Posts Tagged ‘children’s books’

Or how the government wants you to like them. (Sigh.)

This (what is reported in the article linked above) is especially silly or aggravating, because one of the wonderful things about tacos is how easily they are personalized. From Trouble Pug:

10 – TACOS

After the Tanakas bowed their heads and silently said grace, Mrs. Tanaka uncovered the serving dishes.

Morgan’s mom stared in shock at what was before her.

“What is this?” she asked.

“Tacos,” Mrs. Tanaka said.

“Tacos? Tacos!” Ms. Smith spluttered.

“Any problem?” Mr. Tanaka asked.

“But you guys are Japanese. This is Mexican food,” Ms. Smith wailed.

“Actually, it’s also American food. And, actually, we’re Americans. Have been for about a hundred years now,” Mr. Tanaka said, politely. He refrained from mentioning that people all over the world ate tacos these days. For that matter, it wouldn’t surprise him if astronauts ate them on the space station. “Kisa, would you pass me the tomatoes, please, if you’re through with them?” he asked.

“Sure, Dad,” Kisa said, handing him the chopped tomatoes.

In the Tanaka house, tacos were a favorite meal, not least because everyone could make his own, just the way he wanted. There were dishes heaped high with ingredients, and the family just handed the dishes around. Kisa liked hard shells, with a lot of tomatoes and lettuce and not too many beans, and lots and lots of ketchup. She wouldn’t even touch the hot sauce.

“Is that beef?” Morgan’s mom asked, with her eyes narrowed into suspicious slits as she watched Kisa’s mom build a taco.

“Yes,” Mrs. Tanaka said.

“I don’t eat beef,” Ms. Smith said.

“Then make yours without any. That’s why we serve them this way. Everyone chooses what he wants,” Mrs. Tanaka said.

“You shouldn’t eat beef,” Ms. Smith told her. “And I’m not a he.”

“I never said you were male. I just used standard English grammar.”

“It’s offensive.”

“Not to me.”

“It’s confusing.”

“Not once you learn it. It can be pretty handy, actually, using ‘he’ as a generic.”

“You shouldn’t eat beef,” Ms. Smith said again.

Mrs. Tanaka quietly helped herself to more ground beef. (more…)

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Food for thought:

…John Senior remarks that students need to read the thousand good books before they read the hundred great books. Otherwise in college such students may turn into well-read nihilists, excited by intellectual inquiry (without end or purpose), and contemptuous of moral good, very much aware of their own cleverness and insensitive to the presence of moral virtue in others and its absence in themselves.

Read the whole thing.

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(Shameless self-promotion warning)

Trouble Pug is currently at #41 in Kindle Children’s ebooks > Animals > Dogs, at Amazon. It was a little higher than that earlier today. I expect it to drop through the day, unless there are fresh sales. (I’m not sure, but I think rankings get updated hourly.)

But, at any rate, as long as it is currently my bestselling book (that’s not saying much at this point, but it is my bestselling book), I thought I’d mention that it is less of a dog book, than a Christianity confronts feminism story. I don’t know about you, but my heart breaks for kids raised by feminists. For that matter, my heart breaks for feminists.

One of my “advance reader copy” readers got angry with me for not being harder on Sunshine Smith (the lead feminist character), but he missed the point. If you believe that God can and does remake people from the inside out, hatred can give way to a wish for God to reach into someone’s life and convert them. Like He reached into mine, and converted me. (The younger me had more in common with Sunshine Smith than I sometimes like to admit.)

The book takes two girls from wildly different family situations, and throws them into time travel adventures. I want kids to get a taste for learning history (not the PC twaddle that gets shoved at them, but real history). I want them to have a good time, reading the book. But I also want to plant seeds that encourage kids to question propaganda. I want them to realize that sometimes people lie and cheat. I want to give them examples of people they don’t want to emulate.

There is a scene in the book in which activists lie to news reporters. It happens. I can’t remember how long I was a newspaper reporter before I got roped into helping perpetrate a fraud. They got me but good, at first. It was a horrible experience, not only to have been duped, but to have naively passed the disinformation along. In the book, the reporters discover the unreliability of their source in time. I wish that happened more often in real life, by the way, but I’m afraid that reporters get duped a lot. Sometimes some of them do their own duping, too. Sad to say.

Parents, please note: This book deals with the sinking of the Lusitania, and other subjects you may not think your child is old enough for yet. I recommend vetting it, before letting your kids read it.

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Micheal Flaherty, president of Walden Media, had a few things to say about movies, literature, history and prayer at a luncheon following following the National Prayer Breakfast this year.

Key words: William Wilberforce, Philip Yancey, Dorothy Day, Malcolm Muggeridge, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Soviet Union, revival, It’s a Wonderful Life, Frank Capra, Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, Charlotte’s Web, Narnia, C.S. Lewis, Amazing Grace, John Newton, slave trade, abolition.

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I’m not familiar with the children’s book The Wheel on the School, but this At A Hen’s Pace post has moved it onto my ‘want to read’ list.

Parents: If, by chance, you’re on the lookout for boy-worthy books, At A Hen’s Pace says it was a hit with her boys.

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Our little bookstore sells mostly used books, and we also like to stock regional offerings. So, we draw book scouts. In the old days, most book scouts were mostly looking to buy used books for other bookstores that sell used books. Sometimes they’d be scouting for a collector. Sometimes they were collectors themselves.

These days, we see more and more book scouts who are scouring the country in search of self-published books that they might sell to bookstores, or to big publishers (more and more of which are picking up previously self-published books). Ours is a small store, off the beaten track, and we see something between four and eight of these guys a month, as far as we know. How many of them are professionals, and how many are just winging it, I couldn’t tell you. It’s a new form of gold rush, in its way, with scouts hoping to strike gold with some obscure book or author they can launch to acclaim and bestsellerdom. Like all mining, it draws all types.

So, anyway, a few weeks ago a man who claimed to be a book scout bought one of my books, Why We Raise Belgian Horses. Later, he called my husband, and said that he really liked the book, and in the future it might be hailed as good literature (he said), but for today it was no good because people wanted shorter books. If it were only 130-140 pages long, he could sell it, he said.

We had to laugh. For one thing, in our bookstore, thick books often sell easier than thin ones. For another, of the four books we hope to get out within the next year or so, God willing, all four are longer yet. By quite a bit, in some cases.

For another thing, when we started in this business, we used to tear our hair out when people came into the store and obsessed over the length of kid’s books. We’d be asking what the kid would like to read about, or about what the parent would like the kid to read about, and the mother (carefully drilled by her child’s public school teacher more often than not) would be in anguish that she might buy her precious, fragile child a book that was too long for her, or that had chapters before the child was ready for chapters, or that had words in it that the child didn’t know already. (I did mention, didn’t I, that this made us tear at our hair? And if you’re wondering where I get my deep and abiding dislike of the self-esteem movement, this is definitely one of the reasons.)

But then Harry Potter came along. Overnight, or close to it, nobody cared about the length of children’s books anymore.

I guess these things go in cycles. Over the decades and centuries, the length of fiction has seemed to go through fads, and certainly, many publishers these days have strict guidelines on length for certain genres, or series, or what have you, and that’s their right. If I were writing for them, I’d fit my book-for-them into the template, if that was part of the deal. And I know that, as a reader,  sometimes I gravitate toward thinner books or thicker ones, depending on my mood and my health. But I also know that while the big publishers have a tendency to run in packs on this as on other things, smaller publishers have often bucked the trend, and readers seem to be able to cope with the variety. Imagine that. (Those doggone readers, refusing to fit a mold, after all the time and trouble and money and research that goes into creating that mold…)

Anyway, I’m glad the self-proclaimed scout liked the book. That he thinks that he’s the exceptional reader who can handle ‘longer’ books (of less than 79,000 words, or 160 pages in that layout), well… No comment.

Should I laugh, or cry? (My default mode, if you haven’t figured it out already, is to laugh.)

P.S. Since that book scout told me my books were unsaleable, another scout took copies of my two published books (the second being Trouble Pug) to a bookseller friend of his in Portland, who read them, and then ordered three more of each for stock. This despite the length, and despite the fact that we’re still only putting them out in comb binding. We’re still not setting the world on fire, but it’s no longer simply a hometown effort.

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aren’t just entertainment. Children are “raised on” them.

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Sherry at Semicolon is asking for recommendations for books about Texas to assign to sixth graders. She’s already got a pretty good list of a wide variety of books, fiction and nonfiction both, if you’re looking for kidlit recommendations yourself.

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A heads-up for Christian mothers of little girls. Phil at Brandywine Books has info on a contest you might like to enter.

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…maybe you could start a Library Tree project. It sounds like a good way of getting wholesome selections on the shelves.

I don’t know about where you live, but around here if you just donate a book to a public or school library, it stands an iffy chance of making it on the shelves. Setting it up a Library Tree sounds like a good way to improve the chances of a book being accepted, while improving your working relationship with the library staff. Such a deal. (In the full disclosure department, I co-own a bookstore that sells new and used books, and we’ve had our share of trade-ins come in with ‘donated to such-and-such library by so-and-so’ bookplates in them. Years ago, we got several hundred in one batch, all with the same bookplate. Before we had the bookstore, it never occurred to me that a library would refuse a donation, but after I stopped to think about it, I realized that of course they would. They’d have to, at least some of the time.)

The church I usually attend has its own library, run on the honor system, that stocks fiction and children’s books as well as nonfiction. It’s another way of making sure people have wholesome reading options. The pastor has recently had to put out a reminder that all donations to the library must be approved. I guess some stuff was showing up from well-meaning folks who didn’t hold to the same standards as the pastor, and of course he’s the one who has to answer for what’s there. Hmmm. Maybe he’d like to set up a library tree, or something like it, to encourage people to donate what he wishes he had on the shelves. Hmmm….

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