Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The Encyclopedia of Stitches, with 245 Stitches Illustrated and 24 Exquisite Projects, edited by Karen Hemingway. This book isn't very old, only 2004, but it's not really meeting my needs here. All the stitches and projects are very cross-stitchy, which is not my style. There are lots of stitches, as the title suggests, but the instructions and illustrations aren't as clear as some other books I've seen. Very few stitches get more than 2 steps pictured (most only have 1 picture), and the text for the steps is more prose-like, not numbered and step-by-step-y. The Last Kingdom, by Bernard Cornwell. I forgot how much I love good historical fiction. Cornwell-- or, rather, how I read Cornwell-- confuses me, though: I come away from his books feeling like I absolutely adored them, but during the actual reading of the books, my mind tends to wander. I would have to say that his writing style isn't very gripping, but it's the detail, both historical and personal, that I love. This was the start of a 4 or 5 book series; it will take me a little while, but this is one series I mean to finish. If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, by Laura Numeroff; illustrated by Felicia Bond. Last week, I helped out our Extension Department by dressing up as the mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Take a Mouse to the Movies fame for some preschool visits. (Who makes a costume that can only be worn by someone under 5'4"? And why would a department with no one meeting that description rent such a costume?) I love those books, and in talking with Extension staff before the events, I learned that there's a newer one I had missed-- this one! I was super excited to read it, so it made me sad that this one isn't as good. The illustrations are funny and precious, as always, but the text seemed to be less carefully constructed. It didn't have the same flow as earlier books. I'm very sad to say that it felt like the author really was just banking on people buying it because of how great the other ones were, knowing she could slide a little on the quality know that she's got a committed audience. Boo! Not a Stick and Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis. I checked these out again because 1) I love them, and 2) I wanted to do a bit of a spinoff project. It goes like this: round about June or so, the grounds guy at our apartment complex put a post into the lawn in front of our apartment. It's a very nice post, about 3 feet tall and square, like the kind you'd attach a sign or permanent notice to. Six months later, however, it is still just a nicely painted post. After just a few weeks of continuing-naked-post, my husband and I started being silly and making up things it could be instead of just a sign-less sign holder. We had the idea to create something like these books just for ourselves: photo my husband standing on top of the post, then use a Paint program to draw a fort around him ("It's a look out post!"). Lovelovelove! Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens are Really Doing Online, by Anastasia Goodstein. I had another program early this week on helping inform parents about what their kids are up to. We were covering Facebook and social networks in general. The parents were really glad to have the program-- they were nervous about signing up for Facebook, but they wanted to monitor their kids; now they are much more comfortable. I read about half of this book, and basically it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. First, any book written about anything online is outdated the moment it hits the shelves: this was published in 2007, but the stats are from 2005 or before. If the reader is unfamiliar with all things webby, this book can give a good idea, but the specifics have certainly changed: the author uses LiveJournal as the main example throughout the book, but LiveJournal was never popular with any of my friends and I've never had an account. Most of the basic info (don't post your address online; kids use chat they way their parents used the phone for hours; etc.) is the same. The really impressive thing was that the author was able to strike just the right tone: not too hip, certainly not like she's trying, but not too staid and formal. That was quite good.

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