Tag Archives: read

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.

 

Annual End of Year Book Survey – 2013 – Part 2(/3)

Part two of my 3 part survey series! (sounds fancy when you put it that way). Credit, of course, to the wonderful lady at Perpetual Page Turner and her post, which can be found at – 4th Annual End of Year Book Survey.

You can find Part 1 here, where I answered questions 1-9.

  • Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
  1. Little Children by Tom Perrotta
  2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
  3. Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman

        

  • Most memorable character in 2013?

Not too sure about this one. Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gentley is definitely a memorable guy, but I’m going to go with Ram Mohammad Thomas from Q & A by Vikas Swarup. It’s usually easier to connect to the character telling the story, and Ram’s is told beautifully – due to both content and writing.

  • Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Room by Emma Donoghue. The entire story is written from the point of view of a five year old boy. It’s a chilling, calmingly scary story and the POV makes it both creepier and more beautiful. The idea to tell a story through a character that doesn’t understand what’s going on most of the time is absolutely brilliant, and the writing is fantastic. World Cup Wishes (משאלה אחת ימינה) by Eshkol Nevo is pretty close though, maybe even just as great.

  • Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

Room by Emma Donoghue. The story was so intense it was hard to break out of the mood for a couple of days at least, if not more. I read the entire book in around twenty four hours and I was so into it that when I finished returning to the world felt like I’d fallen out of the sky and landed head first on the ground. Unfortunately, I also realized just how… how not-so-outta-this-world kidnapping is, which was not a very great conclusion to reach around the same time the news was filled with stories about the Castro kidnapper.

I feel like it’s also neccesary to mention David Levithan’s How We Met & Other Stories because one of the stories in it inspired my very first proper short story, that was followed by another four over the course of the year. It’s the short story I read at a talent show in New Hampshire this summer, that led to a fellow writer telling me I inspired her and writing a poem about me. It really affected me, and has immense impact on my writing and on my feelings about being a writer in general.

  • Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

 I don’t think I have an answer for this one. I guess 1984 could qualify, but on the other hand I’m very glad I read it at this certain point in my life, so it doesn’t really answer the question.

  • Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
  1. “Yes, expenses were, well, expensive in the Bahamas, Mrs. Sauskind, it is in the nature of expenses to be so. Hence the name.” – Terry Jones, Starship Titanic
  2. The Electric Monk’s day was going tremendously well and he broke into an excited gallop. That is to say that, excitedly, he spurred his horse to a gallop and, unexcitedly, his horse broke into it. – Terry Jones, Starship Titanic
  3. “Well, yes. But it takes a village to raise a child, as they say in Africa…””If you’ve got a village. But if you don’t, then maybe it just takes two people.” – Room, Emma Donoghue
  4. “You’re afraid of monsters, aren’t you?””It depends on the monster, if it’s a real one or not and if it’s where I am.”  – Room, Emma Donoghue
  5. “I don’t know,” says Ma. “How could he not? If he’s the least bit human…” I thought humans were or weren’t, I didn’t know someone could be a bit human. Then what are his other bits? – Room, Emma Donoghue
  6. Lucy had a good brain even though she had lived all her life in LA.Despite the continual exposure to carbon monoxide and people from the film industry, she had remained smart. – Terry Jones, Starship Titanic
  • Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. So short yet so good. Shut Your Eyes Tight by John Verdon. Took me three months (minus 3 days, longest time I’ve every spent on on book in all of my almost 17 years on this planet.

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*I’ve decided to cut this at seven questions because of length considerations, expect the remaining ten in the last part!

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.

Top Ten Tuesday – Banned Books Week Special

Hey there folks! As many of you may have heard or read, this week is Banned Books Week. To honor the importance of such a week I will be straying from The Broke and Bookish‘s weekly topic, and choosing to follow in the footsteps of Words for Worms‘ idea of listing favorite banned books!

Top Ten – Favorite Banned Books (A Banned Books Week Celebration)

  1. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes – I’ve mentioned this book here before, it’s a beautiful and absolutely heartbreaking story about a human test subject, told through his point of view. According to Wikipedia is 43rd on the American Library’s Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999. The reasons for the challenges vary, but usually center on parts of the novel in which Charlie deals with his sexual desires as the medicine affects his brain.
  2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – one of my all-time favorites. Do we really need to mention the controversial issues here? The entire book is basically just a list of social “weak spots.” Drugs, acohol, homosexuality, sex, abuse, and all of those involving teenagers.
  3. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – well, whaddaya know! Even the loveliest family-life, coming of age, semi-cancer child story can be a challenged book! This wonderful creation was 7th on the ALA’s 2009 list of most frequently challenged books because of sexism, homosexuality, sexual explicity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuitability to age group, drugs, suicide, violence. Holy shit.
  4. Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park – not sure if I’m supposed to laugh or cry at this one. Apparently, Miss B. made it to the ALA list at #71 for the most challenged between the years of 2000-2009, and this is because she isn’t considered as a good role model due to her mouthiness and bad spelling/grammar. I just… is this a joke?
  5. 1984 by George Orwell – I think the reasons here are pretty clear. Great book. Go read. You can never look at anything political the same. IT ALL FEELS LIKE A CONSPIRACY NOW.
  6. Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary – apparently the book was removed from some school in California because a kid came across the entry “oral sex.” We start bannin’ dictionaries – everything’s going to go downhill from here.
  7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – violence is definitely a big issue here, so I do think it’s okay to avoid letting younger kids read it, but the message of the book is one ALL people need to understand, so banning is not the option, but monitored/supervised reading for the younger ones.
  8. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume – a favorite of mine growing up. The book deals with issues deemed controversial when addressed in a kid’s book, although that’s the whole porblem because the book discusses subjects which MUST BE DISCUSSED WITH KIDS but aren’t because they’re considered taboo. That’s really the irony of censorship in general. If you decide to hide something, chances are it’s something everyone needs to hear.
  9. Harry Potter by JK Rowling – too many people are under the impression that JK Rowling wants to create a generational Satanic cult.
  10. The Giver by Lois Lowry – probably need to re-read this. At the time I did not get the point of dystopian novels and so the end pissed me off. To be frank, I still don’t really get it. 1984 inspired a fit of rage, followed by acceptance of the ending and complete awe and admiration for Orwell dearest. I have a feeling dystopians tend to become Banned Book List favorites. Censorship is EXACTLY aimed at making… everything bad sort of just disappear.

That’s all for now. This has been a great learning experience – turns out there are SO many more challenged books than I thought. I may follow up with some more banned book themed posts this week, maybe even let it continue till the next. It’s a very important topic – seven days aren’t nearly enough. It should ALWAYS be on our minds. So, what banned books did YOU like? Or are you a rule follower and thus have a wonderful new by-the-host-topic-choice TTT to share with us all? Go ahead! Comment! Share!

Keep Calm and STOP CENSORSING BOOKS.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books On My Fall 2013 TBR List

Back to doing my Top Ten Tuesday posts! (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I got a whole load of books when I was in the US so I have so many new books to read, not to mention I’ve realized I’m kind of behind on my attempt to cover both the 2012 AND 2013 Ecclectic Reader’s Challenges (after failing ’12). So my choices are going to be from all different genres, so that I can cover as much as I can. I’m currently reading John Verdon’s Shut Your Eyes Tight so that covers the Crime/Mystery category.

Here goes! (I’ll attach Category and Challenge Year for each one.)

Top Ten Tuesday – Books On My Fall 2013 TBR List

  1. Bossypants – Humor, 2013 
  2. Silence of the Lambs – Horror, 2012
  3. Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List – New Adult, 2013 (I really don’t get this genre… at all. It’s too abstract.)
  4. Brave New World OR A Clockwork Orange OR Farenheit 541  – Dystopia, 2013 (Switched 1984 over to Classic, 2012.)
  5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Published in 2013, 2013
  6. The Trial OR The Little Prince OR The Pianist – Translated Fiction, 2013 
  7. White Oleander – cousin recommended
  8. The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World – quit midway
  9. A Wrinkle in Time OR Lord of the Flies – Action Adventure, 2013 (the first will be my 1st reread in YEARS)
  10. American Gods OR Dead Until Dark – Urban Fantasy, 2013

Not bad, not bad. I just spent ’bout an hour researching titles and genres and learned a ton – especially about what the hell New Adult is because that category seems like a… mix between attempts at being more specific and attempts at making more money. We’ll see. Most of these books are books I’d planned on reading at some point anyway, so I’m happy I can incorporate them into my tight schedule. I have eleven books to read to complete both ERCs this year, which I really want to do because I don’t want to drag them into 2014 with me! I don’t really know how to define “fall,” seeing as in Israel we basically only have “hot summer” and “cold summer” so I’m giving myself till December 31st to complete this. I have eleven books for about three and a half months, and a few thrown in for personal enjoyment that don’t fit any empty genre categories. THIS IS GOING TO BE TIGHT. Wish me luck!

Are you guys doing the Eclectic Reader’s Challenge this year? Which books have you read? Does anyone else not really get the whole New Adult thang? Lemme know!

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels (Aug. 6th Delayed)

HEY EVERYONE. I’ve just returned home from a week long medical course as part of my EMS volunteer work… and in four hours I leave for the airport and a two week trip in the US – THREE STATES. I’m dead tired and dead happy. I also owe y’all a post and so here I go. I’ll try and keep up my posting as much as possible while I’m away, even if I’ll have to keep it short.

Top Ten Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels

Today’s topic, brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish, is Top Ten Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels. This one’s an interesting one because when I was younger I hated reading short books and I loved series because that way I got to have the character for longer, as oppsoed to these days when I fear long books and stick to smaller, sequel-less novels. I’m not sure I can answer this very well because sometimes I want a sequel but on the other hand I feel as if there’s a reason the story ends and it doesn’t have to go on. I can think of a million characters I wish I could meet again in new stories and situations but if I try and imagine a continuance to their novels it seems off. I can’t really answer this because in all honesty I don’t know what to write. For example, I love Harry Potter but I can’t imagine it going on any longer than it already has. There’s a reason books end where they do, and I can’t really see them continue further. I think the only exception to this rule is Douglas Adams’s Hitchiker’s Guide series because with him it’s less about the characters – or even the plot for that matter – and more about the writing style. So yeah. My biggest cheat yet. I’m not even answering. Well, I am. But in my way. You get my point?

 

WWW Wednesday

The usual three question meme brought to y’all by Should Be Reading.

  • What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man’s Prison by TJ Parsell, my 2nd “prison book” in a row. I don’t think this is very healthy. I read Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison in three days, watched the entire thirteen-episode series in one, and then started this. And then had a realistically scary prison dream. I think I need to take a break from these. 

  • What did you recently finish reading?

Like I said above, I’ve just finished Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison. These people aren’t very creative with their titles. Kind of sound the same. I didn’t write up a review, I might do so later. It was fantastic. The show is even better. GO.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Great question. No clue. Maybe 1984? I haven’t decided yet. Maybe another prison book. I know, I know – I said I should stop, but I really enjoy them. We’ll see. 

ANSWER THESE TOO.

Top Ten Tuesday – Authors Who Deserve More Recognition (July 16th)

GOOD MORNIN’. Or evening? Dunno. It’s actually Thursday but I’m worried I’ll be so busy and I don’t want to miss posting. So anyway, GOOD *insert time of day*.

ANOTHER TUESDAY. ANOTHER TOP TEN. ANOTHER HYPERLINK TO THE BROKE AND THE BOOKISH.

Subject for today? Authors Who Deserve More Recognition. Alrighty’o. This might be tough since I read lotsa mainstream – hard to get really weird or non-mainstream whatsoever English books here. I’mm give this a shot.

  1. Ellen Raskin – Raskin wrote The Westing Game, one of many books I love very much. Funny thing – I’ve read this book multiple times and yet I still CAN’T remember the ending, or how the entire mystery is solved. But I remember everything else. It’s weird. Also, Raskin was a graphic artist. Didja know she designed the cover for the first edition of A Wrinkle In Time? No? Neither did I. Now we do!
  2. Eva Ibbotson – wrote yet another childhood favorite called Island of the Aunts, also known as Monster Mission. I remember loving this book so much as a child. Never read anything else by her… maybe I should.
  3. Daniel Handler – Daniel Handler is actually very famous, but by his other persona named Lemony Snicket – author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Most have never read any of his less famous works, ones he wrote under his real name.
  4. J0hn Verdon – author of the brilliant mystery novel Think of a Number. Every single part of this book is absolutely genius. The idea, the way it plays out, the solution. He’s written two other books since, both including the main investigator from his debut novel. I’ve read the first, the second is unfortunately still on my neverending TBR list.

I’ve only been reading less well-known authors recently – since I got my Kindle – so this list is going to be a short one. I may update it in the future, but this is it for now. This was a pretty damn hard topic for me, so I hope I haven’t failed y’all too badly.

Also, my article in the very new Paperbook Blog Magazine is coming out on August 1st! I’ll link you guys when it comes out. SEND ME YO’ OWN TOP TENS.

Dirk Gentley’s Hollistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

  • Title – Dirk Gentley’s Hollistic Detective Agency
  • Author – Douglas Adams
  • # of Pages – 306

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There is a long tradition of Great Detectives, and Dirk Gently does not belong to it. But his search for a missing cat uncovers a ghost, a time traveler, AND the devastating secret of humankind! Detective Gently’s bill for saving the human race from extinction: NO CHARGE.

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Dirk Gentley’s Hollistic Detective Agency is the seventh Douglas Adams novel I’ve read (if you count Starship Titanic, which was his idea and highly resembles his writing style, depsite being written by his friend Terry Jones). I’ve mentioned countless times how much I love this man. I usually do so not by using the word love exactly, but by mentioning future plans to pickle his brain in a jar on my shelf or plan a pilgrimmage up to his grave. I think Adams is a brilliant writer – witty, funny, and a master of satire and sarcasm.

It took me nearly two weeks to finish this book – a major break from my previous five-completed-books week. The last Adams book I’d read before this was Starship Titanic and even though I haven’t, were I to review that book it would be very similar to the points I shall make in this one.

Continue reading →

WWW Wednesday!

Another WWW Wednesday post, brought to ya by MizB! Here’s a photo of my cat!Image

What are you currently reading?

So, I’ve slowed down a bit since Sunday. I’ve been reading the same book – Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently’s Hollistic Detective Agency – for three days now, which is my longest reading time for one book since about two weeks ago – it is CRAZY. I’m nearing the middle, I might finish it by Thursday. We’ll see. I’m having a crazy week. So far it’s okay. It’s got my oh-so-favorite Adams humor in it but I don’t find the plot very interesting – sorta the same thing that happened to be with Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic by Terry Jones. Great Adams writing, not so great plot.

What did you recently finish reading?

I started and finished reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid on Saturday. I even reviewed it right here! The story wasn’t the most brilliant thing I’ve read but the writing style made up for that.

What do you think you’ll read next?

This is a good question. I might read Zombie Survival Guide next or maybe Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul cause it’s the 2nd Dirk Gently… we’ll see.

ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS TOO, FOLKS.