Monday, September 27, 2010


...mmm.  Finishing post while drinking peppermint mocha coffee.  :D

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee.    This was a very interesting book.  It's not exactly a comprehensive look at the problem-- toward the end, the author talks about his surprise at the number of hoarders who have no idea that they have a problem.  Their drain on local social services...that's not the point.  Stick to the writing, me.
I found the book very informative.  It presented this problem but I never felt there was any blame being attached to the people who suffer from it.  It was also very well written.  It definitely pulled me in to the lives of the cases presented.  Although the author shared the stories of quite a few people, it wasn't too many people-- a problem I see in nonfiction frequently.
I am interested in now watching an episode of A&E's Hoarders.  From the few clips I've seen, it looks like the show is mostly about shouting at people (that could be a fair description of most "reality" shows on TV, though), which is definitely not the right and helpful thing to do, according to Frost.  It doesn't look like you can watch full episodes online through the A&E sight, but I'm sure I can find them somewhere.

Little Blog on the Prairie, by Cathleen Davitt Bell.    This is one I think I'll be booktalking in a few weeks with the 6th graders.  Gen's mom makes them all do a 1860's reenactment camp thing for the summer, and Gen predictably rebels.  The character is likable and the situations are humorous.  I think a little more funny would have been more appealing for the age group, but it's still good.
The thing I really didn't like, and I think younger readers will also really dislike, is that there is a "bad guy (girl)," a main-ish mean character, who fails to get her come-uppance.  Life isn't always fair and blah blah, but it can be in fiction.  Although, come to think of it, this would be a good point to talk about in a book group maybe.  I could see using this book in a group setting... hmm...

Sister Wife, by  Shelley Hrdlitschka.    I pulled this one to consider for my 6th graders, but that's a big no.      It's not clear for the first half of the book which decade or even half-century it is, nor is it ever specified where in the world this is taking place (my guess is mid to eastern Canada).  The main character's age is vague for a while, and the first part of the book is certainly appropriate for a middle school audience, but the content really ups the ante in the second half of the book.  I couldn't hand it to just any 6th or 7th graders because of the harder themes and questions in the second part, but it won't go to 10th or 11th graders because the first part is so vague and they won't be able to identify with a main character who seems 12 until she suddenly has to be 20.  If you want a book on this topic, hand readers The Chosen One instead.

The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis, edited by Sofia Gutierrez.  With Bart Simpson's Creepy Crawly Tales: A Ghastly Tale of Unspeakable Horror... "The Collector" and with Simpsons Comics #1, by Steve Vance, Bill Morrison, Tim Bavington, and Cindy Vance.  I love Futurama.  I'm not ashamed to say it.  It's the perfect blend of sci-fi geekdom and snark.
The book is several related shorter original comic stories bound together.  The two other titles listed are in a separate comic book which is included in a pocket in the back of the book.  (Note for librarians-- this is a separate piece!  It is not physically attached to the body of the book!  But the main book is hardcover and appears to be reasonably well-bound!)
In general, I think the comics based on Groening's work are very well done, the plots are easy to follow but interesting, the art and story flow well.  These examples are no different.  For hard-core Groening fans, this book is a good choice because it has a lot of creative-process information in the back, story boards and drafts of sketches, etc., which some may find interesting.

The Great Starvation Experiment: The Heroic Men who Starved so that Millions could Live, by Todd Tucker.    Here's some WWII history we didn't learn in school.  Usually I don't like too much history, and although this was in my section (600-619), there wasn't very much scientific discussion; still, I found it very interesting to read about this experiment.
There were a lot of people involved in the experiment, and though not all of them were "main characters" in the book, there were a few too many for me to keep track of, a problem I frequently have with nonfiction.  Even if I had been able to match up the life stories of the experiment participants with their later circumstances, I'm not sure it would have added too much to the story that I missed.
I am having lunch with my Grandma today, and I will ask her what she remembers about this.  I think it would be interesting.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

Little Blog is one I am waiting for, but the book on hoarding looks like just the sort of nonfiction that I like to read. Thanks. And be careful-- I am living proof that reading too many picture books around can make you loopy. It's fun, but pace yourself.