Thursday, February 16, 2017

8:120 History of US, Vol 4: The New Nation by Joy Hakim

Previous review written in 2012 when I read it with son #3

I have to admit I learned more in this book than previous ones like the fact that there were presidents between Jackson and Lincoln.  I mean, I knew that in a logical sense because Jackson was number 7 and Lincoln was sixteenth but still, they actually had names.  Of course, she only gave one chapter to all 8 of them since they didn't seem to do much of anything.  Otherwise, it was still better than the first book or two as it seemed to flow better and the presentation was easier to follow.  I still dislike the gazillion side notes and extra articles that get stuck in tho.  I find them distracting and I know that Jon tends to gloss over them.  Sometimes you can as they aren't that important and sometimes they are really important.  Ugh!

Son#4 is enjoying this far more than the last one did which definitely makes it more enjoyable for me as a teacher when we can discuss in depth and it's not fighting over getting him to read any of it.

Page count: 199p/1,971p ytd/276,446p lifetime

Monday, February 6, 2017

7:120 The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner

Started in the 1920s as Bell Labs, the official research and development arm of AT&T, this book delves into the people that made this lab so effective.  This is the group that developed the transistor and lasers, digital and cellular telecommunications.  There aren't many factors of today's society that has not been impacted by their inventions.  But who were these people and why were they so successful in innovation?  That is the question that this books really looks into.

I read this for book club and wanted to like it.  I'm always interested in how people come up with brilliant ideas but the way the information was presented was dull and boring.  There were pieces that were interesting but it never sucked me in and it felt like it couldn't decide between trying to focus on the people that made it happen or the technology that they developed and so varied between the two which kept it from working well.


Page count: 432p/1,772p ytd/276,247p lifetime

Saturday, February 4, 2017

6:120 The Time and Space of Uncle Albert by Russell Stannard

Gedanken has a science project due for school so she goes to her Uncle Albert for help.  He informs her of an experiment he has been working on and this new thing he has discovered, a thought bubble, where experiments can be conducted that can't be done on Earth.  She agrees to go into the thought bubble to chase a light beam and try to catch one.  She can't but they do learn a few things from her first attempt and several more attempts are made as they discover strange things with each experiment.  She is finally able to complete her project which earns her a good grade.

In reality, Uncle Albert is Albert Einstein and this book is exploring his Special Theory of Relativity in an easier to understand way.  I'm definitely a fan of the way it was presented and have gotten the other books in the series for my youngest although I look forward to reading them as well.  A nice, gentle introduction to relativity for the young or old.


Page count: 120p/1,340p ytd/176,815p lifetime

5:120 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

1936, Flint, Michigan.

Bud, not Buddy, has been at the Home (orphanage) for about 4 years, ever since his mother died.  He has never known his father but in his suitcase that contains all his belongings there are fliers for Herman E. Calloway & the Dusky Devastators of the Depression.  When he is sent to a new foster home where the abuse starts immediately, he runs away and comes to the conclusion that Herman E. Calloway must be his father so he will find him.  Bud ends up in a Hooverville at one point and then gets lucky when Lefty Lewis picks him up on his way to Flint.  Lefty knows Herman and gets Bud there in a much easier way than it would have been for him to walk.  Herman is not at all the person Bud was imagining but life has more unexpected surprises in store for the young man.

I read this as part of a literature unit with my 5th grader having never read it before.  I found the story engaging and touching and my son read ahead constantly.  While the story itself is not a true story, many of the scenes and people were based on people in the author's life and the stories he heard growing up and this helps give it a ring of truth.

Page count: 243p ytd/1,220p/276,695p lifetime