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Various Tidbits April 22, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Uncategorized.
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It was interesting to see various children’s books mentioned in the New York Times these past couple of weeks–and not always in the Book Section, either. Here are a few mentions that caught my eye:

Daniel Pinkwater’s books are too imaginative for tests

Am I the only one who thinks that Daniel Pinkwater is NOT the best choice for a passage to be used in a standardized test? Humor is such a subjective style of writing, how can anyone expect students, even very competent students, to come to consensus on questions about it? And how can you fairly grade it? This article reinforced a truth that I realized far too late to help my abysmal standardized test scores: creativity does not help you answer multiple choice questions. For every answer choice given on a multiple choice question, I could always come up with a reason why it might be correct. Needless to say, I wasted a huge amount of test time agonizing over this. Perhaps if the passages had come from Mr. Pinkwater, it would at least have been a little more fun.

Hooray for Charlotte!

It’s the 60th anniversary of Charlotte’s Web and the Back Page column of the NY Times Book Review has Michael Sims giving some background information on E.B. White’s inspiration for the barn setting and animal characters of this classic tale. I loved Charlotte and Wilbur, although perhaps not quite as much as other childhood classics. I never played at being Fern, the way I did with Karana from Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins and I didn’t hold onto quotes as if they were magic talismans, as I did with lines from The Phantom Tollbooth. Nonetheless, Sims has written a lovely account of White’s childhood and adult experiences that led him to write Charlotte’s Web and this column is a nice encapsulation of his findings. Check out the book, The Story of Charlotte’s Web for more.

Lena Dunham and Reading

I’ve never been a consistent follower of television series’. The closest I ever got was probably Reading Rainbow or Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? as a kid. Periodically I will check out new shows, but mostly I just read the reviews of them in the newspaper, so that I can nod intelligently when the titles come up in conversation (don’t tell!). Maybe at some point I will get around to watching the new HBO show ‘Girls,’ especially now I know that Lena Dunham, the creator and star, is an Eloise fan. Anyone who “…has to read Eloise once a month or I’ll perish.” is likely to be pretty good at being dramatic. I was also pleased to see Dunham list Catherine Called Birdy as a favorite.