Books, Reviews

Learning is fun – be it languages or math

This post goes towards It’s Monday What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA at Teach Mentor Texts , for It’s Monday What are You Reading? at Book Date and for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge as well as Just Jot It JanuaryThis post also goes towards the NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge and the Short Story Reading Challenge – Deal Me in 2018.

For the Short Story Reading Challenge – Deal Me In 2018, here is my pick this week.The Card: J of Diamonds

deal me in short story

The Selection: A pick from the bookMe Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

GoodReads description: David Sedaris’ move to Paris from New York inspired these hilarious pieces, including the title essay, about his attempts to learn French from a sadistic teacher who declares that every day spent with you is like having a caesarean section. His family is another inspiration. You Can’t Kill the Rooster is a portrait of his brother, who talks incessant hip-hop slang to his bewildered father. And no one hones a finer fury in response to such modern annoyances as restaurant meals presented in ludicrous towers of food and cashiers with six-inch fingernails.

My Thoughts: I initially picked a random essay from this book – ‘See You Again Yesterday’. And while I have had this book sitting in my home library for years now, I wonder why I did not actually open it to read (well, it was because I have it ready to read anytime I want to…). But now that I have tasted that wonderful mingled flavor of humor and intelligence, I am unable to stop at just one, and am reading it all and looking for more.

Regarding ‘See You Again Yesterday’, the title first caught my interest. How can you see someone again yesterday (unless it is time travel of some sort!)? In this essay, David recounts his first visits to France, and his efforts to converse in a language he did not know, at all. While I am not conversant with French too, I can easily relate to those hilarious efforts and results of trying to speak in broken-any-language with only bits and pieces of it. David’s account of these encounters with the locals as he moves from speaking like an ‘evil baby’ to a ‘hillbilly’ and building up a vocabulary of words (random nouns and verbs initially to phrases people actually use later!), is pure genius. I was all by myself while I was reading this, else I am sure my family would have been wondering what was wrong with me (as this book prompts smiles and laughs pretty often)

Here is one excerpt from this story:

I’d hoped the language might come on its own, the way it comes to babies, but people don’t talk to foreigners the way they talk to babies. They don’t hypnotize you with bright objects and repeat the same words over and over, handing out little treats when you finally say “potty” or “wawa”. It got to the point where I’d see a baby in the bakery or grocery store and instinctively ball up my fists, jealous over how easy he had it. I wanted to lie in a French crib and start from scratch, learning from the floor up. I wanted to be a baby, but instead, I was an adult who talked like one, a spooky man-child demanding more than his fair share of attention.

– See you Again Yesterday, Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris

And like I mention before,and as you have seen from the snippet above, this is a book that will have you laughing out aloud at random moments, so be aware of where you are reading it 🙂

Sugar and SnailsSugar and Snails
by Sarah Tsiang, art by Sonja Wimmer
Annick Press Ltd.
Children’s Fiction
Pub Date 13 Mar 2018Description: Who says that little girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice?” Or that boys are made of “frogs and snails and puppy dog tails?” What if girls were made of “boats and snails and dinosaur tails?” And little boys of “flowers and swings and bumblebee wings?” When the traditional rhyme just doesn’t seem to fit the boy and girl visiting their grandpa, he comes up with a list of unusual alternatives. Soon the children are coming up with their own versions that challenge the old stereotypes with a whimsical list of ingredients. To add to the new quirky version are lively illustrations that beautifully capture the children’s imaginative flights of fancy. Young readers will delight in the small details of Sonja Wimmer’s vibrant art, and be inspired to think of their own silly examples of what ingredients they might be made of themselves.Our thoughts: My little girl has not grown up reading as many rhymes as I did for some weird reason – I wonder if I missed out on some of that with her, but whatever reason, I am making up for it and teaching her some of them now, and so glad I have modern versions to add on as well!Many of you might be familiar with this traditional rhyme:
What are little girls made of? Sugar and Spice and everything nice.
What are little boys made of? Frogs and snails and puppy dogs tails.I always wondered why this had to be so, even though I enjoyed reading this to my little brother! But this retelling of the rhyme is sure to be something boys and girls will love to read and see. Delightful silly whimsical illustrations accompany equally wonderful quirky rhymes in this modern take on the traditional. We loved that the descriptions for boys and girls in this version are not stereotypical at all. Girls made of crazy fast rides, and boys of cookies and spice are totally unexpected descriptions but that were loved by mommy and daughter alike at home as we read it. It is difficult to say what I loved more – the colorful art that pops out of every page or the words.

Rating: B+ A
Reading Level: 4 – 7 years
Reread Level: 4.5/5

Harvey’s Hideout
by Russell Hoban
Plough Publishing House
Children’s Fiction , Parenting & Families
Pub Date 04 Feb 2018 (for this edition)

 Description: Harvey thinks his big sister is mean and rotten; she thinks he is stupid and no-good. As a result, they both spend some lonely hours refusing to play with each other.
Our thoughts: Quaint colorful illustrations help tell this story of sibling rivalry and sibling affection. Having a front row seat to sibling fights (and having been part of the action myself with my own brother when we were little, and sometimes even now :)), I found myself nodding in agreement to much in this book. Harvey and Mildred squabble and argue and go so-there on each other, but as the story progresses, discover something more beautiful – that siblings can be best friends too! The illustrations are oh-so charming and I fell in love with them, while the text though quite true to sibling-spirit, got a little repetitive (thought that can happen in real life sibling rivalry too with not-me, was-him/her, or similar).
Rating: B
Reading Level: 4 – 7 years
Reread Level: 4/5
Note: This is an old favorite originally published in 1969, that is being made available once again.
Outdoor Math : Fun Activities for Every Season
Emma Adbage, Emma Adbage (Illustrated by)
Juvenile Nonfiction / Mathematics
Ages 5 to 8, Grades K to 3
26 pages

Description (partial only): In this innovative book, Emma Adbage encourages children to get outside, where they can have fun interacting with the natural world while learning math. Adbage has created twenty-two outdoor activities, organized by season.
Our thoughts:
What we love about the book: The concept of the book itself and the way the very basics of math (+-*/) are explained for the very young at the end of the book. The ideas contained will help children explore the outdoors and have fun with math at the same time. Counting clouds, playing tic-tac-toe using leaves and stones, and using ropes to create fun shapes are some of the fun activities that kids will enjoy.
Cons: The list of ideas could be more comprehensive, and contain some more details on the concepts of math that can be learned through each of the activities (which will help parents and teachers). Ideal for a place with all four seasons 🙂
Rating: B-
Reading Level: 5 to 8 years
Re-read Level: NA

Disclaimer:Thank you to NetGalley and to the publishers for sending me a digital review copy of the books – Sugar and Snails and Harvey’s Hideout, and Thank you to Edelweiss and to the publishers for sending me the digital review copy of Outdoor Math. I was not compensated for my reviews. My thoughts were in no way influenced by the author or publicist. They are my personal opinions formed when I read these books.

Note: this post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

6 thoughts on “Learning is fun – be it languages or math

  1. I’ve never heard of David Seders but l feel his pain as l am trying so hard to learn Spanish. Things were a lot easier when l was younger. I will check him out, and thanks for the heads up.

    1. Kemkem, I am just getting started on trying to learn Spanish too 🙂 age does make things harder.. and will check back with you so we can be each other’s Spanish-learner-buddies 🙂

  2. So many book, so little time. I have been listening to audible books for a few years so that I can do some work with my hands while “reading” a book. Some things require more attention and keeping your mind on what you are doing is important to keep yourself safe.

    1. Doug, have not been able to get into audiobooks yet – for the reason you mention.. it does require some level of attention to listen (unlike if you are just listening to music playing in the background)…

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