Cites & Bytes @ Bailey

a library newsletter, a compendium of interesting tidbits, a communication tool....from Bailey Library @ Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. (Site Feed)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Recently Read...

The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun
I believe I have read every single entrant in this very popular mystery series and enjoyed them all. The plot is relatively irrelevant as it is all about the cats, the kindly Mr. Qwilleran, his librarian friend Polly, and a number of the other residents of Moose County and Pickax. In this volume, Pickax is celebrating its sesquicentennial and the usual deceptions, deaths, and feline predictions abound. Always a pleasant diversion...

The Manufactured Crisis by David C. Berliner and Bruce J. Biddle
On a far more serious note, this book, recommended by our Dean of Education, addresses and debunks many of the popular "myths" of modern education. For instance, the commonly held idea that American students lag far behind their European and Asian counterparts is explained by an examination of curriculum, a difference in educational values, and biased samplings. The same sort of careful analysis is given to questions of a lack of moral values in textbooks, educational funding, and public vs. private schools, among other timely topics. This defense of American education is cogently argued and very accessible reading... it would be interesting to have this type of argument as a research assignment.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
A charming, quick read that is witty, sad, and romantic. Luo and the narrator are two young sons of privilege who have been sent to the country for re-education during Mao's Cultural Revolution. Among the many interesting characters and adventures encountered during their exile, the discovery of a suitcase filled with forbidden Western novels and the effect they have on the tailor's beautiful daughter compose the central plot. The ending is thought-provoking and somewhat mysterious. What emerges clearly, however, is a human yearning for stories, books, noble dreams.... A definite recommend!

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson
This is another bit of old-fashioned children's writing that is quite enjoyable. This story involves an abandoned child who grows up to be sweet and good and is loved by all who know her. When her mother shows up to claim her, it seems that her dreams have come true... but all is not what it seems. Set in Vienna, the Lippizzaner stallions play a part, as do a beautiful emerald, a gypsy boy, an enormous harp, and a daring rescue enacted by some unlikely heroes. The story is a treat and the descriptions of daily life in Austria are deftly incorporated.


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