Posts Tagged ‘Step Up History’

Future Travels

Monday, 21 July 2008

Luna the Moon Bear (teddy)
So I told you I’ve signed up for Travelling Teddy number 2, where one teddy is visiting 15 of us around the world. That teddy is already at his first host, and I’m looking forward to greeting him in a few weeks.

I’ve also now signed up for round 7, which is a group round, where ten of us around Europe are due to each send our teddy representative around the group and around the continent. I’m thinking Luna, here, will be the one to go. I’m about halfway through making her rucksack (how does one travel without a rucksack?); I’ve made the back itself, but still have the button and straps to fit and make.

The actual travelling this round may not begin until September, because of participants being abroad themselves in August. There are still spaces in the round, so go sign up!
Luna the Moon bear (teddy) and her crocheted bag
I hadn’t thought of the fact that an ecru bag won’t photograph well against a black bear, which is why you’re getting two photos. Unfortunately I don’t get the opportunity to take my pics in natural daylight all that often, which would help.

So far Luna’s not due to go to Scotland, so far as I know (although she’d love to) but I should go again someday, and in the meantime I’m reading up.

213. Step-Up Geography: Scotland by Alan Rodgers and Angella Streluk

This covers the physical geography of the country, both internally and in relation to the rest of the British Isles, and then the social and political impact that physical state had and has, as well as the modern impact of history.

214. Step-Up History: Famous Scots by Rhona Dick

The book isn’t bad, but I don’t like it so much as the rest of the series. Many of the featured Scots seem rather arbitrarily chosen, and I either wanted more information or rather less on each. That’s just my opinion, of course.

215. Step-Up History: Robert Bruce by Rhona Dick

I’m a novel reader at heart, and must admit that the thing that struck the greatest chord for me in this book was the context and explanation of the Declaration of Arbroath, as quoted by Jamie Fraser in A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon. I did once upon a time mention Bruce in a project I did for school, but only in the context of a family story, and had to be corrected (before the project was in) as to his first name being Robert. Having this book then might have spared me some blushes! Better late than never, I suppose…

Life Expectations

Sunday, 13 July 2008

So, another week about to begin. I’m taking a break from my Braille practice to write to you. I was mightily confusing myself on Friday by constantly switching back and forth between the Perkins Brailler and my laptop (which I had directly behind the Brailler), and trying to touch-type both of them almost at once. I managed, fairly well, but both were somewhat slowed down. I think it helps that fewer fingers are used on the Brailler, as it helped my fingers decide which was which!

201. Step-Up History: The Indus Valley Civilisation by Rhona Dick

The Indus Valley Civilisation flourished 4-6,000 years ago in an area around the border of modern-day India and Pakistan, but there is a lot that is unknown about it, and this presentation, aimed at children, is nice and clear for an uninformed adult as well.

202. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Books narrated by Death make me think of Terry Pratchett‘s Discworld character, but this book really isn’t so much like the few of Pratchett’s books I’ve read (the flatmate is more keen). Or perhaps it is, in some ways, but at the same time this has to be so much more serious, as set in the Germany of the 1940s in this world, and no other. I cried, but I did laugh, too, in some places, and I could accept the characters, in a setting more messed up for being real than any fiction.

203. My Life in My Hands by Alison Lapper with Guy Feldman

This is a very open and honest autobiography of a woman who is a prestigious enough artist in her own right to have received an MBE for services to art, and yet who is far better known as the subject of a controversial sculpture, and as a participant (with her son Parys) in the BBC‘s series Child of Our Time. This book is more about her life as a disabled woman than specifically as an artist, although since much of her art is to do with her body shape and people’s reaction to it, that is in no way ignored. I would heartily recommend this to those in art, disability, or just in biography in general.

Two hundred books and all’s well

Friday, 11 July 2008

A pretty satisfying day, all things considered.

I have nearly finished the body of Syd Rabbit, and I have begun his tummy cover. This was on the way home, when I didn’t have his stuffing with me, of course, so went on to another part without closing the body up. I meant to finish the body this evening, but other things came up, and it’s a bit late now, as I keep my toy stuffing materials in a drawer in my flatmate’s room. There are plenty of other bits for me to get on with while commuting tomorrow, so I amn’t troubled.

Talking of toys, I’ve just today signed up for TT#2 in the new Travelling Teddy group on Ravelry, and Teddy’s Travels are due to begin in just over a week, so we’ll see how long it takes him(?) to get to me, and then how long he’ll stay. I’ve never done anything like this before, so we’ll see how it goes. My group is all in North America or Australia apart from me, so if he gets here before any of my summer travels (presuming I ever get around to arranging them) he can come some of the way with me before going on.

And speaking of white bears (as apparently TT#2 is), it’s time for us to get to book 200 this year, which I think is cause for a very small celebration. A lot of them are fairly thin books, but I’ve actually read them, so I think they count. (I don’t count the ones I just skim, to get a general idea of the content with.) I amn’t convinced I’m awake enough to say very much in sense, so it might be worth checking back tomorrow if you think you’d want to know more about any of them.

194. Step-Up History: The Great Famine by Feargal Brougham and Caroline Farrell

The Great Famine in Ireland is an important topic, and this book addresses it well. The impact lasts. This book simply reinforced the shock and horror brought home to me last year, when we visited Kilmainham Gaol (which hadn’t been to in years). They have an exhibition about the history of the place, including a chart of the number of inmates every year. Up to the early 1840s in was a few hundred each year, during the famine it shot up to many thousands, and then after the famine it went right back down again. People were imprisoned for vagrancy and ‘minor’ theft of food, not just to get the immediate food, but because they knew they would be fed something in the prison and so put themselves in a position to be placed there.

195. Step-Up History: Children in Victorian Times by Jill Barber

Rich and poor children’s lives were very very different from each other. I can’t get over the idea of children climbing up and down chimneys as small as 23cm x 23cm to clean them. (That’s less than the size of an A4 page, while purposely bringing down soot on top of you.) The rich certainly didn’t live as we do nowadays, but in better off families children went to school all year, were looked after, had food, clothing, shelter and toys. Things did change for poorer people – working conditions were ameliorated, at least officially; education became more available, then free, then compulsory, at least at primary level, but would remain very hard for many.

196. Great Lives: Gandhi by Philip Wilkinson

This is mostly an overview, as it must be at this length, but there is some interesting detail I hadn’t known/thought about before. It is clearly laid out, with pictures that inform and are interesting. The book covers Gandhi‘s entire life, including the significant periods before the struggle for Home Rule/Independence for India.

197. Look Inside: A Victorian House by Richard Wood

In this one the children are practically invisible, but its interest continues. The book in many ways focusses on the servants, as the ones who actually keep the house going.

198. Animal Story: Gorilla Mountain by Dougal Dixon
199. Animal Story: Orang-Utan Rescue by Dougal Dixon
200. Animal Story: Polar Bear in the City by Dougal Dixon

A great but hard-hitting series for fairly young children and up. The Orang-utan book was the saddest by far, for me. Each follows the life of a particular young example of the species, born in the wild and growing up with its mother/family, including the natural growth and experiences experienced together, as well as various interactions with humanity, for both good and evil.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

50. Drawing Now : Eight Propositions by Laura Hoptman

An exhibition catalogue (and more) from the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2002. 26 different artists were put into eight different categories (propositions). I read and perused most of this some months ago, but finished it today. Again, learning more about the state of modern art (and Modern Art).

51. Keeping Pets: Cats by Louise & Richard Spilsbury

I read and discussed the Freshwater Fish volume in this series yesterday, and this one is similarly well put together and written, with the same focus on the needs of the animal for proper care.

52. Great Britons: Leaders by Simon Adams

Each of the twenty ‘great leaders’ receives a double page spread, with chronological details, a picture or two (all in black and white) and a very short biography. On most spreads there is also a box with either an anecdote or a couple of lines on other figures of related interest. They are pretty much all the usual suspects (monarchs up to the modern era, then influential politicians, basically). It does make the effort to include both Scottish and Welsh figures of note, rather than just English (and explains that it isn’t including Irish characters from anywhere on the island).

53. The 1930s Scrapbook by Robert Opie

This is a fascinating series, in large format hardback (the quintessential coffee table book), with very short written explanations on each spread of the commercial packaging and advertising shown, showing how fashions and social feeling changed over the decade or period in question. I really like seeing how similar and different the products, brands and styles of advertising are now and then.

54. Step-Up History: Mary, Queen of Scots by Rhona Dick

This is one of the Scottish-focussed volumes of the Step-Up History series, and gives the details of Mary’s life, including the complicated politics she was involved in her whole life, with the impact that had on what would become the United Kingdom(s), and the other major figures involved. (The kind of stuff I mostly learned from and because of the historical fiction I read, it has to be said!)

Lives in the balance

Monday, 14 January 2008

15. Step Up History: War and Change: Ireland 1918-1924 by Richard McConnell

This is a brave little book, trying to explain such a complicated and controversial section of Irish history without a whole lot of background to the period. It is published to meet the upper years of the primary curriculum in Ireland (the Republic) and Northern Ireland, and to add to that of England, Scotland and Wales, and I can see it being a very useful resource where the topic is being taught, but it would take a very interested child indeed to really understand the politics of the Irish Civil War from any one book. To personalise things just a bit there are brief biographies of Michael Collins and Eamonn de Valera.

16. Animal Story: Lioness Summer by Dougal Dixon

This one is all about personalising a more general story, in this case of wild lions in Africa and the challenges they face to stay alive in the face of hyenas, hunters, mining eating away at their territory, rival males and possible starvation. It tells the tale of a lioness here named Leah who becomes the dominant female of her sisters and her cubs.

More work

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

I like reading at work, although I’m glad the computers seem to be properly usable as of the end of the day. Three more books today, one more of the science books, one related history one for variety, and then a reprint of a short 1930 volume on children’s costume with nice pictures and descriptions from a proper Edwardian lady who (by the sound of her) was about upper middle class and only thought of those below that when she had to. Very clear about her subjective opinions of the outfits and fashions she’s discussing!

7. Step Up Science: Moving and Growing by Louise and Richard Spilsbury

8. Step Up History: Why did Henry VIII marry six times? by John Gorman

9. English Children’s Costume 1775-1920 by Iris Brooke