I admit: The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman is the first Neil Gaiman book I’ve read. And it is a clever one. While it’s clearly a children’s book, it has an element of spookiness to it and somber, spidery illustrations that make it just right for adults too. (more…)
In medieval children’s primers, the alphabet was the main tool of learning and was often portrayed in a way that also taught religion (Seth Lerer, Children’s Literature, page 61). Poems and teachings would be in the order of the alphabet. This had biblical precedence, as the 22 stanzas of Psalm 118 “use the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order” (page 61). This group of books has the really cool name “abecedaria.” I love that word!
Our kids still use alphabet books to learn. I had a fun time reading children’s alphabet books to see how we learn the alphabet today. While all of these “teach” the alphabet, some encourage critical thinking, and some of them have specific purposes for further teaching. (more…)
After reading Edgar Allan Poe last week, I thought I’d stay in the same era and read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s stories. To my delight, many of Hawthorne’s stories perfectly fit the “gothic” theme of Halloween in a style that I loved. Even though I dislike of being “scared,” these stories were again the perfect amount of creepy for me.
One of Hawthorne’s collections of stories is called Twice-Told Tales. As I read, I began to understand why: while many stories are on the surface about Puritans in the early days of America, they aren’t really about Puritans. Hawthorne is telling us a different story. (more…)
In The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, the Queen discovers the joys of reading. As I read about the Queen’s reading journey, I found many similarities to my own reading journey. The Queen voiced my own thoughts about reading, and I loved relating to her.
But while The Uncommon Reader was a funny, easy read, it had unnecessary crudity, and therefore I can’t whole-heartedly recommend it. (more…)
I spent two months in Jerusalem in 2000 as part of a religious study abroad experience. While our focus was on Old and New Testament Biblical studies, I also got a healthy dose of Jewish and Palestinian history and religious information. I loved my time there and I loved the people I met – Jew, Muslim, and Christian.
When I found Palestine, Joe Sacco’s journalistic report of the intifada circa 1992, I thought I’d experience another graphic novel, this time an account of a place I’ve lived. But the world Sacco explores is not the world I visited.
Sacco’s account focuses on the horrible conditions of the Palestinian refugees in Israel, the torture of the Isreali Defense Forces, and the reasons why the youth felt the need to rise up in rebellion in the intifada. While I can’t say I loved the blatant anti-Jewish slant of the book (which was to be expected), it was a fascinating experience to read it and I learned a lot that I hadn’t realized. (more…)