The Week in Books 2008, No. 28

Shut Up, I’m Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government
is an odd but hilarious memoir of the author’s adventures as a Canadian law student who got bored of studying and on a whim applied to work at the Israeli Mission to the UN. Following that gig, he worked as a speech writer for Ariel Sharon in Israel. Levey doesn’t use his humor to downplay the seriousness and gravity of the situation in the Middle East, rather, as he put it, “sometimes it is the comic details that best reflect the gravity of the larger picture.”

I tracked with Levey’s approach, as having worked in a high stress component of the US government, I had run into some similar situations and often found humor to be a good way to diffuse the tension (usually I kept it to myself though – stressed out people don’t always respond positively to being part of jokes…)

“Quiet Moments in Prayer” gave me a much needed burst of inspiration and impetus to ramp up my prayer life. The first section of the book talks about the concept of prayer and Biblical foundations for understanding it, and the second section is a 30 day outline of ideas for praying with Scripture that I found most helpful. The book is structured such that you could easily use it over and over again as needed for your daily prayer time.

Phonemic Awareness Activities for Early Reading Success
is a book of games and activities you can use to help your child be ready for phonics. Phonemic awareness is not phonics, but is necessary for learning phonics and also improves as the child learns phonics. Many of the activities are simple things you might already do with your kids, like rhyming games, picking which words start with the same sound and which are different, and so forth. The book says it’s for kindergarten through 3rd grade, and some of the activities would be beyond a pre-schooler’s grasp, but the introduction says that lots of kids come to school having never been read to, never having heard nursery rhymes, and so on, so are completely unready to read. Younger kids who know the alphabet and have some basic understanding of what sounds letters make would have no trouble with many of the activities though. I’m thinking of using a few of the activities with Hannah this fall. The book also includes a long list of children’s books that cover related topics in story form (rhyming, alliteration, etc).

As with Chez Panisse Vegetables
, Chez Panisse Fruit is a very informative and entertaining book that includes recipes but is mostly a fascinating history of each fruit, thoughts on how best to select and prepare each one, what seasons it arrives at the market, and general thoughts on sustainable farming, organic food, and gourmet cooking with fresh local ingredients. I love this series of cookbooks and recommend them highly, if only for the joy of reading them!

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