Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “Books”

Book Birthday Two


Two Years Today!

Two years ago on April 7th, Someday We Will debuted ready to greet the world with its message of the joy that comes with anticipating a visit with those we love, especially visits with grandparents.

Two years ago was also the start of the pandemic. Schools, businesses, transportation, borders, so much shut down as the world learned how to cope with Covid.

Not the most advantageous time to promote a debut picture book. Ironically enough (although one librarian deemed it prescient) the book’s focus is on the joy of coming together after being separated.

Covid was not on my mind when I submitted the book for publication to Beaming Books two years earlier.My thoughts were on the joy experienced whenever I visit my granddaughter.

Separation has taken on deeper meaning with Covid. There is more involved, more considerations when planning a visit. “Someday we will…”and “Someday is here!” has more personal meaning these days.

With libraries and bookstores open once again to in-person events, I look forward to making the rounds and promoting Someday We Will.

In these past two years have you had your someday turn into today? I hope so! That moment of being reunited with a loved one is not just for grandparents and grandchildren.

In the meantime I’ve been busy writing and submitting other stories and look forward to sharing more book birthdays with you.

Looking to order the book?

Looking for reviews? Goodreads

Word Nerd: Places


Oh, the places you’ll go or at least get to know with this batch of terms.

firth: a long, narrow indentation of the seacoast.

wynd: a narrow street or alley.

Wind your way down a wynd

peregrinate: to walk or travel by foot; journey.

saltigrade: move by leaping.

Nothing like saltigrade by the sea

natant: swimming.

wampish: to wave about or flop to and fro.

estivate: to spend the summer, as at a specific place or in a certain activity.

Natant, wampish, estivate: water wonderful words

Bard Bits: Shakespeare Is For Everyone? (That is the question…)


As an AP English teacher, Shakespeare is naturally part of the curriculum and it’s expected my students adore the Avon man as much as I do. Not usually the case. As for my regular sophomores? The groans when we approach Julius Caesar can discouraging. Yet, it is often in how Shakespeare is taught that makes a difference. This is a separate topic. The main topic is the assumption that Shakespeare is for everyone and they are going to like it. That’s like saying exercising is for everyone. It should be, but face it, not everyone embraces a push-up or a run around the block. Some like the idea of exercising and others have tried it, and many let others revel in it. So it goes with Shakespeare.

AUSTIN TICHENOR is the creator of The Shakespereance; co-artistic director of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. He contributed a thought-provoking article about Shakespeare. Here is the gist of his rhetorical stance:

Is Shakespeare for everyone? Of course he is! Absolutely!

I just wish people would stop saying it.

In Shakespeare’s day, his plays — and plays by others, and theater generally — really were for everyone. All levels of society congregated to see and hear plays in performance, to share gossip and news, and to rub literal and metaphorical elbows. Not just a source for entertainment, Shakespeare’s theater was the internet of its day.

But beginning in the 19th century, theater (and opera and symphonies) became co-opted by the upper class who wanted to keep socially — often meaning ethnically and economically — “unacceptable” people out of the theater, turning what was originally popular culture into “high” culture and using the arts as a tool of status and exclusion.

Worse, as a by-product of imperialism, Shakespeare was imposed on non-English speakers in different countries, held up as the best playwright in the world with the understanding that only by learning his plays and accepting his greatness — and, by extension, the greatness of the English language and Anglo-European culture — could one become truly civilized.

So I get it: “Shakespeare is for everyone” is an important correction, a reminder that Shakespeare’s plays were written to be popular entertainments, designed to appeal to everyone from the groundlings to the nobility.

But I worry that “Shakespeare is for everyone” nowadays feels less like a promise and more like a threat; the implication being that if you don’t like him, there’s something wrong with you..

Because the truth is, Shakespeare isn’t for everyone, and it’s disingenuous to suggest that it is. Nothing is for everyone: Personally, I don’t like opera, baseball, or video games, and in London at the turn of the 17th century, there were tens of thousands of people who undoubtedly preferred to skip another one of Shakespeare’s epics and head to the bear-baiting pits instead.

So what’s the alternative? I prefer saying “Shakespeare is for anyone who wants him.” For many reasons (i.e., the comedies aren’t funny, the language is incomprehensible, the kings and their nobles are confusing, the references archaic), Shakespeare is demonstrably not for everyone. And that’s okay. But I’ll argue till my dying day that he can and should be made available to anyone who wants him, with many different entry points for people of all levels and interests, whether they be live productions, fascinating lectures, compelling museum exhibitions, excellent films and videos, or even, dare I suggest, pop-up books. One of the first steps in appreciating Shakespeare, it seems to me, is being honest about his output, for we can only truly appreciate his greatness by being discerning enough to recognize the parts that don’t measure up, and understanding that no matter what we do, he still won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

A Round Up of Good Reads: 2021


My Year in Books
Good Reads of 2021

THE DETAILS:
Pages read: 29,532
Books read: 102
Shortest book read: 40 pages

Ada's Violin by Susan Hood
So inspiring!

Longest book read: 1,008 pages

Shakespeare After All by Marjorie Garber
A bounty for Bardinators

Average book length: 289 pages
Most popular: Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library–over 1 million reads (although I did not favor it)
Least popular: Lucius Adelno Sherman’s What is Shakespeare: An Introduction to the Great Plays (not everyone appreciates Shakespeare)
Average book rating: 4.3 (I must be particular)
Highest rated by Goodreads readers:

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Captured a 4.51 rating–a likable read, no doubt a movie is in the making

First review of the year: One Hundred Years of Children’s Books in America, Decade by Decade edited by Jane Yolen and Marjorie N. Allen. An underrated and overlooked sampling of books and the history of America from the early 1800s to the 1990s–would like to see a more current edition.
Five star rated books: 11 (I really am particular discerning)

Hitting my reading goal of 101 (the year isn’t over yet) creates a fine sense of accomplishment, especially since it became increasingly more difficult to sit down and focus on reading. After school started I found myself with a certain lassitude that gravitated towards passive viewing of animal shows, Western movies, and of course, my old standby of Dr. Who reruns.

Your Turn:
Did you hit your reading goal for the year?

Any stand out reads? I’m always looking for the next TBR item.

December: Read a New Book


In case you missed it in September, you can also decide to read a new book in December.

Reading is next to breathing—it comes naturally

Then again, it doesn’t have to be a designated month for me to read a book. And if I haven’t read it yet it’s a new book to me.

Having librarian experience, both paid and volunteer, for over fifteen years, creates in me this urgency to promote reading. Now that I am in the classroom I promote reading to my students with having them read the first 10 minutes of class. Their reactions range from groans to smiles. There seems to be a firm indication that reading is either in terms of endearment or terms of endurement among teens I have encountered in the last few years.

Anyone have a study on how reading fares among our youth?

As for me—I began to seriously get into reading in fifth grade, prompted by my teacher (Hi, Mr. Cassidy) and have increased my passion for holding words upon pages (no thanks Kindle—gotta turn those pages, feel that paper).

In fact, I just hit my reading goal of 101 books for the year just the other day and I still have time and inclination to keep going.

How about you? Do you have a reading goal? Have you read any new books lately?

How Cliché: The “B” List


The “B” section is booming with cliché phrases. All these are from Christine Ammer’s Have a Nice Day–No Problem: A Dictionary of Clichés.

The worst backseat drivers | Insurance.com
A backseat driver can be found anywhere

Backseat driver: unwanted advice.
In the 1920’s, those who could afford to do so, engaged a chauffer to drive them. The chauffer sat up front and the passenger or employer sat in the back and gave their driver instructions. Today the term applies to someone giving what they perceive as helpful advice, usually to the chagrin to the person doing the task. Other applicable phrases are Armchair General and Monday-Morning Quarterback.

Back to square one: back to the beginning
Though it sounds like a math problem, thoughts on this one are related to games where the start is a square, as in hopscotch or in a number of board games. Putting in hard work only to start over is frustrating and this term goes with back to the drawing board when the blueprints don’t pan out.

Salt mine Memes
And put some pepper in your efforts…

Back to the salt mines: returning to work
At one point in history, Russian prisoners during communist times were sent to work in the Siberian salt mines. While coming off of break can be tough, it probably is easier going that chipping away at rocks.

(The) ball is in your court: take your turn
A current expression from sports, which is attributed in the mid 20th century which is said when one person is a)being polite b)pushing the other person to take their turn c)a strategy to get the other person to reveal their intentions through action or words.

Bald face or barefaced liar/lie: an obvious, if not bold untruth.
Bare could be brazen, but it is likely is related to “beardless” which connects to only the young (not old enough to grow a beard yet) could so unashamedly tell such outrageous lies.

Idiom: Barking up the wrong tree (meaning & examples)
Categorically funny to Cocoa

(To) bark up the wrong tree: waste time or effort going in the wrong direction
Once when hunting racoons with dogs was prevalent, sometimes dogs, so pleased with themselves, would bound up to a tree so sure they had caught the varmint, would bark to their owners their success. Raccoons, being the clever creatures that they are often led the dogs astray by jumping to another tree or applying some other witty escape strategy. For those out there thinking they have solved the problem through what seems to be a long and productive chase, they might find themselves baying at empty branches and must go back to square one.

(To have) bats in one’s belfry: deemed slightly crazy
Bats in flight fly in a more irregular than regular pattern. At one time people watching bat flight thought the irregular flight reflected how bats thought–erratically. Since then it has been proven bats have a sophisticated flying system that employs sonar which keeps them from bumping into obstacles. While belfrys are not much in current use, one might be considered batty if their thoughts or speaking seems random, which might at first seem like an insult, yet it’s actually a compliment since bats are considered sophisticated creatures.

(To) beard the lion: to take a risk
If you haven’t heard this term recently, that makes two of us. Considered cliché for over a century, this phrase has Biblical roots coming from when David related how by grabbing a lion by its beard he slew him. Facing danger and vanquishing it is one thing, grabbing lions is quite another. Granted, David showed his bravery. Look how this lion’s beard–that’s up close and personal.

Why do men have more facial hair than women? - Quora
Bearding the lion (looks more like a goatee)

Beat (scare) the living daylights out of: to punish or scare someone tremendously
A 19th century American colloquialism for a person’s internal organs was “daylights.” To punish or scare someone so severely that there innards would fall out is indeed severe.

Bed or roses: an implied place of comfort
Metaphorically, lying in a bed of roses sounds pleasant, being surrounded by the fragrant petals. However, there are thorns to consider. And a literal bed of roses demands constant care, so this phrase implies the opposite, as in the situation is not comfortable.


It’s the Great Pumpkin


While not a fan of Halloween, I am a fan of pumpkin. While not a fan how pumpkin spice seems to rule the season, I am a fan of guinea pigs. So here is a share that should please those who love pumpkin spice and adore guinea pigs. Let’s see how long it takes for Mike Allegra to say he inspired this post.

Everything goes better with guinea pigs

BookStop is Here!


It’s a bit squirrelly lately…


Not sure if we have adopted a squirrel or if she has adopted us.

It began with me spotting a medium grey squirrel bounding across the lawn. A somewhat unusual sight. Deer are more frequent visitors. Squirrel activity diminished with dogs moving into the neighborhood.

Or so we thought.

Upon spotting the bounding squirrel I mustered up my squirrel call. You know the one, that high-pitched ch-ch-ch the do. Yeah. She was impressed and came leaping right over to me. She look fairly surprised to find me instead of a swaggering grey suited critter of interest.

Since then she has shown little fear of hanging out in the yard with us. Costco is making a tidy profit from the bags of peanuts the hubs buys for her.

She will cautiously approach us and grab a peanut from our fingers. Rolling and measuring its worth in her mouth she will then deposit it in some part of the yard. Digging like a little terrier she pats it in place with dainty satisfaction and traipses over for more. I split them open because once open she tastes that peanuttyness and snacks right on the spot, inches from whern indoor th b f the f federal gregg geg for gu the gggy g of b no un noun bun nt in n ink in b min in see see e sawwwww swe wewew es swe de xmewwe swe was e I sit on the bench. Syringa, does truly work for peanuts.

Now we have a couple of new additions. A tiny sable squirrel who discovered the neighbor’s squirrel proof red ffcc ccfc f fcc cd c cc bird feeder could not deter him. He used our fence as a diner freeway until trashing the bird feeder in less than two weeks. He has moved on the freebie peanuts laid out for Syringa. She’s having none of it.

There tussles and chitterings range across the lawn and through the lily leaves. Entertaining turf wars at its best. We call this little guy Skitter, since he moves as fast as a drop of water on the pancake skillet. He’s too fast to snap a photo.

And a third squirrel has appeared. Yet, this one is a puzzlement. I notice it is small with characteristic squirrel gray coloring yet its eye rings are white like a chipmunk and so is its tummy. The legs are brownish. A hybrid squirrel? We’ve dubbed this one Buddy, as in “Hey, Buddy—what are you?”

The cx bbcgf he are beginning to vacate the area for warmer climates so there is less action at the feeder. On the other hand, the colder weather is ramping up squirrel activity as they gather nuts and bury them all over the yard. I find peanuts in my plant containers, in flower beds, and all over the lawn. How will they find them all?

Syringa will come over and spread out on the concrete like a dog when we are hanging out back.
Buddy infiltrating Syringa’s snack tray. Strange markings for a squirrel, wouldn’t you say?

Word Nerd Confessions: Random Exploration


Instead of a theme-oriented post I thought I pull out at random what I have collected over the last couple of months. Hope you find a few you can use.

  1. furphy: a false report; rumor

2. mellifluous: flowing with honey; sweetened with or as if with honey

3. yare: quick; agile; lively

4. desideraturm: something wanted or needed

5. supercilious: haughtily disdainful or contemptuous, as a person or a facial expression

6. mal du pays: homesickness

7. perfervid: very fervent; extremely ardent; impassioned

8. garboil: confusion

9. lagniappe: a small gift given with a purchase to a customer, by way of compliment or for good measure; bonus

10. friable: easily crumbled or reduced to powder; crumbly

Ten words that can zip up the most mundane of conversations. Think of the possibilities.

“He seemed to enjoy the lagniappe he received for spending so much money in the store.”

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