Each chapter has a link to the work’s info and download page so that ifwhen you find something you like you can listen to the whole thing. This seems like a great way to find new audiobooks (the RSS feed of what’s newly published is another), which I believe is the intention, but I also enjoyed just listening to what came up, hitting “Next” if I wasn’t interested in what came up. For me, poetry and chapters of old favourites were best for this, but some new random chapters were good to, even without knowing what came before. (This works better with non-fiction than novels, in my opinion.)

Bookending my day

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

I’m off to crochet very shortly, but I have some more books for you. The first I finished on the way to work, the other two I read at work, and I’m quite sure I’ll be perusing some pages later tonight.

41. Skullcaps and Switchblades by David B. Lazerson

It appears this book has been reprinted relatively recently (although my copy says 1999) but it was originally published in 1987 and recounts the author’s experiences as a teacher in what would now (in the UK, anyway) be called the special educational needs (SEN) department of a Buffalo, New York, USA public school during the second half of the 1970s. He seems to have been very effective, although I can’t imagine some of his methods being allowed in schools here and now. Many of his methods and results are still inspirational however.

The period and expected audience does come through in the constant reminders of race issues and how people are just people with different (but generally not badly different) cultural overlays. Again this probably wouldn’t be discussed in the same language now, twenty years later.

42. Leading Lives: Emmeline Pankhurst by David Downing

I hadn’t known so much about the Pankhursts as people, rather than as Suffragette icons before this book, which is short and concise (as aimed at school pupils) but including plenty of interesting detail. I hadn’t even realised Emmeline and her husband Richard had five children, not just Christabel and Sylvia. Her two sons died relatively young, and the third daughter, Adela, doesn’t seem to have been as politically active.

It is mostly about the politics, of course, but I can appreciate the focus on history through personal stories. Most of the time, anyhow!

43. Get Writing!: Write that Poem by Shaun McCarthy

And this one is an introduction for children to the forms of poetry and various approaches to writing one’s own.

Reading fun

Sunday, 6 January 2008

After mentioning it the other day, I had fun with

3. Ffangs The Vampire Bat and the Kiss of Truth by Ted Hughes

by reading it aloud to my housemate last night (all 150 pages of it – my throat was rather dry by the end). It definitely worked better this way than reading it quietly to myself, as I did when I first got it. I mostly remember it as being rather strange and disjointed, but the story worked this time.

There are five main chapters, each with numbered subsections, and the confusion comes about because the first chapter is the story of Attila the hencock. At the end of his chapter he meets Ffangs, and Attila is never mentioned again, with the second chapter is all about Ffangs. In his chapter are introduced (Thomas) Squarg and Sweety Crisp, and the last three chapters are about Thomas (with brief mentions of Sweety). Ffangs comes back right at the end of the book, and apparently there’s a sequel about him, which I haven’t personally found.

What’s fun about reading it aloud is that the book starts out printed as poetry (for what I know of these things, free verse with a repeated refrain) that gradually turns in to printed prose in paragraphs rather than stanzas. I didn’t tell my audience any of this, but at the end I asked her had she noticed any change in the reading, and she hadn’t, which either says my reading wasn’t very good (possible, but I amn’t terrible at reading aloud) or that the shift is quite subtle, which is my preferred answer!

Poetry obviously should be read aloud, but I don’t do so to myself easily, so having the audience was nice. We may have to do that again.

Just Because…

Friday, 4 January 2008

It’s my first week blogging, so I thought I’d keep up having at least one post per day. Still no sign of my new power cable.

I didn’t finish another book yesterday, either (and doubt I will today), but I am resolved that at least one book out of every five should be a Jewish book of some kind (this might or might not include those I read specifically for work, which will, though, make the list), and that I’m going to try harder to commit to reading only (okay mostly) those on Shabbos.

I did get further with Selected Poems by James Fenton while walking to the shops yesterday, however, and he’s inspired me to find some time to learn about Cambodia. That won’t be now! I hadn’t really heard of him before I picked up the book in the airport Borders on Monday, but I really enjoyed the poem on the random page I opened, so it went onto the book token! I have gone through poetry anthologies cover to cover before, but it isn’t what I usually do. (Things like Ffangs The Vampire Bat and the Kiss of Truth aren’t anthologies, after all.)

The coursework isn’t going so well, unfortunately.

Good Shabbos!