Okay, I promised myself that I’d post two reviews in April to make up for being so very behind on my reviews but I didn’t do it. I only posted one review in April and I forgot to let John know so it doesn’t appear in the 10th Book Challenge update! Should I try for three reviews in May? I will finally be graduating (June 30th) and my courses finish May 20th so it’s a busy month but I guess all I can do is try.
Nothing to say…just grumbling March 13, 2009
I can’t wait to be finished with school so I can read what I want! I’m just having a generally grumpy day because it’s gorgeous and sunny out and all I want to do is read one of the zillions of great books on my “to read” list. Instead I’m stuck reading and doing assignments for school. Blah.
The Canadian Book Challenge review #2! November 24, 2008
Holy Cow! It’s nearly December and up to this point I’ve only posted one review for this year’s Canadian Book Challenge. I definitely need to pull up my socks! Since I’ve had no classes (because my professors are on strike) I’ve had lots of time to read so I will hopefully be posting some more reviews.
When I was a kid I read O.R. Melling’s The Hunter’s Moon and I absolutely loved it. I wanted to be Gwen, one of the main characters, and I was absolutely fascinated by the Irish folklore that Melling wove into her story. I didn’t find out about the rest of Melling’s books until I was an adult and I have to admit that I’m not quite as thrilled with the rest of them. I just finished reading The Singing Stone, which I began reading in August. I just wasn’t drawn into the story and so I hardly ever picked it up. The book is a slim volume and it tells the story of Kay, an orphan, who has been sent some mysterious books full of Celtic legends and who is transported to another time in order to accompany a girl named Aherne on a quest to locate four treasures and answer the question of who Kay and Aherne actually are. Melling has done what she always does, which is take Irish folklore and history and weave them into a story that involves modern day girls who are experiencing some sort of turmoil in their lives. Of course, there is also always a romance element and the girl always gets the guy in the end. I think the reason that I didn’t enjoy this one is that the book was too short to contain the story. Melling is tackling a huge part of Irish history – the debate about whether the Tuatha De Danaan actually existed or whether they are simply legend. Unfortunately, she crams this story into 205 pages, which is not enough to really get to know the characters or develop the plot. I didn’t feel like I really knew Kay and Aherne, I found their relationship unbelievable, and I often felt like the description and plot were rushed and confusing. I will admit, though, that I started to get into the story and enjoy it more in the last ten chapters, and I suspect that holding this work up to The Hunter’s Moon was unfair of me. I think that if I had read this book at the same time as I had read my first Melling book I would have enjoyed it much more than I did this time around.
Oh boy. I don’t think I’ve ever written an unfavourable review before. I do hope that O.R. Melling never reads this post because I still like her other writing and I will still be seeking out some of her other works which I haven’t read yet because I really am fascinated by the Celtic lore that she brings to her books and I also really enjoy the way she writes about Canadian locales that are familiar to me as well as these supernatural faery worlds that exist in the Irish countryside.
And the winner is… November 9, 2008
I attended my very first Canadian Children’s Literature Awards on Thursday night where Christopher Paul Curtis took home both the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for his novel Elijah of Buxton. The Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award went to author Frieda Wishinsky and illustrator Marie-Louise Gay for their work on Please, Louise!, and the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction went to Hugh Brewster for At Vimy Ridge: Canada’s Greatest World War I Victory. The event was put on by TD Bank at the Carlu in Toronto and it was all very swanky. The excitement in the air was palpable and it just made me itch to finish with school and get to work in a school or a library somewhere sharing fabulous literature with children!
Unfortunately, the TAs, contract faculty and graduate students at York University are on strike right now so I am rather worried about what will happen to my year. I should be graduating in the spring and I will be so disappointed and angry if I end up losing my year over this strike. On the plus side of the strike, it will give me time to do more reading! I haven’t been keeping up with the Canadian Book Challenge at all and I’d like to take the time to post some reviews in the coming weeks. Of course, my reading list for the challenge may be completely changed now that I’m dying to read all of the nominees and winners of the four awards presented on Thursday night. I’ll be starting with Elijah of Buxton and Too Many Books since they were both sent home with me in a lovely goody bag at the end of the evening.
Back to School September 5, 2008
It’s that time again. It’s time to go back to school. For me this means back to my university courses as well as back to work since I work at a school. I always feel like it’s the new year in September more than I do in January. There are fresh notebooks, newly sharpened pencils, brand new textbooks, a new schedule, and the potential for a whole new routine.
I always make promises to myself that this year everything is going to be organized, on time, and easy and every year it all goes crazy and I end up feeling like I’ve failed. When I look back on my journals they are filled with resolutions and they are always the same ones. I will begin working on my assignments well in advance. I will do all of my course readings and take meticulous notes before and during each class. I will hand in my assignments on time. I will study for all my tests and exams. I will get As in all my classes. Now that I’m aware that there is an actual neurological problem that is sabotaging all my well-meaning efforts I don’t feel quite so bad about writing the essay at the last minute, asking for an extension on an assignment, or the fact that my desk/knapsack/office frequently look like something has exploded. I am starting to accept that because of the ADHD I will not be able to achieve all of those lofty goals. A really great result of learning about ADHD, however, has been that I have found out that I am capable of achieving those goals, and that it just requires a lot more planning for me than the average person!
Last school year I actually did achieve an A+ and an A along with my Bs. I have accomodations at school which allow me to ask for an extension if I need it and to write all of my tests and exams on a computer with 50% more time. All of my professors receive letters explaining my “special needs” status and so I am no longer intimidated by going to them to discuss the problems I am having in writing a particular assignment and I no longer feel that they secretly think I’m lazy and don’t want to succeed or do any work in their class. My work spaces still do frequently look like a bomb has gone off but all of my important dates and details are recorded diligently into a moleskine agenda and since I started taking my class notes on the computer not only are they much more complete and coherent than before, other students are actually asking me if they can borrow my notes!
Finally, another added benefit of learning about ADHD has led me to reassess my career goals. When I originally went to university I was in the concurrent education program where I was working on a degree in French and a teacher’s certificate concurrently. I had excellent marks in the teacher’s ed. portion of my degree but when I dropped out of university and then later reapplied I did not reenter the teacher’s ed. part of my degree. I had decided that I would much rather work in a library. Lately, however, though I still love books, reading and the library, I have been considering applying to teacher’s college next year when I have completed my undergraduate degree. Not only do I keep ending up in jobs where I am working directly with children and youth, I have found that in the past few years I have been able to understand and work with students who have learning disabilities or behavioural issues much more effectively than in the past. Rather than be irritated by a boy who continually disrupts the group and seems to blurt out insults to his fellow participants without thinking I find myself wondering whether this is something he has any control over at all and finding alternative ways to redirect his energy and attention rather than repeatedly telling him to please be quiet or sit still. I think that as a teacher with ADHD I would have many tools to work with this type of student that others may not have without much education and mountains of understanding and patience. I only wish now that at some point in my childhood someone had recognized me as having this disorder instead of labeling me lazy or disorganized or just plain dumb!
Now I must get to work. I think my desk could use some tidying and my Old English text isn’t going to read itself…
Bowing Out June 12, 2008
Sadly, I’m going to have to bow out of the Canadian Book Challenge this year. I am so swamped with reading for my two summer courses that I just can’t seem to find the time to do any extra reading for myself. I will definitely be back to participate in the next Canadian Book Challenge, and I think I’ll stick to the same theme of children’s books, although I won’t cheat! The books I have already read for this year’s challenge don’t count..I’ll have to read more.
Although I’m kind of bummed about not having time for the challenge this year I’m really enjoying all the reading I am doing. I am taking Fiction of the Fantastic, a third year university course where we are exploring elements of the fantastic in books like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula, Harry Potter, The Shining, The Castle of Otranto, and numerous others. I am also taking Genre Fiction and Readers’ Advisory, which will count towards my Library Technician’s diploma. In this course we are exploring a few different genres (western, romance, science fiction, historical fiction, crime/mystery, horror, suspence, and fantasy) and instead of following a set reading list we are making up our own reading lists and choosing our own books from the different genres to complete the assignments. Both courses are a lot of fun and incredibly interesting but the amount of reading I am doing right now is unbelievable. Good thing I like to read!
Of course, just to make sure I’m not bored, on top of my summer courses I am planning and running two different summer camps this year. The first is a month-long literacy program for kids from an inner-city school. The focus is media literacy and I am in charge of the “camp” activities such as games and visual arts while the three teachers I am working with are in charge of the classroom part of the camp. The second is a two-week residential French camp that I run with my best friend. This year I am in charge of the CIT program as well as being the program director for the entire camp. Wow! Just rereading all of that is freaking me out. I had better get to work.
Baby Steps December 13, 2007
I’m supposed to be working on two essays and an assignment. What am I doing? I’m looking up knitting patterns and researching Canadian children’s literature. I’m finished my exams for the term and now I have all kinds of time on my hands before I have to run my after-school program. One thing I’ve learned about managing my ADHD is that I have to have structure. The busier I am, the more likely I am to get things done. I suppose it’s because when I have all kinds of time open I end up saying “oh well, I can just do it later or tomorrow, or whenever…I’ve got lots of time!”. When I’m super-busy and I know that I only have a one hour block of time in which to do a reading or work on a piece of writing then I get it done because there is no room for procrastination. That’s not to say that I never procrastinate when I’m busy, in fact I do it quite frequently, but when I’m on the ball I can organize my time better when I’m busy. I need to be more careful about giving myself deadlines and not to let my professors give me “open” due dates when I get an extension on an assignment because I just drag it out forever. I should be on vacation from school at this point and instead I’ve got all these papers hanging over my head. One of the papers I need to write is only three pages long and I have done way too much research already. I’ve psyched myself out on writing it way too many times now because I can’t seem to focus my thoughts into just three pages! I will write it today. That is what I will do today. Baby steps right?