Time for a Book! “Deacon King Kong” by McBride

Naomi’s Photos

When was the last time you stopped reading a book after a few pages just so you could savor the beauty of the writing?

Well, this is the book to make you stop and pay attention to “the how” as well as the “what”. They must be teaching the opening chapter of “Deacon King Kong” in creative writing classes. What a way to introduce the characters and the setting!

The setting is a public housing project in Brooklyn N.Y in 1969 with a variety of characters living/operating there.

The pace is fast, there is a well-balanced combination of humor, drama, romance, and serious commentary on society and race in the United States.

I didn’t want to stop reading!

Books that Pack a Punch: “The Rain Heron” by Arnott & “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ozeki

A regular heron! Naomi’s Photos
The Rain Heron by Arnott

What a unique book! You could call it an eco-fable, as I have encountered many reviews that do so.

There IS a mythical rain heron (and some pretty unique squids!) but otherwise, the book is certainly not mythical or a fantasy book. The reality it depicts is completely possible – greed, corruption, and power most certainly affect the environment. Naturally, consequences follow.

Everything is cleverly told, in such a way that holds you tight until you reach the end.

So don’t try to read too much about the book before you begin it!

I found the strong women, who are the pivotal forces of the plot, to be fascinating.

Great book!

Naomi’s Photos
A Tale for the Time Being by Ozeki

This book took hold of me and wouldn’t let go of me until I had reached the end.

Even when I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue reading.

The book has many things going on – some parts are fascinating, some uplifting, some heartwrenching, and some parts totally mystical. Oh, and there’s quantum physics too!

The characters are so real and “alive” that I was extremely disturbed by the parts depicting the bullying at the Japanese school that teenage Nao went through. As a teacher, I was even more horrified at the school’s role in the situation.

Note that my gut reaction just shows how powerful the writing is – you feel you know the author and her husband (who live on a remote little island) personally. You become part of their growing involvement in the lives of Nao, her extended family, and her grandmother/Buddhist nun. Zen is certainly an element of the story. The past is just as alive, in the form of an uncle/kamikaze pilot…

There is a lot going on. More than I mentioned.


First and foremost, it’s a good story and I enjoyed it.

How many “Chunks” can a Comic Strip Chunk? With no Help from a Woodchuck?

How did he respond?

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

“Review” is the name of the game, right?

Especially when you are planning for the first weeks of a new school year.

Even more so when you taught a set of “chunks” or “collocations” during an unpredictable previous school year, in which the pandemic messed with your teaching.

Particularly so when you are teaching Deaf and hard of hearing students who always need vocabulary items practiced intensively as they lack exposure to the spoken language.


Work within the boundaries Naomi’s Photos

I wanted my review exercise to emphasize the context in which the “chunks”  are used.


I needed the task to be suitable for face-to-face teaching in class or for remote learning.

In addition…

I wanted to shake things up a bit. The students had a whole series of tasks last year (which you can find by clicking here:     400 WAYS TO RUN OUT OF MILK – VOCABULARY & DISTANCE LEARNING) so I changed the approach a bit. This time the students aren’t required to write a sentence including the target “chunk” or complete the target chunk – they need to complete the context in which it is used.

I used this friendly (and free)  comics creator.

Make Beliefs Comix

  • Note: All “chunks” in this task were taken from the Approved List of vocabulary items for high school, known as Band Three.


Chunk review with comics from naomima

Three BOOKS – Suns, Sons and Liars

Naomi’s Photos

The number of books in this post is easy to count – three.

The number of lies told… that’s a different story. What purpose do these lies serve?

Oddly enough,  the one book that promises you close encounters with liars is the only one in which I believe you are supposed to focus on the so-called lies and not look beyond them.

I’m not completely sure as I could not bring myself to finish “THE LIAR’S DICTIONARY” by Eley Williams, even though I read more than half of it.

The book focuses on bogus definitions inserted into dictionaries to combat plagiarism, known as Mountweazels,  There IS a plot, two socially awkward lexicographers in different time periods (one lying about having a speech impediment), one inserting invented words, another trying to discover them years later, and a bomb…

Basically, the book is supposed to be for people who delight in words. It’s supposed to be clever.

The question is how many soliloquies on words, their synonyms, their place in a sentence, and the aptness (or lack of it) for expressing the right meaning, can you stand on a single page?

I DO enjoy language and words, but I felt lost and bored. Too much cleverness for me, I’m afraid.

Perhaps it will work for you.

Minding the baby…
Naomi’s Photos

The opening sentence of  “My Mother’s Son” by David Hirshberg, is:

“When you’re a kid, they don’t always tell you the truth.”

The book is presented as a memoir, so for most of the book, I thought I was encountering exactly the sort of “lies” one would expect from a “coming of age” story. The author takes us back to the world of his childhood, in 1950s Boston and introduces us to his family, their business partners, friends, and neighbors. All immigrants, most came over before the war, sharing a common “otherness” – Jewish, Italian, Polish, and Irish immigrants. As the young Hirshberg grows, he uncovers more and more truths about his family history, spanning three generations and his own identity.

I discovered this book accidentally and jumped to conclusion that it was a memoir, as portrayed. I was reading it as one. I knew that the major events depicted, such as JFK’s election campaigns, raising money for children affected by Polio at baseball games, neighbors going off to fight in the Korean War certainly happened.

But the book is a novel.

In fact, during the last section, the narrator “discusses” with the reader the question of how much of his tale is true, and what is the nature of truth in matters such as family history. Does it matter if events happened in one way or another?

It’s not the author’s fault that I spent time trying to look up the island he writes about…

While some passages are too long and repetitive, overall I enjoyed reading the book and found it interesting.

Not your usual sun!
Naomi’s Photos

The major lie told in “Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro, is told to a daughter by her mother, not to a son.

And here the sun plays a role in the story, it is both life-giving and the one who lets you see reality clearly.

Klara, who is an Artificial Friend, tells the story.


I won’t tell you any more about it. When reading a book by Ishiguro It’s best not to know anything about the book in advance. Let the author drip in the information, uncover the secrets and expose the reality of the life he is depicting in his own unique way.

The writing is riveting, it’s a difficult book to put down.

As always, it’s a thought-provoking read.  Sometimes it takes an AI to make you think about humanity, life, and love.