Random things I learned today that help the brain:
1) Have fun!
2) Get lots of sleep!
I need to work on #3!
At the end of my 6th grade year, I found out my wonderful and extremely intelligent cousin was accepted into Zoo School! You may feel free to insert a bit of intense jealousy here! As a child with high-average intelligence I always desired to achieve placement into gifted programs but never quite made the cut although I was always confident that my level of motivation and work ethic would allow me to keep up with the pace. My dream school was not Zoo School but Blandford– another school that focused on outdoor education and learning in nature. Seeing as I did not live in the correct district, neither of these schools was ever an option for me but the desire was always there.
In the book “Last Child in the Woods”, Richard Louv discusses the benefits of getting children outdoors. In fact he carries on for 310 pages on why kids, and adults, should spend more time outside. There are chapters on mental health, creativity, science, and many more! Despite going on for 310 pages, I was still intrigued through the whole book. This work inspired me to get outside and, as an adult, I have seen incredible benefits. Things are not going my way these days and in one weekend I lost my childhood cat from cancer and my job. Setting aside time to spend outside daily has made the stress of finding a teaching position for next school year much easier. I’m happier and much more positive regarding the hunt for jobs when I make sure to put my work aside to get outside for at least an hour each day. No matter what I have on my plate, I go outside to “play”. I really enjoyed reading this book and I think the content applies to the health of both adults and children!
“The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet” explodes the traditional genres of fiction and creates its own. T.S. narrates the story as a precocious 12 year old cartographer who wins the Baird Award from the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian is quite unaware that the individual they have selected is only 12 years old and T.S. decides to make the trip to Washington D.C. to accept his award in person and make a speech. As you can imagine, traveling to DC as a 12 year old is quite the adventure!
Despite the narrator being 12, this book is not a children’s book at all due to more mature themes that run through the book. One constant thought running through T.S.’s mind is that his brother recently died and it was his fault. Also running through the book is a constant desire to connect with his family as T.S. feels he doesn’t quite belong with those around him. It’s hard to prove my point that this book is not for young children without giving away more of the story but older teens and adults would quite enjoy it.
One of the features that sets this book apart is the attention to detail by the author Reif Larsen. Throughout the book are sketches and maps developed by the fictional T.S. as he attempts to explore and make himself at home in the world around him. He maps everything- even things one would consider impossible to map. It’s a treat to read his thoughts in the margins as you read through the book and I appreciate the extra layer it adds to the story.
I really enjoyed this book for two main reasons despite the plot being a bit slow in the middle of the story. The first reason I loved this book was the voice of the main character. Although I am not near as quirky as he nor as precocious, I frequently am curious about things no one else seems to care about and enjoyed the way he thought about the world around him. Hearing his thoughts throughout the book was quite entertaining. The second reason I enjoyed this book is due to how difficult it is to fit this book into a single genre. It’s a YA or adult book but the narrator is a child. The drawings, graphs, and charts throughout the book also add a graphic novel sort of layer to the story. I read constantly and adore books that don’t fit neatly into the categories we typically give for books. Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and purchased it (.42 for hardcover on Amazon) for my personal collection!
This afternoon I completed reading “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” shortly before running off to see her family speak at a nearby high school. The book was part of One Book, One Community and so there have been a month of events surrounding the story. It was the most difficult for me to rate the book and in the end, I gave it four stars.
The reason it was so trying for me to rank was mainly due to the ethical issues brought up in the book. It was hard to separate the quality of the writing from my strong feelings regarding the issue. At first, I LOVED the book. HeLa is something I heard of but learning more about it fascinated me. I really enjoyed reading the science portion at the start of the book. The author’s research was an incredible effort of love that took years and the book was well written! The reason for 4 stars is due to the remainder of the book.
I grew SO tired of listening to 200+ pages of whining family members about how much money was owed to them due to the use of their mother’s cells. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose a mother, but to swear and get into fights because someone sold your mother’s cells is a bit much. Everyone who goes through surgery or even has a mole removed has cells somewhere that at any time can be used for research and the advancement of science. They should be proud that the impact their mother made on the world. I’m not sure her impact can even be measured it’s so significant.
I felt I connected the most to Deborah who although obviously upset, realized how influential her mother was in the world of science. Think about how many individuals lives were changed due to Henrietta Lacks. How many lives were saved? It’s remarkable!
Yesterday evening, I went to a nearby high school to hear David (Sonny) speak but it turned out he was unable to come due to health problems so his children ended up speaking on his behalf. They were upbeat, positive, and proud of their grandma’s contribution to science. They discussed how each generation has improved themselves and the woman mentioned her daughter’s AP class she took as a freshman. When confronted with money questions, they said that Rebecca Skloot, the author, really gave them an opportunity and it was up to them to work and make their own success. I appreciated the fire within them.
The audience on the other hand drove me NUTS with their talk of suing and getting money. Her grandchildren never even met her so for them to seek money for their grandma’s contribution is ludicrous to me. Be proud and move on! From the speech, it sounds exactly what the family is doing I just wish the audience was more on board.
In the end, I am glad I read this book and increased my background knowledge regarding Henrietta Lacks! It was also quite the opportunity to meet her family and I’m thrilled with the turn of events that allowed me to meet them! Thank you so much to the Flossmoor Library for planning and participating in One Book, One Community!!!
For the past two hours I have been held captive by a book that has shaken me from my state of ignorance about North Korea into an informed state of rage! Escape From Camp 14 tells the graphic story of life in a concentration camp in North Korea. These camps exist at the moment you are reading this and were started by the current leader’s grandfather. They can be spotted using Google Earth and yet North Korea says they do not exist.
The individuals residing within them may have done nothing against the North Korean government yet are locked up because of the decisions of their relatives. Individuals new to the camp are separated from those that have spent their whole lives in the camp so children are raised with no knowledge of the outside world. Men and women are kept separated but some may earn a mate through good behavior. Children that come from these unions grow up in a world lacking love and safety; in fact, the main character viewed his mom as competition for food and never felt love for her while at the camp.
I’m not sure what to say about this book other than it left me angry and uncertain about what I could do to help. I grew up reading Holocaust books but it all seemed pretend to me until I got older and realized real people were affected by Hitler. Right NOW something far worse is happening and we are just standing by not helping in any way. Many refuges are in China and South Korea but need a great deal of mental health assistance to allow them to function as a human being with feelings and emotions. It breaks my heart and I want to find out more about how to help. In the meantime, I think everyone should read this book to find out more about what is going on in the world around us!