Back Off, Bugs, Inside Is My Territory

Around this time of year when I was little, the occasional bug would attempt an escape from the falling temperatures outdoors and wander into our home. If said bug was a spider, I would shriek and my mother would say something like, “Oh look! It’s a Halloween spider!” Maybe this was her attempt to make something scary seem cute, but years later, I remain unconvinced. I hate bugs. Continue reading

Animals, Adventure, and Controversy: Review of The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

dolittleIn Hugh Lofting’s The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, narrator Tommy Stubbins recollects when he was 9 and a half and met the Doctor, became his assistant, and joined in his adventures. I found the book to be a fun, quick read, imaginative, and an overall improvement from my reading experience with the previous Newbery winner.

Still, I found it ironic that Doctor Dolittle, who converses with animals and hates zoos, eats meat. Pages after referencing a pig that lives on his property, he’s digging sausages out of his bag and frying them up for him and Tommy. I’m no vegetarian, but I wonder how the Doctor justifies this choice. Is it OK as long as the animals on his dinner table weren’t any former patients or friends? How can he be so sure? Continue reading

Book Review Rating Process

Before I get back to posting Newbery book reviews, I thought I would explain my rating process. Since I’m tracking my reading progress on Goodreads, I adopted a one to five rating scale. Instead of stars (because I find it amusing), I assign an item or theme from the book being reviewed. For The Story of Mankind, that item was missing maps. Continue reading

Returning to Stalled Projects

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There’s a room in our house empty of furniture, its walls displaying patches of tested paint color and spackled over imperfections. It’s the first of several interior painting projects we planned in winter and started to work on in late spring. Since then, other events and projects have taken priority and the room has sat, prepped and full of potential, awaiting a fresh coat of color with an eggshell sheen.

It’s become a bit like this blog. Continue reading

Navigating History Without a Map: Review of The Story of Mankind

“Why should we ever read fairy stories, when the truth of history is so much more interesting and entertaining?”
Hendrik Willem Van Loon, The Story of Mankind

The pristine condition of this book should have tipped me off that the patrons of my local library prefer the fairy stories. Continue reading

Reading Through the Newbery List

The library and bookstore ranked high among the favorite places of my childhood. Here, my parents displayed endless patience as they waited for me to pick out my selections. Cautionary words about not judging books by their covers were only partially heeded, as a book’s physical appearance was often what caught my eye and prompted further investigation (i.e., reading the dust jacket or back cover to find out what this beautiful book was about).

Like anyone else with a love of reading, I developed favorite authors whose works often made it to my check-out pile or shopping bag. Criteria for the unfamiliar typically depended on two characteristics. One was thickness of the volume (the thicker the better so the delight of reading it would last longer). The other was the presence of a medal or seal related to the Newbery Award on the front cover. Continue reading

Why I Can’t Wait for Spring

I’m noticing a trend here, as I write yet another seasonal blog post. No matter, I’m over winter a month ago, and every day it persists I’m reminded of what I’m looking forward to when it’s finally over.

Warmth. (Pardon me for stating the obvious.) I don’t ever like being cold. Spring, for me, is ideal because it’s that blissful time without need of the extra layers essential to survive winter’s drafts and summer’s air conditioning. Continue reading

On Fiction: Feeling Too Much?

Maybe I’m a sympathetic crier. Maybe, as I’ve grown older, I understand more and empathize with more situations. Either way, it doesn’t matter — if there’s a tearjerking moment in a film, television show, or book, I better have the tissues handy.

It sounds silly. We’re talking about fictional characters here; it’s not like they’re real people experiencing real moments. Is it feeling too much to shed tears of joy and sorrow along with people who don’t exist?

I say no. Continue reading

Football Stats and Commentary to Cut Next Season

NFL refs, analysts, and commentators take a lot of heat from fans. It is, after all, an integral part of watching football to yell at the TV — whether it’s because of a poor or missed call, statement of the obvious, or enforcement (or lack thereof) of a subjective rule. Was it a catch or an incomplete pass? If I had a dollar for how many times this season I heard if a player did or did not “maintain complete control of the ball” debated … I still wouldn’t be able to afford tickets to the Super Bowl. Continue reading

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is Here!!!!! (Yes, I am a little excited)

I am no Scrooge. Christmas is my favorite holiday. It’s also the only time of year I find snowfall acceptable, then I’m bah humbugging with the best of them.

Besides weather, the common Christmas complaints surround commercialism. This includes how early displays show up in stores and how shoppers trample over the true meaning of the day to get the best deals on the most stuff. Growing up, I loved waking on Christmas morning to find gifts under the tree that weren’t there the night before, regardless of what I believed about jolly old St. Nick. After all, what child doesn’t like presents?

But even then I loved traditions that were less about getting. Continue reading