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November 28 - December 3, 2010: In Brief

Middle Grade Fiction Novels:
Whales on Stilts (A Pals in Peril Tale), by M.T. Anderson and Kurt Cyrus (***1/2) [2005] - You know a story is going to be a fun read when it starts like this:

"On Career Day Lily visited her dad's work with him and discovered he worked for a mad scientist who wanted to rule the earth through destruction and desolation."

Whales on Stilts
reads like a Saturday morning cartoon in novel form, with lots of clever asides and loopy happenings.  [A middle grade novel for ages 9-12.  I read this in eBook form on Kindle for Droid.]

Web Links:
Create Your Own Comics - This useful link for parents and teachers of comic lovers has a short review and link for 6 different create-your-own-comic websites. 

[Parent note: site # 5 requires registration.  The video for site # 6 is narrated in a Transylvanian-vampire-voice and compares making comics to "making love".  It's a little risqué but fun.]

BullyingIn this Slate article, Amanda Marcotte offers an insightful take on the root causes of bullying.  Her conclusion:

"The ugly truth is that kids get bullied because they're not conforming to some social standard the bullies hold, and often the adults in charge agree with the bullies on the social standard, which makes them side all too often with bullies against the bullied. This is the most under-discussed aspect of the problem, by far.

The only people who seem to be talking about how bullying is a direct result of larger social messages about conformity are a handful of people talking about homophobic bullying, and how it reflects larger social messages about queerness that the bullies are absorbing and acting out. And even in this case, most of the discussion around things like the It Gets Better Project are mealy-mouthed condemnations of bullying without looking at root causes.

Until the adults in charge vigorously disagree with the bullies on subjects such as, "Kids who are unathletic are second class," or, "Kids who don't conform to rigid gender roles are threatening,'" there isn't going to be much we can do about bullying."

(Emphasis mine)