Monday, September 30, 2013

Print Media Monday: Catherine Stine's Ruby's Fire

Welcome to another Print Media Monday! Today we'll be reviewing Catherine Stine's Ruby's Fire, the second novel in the Fireseed Series. I was fortunate enough to win a copy of this novel from a giveaway on Kelly Hashway's blog. I say fortunate because it's not the kind of book I would pick up by myself (I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, and my tastes tend toward Middle Grade rather than YA.) But the gods intervened that day to bring me a book that I have thoroughly enjoyed, and I know you will enjoy, too.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is just like any other teenager. She has friends she adores, and a family she loves and wants to protect above all else. But Ruby is living in some extraordinary circumstances. On a post-Apocalyptic Earth, Ruby is a climate refugee, and living in a cult that worships the mysterious plant FireSeed. On the night of the Founder's Ceremony, Ruby makes a decision to escape that will not only change her life, but will alter the very essence of her being. Catherine Stine takes us and Ruby on an incredible emotional journey, where the question of what it means to be human will be explored and turned on its head.

Why I Loved This Book

One word: FireSeed! I didn't read FireSeed One (the first novel set in the FireSeed Universe) but that wasn't a problem. The properties of this crazy plant will leave you scratching your head for days and days. And of course, the characters. Ruby kicked butt as the resident healer, and her little brother Thorn would put Haley Joel Osment's character in Sixth Sense to shame. For those of you out there who love a good YA love triangle, you will not be disappointed.

More About Catherine Stine/ The Fireseed Series

For more information on the Fireseed Series, or Catherine Stine, please visit her website. You can also find Ruby's Fire and Fireseed One on Amazon.

Wah! Can't believe this is the last official post of Back-to-School Month. Went by in a blur! Make sure to come back next month where all posts will have to do with Horror/Halloween!

See you in October!

Photo Credits

The cover of Ruby's Fire was taken from here. Thanks heaps!

Friday, September 27, 2013

International Friday: Cute Stationery and Such

Angry Birds bento? Heck yeah!

We've talked about some really serious things here at EKM--racism, stereotyping, and girls' empowerment. But for this International Friday, we're going to talk about something even more important...CUTE STATIONERY! It's the last International Friday of Back-to-School Month, so what better way to close it off than by indulging in mindless but delicious consumerism?

I've posted some yummy pictures of kawaii (cute) bento (lunchboxes) and school supplies. Kawaii culture originated in Japan but has spread throughout Asia and the world, as evidenced by the amount of online retailers specializing in it (*NOTE* I have zero affiliation with any of the web sites listed here, and have listed them for informational purposes only). Also, cute culture isn't just for kids. Women in Japan, and some men, just can't resist the cute!

The Lunches

Yes, folks, they are made from nothing other than an imaginative use of rice, seaweed, and other food products!

Pencils and Such

School supplies so cute, who really needs school? My favorite are the poop pencils (they're the ones that look like ice cream scoops!) With the POCKY pencils a close second.

I can't stand it! Everything is!

Thanks for reading, everyone! See you in October!

Photo Credits

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 8 Classic YA Books That Will Screw You Up For Life

It's not so sweet in the valley.

Came across this post on flavorwire. The title says it all: "8 Classic YA Books That Will Screw You Up for Life." Do you agree or disagree with the titles on the list? What titles, if any, would you add?

Happy reading, everyone!

Photo Credits

Photo of Sweet Valley book came from here. Gracias!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Toys and Games Tuesday: Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine

Hey All! This week I'd like to introduce a new column, Toys and Games Tuesday! It will appear once a month or so. In honor of Back-to-School Month, we're going to talk about the much buzzed-about toy, Goldie Blox.

If you have school-aged children, it's hard to avoid hearing about STEM. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and is an acronym that anyone involved in education is throwing around the way troublemakers once threw paper airplanes in class. American children don't know enough about the STEM fields, politicians, big technology CEOs, and some educators have argued. This is bad for national security and the Future of the Nation in general. I'm not certain I agree, as it's been eons since I've stepped into a classroom, but I am all for anything that makes children more curious, passionate, and excited about the world we live in. Here is where Goldie Blox steps in.

Goldie Blox is the brainchild of Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling. Noticing a lack of women in the engineering field, she developed Goldie Blox to help get girls excited about building and engineering. Girls can do more than just play dress-up princess she argues. Her hope is that the more girls are exposed to engineering, the more interested they will be in pursuing engineering as a career, and the better the chances are that more women can help solve problems in the world.

What's Inside

  • Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine story book
  • One pegboard
  • Ten axles
  • Five blocks
  • One ribbon
  • Five blocks
  • Five wheels
  • Five Washers
  • One crank

Through the story in the book, Goldie and her friends figure out different ways to configure the machine parts to solve their problems. There are also pages where the child can copy and create different formations using the materials.

What I Like About This Toy

I like that this toy came into being because its creator (Sterling) wanted to empower girls. As a character, Goldie is as adorable as they come. The book shows Goldie solving problems but also having fun (even playing dress-up with her star sunglasses!) With her toolbelt and overalls, she is unambiguously ready to build. But Goldie's flowing blonde locks and her adorable animal friends also make her accessible to the princess set. The book and toy parts are also made out of high-quality plastic.

What I Don't Like About This Toy

My daughter, who is seven-years-old and my Official Tester of Everything Kid complained, "Ma, the ribbon isn't long enough!" I agree. It seems that once you get these cool formations going, you can't do much because the ribbon is too short. Are they inadvertently encouraging us to do Goldie Blox hacks? You could certainly get around this by using your own ribbon with some velcro sewn on the end. But still, seeing as this is a toy that is supposed to encourage young girls to build, why stop the fun when it had only gotten started? I would definitely recommend they start selling booster packs with extra long ribbon, parts, etc, if only for the lazy and technologically inept among us.

I also don't like (and this probably wasn't their intention) that by marketing an "engineering toy for girls" they create a further rift between life and science that an increase on focus on the STEM fields was supposed to fix. Life and engineering are inseparable. If you really want to get girls building, let them get involved in some real-life building situations. Let them help you put together some furniture you just bought (IKEA anyone? LOL!) or let her help you fix the car or bike (even if they just hold the tools because they might be too young or small to help you for real). Point out the beauty of a bridge you are about to drive across. These activities are free, and show STEM in everyday life.

*end rant*

Still, I love the toy and its message. If you've got a young girl in your life and the $30 to spare, you might want to consider this for her birthday or Christmas gift.

To find out more about Goldie Blox, check out their website. Their kickstarter page, though expired, is also rather informative. Goldie Blox is recommended for children ages 6+, and has small parts which may be a choking hazard for younger children.

Photo Credits

The photo of the inside of the box came from here. The picture of the Goldie Blox banner came from here, and "More Than Just a Princess" came from here. Thanks heaps!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Wah! A Liebster Award Nomination!

The very lovely Leandra Wallace of the Le&ndra Wallace Blog has nominated Eating Kids' Media for a Liebster Award! Woo-hoo! The Liebster Award is for blogs that have less than 200 followers and need more love. Pass it on!

Here are the questions Leandra asked me, and their answers:

1. Who do you credit as being most inspirational in your life?

Oprah and my daughter :-)

2. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?

Sleep. (LOL!) Or if possible, go for country drives.

3. Top three authors?

Haruki Murakami, Paulo Coelho, J. Krishnamurti

4. Snow or no snow?

I'm from the Northeast! NO SNOW!!!!

5. If you could visit any city in the world, what one would it be?

Not sure why, but Prague.

6. What is your favorite restaurant?

There's a dive-y Vietnamese restaurant in my town called Miss Saigon. The service is horrid but the food is always fast, fresh, and delicious!

7. Do you loan your books out?

Always, for the sake of humanity.

8. What's the one thing you're sick of seeing on book covers?

On YA books, I am sick of seeing a wispy blonde teenager stuck in the embrace of a topless man with nice abs. Don't get me wrong. I love nice abs. But in most of these books, there's actually a story in there, and the covers really sell them short.

9. If you could travel back in time to any major historical moment, what would it be?

The Pyramids. I want to know if aliens really built them.

10. If you could pick a name for yourself, what would it be?

The Artist Formerly known as a symbol. LOL!

Thanks Leandra! Here are my nominations for the Liebster Award, and the rules for those who choose to accept:

If you choose to accept here are the directions: Link back to the blogger who tagged you. Nominate 5-10 others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you. Then ask 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate as well as letting your nominees know of their award.

And now, my ten questions for those of you who choose to accept the award:

  1. If you could be an ice cream flavor, what would it be, and why?
  2. What is your favorite time of day to blog?
  3. If you were not a writer (or other current occupation) what would you be and why?
  4. Your go-to (place, blog, person, book) when you are dry on inspiration?
  5. What is your favorite book of all time?
  6. The best advice you've ever received?
  7. If you could have a super-power, what would it be and why?
  8. What is something you are optimistic about?
  9. I wish I could see....because....
  10. What is your most indispensable possession and why?

Happy Blogging, everyone! Don't forget to check out the blogs linked here. Thanksverymuch!

Friday, September 20, 2013

International Friday: Studio Ghibli's The Cat Returns

Fly, Haru, fly!

Welcome to another "International Friday" here at Eating Kids' Media! In keeping with the September/Back-to-School theme, I have decided to review Studio Ghibli's The Cat Returns (Japanese: Neko no Ongaeshi) for today's entry.

Some of you may be familiar with Studio Ghibli thanks to its famous founder and director Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind). Although it is a Ghibli production,The Cat Returns was not directed by Miyazaki. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as the Miyazaki junkies out there (myself included!) can appreciate this lovely film for what it is, and not compare it to a film directed by Miyazaki. Now, on to the review!

The main character is Japanese high school student Haru. Like a lot of kids, she struggles with feeling confident about herself. She has a crush on a cute boy in her class, who doesn't even know she exists. And on top of that, she just can't seem to wake up on time for school!

One day, while walking home from school with her best friend, she saves a cat from being run over by a truck by running into the intersection and scooping it up with her lacrosse stick! (Badass!) She is shocked when the cat stands upright, sweeps the dust from his fur, and says in lovely honorific Japanese, "Thanks for saving me." It turns out that the gracious cat is none other than the prince of the Cat Kingdom, Prince Lune. Later that night, in a scene that words cannot do justice, Prince Lune's dad, the Cat King and his entourage, presents Haru with a scroll detailing gifts of repayment (ongaeshi) that she will receive over the coming days.

I'm a I'm a hustler!

To make a long story short, the gifts are not what Haru wanted or expected. When the Cat King's super-cute lackey (whose name I cannot remember) tells Haru that her final gift is her impending wedding to Prince Lune, Haru follows the advice of a mysterious voice to seek help from the Cat Bureau. And so begins Haru's harrowing adventure to find out that the only thing she really needed was inside her all along.

Why I Love This Movie

If you are a fan of Miyazaki, you've probably noticed that his characters are usually super-perfect strong females (with the exception of Chihiro from Spirited Away). That being said, I love that this Ghibli production features a strong girl with integrity (a super-athletic lacrosse-playing girl who loves cats!) who doesn't have it ENTIRELY together (she still can't wake up for school, even with an alarm.) This makes her instantly endearing and relatable. Action, intrigue, and giggles abound in this movie, but as a mother, the best part for me was the fact that Haru's character grows in the end. She's been through a lot, learned her lessons, and is stronger and better for all of it (cliched as it sounds!) Please watch it with your older children, both boys and girls!

Appropriate for ages 10 and up. No blood, gore, or sex, but some concepts about "finding yourself" that littler ones might not be interested in or understand.

Photo Credits

The picture of Haru and Baron was taken from this blog. The picture of the Cat Entourage was taken from here. Haru in the grass came from here. Thanks!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Recess: Season One Episode One

The Recess Gang

If you are of a certain age, you probably remember recess, that golden half hour or so where kids in school were allowed to go nuts and forget all their classroom woes. Heck, the teachers expected us to go nuts, in the hopes that we could finish the last half of the school-day just a little less wiggly and antsy. Sadly, kids these days don't have recess anymore (that's a topic for another blog!) However, for those of us waxing nostalgic, or just looking for a good laugh, nothing captures the essence of this magical time of school better than the aptly-named 1990s Recess cartoon.

Recess revolves around fourth grade friends TJ, Spinelli, Gretchen, Mikey, Vince, and Gus (who joins the gang in episode 2) and what they do at recess. In the first episode, gang-leader TJ gets caught trying to steal food from the cafeteria (from a refrigerator marked, "Good Food"-- LOL!) as a protest against the Tomato Surprise, a highly-acidic soup they are serving in the cafeteria. When the horrid Ms. Finster punishes TJ by taking away recess, the poet of the group, Mikey, shouts, "Why doesn't she just tear out his soul?!?!" The gang spend the rest of the episode trying to bail TJ out of the classroom, with hilarious results. TJ didn't get to have recess, but his friends ended up uniting various factions of the playground, until the next episode of course.

I used to watch this cartoon when it aired Saturday mornings on ABC, back in the Stone Age. As a kid, the thing I loved most about this show (and still love) is that it never failed to crack me up. Now that I'm older, I love that the characters are so likeable, and yet so different from one another--just like real kids! I talk about diversity a lot on this blog, and race or ethnicity-wise, you couldn't call the cast of Recess diverse. But there's a believable diversity of interests and personalities that make the show fun to watch, without the characters becoming caricatures. One of my faves is Gretchen the Nerd. She explains what's in Tomato Surprise:

Spinelli (after putting the Tomato Surprise on her tray): It's like acid!

Gretchen: Citric acid, actually. And a carbon base electromagnetically heated to create a synthetic compound which has some admirable qualities.

TJ: You mean it's ok to eat?

Gretchen: No, if you let it age it'll burn a hole in a concrete floor.


Go ahead and check out Recess. Then grab a friend and go play outside! What's your favorite recess memory?

Photo Credits

The image of the Recess gang was taken from here. Thanks heaps!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Print Media Monday: Chieu Anh Urban's Away We Go!

When we got this board book in the mail (the result of winning a giveaway at Brianna Sayre's blog) my daughter immediately picked it up. Nevermind that this book is supposed to be a gift for a friend's baby daughter, and nevermind that my daughter is seven, she loved it! According to her, "this book will help your baby become smart!" After looking through it myself, I completely agree!

Blast off! Wheeeeeee!

Let's start off by talking about design. The book itself is a sturdy board book, about seven inches wide and six inches long. It's big enough for chubby hands to hold, and not too small to get lost. The cut-outs of the shapes which appear on every page are great for little ones to enjoy sticking their hands into, or for mom or dad or babysitter to enjoy framing an eyeball with--perfect for distracting baby! The illustrations of different modes of transportation (school buses, rocket ships, and blimps) are bright and colorful, cleverly hiding the shapes which the little ones are supposed to find.

Although the book has many wonderful characteristics, the thing about it I love most is that it presents the subject of transportation as gender neutral. When we think of cars or trucks, we often think of little boys. This is also the case for the colors blue and pink--blue is for boys, pink is for girls. But somehow Urban's book manages to fly above all the gender stereotyping. A heart, which is normally associated with feminity and girls is the shape used for the propeller of the airplane, a mode of transportation adored by little boys everywhere. The background color for the illustration of the cement mixer is a deep red-violet, a color likely to appeal to girls. "Yes," this book seems to say, "cement mixers, race cars, bulldozers, and submarines are for everyone! Away we go!" Yes, Ms. Urban, they certainly are!

Grade for Back-to-School: A++! A fun way for your toddler to learn shapes, and also a book you won't get sick of reading ten million times thanks to the bold ilustrations and basically one word a page!

For more information about Chieu Anh Urban and Away We Go, visit her blog.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Print Media Monday: Can E-Books Be Passed Down?

Happy Labor Day, everyone! Some of you may have seen this article floating around the Internet. An interesting article/braodcast from NPR on the virtues of passing down physical books, and how that will change as e-books get more and more popular.

What do you think? To access the article, click here.