Monday, November 28, 2016

Puppy Dogs and Picture Books

My family got a puppy going on two months ago.  She’s a red merle Australian Shepherd, four months old by Christmas, with pretty curls at the tips of her ears and amber eyes.  We named her Ginger (for Rogers, not the one on Gilligan’s Island). 

Training her has been an experience to say the least.  House training aside, we must teach her not to jump on things, not to scratch at things, not to bite things, not to eat things like eyeglasses, not to attack our two cats, not to chew at our pant-legs, not to bark constantly, to give, to sit, to stay, to lay down, to get off, to come, and not to beg or get up on People Furniture. 

It’s exhausting, and probably the only reason we persevere is because Ginger is so stinkin’ cute.  I mean, just look at her:

Photo Credit: My Mom.  Picture Book Collection Credit: Myself

I’ve been foregoing a lot of reading of actual novels that I want to read, and researching Australian Shepherds and dog training instead.  Most of the books talk about psychological things like positive reinforcement (giving treats when the dog is good versus negative reinforcement of yelling at them when they are bad), and saying “Good sit!” or “Good stay!” whenever the puppy happens to accidentally do those things. 

The books remind humans that dogs are not born speaking human.  We are literally teaching this baby dog a new language, one that she won’t be able to speak even when she does understand it.  This made me think of that picture book, I’ll Teach My Dog 100 Words by Michael Frith (illustrated by P.D. Eastman). 

Like the story’s narrator, the boy who’ll teach his dog all sorts of things like “Jump the fishbowl, bring the bone,” we’ve started training Ginger with such lofty goals.  We don’t want her to beg for food or jump up on the couch.  But she is SUCH a handful.  And since 2017 is scampering toward us as fast as a little teething Aussie ready for her dinner, I’m beginning to think we should copy the narrator of this book and say,

“I think I’ll start next year.”

Monday, November 21, 2016

How To Read A Book: A Detailed Tutorial

Know how to read. Since you are reading this blog, I assume this has already been completed.  Good; I like to be able to start a checklist with something all ready to be struck off. If for some reason you are miraculously able to understand this tutorial without reading, may I suggest taking a short break to look into The Literacy Network, or perhaps make a trip to your local library and ask one of the helpful circulation desk staff for assistance. They’d love to help. That’s what they’re there for.  

Okay, now to the more serious obstacles. Find a book to read. Since this is not what to read but how to read a book, I will leave this choice up to your discretion. Although I would like to remind you that I have some recommendations, there are also TONS of places to find book recommendations, including but not limited to: Goodreads,, blogs, newspaper articles, magazines, and again, LIBRARY STAFF. You know how I said they'd love to help you learn to read? The other purpose of their existence is to help you find what to read. They're kind of like human search engines, and if you're a library regular, they can get to know you enough to personalize a reading material search more accurately than any online computer program.*

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Yes yes" Reviewing Kenneth Oppel's "Every Hidden Thing"

In continuation of my poor fortune in reading, I was recently disappointed again. I finished the book at least, which is more than I can say for many of the volumes I’ve picked up at the library over the past month. 

The book is Kenneth Oppel’s Every Hidden Thing. The selling point? Romeo and Juliet looking for a dinosaur. Sounds awesome, right?

Actually the selling point for me was that it was by Oppel, who in my past experience has been one of the best YA authors I’ve had the pleasure to read. My favorite steampunk novels are the Airborn trilogy. I enjoyed the bat-fantasy series of started by Silverwing. I even enjoyed the creepy prequels to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Yet after the rather grim and dark content of the aforementioned Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series, I was hoping for a return to the lighter action-filled adventures of a couple of lovestruck teens in the sun-scorched Badlands looking for dinosaurs at the dawn of paleontology. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

How Profanity Shuts the Door

There really isn’t such a thing as luck. But if there was, I’d be having a rather long stretch of the bad version lately when it comes to reading.

Before I elaborate, I have to go on a rant. Perhaps it’s because I’m spoiled by literature where people—albeit created characters—tend to use language in a much more creative and distinguished manner. Perhaps I’ve read too many Victorian novels where puritanical censorship forced authors into that distinguished creativity. Perhaps I personally am prudish, unrealistic, and wishing to enforce a rigidity to language which is against the very nature of language itself. 

No matter the reason, I am sick of swearing.