Monday, April 15, 2013

Book review: The Zebra Said Shhh

If you have two little kids, you end up reading a lot of bed time stories. And I've found that kids often don't have much discrimination--or at least, not any kind of discrimination that I can understand. At various times, my kids have both become fixated on books with plots so thin or inane that I can't even recall them now. Lapses in logic particularly infuriate me, and repetition of those logical lapses can drive me up the wall. I never liked re-reading the Dora the Explorer series of books, and reading the Magic Tree House chapter book series to my older daughter almost drove me around the bend. (Seriously, how stupid can those kids, Jack and Annie, be? Jack loses his backpack in every freaking book, and Annie is always walking up cheerfully to some dinosaur or saber-toothed tiger or whatever, confident that it's a friendly beastie that will enjoy a scratch behind its ears. She should have been eaten long ago)


Then there are the other kinds of books, in which repetition is soothing to kids and adult alike. The kind of book I can happily re-read. My blog-friend Cloud has written such a book.

"The Zebra Said Shhh" tells a simple story. A zebra at the zoo wants to go to sleep, but the other animals are making too much noise.  Shhh, the zebra tells them. Each page depicts a different zoo animal making its own specific call.  The monkey says "oooo", the lion says, "raaaar," etc.  It's a calming and charming tale. The pictures are bright and adorable (I particularly like the lion's mane, and the scene of the sleeping seals). It's perfect for the toddler to preschooler set, who will enjoy making the sounds for each animal.

And even my six-year old, who fancied herself too sophisticated for a zoo book when she first saw it, enjoys this book. She is learning to read, and we found that the repetition of simple sentences provides her a perfect exercise in sight-reading. "Shhh, it's time to go to sleep," she read out loud for us tonight, as my  husband pointed to the words on the page. With every turn of the page she grew more confident, and by the end she was proudly reading the entire sentence at once at the correct time. "I can read the whole sentence!" she said proudly.

By the end of the book, each zoo animal is slumbering peacefully in its enclosure. The stars are out, and it's a restful end for animals, kids (and parents!) alike.

Recommended. (And not just because Cloud is a friend!)

Note: as we finished this book tonight, Husband read the "About the Author" section to Legume, and mentioned, "This is mommy's friend."

Legume replied, "When she's dead, her book will still be around and children can still read it." (Sorry Cloud--my kid's on a morbid streak right now)

"That's right," my husband said. "That's the good thing about books."

"And when I'm grown up," Legume continued, "maybe my kids can still read my books. If my books are cared for."

"That's right," I agreed.

That is the good thing about books. I looked at her shelf, which has real paper books. I admit that Legume and Bean-girl don't really know of any other kind. Even if all the electronic copies were to vanish into the ether, we would still have these shelves of physical objects, and if well cared for, we could indeed pass them down the generations.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013

New fiction publication

I'm on vacation, having a fabulous time visiting friends and family, including my new baby nephew.

And I thought I'd also just toot my own horn. Vacations seem to bring good news for me on the fiction front.  On my last vacation, I received word that my fantasy tale, "Snow's Daughter," had been accepted for publication at New Myths.

And now it's just gone live. 

Unfortunately, I seem unable to link directly to the story. But if you'd like to take a look, you can click on the above link to the journal, click on top for Issue 22 (the latest issue), and then scroll down the table of contents for "Snow's Daughter."

Yes, I'm blowing my pseudonymity. I'm leaving scientific research--what do I care anymore?

Also, I received word this week of another story acceptance--this time at the wonderful science-in-culture webzine, LabLit

And now I'm off to get ready for a meeting with friends, and then an afternoon with my new nephew. It's our final day here in the San Francisco bay area. Next day we board a plane back to the Midwest and reality.

Yes, it's been a good vacation.