I was lucky to see the play God of Carnage when it was playing in New York starring the late James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis, and I loved it. I also enjoyed the movie version (simply called Carnage) which starred Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz and was pleasantly surprised. The sheer fact that you could not get over how uncomfortably each character was during the scene was brilliant. I cringed during the awkward silences, the passive aggressive looks, and the final moments when they confronted each other about views on life, marriage, and parenting styles. If you never got a chance to see either please check out the movie.
This brings me to the meaning of my post today. I recently finished (finished I tore through it) the book The Dinner by Dutch writer Herman Koch. I have never read anything by him before but I promise you will be picking up some more items now. This book reminded me so much of the play and movie that I wanted to see how the characters would deal with the situation they find themselves in.
In the book, two couples come together to have what else Dinner. The men are brothers, one is an ex-teacher, the other the shinning star of a political party who looks to be next prime minster. The wives, are supportive and loving towards their husbands and each other, but they are especially devoted to their children. Primarily their sons, who are the same age. The boys become involved in a crime that shocks the country, but they are never identified. Each parent finds out in their own way and has their own views on how to handle the situation that will be beneficial to all parties. The book is told from the point of view of Paul, the ex-teacher, and you see how he handled his own personal struggles, how he feels about his brother and his political aspirations, and how he interacts with his son, and wife. During the course of the dinner you can feel the tension building during each course, as the small chit-chat and pleasantries make way for the discussion that brought them all together. The situation involving their sons. It was a book that grabbed right away. I couldn’t put it down and wanted to learn more about each character. Koch did a phenomenal job of creating the sort of tension one feels with family when dealing with a crisis with such ease that you feel you are at the table next to them spying on their conversation. It is a great book and I highly recommend it.
So I talk about books a lot, since well, I am a librarian and all. And I have mentioned some apps and websites to visit if you are interested in writing a book of your own. Well here are few more, and these are super easy that not only are they great for classroom use, but those budding writers in your class or home might get a kick out of these too. These apps are perfect for both entertainment and education (well at least the eBook ones are, the comic ones are purely entertainment). Teachers will be able to create original eBooks to use in their classroom. Teachers will have the ability to add images, text, links, recordings and more to the eBook. Then simply share with students or colleagues to allow greater access to information. These apps allow you to create and upload your eBook to iBooks and ePub readers. You can access many of them through an app or online. The prices vary but these are all well worth the look.
Students and kids will have fun with these apps as well (especially the comic ones). They can take stories they have written and create a collection, or create a photo book highlighting a recent summer event or family function that you can share with just those who you would like. No need to put in bookstores for the world to access, unless of course you want to. These apps are a great way to keep kids creative and writing all summer long. Heck all year long for that matter.
The comic apps are fun since you don’t need to be an artist to use. By using pictures you already have you can add cartoon images and drawings to create funny one of a kind strips. So check them out.
Book Writer for iOS
IDEAL e-Pub Creator for Android and iOS
Creative Book Builder for Android and iOS
Comic Puppets for Android and iOS
Photo Comics Pro for Android
As a librarian I read a lot. When I worked in publishing I read a lot. As a reviewer for a magazine I read a lot. So I thought, how hard could it be to write a book. I have a notebook that has a ton of ideas in them. Some are just plot ideas. Some are characters. Some are full chapters or scenes. Some are picture books. And some are layouts for graphic novels. So with all of these ideas, I thought, hey this should be no problem to write a story. Well let me tell you it is tough.
Moving the story along, using descriptive wording, having the voices sound realistic, all of these elements are hard to master. I have tried my hand at writing only to face such terrible writers block that I abandon the story all together. These stories soon find a permanent place in a filing cabinet under the heading “Better Luck Next Time.” I have had the opportunity to meet several authors over the years and to hear them speak about the writing process. But it wasn’t until this year that it all really clicked for me.
I was able to have the incredibly talented Wendy Mass come to my school for an author visit. While she was here she spoke about her process, and she even shared with us a form she uses to help her better create a character and develop a plot. I thought, I have an idea, let me see how this form works. Well let me tell you, it worked great. I was able to flush out my main character and several supporting characters. I came up with a plot and I broke down how I wanted each chapter to go to help with the flow of the story. I was going to be able to write now.
Not so fast.
It was great that I had all of this. I felt like these filled in forms was success enough. However, now I actually had to start writing. And that is where it gets tricky. So I just started writing. A little free writing, just to see what might come out of my brain. And low and behold, some good stuff did. Or at least I think it is good. Now am I already on my fourth chapter. It is no where near being the level I would like it to be at, but that is what editing is for. I will have the chance to rework, and rewrite as much as I need to.
I thought writing a book would be easy. Just put some words on a paper and make a story out of it. I can tell a story no problem, writing one should be just as easy. Well I have learned that writing a story is difficult and not everyone succeeds. But if you keep at it, you will have a product that you can be proud of. So keep a look out, my goal is to see this published at some point (eBook or print form). I hope to have the first draft done in the next week or so. Fingers crossed. I will keep you posted on my progress.
Happy reading and happy writing.
PS I am currently in the middle of the book IF I STAY. I hope to have it done by Friday for my review day.
So I am in Maine for my schools winter break and I needed to bring some things to read but since I am currently involved in two books I figured that’s enough right. Think again.
Upon getting ready to come up I thought what can a bring. I am reading S by JJ Abrams and and Doug Dorset (more on that later) and Life after Life by Kate Atkinson (brilliant book. Again more on that later) so I thought I could bring those. But those are heavy and S has a lot of parts to it that I am afraid to lose so I wanted something fast and portable.
I decided let’s re-read The One and Only Ivan. I loved it and I was able to give it to my niece for her to take home, ,meaning one less thing for me to pack later. I also have Dark Places and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn on my iPad. I enjoyed Gone Girl (as did most of America) so I though let’s give them a try. I am starting with Dark Places since they are making a movie of this as well. Than I discovered that my sister in law and niece are reading Divergent so I have been sneaking a few reads here and there and we have all be discussing.
So,basically what I am saying is…My name is Emily and I have a problem. I like to read. I am caught in the middle of three books. Four if count the re-reading of Divergent. To some this might not seem like a big deal. To others my husband included this is an issue. But to me this is what I call a good vacation. With the 6 inches of snow we got last night and my time snowboarding done for the week I have all the time I the world to finish up some reading.
Enjoy readers. Let’s have our support group meet when we all have a spare moment from our books, which might be never.
August is coming up fast which means that we only have 31 days left to improve reading skills. I have touched on this subject before but I wanted to give you a few more helpful sites that are proven to enhance your child’s reading capabilities.
Stone Soup www.stonesoup.com
Little Write Brain www.littlewritebrain.com
Storyline Online www.storylineonline.net
It’s a Mad Libs World www.itsamadlibsworld.com
Grolier Online http://www.go.grolier.com
As a librarian my first love is to books and reading. So I want to share more ways to help keep those young readers on track during these summer months. I know it can be hard to get them to read a book, but these are websites!!! Yes, sometimes even reading works on the web. For more helpful technology related sites that support reading and other core skills see some my earlier post series Apps for Summer Learning. But for now allow me to share with you some websites:
1. Stone Soup www.stonesoup.com The classic literary magazine that is written by kids for kids. This offers a great way to kids to connect with others by reviewing books, or submitting their own imaginative work.
2. Little Write Brain www.littlewritebrain.com Let your little ones create their own characters, choose a template, and create their own stories that can be saved as free e-books. A great site for those creative minds out there.
3. National Geographic Young Explorers www.nationalgeographic.com Increase nonfiction reading habits with the famous magazine where the highlighted text is read aloud by a narrator and the interactive links and games allow for further exploration.
4. Storyline Online www.storylineonline.net Classic stories read by famous actors? Sign me up!
5. Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge www.scholastic.com/summer The famous challenge is back and it allows kids to track their reading minutes, and compete against other readers around the world. Parents you can monitor your child’s progress and find helpful book lists, and activity ideas.