Category Archives: Non-fiction

Young Cat Lover’s Booklist (Part 3)

Booklist:  Cats

Ages 4-8, Unless otherwise noted 

Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2!

Written by Matthew van Fleet
Photographed by Brian Stanton

A rhyming list of a variety of cats to accompany fantastic photographs.  Pull tabs, flaps and textures enhance the tactile experience of this book.  The highlight:  30+ breeds featured in on the final fold out pages.  Age 2+
Little Lit Lover says:  I like the cat that hides in the boot and the little mouse.
4 Flags

The Cat in the Hat
Written and Illustrated by Dr. Seuss

No booklist on cats would be complete without the most famous literary feline of all!    220—that’s the number of words Dr. Seuss incorporated into this zany story in which, on a rainy day, two siblings are at home alone with nothing to do until a mischievous  cat materializes and proceeds to stir things up.  Excellent reading practice for beginning readers.
5 Flags

Eyewitness Cat
Written by Juliet Clutton-Brock

From the DK encyclopedic series, Cat covers the origins and evolutionary history of cats, the anatomy of cats including their “supersenses,” big cats and their natural habitats, various breeds of domestic cats, and more.  A great reference book most suitable for ages 8+, but also a good way to expose younger children to non-fiction reading.
Little Lit Lover says: I like the page with the cat skeletons where you can see all their bones.
5 Flags

Meet Trouble (All Aboard Reading 1)
Written by Susan Hood
Illustrated by Kristina Stephenson

Young Emily loves her aptly-named kitten Trouble who engages in typical feline explorations in this simple story with rhyming words and repetition to build early reading skills.  There is nothing special about this book, but with so many titles for beginning readers these days, this one is a safe choice for a child who can’t get enough of kittens and cats.  Ages 4-6
Little Lit Lover says:  It’s funny when Trouble tries to get his reflection in the mirror.
3 Flags

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
Written by T.S. Eliot
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

In “The Naming of Cats,” “The Old Gumbie Cat,” “Gus: the Theatre Cat,” and a dozen other charming poems, Eliot celebrates the quirks of a host of loveable felines, reminding readers “That Cats are much like you and me / And other people whom we find / Possessed of various types of mind.”  In this edition, Scheffler’s fresh illustrations breathe new life into a beloved collection.  A great way to introduce poetry to new readers.  Enrich the reading experience by listening to the Cats soundtrack.  Age 5+
Little Lit Lover says:  My favorite poem is “Macavity the Mystery Cat” and my favorite picture is Jennyanydots with the mice.
5 Flags

Too Many Cats (Step into Reading 1)
Written by Lori Haskins Houran
Illustrated by Joe Mathieu

 A woman plays the cello near an open window in her home and the music attracts the cats of the neighborhood that soon join in with music of their own.  A decent beginning reader book that contains a fair number of sight words.  It is not a phonics reader.  Ages 4-6
Little Lit Lover says:  I like when the white cat turns green!

3 Flags

This concludes the young cat lover’s booklist!  “You’ve read of several kinds of Cat, / And my opinion now is that / You should need no interpreter / To understand their character.” ~ from “The Ad-Dressing of Cats” by T.S. Eliot

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Filed under Booklists, Non-fiction, Picture Books

Good to Great and the Social Sectors by Jim Collins

Classification:  Adult Non-fiction

Genre: Business

Subjects: Social entrepreneurs, business models, leadership, management

 “Greatness is not a function of circumstance.  Greatness, as it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” ~ Jim Collins

Summary:  Adapting his “good to great” business model for the social sector, Collins discusses the factors that distinguish great organizations from good ones:  Defining Greatness, Level 5 Leadership, First Who, the Hedgehog Concept, and Turning the Flywheel .  These principles amount to creating a way to assess output results, establishing strong leadership that serves the mission of the organization, getting the right people involved, understanding the organization’s passions, strengths and resources, and building momentum for the organization to grow.  Examples of great social sector organizations include Tom Morris of the Cleveland Orchestra, Wendy Knopp of Teach for America, and Frances Hesselbein of Girl Scouts USA.  Throughout the treatise, Collins insists greatness transcends the differences between business and social, pointing out that great organizations, whether business or social, have much in common with each other, and less in common with mediocre organizations from the same sector.

Notes: I have not read Good to Great.  This monograph was recommended reading for a course on the management of non-profit information organizations.   I borrowed a copy from my local library, and at 35 pages it is such a short read that I highly recommend it to just about anyone in a leadership or management position.  Collins covers a diverse range of social organizations.  In addition to the examples mentioned above,  Collins discusses  former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, high school physics teacher Roger Briggs, and several others.

5 Flags

Click here for a recommendation for younger readers.

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The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

In some literature class long ago, I learned that love stories end with marriage or death, which is why those of us who crave insight into the day-to-day workings of a relationship need to look beyond narrative.  A friend recommended The Five Love Languages, which is a decent read.

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, we all speak a love language:  Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Gifts, or Physical Touch.  As Chapman says, “no one can be happy with an empty love tank,” so partners ought to know one another’s love languages so that they can express love in way the other will understand.  Many examples of couples and their love languages are cited in the text, as well as extensive profiles of each love language.  Christian scripture is incorporated in a non-offensive way.

The discussion of the love languages themselves is interesting, but I found Chapman’s most compelling points to lie in his distinction between the in-love obsession experienced at the beginning of a relationship and the rational, mature love that evolves over time.  Chapman insists that to love someone is a choice, and to love someone well requires the lover to make the conscious choice to speak the love language of the beloved.

I’m in love with the idea of reasonable love, love that can be understood intellectually.  As for this book, it’s a quick read, well-suited for travel or as a Valentine’s activity to do with an open-minded partner.  A “Personal Assessment Tool” is included.  Since the book’s original publication, Chapman has expanded the Love Languages into a series of books that includes The Five Love Languages of Children and numerous other titles.

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My Sergei: A Love Story by Ekaterina Gordeeva

With the 2010 Winter Olympics and Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite love stories—that of champion pairs skaters Katia Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov.

I was still in high school when “G&G” were at the height of their career and I remember vividly the shock and sadness I felt upon hearing the news of Grinkov’s untimely death.

In the opening chapter of the book, which was first published in 1996, Gordeeva says she’s “writing this memoir now, before [Grinkov’s] lovely echo fades, as it inevitably will, with time.”  Gordeeva and Grinkov’s skating career, from their initial pairing and first competitions through their second Olympic gold medal, is chronicled with great attention to details such as costumes, music selection, and choreography.  Gordeeva discusses their intense training  under the Soviet sports regime and their evolution as athletes and performers.  Integral to their growth as skaters is their private journey from young co-workers to lovers to husband and wife to parents.   When Grinkov died in November 1995, Gordeeva lost her husband and partner, and the father of her three-year-old daughter, rendering a heart-breaking conclusion to love story that should have had a happily ever after.

Of course figure skating fans will enjoy Gordeeva’s perspective on the sport, but for other readers, this is a timeless romance.  The simple language used throughout (Gordeeva spoke little English at the time that this book was written), combined with Gordeeva’s candidness, gives the book an innocent quality.   

Truly a bittersweet story.

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