Preschooler chapter books

One problem with having a high reading level is that the interest level often does not match that reading level.  Jokes that are hilarious to an elementary schooler just aren’t funny to a preschooler.  Without getting the jokes, a lot of these top elementary school-level books are just boring.  So no Stink, no Horrible Harry, etc.

The local children’s librarian was a bit hostile when I asked her for recommendations (for the small child to my right who I claimed was reading and loving Magic Treehouse books) and kept recommending books at a much lower reading level.  We do love Mo Willems, but we’ve been loving all the Pigeon books (and Knuffle Bunny, and Piggie and Elephant) for many years now.  We are aware of Mo Willems and many other books at that level.  When pushed, she went to the internet and did a “If you like the Magic Treehouse, maybe you will also like…” but the Boxcar Kids didn’t work for us, nor the other suggestions.

I thought we would fix the problem with Bill Peet books, but apparently not.  Still too high of an interest level.  BUT, we did rediscover Arnold Lobel!  DC was willing to spend hir own pocket money to get more of Frog and Toad, which is always a good thing.  And DC’s favorite Mouse Tale was also my favorite (the one where the mouse wears out his feet)!  We’ve also gotten some mixed reactions to Maurice Sendek.  I always felt mixed towards Maurice Sendek too.  I need to remember to pick up some Danny and the Dinosaur type books next time we’re at the library… that’s another avenue to try, though (s)he seems to have lost interest in Go Dog Go and earlier Seuss.  I suppose we should try for Bartholomew Cubbins and other story-driven Seuss.  (S)He does like Horton quite a bit.

I also thought mystery novels would work out well– so we have all 26 A-Z mysteries, Cam Jansens, Encyclopedia Brown… no dice.  I’m hoping in a few years (s)he’ll gain interest in the above.  In the mean time they’ve just fueled my Scholastic addiction.

So what’s been working for us are what I called “magic books” growing up.  We cannot get enough of these.

The Magic Treehouse (we’re well into the Merlin Misisons now!)

Everything we can find by Ruth Chew (I wish they were still in print!!!)

The Oz books.  I was much older when I first read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and had seen the movie many times.  It’s amazing watching DC discover it in the original L. Frank Baum version for the first time.  What a wonderful book and I’m so glad it’s only part of a long series!

For us doing nighttime reading, I wonder if ze would be interested in Anne of Green Gables.  At about this age, my mom read me Peter Pan and Pinocchio and Bambi and all sorts of children’s classics, but I don’t think I could handle going through such sad and horrible books again… once in preschool was enough.  I suppose DH could do the reading.  They’re reading a lot of E.B. White at school so we don’t really need to introduce those.  We could also try Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle again.  Or Pippi Longstocking!

This forum thread has more suggestions for early readers.

I ILL’d this book on books for gifted kids. It gets a big meh.  Lots and lots of what we call in technical parlance, “touchy-feely” books.  There are some good books in there, but they’re all Newberry and Caldecott winners that are on most lists.  In any case, DC has not been impressed thus far with their picks for age 0-5, give or take.  Ze takes after hir mommy, I guess.  And how can you have suggestions for older kids without having Ender’s Game on the list (or Matilda)?  Really other than the usual suspects (Wrinkle in Time, The Dark is Rising, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh), there really weren’t a whole lot of fantasy choices.  Of course, the newest edition may have caught onto the Harry Potter craze, as this edition predated it… but not so far back that there are no options!

Do you have any good book recommendations?

How to write a response to reviewers

So you’ve gotten a Revise and Resubmit.  The reviews are mixed.  The editor points some things out as needing addressing, but has left a lot to you.  What do you do?

A.  Have a moment of relief that you got an R&R rather than a “never send us this again”.

B.  Rail briefly and privately about reviewers who didn’t understand you and who may have been drawn from the Wheel of Peer Review.

C.  Then make your revisions and write your response.

The format of your response should be as follows:

1.  Profusely thank the editor.  Summarize the main changes you have made and the main concerns you did not address with explanations of why you did not address them (misunderstanding you have clarified, lack of data, etc.)

2.  Thank Reviewer #1.  Possibly point out anything specific and major that you found especially helpful.

Go through Point-by-point.  In some fields you will need to copy and paste each reviewer point and then follow with your response.  In other fields it is enough to paraphrase.  In still other fields, it is enough to respond to comments by number, but be aware that if you do this, the reviewer may have to dig up his or her original comments, which may be less polite than your paraphrase.

Be polite. Occasionally a reviewer will say something idiotic.  Apologize for being unclear and do your best to clarify their concern.  Sometimes it won’t need clarification, but explain anyway.  Whether the comments are stupid or brilliant, you should be gracious no matter what.

Address every single point.  Do not leave out points, even if you are unable to address them.  Leaving things out will irritate your reviewer.  If you cannot address the point say, “Unfortunately, I cannot address this point for these reasons.  Here are my other thoughts on this, thus proving I took your point seriously.”  If you can provide additional information that sort of gets at the question even if it doesn’t exactly address the question, feel free to include that, acknowledging that it only sort of gets at the question.

When you address points, say where in the paper you have addressed them.  Include page numbers, section numbers, and footnote numbers.  If you already addressed them but their eye slipped over where in the text you did, it is enough to state where in the paper they were addressed.  (Do not point out that they were addressed before.  Just point to where they were addressed.)

If you just do what they told you to do, it is often enough to say, “Done.  See page 3.” or “This has been added to footnote 15.”  Short is nice if you’re agreeing with them and able to do what they ask of you.

3.  Repeat step 2 for reviewers 2 through N, where N is the number of reviewers.

If you have anything particularly difficult to impart, address it in a separate confidential letter to the editor.  Be polite.

Double check once you’re done that all your page number and footnote references in the letters match the ones in the paper.  Double check you’re always polite.

And that’s all I have on my mind.  Did I miss anything important?  Have any “Don’t Do This” horror stories?

The John Cleese post

We love us some John Cleese.  One of us has even seen him give talks in person. On religion. And his cat.

Most of us know John Cleese from his Monty Python days, and he’s got some great movies even without the rest of that cast.  But he’s also got a lot of great non-fiction stuff.  He’s a thinker.

the ministry of silly walks:

Pining for the fjords:

romans go home:

Here’s Cleese on creativity:

Fierce Creatures is a hilarious and touchingly sweet film.  Weird and funny.

What’s your favorite John Cleese thing?

More pet peeves

Because obviously ten weren’t enough to contain our grumpiness.

1.  Being unable to tell the difference between a fact and an opinion.   You cannot agree to disagree on a FACT.

2. Did I miss anything?

3.  Student emails containing the words should, feel, need, or deserve.  You are getting docked ten points next time you send one.

4.  Leafblowers.  SO LOUD, so polluting.  So detrimental to my ability to think.

5.  Cat stepping on tender portions of anatomy.  Owwww.

6.  Credit card companies sending me those ripoff “checks” EVERY single week.  I’ve never used one in my life — get over it!

7.  Weeds.  (More to the point, home owners associations.)

8.  Gremlins.

9.  Hating on people who natural childbirth or breastfeed etc.  Most parents are just trying to do their best and are not making any statement about your choices.  Seriously.  They don’t care about what you did.  So there’s no reason for you to care what they did either.

10.  People who ask for advice (especially those who ask advice columnists for advice) who have absolutely no intention of taking it (unless, of course, the advice matches exactly with what they were planning on doing anyway).

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Just Ask

If you’ll recall, we had renewed our Sprint contract and got a 23% employee discount, which replaced the 10% discount we’d negotiated just by asking.

I always make DH open up the Sprint bill because whenever I open it they’ve always made some mistake that costs us time or money.  This time DH opening it didn’t help.  They’d charged us for the new phones (which suck, btw) that are supposed to be rebated (still waiting on that rebate…).  They charged the regular cost with the 23% discount applied (yay).  And they charged a $40 activation fee.

Of course, that had me livid as when I approved the whole getting new phones we didn’t need (that, as I mentioned, turned out to suck), I hadn’t approved any $40 one time charge.  DH, who is a sweetheart, was sure he’d made some kind of mistake and tried to figure out what he’d done wrong by looking through all the forms we’d filled out and stuff.

Because we’d renewed online, we weren’t supposed to get any kind of activation fee.  It said so.  Somewhere in the fine print on one of the free phone with renewal and rebate things we’d  signed, it did mention activation fees might apply, contradicting the much larger print that said no fee if you renewed on the internets.

Oh, I said, it’s one of those things where they messed up and they’ll get rid of it if you complain.  DH said he doubted that, but since the new phones suck he would see about sending them back and getting the $40 charge waived.  I said just ask for them to take off that $40 charge.

He called.  They took off the $40 charge.  It took about a minute on hold and a minute talking to the customer service representative and a minute saying no thank you we didn’t want them to sell us anything else.

The moral:  Just ask.

I’ve just asked for credit card mistakes, even when the fault is with the USPS (a problem in one apartment in one neighborhood in one part of the country we lived where mail service was spotty at best).  I’ve just asked for medical billing mistakes (BC/BS in that same part of the country… come to think of it most of our customer service problems were a that part of the country thing).  I’ve just asked with internet providers and cable companies and so on.  Generally just asking just fixes things.  Sometimes it takes multiple askings and a firm sense of being in the right, but often things just get fixed with one quick phone call or email.

We get a lot of slack from companies.  Of course, we also pay our bills on time and have great credit scores.  But what better reason to keep on the straight and narrow than it making your life easier?

What have you just asked for?


I have had “Sheep go to Heaven, Goats go to Hell” by Cake stuck in my head for about a week.  (“as soon as we’re born we start dying, so you might as well have a good time”).

One way to drive out an earworm is with another earworm.

Like… Yellow Submarine.

Or… The song that doesn’t end (it just goes on and on my friends).

Or… It’s a small world (after all)…

Or... shananana shananana hey hey goodbye

Hey Baby by No Doubt works wonders, as does MC Frontalot

What are your (least) favorite ear worms?  How do you drive songs out of your head?

Links are here (and a challenge update)

… in case you were looking for them.

A nice little summary of couples and finances from well heeled blog.

We don’t like how Worst Prof Ever has been hating on the Social Scientists, but this post on why Midwesterners are so awesome is just the truth.  Midwestern culture saturates Grumpy Rumblings.  We may even ask 3 times if you’re sure about something before giving up.  (First ask is just polite, second ask is to allow a face save, third ask means we really mean it.)

Nancy Pelosi on reproductive rights

We were in this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance.

Awesome post on redshirting and sexuality by Historiann.  We buy it.  Do you?

The academic blogger’s pseudonym exchange is born over at Roxie’s world.  Dr. Crazy helped.

Must share the pain that xkcd gave us.  )

A bizarre lady overheard at the jewelry counter by Mutant Super Mom.

Little House in the Valley with an update to her utility bill.  Electric is higher in the new place, even though all the other bills were way lower.  Here’s why.

Broke professionals had several posts worth linking to this week.  We picked the one on lessons learned about blogging.  But while you’re over there, check out the ones on housing too!

Suba with another super informative post.  You want a discount on Turbo Tax?  She’s got the hookups.

Challenge Updates!

Writing every day:  EPIC Fail on Wednesday.  What with one thing and another and the weather we’re not talking about, I just FORGOT to do my 30 min of writing.  I forgot there was a challenge.  I forgot everything.  I felt so guilty on Thursday. (Our other half chimes in, but she did so well the rest of the week!)

Steampunk reading challenge:  review coming soon of the first book!  Oh no I’m behind schedule already.  Hm…

Should gifted kids be unpaid teachers assistants?

The books say no.  There’s no value, it isn’t fair to the gifted kids… and often gifted kids are impatient with other students or don’t understand why other kids find thing so difficult.  (This was not a problem with me, but my sister definitely had a problem with this impatience.) (So did #2.)

#2 is bitter about this topic.

So, #1 is conflicted… well, not really conflicted in that she knows what she thinks, but it is nuanced.

I do think that there is value in teaching other people things.  Most teachers say, and I believe, that you really start understanding something once you teach it.  I know t-tests incredibly well after teaching them for umpteen years in a way I didn’t before I started teaching methods.  So there is value to teaching things, even for the gifted kid.  Especially if the kid being taught asks good questions that force deeper thinking.  That’s a reason I strongly encourage my (equal level) students to work together in groups and why I had study groups in high school and college math classes.  Another reason is the benefits to banging heads against a problem together.

I like teaching.  I’m good at it.  I did a lot of volunteer tutoring, especially in math, when I was in high school, college, and graduate school.  (I even got paid for some in college.)  One of my joys in life is destroying math phobia and building confidence, especially in girls who have always thought the problem was them instead of bad teaching or missing background.  It’s something I have been doing for decades and would do without being paid for it if I had the time.

(#2 thinks teaching is the WORST part of my job.   I would never call it a joy.  I do not like it, though I am pretty good at it.  It sucks my energy and life-force.  In this area, we don’t seem to be as united as we usually are on this blog.) (#1: It’s like mushrooms all over again!)


Being directed by the teacher to “teach” someone who is struggling is not a way to be treated as an equal by your peers.  Not if they are never in a million years going to be able to return the favor.  Seriously.  (#2 adds: It does a great disservice to gifted kids to ignore their education in favor of making them repeat the same concept they already know at a lower level.)

It’s one thing if you’re being taught by someone who has already had a class, as in a TA or tutor position, or by someone you help out when they get stuck, as in a study group.  It is not the same when the “teacher’s pet” is constantly acting in the role of teacher-in-training but is still expected to be treated as a fellow classmate.  That’s not a way for the sacrificial teacher-in-training to make friends, but it is a way to be resented, and to create resentment in the teacher’s pet as well!

Study groups chosen by students:  AWESOME

Volunteer tutoring:  AWESOME

Teaching younger students or students taking a class the kid has already finished:  Great if older/more experienced kid is fine with it.

Unpaid forced TA labor teaching your peers in your class:  Not cool.  SO.  NOT.  COOL.

And don’t get us started on cooperative learning groups… sure, that may be a reason we’re so great at leading discussion classes… but at what price?  We hate them.

What do you all think?  Yea?  Nay?  Any memories?

p.s.  #1 thanks #2 for not actually killing her with projectile pencils.

Ask the Blogosphere

We here at Grumpy Rumblings hereby pledge that we will NOT talk about the weather this week.  Whew.

This post has replaced the Food for Other Folks post you may have been expecting to give you some breaking news and to ask an important question.

Random bullet of timely news:

Dr. Daryl Bem, about whom I have posted before, attempts to explain his concept of time-traveling pr0n by invoking quantum physics:
Time-Traveling Porn – Daryl Bem

In related news, we have a burning question for the blogosphere.  Please tell us: WHY do cats always hack up on the carpet?  My house is less than half-carpeted and yet, without fail, the cat picks the carpeted (hard-to-clean) areas to make his hairballs in.  This is true even in houses with far less carpet.  Everyone else with cats reports the same thing.  Is there some physiological reason?  Do they like to be comfy when yarfing?  I believe it is sheer cussedness, myself.  Someone please enlighten us!


We now return you to your regular posting.  Food for other folks will now be appearing Feb 23rd.  Look forward to it.

Not so Random Bullets of RANT: the feminization of suckitude

  • I love advil, and I have to get name-brand.  I am convinced it is the candy coating that actually makes the pain go away.  I’m fine with generic tylenol and aspirin… but advil has to be the named stuff.
  • I have decided I hate “women’s events”.  Especially when they interrupt the lovely discussion you were having with a colleague you haven’t seen for a while on professional accomplishments to go around the group to talk about a “defining moment” you had in your life.  I don’t WANT to share any of my defining moments with people I work with and what’s more I don’t want to hear YOURS.  Not if I’m going to be sharing a hallway with you for the next 20-50 years.  Especially if you cry while you’re telling them.  Double especially if it takes 20 min for you to get to the damn point and it’s past my bedtime.  I am going to be unable to go to anymore women’s faculty dinners.  EVER.  Sisterhood be damned.  And flashbacks to swearwording summer camp.
  • On a related note.  I am very proud of myself.  I thought many impolite things but did not say them.  A lot of the women in the group apparently still think it’s showing woman-power to say what you think even when doing so isn’t going to help your main objectives.  But those women also don’t think these stupid exercises are stupid.
  • In case you haven’t noticed, I HATE touchy-feely stuff and I hate having it sprung on me.  Exception: sappy bad poetry from my partner.  Small children are also exempt for the most part.
  • Why is it that women and girls always have to do these stupid touchy-feely getting to know each other’s innermost souls crap and boys don’t?  IBTP.
  • Also:  Long emails sharing even more the next day.  Not cool.  Especially since there’s no unsubscribe button.
  • My mommy’s advice, “Try to see the humor in it.”  Now that she mentions it, the entire experience was a lot like something out of one of those mystery novels she reads.  You know, the ones about the middle aged toughened professional woman who inadvertently ends up solving a series of murders in her suddenly dangerous small town.

This public service message brought to you by Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured, who remind you that forcing untenured people to bare their souls with their colleagues unexpectedly at what is supposed to be a casual social dinner or somesuch is a form of ENTRAPMENT.