Book – Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

This is another children’s book I was re-reading via audio book. While the Ramona books are often seen as a series by itself, they are actually part of a much bigger series about the children of the neighborhood. As the children are born and grow up they have books from their point of view. As they “age out,” Cleary picks another character and that character takes on the point of view of the next book. Cleary switches her main character between sexes and families, but like recurring characters on a soap, neighborhood people keep appearing in a through line in the story. This series is a unique achievement in children’s books and a brilliant compromise between writing different characters and keeping a series.

This was one of that was read to me in my Third Grade classroom. I liked it so much I bought another book from the series in the next school book order. I especially enjoyed the bit where Ramona cracked an egg on her head and has to go to the nurses office. It rings true. I still get a thrill whenever I see or hear a reference to SSR or Sustained Silent Reading, thinking about how much Ramona enjoyed it.

As an adult it’s an interesting set up. I wonder if the TV ads Ramona watches and talks about when still make sense to kids as those ads (while from very long running campaigns – the dancing cat and I can’t believe I ate the whole thing) are long gone.

One theme of the story really made me pause. The family was struggling so much with money. It makes you wonder at how really well the economy is doing now as those ideas about everyday people having to skimp and make do to get by without being considered poor are so far gone from popular culture now. The difference is striking. Watching old TV shows recently from the 1970s and early 1980s, I notice how common and expected it is for the family have to save up to do something or to not be able to afford something. When is the last time you saw that on a current TV show? That difference must impact thinking.

Romana is first and foremost just a really good children’s book. Give Ramona to a child to read, it’s worth the time.

Last Updated January 27, 2016: I added my current signature block. I reworked the last big paragraph quite a bit. I think it reads better now.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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National Handwriting Day

National Handwriting Day (1/23)

After saving the topic all month, I almost missed it after all. That would have been a shame because this seems to be a theme for the year. Following up a comment on a newspaper article, I found out that Austin N. Palmer, of Palmer Method fame, didn’t just briefly pass through Cedar Rapids, as I had supposed, but he is actually buried at Cedar Memorial Cemetery here. Now, I’m going to have to find out more about him.

Then I have just put in my registration for the spring MOMCC for the Spencerian writing method workshop. So as I say, it seems like it will be an on-going theme.

Handwriting is important and there are a million little tasks that it’s just not worth typing, when you can just quickly write it down. So make sure that your children learn handwriting and give a little thought to the legibility of your own. 😉 Happy National Handwriting Day!

SHARE: Get Human on the Phone

The following website was recommended to me as a way to get around being trapped in one automated menu after another when what you really need is to be able to talk to a real human being. I haven’t tried any of these out yet, because it hasn’t come up since I was given the site, but I wanted to pass it along anyway.

www.gethuman.com

UPDATED January 14 2017: I just tried again and the website is still up, running, and useful.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her onFacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Book – Children’s Fashions 1900-1950 edited by JoAnne Olian

This collection of pages from the Sears catalog was edited by JoAnne Olian. Although it doesn’t cover every year in the timeframe, the 120 pages have 4 or so pages on each year it does cover. These are pages directly from the catalog with only an introducation at the beginning of the book and the year from and new page number added to each page. Ms. Olian does a good job showing both boys and girls clothes, summer and winter, coats and shoes. All of the pages shown are reproduced in black and white except for the cover. This Dover publication would be very useful for anyone trying to specific about the first half of the century which tends to get lost in people’s thoughts between the pioneers and the modern era. It’s $14.95 or you can InterLibrary Loan it from your local library.

ISBN 0486423255

Movie – Just Like Heaven (2005)

A combination romantic comedy and ghost story, this is an interesting movie. Reese Witherspoon stars as Elizabeth a young doctor in training who makes her patients the focus of her life. Suddenly Mark Ruffalo as a widower moves into her apartment as a sublet, but discovers he is not alone. At first he thinks Elizabeth is trying to scam him, but after she disappears right before his eyes he realizes she is a ghost. Elizabeth is suffering from a memory block, and takes a bit of convincing to realize everything is not right. In a romantic comedy like this such instant dislike, must eventually lead to love. However, unlike most modern comedies where they have a hard time manufacturing a reason to keep the parties apart, her near dead status makes a very reasonable obstacle, but you’ll have to watch the movie yourself to see if they can overcome it.

 Sarah Uthoff

Gingerbread Sociable and Events List

The update in the Laura events around the country is delayed do continuing problems from my providers re-design. While I still hope to get it back up soon, I wanted to make sure everyone knows about the Pomona Public Library’s Gingerbread Sociable for this year.  It will be Saturday, February 2, 2008, from 1-3:30pm.  This year features musician Craig Newton who will play pioneer songs and demonstrate their role in musical history through the modern day. There will also be a Pioneer Town demonstration by the group Journeys from the Past.  They will round out the afternoon with crafts and refreshments. 

The Pomona Public Library features one of the best Wilder collections anywhere and I urge all Wilder fans on the west coast to attend.

Little House on the Praire [the Musical]

An update, I have a few more names currently attached to the project and their credits, courtesy of the “New York Times.” “Joe Dowling, artistic director of the Guthrie, said the show would be directed by Francesca Zambello, who brought the property to his attention. The book is being written by Rachel Sheinkin, who won a 2005 Tony Award for best book of a musical for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” ”

Let’s hope they do a good job.

 Sarah Uthoff