July 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Posted in Reading with Kids | 8 Comments

“Who’s Henry Ford?”  Sweetie Junior wanted to know.  We were talking about the concept of paying your workers enough to afford your product, and his name happened to come up.

I explained that he pioneered the concept of mass production in American manufacturing.  (We left Eli Whitney out of the discussion).  My man Rocket Scientist added that his name still appears on cars today, and added, “And no, Chevrolet wasn’t someone’s last name.”

I said, “No, that was his wife.”

Then it struck me.  If she’s managed to make it past her freshman year in high school without knowing who Henry Ford is, who else doesn’t she know?  So I asked.

“Do you know who Thomas Edison was?”

Slow head shake.

“How about Alexander Graham Bell?”

Crickets.  I kneed RS under the table.

He began, “We’re going to need to…”

“…home school!” I finished.

Then I asked, aiming for the easy ones, “Who is Benjamin Franklin?”

“Didn’t he invent the light bulb?” said our little bunny.

It just goes to prove what I’ve said time and again.  It doesn’t matter if your kid, like ours, gets straight A’s and high standardized test scores, goes to all the accelerated classes, and spends hours a week reading.  You have to get in there with the mental crowbar and start digging around to find out what they actually know.  Or, in this case, don’t know.

“The Irresistible Henry House”

July 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Fiction | Leave a comment

Loved it!  The Irresistible Henry House is the story of a “practice baby” raised on a college campus as part of a 1950’s home economics course.  While the story is intriguing, it’s the writing that captured my attention.

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Lisa Grunwald gives us the sort of effortless prose that makes it all look so easy.  Her characters are fully realized and believable.  The setting is fascinating without overshadowing the people.  This would be a nice book club pick.

“The Passage”

July 15, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Posted in Fiction | 6 Comments

I read The Passage with huge anticipation.  Perhaps that was the problem.  Justin Cronin writes beautifully, and the cover art is some of the most beautiful I think I’ve ever seen.  Sigh…

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It just didn’t grab me.  I kept pushing ahead, thinking that any time now it would pay off.  I love long books, and I’ve always been intrigued by apocalyptic stories.  I simply didn’t find any of the characters emotionally engaging.  This book would probably make a pretty great blockbuster movie, and Cronin will probably go on to write a prize-winning novel.  For me, though, the plot of this particular one was somewhat pointless.

I would recommend Stephen King’s The Stand as the archetypal apocalypse story, and Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain as a pulse-pounding alternative vampire thriller.

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