Picture Book Perusal: General Relativity for Babies…

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I’ve got one for the science buffs today with General Relativity for Babies by Chris Ferrie.  I requested this one from Netgalley for review on the logic that I, as an intelligent, adult gargoyle, should be able to understand a concept – even one as advanced as general relativity – when it is explained at a baby’s cognitive level.   Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

A brand-new board book series with simple explanations of complex ideas for your future genius!

It only takes a small spark to ignite a child’s mind! Written by an expert, General Relativity for Babies is a colorfully simple introduction to Einstein’s most famous theory. Babies (and grownups!) will learn all about black holes, gravitational waves, and more. With a tongue-in-cheek approach that adults will love, this installment of the Baby University board book series is the perfect way to introduce basic concepts to even the youngest scientists. After all, it’s never too early to become a quantum physicist!

general-relativity-for-babies

So, was my reasoning spurious?

Long story short: yes.

Yes it was.

I was unable to grasp complex scientific principles delivered at the cognitive level of a baby.  The first few pages were okay.  I was pretty confident with my grasp of things having more or less mass, and the ability of mass to warp space.

But when we got on to particles not being able to go where they please, I was lost.  It was all over.  Nevertheless, I persisted to the end of the book, picked up some basic information about black holes and subsequently consigned all that talk about particles taking the shortcut through warped mass to the black hole of my memory.

As far as baby-appeal goes however, this book is on the right track.  The illustrations are bright and consist of large shapes in contrasting colours.  The text is short.  The images are stark and perfect for babies at an early stage of development who like big shapes and simple images against solid background colours.  Science fans will get a kick out of reading this to their mini-lab-assistants-in-training.

Overall, this is a super fun idea for a series of board books and are a great way for parents to engage their mini-fleshlings in topics that set their scientific hearts aflutter.

Until next time,

Bruce

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A Duet of Quirky Animal Cuteness: Basket Cat and Dog House…

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picture book perusal button

It’s time to focus in on picture books again and today I have a delightful pair of companion board books from UK illustrator Katie Abey, provided to us by Five Mile Press.  In her own words, Abey admits to filling her work with “puns and crazy animals” – check out her website…it’s puntastic! – and her cheeky, bright appealing illustrations are what prompted us to request today’s titles for perusal – Basket Cat and Dog House.  The two books feature separate stories, but will look like peas in a complimentary pobasket catd on your shelf.

Here is the blurb for Basket Cat from Goodreads:

Basket Cat loves baskets – big baskets and small baskets, tall baskets and even the washing basket! But all Basket Cat wants is a basket of her very own.
Where will she find one?

With a humorous story and amusing artwork this large board book will be enjoyed by children and adults alike!

dog houseAnd here’s what Goodreads has to say about Dog House:


Toby is lost. He knows his dog house is around here somewhere, but he can’t seem to remember where to find it!

Will Toby ever find his way home?

We were immediately drawn to the bold colours of the front covers and the adorably quizzical looks of the animal protagonists and I suspect these features will appeal enormously to the little people at whom these books are pitched.  The younger mini-fleshling demanded the reading of the pair as soon as she laid eyes on them and after due consideration, pronounced Basket Cat her favourite of the two.  This could be because we share the dwelling with a cat of similar features to Basket Cat, while the dog of the dwelling bears little resemblance to the protagonist of Dog House.

And rarely, if ever, ends up in trees.

The stories are fairly simple, but the extra details provided in the illustrations add a level of humour to the short bursts of text.  Basket Cat’s baskety dreams are quite amusing and the cranky faces of the bees disturbed by Toby (the dog) certainly provide some subtle character development that can be pointed out to attentive little ones.  Once again though, as is the case for many picture books featuring animals, facial expressions are everything and Abey seems to have the knack for creating hilarity and changes in emotion with just a few small changes in penstroke.

Can I also mention how much I appreciate the board book format?  As a Bookshelf Gargoyle I spend a lot of time watching helplessly as mini-fleshlings systematically (with intent or otherwise) destroy picture books, so the sturdy, chewable, wipe-worthy format in which these books are presented goes a long way to ease my troubled mind.

I suspect Katie Abey will be one to watch as an up-and-comer in the picture book scene and I will be interested to see what she hatches next, if the quality of these, her debut efforts, are anything to go by.

Until next time,

Bruce

 

The Oddity Odyssey Reading Challenge 2015: Where everything gets a little weird….

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As round about now is the time that everyone seems to be making resolutions, I thought I’d chime in with the Shelf’s reading challenge for this year – The Oddity Odyssey! Excitingly, we already have a number of takers who have committed to veer off from the middle of the road to take a walk on the odd side in their reading this year. Join us, won’t you?

In case you missed the original post about our challenge, here’s the information again, plus a little anecdote about how one strange little book inspired this whole escapade.

Let’s start with the anecdote.  So I was wandering around the local library and I happened upon this cheery little picture book tucked away in a section for confident young readers….

who burped Who Burped? by Ohara Hale

Amused as I was by the belching snail, it took me a moment to notice that this was a board book.  A  board book in a section for big kids.

It took me another moment to notice the little “Picture NF” tag on the cover.  This was a non-fiction book? Well, thought I, that explains why it is with the books for big kids.  This must be an illustrated, informative tome on the scientific specifics of the noble burp.

So I opened it.

And was confronted with this…

who burped page spread

Again, amused as I was by the cheeky illustrations and chuckle-worthy banter of the book’s inhabitants – the snail is making that comment in response to another creature explaining that one might cover one’s mouth during a burp – it took me a further moment to reach the conclusion that this was probably the least informative non-fiction title ever composed.  And shortly thereafter, having read the book, considered the librarians’ choice of shelving and label, and compared these factors to my extensive knowledge of book-reading, I came to the following conclusion:

“Well, that’s odd”.

And thus the Oddity Odyssey was born!

Cool story, eh?

Now unfortunately, as I read this one before the official start of the challenge, it can’t count towards my total, but I have high hopes that Ohara Hale will come through with the goods for me in one way or another.  I’ve already got my eye on the latest release by this author. Here it is:

pizza doing stuff

That’s got to be a winner, don’t you think?

Now that I’ve whetted your appetite, here are the challenge particulars again.  We’d love you to join in!

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*Challenge participants will select a challenge level and attempt to read a particular number of books within the oddity categories listed below.

* Challenge participants can decide how they will attack the challenge. Participants can try and read books across all categories, or they can pick just one (or a small selection) of categories to focus on. It’s up to you how you want to indulge the oddity.

*Challenge books can include any genre and any age-range. So any books, from picture book to adult fiction are perfectly fine. Non-fiction is fine also. Audio books? No worries!

*Creative interpretation of the categories is encouraged. This challenge is all about finding books that are odd FOR YOU!

*To join this challenge, simply comment with “I’m in!” and what level you would like to aim for. Feel free to create a post on your blog, twitter, Facebook or wherever telling everyone what level you’ve chosen and include link back to this page so others can join in!

* Challenge participants can add the challenge button to their blogs if they wish. The code is available in the sidebar of this blog.

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1. Books with an odd TITLE:

Perhaps the book has the word “odd” (or “strange”, “weird” “unusual” or any other odd synonym) in the title. Perhaps the title is really unexpected (“Christmas Trees for Pleasure and Profit” for example). Perhaps the title is in a foreign language. Maybe the title has an odd number in it. However you want to interpret it, select a book with some sort of titular oddity.

2. Books with an odd AUTHOR:

Maybe the author is writing under a pen name. Maybe the author used to be a tour guide in the Amazon before taking up writing. Maybe the author is writing out of their genre or age-range for the book you’ve chosen. Maybe the author has the word “odd” (or strange or weird or any other odd synonym) in their name. This category is ripe with opportunity for those prepared to do a little research.

3. Books with an odd SUBJECT MATTER:

This could be as simple as reading some books in a genre you don’t normally read, or haven’t tried before. Or you could really branch out and use this category to explore some brave new literary worlds. This category could include new twists on familiar themes such as retellings, or books based on genre mash-ups.

4. Books with an odd LANGUAGE ELEMENT:

Here we’re talking about anything to do with language. Books that are written in languages that are not your own (including translations), books written in verse or stream of consciousness, wordless books, books heavy on wordplay…basically anything language-related that sets the book apart from the ordinary herd.

5. Books with an odd SETTING:

Again, this can be as broad as you like. It may be an odd setting in that it’s a real setting you’ve never visited, or it could be a setting that’s totally imaginary. Maybe it’s our world but not as we know it. Perhaps it’s set in a time not our own. However you choose to interpret it, this is all about time and space that’s slightly left of centre.

6. Books with an odd CHARACTER:

Guinea pigs that fly stunt planes. Librarians with werewolf-ism. Bearded ladies. Conservative politicians. This category probably provides the most fertile ground for successfully embracing oddity.

Remember, participants are free to work with books across categories, or to restrict themselves to one or a few categories. It’s up to you how deeply or broadly you wish to immerse yourself in the odd.

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1 – 3 Books : Occasionally Offbeat

4 – 6 Books: Common-or-Garden Weirdie

7 – 10 Books: Strikingly Strange

11 – 15 Books: Freakishly Fervent

16+ Books: Audaciously Odd

Being the creator of the challenge, I have naturally chosen to go for the Audaciously Odd level. That’s a little more than one book per month.
Totally do-able. Totally.
Join in! Or tell your oddest friend and get them to join in!
Until next time,
Bruce

 

 

Ode to an Author: The Incomparable MEM FOX!

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Good evening all, Mad Martha here! I am utterly excited to be bringing you this ode today, as I have just met this most famous and fantastic of children’s authors, Mem Fox!  Yes, Bruce and I made a perilous journey to Chermside Library to see the lady herself (and the wonderful illustrator Judy Horacek, who collaborated with Mem on Where is the Green Sheep? and Goodnight, Sleep Tight) discuss all things literacy.  Alas, we did not manage to get a photograph with Mem or Judy, but they were kind enough to sign our copies of the two books on which they collaborated.  Here are some pictures:

DSC_0299     DSC_0304

You can really see the excitement on Bruce’s face.  It’s good to see him openly displaying his emotions in such a way. For my part, I was so excited that my hand was shaking as I took the photo during the signing.

Considering the incredible and widespread influence Mem Fox has had on children’s literacy in Australia, I thought it fitting to honour her with my very best efforts.  To this end, I have created an epic ode that references just a few of her 40 books.  I would like to offer this ode as my personal thanks to Mem for her passionate efforts to promote child-parent (or grandparent, or carer) bonding through reading.  I have titled this ode, “Time for a Story”.

It’s time to arise;

stretch and open your eyes!

Start the big day anew,

Oh I DO love you!

koala lou 2

It’s time for a bite;

first we’ve had since last night!

What would you like most?

Magic vegemite toast?

possum magic

It’s time to go out

and see who’s about.

What clothes will you choose

to match Grandpa’s red shoes?

shoes from grandpa

It’s time for your lunch;

here’s an apple to crunch.

But I’d rather drink juice

than say “Boo!” to a goose!

boo to a goose

It’s time for a play!

Should we draw or use clay?

Dress up like a cat?

Chase a magic blue hat?

the magic hat

It’s time for a scrub;

Quickly! Into the tub!

Oh you bold, cheeky child,

you just drive me wild!

harriet

It’s time now for bed,

cuddle up, rest your head.

But before we sleep,

Let’s find that green sheep!

green sheep

Sleep well little mouse,

You are safe in this house.

I’ll turn out the light,

now Good night, sleep tight.

time for bedgood night sleep tight

If you have never encountered Mem Fox before, firstly…you call yourself a reader? And secondly, get on to her work POST HASTE! You’ll be a fool to yourself and a burden to others if you don’t.

Adieu, adieu,

Mad Martha