“[C]hildren often prefer the factual over the fantastical. And a growing body of work suggests that when it comes to storybooks, they also learn better from stories that are realistic. For example, preschool-aged children are more likely to learn new facts about animals when the animals are portrayed realistically as opposed to anthropomorphically.” Two new studies suggest that where learning is concerned, realism trumps fantasy in children’s books. Which is as good a time as any to ask our own Jacob Lambert‘s question: Are picture books leading our children astray?
Every year brings a fresh new crop of popular books on physics and cosmology, or so they say. 2011 was no exception, featuring books on dark matter and dark energy, the Large Hadron Collider, time, the multiverse, cosmic mortality, a bit of history, biography, and even a celebration of "fringe physics." Here is a list of top ten picks.
"I’ve always been interested in the internal shape-changes of the poem. In my student days, it was common to assume that the poem makes a statement — that it’s protesting war, or is grieving a death. My teachers, on the whole, didn’t see a poem as an evolving thing that might be saying something completely new at the end because it had changed its mind from whatever it had proposed at the beginning." An interview with Harvard's Helen Vendler about the structure of poetry, the benefits of studying science and mathematics, and the "miraculous" voices of Shakespeare and Keats.
Congratulations to our very own Emily St. John Mandel, whose second novel, The Singer's Gun, is included, along with 19 other books, in the 2010 Indie Next List Highlights. Jason Hafer of Wolfgang Books says: "The Singer's Gun is a taut, restrained book with a quick hook and a long pull. It is a moving and mysterious work, wholly authentic."
"The notebook is where our interior world makes contact with our exterior world; where our instinct for creation is first made material. Our notebooks are our first messy attempts at self-expression, and the ways in which we express ourselves are changing every day." Sarah Gerard explores the life of the notebook in an essay for Hazlitt. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen's look at other methods writers use to keep their ideas straight, from calendars to collages.
Want to wean yourself off gin, recover from tuberculosis, and work on your novel? Don't go to Asheville, North Carolina. NPR reports that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda spent two tumultuous summers in the town, where Zelda was in a psychiatric hospital and Scott was suicidal. For more on the unhappy life of Zelda, read our review of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.