7/6/15

Book of the Week #28

The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson (NY: Crown Publishers, 2010)
"Our journey was, on the surface, simple. Man Drives Across U.S. Fixing Typos. There it is in six words." (p. 123)
That is what the journey was, but there is a lot more to it than that. This is an entertaining travelogue (one Goodread's reviewer describes it at Bill Bryson-esque) and a thought provoking discussion of how we communicate with each other and what the impact of typos/misspellings/etc. is on that process. Deck considers his own place on the continuum of grammar police--from hawk to hippie--and the questions he wrestles with are illuminated by background info on dictionaries, phonics education, and other word-related stuff.
Here is the publisher's blurb:
"The signs of the times are missing apostrophes.
The world needed a hero, but how would an editor with no off-switch answer the call? For Jeff Deck, the writing was literally on the wall: "NO TRESSPASSING." In that moment, his greater purpose became clear. Dark hordes of typos had descended upon civilization… and only he could wield the marker to defeat them.
Recruiting his friend Benjamin and other valiant companions, he created the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL). Armed with markers, chalk, and correction fluid, they circumnavigated America, righting the glaring errors displayed in grocery stores, museums, malls, restaurants, mini-golf courses, beaches, and even a national park. Jeff and Benjamin championed the cause of clear communication, blogging about their adventures transforming horor into horror, it’s into its, and coconunut into coconut.
But at the Grand Canyon, they took one correction too far: fixing the bad grammar in a fake Native American watchtower. The government charged them with defacing federal property and summoned them to court—with a typo-ridden complaint that claimed that they had violated "criminal statues." Now the press turned these paragons of punctuation into "grammar vigilantes," airing errors about their errant errand.
The radiant dream of TEAL would not fade, though. Beneath all those misspelled words and mislaid apostrophes, Jeff and Benjamin unearthed deeper dilemmas about education, race, history, and how we communicate. Ultimately their typo-hunting journey tells a larger story not just of proper punctuation but of the power of language and literacy—and the importance of always taking a second look"
Jeff Deck grew up in New Hampshire and his adventure begins at a Dartmouth College reunion. Some of his typo hunting takes place on Manchester's Elm Street.

6/29/15

Book of the Week #27

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery (Atria Books, 2015)
"Her name was Athena, but I didn't know that then. I knew little about octopuses—not even that the correct plural is not octopi, as I had always believed (it turns out you can't put a Latin ending—i—on a word derived from the Greek, like octopus). But what I did know intrigued me. Here is an animal that has venom like a snake, a beak like a parrot, and ink like an old-fashioned pen. It can weigh as much as a man and stretch as long as a car, yet can pour its baggy, boneless body through an opening the size of an orange. It can change color and shape. It can taste with its skin. Most fascinating of all, I had read that octopuses are smart. This bore out what scant experience I had already had; like many who visit octopuses in public aquaria, I've often had the feeling the octopus I was watching was watching me back, with an interest as keen as my own." (from Chapter 1)
 One of two recent octopus-related books by Sy Montgomery this book received a starred review from Library Journal (p. 130 of the 6/1/2015 issue) and was one of their "editors' spring picks" for 2015.

6/27/15

Ladybug Voting Materials Now Available

The voting materials for the 2015 Ladybug Picture Book Award are now available:
The deadline for submitting votes is Friday, December 11, 2015 at 4:30pm.


6/22/15

Book of the Week #26

The Summit: Bretton Woods, 1944: J. M. Keynes and the Reshaping of the Global Economy by Ed Conway (NY: Pegasus Books, 2014)
"The phrase 'history in the making' is bandied around so often that it has lost most of its potency. But when the delegates turned up to the Mount Washington hotel in the summer of 1944 they were under no delusions that that was precisely what they were doing.
Their task was breathtakingly ambitious: nothing less than to repair the world economy by fashioning a system whereby countries could trade with each other without the threat of financial and economic crises like the ones which had punctuated the 1920s and 1930s.
... It is the aim of this book to describe what really happened in those remarkable twenty-two days--and, of course, the months and years of surrounding meetings and behind-the-scenes debates that are equally intriguing." --Prologue

To learn more, check out this interview with the author and the New York Times Book Review article.