Month: May 2008

A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living
by Laurie Bouke

This was not the first book I read on the subject of infant potty training (also called elimination communication) but it is certainly the most in-depth resource I found. The idea is that instead of using diapers, you can learn what signals your baby gives when they need to eliminate, teach them a cue, and have them go in the toilet or a small pot. Infant Potty Training contains detailed explanations of the method, compares it with the more conventional toilet training (at toddler age), examines misconceptions about infant potty training, relates stories and testimonials from parents in the US and other countries who used this method, and includes a survey of toilet training methods (and attitudes) in different cultures, as well as an extensive reference guide for further information. By far the most useful part to me was the first section, which not only explains how to learn mutual communication with your infant about elimination needs, but also outlines how to teach an older infant, how to use the method in combination with diapers, how to involve other caregivers and handling the inevitable accidents and setbacks.

This method is certainly not for everyone. If you\’re uncomfortable with bodily functions, the myriad of photos illustrating infants urinating or defecating can be very unpleasant, and the idea of things like baby peeing in a sink or having repeated accidents on the floor seems downright unsanitary. We tried this method but began rather late; I switched my daughter to cloth diapers at eight months and began introducing the potty at nine months. The ideal age to begin using EC seems to be newborn to three months. I combined some conventional methods with the ones outlined in this book, since she was older. She ended up being pretty reliable about using the potty at just over a year. My husband pointed out several times that we might as well have just done conventional toilet training; she was \”completely potty trained\” about the same time as other kids who never used EC. Still, I feel that I had some success and who can tell if she would have easily gone through potty training at two or three years old? If I have another child, I would try this method from day one.

Rating: 4/5                       492 pages, 2002

by Astrid Lindgren

This charming story is of an outlaw family of thieves, living in a forest. Ronia, the key character doesn\’t realize at first that her family\’s means of living is morally wrong. She befriends a boy from an enemy group of robbers. Together they explore the forest, deliberately face their fears, and learn great lessons of love, trust and forgiveness. Full of strong emotions, very realistic characters, fantastic creatures and lots of adventure, Ronia, the Robber\’s Daughter was a really enjoyable read. In some ways it felt to me rather like a meeting of Peter Pan and Robin Hood. There\’s also a sense of the Romeo and Juliet story, because of the boy/girl friendship from rival, feuding families.

If I had come across this book as a kid, I\’m sure I would have loved it. It\’s one I want to make sure to read to my own daughter someday. I think this book would especially appeal to young girls because it features a young girl who is admirably brave and resourceful, yet has her own human faults as well. Ronia is one of the best young female protagonists I\’ve read of. Much bolder than Heidi and not nearly as silly as Pippi Longstocking.

Rating: 4/5               176 pages, 1985

Win a free book!
This week\’s giveaway includes two novels by Kaye Gibbons:

Sights Unseen and A Cure for Dreams. Both copies used to reside in a public library, but they\’re in excellent condition! To enter, leave a comment by fri 5/30. Mention this giveaway on your blog, let me know about it and you get two entries.
. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ CONGRATULATIONS Steph of The Kea You\’ve won a copy of The Children\’s Ward!Email me your postal address & I\’ll send it along shortly. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

by William O. Pruitt

This one was rather disappointing. I picked it up randomly from The Book Thing several months ago. I read it to compare to Icebound Summer, since it describes different animal life of the northern region: red squirrel, arctic hare, arctic wolf, caribou, moose, lynx, etc. At first I enjoyed the writing more; the descriptions of the foreign, ice-clad landscape were easier for me to picture in my mind. (Despite the constant use of several Eskimo terms for \”snow\” which kept confusing me). Animals of the North concerns itself a lot with ecology and the upset humans have caused in Alaskan wildlife. Its information feels a bit outdated, sometimes preachy, and perhaps intended for a juvenile audience. After about 100 pages my interest really began to flag, and I just skimmed the last 70.

This book has also been published under the title Wild Harmonies. The flyleaf says that it \”will delight readers of Lois Crisler\’s Arctic Wild\” and that the author\’s \”original and gripping dramatizations of [the] animals will make the book a classic.\” I think it failed on those points. I love Crisler\’s books, which are much better written. It doesn\’t compare. And I hardly believe Animals of the North even approaches being a classic. I\’d never heard of it before, and can only find one other opinion of it online, this brief review on Amazon (by someone who appreciated the book better than I).

Abandoned                 173 pages, 1960

The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest
by Andrew Revkin

I like some of the music by Mana, and one of their songs \”Cuando los Angeles Lloran\” begins like this:

A chico Méndez lo mataron
Era un defensor y un ángel de toda la amazonia
él murío a sangre fría
Lo sabía Collor De Melo y también la policia

Roughly translated, that says:

They killed Chico Mendez
He was a defender and angel of all the Amazon
He died in cold blood
Collor de Mello knew it, and so did the police…

I had no idea what this song was really about, until I read The Burning Season, one of the books my husband brought into our home. In an easy-flowing, detailed narrative, Revkin relates the plight of the Amazon rainforest, and political turmoil in Brazil. Chico Mendes was a native Brazilian whose living came from extracting rubber and gathering brazil nuts from the trees, in a carefully planned manner which left little impact on the forest and kept the resource renewable. In 1988 he was murdered by a group with conflicting interests: cattle ranchers who were clearing the land for their own use. I felt astonished, dismayed and outraged at what I read in this book. It taught me a lot about an issue I\’ve always heard of, but felt far removed from. Have any of you read this book?

Rating: 4/5               336 pages, 1994

How to Communicate with Infants Before They Can Speak
by Jospeh Garcia

In going backwards through my book log, I\’m now coming across all the titles I read about babies and pregnancy when my daughter was small. I know they\’re not of interest to everybody, so I\’m going to try and intersperse them evenly with the fiction and other topics. I\’m kind of hitting them in reverse order: potty training, weaning, breastfeeding, pregnancy. There\’s a few on other child-related subjects, like this one.

Sign with Your Baby was a good resource for me. Basically, the idea is that you can teach your older baby / young toddler simple sign language to facilitate communication before they\’re able to talk. It cuts down on frustration from having a wailing toddler who just points or screams, and you have no idea what they want. This book briefly outlines why it\’s helpful to teach sign language to babies, and how to do it (in very specific steps). There are about 140 ASL signs described, but I didn\’t find them all useful with a toddler. It took a lot of patience for me to get started- I was using the sign \”more\” for about a month before I recognize my daughter\’s first attempt at it. But after that she learned about a dozen signs that she used regularly for a while. I was excited when we would recognize what other babies signed with their caregivers in public, and once or twice my daughter even used signs to communicate with another toddler during play. Now she\’s three and doesn\’t remember any of them. I didn\’t keep up with it long because she began speaking pretty soon, and it took time/effort for me to learn the signs myself. But for several months her little hands would gesture to indicate more, eat, milk, all done, go, please, thank you, story, potty, etc.

Rating: 3/5 …….. 112 pages, 2002

by Sally Carrighar

I was a little disappointed with this book, but I think that\’s just because for some reason I had the expectation that it would be like the previous Carrighar books I\’ve read. Icebound Summer describes one season in the arctic, each chapter (which leads into the next one but doesn\’t necessarily overlap) focused on a particular animal. The vast, frozen landscape is a prominent feature against which seals, foxes, lemmings, whales, loons, terns, plover, walrus and men make their living. Other animals are secondary characters: gulls, orcas, caribou. Whereas in her previous books I felt like I was inside the mind of the animal, with this one I was more just an observer. My favorite chapter is one titled \”The Brave Fawns\” which features an illustration of a young caribou on the first page. I was expecting to read about the arctic deer, but instead it told of two Eskimo children who were left in camp while their parents went hunting. When the adults failed to return, the children were forced to attempt survival on their own.

I happen to really like the first cover featured here, but my old, rather worn copy actually looks like the one at left. I would give it a new face, except that the jacket flyleaf presents information I appreciated about the author, particularly that she spent several years in Alaska observing wildlife, accompanying Eskimos on seal and whale hunts, and traveling \”more than four thousand miles in search of lemmings, for she felt that no book about arctic wildlife would be complete without authentic details concerning those legendary rodents.\” That helped stem my incredulity when I read her account of lemmings plunging into the sea, or a walrus that killed and ate seals. I looked it up: these things really do happen as she described. I never would have known.

Rating: 3/5                 262 pages, 1953

Since I started my stat counter in Aug 2007, I\’ve been able to see actual keywords people plug into google to find my blog. It amuses me. Most readers come across my blog via book titles or authors (of course!) but I do get some strange ones. Here\’s some that really made me wonder: what were they looking for, or what did they find when they landed here?

oil painting of country doctor and dying child
recent shocking dog disasters boston
children\’s book lesbian chickens
snow white human nature
julie gregory hoax
housekeeping vs. a maid
fixing toddlers pronunciation
how to quit a nanny position
duck feet pictures
stepsister naked stories
petunia the monkey painting
the horses began to flag
students dont do reading homework
lion thing with three horns
opinion of a vet about zoos are good
viking grave drawings
movie on conformity/individualism

The craziest one I think is \”children\’s book lesbian chickens\” What?!! And the one that really made me laugh was \”students dont do reading homework\”. Sometimes I\’ll see the same title got five, ten hits in a row and it makes me wonder if it\’s kids looking for something to copy for a homework assignment. Occasionally it\’s a little more blatant: \”help me write a 5th grade book report on old yeller\” and \”what is the main lesson old yeller\” were hits on the same day! I don\’t approve of plagarism, but I suppose I can\’t avoid this sort of thing.


All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it


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