quarta-feira, 30 de dezembro de 2009

As mãos também lêem




À mesa, diz-se que os olhos também comem. Para Robert Sabuda, um dos mais conhecidos autores de pop-up books do mundo, essa máxima inverte-se numa troca anatómico-oftalmológica: "As mãos também lêem."

Os livros de Robert, adaptações de clássicos como "Alice no País das Maravilhas" e "Peter Pan", ou livros pedagógicos como a colecção "Enciclopédia Pré-Histórica", apelam à criança que há dentro de cada um de nós e à criança que há dentro de cada criança. São livros com vários livros (e animais, heróis e vilões) lá dentro, obras de arte feitas à mão, peças de artesanato que demoram um ano a serem produzidas. A Robert Sabuda junta-se frequentemente outro artista do papel, Matthew Reinhart. Ambos são frequentemente interpelados com uma pergunta: "Como é que isso é possível?"

"É magia sem electricidade", lembra Reinhart, "quando alguém vira uma página dos nossos livros e se interroga como aquilo foi feito está a ter a mesma reacção de quando vê um truque de ilusionismo". O segredo aqui é simples: papel, tesoura e cola. Isso e um par (às vezes mais) de mãos muito talentosas.

Nos livros pop-up não há trabalho de máquinas ou computadores durante a maior parte do processo. Toda a montagem é feita à mão, o que justifica tanto o preço elevado (nunca menos de 30 euros) como a escassez de títulos neste formato.

Trabalhos manuais
Engenharia do papel é o nome de um mestrado da Universidade da Beira Interior. A descrição do site da faculdade é encorajadora: "A formação multidisciplinar fornece as competências para a concepção e desenvolvimento de novos produtos e processos, bem como para a condução e optimização de processos de transformação existentes." Fascinante. Mas, verdade seja dita, nem toda a gente gosta de passar o resto da vida a optimizar processos de transformação existentes. Não é isso, pelo menos, que faz Andrew Baron um dos engenheiros de papel por trás de mais de uma dezena de livros pop-up - e aqui a expressão "engenheiro do papel" é usada segundo a designação americana de quem conta histórias com dobragens e colagens.

"Sou responsável pelo pop, na expressão pop-up", resume. É Andrew quem constrói os sistemas de alavancas, aparentemente simples, que dão vida ao livros. "Tenho de olhar para as ilustrações e ver o que posso movimentar ali e como", explica ao i por e-mail. Tem um emprego raro - "como eu devem haver uns 12 no mundo" - mas gaba-se que não lhe falta trabalho. Ocupação que tem duas grandes recompensas: "A reacção de miúdos e graúdos", em primeiro lugar, "e a oportunidade de trabalhar numa das últimas indústrias no mundo em que o trabalho é 100% manual".

Livros como "Alice no País das Maravilhas" interpretados por Robert Sabuda voam das prateleiras das livrarias sempre que se aproxima o Natal. Numa altura em que se fala tanto de suportes digitais de leitura (como o Kindle ou o Sony Reader) e se questiona o futuro dos livros em papel, que lugar têm estes estranhos objectos - uma mistura de literatura com banda desenhada, escultura, cenografia, origami e arquitectura?

"Ter um livro destes nas mãos é um prazer enorme, sem comparação no mundo digital", assinala Matthew Reinhart. "São objectos de colecção, peças únicas de trabalhos manuais", aponta Robert Sabuda.

Pilhagem ao economato
"A minha mãe era secretária na Ford Motor Company, no Michigan, e levava para casa material de escritório. Comecei a fazer recortes de papel porque não tinha muitos brinquedos", recorda Sabuda. Motivado pela professora primária, foi estudar para uma escola de artes, o Pratts Institute, em Nova Iorque.

Anos mais tarde, como ilustrador, começou por ganhar dinheiro a desenhar para livros de colorir infantis - o grau zero da carreira de um contador de histórias. Só depois do primeiro livro para crianças, no final dos anos 80, a vida profissional de Robert Sabuda entrou em modo bola-de-neve. Mas o seu verdadeiro interesse (ou vocação), os livros com animações tridimensionais, começou anos mais tarde, com a publicação do aclamado "Tutankhamen's Gift", em 1994.

Legado
Mas este texto não estaria a ser escrito agora se não fosse Vojtech Kubasta. Foram os livros deste arquitecto checo que fizeram Sabuda começar a fazer ilustrações 3D. E foram os seus castelos e cavaleiros a saltar das páginas que fizeram Waldo Hunt, a meio do século passado, salvar os pop-up books do esquecimento.

Na história dos pop-up books há um AW, DW (antes de Waldo, depois de Waldo). Antes deste publicitário pegar nestes livros-brinquedo esquecidos, os pop up eram velharias à venda em lojas de curiosidades. Uma arte perdida por ser muito trabalhosa e pouco rentável, conheceu nas mãos de Waldo uma segunda vida. Criou a editora Intervisual Books depois de encontrar livros de Kubasta numa velha livraria e dinamizou a produção e distribuição destes livros raros - que surgiram na idade média e conheceram o seu auge na época vitoriana, altura em que contavam histórias de fadas e dragões em edições luxuosas e personalizadas.

O coração de Waldo Hunt deixou de bater a 26 de Novembro deste ano, mas o seu legado sobrevive no trabalho de homens como Robert Sabuda. Depois da sua morte, o autor disse que antes de Waldo os livros para crianças eram "uma espécie de enteado das editoras" e os pop-up eram "filhos desses enteados". E hoje? "São objectos que os pais compram para eles próprios com a justificação de que é para oferecer aos filhos."


sexta-feira, 25 de dezembro de 2009

A nossa árvore de Natal e o nosso presépio!





Árvore decorada com enfeites especiais feitos pela Crafty Mood, o que resultou num misto de sagrado e profano ;), Presépio onde um dos Reis Magos já perdeu a cabeça, mas os mémés foram um sucesso junto do chicha ;)

segunda-feira, 21 de dezembro de 2009

quinta-feira, 17 de dezembro de 2009

Prince of Egypt gets the Reel History treatment ;)

According to the Book of Exodus, the Hebrew people were enslaved in Egypt by a pharaoh.
There is historical debate over whether Exodus records history, myth, or a mixture of both.

Family

Scene from The Prince of Egypt (1998) 
To save her son from an Egyptian cull of Hebrew baby boys, Moses's mother seals him in a basket and floats him off down the Nile. The pharaoh's queen plucks him out of the waters and adopts him. The film's story bears a glancing similarity to the legend of Sargon of Akkad, a Sumerian king of the 24th century BC (around a millennium before Moses). Sargon was sealed in a basket by his mother and floated off down the Euphrates, arrived at the palace of the goddess Ishtar, was adopted, and grew up to become king. Of course, this doesn't prove it's a myth.

Class

Scene from The Prince of Egypt (1998) 
Moses is brought up thinking he's an Egyptian. This isn't obvious from Exodus, but it does create a satisfying character arc for him, going from spoilt brat to a leader of humanity. The film invents a daredevil race through the city, with Moses and his brother Rameses sending slaves scuttling into doorways as they gallop around in their shiny gold chariots, guffawing with princely entitlement. At one point, they even knock the nose off the Great Sphinx of Giza, which appears to be under construction. In real life, the Sphinx was built at around the time of Sargon of Akkad. Its nose probably wasn't knocked off until around three millennia after Moses, possibly by British or French troops.

Slavery

Scene from The Prince of Egypt (1998) 
Moses has a dream which reveals he is really a Hebrew. This isn't in Exodus either, but it looks fantastic on film, told through a beautiful piece of animation based on Egyptian frescoes. The ancient Egyptians may have been portrayed in the Bible as a bunch of imperialist slave-driving genocidal maniacs, but they really did have a delightful artistic sensibility. In Exodus, Moses murders an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave and hides his body in the sand. In the film, it's more of an accident. It's not the only time Prince of Egypt sanitises the biblical story. Admittedly, it's hard to see how you'd get Exodus 4:24-26 into a kids' film without sending the entire audience into permanent psychological trauma.

Disease

Pharaoh won't free the slaves, so God sends plagues. There are lice, locusts, frogs, hail (upgraded dramatically to massive bolts of fire plummeting out of the sky), dead cows, boils, and a new and horrifying 11th plague of people bursting into song. Or maybe that's just because this is a musical. As is the Book of Exodus: there's a song in chapter 15. The plagues were not recorded in Egyptian texts, but this doesn't mean they didn't happen. Egyptian royal inscriptions tended to stick to the positive stories.

Escape

Scene from The Prince of Egypt (1998) 
Moses leads the Hebrews to the Red Sea, which whooshes back to allow them through. Again, it's superbly done – the shadow of a whale shark looming through the parted sea is a nice touch – but not particularly accurate. Scholars have pointed out that the Hebrew text of Exodus refers not to the Red Sea but to yam sûf, the "Reed Sea", possibly a marsh or lake. Unlikely, therefore, to accommodate a whale shark.

Interpretation

There's a triumphal final shot of Moses's face as he comes down from the mountain with the 10 commandments. In Exodus, after meeting God, Moses's face radiated light, forcing him to wear a veil. Owing to another mistranslation, "radiated light" appeared in the Latin Bible for centuries as "grew horns". There's even a statue of Moses by Michelangelo complete with a lovely set of horns. Disappointingly, the film's Moses has a face that is neither glowing nor horned. There's a bit of light spiralling around half-heartedly behind him, but this won't do at all.

Verdict

Even assuming that the Book of Exodus is a reliable historical source, Prince of Egypt takes some major liberties. Nonetheless, it's a stunning film.

Guardian's Reel History column

quarta-feira, 16 de dezembro de 2009

A revista Malasartes


passou da Campo das Letras para a Porto Editora, mas não se consegue encontrar à venda em lado nenhum (a vida não é só o mundo online, homessa!)


Kids Movies That Won't Drive You Crazy



The Princess Bride
The Incredibles
Elf
The Goonies
The Muppet Movie
Young Sherlock Holmes
Sleeping Beauty
and many more

quarta-feira, 9 de dezembro de 2009

LEGO - Árvore de Natal




Jakarta, Indonesia (Telegraph gallery)

sexta-feira, 4 de dezembro de 2009

The iPhone is the ultimate kid-pacification device



Move over, patio man. My new favorite demographic is the iPhone mom. A recent survey from a mobile-advertising company says that iPhone moms make up 25 percent of iPhone users and rely on their phone for such things as: scheduling! Store locating! Downloading coupons! All very nice, but the key stat is that 59 percent of these moms let their children use the phone. That leaves me wondering what's up with the other 41 percent. The iPhone is the ultimate kid-pacification device.
The iPhone moms (and dads) walk a fine line when they hand over their phone. (In mobile-scholarship circles, this behavior is known as the "pass-back.") Typically, iPhone parents are the kind who limit TV and "screen time" and would cringe at buying a Nintendo DS for a 4-year-old. This is the wooden-toy crowd, who plan to sign up Sophie for Suzuki any day now. Yet, they—OK, me—really love their iPhones. So sleek, so intuitive—and isn't it incredible that even a 1-year-old can figure out how to use it?

(Illustration by Robert Neubecker)


My 1-year-old also likes to look at photos on the iPhone. What the video above doesn't show is how a youngster will get frustrated and throw the phone, or how he'll put it in his mouth and drool on it, or smush cookies into the charging port and fry the whole motherboard. Even better: how he'll use his cute little fingers to get into your e-mail and forward messages to your co-workers.
I salute the Apple usability team for creating an interface that a toddler can intuit, but how about a "Kid Mode" in the next software update? It would disable e-mail, text messaging, the actual phone, and YouTube. And maybe the home button, when you're using an app. (Yes, the iPhone parent will still need a way to quit apps. When in Kid Mode™, turning the ringer on or off shall act as the home button.) Isn't it in your best interest to foster a new generation of iKids?
The beauty of the iPhone is how it can be configured to balance the need to entertain a restless child with the guilt you feel for wanting a few minutes of peace. If the situation calls for going to DEFCON 1, simply load up the iPhone with Wall-E, Paddington Bear, Backyardigans, and Cars. You may never see your child or your phone again.
Most parents try to walk a more subtle, self-serving path: seeking out "educational" apps. Developers are on to us—there is a lot of kiddie crap lurking in the iTunes store. You pay 99 cents for some "Farm" app that turns out to be six stock photographs and a much too realistic pig sound that makes your 1-year-old cry. The best apps should be aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, occupy your kid (but not in a glazed-eyeball way), and not so addicting that you start playing them yourself—every free moment, late at night, when you should be getting some sleep.
That's what happened to me with SlotZ Racer, a slot-car racing game. I thought it would be good for my 4-year-old boy because it involves cars and the controls are simple: Press the screen to accelerate, don't press the screen to slow down. He loved it. I loved it, too. I missed my subway stop because I was at a crucial moment in the National Cup Championship, "a 6 race series to find the top racer in the country."
SlotZ Racer is perhaps too much fun and should be used only for no-escape moments, such as when you're working at home and need reasonable silence during a phone call. Other apps that fall into this category include Skee-Ball and Monster Trucks Nitro. Another downside of these apps—let's call them games—is that they make your iPhone very attractive, and pretty soon your kid is hiding behind the couch and you're saying things like, "Give Daddy his phone back or he will delete all of the games."
So the ideal app should be enjoyable but carry a faint whiff of the classroom. I have friends who swear by PopMath and Wordex. My own go-to app has been the matching game AniMatch—it has clever animal icons and funny sounds, and matching is a challenge that doesn't require sophisticated manipulation of the phone. The boys will even play it together. As in all things, the 1-year-old is easier to amuse. He's content with Wheels on the Bus and the pleasant storybook pastels of Peekaboo Barn.
For picking new apps, I've found that the best way is to go by studio. Freeverse makes both SlotZ Racer and Skee-Ball, Night & Day has Peekaboo Barn and Peekaboo Wild, Duck Duck Moose has an excellent Old MacDonald, and so on. But you can also see that my list of apps is utterly incomplete. I have boys, so I've heard only rumors of girls dedicating themselves to the care of an iHusky in iPuppyWorld or guiding fairies through the sky. And I don't know what interests older kids who have reached Rubik's Cube age.

Send me your favorite apps at michaelagger1@gmail.com, and I'll compile a master list. If you have time, please specify the best age range for the app and where it falls on the guilt/virtue scale, with 1 being "Might as well drop them off at an arcade" and 10 being "My iPhone is a portable Montessori classroom." Look for the results next week. If we work together, we need never be active parents ever again.

Where the Wild Things Are - Literary Tattoos


segunda-feira, 30 de novembro de 2009

Raising Vegetarian Children



How do you explain meat to hildren? If you don’t eat it, are you raising your children as vegetarians, too?

Surrounded as we are this week by yams and brussels sprouts and cranberries and turkey (and those mini hot dogs that have somehow also become a tradition at our family’s Thanksgiving table), the moment seems right to write about vegetarian parents and children.

My two sisters-in-law are vegetarians, along with my husband’s first cousin, which means there are a lot of vegetables included in our yearly feast. As it happens, none of the parents in this group expect that their children will refrain from meat, allowing them to make that decision for themselves when they get older.

Many vegetarian parents do expect their children to eat as they eat, though, and The Los Angeles Times ran a story earlier this month about the challenges of raising vegetarian kids. The writer, Emily Sohn, points out that it becomes tougher as the children get older because:

Resentment can build up if foods are forbidden completely. School-age children in particular can become anxious when anything about them is different from their peers, including what they eat for lunch.

The experts she quotes strongly suggest that parents allow some leeway, such as “allowing kids to eat meat at friends’ houses or restaurants or packing snacks and lunches that look like chicken nuggets or hot dogs but are actually made from soy or wheat gluten.”

But while compromise works for some parents, it is not in the plan for Cindy Waxer, who wrote an essay for Babble recently about raising her 3-year-old on a vegetarian “cruelty free” diet. Her problem so far, she says, is partly the temptation presented by other children. (“What sort of chance does marinated tofu and mango-flecked quinoa stand against deep-fried chicken fingers?” she asks.)

Most of the challenge, though, comes from adults. Her husband, “a committed carnivore, agreed to go along for the ride, sanctioning Chloe’s meat-free existence on the condition that she be free to switch to the dark side if the urge arose.” But others in her child’s life have been less accommodating:

When I informed Chloe’s preschool teacher the very first day of class that my daughter is a strict vegetarian, she snapped her gum and responded: “Oh, O.K. But she can still eat chicken and fish, right?” I almost fainted.

And, she continues:

I spend my days fielding e-mails from my father containing links to articles entitled, “Iron Deficiency Anemia.” Even the normally stone-cold nurse at our pediatrician’s office burst into gales of laughter when a routine check-up revealed that Chloe is a die-hard vegetarian — as if it were a role reserved for hemp-wearing, patchouli-loving adolescents.

The complications are not only faced by parents who don’t eat meat, of course, but also by those who do. A reader, Erika Edwards, sees one of those complications looming on her parenting horizon. In an e-mail message she explains:

My son is 17 months old and loves farm animals. Last night, he was eating chicken, and I thought: “I wonder when he’s going to figure out that the chicken he is eating is the same chicken that he sees in his books, at the farms and petting areas that we visit, etc.? I wonder how he will react? And I wonder what we will do about it?”

How do you explain meat to children? If you eat it, what’s your answer when questioned by your animal-loving kids? And if you don’t, are you raising your children as vegetarians, too?

112 comments as of now ;) The NYT. Illustration by Barry Falls

domingo, 29 de novembro de 2009

quarta-feira, 25 de novembro de 2009

Rules.

  1. 1 - “Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.”
  2. 2 - “Anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.”
  3. 3 - “Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.”
Douglas Adams

segunda-feira, 23 de novembro de 2009

The Story and Storytelling Museum, in Oxford


From Lewis Carroll's Wonderland to JRR Tolkien's Middle-earth, CS Lewis's Narnia and the parallel universes of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, Oxford has played host to some of the UK's most enduring literary creations. Now a £2.5m donation from an anonymous private benefactor means the first steps have been taken towards the creation of a museum dedicated to storytelling in the city.
The Story Museum has existed online for the past four years, holding events across Oxfordshire and running storytelling pilots in schools, but the donation enables it to start constructing a permanent home in Oxford. It has just signed a lease on Rochester House, a Victorian building a stone's throw from Christ Church College – where many scenes in the Harry Potter movies are filmed – on Pembroke Street. It now needs to raise a further £11m to transform the building into a museum, which will aim to attract 100,000 visitors a year when it opens in 2014.
Children will be able to listen to stories at the museum, to "walk through" them, to create stories of their own and to "open windows and go through doorways into other worlds", according to the team behind the museum, described as a cathedral to the children's story by trustee and children's publisher David Fickling.
"Dreams do come true: we are absolutely delighted to have a real home at last," said the museum's director Kim Pickin. "Rochester House has its roots in the Victorian era, when Oxford began producing children's stories that are known and loved across the world. Lewis Carroll himself would have known the building." Spokesperson Cath Nightingale said the donor wished to remain anonymous.
Pullman, who lives in Oxford and set his bestselling fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials in two different versions of the city, is a patron for the museum, along with fellow former children's laureates Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson. "The Story Museum will be a wonderful gift from Oxford, where so many stories have begun, to the whole world," Pullman said. "The whole atmosphere of the city is rich with fantasy. Indeed, the very idea of having a museum devoted to story is itself such a fantastical notion than no other city in the world could have given birth to it."
Carroll wrote his Alice books in Oxford in the 19th century, Tolkien and Lewis would meet to discuss their work in the city's Eagle and Child pub in the 1930s and 40s, and Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows in Oxfordshire. "There must be something in the waters of the Isis that gets into the system of Oxford residents, magically causing them to think of and bring to life unforgettable characters and plots," said Oxfordshire-based children's author Mary Hoffman.
Oxford resident and Duncton Wood author William Horwood said there was "clearly something going on in Oxford which doesn't happen in other cities". "From where I'm sitting at this moment I've got within a radius of less than two miles Kenneth Grahame, Charles Dodgson [Carroll], Tolkien, Philip Pullman and CS Lewis," he said. "There is a literary tradition associated with Oxford going back to medieval times. People read here. The spirit of the word is here. Also there's the fact that the colleges are basically monastic institutions – you've got corridors within corridors, staircases within staircases, doors which open onto magical gardens. It's hardly surprising that something like Alice in Wonderland came straight out of Oxford."
The museum's team is now planning a feasibility study to establish how to create the Story Museum, and is also putting together a "major public campaign" for 2010 to raise the £11m it needs if it is to open by 2014, in time for Oxford's bid to become Unesco's World Book Capital that year.

sexta-feira, 20 de novembro de 2009

quinta-feira, 19 de novembro de 2009

If only...

The Pet Dragon, by Christoph Niemann - como é possível um talento destes?


Um Livro sobre Livrinhos ;) Illustrated Children’s Books


Illustrated Children’s Books is a detailed look into the design and stories of children’s books, focusing on the well-known illustrators and characters that have influenced readers of all ages.
Illustrated Children’s Book goes back and visits the history of children’s books, looking at the design and characters of these well loved tales. It takes us on a visual journey of the development of children’s illustrations throughout the ages, the ‘notion of childhood’, historical facts and the design and illustration of these memorable books. Includes a foreword by the current Children's Laureate Anthony Browne.
From classics such as John Tenniel’s Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh, to well-known illustrators such as Quentin Blake, this book explores the cover design, character illustration and interiors of these well-loved stories. With commentary from some of the most renowned illustrators of the day, the book examines the iconic design of children’s illustrated storytelling and provides background information on the authors and illustrators.
Illustrated Children’s Books features perennial favourites such as Dr Seuss, Miffy, Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are as well as recent successes such as Oliver Jeffers’ The Incredible Book Eating Boy.
With essays from Peter Hunt and Lisa Sainsbury. Peter Hunt is the Professor Emeritus in Children’s Literature at Cardiff University and awarded the International Brothers Grimm Award for services to children’s literature in 2003. Lisa Sainsbury is based at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature at Roehampton University.

segunda-feira, 16 de novembro de 2009

domingo, 15 de novembro de 2009

sábado, 7 de novembro de 2009

quarta-feira, 4 de novembro de 2009

Wallace & Gromit - cracking new website ;)


Funny Parenting

Here's a funny story for dads and kids to enjoy.
An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard; I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.
He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head; he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep.
An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.
The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour. This continued off and on for several weeks.

Curious I pinned a note to his collar: ' I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'
The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar: 'He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3 - he's trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?'

Wallace & Gromit - 20 Anos, com os Parabéns do Google




Pequeno resumo dos Google Doodles no Guardian

How to Train your Dragon - trailer

terça-feira, 3 de novembro de 2009

Direito à educação desde o nascimento


1 - Introdução
O texto que aqui apresentamos baseou-se em investigações actuais e conhecimentos empíricos sobre educação na primeira infância e visa constituir-se como um ponto de partida para outras reflexões sobre o DIREITO À EDUCAÇÃO DESDE O SEU NASCIMENTO.

A APEI pretende alargar a reflexão e a discussão em torno de questões fundamentais para a educação.
Por outro lado, a visão da associação pretende diversificar o espaço de participação no debate público, de forma a assegurar um crescimento sustentado dos serviços e o reconhecimento social da educação de infância e do seu valor para a sociedade.
O presente documento será a base para o debate, que decorrerá até ao final de 2009. No primeiro semestre serão integrados os contributos resultantes do mesmo e, com o apoio de juristas, a APEI preparará um projecto de lei, recolherá 15000 assinaturas e que apresentará à Assembleia da República para discussão e votação.

Mais

LEGO Builders of Tomorrow


sábado, 31 de outubro de 2009

quinta-feira, 29 de outubro de 2009

How did you learn to tell the time? Here's a new method...

We all have to learn to tell the time, and many of us probably can't remember how we ever managed to do so. What you might recall is how difficult it was, and this is something I've been reminded of in recent years as my children have started learning about clocks.

After all, it's hard to do things in 60s. It would all be so much easier if minutes were 100 seconds and hours were a hundred minutes. And all that big hand/little hand stuff is very complicated too. One minute we're saying that a hand on the one means one o'clock. The next we're saying it means five past the hour. How confusing....

Jamie Rugge-Price first thought about this when his children - who are now grown-up and have children of their own - were small. He also spoke to various teachers about it and realised that they found telling the time frustrating to teach. It took a while, but he finally decided to do something about it.

Aramazu "Telling the time is a basic life skill," he says. "It should be easy and fun, but it isn't. Then I had a Eureka moment. I thought 'what shape is an hour?' If it could be visualised, telling the time would be so much easier."

Jamie decided to come up with a concept for telling the time, and he called it a nonsense name (and acronym of his four daughters' names), Aramazu.

I shall briefly stop the story for a moment. I get sent a lot of things - books, teaching aids etc - and look at them all. Some impress me more than others. I have to admit that I was very impressed by Aramazu, and especially when my son, who's four, started to understand the concept of telling the time. He understood the hours and half pasts (seen in this method as time climbing a mountain) very quickly. The minutes were a bit more complicated, but he was still keen to learn more.

Jamie wrote about his method in a series of storybooks. The key to them is how visual they are - an hour is the shape of a mountain, and it takes 30 minutes to walk to the top of the hour or down to the half past. The hour hand is a finger, and the minute hand a foot.

Jamie tested the books and refined them. Then he tested them again. The results have been good; unsurprisingly he just wants more people to know about it.

Cheryl Hossle is a Year 1/2 teacher at a state school in the Forest of Dean. She has used the Aramazu method for teaching children to tell the time for the last two years and is very impressed. She also acts as an educational consultant to Jamie.

"Aramazu is not abstract," she says. "From the books the children can see why we need time, and how everything can go wrong if we don't have it. They can also work out how to use the feet and finger method. They make the connections."

Hossle says that this method works well for dyslexic children too, because it is so visual. "It addresses thinking skills and is humorous," she says. "I've been very pleased with the results we've had".

The Aramazu method (you can see a clock in the illustration) comes in different forms, for children of different ages. As I say, I am quite convinced by it, and would be interested to know what other people think. Or if anyone has any other brilliant ways to teach children how to tell the time.

As traduções da Mamã ;)


Jay ligou a Nádia na manhã seguinte.
— Olá — disse ela, alegremente.
— Como estás?
— Destroçado. É duro, isto de dar à luz.
— Bom trabalho. E mais?
— Um rapaz. Três quilos e novecentos, sadio, olhos azuis, cabelo preto. — E rematou:
— E uns tomates enormes.
Nádia riu-se. Não podia evitar, ele parecia perplexo.
— Ele depois cresce. Como se chama?
Daniel Anthony. Nasceu às onze horas. Tenho estado a ligar à família toda.
— Ainda bem que correu tudo bem. E a Belinda?
— Emocionada. Feliz. Jura que ele é a cara do Anthony, mas tu sabes como são os recém-nascidos. A mim só me parecem encarnados e amolgados.
Nádia quis ajudar:
— Isso é por seres homem.
(...)
Nádia fez chá e admirou as fotografias do bebé. Eram muitos os recém-nascidos que pareciam montinhos de carne, mas Daniel, felizmente, tinha umas sobrancelhas cheias de personalidade, olhos castanhos enormes e um tufo de cabelo como o Tintim.
— É lindo — disse Nádia, porque tinha de se dizer sempre isso de um bebé, mesmo que parecesse uma noz dentro de um fato de macaco. Mas aquele não. Daniel era bonito, com grandes pestanas, dedinhos delicados e um queixinho pontiagudo delicioso.
— Obrigado. Embora não seja meu — disse Jay.
(...)
— Desculpa, desculpa... as coisas pegajosas estavam sempre a colar-se às partes erradas... e depois percebi que a tinha posto ao contrário... entra, meu Deus, isto é mais difícil do que eu pensava. — Com ar aturdido mas contente por vê-la, Jay mandou-a entrar. Era evidente que ele também não tinha tido tempo de se pentear nem de pôr brilho nos lábios. O bebé, todo nu tirando uma fralda descartável pendurada num pezinho, queixava-se e agitava as perninhas contra o peito de Jay. Havia uma mancha muito suspeita na parte da frente da camisa de ganga. Evidentemente desagradado por se encontrar nas mãos de um amador daqueles, Daniel deu um pontapé que atirou a fralda pelo ar.
— Mary Poppins, presumo. — Apesar de tudo, Nádia não conseguia fazer cara séria. Desde que o conhecera, Jay sempre tivera tudo controlado, em todas as situações. Nada o abalava.
Excepto, como se estava a ver, as complexidades de pôr uma fralda descartável a um bebé.
— Deixa-me pegar-lhe. — Nádia estendeu os braços para o bebé e Jay passou-lho, sem esconder o alívio.
— Cuidado, ele parece a Fonte de Trevi. Quase me acertava no olho quando estava a mudá-lo. Não fazia ideia de que os bebés fazem chichi a cada dois minutos.
— Eu diria que tiveste sorte. Os bebés não fazem só chichi. — Os anos em que tomara conta de crianças para ajudar à faculdade davam vantagem a Nádia; deitou Daniel no trocador – branco com elefantinhos azuis – e pôs-lhe uma fralda limpa num instante. Remexeu no saco que estava no chão, encontrou um macaquinho limpo e vestiu-lho sem dificuldade. As molas entre as pernas deram um estalido de satisfação quando ela as apertou. O bebé estava com um ar quase desapontado, como se ela lhe tivesse ido estragar a brincadeira. Olhou à sua volta em busca de inspiração, e começou a balbuciar. Nádia viu o biberão de água na mesinha baixa, pegou nele e pô-lo na boca do bebé antes que este estivesse lançado.
— Foi fervida?
— Claro que foi fervida, não sou completamente incompetente.
(...)
Nádia sentiu a mãozinha pequenina de Daniel agarrar-se ao dedo indicador dela, certamente uma das melhores sensações de todos os tempos.
(...)
— Não é o único a quem tu fizeste esperar — observou Jay.
Nádia olhou para baixo e viu os olhos pestanudos de Daniel fecharem-se. Já não estava agarrado ao biberão. Cuidadosamente, deitou-o no sofá e rodeou-o de almofadas, e arrependeu-se quase de imediato. Daniel servira de escudo. Agora já não sabia o que fazer às mãos.
— Esse plano correu mal — disse Jay com um sorriso pesaroso.
— A ideia era abrir a porta com o Dan ao colo. Ele era para estar contente e sossegado, e tu ias ficar loucamente impressionada com a minha capacidade de lidar com ele, para não falar de deslumbrada pelo quadro espectacular que faríamos.
(...)
— Posso sempre tirar a casa do mercado, sabes. Não sou obrigado a sair de Bristol.
No sofá, romanticamente, Daniel escolheu a ocasião para soltar um punzinho de bebé a dormir.
Nádia desatou a rir.
(...)
Rrrrinnng.
— Raios, quem é? — Jay virou-se, siderado, quando a campainha guinchou.
Bem alto.
No sofá, os olhos castanhos de Daniel abriram-se, alarmados. Sacudido do sono, soltou um berro indignado e deu socos nas almofadas com as mãozinhas fechadas, a exigir que lhe pegassem.

Irresistível Tentação, de Jill Mansell, para as Edições Chá das Cinco

quarta-feira, 28 de outubro de 2009

Dragões!!!


THE FRUITS OF FAMILY TREES - Jonathan Safran Foer


When I was young, I would often spend the weekend at my grandmother’s house. On my way in, Friday night, she would lift me from the ground in one of her fire-smothering hugs. And on the way out, Sunday afternoon, I was again taken into the air. It wasn’t until years later that I realized she was weighing me.
(...)
“Grandma,” I said. “We have a baby.”

Her only phone is in the kitchen. She picked up halfway into the first ring. It was just after midnight. Had she been clipping coupons? Preparing chicken with carrots to freeze for someone else to eat at some future meal? I’d never once seen or heard her cry, but tears pushed through her words as she asked, “How much does it weigh?”

A few days after we came home from the hospital, I sent a letter to a friend, including a photo of my son and some first impressions of fatherhood. He responded, simply, “Everything is possible again.” It was the perfect thing to write, because that was exactly how it felt. The world itself had another chance.
(...)


Excerto do novo livro Eating Animals, NYT

terça-feira, 27 de outubro de 2009

domingo, 25 de outubro de 2009

How Fathers Grew Up ;)

Six months before the birth of his fourth son, Phil Hogan began writing the first-ever fatherhood column for the Observer. He looks back on 21 years of being a dad.

 n a week's time my eldest son, Baxter, will be 21. I'm not sure what his plans are, but then I don't expect to be involved in them these days, at least not in a non-pecuniary way.
In any case he is now safely back at university in Southampton after spending the summer here in "boring" Hertfordshire, eating us out of house and home in between roaring off to festivals and whooping it up in Brighton and London and elsewhere, with the vast diaspora of friends that young people have on their computers these days.

But has he earned the key of the door now that he doesn't need it so often? There are faint signs of him growing up. He did manage to get to Amsterdam and back this year without incident (in contrast to his first trip abroad in 2007 when he rang us from a Greek police cell requesting €200 to pay a "fine" for not leaving his hotel bed as intact as he found it), and I'm delighted that he has worked so hard in his first year at university that he has been invited back for a second. He can cook, in a scattergun kind of way, and can play a number of Johnny Cash songs on the ukulele. When not being a drain on one's emotional and financial resources, he is excellent company. Our youngest two boys are attracted to his natural daring and untameable sense of inappropriate fun, though Ryan – almost 19 and less given to displays of unnecessary jabber – has learnt to regard him with a wary eye.

A few Sundays ago, we all went out to lunch en famille – to mark our last time all together for a while and to raise a glass to our evolving circumstances: Ryan, too, was about to go off (and has now gone) to university, at Warwick; Jackson, 16, has started in the Lower Sixth, and Cameron, 12, is safely into Year 8. Everything is changing.

With the house a little emptier, it seems like the beginning of an end. Not a real end, of course – I didn't get my perma-frown by not realising that fatherhood is a job you can only get out of by going into a care home – but things have assumed a less frenzied rhythm. Having two children at home is easier than four, if not quite as easy as none. Recent holidays with our younger pair have been relaxed to the point of fun. It has always been a slight source of disappointment to my wife that I couldn't "enjoy" the children as much as she does and now, admittedly rather late in the game (and with no disrespect to our eldest two, who should by no means take this personally), I'm beginning to see how that might be possible.

It does help that they are all old enough to make their own fun. Even though I have almost done my first 21 years, I regret never having quite got the hang of being the father I would have ideally wanted for the little chaps. It goes without saying that I love them and cherish them and would happily jump into a lake of burning lava to protect them (though I can't imagine the exact circumstances in which this might be necessary), but watching other dads building sandcastles or Lego spaceships or putting up tents or being the life and soul of children's birthday parties or whipping up excitement on theme park rides, I always felt the sting of inauthenticity in my own paltry efforts.

But what grown man could actually enjoy Lego? Or children's books? I hated Harry Potter. I played Buckaroo through clenched teeth. I'm not one for getting wet or being turned upside down on a rollercoaster. The truth is, I have no inner child – a tragedy, you might say, for a man with so many outer ones.

But I don't think I've been a complete failure. It's not as if I haven't been any fun ever since 1988. I could always manage the more passive activities – encouraging the children to watch football on TV with me or taking them to the cinema, with its reliable promise of a short nap. And never let it be said that any of them has ever gone short of hugs (father-and-son hugging is, of course, the new wrestling).

It's easy to forget, too – with today's lifestyle supplements packed with gurning fathers in striped aprons teaching their tousled kids how to ice cakes – that the male parent has not always been so fully alive to the pleasures of child-rearing.

At least I was up there with the "new" men of 1988, attending antenatal classes and helping to choose a buggy (the new word for pushchair) at Mothercare. We found ourselves bandying terms like "amniocentesis" and "dilation". We learnt that a pregnant woman might dine on liver and Guinness (I'm not sure if this is still the advice of doctors) and worked at the secrets of controlled breathing and lumbar massage. We were given our lists of things to take to the hospital – sandwiches, a drink, a crossword – to help pass the hours while our wives or girlfriends rehearsed the primal groaning that would grow more and more unearthly towards the final push.

Baxter was born after 14 hours of labour followed by a frantic emergency caesarean that forged a lasting sense of what he thinks parents are for – waiting, worrying, cleaning up the mess. I got the first look at him – his mallet head and tuft of hair, his indented jaw where his foot had been, his little crispy-bacon ears – and took him in my arms, wandering up and down the hospital corridor, cooing at him like the happiest fool, until my wife woke up and took over. Walking back home down a deserted Tottenham High Road as that bright October dawn broke seemed just the best thing.

On 26 March 1955 my father delivered me at home with his own bare hands in the time it took (as my mum tells it) for the kettle to boil. He had run down to the public phone box to call the midwife and when he got back he carried my mother upstairs like the hero in a black-and-white film. But this drama was over in seconds. "You popped out straight into his arms," she says. "He was laughing and crying at the same time."

It was 30 years before men were routinely turning up and affecting to "help" at the births of their children. In 1986 a black-and-white poster of a half-naked man holding a newborn child appeared in Athena stores, and went on to sell 5m copies. Men are sensitive too, it seemed to say, though the model hired to take his shirt off for the picture reputedly slept with 3,000 women on the back of it. Couldn't they tell he wasn't real? Did they care?

Not everyone was up to speed with the latest thinking. I remember being jeered at by builders one morning as I hurried along to the childminder's with Baxter in his sling. And it was 1990 before GQ magazine plucked up the courage to ask: "Are You Man Enough to Change a Nappy?" Underneath, it read: "The great challenge for modern man is to get to know his children better." Our time had come, whether we liked it or not.

It is one of the great marvels of evolution, of course, that the worst thing a man can be hard-wired to imagine about parenthood is changing a nappy. In fact, in the annals of known hells, not getting a proper night's sleep for months on end is indescribably worse. Certainly there are moments when you would trade a lifetime of faecal matter up your fingernails for just five minutes in the land of nod.

But even this is missing the point. What no one tells you is that parenthood isn't about babies at all. Well, yes, you have babies, but the moment you start thinking you know babies they're already mutating into something else – into toddlers, three-year-olds, 10-year-olds, teenagers, entire new genres of children that need knowing all over again. I realise that this isn't an exact analogy, but if you imagine your first 10-year-old as bird flu, the second, on reaching that age, might easily materialise as rabies, the third amoebic dysentery, and so on – and here's you thinking you can treat them all with the same old medicine. Who says God has no sense of humour?

It's that realisation, as a father, that you're really just making it up as you go along that runs through the column I started to write for the Observer magazine in the autumn of 1996, a few weeks after my vasectomy and six months before the birth of our fourth son. I remember my editor at the time describing it as "a woman's column written by a man" – though that had ceased to be a novelty by the time I stopped writing it a decade later. By then home and family wasn't exclusively a woman's province, just as going out and drinking yourself insensible was no longer purely a job for a man.

And didn't there come a point in all this when children started to be hailed as fashionable accessories? Women, far from disguising their pregnancies in dungarees or a traditional small marquee, followed such starry exemplars of the day as Demi Moore and Geri Halliwell and the girl who married Liam Gallagher, baring their maternal bumps with shameless pride. New dads – whose new daddism sat oddly with the new laddism of the Loaded generation – watched open-mouthed as David Beckham had the names of his children tattooed into his suntan. Chelsea's John Terry took to raising his son to the heavens – surely the ultimate trophy child – at cup final victories. Smart metropolitan couples loaded their kids in front-facing rucksacks and took them out to restaurants, to swish private views, to the office. How Mediterranean we were – how enlightened and relaxed!

One wonders, had men not been required to take an interest in children, whether we would have seen such a groundswell of kiddie-based enthusiasm – the "What to do with your brood in the hols" spreads, the mother-and-child parking, the baby-changing facilities in the gents, family-friendly pubs, the way the vocabulary and imagery of IVF and adoption and "biological clocks" infiltrated the common consciousness. Paternity leave was deemed crucial to men's new central role in parenting. Aggrieved excluded fathers in Batman costumes scaled public buildings to draw attention to their pain, while elsewhere sperm donors were told they now needed to stand up and be counted. Children became a national anxiety: what they ate, who they talked to online, whether mobile phones and video games were frying their young brains. While feral teens roamed inner-city estates, TV gave us Supernanny and Honey We're Killing the Kids.

I doubt many people bringing up children particularly felt they were riding the zeitgeist. Flicking through those old columns (or rather those old columns collected into one convenient volume to keep with your contraceptives, Parenting Made Difficult – now unaccountably out of print), I was struck by how much of our lives was taken up by dismal rain-swept excursions in the car – to farms, museums, bird sanctuaries, "historic" towns, flower shows, agricultural fairs, the Millennium Dome. But I suppose that's what we did. Driving our small herd round those places was not only a way of escaping the chaos and fatigue of being trapped in the house with four under-nines but it gave us the illusion of being in control. A typical piece begins: "It seems ages since we last made the children despise us by forcing them to do something gratuitously uninteresting…"

And although all that stuff – the outings, the struggles with putting up curtain rails and light fittings, and being hopeless at cracking eggs, and failing to deal with algebra or diarrhoea or Lara Croft – was magnified for comic intent, it still holds a sort of cumulative reality. Notwithstanding the great times we had (and I realise I may have given the impression that there weren't any), bringing up kids – for all its profounder pleasures – can be a hard, wearying business. It's a long haul. But just as those early years often seemed unending, the last few have rather whizzed by. Teenagers bring a more extreme set of challenges, but at least their unreasonable behaviour is functional, in that it hastens the inevitable break and makes their departure an occasion that everyone appreciates must happen. Yes, one chooses family life and finds joy in this warm bosom of one's own making, but (and I hate to get all Charles Darwin here) isn't the point of having babies to provide fresh new adults to man the coalmines and universities? And if, at the end of the process, one is never sure of one's exact part in their accomplishments or otherwise, it seems natural – salutary – to kiss them, say goodbye, good luck and see you when you bring your laundry home at half-term.

Job done. Or very nearly.

I have come to this understanding more easily than my wife, who though our nest is still half full has begun to imagine it empty. Her gaze falls sadly on our 12-year-old, seeing the next six years whizzing by, too. But think of the freedom, I say, mentally dusting off our old priorities involving just the two of us – swanning off to the pub at the drop of a hat, seeing friends, attending art exhibitions, having sex on the stairs. Weekends in Rome or Paris! Yes, says my wife, who has been – and still is – the best mother a child could wish for, even though it has meant sacrificing a life that she might have selflessly devoted to me alone.

Of course I will miss them too. But she senses we are not fully united in this. Perhaps it's a man-woman thing. I put my arm round her (recalling how tearful she was last week, loading Ryan and his baggage and DVDs and guitars and newly bought wok into his student accommodation) and say that everything will be fine. Just quieter. Just different.

sábado, 24 de outubro de 2009

Em Beirute


Two girls pick books from the children's section during the opening of the annual Francophone Book Fair in Beirut on October 22, 2009. The 16th edition of the Salon du livre francophone de Beyrouth, will be on till November 1st including several cultural events around it with Beirut being the World Book Capital for this year. AFP PHOTO/RAMZI HAIDAR (Photo credit should read RAMZI HAIDAR/AFP/Getty Images).

via Jezebel :)

sexta-feira, 23 de outubro de 2009

Vegetarianos? ;)






Telegraph Gallery

Fatiotas para o Halloween


E viva o consumo! Mais uma festa para os petizes se divertirem :)



In Fashion Kids