Laura’s Birthday

Laura’s birthday was this week. The weather has paid its respects by doing a very good impression of “The Long Winter.” It was below zero as a high today and we got 11 inches of snow in one day this week. We’re finally having a good old-fashioned Iowa winter. 

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Book – To the Flag by Richard J. Ellis

This book is the story of the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s a very interesting story. How the Pledge developed slowly into its final form, it’s rise and fall with in schools, and how the physical salute changed over the decades is covered in detail. The story of the history surrounding the pledge is even interesting.has For example, it seems that one of its best known historians was also a plagiarist. The analysis of the early history is the best part and presented in a fairly even handed way. Ellis has his own modern political point of view and the closer it comes to the present time, the less even handed his approach becomes. It’s still a very interesting book for anyone with an interest in the Pledge or the history of education. I’d recommend any one involved in one-room school history read at least the first 2/3rds of the book.

Dean Butler’s Blog

Dean Butler, the Michael Landon version of Almonzo, has a production company. As one of his latest projects he’s announced that he’s working on a documentary about Almanzo’s life. The latest issue of “Farmer Boy News” announced they were taking pre-orders at their Christmas event. I’ve added a link to his blog to my blogroll. Keep up with Dean. Thank you to Sandra Hume of “The Homesteader” http://www.homesteadernewsletter.com for pointing out his link.

Movie – Alex and Emma (2004)

I was really looking forward to seeing this movie from the commericials. I love stories within stories and this looked like a good one with the parallel stories of the author writing the novel and the novel itself. However, I blinked and it was out of the theaters to terrible reviews.

I still wanted to see for myself and as it’s now out on DVD, I got to. I was so glad I did. It described an interesting writing process through a comic eye. The writer, played by Luke Wilson, is helped by his stenographer (Kate Hudson) after his laptop is ruined and he only has a short time before a gambling debt comes due one way or another. It’s not a terribly original set up, but it doesn’t try to be. However, it is charming. You  really like the people and can laugh at their farce set-ups. It’s a pleasant romantic comedy and well worth the time to watch it. For those of you with young children, it does feature some extra-marital sex in which not a lot is seen, but quite a bit is inferred.

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.

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.