Tag Archives: life

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I couldn’t stop right there

And be one traveler long I stood

And looked at the ground

Praying it would swallow me whole

 

Then closed my eyes and spun around and opened my eyes and walked straight ahead and got lost.

 

Has that made all the difference?

How Katie Got a Voice (and a Cool New Nickname)

  • Author – Pat Mervine
  • # of Pages – 26
  • *includes illustrations

How Katie Got a Voice (and a Cool New Nickname) is a story told by a fourth grade classmate of Katie, the new girl in school. Everyone in the school has a nickname related to individual interests and personalities. When Katie comes into the class, the students are eager to involve her in their activities and to learn what is special about her. This proves to be quite a challenge. Katie has significant physical disabilities. How can Katie fit in with her classmates when she can’t even talk? When Katie is introduced to assistive technology, she is finally able to communicate with her new friends. As a result, the students are delighted to see her as a person with many interests and abilities, just like them. Katie knows she is a valued member of the school when she is given her own special nickname.

Just like its theme, there is a very special concept that differentiates between this book and many other books for young readers. Most times stories written for young kids try to emphasize the idea that being different is okay, and go against the idea of herd mentality – a term that describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items. In this case, the book’s starting point is that everyone is different. Miguel, nicknamed “The Punster,” makes up nicknames for kids and staff at school based on what makes them unique (such as Picasso the painter or Tunes the music lover). When Katie shows up he can’t figure out a name for her since she can’t… do anything. Katie doesn’t move or play or talk. She just laughs and looks around. Usually, Katie would be the “special” one, as we often use the word “special” in a negative connotation to hint at disabled kids. However, here her disability specifically is not considered an issue with the kids, they just can’t figure out how to include her in the group. After explaining the issue to her teacher Katie gets sent to a speech therapist, and eventually is connected to a machine that allows her to draw, play music and even talk! The kids, by turn, exclaim out loud that Katie can now participate in their hobbies – reading, painting, playing music, and even cheerleading for the sports team. Now, when they can get to know her, Katie can be given a nickname as well, one that showcases, of course, her uniqueness.

The book How Katie Got a Voice takes a very delicate subject and handles it beautifully. It shows kids that being unique is important, and it also teaches skills such as asking for help and including everyone in the group. When the kids don’t know how to play with Katie or share their hobbies with her they turn to a teacher for help. They don’t avoid Katie, or the problem at hand, and instead choose to actively search for a solution. They want to be able to hang out with their new friend, even if she’s unlike any other kid they’ve met, because that’s what makes kids cool – being different. Moreover, the book had both male and female characters. Many books these days don’t have enough important female characters with actual lines and importance, and so it’s important to start writing well developed characters for both genders in books aimed at kids and young children.

The book’s last pages include some simple tips for kids when dealing with people with disabilities, such as not staring at them or asking about their condition unless they bring it up first. The tips explain that even when someone needs an interpreter or assistant to communicate, you should speak to the person and not the companion, and most importantly, be patient. The author’s website includes a PowerPoint presentation called “Katie’s Lesson in Disability Etiquette,” aimed to help teachers introduce students to the topic.

In conclusion, this is a very good book for kids. It’s relatively short and easy to read, allowing young kids to read it themselves. The illustrations are colorful and very pretty. More importantly, the book deals with many important subjects that parents often don’t know how to bring up with their kids. How Katie Got a Voice can assist parents and teachers in introducing these topics and starting discussions about them with their children. I highly recommend the book both for reading at home, and for reading in class.

*I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for my honest review.

 

Where I Stand – Looking Back, Planning Ahead

The year is nearly over, and with it end a whole list of challenges and begin a whole bunch of other ones. This year, as always, I didn’t reach many of my goals. What usually happens is that I get off to a very good start, and then life gets in the way and by the time the year is over I’ve achieved so much, but not in the categories I planned on succeeding in. This year I read more than one book that was over 500 pages, but I also quit two midway. I planned on completing both 2012 and 2013 Eclectic Reader’s Challenges but finished only one. However, on the way I discovered a hidden love for memoirs, which is really the main idea behind those challenges. I also read two more books from the BBC 100 Book List. I barely passed the halfway mark on my goal of 50 books for the year, but on the other hand I read five books in one week and finally started using my Kindle, after owning one for at least a year and a half prior to use. I’m a to-do list kind of person, but I usually get sidetracked or discover new things and forget old plans, and I always end up somewhere far away from where I thought I’d be in the beginning. I make New Years resolutions, complete barely any, but do so many other things I never dreamed I’d do. All in all, I guess I make up for my failures with unplanned triumphs.

I’ve decided to lower my expectations for 2014. I am now in junior year, which is the hardest year of school, and along with Israel’s mandatory army service I’ve got a busy year of exams, hard work and planning for the future. Instead of taking on too much, I’ll plan for a bit and then see how I proceed.

As I did this year, I still want to retry the 2013 challenge, along with 2014. However, thanks to the Kindle and Goodreads I can now find books I want to read that fit the categories, and not force things in. My 50 books goal seemed achievable around June, but by the start of the school year I knew it was doomed. For 2014 I’ll set it to 35-40, and see how that works.  I also want to try and read more Hebrew. This year I read two books in Hebrew, after originally thinking I’d alternate every other book. That expectation was insane, it’s impossible to go from reading almost no Hebrew to something so intense such as that. Instead, I’ll try and read at least 5-10 this year, and see how that goes.

In terms of blogging, I’d consider this year a success. I started this reading blog without ever having written so much as a book review. I was scared it would fail, that no one would care. I turned out to be wrong. I wrote seven reviews this year, including one I used for a book report that got me a perfect 100. I even reviewed a Douglas Adams book, which I thought I would never be able to do proper justice to. I now have 112 followers (along with a writing blog that has nearly 40) and views from over twenty countries including Pakistan, Egypt, Bermuda, South Africa and more. I’ve had highs and lows this year, with a break during the fall, but my record breaking 29 views on April 16th. All in all, I think it’s gone well for my first year and I’m definitely sticking around. I’d like to do more reviews this year, maybe even come up with memes and post ideas of my own. Again, we’ll see what happens.

“That’s a wrap,” as they say. 2013 was an interesting year. I shared my poetry and short stories in front of a crowd for the first time, had my work showcased in two zines, had a writer write a poem about my work after hearing it and being inspired. I started two short story collection ideas.

My first book for the new year is going to be The Reader by Bernhard Shclink, except I’ll be reading it in Hebrew. In fact, most, if not all of the books I read for January and February will be in Hebrew.

I think I’ll finish this off with a marvelous quote by Zig Zigler that says ““it’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” I hope you’ve all had a great year, and that the coming one is even greater.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

The Joy of Success

It’s nearly eight pm, Monday, the 30th of December 2013 and I have finished my Silence of the Lambs Kindle Edition and with it the 2012 Ecelctic Reader’s Challenge. I was very worried I wouldn’t finish it in time, and the feeling of joy right now is undescribable. There’s not much to say – I just had to share with you all.

Tomorrow I’ll put up my last post for the year – a summary, and plans for the future. I’ve been waiting nearly a week to publish it, I can’t wait!

I just. I’m done. With 2012. I am so happy.

Anyone else do ERC this year? Or last? Or attempt both at once?

And now that I was getting an education I was starting to understand what it meant not to have one.

TJ Parsell, Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man’s Prison

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Long Time No See

Hey everyone. It’s been… a while, to say the least. Life’s been busy and I slowly gave up my book blogging in favor of other crazy things I need to start thinking about now that I’m getting older. However, a couple of days ago I came across a Book Survey by Perpetual Page Turner that I liked, and it got me to thinking about returning. I have to admit I’m kind of worried – I’ve been missing for so long. I’m shocked to discover I’m still getting views – even if they are very few – and that I’m only one follower away from 100. All of this is even cooler because apparently today is my WordPress account’s one year anniversary! So yes, I guess this post signals my return. I don’t know yet if I’m going to return to my nearly daily blogging, or maybe spread out some more, but I’m back. 

Gettin’ Back To Sci-fi

Hey y’all! I know today is Banned Books Week but I also happened to spend three days at a fantasy/sci-fi convention this week and seeing as you’re all probably SWAMPED with Banned Book posts, I’mma choose to discuss the later here for today’s post.

On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I spent my days at the wonderful world known as CONVENTIONS aka Days That Feel Like Magic And Then They’re Over and Real Life Seems Horrible. I met new people, went to panels and lectures about different aspects of sci-fi and fantasy, books, movies and tv shows. It was fascinating, but that’s not what I want to discuss.

This post is mainly about my desire to return to my good ol’ sci-fi/fantasy days. I developed my tendancy to shy away from long or complicated books sometime in the past few years. I used to love reading never-ending, million paged books, whereas today I run away from anything that’s thicker than a pizza crust. This year I’ve been trying to fix that, and I’m currently about 100 pages into a 580 page book. One of the things I’ve lost due to this habit is my love for the two genres mentioned above. I now read mostly mainstream young adult novels, which in my defense are easiest to aquire when looking for English book in a non-English speaking country.

I think my main drive for returning to my old ways is… well… fandom. Yes, it sounds silly but it’s true. I love the feeling of community, and that’s an extremely strong feature for these two genre fans. Harry Potter, Star Trek, Doctor Who… the list goes on and on. I like merchandise, I like conventions, I like stimulating discussions about fictional characters and ideas and situations.  The convention this week has inspired me to start catching up, both film and literature wise. I have a whole new list of authors, books, movies and tv shows to watch. Unfortunately, I don’t have any more free time than I did before so the journey shall be a long one, but hopefully it will be worth it.

My book schedule for the remainder of 2013 is a tight one, due to my attempt at completing TWO ERCs, so major advances in MY NEW CONQUEST TO FALL BACK IN LOVE WITH SCI-FI AND FANTASY will only take place in January. Does anyone want to join? We can do it together. Sort of like a no-commitment, sort-of-book-club-ish-thing? We could decide together on reading material and/or viewing material and discuss it together. This idea is still in its early stages – in fact, I’ve only thought of it just now when I wrote that – but it could work. There are nearly one hundred of you here now (!!!) and if we have participants we can develop it together! Maybe I should provide you all with some of my TBR/TBW(atched) plans:

  • TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (on season two), Agents of Shield (watched pilot yesterday) Firefly, Star Trek, Dollhouse, Game of Thrones
  • FIlm: SerenityBack to the Future, Star Wars, Matrix Trilogy, The Congress
  • Books: Doctor Who novels, I Robot (reread),  Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, American Gods, Brave New World, Farenheit 451, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, Asimov’s Robot Series, The Caves of Steel, Pandemonium (Daryl Gregory), Blindsight, Tea From an Empty Cup, Neuromancer, The futurological Congress

So, what do you guys think? Wanna join me? Lemme know in the comments. I’m actually kind of excited about this idea! Expect a follow-up post going into more detail, maybe plans of an all-genre-every-book-ever book club sometime in the future? We’ll see. For now I leave you all with this post and this list. It’s very… demanding, and it’ll take time, but I’m good at listing and planning is always a good start! This post has kind of gone off track and is very different from my original post idea but I think it’s wound up okay.

So, that’s a wrap. Book club? Maybe. Sci-fi/fantasy comeback? Definitely.

Read, Write, Smile

As you may have noticed, even though I do love reading, my real passion is writing. It’s why I started this blog in the first place. Yes, I wanted to talk books with other people who were interested, but for the most part I wanted to WRITE. And what could be better than writing about something I love so much? So I started a book blog and pretty much completely gave up on my original writing blog, although lately that one has been getting some more action.

I mostly write for myself and for the Internet – far away from anyone I know personally. Only recently have I begun sharing my writing with people in my life, and that’s become quite a success. I’ve been trying to find a way to really get my writing out there and this blog has become a great platform for that, using the Book Talk page I love so much. I’m also debating reading my Spoken Word Poetry at a talent show I might participate in sometime in August.

However, the real excitement is the fact that my very own writing piece will be appearing, as I’ve mentioned countless times before, in the new magazine project brought Jayde-Ashe @ The Paperbook Blog is in the works of creating. The first edition will come out on the 1st of August, the plan being to have a new edition come out on the first of every month. Hopefully, I’ll be writing for the following ones as well. I can’t wait!

Moreover, I have a friend who works for this company that creates and manages websites. They’ve been looking for writers to put together short articles about all kinds of topics. I wrote up a few and my friend said he’ll show them to his boss and we can discuss payment. The two I’ve sent in are already up and my job application email is in his boss’s Inbox, waiting. This just might be my first ever serious job, and it’ll be related to writing. I don’t think I can explain how excited I am. This is what I’ve always wanted to do – get paid. For writing. About whatever I choose. I’m in complete shock. Unfortunately, the writing is in Hebrew and so it would be pretty pointless to link y’all, but still. I. AM. SO. HAPPY.

This has been an exciting week – hell, an exciting few months – ever since I began this in blog in April. This post, like some recent ones, has strayed from the strict topic of books but I feel like by now, with seventy six of you, after nearly four months, I can be a bit more… personal. I’ve already gone all sappy on y’all with a previous post and so again, I’ll spare you now. This is just a random update from my life. Here I go trying to get closer – meet me halfway, my friends. Comment. Share. Anything.

Adios for now!

P.S. Paid. FOR WRITING. YEEHAW.

70 is a Pell number and a generalized heptagonal number, one of only two numbers to be both.

I have no clue what any of that means but I HAVE HIT 70 FOLLOWERS OH LORD and 70 seems like a very boring number so I googled it to see if they had anything. You can always count on dear ol’ Wikipedia recommending weird-ass information to supply my always-running Department of Useless Information in this jelly hidden by my hair (and some other weird and goey stuff).

Did you know that the year 70 started on a Monday? How lovely. It was Monday just a mere 55 minutes ago. Also, the French have no word for the number 70! They use “soixante-dix” instead, which is basically just 60 + 10. In 1970 Mick Jagger was fined £200 for possession of cannabis!

Okay, I think those are enough facts for now. Of course I love you all but dear  70th fella – Four for you Mr Seventy, You GO Mr Seventy! Because Mean Girls is always relevant.

Well, I’ve done my sappy, happy, thankful post in my last BA 26 Post Challenge but I can never thank ya’ll enough. I really can’t. I wish I could mail you all hugs and chocolates but I am broke and cannot even afford a sufficient amount of chocolate to keep ma’ own self alive, let alone ALL OF YA. Seriously though, you guys keep me writing. Every person who reads my writing gives me reason to keep going. Never hesitate to commentand let me know what you think, answer my cliche bold or italicized or underlined or CAPS LOCKED or even colored (ALL TOGETHER NOW) questions I post at the end. Tell me what you’d like to see more of, see less of, what interests you all!

I’d give you all a free cat if I could. Actually, I wish you could all give ME free cats. My mother would probably hunt you all down and kill you though so maybe that’s not my best idea.

So at this point in my post I’ve confused you, deprived you of chocolate and posed a threat to your life. I think I should stop now. Plus, I’m completely off topic by now. Was there ever a topic? Who knows. I don’t. EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU SEVENTY (and hopefully more to come) HAVE A SEVENTY-ONETH OF MY HEART (one for Douglas Adams), THE REMAINDER OF MY EDUCATION-SYSTEM-VICTIM BRAIN and MY VALUBALE TIME FROM USUALLY AROUND 1am – 2am.

May the force and the cats be wid’ja.