Thursday, March 27, 2014

Robert Jay Wolff 1968 Seeing Red, Feeling Blue, Hello Yellow! - Mid-Century Color Theory Books for Children

Straight outta 1968, here are some nifty color theory books intended for children, created by art professor and Brooklyn modernist Robert Jay Wolff. These are just some of the personality pages; there's also quite a bit in these volumes about how different colors work with or against each other, the color wheel, and so on. The official titles are Seeing Red, Feeling Blue and Hello Yellow!, and they were published in 1968, in the aforelisted order, by Charles Scribner's Sons in New York. Retail price was $3.50 for clothbound hardback with dustjacket.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sourceless Quote I Like

"Education can't be rushed. Just as it takes nine months to make a baby, it takes 30 years to make an engineer." --maybe a Finnish educator?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Parents' Magazine Press Finding-Out Books, also known as Stepping-Stone Books

Parents' Magazine Press Finding-Out Books, also known as Stepping-Stone Books, published throughout the 1970s.

I've seen Indians and Wetlands and I'd say this series is best suited for the third-to-eighth-grade range of readers. The illustrations are excellent, and Parents' Magazine Press was doing some of the best work in children's publishing in this era, so if you find one, grab it for your collection!

A Place to Live by Jeanne Bendick
A Zoo for You: Some Indoor Pets and How to Keep Them by Winifred and Cecil Lubell
Birds in the Street: The City Pigeon Book by Winifred and Cecil Lubell
By the Seashore by Winifred and Cecil Lubell
Chicanos: Mexicans in the United States by Patricia Miles Martin
Cities New and Old by William Wise
Clothes Tell a Story: From Skin to Spacesuits by Winifred and Cecil Lubell
Eskimos: People of Alaska by Patricia Miles Martin
Everyday Wonders: Ideas of the Past That We Use Today by Solveig Paulson Russell
The Farm by Solveig Paulson Russell
Fresh as a Daisy, Neat as a Pin: The Clean Book by William Wise
Fresh, Canned and Frozen: Food from Past to Future by William Wise
From Footpaths to Freeways: The Story of Roads by Solveig Paulson Russell
From Scrolls to Satellites: The Story of Communication by William Wise
Heat and Fire by John M. Scott
Homes: Shelter and Living Space by Joanna Foster
Hop, Skim, and Fly: An Insect Book by Ross E. Hutchins
How to Make a Cloud by Jeanne Bendick
Indians: The First Americans by Patricia Miles Martin
Insects in Armor: A Beetle Book by Ross E. Hutchins
Leaders, Laws, and Citizens: The Story of Democracy and Government by William Wise
Light and Shadow by Carol Schwalberg
Long and Short of Measurement by Vicki Cobb
Making Sense of Money by Vicki Cobb
Matter All Around You: A Book About Solids, Liquids, and Gases by R.J. Lefkowitz
Off We Go! A Book of Transportation by William Wise
Picture Signs and Symbols by Winifred and Cecil Lubell
Puerto Rico: Island of Contrasts by Geraldo Rivera <-- Pretty sure this is the Geraldo Rivera.
Scaly Wings: A Book about Moths and Their Caterpillars by Ross E. Hutchins
Sense of Direction: Up and Down and All Around by Vicki Cobb
The Soil That Feeds Us by Eleanor B. Heady
Water for Today and Tomorrow by R.J. Lefkowitz
What Is Science? by John M. Scott
What Is Sound? by John M. Scott
Why Things Change: The Story of Evolution by Jeanne Bendick
Why Things Work: A Book About Energy by Jeanne Bendick
From Log Roller to Lunar Rover: The Story of Wheels by David Knight
2010: Living in the Future by Geoffrey Hoyle
Fuel for Today and Tomorrow by R.J. Lefkowitz
Wetlands: Bogs, Marshes and Swamps by Lewis Buck*

*This list transcribed from the back cover of this volume.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Loot from the Venice Library Book Sale

My friend Ella tipped me off that poor Books and Cookies in Santa Monica was closing and that inventory would be 40 percent off starting on Saturday, but when I stopped by circa 10 a.m., there was hardly a volume left and the door was being blocked by Belle from Beauty and the Beast

So...I checked with my good friend to see if there was anything nearby that would suffice for a book fix, and discovered that the quarterly Venice Branch Library Book Sale was on that morning. I was "late" by book sale standards, but still found a ton of goodies to build out our collection, some from the library discards and some donated boxes. Thank you! 

P.S. Look for a post in the future sometime featuring the work of Swiss illustrator Felix Hoffmann. Our relationship just started yesterday, but this is passionate love at first sight, and that always works out long-term, right?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Upcycle a Puzzle with a Missing Piece Into Children's Magnet Set

Upcycle a Puzzle with a Missing Piece Into Children's Magnet Set

STEP 1: Obtain a peg puzzle with one or more missing piece. (For .50, I cannot bear to leave stuff like this in a thrift shop, but my mild OCD means I also cannot have "incomplete! puzzle!" in the house without sacrificing some sanity I don't have to spare.)

STEP 2: Visit your local hardware store for industrial-quality "adhesive" (glue, yo) and magnets. Get to gluin'. (While the glue dried, I put folded napkins under the pieces so they would sit flat, otherwise the magnets would slide to one side.) Safety Warning: Use serious glue so your kiddos can't pull off the magnets and swallow them.

STEP 3: Wait.

STEP 4: Stick magnets on metal surface, set baby loose for hours magnet pulling and putting-back fun.

Our Featured Books Shelf, or Raingutter Shelves at Work (Topic: Dinosaur Books for Preschoolers)

Dinosaur books for preschoolers
As a general rule, I am an anti-dinosaur curmudgeon (don't ask), but a paleontologist came to talk to J's school this week, so we're having a dinosaur moment. Lest I be accused of depriving my little guy of the pleasures of diplodoci and stegosauri (ankylosauri are my personal fave), I pulled out some dino books.

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton
My Visit to the Dinosaurs by Aliki
Digging Up Dinosaurs by Aliki
The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs by Joanna Cole, ill. Bruce Degen
A Dozen Dinosaurs by Richard Armour, ill. Paul Galdone
Dinosaurs by Kathleen N. Daly, ill. Greg and Tim Hildebrandt
What Happened to the Dinosaurs? by Franklyn M. Branley, ill. Marc Simont
Dinosaurs, by Jane Werner Watson, ill. William de J. Rutherfoord
Dinosaurs, by Peter Zallinger
Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Reptiles, by Jane Werner Watson, ill. Rudolph F. Zallinger

"RAIN-GUTTER SHELVES" (Featuring Books Face-Out instead of Spine-Out)
In Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook, he writes extensively about marketing books to little kids. In one edition, a school librarian set out a box labeled GOOD BOOKS. The kids freaked out. They actually read them. One came back with the report "Eh." So she moved it to a box called NOT SO GOOD BOOKS. But then another kid argued with the designation. The kids were arguing about books (yay!). Somehow the simplicity of the GOOD BOOKS box was easier to grok than a whole overwhelming library of infinite choices. (I feel that way about supermarkets for what it's worth.)

He also advocates for facing books out from the shelves, and possibly using rain gutters around a classroom to make many many books visible to the kids. I couldn't bring myself to figure out rain gutters, but I did find some nifty little metal slot shelves at the Container Store, and I figured out how to install them myself, and now they live under the whiteboard in our school area, aka the living room god help us all.

ANYWAY, I use it for themed book collections appropriate to something we're doing academically or maybe just a bunch of seasonal books. The kiddo usually reads only a fraction of what I put out, if that, but it's good to have on hand and often finds something he wants to read with his dad. Long story short, I think I'm going to start photographing the collections as per the above Dinosaur collection.

I'm the one in red in the middle. Time is a flat circle.

Monday, March 10, 2014

When Your Kid Kills the Other Kids

This kind of "recommended reading" is usually something I'd share on FB, but it's so depressing and I have a little too much to say, so it's going here instead.

Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree, has written an article in the New Yorker drawn from six extensive interviews with Peter Lanza, father of Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter.

THE RECKONING: The father of the Sandy Hook killer searches for answers.
What a weird and rare document is this: The self-examination of the suburban-boring parent of a white-male-teen mass murderer enabled by easy access to automatic weapons and seeming lack of attachment to any living thing. I have a vision that in 300 years, slouching college juniors will register for a seminar on this "literary genre," the way they now might sign up for a class on "Indian captivity narratives in American literature." It's real, but so select and strange as to become classifiable as a work of art.

(The first chapter in this book of the dead from the future would be, I imagine, Susan Klebold's essay for Oprah magazine, "I Will Never Know Why.")

Returning to the Lanzas for a moment, as a parent now, of two future adolescent males, who has long had a standing fascination with the divergent ways in which adolescents lose their minds (girls and boys don't do it the same way, for instance), here are some of the parts I continue to turn over in my mind.

* [Adam] didn’t speak until he was three, and he always understood many more words than he could muster >> Everyone swears it doesn't mean anything if your kid talks late, so this might just be random correlation, but what if Father Lanza and Solomon have stumbled upon something that nervous ladies agreeing with each other on the Internet have missed, i.e. that this is weird and worrisome and a signal of larger problems if your two-year-old is mostly non-verbal?

“Adam loved Sandy Hook school,” Peter said. “He stated, as he was growing older, how much he had liked being a little kid.” >> My armchair psychology theory of the crime has long been that in a fucked-up way, Adam imagined he was preventing those first-graders from making the mistake of growing up and becoming unhappy. He was cutting them off before life went irretrievably bad, like it did for him.

Michael Stone, a psychiatrist who studies mass murder, said that, as children grow up and tasks become more difficult, what seems like a minor impairment becomes major. “They’re a little weird in school. They don’t have friends. They do not get picked for the baseball team,” he said. “But, as they get to the age when kids begin to date and find partners, they can’t. So the sense of deficit, which was minor in grade school, and getting to be a little bit more in junior high, now becomes very acute.” He added that, without the brain getting worse, “life challenges nudge them in the direction of being sicker.” >> The world also gets less interested in "helping" anyone who's different. Little kids are given endless assistance and forgiveness by nearly everyone, but at a certain point faces and bodies change and children (no matter what their actual age) are reassigned to the "you have to learn to help yourself" category. A lucky few will have a family or possibly a medical team who mildly gives a damn, but the majority of people are kicked loose into the world, and even those with "help" face the double burden of (a) whatever their challenge is, (b) having to muster the added capacity for self-help, even though they are probably already in the red, psychologically and emotionally, with just the first problem.

Open-ended questions can also be intolerable to people with autism, and, when King asked Adam to make three wishes, he wished “that whatever was granting the wishes would not exist." >> I have never heard the bit about open-ended questions before, but it blows my mind. Because it's the opposite of how my mind works, I am fascinated by people who can only make decisions based on quantitive input, and who cannot incorporate qualitative factors. Open-ended questions are my jam, but to someone with Asperger's or similar, they must appear to be the very pit of despair yawning into infinity.

Adam stopped taking Lexapro and never took psychotropics again, which worried Koenig. She wrote, "While Adam likes to believe that he’s completely logical, in fact, he’s not at all, and I’ve called him on it." She said he had a biological disorder and needed medication. "I told him he’s living in a box right now, and the box will only get smaller over time if he doesn’t get some treatment.” >> And there it is: "While [X] likes to believe that he's completely logical, in fact, he's not at all, and I've called him on it." How do you know when you're crazy? Who gives a shit about you enough to tell you, and more crucially, to keep telling you until you recalibrate? 

Only connect.

* "Among the hardest people to engage in treatment are young males who may be angry, suspicious, and socially isolated. Coming to a therapist’s office for an hour a week just to pour their heart out doesn’t seem like a particularly attractive opportunity, in general.” >> FUCK. Fuck fuck fuck fuck. This is horrible and true and what in god's name do we do? Is this why military school was a thing? A friend of mine who was an Army officer once told me he had to teach hillbillies from the hinterlands how to brush their teeth (this guy was not prone to hyberbole, but WTF?) so maybe the Army could have done something with this weirdo, but I'd imagine that those guys would also have taken one look at Lanza and turned into a meme: "Ain't nobody got time for that!"

Adam had difficulties with coördination and, when he was seventeen, Peter told Nancy that he had had to pause to retie his shoes on a hike. Nancy responded in astonishment, “He tied his own shoes?” >> This is just a powerful parenting moment that strikes a chord with me right now. Where is the line between supportive parenting and enabling dependency?

* Nancy’s mixture of hovering appeasement and disregard for professional help now seems bewildering. Yet similar choices have worked well for others: some people with autism respond best to a mixture of laissez-faire and active indulgence. >> Both Nancy and Adam were grossly isolated. This makes me want to join support groups for everything, because sometimes we need other humans to spot-check our assumptions, you know? I feel like there was no one close enough to say, "Lady, you are in a nutball situation and it's getting worse, not better. Change something." Only connect. (This must be why there is selection pressure for peer pressure and social norms, right? The downside is forced conformity and less originality and freedom, but the upside is that your clan helps you recognize when your shit is falling apart.)

Matricide is usually committed by overprotected boys—by a son who wishes, as one study puts it, “with his desperate act, to free himself from his state of dependency on her, a dependency that he believes has not allowed him to grow up.” Another study proposes that, in each case examined, “the mother-child relationship became unusually intense and conflict-laden,” while the fathers “were uniformly passive and remained relatively uninvolved.” The state’s attorney’s report says that when Nancy asked Adam whether he would feel sad if anything happened to her, he replied, “No.” A Word document called “Selfish,” which was found on Adam’s computer, gives an explanation of why females are inherently selfish, written while one of them was accommodating him in every possible way. >> Duly noted. This is why I've got it in my head to sign the boys up for Boy Scouts and National Outdoor Leadership School and any other paramilitary youth thing I can dig up. Go! Do aggressive boy things! Only connect. Disconnect from me and just call me when you're 30 or something!

I don't know. The world is crazy. Hug your children while they'll still let you, and if you're lucky enough to have your parents still around, go hug them while you still can. Sigh.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

"The children in an elementary school are powerless; they are not even big enough to intimidate anyone."

I thought this was an astonishingly blunt statement about a frank "political" reality of public education, from a writer and publisher probably not prone to the worst of hippie histrionics:

Maeroff, Gene I., The School-Smart Parent, New York: Times Books, 1989; Chapter 11: Working With the Staff (p. 187):
"Each principal operates a sort of fiefdom, paying tribute to the superintendent, but having considerable latitude in running the school. The children in an elementary school are powerless; they are not even big enough to intimidate anyone. School systems are like the Kremlin in their hierarchical nature. The power flows down from the top. Almost none of it--in an elementary school especially--gets to the students, who occupy a role not unlike the serfs in the Middle Ages. So the lowly little student in an elementary school needs allies wherever they can be found. The principal is a good one to have on the side of any child."

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Betty Crocker's Parties for Children by Lois M. Freeman (Golden Press, 1964)

My mom still has a lot of spiral-bound 1960s Betty Crocker cookbooks--including the Cooky Book of my childhood--so I couldn't resist this similarly bold-covered title, Parties for Children. I love the illustrations and the styling; it's also a window into a very different social world. I suppose that the 50 years between 1964 and 2014 really do mean something! Anyway, I'm listing it in my Etsy shop, but I can only use five images there, and I couldn't stop photographing it, so here is the awesome vintage image surplus!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Salman Khan: Coaches vs. Teachers

"Have you ever noticed that some kids tend to loathe and detest their teachers but worship and adore their coaches?...I believe that a big part of the reason kids revere and obey their coaches is that the coaches are specifically and explicitly on the student's side. Coaches are helping them be the best they can be, so that they can experience the thrill of winning. In team sports, coaches inculcate the atavistic spirit and focus of a hunting clan. In individual sports, the coach stands tall as the main if not the only ally. When kids win, coaches celebrate along with them; when they lose, the coach is there to comfort and find a lesson in defeat. By contrast, from the perspective ofthe students, teachers are not viewed as someone who is on their side. They are not viewed as someone preparing them for competition with an adversary. Unfortunately, they are often seen as the adversary themselves." --pp. 199-200, Salman Khan's The One World Schoolhouse (Twelve Books, 2012).

Learning Matters: Promise Of Preschool (2002)

If you have any interest in early childhood education, this 2002 doc is excellent, although it's 12 years later and I can't see that anything has changed.

Upon reflection, my favorite part is the French preschool teacher guy who tells the producers: "My job is to teach these children that hell is not other people."