Monday, March 30, 2009

New Car

Nonfiction Monday will be on Tuesday, again. I forgot to bring my chosen NF book home. And I was busy, busy at work today. Too busy to work on the book review.

So, here's a little slice of life. (autobiography? nonfiction?)
I just bought a car.
My wonderful Saturn SL sedan was getting wonky, so I decided to get another, ignoring the fact that Saturn is made by GM and GM isn't the best auto maker out there these days.

I loved the plastic side-panels on my old car.
I bought a Saturn VUE, despite the fact that I discovered that Saturn hasn't put plastic side panels on their cars for several years. This is going to disappoint many people. Those plastic side-panels were a great selling point.

The Saturn VUE is a small SUV. If you can imagine any SUV being small. It's smaller than the Dodge Caravan we used to own and even feels smaller than my old Saturn Sedan as I drive it around.

My daughter asked if we got the VUE hybrid because it's supposed to be the most fuel efficient of all hybrids. If the Saturn Vue is the most fuel efficient out there, they aren't advertising it that way. Their brochure says it gets the same gas mileage as the regular cars -- or else I would have gone for the hybrid, instead. Oh well.

It drives the same and feels about the same size as a sedan -- except for being a bit tippy on curves. I've learned to automatically take curves and turns much slower. There are tipping warnings on the sunvisor, too, so it looks as if they're aware of this. The older VUEs look a little larger and wider and a bit sturdier.

I also found it strange that they sold me one right off the lot instead of making me wait for one to be built. And then I saw an article about how the car factories are turning them out faster than they are being sold. I can remember when we went shopping for a new car and had to wait months until it could be made and delivered.

There was a verbal guarantee that parts would be available for the next 15 years, but I haven't found it in any of the contracts, yet. (I haven't read every word of the contracts, yet.) Who knows what will happen if/ when they go out of business.

There even is a car phone. (can you imagine?) my husband tried to call me on it yesterday, but he couldn't hear me talking. It seems to have no adjustment controls to compensate for my soft voice, so I don't know what to do about that.

This is my first time with OnStar.

The 9-year-old is thrilled that we have the Disney channel on the radio. So what channel has she been wanting to listen to the past few days? 106.5 MIX -- the same channel she gets on her radio in her room. I have it set for only one X-channel (Disney) and the other 5 are local channels. Weird thing is -- my usual morning talk show that has lots of traffic control stuff doesn't work well around at my workplace. Another channel overlaps it. As far as I can tell, it's either a military channel from the nearby Aberdeen/ Edgewood base or something from right across the Chesapeake Bay. (The library is really close to the bay.) And it's neat being able to control the radio from the steering wheel.

For several days I was driving around, thinking I was arriving early for everything. Then my husband pointed out that the digital clock was WRONG. Darn. We're still adjusting things to make it comfortable. The 9-year-old highly approves of the back seat.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Greetings from the depths of our dark livingroom.

Actually, this is an example of that old song -- "Only a child can do it." You're too young to remember that song? Wellll, basically it talks about how children can figure out new technology easier and faster than adults can. I have no idea how to use the picture taking capabilities of my cell phone. However, without anyone instructing her, the 9-year-old has figured out how to take pictures both with MY cell phone and my husband's I-Phone. He discovered her new ability when he found this photograph on his I-phone.

There they are, the 9-year-old's Build-a-Bears, carefully arranged on a chair in our livingroom. Surprise!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Please write your congressperson

Please ask your Representative in Congress to support this bill:

ALA: U.S. Rep. Fortenberry's legislation will protect books from regulation'

Nebraska congressman introduces bill to amend consumer safety act -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. : The American Library Association (ALA) supports legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) yesterday to amend the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) to exempt ordinary books from the lead limit within the act. This is a welcome step [...]

You may view the complete message here.

-wendie old

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Adventures

Busy, Busy day. This might barely qualify as a Nonfiction Monday entry -- because everything you read in this message is true. No? You actually want a book review?
Sorry. No Can Do. I was busy, busy.
If you are interested in more book reviews, the other Nonfiction Monday Book Reviews are collected here at MotherReader.

First I went to my library to help set things up, complete a report, and 'man' the info desk for an hour.
Then rushed to another library, over a half hour North/West of mine, to give a program.

I had been invited to talk to the Harford Pen Women about doing research. (Correction -- the true name of the group is the Gunpowder Pen Women -- named after a nearby river.)
What a great group!
I did have a prepared speech, but the questions came fast and furious. Since I prefer to actually answer questions and give the listeners exactly what they feel they need to know, this was fine with me. We talked and talked about research, with side trips into setting up a BLOG and how to use the Library's online databases -- and how to cite them.

The wonderful organizer had promised me a Chinese meal for lunch. Easy-peezy. There's a Chinese place near the library. Ooops, wrong. it's closed. The lovely lady rushed halfway across the county to an open one in order to be able to present me with a huge batch of pork fried rice. (my favorite)

I simply kept talking as long as people asked questions. The library had set up a laptop and projector, which helped me to demonstrate most everything I was talking about by showing them examples on the WEB. Gradually my audience disappeared -- they had to rush home to meet school buses.

It turned out to be my last trip on my old 1999 Saturn sedan. Monday evening we traded it in for a brand new Saturn Vue. What's a Vue? -- it's a minature SUV. Years ago we bought one of the very first Dodge Caravans, which I loved. When I sat in the Vue, I had the very same feeling.

It had gotten so that I didn't trust the old car to survive any more of the long trips we used to take. But now that I have a VUE, FieldTrip, here I come! (The 9-year-old gave a high approval rating of the back seat area and can't wait for tomorrow when she can ride in it to her bus stop.)


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nonfiction Monday -- Clouds

Yes, I did it again.
Nonfiction Monday is happening on Tuesday.
I've been so involved with the huge weeding project at my library (we're changing our checkout system to RFID and are under orders to trim our collection of books. Which will make it easier for us to tag all of our books with the RFID tag. But I digress.), that I forgot to grab a book to take home to review.
Anywho -- here's one I found today.

Clouds by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Frane' Lessac. New York: Collins, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2008. (Hey, didn't I hear that Collins is no more and it's all folded into HarperCollins now?)

This is part of Harper's Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science series. (Level 1) You may remember that for years and years (and even more years) that series consisted of books written by Dr. Franklyn M. Branley. It looks as if HarperCollins is now assigning a group of other writers to update the series.

You know how has this "Look Inside" where you can click and see 4 parts of any book? Well, if you go to the HarperCollins website here, you can read the whole book and see all the pictures. Just click on "Browse Inside."

In simple sentences, a few on a page, the writer takes you from fog on the ground to all the various clouds in the sky. I don't call this "easy reading" because how can cloud names like Cirrostratus and Cumulonimulus be easy to read? But students will be able to sound them out (with a little help from adults) and will enjoy knowing their true names -- just like they easily learn anything about dinosaurs, including those complicated names.

I especially like the illustration that shows ALL of the different types of clouds. And the fact that it repeats itself three times, as the words talk about the high, middle layer, and then the low hanging clouds. By the third time it appears, both child and adult readers begin to recognize each cloud type.

What if there were NO clouds? Now, there's a viewpoint I hadn't thought of. Rockwell does, though, and discusses the fact that life, as we know it, wouldn't exist on earth without clouds to bring shade and rain.

The rest of the Nonfiction Monday book reviews are located here.
-wendie Old

Friday, March 13, 2009

Back to School Books Wanted

I know, I know.
It's closer to the 100 days of school books time than it is to back-to-school books time.

Every year we children's librarians revise some of the booklist handouts that we lay around our libraries to help adults find great books for children.

This year, I've signed myself up to revise our library's Back to School booklist and I was just wondering if there were some newish (or old favorites) out there that I might not be aware of. If you have a favorite book you use every year to get kids ready for school, or a great new one you've just discovered, please let me know (in the comments section of the blog) and I'll try to get it/ them onto this booklist.

I might even post the final list, if anyone is interested in seeing it.

Oh, and if you haven't heard already, Betsy Bird over on Fuse # 8 is making a list of the All-Time-Best Picture books. She'd like you to send her your list of what you think are the top 10 picture books ever published -- since they began publishing picture books in America. She's going to moosh them together into a massive "Top 100 Picture Books of All Time."

Okay, that's two projects for you. Back to School books to me -- anywhere in the comments section is fine. And your Top Ten Picture Books of All Time to Betsy. Thanks.
-wendie old

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NF Tuesday

Waaaat? Nonfiction Tuesday?
Yes, occasionally I do this. Today I have a link to a blog that is talking about Why Read Nonfiction to Children?

It's all part of a week-long push by BLOGers called: "Share a Story - Shape a Future Blog Tour for Literacy." The focus of Day Two is "Selecting Reading Material." The complete schedule for the week-long blog tour can be found here.

The librarian in me can't wait for day 4, when they talk about Using Libraries.

Didn't Elizabeth O. Dulemba and Susan Stephenson create a cute image to promote Share a Story - Shape a Future!

Monday, March 9, 2009

NF Monday -- Listen to the Wind

Listen to the Wind, the Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth, collages by Susan L. Roth. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009. Available now.

Susan is touring now to promote this book. I hear she was in Baltimore this weekend. Maybe she'll come back for the Baltimore Book Festival and I'll hear first hand how she convinced Greg Mortenson to let her use her beautiful collage art style to create a picture book version of his adult book -- Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a time.

Once there was a mountain climber -- who got lost and sick in Pakistan. The people of a mountain village nursed him back to health and he returned the favor by treating their illnesses. They called him Dr. Greg.

He noticed the children had no school. Their teacher only visited the village for a few days a week. They wrote with sticks on the ground. He left the village and returned with a surprise -- building material for a new school. The children now have books and pencils and paper and a school and a full-time teacher.

The illustrations are full of joyful children, hardworking adults, and the beautiful scenery of that mountainous area. Kudos to Susan for creating such a beautiful (and easy reading) version of this story.

The afterward is full of actual photographs of this event, plus information about the almost 60 schools he and his foundation have helped create. Everyone, even school children can participate by donating pennies. (It's not actually a plea for donations, but more of an inspiration that makes the reader want to help. The website for donations is here. )

More Nonfiction Monday reviews are at Lori Calabrese Writes! this week.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Family escapes Fire

Just to get your attention, I thought I'd start this message with a headline suitable for those Expose-All magazines/ newspapers you can buy at the checkout line in grocery stores.

Yes, our house caught fire, again.
Here's how it happened:
We live in a 1740s stone farmhouse heated partly by electric heat and partly by a woodstove.

We've been freezing in our house, so Wednesday evening my husband decided to light a fire in the woodstove. (He never did start one this past weekend -- when it was below freezing and snowing. But since the Monday and Tuesday nights the temperatures went down to about 8 degrees F., he decided to build a fire.)

For some reason, perhaps he was too much in a hurry, building it too hot too quickly -- the fire spread up the pipe into the chimney.
I arrived home from work to find the living room full of smoke and him battling a chimney fire -- with the 9-year-old in the same room, blissfully unaware on the computer playing on

I got the 9-year-old off the computer while my husband managed to put out the fire in the pipe connecting the woodstove to the chimney, but it had spread to the fire shelf. (right where the pipe goes into the chimney.)
It never became a full-blown chimney fire, roaring up the chimney. We've had several of those and the sound of it, like a roaring train, is unforgettable.

Once the 9-year-old realized what was happening, she was terribly worried about the fire spreading throughout the house. (It never has. It always remains just a chimney fire. That's why this house has stood for so long -- stone houses don't burn. The wooden floors and joists do, but as long as it stays in the chimney the only damage is from all the smoke.) Asbestos shingles on the roof also help keep any sparks from igniting the house.

I got the 9-year-old distracted and calmed down, and into PJs and finally into bed. (a little bit of Shel Silverstein's funny poems from his book, Crack in the Sidewalk, helped, too.)

My husband kept pumping water and fire retardant into the pipe and at the base of the chimney. For several hours we could hear the fire crackling on the fire shelf and stuff falling from the inside of the chimney onto the pipe connection, gradually becoming fainter and fainter.

Now the house is colder than it was before -- we had had to open all doors and some windows to get the smoke out. And my poor husband can't lay another fire until he cleans the gook out of the chimney. When the fire hits a chimney, the creosote deposited there by months of fire smoke puffs out like a marshmallow in a microwave. It either flies out the chimney or falls off the chimney walls. Lots of stuff fell out of the chimney onto the fire shelf and into the stove pipe during the excitement.

Temperatures are supposed to rise all week, with maybe a high in the 60s by Saturday. Whoop-de-do.
I'm going to have to wash most of our clothing, because the smoke came upstairs into our bedroom, too. (Dang, those smoke alarms are loud -- it doesn't realize that we're right there, fighting the fire, and yes we DO know there's smoke in the room.)

So -- how was YOUR day?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

If you read, your children will read

It's been so long since I've made a sale that I'd almost forgotten what it was like to be featured in a magazine or newspaper. But this month's (March) lead story in the local magazine Baltimore's Child is an article about me.

The interviewer was the lovely Susan Davis, assistant Editor of Baltimore's Child and a constant user of the library where I work. She's also very active in homeschooling circles. A busy lady, indeed.

Repeating part of the interview:
How do you get a child to read?
By modeling reading yourself. Read, read, read.
By having books laying around the house, on shelves, in the dining room, in the bathroom, in the bedrooms.

The problem at our house isn't how to get the 9-year old to read. It's how to get her to stop reading and Go To Sleep!

Monday, March 2, 2009

National Tooth Fairy Day

Who knew? (Katie Davis knew.)

She wrote Mabel the Tooth Fairy and here she is, being interviewed on local TV about National Tooth Fairy Day.
-wendie O

Nonfiction Monday

I'm snowed in here, and therefore I don't have a young nonfiction book to review today. Sorry.

Since schools are closed and my workplace is closed, I have several girls downstairs having a playdate together because THEIR parents had to go to work and the day care that usually cares for school age children on days when schools are closed -- is also closed.

But, if you need your nonfiction Monday fix, just click here to see what other bloggers are talking about today.

It IS Dr. Seuss's birthday today, which means you could go read any of his biographies, such as the one that Lori Cababrese reviewed -- the adult level biography -- The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel. Try it. It's a fun read.