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Book Notes

12.03.2018Book Notes

Reviews of books by Diana Murray ’90 and Andrew McCarron, Head of Religion, Philosophy, & Ethics Department

 

Groggle’s Monster Valentine

by Diana Murray ’90

Sky Pony Press

$9.99

Video Profile: Watch an interview with the author

 

Did you know that monsters celebrate Valentine’s Day? If you are thinking of roses and chocolate, you are in for many surprises when you meet Diana Murray’s character Groggle, an adorable furry monster with a pink heart-shaped nose who is searching for the perfect valentine for Snarlina, his “beast” friend in the whole wide world. Murray’s fourth picture book, Groggle’s Monster Valentine, is not only a beautifully illustrated and cleverly written story to read aloud to children on Valentine’s Day, but also a resourceful mentor text that Lower School teachers can use to teach literary devices to their young readers and writers.

 

Although I have yet to read aloud Groggle’s Monster Valentine to our Kindergarten students, I am certain it will become one of their favorite Valentine’s Day picture books. Much like adult readers, children love stories that strike a balance between relatability and unpredictability. Murray has a keen insight into how to let her readers relate to Groggle and also knows when and how to surprise her unsuspecting readers.

 

In the book, Groggle has been up till the wee hours on Valentine’s night working on his cards for Snarlina. Ask any Lower School student, and they can share with you that making even the simplest valentines, let alone some elaborate ones, for your entire class will take longer than you imagined. Groggle collects some bog slime and carefully squirts everything he wants to say in bold, gooey letters. He sprinkles on shiny beetle glitter and gingerly ties on snake bows to decorate his cards. Groggle pours in all this time and effort, to no avail, all due to his monster appetite! Gobble, crunch, crunch, slurp—he scarfs down his card before his bog slime ink has even dried! Not many will know what it is like to guzzle cards like Groggle, but it’s an entirely different matter when it comes to sweets—after all, what fun is it to make valentines without munching on one too many Hershey’s Kisses? After the seventh failed attempt at curbing his monstrous appetite, Groggle decides to hurry over to Snarlina’s with what is left of his last card—slobbery and wrinkled with one smudged word left for her to read: “friend.” When readers meet Snarlina for the first time, she is a sight to behold. Who would have thought Snarlina to be a one-eyed monster that is quadruple the size of Groggle, with deadly fangs and claws? How will she respond to Groggle’s half-eaten valentine? I can just imagine our young readers holding their breaths, fearing the fate of our adorable furry friend Groggle. However, as soon as she sees Groggle at her doorstep, she purrs like a kitten, beams from ear to ear, giddily stomps her hairy feet, and gives him a monster hug after plopping the card in her mouth! Nyum, nyum, nyum, gulp! Murray has taken a somewhat clichéd topic and has created an entirely original narrative that conveys a heartwarming message that your best effort and intentions will be recognized and appreciated.

 

While children will be smitten with Murray’s whimsical characters and Bats Langley’s magical rendition of them, Lower School teachers will value this book for another reason: Groggle’s Monster Valentine is a great tool for teaching writing. The simple letters that Groggle writes to Snarlina are a great model to teach the basic format of letter writing to beginning writers.

 

Every April, which is National Poetry Month, this book needs to be on constant display in the classroom. It provides a humorous example of an acrostic poem, not to mention the plethora of examples of rhymes and alliteration that Groggle uses in his poems: “Roses are red, Garbage is grimy, Here is your valentine, Icky and slimy” or “Your teeth are so green. You’re the prettiest monster that I’ve ever seen.” Murray explicitly wrote on her Web site’s homepage that she “especially love[s] writing in rhyming verse,” and to make teaching rhymes even easier, the words that rhyme pop out from the page since they are highlighted in matching colors! Also, the series of sounds that Groggle and Snarlina make while they munch on their valentines—gobble, crunch, burp, slurp—are perfect examples of onomatopoeia. Last but not least, Murray’s frequent useof oxymorons like “horridly fabulous” and “monstrously super” is in line with the paradoxical motif of a tiny cute monster professing his love to an ill-tempered and nasty beast who drools.

 

If you are in search for a funny and refreshing Valentine’s Day picture book to read with your little monster(s) at home or at school, grab a copy of Groggle’s Monster Valentine for an awfully delightful experience.

 

Caroline (Kyung-Eun) Lee

Teacher of Kindergarten

 

Light Come Shining

by Andrew McCarron

Oxford University Press

$19.99

Video Profile: Watch an interview with the author

 

When I was asked to write a review for Andrew McCarron’s new book, Light Come Shining, I took the opportunity to reacquaint myself with Bob Dylan’s extensive body of work. Having lived through the 1960s, toured in a band with my husband for seven years, and raised a family of musicians, I have experienced Dylan’s monumental impact on American music and culture from different viewpoints in my life. But to listen to his work again, this time accompanied by McCarron’s insights, was an experience altogether new.

 

McCarron is aware—and makes sure the reader knows that he is aware—that his book is a new addition to already exhaustive library of Dylan exposés. McCarron insists, however, that his approach, the “psychobiography,” sheds a different light onto an already overexposed subject matter. The central assumption of McCarron’s psychobiographical method is that, by analyzing key moments in a person’s life, one can create a holistic portrait, or what McCarron calls a “common script.” McCarron’s project is especially apt for a figure such as Bob Dylan, whose famous transformations and conflicting identities have dumbfounded many a fan and critic. In addition, the mountain of speculation, rumor, and fanaticized theory-making surrounding Dylan has elevated the artist to legendary, almost mythical status, making Dylan himself indecipherable to the point of mysticism. McCarron aims to undercut the noise with this psychobiography, certain that somewhere in Dylan’s many transformations and manipulations lies the common script of his life.

 

McCarron’s exposé focuses on three defining moments in Dylan’s life: his 1966 motorcycle “accident” in Woodstock, New York; his religious conversion during the born-again movement of the 1970s; and his midlife recommitment to songwriting and performance starting in 1987. To many a fan and analyst, these turning points represent points of major personal and artistic changes and add to the Dylan mystique. To McCarron, they offer key turning points, but instead of seeing chaos, he sees a common thread: “The best place to find Dylan’s unique psychological fingerprint is within the twists and turns of his changes.”

 

McCarron also explores Dylan’s coping mechanisms in dealing with the insurmountable difficulty of separating his personal life from his public life—a common theme among celebrities. Dylan would don outlandish attire—a blond wig, dark glasses, a skull-cap—to hide his identity. Because of the constant public intrusion into his life, Dylan became a “paranoid recluse,” whose eccentric lifestyle also became part of his mystique. Yet McCarron again sees these transformations as an opportunity to reveal a common thread, surmising that “although there is little doubt that some of his masks are calculated stunts and tricks of a wily performance artist, his appropriations are important expressions of his deeper sense of self and identity.”

 

No doubt, though, that Dylan manipulated the script of his past to create a more alluring public persona. He hit the New York music scene as a fully formed fictional character. He manipulated the details of his life to enhance his own story. Dylan’s transformations were not just cosmetic—they seemed to permeate into his internal life. McCarron relays that there was sincerity about Dylan’s quest for self-knowledge, often taking the form of religious experiences that Dylan refers to in his writing: “A God of time and space— that creates people with specific destinies in mind.”

 

Light Come Shining is McCarron’s ambitious venture to see logic where others see chaos, to find a common thread when others are bewildered by Dylan’s existential meanderings. McCarron’s prose is at times intimidating for readers unacquainted with academic psychology, as well as for those non-initiated in the literature surrounding Bob Dylan. Still, whether you are a fan of Dylan, McCarron’s psychobiography is well worth reading. I recommend reading it as I did—while listening along to Dylan’s work as it is referenced in the book. If you are familiar with Dylan’s work, McCarron provides refreshing context for listening and experiencing Bob Dylan anew. If you are uninitiated, this book can be your curator through your exploration of the artist’s legacy and intimidatingly expansive body of work.

 

Sandy Jenkins

Teacher of Grade Two

1993-2018

 

Recent Alumni and Faculty Books

 

Deyan Ranko Brashich ’58

Dispatches

New Meridian Arts, 2017

 

Nicholas T. “Nick” Bruel ’83

Bad Kitty Camp Daze

Roaring Brook Press, 2018

 

Samuel Charap ’98

Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia

Routledge, 2017

 

Aleksandra Crapanzano ’88

The London Cookbook: Recipes from the Restaurants, Cafes, and Hole-in-the-Wall Gems of a Modern City

Ten Speed Press, 2016

 

Michael de Guzman ’56

Cosmos DeSoto’s Last Case

Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017

 

John Freeman Gill ’84

The Gargoyle Hunters

Knopf, 2017

 

William G. Franklin ’63

What is UP, Doc? Ruminations of a Solo Cardiologist

Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017

 

Alexandra “Alex” Fribourg ’00

(writing as A.F. Brady)

The Blind

Park Row Books, 2017

 

Vincent Katz ’78

Southness

Lunar Chandelier Press, 2016

 

William Green Miller ’49

A Wreath of Friends

Oxford: Amaté Press, 2007

 

Diana Murray ’90

Doris the Bookasaurus

Macmillan, 2016

 

Grimelda and the

Spooktacular Pet Show

Katherine Tegen Books/ Harpercollins, 2016

 

William F. Pepper ’55

The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Skyhorse Publishing, 2016

 

Diana H. Polley ’88

Echoes of Emerson: Rethinking Realism in Twain, James, Wharton, and Cather

University of Alabama Press, 2017


Last Word – Janine Cuervo

11.25.2018Last Word – Janine Cuervo

 

Last Word

 

A Middle School Teacher of Mathematics Considers Time

By Janine Cuervo

 

Favorite Math Concept: Golden Ratio

 

Favorite Poem: "Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann

 

Favorite Book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

 

Favorite Hobby: Yoga

 

Favorite Sport: Tennis

 

Favorite Sports Team: Green Bay Packers

 

Every summer as the school year inches closer, I reflect on my time spent at Trinity and think about the time I will spend teaching in the upcoming year. I embrace the combined feelings of enthusiasm and anxiety as I begin to think about the number of things I must prepare before the first day of school. I feel the constant pressure of time, wishing for more hours in the day, every day. Many of us feel the same limitations of time in some context, whether you’re a fellow colleague, parent, or even student. With the busyness of our day-to-day life, time can often present itself as a constraint, but this year I will try to look at it with new eyes and view time as an opportunity.

 

The truth is, there are many components of time in a teacher’s life, in addition to teaching. These responsibilities and classroom interruptions sometimes encroach on the time we have with our students or time to plan and reflect on our lessons. However, instead of perseverating on lost time that we cannot always control, I have begun to think of the opportunities that time does allow. This year I choose to see time as an opportunity within three core areas of my teaching practice: future planning, present teaching, and past reflection.

 

Planning lessons with my math colleagues is representative of the future time I will spend with my students. We set aside time to plan together and discuss how our students engage and grasp the material. Designing each lesson with a variety of learning experiences helps us focus on the learning objective, student engagement, enriching questions, and ways to assess understanding. We will continue to maximize our planning time together because we cherish building on each other’s ideas to create the best learning opportunities for our students.

 

Present teaching is the time I spend with my students daily—the classroom is my stage, and each day is a new beginning, with both predictable and unpredictable opportunities for learning and growth. Teachable moments—where students share their own experiences with math by exploring topics and engaging in conversation—represent the most valuable time we spend together. When they occur, I face a choice: to pursue the conversation or to move ahead with the curriculum. In previous years, my mindset would repeat, “There’s not enough time! I must teach the quadratic formula so they know it in ninth grade! I need more time!” But this year, I want to truly embrace these moments of unexpected learning and focus on the time that I do have with my students.

 

Everyone needs time for reflection to improve. Over the summer I use time to reflect on my work in the previous year and to refine previous lessons. I am thankful that Trinity provides me with the opportunity to engage in grant work so that I can review what has gone well, make improvements on my curriculum, and collaborate creatively with my colleagues. This additional time for reflection helps me learn, grow, and offer a fresh, more meaningful perspective moving forward. How can we find more opportunities for reflection to inspire our future?

 

Moving forward with this new mindset I will not let the constraint of time control how I plan, reflect, and especially teach. After all, being with my students, seeing their “light bulb” moments, learning from them, laughing with them, and crying with them, is the heart of my career, my passion, and my life. I challenge you to also choose to unlock the opportunity of time in your life, career, hobbies, time spent with family (and friends), or reflection.


Classroom Comment – Sonia Kanwar ’26

11.25.2018Classroom Comment – Sonia Kanwar ’26

 

Classroom Comment

 

A Grade Five Student Writes About Her Experience of Time

By Sonia Kanwar ’26

 

Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music

 

Favorite Food: Sushi

 

Favorite Books: The Harry Potter Series

 

Favorite Holiday: Valentine's Day

 

Favorite TV Show: The Loud House

 

Favorite Sport: Squash

 

Favorite Author: Enid Blyton

 

Favorite Place: The beach

 

Life is all about time.

 

I used last summer to think about what time means to me.

 

Even when times seem difficult they are usually meaningful. Last summer I moved to a new neighborhood. It was hard for me. I didn’t want to leave the apartment where I lived for the last seven years. I have some really special memories in my old neighborhood where I learned to ride my bike, sled in the park across the street, and begged my mom to get me ices. But I have a lot to look forward to in my new neighborhood—playdates with my friends who live close by, being closer to Central Park, Chelsea Piers, 16 Handles (which is in my new building), and also Trinity. Now I’m looking forward to being able to sleep for five whole minutes more, which is just another way to think about time.

 

Another thing I realized was that time can pass differently depending on what you like and what you don’t like. Waiting for my brother’s choice on the TV feels like a million years, while on the other hand, me watching TV alone seems to pass in two minutes. Waiting for my dad’s cheeseburgers on the grill seems to take a lot longer than it takes to devour one. I love ceramics, so making pots shaped like my dog, Murphy, takes no time at all.

 

I also realize that long periods of time—such as school years—can also seem to pass by very quickly. Kindergarten seemed to go by the quickest, maybe because it was my first year at Trinity. Now it’s a little surprising to me that I’m already in fifth grade.

 

We all have special moments in time that seem to stand out. Looking back at my five years at Trinity, some of those include the Halloween parade in first grade, the Harlem Renaissance in third grade, and the South Asian Chapel that I participated in. One of my favorite times was researching the borough project in social studies where I got to take my family through Brooklyn, to a great part called DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). We also went to a cool museum, Prospect Park, and ended the day with Brooklyn famous pizza.

 

Friends can make time feel more special, such as this summer when I spent time with friends in the pool and took surf lessons. We walked to get ice cream at my favorite ice cream place. Going to the beach, playing sports, doing craft activities, playing board games and puzzles, and having water fights all seem so special when you get to do them with friends.

 

But it doesn’t all need to be full of activities. Some of my favorites times are doing nothing, or simply reading, staring into space, or maybe annoying my little brother just a tad. (Shhhhhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone. I don’t want to be grounded for life!)

 

Sometimes we spend more time worrying about something than it deserves. For example, I spent a lot of time worrying about falling off the surfboard if I stood up. Finally, I just decided to pop up and I fell down, but I realized it really wasn’t worth spending time worrying about. Then I got to ride the waves a few times and realized it was really a lot of fun.

 

Time also teaches you the importance of making good choices. It takes a lot less time to make a mistake than it does to fix it. And that time spent fixing can teach you how to make a better choice the next time around. I learned this the hard way when I spilled a container full of watermelon all over the floor even though I was told not to play with it. It took a whole twenty minutes for me to clean it up. I’m not doing that again.

 

Another way time can go by slower is if I’m really hungry and just ordered food at a restaurant. It can feel like hours before it finally gets to the table.

 

At the end of the summer, I made some goals for how I want to spend my time. I decided I want to spend it making memories with friends, working hard, learning new things, and most importantly, having fun.

 

I hope now you see how important time is!


Author Profile – Diana Murray ’90

09.22.2018Author Profile – Diana Murray ’90

Diana Murray ’90—the author of City Shapes, Doris the Bookasaurus, Grimelda: The Very Messy Witch, Groggle's Monster Valentine, and Ned the Knitting Pirate,—describes her life as an author of children's books.


Author Profile – Daphne Uviller ’89

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Author Profile – Marguerite F. Elisofon ’74

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Nick Bruel ’83 – Author Profile

12.15.2016Nick Bruel ’83 – Author Profile

The author of Bad Kitty Drawn to Trouble, Bad Kitty Goes to the Vet, Bad Kitty Makes Comics and You Can Too!" and many other books describes how he became an author and illustrator.


Catherine E. Price ’97

05.12.2016Catherine E. Price ’97

Watch an interview with the author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food and learn about her research into the history and current use of vitamins.


Brian DeLeeuw ’99

01.12.2016Brian DeLeeuw ’99

Watch an interview with the author of The Dismantling and learn about his process in writing this novel about the world of illegal organ sales.


Kristina Pérez ’98

09.12.2015Kristina Pérez ’98

Kristina Pérez ’98, talks about her book, The Myth of Morgan la Fey and discusses the changing roles and interpretations of one of the most powerful and enduring female characters in English literature. Her book is reviewed in the summer 2015 edition of Trinity Per Saecula.


Charles Edel ’97

09.12.2015Charles Edel ’97

Charles Edel ’97, talks about his book, Nation Builder:John Quincy Adams and the Grand Strategy of the Republic and the importance and relevance, in today’s world, of the sixth president of the United States. His book is reviewed in the summer 2015 edition of Trinity Per Saecula.


David Huyssen ’98

05.12.2015David Huyssen ’98

The author of Progressive Inequality: Rich and Poor in New York, 1890-1920 talks about his passion for this period in the history of New York City.


Emily J. Levine

05.12.2015Emily J. Levine

The author of Dreamland of Humanists: Warburg, Cassirer, Panofsky, and the Hamburg School talks about her exploration of the lives of some of the leading voices of the Hamburg School.