Thursday, February 23, 2012
In a meeting this week, a frustrated professor described politics as “trying to get one group of rich guys to convince another group of rich guys to do the right thing.” I thought he nailed it.
This year’s Daddy-Daughter dance was lovely, though notably different than the last few. In previous years, The Girl danced only with me, and happily so. This year, she alternated between dancing with me and dancing with her friends.
And so it begins...
Life’s little ironies. My publisher has given me a fish-or-cut-bait deadline on the book. I’m making better progress than I thought, but it requires some extended periods in which I shut myself in the dining room for some quality time at the keyboard. So I have to tell the kids to leave me alone so I can write wry and insightful prose about work-life balance.
That just seems wrong, somehow.
Gremlins attacked the campus email system recently, so the system has been down. Having been without it for a while, I’m not entirely sure I want it back. Without email, I’ve been weirdly uninterrupted and able to complete a few thoughts. Even better, I’ve been able to have longer-than-usual, unpressured conversations. Yes, arranging meetings by phone is cumbersome, but if it cuts down on the number of meetings, this may not be altogether bad.
From out of the blue, The Girl asked me what causes wars. I said that wars happened when countries couldn’t use their words. She said that was silly. I couldn’t argue.
I’m looking forward to the League for Innovation conference in Philly in March. If you want to find me, I’ll be the middle-aged white guy.
The Boy blasted through the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books some time ago, and recently finished the Hunger Games series. He’s looking for something new, but I don’t have any ideas. Any suggestions for action-packed fiction for an unusually literate ten year old boy?
Heinlein's YA fiction is surprisingly good -- "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel" is a classic. And of course "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" isn't YA, but restrains itself mainly to themes good for a 10 year old.
Lloyd Alexander's novels are good -- The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, etc.
10 is a pretty good age for the original Dragonlance trilogy, by Weis and Hickman. Don't read much beyond the original trilogy and maybe the Twins novels that follow after. The shared world got abused.
Oh! Mercedes Lackey's "Arrows of the Queen" trilogy is excellent, as is her Vanyel trilogy.
Hm, what else. You could always throw "Snow Crash" by Neil Stephenson at him and watch his head explode. That sounds kinda fun.
Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (which is also fun for adults). TB is probably also old enough for The Hobbit; I read it around age 10, or maybe 11.
(Also: the catpcha system works really poorly. I've had to re-enter about six times so far.)
With "Potter" under his belt, he might be ready for the Ring Trilogy -- to read something similar, yet different. Or, if he prefers to devour books in one swallow, serial fiction like Perry Mason, Kinsey Milhone, or Sherlock Holmes might be fun if a library stocks a near-complete set.
Can I just say that I hate the fact that there are all these amazing books for kids/teens these days; I am so jealous.
(There are two young heroes, a German boy and an English girl who is a tomboy, I think both boys and girls will like it.)
I have no idea if you can get Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen or anything of Rosemary Sutcliffe's except 2nd hand these days, but if history and magic are his thing, you should try them.
Also, the Chrestomanci books by Diana Wynne Jones.
Also, if he hasn't read them already, C.S. Lewis' Narnia books and Madeline L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time series.
I'll 2nd or 3rd Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath by Scott Westerfield.
I love Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan. I think there are 10 books in that series.
The Young Samurai series by Chris Bradford is good, too.
Has he started reading the Kane Chronicles series (Egyptian myth) or the Heros of Olympus series (Roman myth)? Both are by Rick Riordan, the author of Percy Jackson's books.
For a 10 yo boy who wants to start Tamora Pierce, I'd suggest the Circle of Magic series. Be careful, though, as the Circle Opens series (which comes next in the same world) is all about solving murders by serial murderers. It might be too much. I love her Tortall books, but they're really aimed a bit older than 10 yo. I'm not talking writing style -- I'm talking content. There's girls getting their periods, getting birth control charms, etc.
I just finished reading the Books of Pellinor (4 books) by Allison Croggan, which have a big Tolkien influence.
The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver are 6 books set in America thousands of years ago.
The Knight and the Rogue series by Hilari Bell is fun and funny.
He might like Christopher Paolini's Inheritance books.
Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief series has some interesting twists and turns.
Maybe Fire and Graceling by Kristen Cashore?
I also second the Narnia series and Lord of the Rings. Has he started the Star Wars books. He seems like he would like that. I would avoid the "first 3" but start with the original 3 in book form and then go from there.
For something different, my kids really enjoyed Laura Ingalls Wilder books at that age.
At about that age, my son discovered mythology. That lasted us for a good, long, time. Norse mythology became his favorite. Pretty action-packed stuff!
(And I love the community of readers, here! I hope you'll do a post on "what to read next" for book-loving adults, too.)
Also, TB might be a little old for "The Great Brain" books because I may have been 9 or so when I read them, but I highly recommend them if not.
Later, when he sees the movie in its hideous, unedited glory, he'll understand why he should never trust someone else to interpret good fiction for him.
- The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
- Pretty much everything Lloyd Alexander wrote, although I probably liked either the Prydain books (starts with The Book of Three) or The Remarkable Journey of Price Jen the best.
- Pretty much everything John Christopher wrote (he wrote a bunch of what I guess are post-apocalyptic YA in the 60s and 70s) - my favorite was Empty World, which was about a plague but he's best known for the the Tripods books, which are about an alien invasion - they start with The White Mountains. (As an adult my main critique is that none of his books seem to have any female characters that actually do something other than die and/or create a romantic entanglement of some kind, generally while also betraying the hero. Ok in small doses, but trying as a repeated message.)
- Pretty much anything by Jim Kjelgaard. These are not SF or fantasy but rather dog stories - most feature a boy or man and his dog going hunting in the wilderness. I liked that kind of thing at that age. I also read a lot of Walt Morey and, when I got to be more around 11 or 12, Jack London during this phase. Kjelgaard's stuff is pretty easy to read and may be below your kid's reading level already. They also suffer from the complete lack of female characters problem if that's a concern for you. I think they were mostly written in the 40s and 50s.
- Some of Tanith Lee's books - be careful with this author. She both writes some wonderful YA books and some wonderful adult dark fantasy/horror books, so I suggest having an adult screen the specific books before handing them to a kid that young rather than just letting your kid blindly rummage through the library's entire collection. Good YA choices would be The Dragon Hoard or Piratica.
- I also really liked some of the Narnia books, but they're not something I generally recommend because I found the 7th book so off-putting (I am not a Christian and was not raised with the Christian mythos - I'm told it's a better read if you're familiar with that).
- Similarly, I really liked some of the Madeline L'Engle books but they also became very Christian partway through so I'm careful about who I recommend them to. (My favorite as a kid was actually Many Waters, which is a retelling of the biblical flood story, which I wasn't otherwise very familiar with.)
I was also very into Greek mythology at that age, but found Lattimore's translation of the Iliad (mentioned by another commenter) too difficult to read without support (I think I was 11 at the time). I think I could have made it through if a family member had been helping me understand it and discussing it with me, but it's a pretty dense thing to expect a kid to read on their own (and also not particularly kid-appropriate in content, obviously).
There's also Kidnapped, Treasure Island, Lord Jim (or anything by conrad), The Jungle Book, the tatooed man (if you can find it) Alice in Wonderland and Through the looking glass.
Most of these are old enough to find at used bookstores or the library.
Also, the Earthsea trilogy by Ursula LeGuin.
The Dragonlance books were incredibly enjoyable when I read them as an older teen, but again they are not precisely something I would encourage for a 10 year old, for much the same reason.
If puns are the thing, I remember Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series as a bit more wholesome (although with an occasional wink/nudge), but I didn't read them young (although Google tells me somebody mentioned them in a "4th grader reading at 11th grade level" question thread, so maybe that's a good sign?).
Plus, of course, puns are highly culture dependent. So they just aren't as funny to someone who didn't grow up in the same world.
The big thing with Misty Lackey is her focus on abused children. This is because of her background, and because there are a lot of abused children in the world, and the novels are actually a good introduction to the idea. But be prepared for a few questions and some tears.