Re: More Children's Book Discussion

1

I think Gordon Korman might have ruined the genre. Or is that too recent for the effect you're thinking about?


Posted by: Micah | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 10:07 AM
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The 'tragically dead animal' story is a slightly different genre than the 'sentimentally noble animal'. Horrible things happen to sentimentally noble animals (come to thing, Black Beauty is probably the origin of the genre), but they recover and live happily ever after. Tragic dead animal stories, the protagonist is the traumatized kid owner; sentimental noble animal stories, the protagonist is really the animal, with the kid owner as kind of a sidekick.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 10:13 AM
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There are tons of biographies still, but nothing quite like the series I loved, old and extinct even when I read it, that fictionalized the childhoods of famous Americans.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 10:25 AM
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King Solomon's Mynah Bird
She (Wolf)
Allan Quarterhorse


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 10:26 AM
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Big Red


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 10:29 AM
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Watership Down?
I read endless amounts of dopey stuff at that age
Bless me father for I have sinned... I read all of Piers Anthony's series in late elementary / early middle school.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 10:34 AM
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Yes! I have Big Red on my shelf and re-read it recently.

I also re-read Rascal, about the raccoon, recently. I couldn't believe how resourceful that kid was, and by his own description, neglected. He talks about a canoe trip, where they spent a fascinated evening, riveted because some birds were out. Either birds used to be more interesting or they had different thresholds for fascinating back then.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 11:02 AM
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Kids aren't reading ValueTales anymore either, I discovered when I tried to track down some for Hawaii. "The Value of Dedication; The Story of Albert Schweitzer"; "The Value of Caring; The Story of Eleanor Roosevelt"; etc. No idea how they wear as an adult, but I loved those biographies as a kid.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 11:07 AM
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Hey, Shag (I linked it in the other thread) is still in print.

Chincoteague is a pretty good place to vacation with kids. Who are old enough to bike, young enough to not need all that boardwalk shit.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 11:18 AM
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Is four too young for Sideways Stories from Wayside School?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 11:24 AM
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I wonder if the decline of the noble/ suffering animal story can be explained by the rise of the noble/ suffering child. That is, Black Beauty and its descendents offered a way to talk about abuse, and once children's books started addressing explicitly the abuse of children, there wasn't a need for the animal stories anymore?


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 11:35 AM
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Chincoteague is a pretty good place to vacation with kids. Who are old enough to bike, young enough to not need all that boardwalk shit.

Plus, there is a SpacePort right next door.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 11:54 AM
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I like the elegance of 11, but wasn't Black Beauty roughly contemporaneous with/post dated by Oliver Twist and a bunch of other grim Victorian childhood tales.

The currently widely available biography series "Who was ..." totally sucks it. But the American Girls doll book series (a) aren't terrible and (b) have some OK history in them.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:02 PM
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11 is good. Before _Black Beauty_ there were abused children (sexuality elided) who offered it up to God and died.

But also: many fewer WIERD kids interact with animals, let alone wild or working animals with purpose. Some school dictionary just dropped a lot of nature words for web2.0 ones. tle Guin? or ?Atwood? objected on literary grounds; there are psychological ones.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:02 PM
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Dickens is much more optimistic than, say, Yonge or even Edgeworth. Dickens' protagonists usually escape their oppression, & famously Dickens used his novels to attack abusive systems.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:06 PM
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¡Let alone! the pre-Enlightenment animals as exemplars of virtues and vices, from the Church outward: pelican, lion, Reynard. We used to use animals to model people with. Now it's maybe toys and robots.

(I have been the sole lit nerd in a bunch of ecosystem-services or policy-support or environmental-equity seminars.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:12 PM
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13 well about 40 years apart.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:14 PM
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the pre-Enlightenment animals as exemplars of virtues and vices

Born Free.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:21 PM
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13's right in principle; if wrong in the details. (Black Beauty is decades later than Oliver Twist). But yes, definitely, the Victorians invented the suffering child. The difference, though, is that those books were read primarily by adults; children might have overheard them being read aloud, but they weren't the primary audience and wouldn't have been expected to grapple with the horrors on their own.

I'm not wedded to my theory by any means (although I'm very flattered to have it be called elegant!), but this is how I arrived at it. My first thought was, perhaps our new cultural investment in protecting children makes us newly uncomfortable with giving them those kinds of books (no screen time, and, um, no reading long descriptions of a horse being flogged to death); but my second thought was, no, not at all, the books written nowadays for children that age are filled with all kinds of trauma.

But maybe it's something else entirely: a different way of thinking about animals?


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:21 PM
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Or, what Clew just said. (Sorry!)


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:23 PM
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I kinda-sorta went straight from the "Black Beauty"-"Bob Son of Battle(?)" phase to "The Hobbit" phase without missing much more than 1 or 2 beats: hobbits struck me as cute furry critters, much like horses and dogs.


Posted by: marcel | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:25 PM
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Kids today are more than a couple generations removed from when horses were a thing they encountered in daily life. The sentimentality is faded. You can't write a "scrappy poor kid with a horse" narrative that would resonate in modern times. Horses primary role these days is in providing recreation for rich people, as opposed to back in the day, when they used to haul your wagon.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:36 PM
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5: Looking it up, I realize that somewhere along the way I conflated the Big Red guy (Jim Kjelgaard) with the Old Yeller (Fred Gipson). I read a number of of their combined output as a kid.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:37 PM
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I think 22 can be broadened out a fair bit to include a lot of the noble-animal books as well. I mean, there are plenty of kids growing up in circumstances where the animals around them have actual purposes beyond just being pets, but way way less of them than there used to be. And that makes it a lot trickier to write one of those books, both because it restricts the possible set of animals, and also because it's harder to make the animal come across as special or successful at something. "This dog that we bought purely for the purposes of loving and being loved by it turned out to be really lovable and to love us" just doesn't have much dramatic kick to it.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:49 PM
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Sentimental animal books.

Did you read Where the Red Fern Grows? I never know how famous that book was, since it was pretty local to where I grew up, so maybe that's why everyone I knew read it.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 12:54 PM
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25: it was popular at my elementary school, at least.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 1:01 PM
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25: I think I read that (or one of my sisters did). But IIRC My Friend Flicka was their favorite.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 1:04 PM
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We actually did read an abridged version of Black Beauty a few months ago. It was received consistently with the theory in 24, not so much great empathy as bafflement at why anyone would ever be mean to a horse (since the idea of a horse as a utility animal was so foreign).

The amount of time spent, especially with little kids, on facts about farm animals that they never of rlmost never see is always interesting to me. Most US kids these days probably hear an adult say "a cow goes 'moo'" 50x as much as they actually hear cows moo.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 1:15 PM
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19.last is consistent with a lot of general emphasis on getting rid of truly scary parts in general in kids books, certainly sad endings. Oddly the movies (except for happy endings) seem more willing to retain scary parts -- both Finding Nemo and the Lion King have parts that are affirmatively terrifying.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 1:19 PM
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The amount of time spent, especially with little kids, on facts about farm animals that they never of rlmost never see is always interesting to me

There's a family story about my aunt visiting her country cousins as a kid and later telling her mom that she saw them putting milk in the cow, so maybe the review of farm facts is needed.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 1:38 PM
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25: Our teacher read Where the Red Fern Grows to us in elementary school (Southern California. I don't remember many details but I recall that it was pretty depressing.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 1:57 PM
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(Southern California). Apparently they should have spent some time teaching us to close parentheses.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 1:58 PM
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If 29 is true it could only be a good thing, at least as far as sadness goes. From what I remember late elementary school through middle school was like a cavalcade of misery: practically every book they assigned had tragic deaths, or loneliness or whatever. (Where the Red Fern grows isn't a bad example of what we were assigned by any means.) Looking back I can't help but wonder if they were trying to make people hate reading.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:02 PM
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I can't even remember what books we were assigned to read in elementary school. Most of the tragic-death things like Bridge to Terabithia or Where the Red Fern Grows or whatever were things I read outside school on the recommendation of teachers or my parents.

There must have been lots of assigned books in middle school but the only one that's coming to mind right now is Interstellar Pig.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:08 PM
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Oh wait! In sixth grade there was The Endless Steppe, which I remember as pretty depressing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:10 PM
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I loved interstellar pig.

I read where the red fern grows, at summer camp as part of a unit on Appalachian appreciation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:10 PM
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You say that casually, as if most summer camps have "units on Appalachian appreciation."


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:25 PM
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Island of the Blue Dolphins, which AFAIK may only be read in Southern California but at least was ubiquitous in schools here, is pretty goddamn depressing. What if you were stranded forever by yourself on an inaccessible island with nothing there but wild dogs?


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:25 PM
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38: I think that was required reading for me at one point too. Also one of those books about a boy living alone in the wilderness for a year before being rescued. Maybe it's a manifestation of teachers wishing the kids in their classes would be banished to the wilderness?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:30 PM
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Dredging up elementary school memories, I think the first novel-length required reading we ever had was Tuck Everlasting, which I remember hating although I don't really recall why.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:33 PM
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Julie of the Wolves, as well. So, what if your family life was so bad that living on the tundra and surviving on meat vomited up by wolves seemed like a better option?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:35 PM
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Island of the Blue Dolphins was definitely assigned in PA. As I recall her brother was also there (but only for a little bit, and then he was eaten by wild dogs), and a pet dog (who dies), and nearly someone who lived on the island for a bit (who leaves before she can work up the courage to talk to them), and eventually she gets off the island to discover that everyone in her tribe/family died in a shipwreck. Yay Newbery Medal!


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:37 PM
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Also: The Slave Dancer. Because what child doesn't need to hear stories of a kid of similar age being kidnapped and pressed into labor?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:38 PM
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I actually thought Julie of the Wolves was great, and Island of the Blue Dolphins as well, although that one was disturbing. But in retrospect... And we've talked about Harriet the Spy. An interesting kid, but horribly neglected.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:38 PM
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On the farm animal front: I just saw an article somewhere commenting about how Disney animals are very likely to have dog body-language and behaviors, even when they're not dogs. I wonder if that comes from a population of animators who aren't fluently familiar with any animals other than dogs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:40 PM
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You say that casually, as if most summer camps have "units on Appalachian appreciation."

In all fairness, it was gifted camp in the NC mountains.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:43 PM
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We're nearing the end of Watership Down as our current bedtime reading. It belongs in a different category from the sentimental animal story, I think, in that its characters are anthropomorphized rabbits who are still recognizably rabbits and whose story doesn't involve being companions to humans. It's like a more developed and intense version of Beatrix Potter books.

Do other parents here with kids over 10 still read to them at bedtime? Sometimes it seems like they should have started reading themselves to sleep ages ago, but I know I'm going to miss it when we stop.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:47 PM
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Let's not forget Walt Morey. Gentle Ben! Kavik The Wolf Dog!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:53 PM
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And in the depressing school reads front surely A Day No Pigs Would Die is a contender.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:54 PM
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I read "Julie of the Wolves" and "Island of the Blue Dolphins", and a teacher read us "Where The Red Fern Grows" as well, I think. In 8th grade we read/had read to us a book about Sacajawea's early life that was told in a "kid-against-harsh-and-uncaring-society-lives-in-nature" mode. Can't remember the title, but there can't be many to choose from.

How about "The Sign of The Beaver" (no comments from the Peanut Gallery, thanks)? There's also O'Dell's "The Black Pearl", and of course "My Side of the Mountain." But yeah, nowadays it's all heroic kids walking away from explosions and wizards and shit.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 2:57 PM
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Also, I'll just put in my 900th plug for Rosemary Sutcliff. There are dogs and horses, although the relationship of humans to animals is rarely in the foreground. And only "Outcast" is super depressing.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:00 PM
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I think Watership Down is sui generis. There's a lot of genuine rabbit behavior in there, and a lot of very adult human emotion, and of course the allegory of fascism, and the mythological structure -- it's a good book, and a very weird book, but it's not closely related to any particular genre. Nothing else I've ever read of Adams' really worked -- Plague Dogs was interesting, but a polemic about animal testing more than freestanding fiction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:01 PM
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Ooh, I read Eagle of the Ninth when I was in Samoa (and was reading anything that I could find.) Yes, very good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:02 PM
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Ben and Me! Mr. Revere and I!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:12 PM
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Sam Adams and Myself! Patrick Henry and This Guy!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:14 PM
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Oh right, Johnny Tremaine was one of the other elementary school required books. Hey, kids! Have you ever thought about the impact a grievous bodily injury would have on your life?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:19 PM
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I found the ValueTales annoying as a kid, mostly because I hated the cartoonish illustrations, but I loved the single page of dense, black-and-white illustrated biographical material at the back of each book. I'm sure that section was written for adults, but I interpreted it as the only "real" information in the book and pored over them endlessly.

I also loved Jim Kjellgaard, and I'm fairly certain I didn't know anyone else, at all, who read him. Trading Jeff and His Dog was my favorite, but I read pretty much all of them, and there were a lot.

The Childhood of Famous Americans is still in print (!) in paperback, even though yes, they were out of date when I read them as a child.

I remember being bemused as to how they could know exactly what words someone had spoken as a child, until it was explained to me that notwithstanding the quotation marks, it was all "interpreted," aka made up. I felt kind of betrayed by this, but still read the books ad inifinitum. Lou Gehrig catching eels with his mother! Clara Barton nursing her sick brother! Or maybe that was Florence Nightingale.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:24 PM
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I should say that my sobrinos are now being read the Childhood of Famous Americans books, so we are on to yet another generation. Albeit with general adult annotation and critique as they read.

I was scared by Island of the Blue Dolphins, but I don't remember finding it grim or depressing. A lot of the other titles were downbeat enough that I actively avoided reading them.

I definitely have had a lot of discussions with parents who quested my recommendation of reading material for their children on the grounds of "But is that SERIOUS enough for a book report?" to which I always want to say, "Not everything depressing is good! Not everything good is depressing!"


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:27 PM
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Florence Nightingale, Famous American


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:28 PM
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Sorry, other titles = Bridge to Terabitha, Tuck Everlasting, Where the Red Fern Grows.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:28 PM
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I read some non-picture book kids' bio of MLK Jr. when I was a kid and remember it being inspiring and also I'm afraid to read it again as an adult, so it's good I can't remember who wrote it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:29 PM
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45 - I suspect it may have to do just as much with the fact that dog body language is easier to understand than almost any other animal*, or at least any four legged one. You have to have at least a decent familiarity with, I don't know, elephants to know what exactly is going on when it's trumpeting, or flapping its ears, or something. But most of the stuff dogs do (mock bow, tail between legs, etc.) is pretty directly understandable.

*Symbiosis!


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:31 PM
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54: Ooh, yes, both of those.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:32 PM
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This thread, unlike the other one, is full of books I remember from my own childhood (although I didn't actually read that many of them myself). I loved the Rosemary Sutcliff books.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:34 PM
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And 58.last - and not everything for a book report needs to be serious! You can write one on pretty much anything with words in it.

I'm pretty sure I wrote a book report on Battlefield Earth when I was in seventh or eighth grade. It turns out that that book is not, in fact, a very good book at all, but having read it did make it easier to understand what was going on in the movie when it came out so it was useful. On those grounds I recommend everyone force their children to read it.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:35 PM
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I wonder if the bookstores in Madison County have that (or Dyanetics) on the "Local Authors" shelf.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:42 PM
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If they're at all serious about that shelf they'll have to have Mission Earth as well. I mean, he probably "wrote" hundreds of books, but I think that deep down that's the essential one that you need to read to really understand who he was.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:46 PM
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I think we've all spent enough time in Tilden to have a good idea of his background.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 3:47 PM
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Did anybody else ever read a strange series of novels of historical fiction dealing with the creation of the Metropolitan Police?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:02 PM
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Did anybody else ever read a strange series of novels of historical fiction dealing with the creation of the Metropolitan Police?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:02 PM
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I really wanna know


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:04 PM
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No. But Caleb Carr wrote two books of historical fiction about New York in the days when police were starting to modernize their investigatory procedures. They were both very good, but not for children unless your children like books with serial killers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:09 PM
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Has anybody read his book with Sherlock Holmes (The Italian Secretary)? I had been meaning to read that but forgot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:12 PM
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72.last: When my cat had to be put down, my son asked if we should get the body back from the vet. Why, you ask (and so did I)? So the meat wouldn't go to waste.

So maybe those books would be right up his alley.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:12 PM
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Very practical of him, but you need to let him know that the medication for euthanasia would contaminate the meat.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:15 PM
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Unless you have one of those vets that beheads.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:17 PM
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22: K. M. Peyton's Who, Sir? Me, Sir? from 1987 is probably the most recent book in the "scrappy poor kid with a horse" genre I've read, though its main theme is "poor kids from comprehensive school take on rich, privately educated kids and beat them at their own game" twist. Last year's film The Selfish Giant had its own unutterably depressing take on that genre, too.

I grew up reading as many horse books as I could get my hands on, from every possible perspective: the Pullein-Thompson sisters on British girls and their ponies, Elyne Mitchell's Australian Silver Brumby series, anything by H.M. Peel. In the 70s, there was still an expectation that regular kids could ride or even have their own horse, if you lived outside the city: a friend at primary school (in suburban Hertfordshire) had her pony grazing on her front lawn. These days, riding feels like much more of an elite activity.


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:18 PM
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We had a pony named Tarzan. He was really fucking old. You have to bring Oreos or he wouldn't let you ride him. Or Hydrox. He couldn't tell the difference.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:23 PM
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Unless you have one of those vets that beheads.

Well my daughter thought the vet did the deed with a gun.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:27 PM
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"scrappy poor kid with a horse" genre I've read, though its main theme is "poor kids from comprehensive school take on rich, privately educated kids and beat them at their own game" twist.

In movies, this reminds me of The Man From Snowy River and Return to Snowy River respectively. With a horse.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:33 PM
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seconding 62, & it seems to me that animated dogs are even more anthropomorphized than real ones.

The only cartoon I can think of that seemed to be using the different shapes & natures of different animals was _Madagascar 3_, which I quite enjoyed. Female hippo & bear are competent and sexy while being lumbering and/or convex. Cats of both sexes are narrow-waisted. (I enormously resent the waist on the penguin female lead in _Happy Feet_.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:35 PM
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77: one could keep a hack cheaply when I was a kid, at the edge of a commute to the city; but by now I think cheap PNW land is out where jobs & vets are both scarce. My mother has helped with downed horses a couple times because she was an RN & there and that was the best to be done.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:39 PM
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79: Maybe she saw the Far Side with the horses who had broken legs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:40 PM
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Ahimsub, the "Baker Street Irregulars" (Robert Newman) books started out well, but got kinda boring.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 4:41 PM
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It was actually the cinematic versions of depressing books that I remember resentfully from grade school: video "All Summer in a Day" upset me for years. The tragic animal story I remember in video form was "Stone Fox" (no apparent double entendre) -- kid enters dogsled race to raise money for medicine for his sick grandfather, races almost to the end in the lead with his plucky dog, dog drops dead of exhaustion just before the finish line, noble savage competitor holds up the race so boy can walk his dead dog across the finish line. More kids laugh than cry, in my experience. There is not much you can do to sensitize children to emotional manipulation like that. They're gonna scoff no matter what. I was acutely aware that actually crying at that shit made me a mark.

I actually find it depressing in general to think back to the books I read as a kid, and in particular to compare notes with other people, which I why I haven't left 10,000-word comments on the subject. That long, long, intense literary experience seemed to promise some payoff beyond "and you were such a Good Reader that you finally joined the elite, which is why you need to read books to your kid too." I'm pretty sure I know what the payoff was supposed to be and also pretty sure it's no one's fault but mine that it didn't happen. But goddamn it.

Also, I had a serious, woke-up-startled nightmare last night about the replacement mother with the button eyes and wooden tail, only it was also in the middle of a nuclear holocaust and showed up out of the flames like the Terminator. What the actual hell? I didn't even have nightmares as a kid.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 5:09 PM
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I remember so many of these books, especially My Side of the Mountain. My favorite from the elementary school years, which managed to hit on many themes salient to to a young J, Robot (e.g., WWII was tragic! Parents just don't understand! Oldest sisters are doomed to misery and doomed love lives...), was Summer of My German Soldier. The sequel, however, totally sucked.

I have fond memories of reading a ton of Gordon Korman's books, but stopped well before the book mentioned in 1 was published.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 5:27 PM
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I also loved Jim Kjellgaard

You might be interested in this article on his life. Born in NYC, but spent almost all of his childhood in rural northern PA. Married a writer. I was curious because I saw where he had killed himself at age 49. Seems that he had a brain tumor that plagued him from an early age for which it seems he basically got trepanned as a lid.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 5:34 PM
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Me, I just feel like an uncultured savage when I hear about the books you all read when you were children. My fondest memories were of Enzo Angelucci's World Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft, and (wait for it...) the companion volume on Civil Aircraft. I guess my reading habits were pretty gender-stereotypical, though it was more nerdy than macho; the books had a lot of hand-drawn artwork, and reading them was more like being in a museum than Top Gun. I remember my parents knew a few people who had fought in WWII, and introduced me to them; they were delighted that I knew the names of all the planes.

I also remember liking books about Madeline, Babar the Elephant and Paddington Bear. In retrospect, it seems like I read a lot of stories about outsiders who find their way into middle-class Western society, and I've always wondered* if my parents gave me those books because they reflected the most hopeful aspects of their own experience as immigrants. (It also seemed like we were always watching My Fair Lady, which had some of the same themes.)

*I asked them about this once, and they said no, but to be honest none of us really knows what a typical American child would have read.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 5:55 PM
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89

OT Bleg:

A friend posted a cute cartoony gif of her dog on fb and said she was happy to do them for friends. Now that I read it again, it's somewhat clear what she meant, but at the time I didn't read it correctly. So anyway I sent her pictures of my cat because I'm obsessed with my cat, an she sent back two cute gifs of the cat and a link to her "pay what you want" page. Um, what do I pay someone for an animated picture of my cat?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 6:33 PM
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89: $10. Don't know how I came up with that number, but it seems right.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 6:36 PM
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91

10% of the cost of a cat.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 6:43 PM
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Of course, if your cat were more photogenic, the internet would have already provided the gifs of your cat.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 6:48 PM
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89: Right, tow gifs, for each the canonical blog unit of currency.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 6:48 PM
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At least you didn't have someone you were dating turn out to be a prostitute.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 6:53 PM
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MY CAT IS THE MOST PHOTOGENIC!!!twelve!1


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 6:55 PM
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96

I was over the line. Apologies.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 6:57 PM
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Was it rendered entirely by computer? That is not a $10 gif and you know it.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:03 PM
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98

How else might one render a gif?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:09 PM
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99

In oils on canvas.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:12 PM
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Like, how little work did this friend exactly do? You supplied the two photos, and she went to one of the websites that makes gifs and plugged in the photos?

But yes, $10 because at this point it's become a thing and that is a polite amount.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:14 PM
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Don't give too much. Don't want to encourage that business model.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:23 PM
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Pay in dogecoin.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:35 PM
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I laughed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:40 PM
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No, it's not a gif of the photos. She drew a little cartoon face. It blinks its eyes and turns its head. So it's not a no effort thing. And it's cute. I guess I should just put it in the feed if Flickr is down with gifs.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:43 PM
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Have I just insulted the same friend of yours that I manage to inadvertently insult every few years?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:47 PM
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Except Flickr stopped working on my phone.

I never really watched Curb Your Enthusiasm but am I being the main character of that?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:49 PM
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Not this time! I can give you her phone number and you can call and say something mean to her if it feels like it's time to insult her again!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:50 PM
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Just be careful not to render the cat itself, because I suspect that that would smell something awful.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:50 PM
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Oldest sisters are doomed to misery and doomed love lives.
J, Robot's birth order has never been more relevant.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:52 PM
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95: LIES.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 7:55 PM
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On the OP: This is not *exactly* a realistic animal series, but my kid read the hell out of the Warriors Cat series.

It is an endless series of novels, and I use that word loosely, about these clans of cats in England who live in the wilderness and hunt and have elaborate naming systems and rules about who can marry whom, and there's an afterlife, and I don't even know.

I can't say that I recommend them, because they endorse the patriarchy so viciously, but girls between the age of about six and about thirteen love the holy shit out of these books, IME.

And there's a gabillion of them.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 8:06 PM
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My son picked up that from some girls at school. We got through half of one before I was spared the rest. I got so tired of the word "kitty-pet".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 8:12 PM
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We also have kids who love the Warriors.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 8:14 PM
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111L Oh, I think I've seen some kind of really deranged and extremely... rustic Flash animation that I think must be fanfic of that series. It was something.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 8:14 PM
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But they don't get the "Warriorssss come out and plaayyyy"


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 8:17 PM
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107: no thank you!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 8:20 PM
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The relentless killing of small animals was nice, but they kept calling it "fresh-kill".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 8:21 PM
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118

Also "Start Tribe".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 8:26 PM
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I am sure the horse book about the sulky-riders and the not-one-grape Ramadan fast is horribly Orientalist, but I haven't revisited it since I was ten and I don't care. So many horse books! Now it's all dystopias-as-wish-fulfillment, I think. Even in post-apocalyptic America you'll get your own fashion designer (and then fight in the arena, but with a manicure!)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 8:31 PM
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Sorry, it was Star Tribe.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 8:46 PM
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Don't give too much. Don't want to encourage that business model.

Seriously, this. It just sounds...awkward. And yeah, you probably have to pay $10, because anything less might seem like an insult. But awkward.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 9:07 PM
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Horse Dystopia is a pretty good book.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 9:14 PM
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What a strange world we live in, when one can accidentally purchase custom artisanal cat GIFs.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 9:14 PM
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That's why I never turned on Amazon One-Click.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 9:17 PM
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Yes, Star Tribe! And Kitty Pets, which is an insult. Because you are a domestic cat, which is bad.

I have never read a single one of these books, but I heard about it for years.

And yes, adolescent girls (mostly girls) make AMVs about the Warrior cats. You can find a gabillion of these on YouTube. They fight endlessly about things like OTPs and the eye color of various cats and who was to blame when Shadowpelt's kits died.

These books have rape and forced marriage and murder, but no gay or Lesbian cats, and every singe lady cat MUST have kittens, or it is tragic. Also all cats marry into a M/F life-long pair bonding. Because cats do that.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 9:25 PM
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Cats or ducks. I get them confused.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 9:29 PM
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||

NMM to talk show show business legend Joe Franklin. I grew up watching his show on WOR Channel 9. Such a great and truly weird show that was. RIP

|>


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 9:31 PM
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Speaking of ducks, I'm still thinking of making a down hiking quilt. Apparently, you just sew things in a quilt shape, put in some baffles to stop the feathers from moving, and then add the down. You use a vacuum with a cloth at the end of the wand closest to the machine. Then you can suck up down into the wand until you have the right amount and blow it (using your lungs, not the vacuum on "blow") into the bag. Very clever.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 9:33 PM
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If you use cheap down, it would be under $100.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 9:36 PM
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That's only like 10 gifs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 9:37 PM
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These books have rape and forced marriage and murder, but no gay or Lesbian cats, and every singe lady cat MUST have kittens, or it is tragic. Also all cats marry into a M/F life-long pair bonding. Because cats do that.

Oh good. So it's like degraded kitty Pern!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 9:55 PM
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I think I read Pern, but I don't recall dead mice. I think there was something called "thread" and cats are supposed to like that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 10:11 PM
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The leader of the aggressive tribe wasn't called Adolf Kitler, which I feel was a missed opportunity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-24-15 10:27 PM
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123 made me laugh.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 12:30 AM
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Huh. I think my kids read a couple of the cat things, but they didn't seem to get sucked into them. There were fantasy owl books too -- Guardians of Gahoole? Something like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 5:22 AM
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We're now on the Spirit Animals series. It isn't awful compared to the competition, but it is clearly a creation of the marketing department.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 8:18 AM
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135: Speaking of children's books with animals, I assume you read It's Like This, Cat at some point give its setting down near Gramercy Park/ Stuyvesant. (I thought we might have discussed here before, but I'm not finding it.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 8:41 AM
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+n


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 9:00 AM
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A couple I was going to mention in the other thread;

A read-to might be The Twenty One Balloons. Or maybe The Mad Scientists Club.

And extrapolating (probably incorrectly) from "and the vehicles they use to get around town" you might consider some of the Virginia Lee Burton books (which are, however, short picture books). Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Little House, and Katy and the Big Snow would keep me occupied for hours at the age. (A lot of it was the mappiness, admittedly.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 9:08 AM
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Thanks to the other thread I have now read The Railway Children. Good book.

I now want to read the parallel book focusing on their father's story. I imagine it as something done by Childers or Buchan. Lots of daring and espionage.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 12:15 PM
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The Warrior Cats information is freaking me out, because my daughter reads those, and I had no idea what was in them.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 2:36 PM
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Dude it's right there in the titles. The Warrior Cats Submit to Covenant Marriage; The Warrior Cats Vote For Sara Palin; The Warrior Cats: My Husband's Will Is That Of The Lord


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 2:52 PM
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The Warrior Cats Undergo Menstruation Inspections


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 3:00 PM
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My daughters read those Warrior books but my early mockery of the cover art and back cover synopsis ensured I never heard about what was actually in them.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 3:12 PM
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Lost it for half a minute there over 142


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 5:26 PM
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80: In the poem and the original The Man From Snowy River movie I thought the idea was he grew up on the back of a horse, but with Who Sir? Me Sir? it is plucky underdogs who have never seen a horse in real life sticking one to the toffs. Ie country vs city rather than middle class merit vs upper class inheritance. There may be more of the class thing in Return though.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 01-25-15 5:52 PM
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Speaking of "Snowy", we demand Snowghazi liveblogging.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 5:31 AM
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Two hour delay is all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 5:43 AM
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Snow day here in the frozen wastes of Central PA. The kids are delighted and will continue work on the snow fort they began constructing yesterday. The university, as ever, refuses to bow to the weather gods, so, despite our street having not been plowed, I'll need to figure out a way to get to the office to Skype interview some post-doc candidates.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 5:49 AM
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My wife was supposed to fly to Boston to deal with some stuff for her dad, who, in the last few weeks, has slipped from elderly-but-okay to totally feeble and infirm, but she obviously can't make the trip.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 5:50 AM
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At night, the ice weasels come.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 5:51 AM
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Ugh...It's looking like my university is going to go with the stupid worst of both worlds solution of remaining open and then sending everyone home early. Not enough time to get anything done and puts everyone on the road in the worst of the snow!

Maybe there will be a closure announcement in the next few minutes...


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 6:15 AM
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149: Goddamn Microsoft, making it so you can longer Skype from home.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 6:21 AM
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153: we all sit in a room together to conduct the interviews. Maximally stupid!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 6:23 AM
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Sorry about your FIL.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 6:29 AM
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We don't really have much snow but I bet it would make a good fort. The bottom layer was mixed with rain and holds like clay.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 6:30 AM
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Thanks for the bus, I made it to work only 20 minutes late. I would have been on time if I wouldn't have shoveled the snow before leaving, but the patriarchy hurts men too.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 6:55 AM
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||

NMM2 Demis Roussos. I wonder if he was able to vote, and if so how he did.

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 7:31 AM
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147: it doesn't hit here for like ten hours. Updates as circumstances warrant.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 7:41 AM
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As for the weather in DC, OPM says the government is open today with the option for unscheduled leave or telework. Which doesn't help me at all. I admit it's more like rain than snow here, but it's close enough to freezing that I actually couldn't have blamed them if there had been a delay, and it's probably even worse in the suburbs.

As for the "what happened to the childrens' books about animals?" thread, here's some boring data: the US became more than half urbanized between 1910 and 1920. Sounds like a long time ago and we should have long since replaced Black Beauty with Black Alley Cat or Black Escaped Zoo Animal, but I can think of several veldty reasons why media aimed at kids might lag in that respect.

1. We parent the way we were parented. T. and I are starting to think about this stuff and she's found lists of recent childrens' books, but ultimately I'm sure we'll dig through our parents' attics and use at least some of the books and toys we grew up with ourselves.

2. America has a certain frontier mythology. Cowboys and major cities being farmland a hundred years ago and all that. Not as powerful these days as when our parents were kids, but still more than in Europe, I'd bet.

3. The definition of "urban areas" is broad. Even Vermont has at least three of those, and I guarantee you that practically everyone living in them sees live cows and horses more often than subway cars. (The definition has changed over time so going all the way back to 1910 is apples and oranges, but still.) In general, few urban areas are truly completely isolated from rural ones, so you don't have to technically live in a rural area to be familiar with farm animals or wildlife.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 10:15 AM
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what happened to the childrens' books about animals?

Has anyone read Jon Mooallem's book Wild Ones? There was an excerpt that looked interesting, although the destination seemed perhaps less interesting than the journey.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 11:43 AM
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Speaking of "Snowy", we demand Snowghazi liveblogging.

Snow day! One fewer lecture and meeting with annoying students! Fuck yeah!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 4:35 PM
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I am so, so glad tonight that I don't take the T home. Also that Blume left early. My favorite tweet on the subject.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 5:10 PM
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Ha!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 5:11 PM
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I didn't know you guys copied the name of your transit from us.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-26-15 5:14 PM
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||

In watching anime, I can't seem to get past the iconicity of the frame. I barely notice animation or the sequence of frames because I keep analyzing the shot.
Because they are hand-drawn or computer-assisted I think of the cells/frames as paintings, with associated effects and much larger palette and freedom. I as the viewer feel like I am adding the sequencing and narrative.

In watching live-action cinema it is almost the opposite, I notice and pay attention to motion and miss editing, framing the shot. Iosseliani's Chasse Papillions and other work strikes because of the flow, the chain of characters/actions seems to carry the camera and narrative with them, rather than imposed on them. Tati and Miklos Jancso do much the same.

Something something Deleuze time-image movement-image something

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-27-15 4:01 AM
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How is it even Cuomo who gets to make the stupid discussion to panic-close the subways? I guess it comes via the Port Authority structure.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-15 5:10 AM
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Ghost Cuomo or regular Cuomo?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-15 6:29 AM
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MTA is a state agency. So, Cuomo.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01-27-15 2:22 PM
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It's not exactly a state agency -- it's an authority, and I don't know offhand exactly how the governance structure works. (Although it isn't connected to the Port Authority, I don't believe.) Looks like the Governor gets to nominate the board members, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-15 2:43 PM
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