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.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Book Signing

I usually blog about words, books, and kids and lately I've been reviewing a lot of books for kids. But today I want to share something about myself.

On Friday, January 30th I'll be participating in a group book signing up in Nevada City, CA.

A group of authors will be at the main County Library signing and selling our books from 1:00 until 4:00 p.m. We'll also be reading sections of our books.

I'll be reading from my newest book, A Shadow of Fear.

I hope we all sell a lot of copies, but the event will be fun even if we don't. It's always a pleasure to be with other writers and people who love to read.

As my bumper sticker says, "Bookaholics Unite."

I hope some of the people who read this blog will be able to attend.

See you there!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Green Gooey Goop

Kids will love this amusing book by Anna C. Morrison. It's about a kid whose mother makes a "healthy" drink by combining green vegetables and plants into a slimy mixture.

The kid spills it on the floor and the dog licks it up. What do you think happens to the dog?

Any child who is encouraged to eat healthy food will appreciate the ingredients in the goop, which keep getting more disgusting as the story progresses.

And parents will want to assure their kids that the real fruits and vegetables they offer won't be anything like the combination in the story. Sharing this funny book would be a good way to start a discussion the importance of eating real foods that are healthy.

Alexander Morris did a great job of showing the story in his illustrations.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Her Pink Hair

Jill Dana has written a helpful and enjoyable book for kids who know someone dealing with cancer. Her Pink Hair doesn't go into any of the unpleasant details, but it's told from the point of view of a young girl whose friend, Stephanie, is dealing with that disease.

Dana manages to make the book comforting in spite of the usually unpleasant topic. Stephanie looses her hair, as often happens with people undergoing cancer treatments, and when it starts to grow back her mother dyes it pink.

Although her friend's death is never specifically mentioned, the protagonist imagines Stephanie now has hair that's both pink and long.

The author also did the illustrations, which are photos of cute, charming figures made of clay.

This book will be a wonderful help to children who know someone dealing with cancer. The suggested age group is for kids from five to eight years old, but some younger children might find the book helpful if their parents think they're mature enough to cope with the subject.

The author will donate part of the proceeds of the book to a charity. She doesn't specify which one, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's one that helps cancer patients or research.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Survival Secrets of Turkey Vultures

This book is suggested for kids up to eleven years old, but I think it would be of interest to anyone who cares about natural science and ecology even if they're adults. I found it fascinating.

Vultures have a bad reputation but, as the book explains, turkey vultures aren't dangerous to anyone and they do a lot to help the environment. And, as the multiple photos show, they do slightly resemble turkeys although they're not especially related to those birds.

Frankly, I think every science classroom should have a copy of this book and kids interested in the natural sciences will enjoy it. Well, since some of the birds' habits are a bit disgusting to humans, most boys would probably like it more than many girls would. But anyone who reads it and isn't already an ornithologist will learn a lot. Debra Toor has done a great job.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jeremiah Lucky and the Guardian Angel

I appreciate the author's dedication in Jeremiah Lucky and the Guardian Angel  to all children being raised by a single parent because I was once a child like that. When I was a kid my father died and my mother had to work. Fortunately my grandfather was able to care for me after school every day. But I can identify with Jeremiah, the main character in this book who is only in third grade, but sometimes comes home to an empty house. And I'm sure lots of kids today can also identify with him.

This is a realistic portrayal of his everyday life at home and school with the expected problems, but then Angus McDermit appears.

Angus reminds me of a leprechaun, and in the illustrations by Eric Hammond he sort of resembles one, but he's actually the guardian angel who helps Jeremiah each time he has a problem.

And eventually Jeremiah doesn't have to be home alone anymore.

Jane Ellen Freeman has written a book lots of kids will enjoy.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bear and the Three Goldilocks

I always enjoy books that take something familiar and make it into something completely different. In Bear and the Three Goldilocks Kevin McNamee has certainly done that.

This cute picture book isn't just a reverse of the familiar Goldilocks and the Three Bears story, though it does have certain similarities to that one. It also incorporates things from another familiar story about the Three Little Pigs, although there are no pigs in the story.

Have I confused you?

If so, that's good. And I didn't even mention the burritos.

While this book incorporates features of the familiar stories, it's quite different and I think kids familiar with the traditional tales will enjoy it a lot.

The art by Robert Lee Beers illustrates the story perfectly.

I'm sure lots of kids will want to hear this story read to them at bedtime over and over again. It's definitely a good one and might even become a classic itself.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wise Guys

In a few days the twelve days of Christmas will be over. Many churches will be talking about the wise men who came to see baby Jesus this week.

Actually, the Bible says the wise men came to see Jesus in a house when he was a young child, not an infant. They never saw him in a manger. And, while they brought three kinds of gifts we have no idea how many of them came.

They were magi, or astrologers who had seen a star in the sign of the "house of David "and assumed that meant a new heir to the throne was born. Today astronomers say that was a configuration of several planets so close together they looked like an extremely bright star. And the constellation, Pisces, was supposed to be a sign representing the royal line, or house, of King David.

Pisces is the Latin word for fish, and it's interesting that early Christians used the fish as a symbol of their faith.

But if the the magi followed the star didn't it move across the sky? Well, maybe the magi thought it must be moving since they could always see at night it no matter how many miles they traveled each day.

This was thousands of years ago and those men were the closest thing to scientists around back then.  That's why they were considered wise.