Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Wizard of Dark Street

I heard Shawn Thomas Odyssey speak and enjoyed it so much I bought one of his books.

I'm so glad I did!

The Wizard of Dark Street is a fantasy, and also a mystery.  The plot is exciting and uses some original, creative ideas. It takes place in the 1800s in a world connected to New York City.

The heroine, Oona, has magical abilities, but wants to be a detective instead of a wizard. Oona is a determined, feisty girl. But when she must face evil powers she just might have to use her powers after all.

This book is the first in a series and I'm afraid I can't resist reading the others.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Olive and the Great Flood

There are lots of picture books out there that retell Bible stories, but this is one of the best I've seen.

Olive and the Great Flood is about the well-known story of Noah and the ark. But it's told from the point of view of the dove, who the author has named Olive.

This story is told completely in rhyme and, unlike many rhyming books, it isn't forced and the meter is perfect.

I absolutely love the illustrations by Kathleen Bullock because they show just what the author Connie Arnold  portrays with her words. The two of them make a great team.

I'm sure kids will enjoy this book and I hope  lots of Sunday Schools and Christian preschools get it for their libraries.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mardi Gras, etc.

Last Saturday I attended a Mardi Gras parade. Mardi Gras was traditionally celebrated on Tuesday, the day before the season of Lent begins. The term, Mardi Gras, means fat Tuesday.

Catholics, and members of some other liturgical churches, fast during the season of Lent, which begins today. Traditionally, people who intended to fast during that season ate lots of meat, if they could get it, the day before Lent began because they wouldn't have it again for forty days. And they'd use up any foods, such as dairy products, with fat since those couldn't keep until they'd be allowed to eat them again.

Traditionally, Catholics also avoided eating meat on Fridays all year because Christ was crucified on a Friday.

As a kid when my Catholic friends avoided meat on Fridays I always wondered what eating meat had to do with the crucifixion.

Finally I learned that during the Middle Ages only the upper classes could eat meat on a regular basis. For everyone who could get it, meat was eaten at celebrations and parties. It was food for celebration and nobody would eat meat when there was a funeral or other sad event.

That's why people in those churches don't eat meat while observing the season before the Crucifixion of Christ.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

President's Day and Valentine's Day

This year Valentine's Day and Presidents Day are very close together. Believe it or not, they actually have something to do with each other.

Saint Valentine's Day originally had nothing to do with romantic love. It was named for a saint who showed Christian love to others.

As I'vementioned in past years, my college Psychology professor gave us this definition of love: "When the happiness and well-being of another is essential to one's own happiness and well-being a state of love exists."

I don't want to get into politics here, but isn't the happiness and well-being of the American people essential to the happiness and well-being of a president of this country?

That means love must be a job requirement for presidents.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What I Review

This is called the Onwords (On Words) blog and it's about words (i.e. language,) books, and kids.
A lot of my posts are reviews of books for kids. That includes all three of the basic topics.

Where do I get all the books I review?

Sometimes I trade with other authors who are willing to review books I've written.
At other times I review library books. I get some at our community's free book swap. 
And once in a while I review one of the many books already on my own shelves.

I can't begin to count the number of kids' books I've read in my life.

When I entered second grade I was reading at fifth grade level, and immediately became a bookaholic with no intention of ever getting into recovery.

As a parent, teacher, and grandparent I've read books to children (usually picture books) hundreds of times. For my own pleasure I usually read five or six middle grade books every week with an occasional chapter book or Young Adult novel thrown in.

I refuse to review books I don't like because it's hard for writers to sell their books and I don't want to make someone else's job more difficult even if I don't like their work myself.

I hope some people who read these posts find out about books they should buy or check out of the library for their own kids, grandkids, students and young friends to read. It would be great if my words here about books help children discover the joys of reading.

Maybe some of them will become bookaholics, too.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hair Washing, Then and Now

I washed my hair in the shower this morning. It took a few minutes, at most.

Back when I was a girl (yes, that's ancient history) hair washing was a job that took hours.

Most girls and women only did it once a week and sometimes it would be necessary to skip a week.

In between washes we could wrap pieces of cloth cut from nylon hose over the bristles of a hairbrush and brush our hair. The nylon would collect some of the oil and dirt from our hair and we could throw the fabric away. Since we often got runs in our hose and couldn't wear them anymore anyway, they might as well be put to good use.

When we did wash our hair, first we'd, lather with shampoo, then rinse it out and do the whole thing again.

Then we'd put conditioner in our hair, wait five or ten minutes, and rinse it out.

But that was only the beginning of the process.

After combing our wet hair we'd need to "put it up" in rollers, big plastic or metal things, which took quite a while. Or we could make pin curls by coiling small sections of hair and fastening them with bobby pins or hair clips.

Some people would go to bed and sleep with those hard lumps all over their heard. I don't know how anyone could sleep like that, but we all did it at times.

But my thick hair would still be wet the next morning, so I usually used the hair drier.

Today we can dry our hair with a modern hair drier in a matter of minutes, but back then it sometimes took about an hour or even more.

No, I'm not exaggerating.

Those hair driers consisted of big plastic things that resembled shower caps, except for the hole connected by a hose to the machine that generated heat and blew it through the hose with a fan. 

Sitting next to the machine part, we'd put the caps over our hair turn on the drier, and wait. And wait.

Because of the noise we couldn't have a conversation and, connected to that contraption, we couldn't walk around. While waiting for our hair to dry we might "Do" our nails with a manicure kit and polish them. Then we'd have to hold our hands still until the polish dried.

Or we could read a book while waiting for our hair to dry. That's what I usually did.

Finally when we were certain our hair was completely dry we'd turn off the drier and put it away, then take out the curlers or pin curls and comb and brush our hair.

The one advantage to having it take so long to wash and dry our hair was that it would make a good excuse if we wanted to avoid something.

"Sorry, but I can't. I have to wash my hair" would get us out of many things.

But I'm glad I live now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I Can Touch the Sky

What kid on a swing hasn't imagined flying off into the air? I certainly did many times when I was young.

In Karen Wiesner's book, I Can Touch the Sky, a child does exactly that, and goes up into the sky to have adventures.

What fun!

This book will be a great bedtime story to be read to children before they go to sleep and dream about flying into the sky themselves.

And they'll remember it every time they go up in a swing.

Nina Marie Rothfus did a great job showing Weisner's words in the illustrations.

I'm sure lots of kids will love this book.