Monday, August 19, 2013

B16 optional blog H. summer reading program

H. The summer reading program of doom

I participated in a summer reading program only once. It was around 4th or 5th grade and i remember being incredibly excited about the prospect of getting prizes just for reading. it was one of those rewards programs, you see, and you got better prizes the pages you read in 3 months. This sounded like a great deal because i was planning to read through the summer anyways. It didn't turn out so great though. there were certain books that had been determined to be harder and thus got you more points plus it was all on a per page basis.  This resulted in me ending up picking only books with sparse word count per page (which ended up being boring) and books with a ton of pages in the list because they got me more points, not because i actually had any interest in their contents. but i did it. i read a lot and racked up an amount of points to be proud of.only to discover that i was virtually the only kid who didn't cheat. There were kids who would get irritated reading the label on their soda can riding home on brand new scooters. lets just say i never did that again and stuck to reading what i liked.

B15 optinal post M.

M. Diversity in childrens books.

I think the trend of supporting diversity in children's books is something that is only going to become more common. I support this. i think this new direction has come about due to the changing political and social climate globally. Racism is being actively fought, both from a moral perspective and because, in a global economy and a shrinking planet, everyone will suffer if we can't all learn to get along. Many countries are actively trying to reduce the amount of negativity towards other differences as well like gender identity, sexuality, disabilities and diverse cultures/lifestyles. I am convinced that this is an attempt to influence children while they are still impressionable (whether done intentionally or not, i cannot say), but i'n not sure that its actually a bad thing. This could potentially keep children from falling behind the social times or even become instigators of social progress but I only say this because i agree with it. I'm sure there are people who would disagree with me but i believe the negative consequences of shielding our children from diversity far outweigh the alternative.

Monday, August 5, 2013

B11. Optional blog

G. Your top favorite things to do as a child.

My favorite things to do as a child were very skewed and very easy to fulfill. All the way through elementary school i was thrilled when i was upright, surrounded by friendly faces and not being given a black eye. I think most of my favorite things occurred away from both school and home in the form of solitary endeavors. I spent a lot of time at the library reading and doing school work. I remember being totally addicted to q-bert on the library pc and was absolutely thrilled when i figured out how to cheat and had the high score for years until the computer finally bit the dust. I also read a huge amount of books (the choose your own adventure series was my favorite) and got in trouble quite often because i kept rearranging the organization of the shelves to something i felt was more appropriate. The biggest trouble i got into was when i rearrange the entire religion section because i discovered that the Dewey Decimal system puts Christianity in the religion section and everything else ( ie: Buddhism, Hinduism, Unitarianism, Paganism, etc) in the mythology section.
I also spent a huge amount of time going to music lessons where i played bass guitar and keys. i think this was my all time favorite thing and its a hobby that has survived to present day. I am absolutely thrilled to, as of last month, have a place i can practice again after years in a tiny apartment near DU.
A third favorite thing that i remember doing was going to Wisconsin in the summer to visit my mother's side of the family. They have a huge family reunion every year (which reminds me that its happening this year in about a week) that includes food, games, a 3 hour super hard scavenger hunt, about 150 people (that i am convinced only half of  are actually related to me) and a fireworks show (that i help run) that rivals most big cities 4th of july displays. last year we had over a grands worth of fireworks and even had a dunk tank which we took turns in.
The fourth thing i remember was a ton of fun was jumping off of the damn into the lake near my house. the was a huge concrete lip that would create an 8 foot drop into the water. one year we filled the inside of the frame of a bmx bike with spray foam and took turns riding it off the ramp into the water.
When i was really small i remember that another really fun thing that would happen is when my parents went out for the evening they would have the neighbor girl come over to watch me (not that i needed watching, i was ridiculously self sufficient). It worked out because she didn't actually have to do anything that is usually associated with watching a young person and we would hang out, eat cheerios with sugar poured on them and watch hilariously bad B horror movies. She has since moved to Florida but i actually still talk to her every once in a while.
who needs popcorn?

B10 Optional Blog

I. What is the difference between moral imperatives and social norms?

Moral imperatives and social norms are two things that i think many people get confused, unconsciously, extremely often. Moral imperative is something that must be done because it is the right thing, a social norm is something that people tell you must be done because everyone else does it. It is the widely held belief that a person should behave a certain way in a given context. I personally believe that there are far too many children's books that press the latter. As an artist that deals heavily in addressing social norms and encouraging people to think consciously about everyday activity's that they do a certain way simply because they've never considered why they were doing it that way, I believe that social norms are necessary as a foundation but that they are far to prevalent in society. When asked about the reasons behind a particular activity (riding the bus on a certain route and acting a certain way during the trip for instance, cleaning the house alone, buying food at the supermarket and interacting with the clerk), the response i usually get is something along the line of : "I dont know, thats just the way it is." I've found that "that's the way everyone does it" or "that's the way i've always done it" is the norm for a huge amount of things in daily life that you never even consider doing otherwise. I try to get people to think about it objectively and then decide if it is the way to accomplish that particular act that is most efficient AND the most fulfilling. if it is, go for it. if not, decide how to go about it differently. A great many things in life could be easier and more fun with a minimal amount of thought. Unfortunately, social norms often prevent any thought at all and encourage conformity and a lack of tolerance for diversity. I believe that pushing moral imperatives on youth is a great thing that will help them to grow into morally sound individuals that will endeavor to do the right thing. however, without a solid tolerance for diversity and ability to step outside of social norms, what a person might think is morally right could become very detrimental to those around them who do not conform to regional social norms. some social norms are required for basic functioning in society but i believe too much indoctrination on an impressionable mind can lead down roads best left untrodden.

B9 optional Blog


Children's books often have different illustrators and writers. I think that images in a book can have as dramatic, if not more, an effect on how a child interprets the story and imagery. If done properly, the images can serve to improve the conveyance of the message and increase overall enjoyment of the book but, if done improperly, can skew the message or reduce the coherence of the book. Many books with simple sentences, strange rhyming schemes or made up words benefit immensely from pictures.
The first author that comes to mind when i think about this relationship is Dr. Seuss, a man who was neither a doctor nor a Suess but he wrote some darn fine children's books. Half of everything he wrote was ridiculous, nonsensical rhymes and made up words that were simply fun to say and the images that the provided along side them really help to make a little sense of these strange phrases. The pictures helped you to understand what a Wocket looked like and what color a Truffala tree is. They set moods and pretty much accounted for all of the actions that took place in his books.

I have also seen a huge amount of books, both for children and adults, where it doesnt seem like the illustrator actually read the book before designing illustrations. this can get very confusing when the picture has almost nothing to do with what is supposedly happening.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

B4 Books Chosen

B4 Books Chosen.

Section 1:

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert

-I chose this book because it seemed like a very basic starting point for children's literature. It combines simple pictures of familiar items with their names and has a very clear purpose.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

-This book teaches colors and animal names while using simple repetition and rhyming to hold attention. It seemed like a good early reader's educational book.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

-One of the favorite books of a child i know. I thought i would look into it to see if it was educationally beneficial to him as well as entertaining.

Section 2:

Keeper of Soles by Teresa Bateman

-I chose this book simply because it touched on dealing with death. This is something that very few childrens writers will go near and i wanted to see how this author would approach it.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

-I remember this book from my childhood and i personally think its a moving book for any age reader. I want to revisit it and see if its still as emotionally packed a book as i recall.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barret

- I have always loved this book and recently went to see the the film adaptation which i thought was a remarkable success. I remember this book being extremely busy, however and i want to look at it from this perspective to see if it is actually appropriate for preschoolers.

Section 3:

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

-This book is a masterpiece of sequential art story telling. It holds meaning and lessons for anyone that could possibly read this book. I had never thought of it as a children's book, however, and i want to look at it in this light.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll

-I chose this because, really, you cant investigate children's literature without hearing the name Caroll over and over again. I want to assess how this book has held up over the decades and compare it to modern stories.

Section 4:

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

- Another classic that is synonymous with the phrase: children's story. I realized that i never read this the entire way through and I feel that i owe it to myself to re-read it from an adult perspective and find any of the references i may have missed as a child. What an adult and a child might get from this book could, potentially, be extremely different

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

book Idea Sketch

Doodled out an idea yesterday afternoon of what the pictures in my book might look like. This might be more detail than is practical in the time period but i like it.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Personal update

The Race went well. I had a lot of fun and i made it the whole 5 miles in a vehicle made from a porch swing, an airport bike and an exercise machine. Now, as of Friday night, i am back in Colorado

B3. Bookstore Observation

behold, the back of a bookstore.

On Saturday of the 27th day in the 7th month of the 13th year of the new millennium (of which there have been 2 that matter according to people long dead) I went to Barnes and Noble and investigated the young readers section. I have been in this bookstore many times dating all the way back to my childhood and, for some reason, the children's section does not look smaller despite my being somewhat larger. In the construction of this place, someone must have thought it a good idea to make picture books over a quarter of the inventory because this space takes up almost a third of the store and includes a gazebo, a wall, a stage, big wood cut outs of classic book characters that i seriously doubt any of the kids in there have actually heard of, and large wood pillars disguised as trees made out of paper and ink. Why tiny people need this much space is beyond me but it does make for an open and inviting area that was remarkably pleasant even though, as i sat at a tiny table on a tiny bench with a tiny tea set laid out before me, i kept feeling like i should be expecting a singalong number about a strangely tinted highway and any moment.

all good books. though it just occurred to me 
that there are no Dr. Seuss books in our reading list.

I was not offered assistance at any time during my visit but i suspect this was less about the attitudes of the store employees and more because of the strange imbalance of customers. The adult section of the store was bustling like i have never seen it before excepting the week before a fat man climbs down peoples chimneys and trades toys for calories. There were people everywhere in the main area but as i strolled calmly into the young readers area it struck me that there was a distinct lack of youth and, to a greater extent, reading. in fact, there were only two women chatting, a baby that was too young to read and one young boy playing with erector set toys from the far wall. There were lots of good places to play and comfy chairs to sit in but, despite the high demand for reading spots outside of this miniature bastion projecting into the store, i seemed to be the only person brave enough to come in here to read. i was sitting in the huge comfy story-time chair on the stage reading "William Shakespeare's Star Wars" and it made me wish that there were other people around to read it at.
I see adventure time coloring books on that shelf.
 Seriously, what kind of horrible parent lets their 5 year old watch adventure time? 
awesome show, not for kids.

i have bought books here on occasion in the past but i have a rich history of being poor and B&N is notoriously expensive as bookstores go. There was a huge selection of classic and new books that all looked remarkably appealing and were arranged in neat little displays around and on shelves that were, sadly, probably too tall for anyone under 7 to reach the top shelf.

B2. Library Observation

B2. Library Observation
exterior of the public library. Very shiny.

For this assignment i visited the Council Tree Public library located in southern Fort Collins, CO. The Library is located on the second floor in a shopping center area and requires you to pass through a text/font related art piece on the way up the stairs. It is an orange room with text hanging from the ceiling in such a way that it appears to be swooshing around like a swarm of angry, literate hornets
Gah! ive been stung by a B!

Once at the top of the stairs i zigzagged my way to the far back of the building to the children's section and discovered that it is much more than what i expected. This space seemed to be both about reading and a great deal of other things. There were places to play, educational kinetic things with gears that you could crank and learn something about mechanics or electricity or optical illusions, computers along the wall loaded with all sorts of education programs and a very child oriented shelving system. All of the shelves appeared to be sized so that the target audience of the books on them could reach the top shelf. picture books were only 3 or four feet tall, young adult about 5 and adult about 7. 
Observing the visitors revealed that that the parents were much more interested in the books than the children. There was about 4 children (all under 6ish), two dads and one mother in the area but the fathers and one boy were the only ones actually looking for books. The mother was simply hanging out texting while the other three children were either watching cartoons or playing on the playground stuff. I was, however, impressed by one boy about 7 who actually used the pc search engine to find books and was carrying around about 12 books (actually more than he could carry. he would move the pile in segments) almost all about music. He had books like: Jake and the Philharmonic, Great Musicians, Intro to Music and more. he also had one Star Wars book.

The space was well lit and there was even a room in the corner that was filled with little tables for reading and working on crafts and even had a tiny entrance door for kids to use. it was a good space with large windows but i did not see any comfy chairs in the area for just sitting and reading.

I would and did borrow a large amount of of the required books for this class from this library. the ones i couldn't get there the librarian offered to put them on hold for me at the other library downtown. 

B8. B. What is your relationship with reading now?

B8. B. What is your relationship with reading now?

My relationship with reading is a bit complex. I genuinely enjoy reading and i am a reasonably fast reader but my interest fluctuates on a long term basis. I hadn't read a damned thing of my choosing for months near the end of last years quarter and it was even difficult to read the pieces that had been assigned to me for classwork. Then, suddenly, I had the urge to read Sherlock Holmes. When I say "read Sherlock Holmes" i mean i acquired every short story, novel, and other material Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote in his lifetime and plowed through over one thousand legal size, double column, single spaced, 8 pt font pages in just over two weeks. I hardly did anything but read for that entire period. Then i read the rest of Conan Doyles work including his collaborations, political works and various short stories. Now that i have moved on to reading the children's stories for this class i must admit that it is both very strange and very enjoyable to read something simple and straight to the point with copious quantities of pictures. I even began doodling ideas for pictures in the book we are required to write in a week or two.

B7. A. Learning to Read.

B7. A. Learning to Read.

While I don’t remember well the actual act of learning to read, I do remember that it was not much of a challenge for me when I started. I had a lot of time on my hands with my parents always working so I pretty much taught myself to read and write. I was reading proficiently by the time that my school decided to teach me to read and I remember being horribly bored because I wasn't really learning anything for quite a long time. This was a big source of tension in my classroom because I was kind of resentful that I could already read and there was no room for going on to harder things before everyone else. Things only got worse when they tried to teach me to write as well. I had taught myself remarkably flowing cursive (I’m still impressed with how good it was when I find an old box of school stuff) simply out of interest and then suddenly I was  forced to go back and learn to write in print. Sad to say, this pretty much destroyed the legibility of my handwriting though my spelling and sentence structure survived reasonably intact. I kept on reading for fun all the way through elementary before I started losing interest. I’m not sure why but my interest in reading for pleasure has really fluctuated year to year but i go through phases of non-stop reading followed by periods of reading only things i have to. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


1) Illustrative summer photo of me:

Hello dear friends, acquaintances, admirers, classmates, and strange internet relations, my name is charlie (or Charles, either is fine) and i am apparently starting this blog to write about fairy tale morality. Hopefully i will discover what that phrase actually means before i get too far into this literary escapade. I am writing to you, whoever you may be, from glorious San Francisco the city of...uh..hills..and fog and stuff. Soon i will leaving the bay to head back to the crime ridden streets of Vallejo, then on to salt lake city( home of the Mormons, tall white men with naturally neon orange Afros, and ihops that close at 8 o'clock) and finally, in a few days, back to Fort Collins, Colorado where i shall continue this one sided dialogue. (which i suppose contradicts the definition of a dialogue unless one of you actually decides, god forbid, to post a real bonafide comment which would be great because it's no fun writing for web bots)

I am a senior in the last stages of a Bachelors of Fine Art (BFA) and i am taking this class because i like children's fairy tales, i like reading way farther into things than can possibly be healthy, i enjoy writing silly things and i desperately need the credit if i am to graduate from the illustrious University of Denver this coming fall quarter. I am taking it online because i am currently in California to build art cars and various human powered contraptions with obtanium works and, since i have recently moved my place of residence from Denver to Fort Collins, the 90 minute commute every day would be just plain silly. I have not taken any online classes previously and i have no idea how i'm doing so far but i am fairly confident that i'm already failing in some respect. I promise to try harder in the future.