Saturday, July 31, 2010

A sure fire way to banish your bad mood

Anyone who has ever watched young children playing battle games with their toys will laugh out loud at the hilarious toy battle scenes in Shark vs Train (written by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld).

Each page reveals a different contest - from roasting marshmallows (which Train wins easily) to trick-or-treating (Shark's clown costume is very effective at pulling in the treats: "the clown is very hungry") to playing video games (where Train comments that it "sure would help if we had thumbs").

The illustrations are vibrant, full of action, and the facial expressions are hilarious.

I'd suggest this book for 4-8 year olds, but don't let that restrict you - both my children (aged 10 & 8) thoroughly loved reading it aloud using all sorts of crazy voices as the battles got more intense (between Shark & Train that is!).

Big Rabbit's Bad Mood  (written by Ramona Badescu, illustrated by Delphine Durand) is another great book, with hilariously quirky illustrations.

Big Rabbit has a bad mood with attitude, and it won't leave him alone.  Everything Big Rabbit tries to do is ruined by the "big, bad, hairy mood that stuck to him like glue".  Children will easily relate to this persistently annoying bad mood that lies about on the sofa, eats chips and leaves its boogers on the carpet!  Eventually Big Rabbit takes charge and shows his bad mood the door.

This is a sure fire hit with 3-6 year olds, and anyone else who has ever had a bad mood with attitude.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ladies, look at me

The Old Spice ads have been going viral on YouTube over the last couple of weeks, and with good reason - they are awesome!  Just in case you have missed them (where have you been??), here is a sample:

Now check out Old Spice Man's tribute to libraries:

And finally here is a version from Brigham Young University

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A chilling tale

I've been doing a bit of reading lately - shock, horror, I know!  Over the last few months I seem to have been attached at the fingers to my PC, and consequently have done very little reading of actual paper books.  But a long weekend away, coupled with no internet access (I was actually quite concerned that I would go into withdrawal mode) gave me the kickstart I needed to start whittling down the tower of books I have on my bedside table.

First up was Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale.  

Atwood creates a terrifying and yet totally believable dystopian world – where the population growth rate has fallen well into the negatives and the ability to conceive and deliver a healthy child has become a rare commodity.  Women have become objects, and have been divided into various classes: wives; handmaids; marthas; econowives; and unwomen.  The handmaids are proven fertile women and, during their reproductive years, they are valued commodities.

The book takes the form of a retrospective journal, as Offred, a handmaid, looks back on the events of her life and reminisces about her life ‘before’.  I am ashamed to admit that it took me a good two thirds of the book to realise that each handmaid’s assigned name actually stems from the household they have been placed with – so the narrator Offred, is of Fred’s household.

The situations that Offred and other women in this society find themselves in are truly terrifying.  But it is the notes that form the final chapter that are the most chilling.  Without giving too much away, Offred’s journal is discovered, and forms the basis of a series of lectures by experts on the now/then defunct society.  As I read these ‘lectures’ – I was reminded of how much we need to be aware of humanity’s past  – and how important it is for us to learn from our mistakes.

This is an important, thought provoking book - read it.