Blog

Happy Thanksgiving!

By Janet Ann Collins | November 25, 2021

There have been lots of problems in our world in the last two years, but we still have a LOT to be thankful for.

Can You See Me?

By Janet Ann Collins | October 19, 2021

Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott have written a great book. It’s about Tally, a girl with autism and helps the reader understand what it’s like to have that condition. One of the authors is autistic herself, so the portrayal is obviously accurate. But the book is great because it’s well written, has a fascinating plot, and realistic characters. Like all young people, Tally is dealing with relationships with other kids and the adults who control a lot of her life. I highly recommend Can You See Me? for middle grade and even older kids to read.

Facebook Again

By Janet Ann Collins | October 5, 2021

Facebook got back online after several hours. I hope that problem never happens again.

Technology!

By Janet Ann Collins | October 4, 2021

I’m frustrated because I’m unable to use my Facebook account. When I try I get a message that their URL isn’t valid and I can’t reach their tech support because it requires the same URL. I wonder if anyone else is having that problem.

Color Meanings

By Janet Ann Collins | August 5, 2021

Color Meanings It is logical that the color, black, was related to darkness and was used to symbolize fear. White was obviously only the color of clean things so it symbolized purity. Red was like fire, or the complexion of an angry person (with fair skin) so it came to represent anger. (I don’t know why Native Americans were called redskins since only people of Anglo-Saxon heritage with high fevers or bad sunburns have red skin.) Asians have light tan skin. No humans have yellow skin unless they have severe liver jaundice. Maybe that color represents cowardice because people with that illness are weak? I guess purple represents royalty since purple dye was very expensive and only rich people like kings could have purple clothes. Green is the color of healthy vegetation. I don’t know why it represents jealousy unless it’s because farmers envied other people’s healthy crops. But I can’t even guess why blue is supposed to represent sadness. To me, there’s nothing happier than a blue sky or a view of a body of water on a lovely day.Who had the idea to call sad songs “blues”? I think blue should represent joy.

Medieval Rap

By Janet Ann Collins | July 17, 2021

Long ago I mentioned that nursery rhymes were often originally disguised political statements from an era when freedom of speech didn’t exist. I understand people at fairs and street markets would chant or sing them in public to gather support without endangering themselves. (Of course lots of non-political rhymes were probably also shared that way.)Ordinary people in those days didn’t know how to read and write English, much less music notation. Although the words of many rhymes and both words and melodies of many folk songs were passed on by oral tradition we have no record of tunes to go with most nursery rhymes. Even those we now sing were usually set to music in the last century or two.It seems likely to me that the things we now call nursery rhymes were probably not sung at all, but called out in rhythmic speech, possibly accompanied by instruments like hand drums people could make themselves. If so, they must have sounded a lot like what we now call Rap music. Even the meter is often similar. Can’t you imagine “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall” done as rap? And I understand that rhyme was actually about overthrowing the king so it certainly wasn’t meant to be sung to children in nurseries.

What You May Call It

By Janet Ann Collins | July 10, 2021

What You May Call It

By Janet Ann Collins | July 10, 2021

Black Bart

By Janet Ann Collins | June 30, 2021

When I was a kid my grandfather lived with us and often told us stories about his youth and childhood growing up in San Francisco in the 1800s. Gramp (as we called him) had worked for Wells Fargo Railway Express in San Francisco and had often heard the detective Harry Morse tell visitors in the lunch room about how he had caught the bandit, Black Bart. This week I bought the book, Black Bart Boulevardier Bandit by George Hoeper, and enjoyed reading it. My grandfather had told us the detective who had caught Black Bart had done so by finding a shirt cuff with a laundry mark and tracing it through the laundry in San Francisco used by that outlaw. Back in that time laundry was done by hand and people wore the same clothes all week, except for Sundays. Men’s shirts had detachable collars and shirt cuffs that were changed every day to look clean. Other things I’d read about Black Bart had said the detective had found the laundry mark on a handkerchief. This book says Harry Morse had found both shirt cuffs and a handkerchief with the laundry mark. That is probably correct. I once knew a kid who turned out to have an anti-social personality disorder. In other words, he was a psychopath. Hoeper’s book shows that Black Bart had similar personality traits. I wish George Hoeper was still alive so I could tell him how much I enjoyed his book.

Nursery Rhyme Raps

By Janet Ann Collins | June 13, 2021

Did you know nursery rhymes weren’t originally written for children? Many of them were coded political statements back when freedom of speech didn’t exist. For example, I believe Humpty Dumpty was about overthrowing a king. And, back in the Middle Ages, most people didn’t have the kind of musical instruments we often use. The common folk would make drums with animal skin over wooden or clay bases. They could make flutes with holes in hollow branches or reeds, and bang sticks together. Criers would walk around town using those instruments and chanting the rhymes to get attention for their political beliefs without getting arrested. There are a lot of nasty politics in the world, especially in the last few years, but at least we’re free to discuss them.