Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review: V Is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind

V Is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind
V Is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind by Ruby Roth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fantastic children's book that you can introduce young (our child received this for her second birthday and was able to start asking questions about it right away). Raising a vegan kid is hard, but this book helps her understand why we don't drink milk that comes from cows (and eat meat, test on animals, eat honey, or wear animal skins), and why plants are so awesome for us. I love that it introduces different types of grains, vegetables, and healthy sources of fat, while also letting kids know that our choices matter - not only for ourselves, but for other people, the environment, and our animal friends.

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Review: A Birthday for Bear: An Early Reader

A Birthday for Bear: An Early Reader
A Birthday for Bear: An Early Reader by Bonny Becker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An utterly charming book that is requested often for bedtime from our two-year-old. This book has also introduced the phrase "quick as a whisker" into my toddler's vocabulary, which kills me of cuteness every time it is uttered, and a frequent request for chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles.

Seriously though, it's pretty adorbs.

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Review: It's Okay to Be Different

It's Okay to Be Different
It's Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A children's book on inclusivity and loving yourself just the way you are? Yes, please!

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Review: What Makes a Baby

What Makes a Baby
What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Recommended from (check it out!).
The illustrations are gorgeous.

This is a fantastic little read that had my two-year-old entranced. It gently discusses the basics behind how conception, pregnancy, and birth occur. While it identifies various concepts of conception and birth (sperm, egg, uterus, vagina), the act of sex isn't discussed in itself.

Basically, the book shares the following information: you need a sperm and an egg to make a baby; they meet, share their "stories"/DNA, and a baby grows in a uterus. People are excited to have the baby come out, there is a brief explanation of vaginal and cesarean births (nothing graphic/strange), and everyone is tired but so glad the baby has arrived.

The bodies in the book are ungendered/unsexed, and the anatomy isn't even assigned to a particular sex. The people in the books are of every shape, color, and expression.

Highly recommended for ages 2+, especially for those who want to encourage a mindset that is open to varying sexual and gender identities, family structures, etc. There is nothing that pushes (or is against) the heteronormative definition of "family" (two heterosexual parents, married, blahblahblah). The book also explains c-section as a method of birth.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review: Songs of Willow Frost

Songs of Willow Frost
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn't really like [b:Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet|3367956|Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet|Jamie Ford||3407295], so I'm not sure why I picked this up; maybe I thought that, because it had such great reviews, it might be better? Not so much.

I've concluded that I just don't care for Jamie Ford's writing. While I have immense respect for anyone that can write a book and then have the guts to go get it published, I don't think he is able to successfully narrate for a child, or represent how a child would think, act, or talk. Unfortunately, this perspective constitutes the majority of both "Songs of Willow Frost" and "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet."

I also felt the writing was incredibly spotty, and in some sections it seemed like some of the story had been hastily added in, or a chunk removed so that it didn't flow well overall. Much like "Hotel," I wasn't able to engage with the plot until the last 50-75 pages.

Things I thought Ford did well in this novel: the way he relayed the vast inequalities of the social service systems in place in the 1920s and 30s, as well as the racial inequality that Chinese-Americans faced, that, while still problematic today, was so much worse then; the portrayal of the blossoming film industry (though some of this seemed forced as well?); and showing what Seattle might have looked like during the Great Depression.

If you like "Hotel," you'll probably like this too.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why Feminism?

The Belle Jar posted this comic on Facebook today, and I couldn't help but repost it. It's seriously so relevant, and so true. Original comic can be found at 'my little sketchbook' (Katarzyna Babis' tumblr).

Katarzyna Babis
Katarzyna Babis
Katarzyna Babis
Katarzyna Babis

Katarzyna Bab

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Find of the Day: Dreams Are Real

In this midst of mad thesis crunching (Thursday night's Tap-a-Tap Hour doesn't have me in tears yet!), this gave me the courage to go on:

Dreams Are Real from Ryan Barger on Vimeo.

Yes, my fine little kittens, ur, readers, dreams are real.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"How are you today?"

Felicity is now at the ripe old age of one and half. She has opinions. She has desires. It's almost like she's a little person. (Yes, she is decidedly a tiny human).

Felicity, with her vocabulary of thirty or so words, hasn't quite grasped the subtleties of polite elevator interactions.

Last week:

A woman stepped into the elevator after us. Felicity looked up from her stroller and in a small, sweet voice, said, "Hi!"

The woman smiled at her and greeted her back. Then the woman asked, "How are you today?"

Our downstairs neighbor probably wasn't expecting a response, or maybe she was expecting to hear a tiny, "Fine, how are you?" as is the custom to respond. Not so.

Furrowing her eyebrows, Felicity briskly held a rigid index finger to her bandaged, slightly scraped knee. She uttered a severe sentence or two, which we couldn't much make out besides the word "owee" once or twice.


Ian and I have been sick with the flu since Friday night. While we are finally starting to recover, Felicity has been feeling pretty miserable today. I took the baby out in the stroller this afternoon to pick up our CSA box, and she bravely sat quietly for most of the ride, only complaining a little when we walked past the playground.

After getting back into the building with the stroller and bags of groceries, I saw one of the MBA students, resplendent in suit and tie, coming into the building after us. Kind soul that I am, I held the elevator for him.

After the doors closed and we'd pushed our respective buttons, Felicity looked up at him and greeted him with a small and serious, "Hi."

He smiled, and said hello back. He then asked how she was. He was decidedly not ready for what she had to tell him.

Bear in mind that... some of what Felicity says is comprehensible to Ian or myself. Like I said, Flick has a small (but effective) vocabulary. It was apparently not large enough (at least in English) to express how bad she was feeling and what a terrible day she'd had.

In her tirade, from the lobby to the fifth flour, she told the young man in great detail about how it was to be a toddler and feel bad, how her (mean) parents wouldn't take her to the playground, expressly against her frequent requests, and who knows what else. Pretty much, a whole lot of baby-talk in an exaggerated, complaining voice. She sounded like a grandmother talking about her sciatica in an alien language.

Exiting the elevator, the MBA student said, "That's how I feel too. That's how I feel too."

I love having a toddler.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Flaubert's Parrot

Flaubert's Parrot
Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Flaubert's Parrot has been on my "To Read" list for YEARS. To my delight, it was available on audiobook from the NYPL, and I downloaded it to my phone to listen to whilst walking about the city, riding the subway, and doing laundry in the evening.

I hesitate to even write that I hated it because I know it's supposed to be a great book. I'm sure it IS a great book. I tried. I really, really tried. I listened to just about half of the book before giving up completely in boredom.

Okay, okay, I know this book is about Flaubert, but I didn't expect it to really ONLY be about Flaubert. I usually find Julian Barnes to be an exceptionally interesting and engaging author that could make a housefly interesting, so I was disappointed to be increasingly annoyed at Flaubert, instead of, say, interested or engaged in his life and story. I feel that either this book should've had more framing (I did enjoy the little framing there was about the doctor who was interested in Flaubert and his story), or Barnes should've just written a biography on Flaubert. Random lists of quotes and dates just didn't do it for me.

If you're interested in Flaubert (I really am not) and don't mind more of a history lesson than a novel, you'll enjoy this, I promise. Please disregard my low-brow analysis and find a copy for yourself.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Vol. 1

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Vol. 1
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Vol. 1 by Denise Mina

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You've read the books. You've watched the movies (and are waiting with anticipation for the second and third American installments). A graphic novel series too? Yes, please.

The artwork is fantastic, the main plot is represented well, and Stieg Larsson's original magic is present. I highly recommend this to any fans (or if you're just too lazy to read the books - you know who you are...), just be aware that this is Part I of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and so does not represent the full book.

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