One-Minute Book Reviews

June 12, 2009

Good Free Reading Group Guides From the U.S. Government

On this site I’ve often faulted publishers’ reading group guides for their poor quality –- poor in part because they tend to pander to book-club members with loopy questions like: “The heroine of this novel is a one-eyed snake charmer whose parents were abducted by aliens. Have you ever known a one-eyed snake charmer whose parents were abducted by aliens?” Gee, I’ll have to think about that one! I might have known one-eyed snake charmer, but her parents got in the space ship voluntarily and technically weren’t abducted!  How about you?

So I was heartened to find that the U.S. Government has posted more than two dozen free reading group guides that are more objective and helpful. The guides come from The Big Read, a National Endowment for the Arts program intended to encourage reading, and most cover major American works of fiction for adults or children, such as My Antonia, The Great Gatsby, The Age of Innocence, The Call of the Wild, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But a couple deal with books by authors from other countries — Naguib Mahfouz’s The Thief and the Dogs and Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich – and the NEA plans soon to post companions to the poetry of Emily Dickinson and others.

You can download the guides for free at the site for The Big Read. And some libraries can get printed versions and CDs with more information at no cost. (I learned about all of this when I found a stack of free reader’s guides and companion disks for To Kill a Mockingbird at a small-town library giving them away to patrons.) Along with warhorses such as The Grapes of Wrath, The Big Read guides deal with a couple gems that are less well known, including Cynthia Ozick’s The Shawl.

www.janiceharayda.com

May 22, 2009

Win These Books for Children or Adults – Summer Reading Giveaway

Filed under: Contests — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:07 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

[Update, June 4: This contest has closed.]

Late last year, I promised to bring back my former contests that let you win books reviewed on this site. It’s taken me a bit longer than I’d hoped, but here’s the first in the new series of occasional giveaways. Happy Memorial Day! Jan

You can win any book on the list below if you’re the first to link to One-Minute Book Reviews after you read this post. To enter, link to this site, then send the link and your mailing address to the e-mail address on the contact page, and tell me which book you’d like. (Please do not leave a comment with the link — e-mail entries only.) You don’t have to link to the review of the book you want or to say anything special; you can link to any post or page, and winners are determined solely by the time of arrival the e-mail.

You need to be over 18 and a resident of the U.S. to enter. If you win, I’ll put the book in the mail to you within a week. You can win only one book, but if more than one interests you, you’re welcome to mention an alternate choice in case someone has won the book you want. Winners’ names are not announced on the site.

All books are the copies I used to review them, so they’ve been read gently but are in very good condition unless specified. As noted below, some are advance reader’s copies or ARCs (uncorrected proofs with the art for the cover of the hardcover edition on the front).

Here are the books you can win.

Children’s Books
The Poky Little Puppy: A Little Golden Book Classic. By Janette Sebring Lowrey, illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. This book is reported to be the bestselling American hardcover children’s picture book of all time. Hardcover edition. (Won)

Baby Farm Animals: A Little Golden Book Classic. Illustrated by Garth Williams (who illustrated the best-known editions of Charlottes Web and Little House on the Prairie). Hardcover edition. (Won)

Walt Disney’s Cinderella: A Little Golden Books Classic. Story adapted by Jane Wenner. Illustrated by Retta Scott Worcester. Art from the 1950 movie (with Cinderella in her pre-princess garb on the cover). Hardcover edition.

What a Great Kid! Coupon Book: 52 Ways to Tell Kids “You’re Loved.” A tear-out coupon for every week.

Advance Reader’s Copies/Children

PerpetualCheck. By Rich Wallace. A short novel about two brothers who face off at a chess tournament. This ARC shows a bit of wear, but a young chess player might enjoy it. See note about ages in review.

Books for Adults

No! I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a 60th Year. By Virginia Ironside. The hardcover edition of a comic novel recently out in paperback.

The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America. By John Demos. The hardcover edition of a National Book Award nonfiction finalist now in paperback. (Won)

Advance Reader’s Copies/Adults

Take Your Shirt Off and Cry: A Memoir of Near Fame Experiences. By Nancy Balbirer. An actor’s story of the big breaks that got away.  This ARC shows wear.

My Little Red Book. Edited by Rachel Kauder-Nalebuff. Girls and women remember their first menstrual periods.

Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way. By Ruth Reichl. Memories of a difficult other by the editor-in-chief of Gourmet.

Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa. By R. A. Scotti. True crime about a famous art heist.

How to Buy a Love of Reading. By Tanya Egan Gibson. A novel about a teenager whose parents hire a novelist to write a book for her.

Old World Daughter, New World Mother: An Education in Love and Freedom.By Maria Laurino. An argument for a new vision of feminism by the author of Were You Always an Italian?

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