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Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten

Barnen På Bråkmakargatan

Barnen På Bråkmakargatan - Astrid Lindgren One of the things I like most about Sweden is that Swedes are so nice to their children. Swedish kids really do, as a rule, look exceptionally happy, and I'm sure they grow up to be better and more secure people as a result. Of course, society wants to even things out; so, in school, they're all taught that it's wrong to be the least bit better than anyone else, which drives the high achievers mad. But that's another story.

This book has some delightful examples of good parenting practices. Lotta, 5 years old, is a difficult girl. She has a ferocious temper, and in general finds it hard to control her emotions. In my favorite episode, she's just been given a new sweater. Like many children, she's suspicious of new clothes; and sure enough, when she tries on the sweater, it doesn't feel right at all. "Det killar och sticks!" she says in Swedish, which I might translate as "It's ickly and prickly!" She just hates it.

Mom tells her to wear it, it'll be fine after a while. But Lotta is already in one of her rages. So as soon as Mom leaves the room, she takes a pair of scissors, and does some impromptu retailoring of the offending sweater, to try and make it more comfortable. In five minutes, she's completely ruined it. Then she's aghast at what she's done. Mom will kill her. Her life is over. She's going to have to leave home.

So she takes a few of her favorite possessions, and a little food, and tells Mom that she's going to go live in the shed at the bottom of the garden. This is where the good parenting comes in. Mom is cool about it; she tells Lotta very seriously that she understands that she's gotta do what she's gotta do, but she really hopes she'll come back and visit for Christmas, 'cause family is important.

Lotta leaves to embark on her new life, but it's hard to set up your own home when you're only five, and Christmas is further away than she'd realized. It was nice to hear that Mom wanted her back then, but maybe they could bring the date forward a bit? And by the end of the day they've worked out an acceptable compromise, so that no one needs to feel humiliated.

If you've got a difficult child, they might like these stories. Or possibly you will!