In the Middle of the Day!

Categories // Books

I just received a present of the last Janice Holt Giles book published in 1979, a collection of thoughts, fiction and memoirs.

Wellspring by Janet Holt Giles


Social Studies Teachers, One of the Best

Categories // Books, Rants, Raves and Kudos

Surgeon General's Report of 1964

I was lucky to have Mr. Burrows for 6th grade social studies at Cedar Hill Elementary School, so were my sister and brothers. I don't know his full name, perhaps Robert. This was when teachers' first names were Mr., Miss, Mrs. or Ms., sometimes Dr. He taught history and geography. We spent forever on World War II, Hilter, the camps, the Russians, communism, gulags, and the Cold War. I truly hated the movies he showed, but then I also have never watched the monkey scene in the Wizard of Oz, so prison camp torture wasn't really a strong suit for me. I spent most of any movie time with my eyes shut.


Cosa Dos

Categories // Books

What if You Don't Love Dr. Seuss?

Theodor Seuss Geisel would have been 100 years old this past weekend. Wow. He was a prolific writer, more than sixty books of which I have ten. Sixty is impressive by anyone's count. I don't love him, I don't hate him, I generally don't care. I was sorry for Sam in Green Eggs and Ham, because Sam was being chased and badgered and chased and badgered all through the story. I really felt for the girls I knew named Sally, because the sister in the Cat in the Hat was well, you know, you've read it. I did like One fish two fish red fish blue fish, especially the lines:

From near to far, from here to there, 

Funny things are everywhere.

 Dr. Seuss' One fish two fish red fish blue fish

The funniest Seuss ever was to me was when my high school daughter dressed up for Halloween as Thing Two from The Cat in the Hat and her spanish teacher named her Cosa Dos. Now that cracked me up, the book, not so much. 



Would I Recommend The Last Bunch of Books I Read?

Categories // Books

Yes and No

A friend asked what I was reading and what would I recommend. I don't do that much. Everyone's taste is so different and I have never matched mine to someone else. She was really interested, so here is a list of the five most recent books I've read:

  • Sleigh Belles by Beth Albright
  • Heirs of the Body by Carola Dunn
  • The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane by Kelly Harms
  • Lydia's Party by Margaret Hawkins
  • Rosemary and Crime by Gail Oust

Three Books for the Ages

Categories // Books

Old Turtle, Jonathan Livingston Seagull and The Little Prince

Philosophers for Kids

Bonnie and Jack, Mele and Malakai, Erin and baby Grace, you all make me think of books to have at home for the kids and for you. A link by Linda Kenny Margot Adler's Before He Fell To Earth'The Little Prince' Was Born In N.Y. immediately made me think of this trio.

Old Turtle by Douglas Wood is the newest of these three allegorical, philosophical, spiritual books. It was first published more than twenty years ago with truly amazing watercolor illustrations.

Old Turtle by Douglas Wood

He has written other books, why don't I have them? Hmmm...


Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard David Bach appeared more than forty years ago and was alternately loved and panned. I don't know how many times I read it in high school, more than ten.

 Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard David Bach

His thoughts on outcasts, striving, failure and excellence still resonate.


The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery, last but certainly not least, was published seventy years ago and is still applicable. I read it first in French 2 or 3 as an assignment. Later I read it in English and enjoyed it all over again.

iThe Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery

I learned, while grappling with a fabulous story in a second language, some words like ameliorate can't be translated, they just mean what they mean.

Between them, these three books cover the power of friendship, the joy in striving for excellence and the importance of not letting cacophony obliterate the beauty of the natural world. That's a lot for one Sunday. If you are searching for a book as a baptismal or confirmation gift, these would all fit the bill. Check with your local bookstore, (I like the Boulder Book Store and the Tattered Cover), Barnes & Noble or Amazon to find copies of these books.


Books for a Baby Shower

Categories // Books

You Will Make a Great Mom Mele

So the baby shower is coming up and I had to decide, read the online options from Target, Babies R Us and Amazon or ... go buy a favorite book. 

Surprise, surprise, I bought a book. It was a toss up between Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.


The Emperor Has No Clothes On

Categories // Books

The Gringo: A Memoir

Hans Christian Anderson wrote a short story about an Emperor who ordered a set of clothing from some weavers/swindlers who outfitted him in nothing and those same men convinced the general populace that those who couldn't see how fine the cloth was, were in fact, ignorant. The swindlers filled their bags with the fine thread and silk meant for the Emperor's cloth and pretended to work on empty looms far into the nights. No one wanted to admit that he could not see the cloth at all, so eventually the Emperor went out dressed in nothing whatsoever. A child's voice was heard to say "But he doesn't have anything on!"

One hundred and seventy five years later, J. Grigsby Crawford has written a book, The Gringo: A Memoir, about his experiences in the Peace Corps. By speaking the truth in the child's voice, he basically says, the Emperor has no clothes on. A very good read with provocative thoughts about the future and present usefulness of the Peace Corps.

J. Grigsby Crawford

I reread The Emperor's New Clothes today. I had forgotten the ending, in which the Emperor and his chamberlains continue to pretend he is not walking throughout the town naked. Check it out! The parallel may still hold true for both adventures.


Brian Sykes, Genetics and Genealogy

Categories // Books

About ten years ago, The Seven Daughters of Eve by Brian Sykes came out and I read an excerpt that made me want to read it. The queue to read it was crazy, months long. When it finally got off the reserve hold list, it was no longer a "new book" available in the new book section. It was filed on the shelves in the stacks, out of sight out of mind. It was probably half a year later and I forgot about it.

Recently, another book by Brian Sykes was published, DNA USA: A Genetic Biography of America. I read it last week. I went back to the library and put holds and transfers on two other books, The Seven Daughters of Eve and Saxons, Vikings and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland. I moved on to The Seven Daughters of Eve and finished it in a couple days. These are not dry science textbooks about genetics and DNA, but books about the learning process Sykes encountered while researching, stories about the research process itself while including lots of information about the research. I can't wait to finish them all. Saxons, Vikings and Celts: is next, I am about a third of the way through. 

DNA USA will be on my Christmas list for sure. I am still deciding about the other two.


Gone-Away Lake

Categories // Books

Just the Right Amount of Summer Freedom

Here along the Front Range we had a hard summer, the man against nature theme was unrelenting in June, with fires burning in and out of control. In Aurora, 58 people were wounded and 12 murdered by a lone gunman in a theatre in July. It's overwhelming. It's violent, man against man, evil. My heart actually seems to hurt, pained for those families, kind of sore, pummeled even. Escapist literature is what I was thinking, summer escapist books. I can barely listen to the news much less read the paper. It's just too hard.


Friends of the Library and Summer Book Sales

Categories // Books

Books For Sale at the Kiwanis Fair

You know you were from Basking Ridge if you spent the Fourth of July at Somerset Hills Golf Course watching the fireworks and Labor Day at the Kiwanis Fair walking around for hours behind Oak Street.

Summer brings out book sales by lots of Friends of the Library groups. Denver Public Library has one, Boulder Public Library has some, Western Reserve Historical Society Library had some huge ones, the Glenwood Springs Library has two, in the spring and fall, even the tiny village library in Basking Ridge had one. This library was so small, the sale was held in a booth at the Kiwanis Fair, three eight-foot tables set in U shape covered with books. 


Which is Jean Webster's Best Book, Daddy-Long-Legs or Dear Enemy?

Categories // Books

The Original or the Sequel?

There was a Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron musical Daddy Long-Legs taken roughly from the book by Jean Webster. As much as I love musicals, and as many as I have seen, this one from 1955 is one that I haven't seen. I don't know how I could have missed it, but yet I have. Seeing it on the DIRECT TV menu put it in my mind, so of course this past weekend, I chose that horse to win the Kentucky Derby. Probably not the best of methods to choose a Derby winner, as Daddy Long Legs came in dead last but with great memories.


The Horse Books

Categories // Books

Just in Time for the Kentucky Derby

My dad's cousin Helen had horses that her daughters rode in horse shows around the South. They had lots and lots of gorgeous ribbons of every color in their den. I didn't really want to own a horse because the chores were very time consuming, but I really liked riding horses and reading books about them.

Growing up with wonderful horse books, authors Farley, Henry and O'Hara, come to mind immediately, followed by Enid Bagnold's National Velvet and Anna Sewell's Black Beauty. I didn't have these books as a child, I read them in the school and town libraries. I have some of them now and heartily recommend them.


Consequences for Kids

Categories // Books

Consequences Aren't Always Punishments

So many conversations between parents and children now involve the word consequences. There will be consequences later for that action, behavior, choice. Consequences aren't always punishments and certainly aren't always bad. Laura Numeroff wrote two of the best books, ever, about consequences. The first, If You Give a Mouse A Cookie and the next, If You Give a Moose a Muffin. If anything, consequences are unexpectedly humorous.

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff

The books are so lyrical, they are really free verse poetry. The illustrations are so funny, they are almost comic books.

If You Give A Moose A Muffin by Laura Numeroff

The idea that actions have consequences is powerful, not always what you might imagine, but as certain as night follows day, consequences follow actions. We have both of these books and one of them in Spanish.

Since I bought these two books, Laura Numeroff has written five more books beginning with If in the title and several others. I imagine they also are full of unexpected consequences. Since the word consequences had the potential for turning into a scary word, we had consequences for good results. The consequence for extra good school work in addition to learning, might be a physical reward of a ball, marbles or soccer equipment. The consequence of learning basketball free throws in addition to helping you master a skill, might be a music reward, perhaps a new song and the consequence of mastering a new piece on the piano might be a new book. The point is always mixing it up, keeping three different goals balanced, education, sports and music. If your child wants more sports equipment, excelling in school or music could work as a trigger. If your child studies wonderfully, the consequences for that could be more sports or music rewards. Consequences don't have to be monetarily oriented rewards, choosing the next channel on the car radio, the next box of breakfast cereal, the game for family game night, after dinner softball or soccer, a bedtime story or a chapter in a book, are all possibilities. Parenting is all about balance.

If you want to buy these books as presents to commemorate Easter or Passover, go to Laura Numeroff's web site, your local bookstore, Amazon, ABEBooks or Alibris.


Is it Censorship if You Just Don't Buy the Book?

Categories // Books

Parental Censorship or Economic Voting

Censorship or Not

Is it parental censorship if you don't buy the book? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Last year on 4 June 2011, Meghan Cox Gurdon wrote a thoroughly provocative article in the Wall Street Journal about young adult fiction. Unlike many who read Ms. Gordon’s column, I smiled as I read it. I wonder if any of her articles have gotten more feedback. I have never censored my daughter’s library choices, never flat out said she couldn’t read a specific book she wanted. I did draw the line at buying books I felt were inappropriate. When Lisa Johnson, my daughter's second grade teacher suggested Harry Potter was not age appropriate for most seven year olds, I held off another year before purchasing any of the series for her. I never said my daughter couldn’t read it or check it from either the school library or the public library, I just didn't buy it. We both read the first Harry Potter the next year when she was eight. Over time I bought and we read them all. Generally instead of reading the newest blockbusters, our house was filled with books she might or might not read, many of which have been out of print for decades. By having scads of books available all the time at her fingertips, the young adult section of the library wasn’t such a big draw.


Three Bags of Books

Categories // Books

A Good Friend Knows

I recently broke three bones including one in my wrist and was so aggravated by the idiocy of the whole situation, I couldn't believe it. A good friend went into her study and piled three large canvas grocery bags full of books and brought them over. She said she knew by pulling books from various shelves there would be bound to be some I hadn't read. She was right. There was a stack of nearly twenty books for me savor.

The Dorothy Sayers books surprised me, as I thought I had read most of them. I hadn't.

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers

I found that wasn't true. There was also a Clive Cussler et al book in there I hadn't seen or read.

The Race by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott

I don't recommend breaking bones. I am right handed and to have my wrist in a cast has been ridiculous. The piles and piles of books however, were definitely a treat. Plus, I read things I might not have chosen from the library shelves myself. It's good to broaden your scope every once in while, even if you didn't plan on it.

In three bags of books there were a lot of mysteries. Those I had read previously filled one bag. Another bag I filled with those I didn't really have an interest in reading, leaving the contents of an entire bag to be enjoyed while recuperating. The second bag was held in abeyance, just in case I ran out.

A good friend is one who knows one bag isn't possibly enough. She also understands that there are about five or six books that somehow didn't make it back into the return pile. They await their own bag. Thanks Jocie.

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Ida Sherwood Bettis is my paternal grand mother. Aunt Clara is my great aunt. I can remember every nooks and crany of that house and yard...

Eric Bettis Eric Bettis 25. July, 2017 |

I would be happy to forward your name, connection, and email if you wish.

Barbara K. Henritze Barbara K. Henritze 06. November, 2016 |

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