Tuesday, July 24, 2007

100 for the little ones.

Lifted whole-cloth from somewhere.

Here is a list of one hundred books selected by the National Education Association as great reading for children and young people. To help make these books more useful, we have added book and author links to any TeachersFirst resources and lesson ideas. For more reading ideas - including books grouped by theme and grade levle - check out the hundreds of titles in our Suggested Reading section.

Books for All Ages

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein 
Where the Sidewalk Ends: the Poems and Drawing of Shel Silverstein by Shel Silverstein 
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Heidi by Johanna Spyri 

Books for Preschoolers - More Preschool Titles from TeachersFirst / TeachersAndFamilies

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle 
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr.
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Corduroy by Don Freeman
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise 
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney 

Books for Children Ages 4-8 - More Primary Reading from TeachersFirst / TeachersAndFamilies

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg 
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss 
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak 
Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst   
The Mitten by Jan Brett 
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss
Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola 
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss 
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault 
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne 
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff 
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss 
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman 
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Math Curse by Jon Scieszka
Are You My Mother? by Philip D. Eastman
The Napping House by Audrey Wood 
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter 
Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss 
Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey 
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox 
Arthur series by Marc Tolon Brown 
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paola
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina 
Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell 
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch

Books for Children Ages 9-12 - More Books by Grade Level from TeachersFirst

Charlotte's Web by E. B. White 
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis 
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson 
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl 
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle 
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor 
Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett 
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner 
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks 
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell 
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
The BFG by Roald Dahl 
The Giver by Lois Lowry
James and the Giant Peach: A Children's Story by Roald Dahl
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner 
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry 
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O'Brien 
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume 
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis 
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt 
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery 
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson 
Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Laura Ingalls Wilder Webquest
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar 
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh 
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein 
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater 
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett 
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare 
The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis 

Books for Young Adults - More Books by Grade Level from TeachersFirst

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls 
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien 
Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls 
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare 

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Check out this "great" web site.

I hope you've already heard about this, because you attend to the postings at Ward Six, but if not, let me introduce you to "your" next favorite website.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Update on campaign songs.

I will refrain from comment on the final pick.To be more serious for a moment, the result can be read as a wad of demographic tea leaves at the bottom of Hillary's teacup: The chosen song was by far the most "soccer mom" of the options, pointedly bypassing the civil-rights-era echoes of the Temptations, the more youth-oriented Smashmouth (purportedly Bill C.'s pick, but in general a weird case of wishful thinking and cool hunting that missed the mark), and the overly politically aware U2. For many potential Clinton voters - especially working and middle-class women of all ages, single mothers, new immigrants, exurban families, and many more - the Celine choice is going to be a much more sympathetic and welcomed selection than you would think if you went by the media and the blogophere, which predictably went right into mockery mode. As I argue at length in my book, critics and pundits are, by and large, exactly in the place in the culture least disposed to understanding Celine's appeal, and have always, as they are this week, stood by and jeered while Celine went on to be embraced by hundreds of millions of fans around the world. At least for once Hillary's managed a genuinely populist move here, rather than backing away into the neutral zone her handlers seem to prefer. Although maybe that's because she doesn't make a very convincing populist, which leads to our next problem...Aaaaargh Celine Dion aaaaarrcgh I'm burning

Friday, June 1, 2007

After Dark, chapter one.

For those of you still wondering: should I?  Here's the first chapter of Haruki Murakami's After DarkAnd stop wondering aloud, someone'll call the police.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another tournament of books.

For those who like this sort of thing, Time Out New York has a tournament going in which readers vote on "which book is most essential to life - and cocktail conversation - in New York City."  Being a bumpkin who has lived in Maine his whole life, I'm not that great a judge.  And no commentary?

I tell you what though, if Auster's New York Trilogy loses out to The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, I'll eat my red notebook.  (And shouldn't the graphic novelization of City of Glass get its own shot at the title?)  (via)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

One story, every day.

Dan's the man with the master plan.

While the poets of the world have shrewdly united to have April be National Poetry Month every year, creating a fair amount of attention for their craft, we (proverbial) here at the EWN have decided that we sort of like concentrating on one form for a lengthy period of time, so we're declaring that around here, May will be Short Story Month.  While we don't believe that we'll have WITS stories to link to and discuss like we have this month, we do have more than enough short story collections lying around the homestead here that we have been waiting for a reason to crack open.

One of the original ideas behind this Work of the Day idea was to dip into those collections of stories and poems that I didn't think would ever get full reviews.  So, in the month of May, while some of the stories will come from online journals, and print journals, there will also be at least one story per day coming from a story collection.

I like to see this sort of thing.  I've written in the past about my love of the short story and wondered about its diminished - and diminishing - place in the lives of readers.  I finished The Secret Lives of People in Love - short stories - the other night and have been trying to figure out a way to write about it without resorting to outrageous hyperbole.  Still working on that. 

Stay tuned at EWN.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Having a laugh, are we?

Here's the best thing I've read about that whole "n+1 hates bloggers, bloggers hate n+1" business.  I needed a laugh.  Excerpt:

Open Letter to n+1*

Dear n+1,

Can I get my Totebag! embroidered?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

2007 Tournament of Books: Round one, match five.

In Arthur and George, it was clear from the beginning that the mystery would be solved and that the solution wasn’t the sort that could be sussed out by a careful reader. That takes away much of the fun. The weakness is especially apparent in the final third of the book, when the plot seems to slow down and the story disintegrates into a legal tug of war over the fate of George Edalji. It wouldn’t have been so dry had Sir Arthur’s skills been more in doubt; the knowledge that eventually he would tap the correct villain and clear Mr. Edalji’s name took away some of my interest as I neared the end.

Conversely, One Good Turn has a slow start—it’s never completely obvious which of the many characters is the main crime-solver—but the twists and turns of the final chapters (indeed, the final lines) kept me up late, anxious to read just one more chapter rather than go to bed and leave the mystery unsolved. And when I was finished, I was pleased to be able to say that I’d had my suspicions about the character eventually pegged for the crime. Early on I’d thought, Now, that person is acting pretty funny for the circumstances. It is possible for a careful reader to solve the crime in this book, and for this sleuth, that makes a big difference.

Winner.  Eventually, Max must stumble. 

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Auster on Marquez.

It was the spring of 1970. I was twenty-three years old, writing and
translating poems, writing essays and reviews, but also dreaming of one
day being able to write novels. By then, I had read nearly all the
masters of the twentieth century--Joyce and Proust, Kafka and Beckett,
Faulkner and Nabokov, Fitzgerald and Céline--and was feeling a little
crushed. How on earth could one ever get out from under those giants?

day, I read a highly enthusiastic review of a novel by a South American
writer whose name was unknown to me. At the time, thirty-seven years
ago, buying hardcover books was an extravagance I could scarcely
afford, but my curiosity had been aroused to such a degree that I went
out and sprang for the book anyway. I started reading One Hundred Years of Solitude
in the early afternoon and I didn't put it down until I had finished
reading it late that night. Here was soemthing new and fresh and
altogether mesmerizing: an imagination, a voice, a sensibility that
resembled nothing I had encountered before. And yet Gabriel García
Márquez's novel, in the masterful translation by Gregory Rabassa,
contained many old-fashioned virtues as well, most of which can be
summed up in a single phrase: love of storytelling.

This love is
what creates pleasure in the reader, the sense of amazement and
happiness that washes over us whenever we stumble upon one of those
rare books that changes the way we look at the world, exposes us to the
infinite possibilities of what a book can be. Every passionate reader
has had that experience, and each time it happens, we understand that
books are a world unto themselves and that world is better and richer
than any we have traveled in before. That is why we become readers in
the first place. That is why we turn away from the vanities of the
material world and begin to love books above all other things.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Soon, "After Dark."

Quick peek from Bookdwarf at Murakami's forthcoming.

After Dark
by Haruki Murakami (coming in May from Random House)—Short novel from
one of my father authors. Set over the course of an evening, the
chapters cut between several interconnected stories: trombonist
Tetsuya, entering a Denny’s one evening, runs into Mari Asai. He was
once interested in Mari’s beautiful older sister Eri, who has been
asleep for a month, trapped in some netherworld. Meanwhile, a Chinese
prostitute is beaten badly by an officeworker at a love hotel and the
propietor, Kaoru, needs Mari’s Chinese translation skills. The book
doesn’t go anywhere. Rather it seems to be more of an observation on
coincidences and time.

Well, that could be horrible or really great. 

Friday, March 2, 2007

Do you believe in Magic for Beginners?

Audrey Niffenegger sure does; excerpt:

Thankfully, one need pine no longer: after a couple of years' worth of
word-of-mouth buzz on the internet, Magic for Beginners, Kelly Link's
superb collection of short stories, is finally available in bookshops.
Now, you may be thinking, I don't like science fiction. I don't like
short stories. Get over it. This isn't exactly science fiction (it's
not exactly not science fiction either). Link is the literary
descendant of Jorge Luis Borges and Franz Kafka, those supremely
matter-of-fact creators of alternative realities. "Josephine the
Singer, or the Mouse Folk", Kafka's cheery little fable, would be right
at home nestled against Link's story "Catskin", in which children are
created from bits and sticks, turned into cats or princes, and
sometimes drowned in the river.

a narrative uncertainty at times, moments when the author simply tells
us to decide for ourselves, or brusquely informs us that we aren't to
know what happened. But there are Borgesian, labyrinthine levels to
many of the tales, especially in "Magic for Beginners", the title
story, which features the aforementioned Free People's World-Tree
Library. This vast library is the setting for a TV show which is avidly
watched by a small band of ordinary American teenagers, even though it
never appears on a regularly scheduled day or channel. But the
teenagers themselves are in the TV show too, and the characters are
trying to contact them for reasons that are urgent, though hard to
figure out. It's complex; it is also continuously surprising,
compelling and strange.

That's right: Borges.  Big name to be dropping, no?  Give Stranger Things Happen a try.  (Free.)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What isn't the What.

I've stopped reading What is the What.  I've had thoughts of stopping for a little under a week, now, and I kept chalking it up to just not feeling like I have enough time to devote to the book.  I read a page, two maybe, at night before the words begin to dance and I drool.  I haven't been reading in traffic, or on lunch break.  Then I thought that it was the subject matter; not giving me enough of an escape from the everyday.  Which is absurd, because Deng in a refugee camp in Ethiopia is pretty damn far from my everyday.

I keep circling around different explanations because none of them seem to fit quite right.  Because: it is a very good book.  And: I feel glad when I am reading it to be reading it.  Also: I look forward to finding out more about what happens, and am enjoying the writing style, so much so that I'm willing to give How We Are Hungry another shot.  Etc.  I still haven't really settled on an answer I'm comfortable with; it isn't as simple as liking or not liking the book.  It may just be a right book/wrong time sort of thing.  I think, also, that one of the book's strengths is the way Eggers puts the reader both in Deng's past and his present, moving back and forth as Deng goes over his story in his mind to various ineffectual American service providers, entering and exiting his life; it's a great device, but it's starting to feel like a device, not organic and fluid. 

It's about time for me to be starting a "Books started but not finished" pile anyway, and this one will go to the top, for when my mind's in a different place. 

Meantime, others are continuing to look at the book:

Deng is kept going by faith, something not exactly in evidence in Eggers before. It draws on a panoply of religions both inherited and encountered, but, except for one suicidal episode, maintains an indestructible faith in a God. Which is to say, in the varying degrees of goodness in others. So maybe Eggers, once a lost, orphaned boy and brother himself, actually comes less strangely than expected to the subject. Deng's beliefs kept Deng honorable, and helped him find one of our more honorable writers for his story. There is even a happy ending beyond the book's (the proceeds of which go to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation). After years of rejection, red tape and set-backs, he's now in his second year at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Not entirely accurate: at the reading the other night, he mentioned that he's taking time off from school to tour doing readings, and is planning to return to Marial Bal this summer to oversee construction of a community center that is coming together in part thanks to Deng's foundation. 

And, of course, the story is not actually finished, despite the publication of the book:

Valentino Achak Deng Foundation: www.valentinoachakdeng.comThe foundation supports organizations and people trying to improve life for the Sudanese in the United States and in Sudan. To donate, tax-deductible checks can be sent to:The Valentino Achak Deng Foundation849 Valencia St.San Francisco, CA 94110Lost Boys Foundation: http://www.thelbf.org/International Rescue Committee (IRC): http://www.theIRC.org

So, obviously, my write-up of the reading is on hold indefinitely.  This collection of links includes a YouTube of them reading together, so you... are... there without waiting for me to pull it together. 

And the interview?  Dave's flight was delayed; he arrived just in time for the reading.  And no chance of me catching him afterward, with a couple of hundred people looking for his autograph - and anyway, I had to leave early.  So, alas, no interview.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

"Lost Highway" opera.

...Lost Highway opera?

Missing from “Lost Highway” the opera was Mr. Lynch’s sense of spaciousness and relative quiet: the time for events to breathe and unfold. His great movie does not yell at us as does Ms. Neuwirth’s opera. Its anguishes are subterranean, more to be inferred from what is seen than transmitted through electronically bloated shrieks and groans. Music, for all its idiosyncratic power, may be too concrete and ultimately too blatant to adequately translate Mr. Lynch’s indirections. Yelling, on the other hand, is an art form like any other, and Ms. Neuwirth’s “Lost Highway” yells admirably. I would have admired it even more if, for just an hour and a half, I could have forgotten David Lynch ever existed.

Dick Laurant is spinning in his grave.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Second Life, or Why Can't I Hit People.

Having spent some of my impressionable youth, and many of my father's dollars, "interacting" with other sheltered horny dorks through the magic of my Commodore 64 and QuantumLink, I have felt some twinges of interest in Second Life.  A recent series of articles about how not-far this sort of idea has progressed over the years in between has made me have Second Thoughts, har har. 

This one pretty much seals the deal; excerpt:

Yesterday I downloaded something called Second Life. It is like Grand
Theft Auto: San Andreas, except you can't shoot anyone, and you can't
hit people. You just walk around. There are no prostitutes, and
everything costs real money, and you can't rob anyone to get money. You
have to use your credit card, with real money, to buy fake money to use
in the game. It's not actually like Grand Theft Auto at all.

Second Life is free to play, and I keep seeing people referring to it
in the news, so I had to take one for the team and just dive on in. I
knew it probably wasn't going to be intriguing when I got to the signup
part and couldn't even make a one-word name. I had to use some
fantasy-ass last name and I couldn't even use cusses. The best I could
do was call myself Wenis.

Wenis Swindlehurst: How do I hit people
Foxbrand Leprechaun: You can't
Wenis Swindlehurst: I need that shit you drive....

I flew up and out of the Freebie Warehouse, and landed in some
quasi-construction zone. There were walls and floors scattered about
the landscape. Occasionally, I'd come upon a red dot, which I'd click,
and it would make my character do some kind of humping motion. That's
what I came to do. Hump in the construction zone.

Everything in Second Life seems to be coated in a preteen's
understanding of sex. It was very titty-booby pee-pee doo-doo. From the
fantasy asses to the cyber-ruins surrounding Freebie Warehouse, there
really was nothing but clumsy cybersex. I wandered through this
wasteland for a while, until I finally came to a normal-looking store,
with windows, and people inside, so I went in.

The store sold penises, and penis avatars. I didn't actually get to see
what they looked like, because I didn't have any fake money to spend
(and I wasn't really interested in chipping in twenty bucks to these
cats' weird sex trip.) A pet penis, which would follow you around and
"come on command" (I'm guessing you have to right-click and load a
script and wait thirty seconds is what they mean by "command") was 100
fakebucks, which converted to US$0.68. Okay, that's not bad.

You could transform yourself into a giant penis for 200 fakebucks, but
one could argue that you do that anyway by spending time in Second Life.

OK, so unless I'm willing to dig up my first pair of glasses (rose-tinted, it's true) and one of my innumerable Cosby sweaters, I think I'm better off without.

This American Life, the TV show: teaser trailer.

Can be found here.  Looks a whole lot like one would expect it to look (and a whole lot like it will actually look to me, watching it in a tiny box on my computer, as I do not have Showtime, where the show will be broadcast.)  (Do they still call it "broadcast"?)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What is the What - Deng blog.


Reading What is the What and it didn't occur to me to see if Valentino Achak Deng has a website, but doesn't everyone now?  Some valuable stuff there, including pictures (like the one above) taken by Deng/Eggers on a recent trip back to Marial Bal, Deng's hometown; ten things you can do for the situation in Sudan; and a forthcoming blog, among other things.  (via.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

TMN Tournament of Books: 2007.

Rock_out The TMN 2007 ToB is upon us.  Now with reader participation!

Candidates for TMN’s

2007 Tournament of Books

Click on titles for 30 percent discounts on all candidatesHalf of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieOne Good Turn, Kate AtkinsonArthur and George, Julian BarnesBrookland, Emily BartonEnglish, August, Upamanyu ChatterjeeThe Lay of the Land, Richard FordPride of Baghdad, Niko Henrichon, Brian K. VaughanThe Road, Cormac McCarthyThe Emperor’s Children, Claire MessudThe Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, Peter OrnerThe Echo Maker, Richard PowersAgainst the Day, Thomas PynchonFirmin, Sam SavageAbsurdistan, Gary ShteyngartAlentejo Blue, Ali SmithApex Hides the Hurt, Colson Whitehead

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Time spent reading.

The question:

I want real numbers here.  How many hours a week do you spend
reading?  I’m not talking about newspapers or online, but time spent
sitting, book in hand, immersed in the text.

I was trying to give myself some resolution on reading.  Clearly, I
do not spend enough time reading (and, what is ‘enough’ really?).  As
much as I love books and reading, and given how long my to-be-read list
is, it’s crazy that I’m not devoting much time to it.  So, how much
time is reasonable?  An hour a night?  That sounds plausable,
achievable, but is it enough?  Do I really have that time, with
everything else I should be doing?  How do you find the time to read?

So, tell me, how much time do you spend reading?