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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi" and "Easy As Pi" Giveaway!!


Summer may be here, but I make it a point not to let our children fry their brains with video and computer games day after day.  They need some interesting reading in addition to doing other fun things like playing board games, riding their bikes, playing basketball and swimming, and other outdoor activities. The reading, however, is important to me as a parent.  I not only provide them with novels to read, but I, on occasion, discover wonderful books that provide information as well as entertainment, and today, I want to tell you about 2 such books - A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi" (The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English) by Chloe Rhodes, and "Easy As Pi" (The Countless Ways We Use Numbers Every Day) by Jamie Buchan.



A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi" begins:

The wonderful thing about words is that once we've learned their meanings, we rarely have to give them a second thought.  Whether we're arguing a point, expressing our passion, or simply ordering a pizza, the words are there; generally we have no need to pause to consider their precise meanings or ponder over their provenance.

However, for all the benefits such fluency brings, it does mean that we're often oblivious to the fascinating origins of the words and phrases we use every day ... The list of words and phrases within [this book] is by no means exhaustive, and it doesn't offer an academic lok at etymology, but it does attempt to tell the stories of some of the thousands of foreign words and phrases that have come to be commonly used in English.



That was all the introduction I needed to want to read this book myself and pass it on to my daughter, Sarah.  Well, not only did she grab up this book and read it, but her French teacher at her high school borrowed it too!  It is a very interesting book and one that I know you, too, will enjoy reading.



Here is the first word in the book:

"A cappella"

In the manner of the chapel or choir
(Italian, from the Latin "a cappella")

This phrase comes to us via the Late Latin "cappa," meaning "cap" or "cloak" -- the chapel that housed the cloak of Saint Martin, kept as a relic, was thus the "capella."  The meaning of the term has now expanded to include any unaccompanied vocal performance, from the doo--wop bands of 1950s America to barbershop quartets to modern TV talent shows.

The neighborhood dogs all howled along when Jeremy began his a cappella serenade

The book continues with the most interesting words, origins, and sentence usage.  You will not tire of this book.  It is a great read and fun too, and, it's your lucky day, because I have one to offer up to one of my readers!!!

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"Easy as Pi" also begins with a gripping introduction:

As you read this, the world may still be in the grip of a severe economic crisis.  Chances are you were woken up this morning by an alarm so you could get to work at or before a specific time.  Your cell phone is assigned its own specific number and, like all electronic devices, its functioning is based on manipulating numbers.  The timing and placement of traffic lights on your way to work would have been mathematically designed to maximize efficiency, despite appearances to the contrary.  Every man-made object will have been designed with numbers in mind, and many (including this one) are given unique numeric identifiers.

As Pythagoras once said, "numbers rule the universe." 



If that doesn't catch your attention, I don't know what will.  Well, for me anyway!  I have been, ever since I can remember, a perpetual student.  I love math and reading and language.  I love writing and math and word games too.  Maybe that's why I'm also a member of Mensa (just in case you didn't know).  In this book, the writer takes a look at Numbers in Language:

"Do a Number" -

To seriously damage something or someone.  The origins of this phrase are very murky, but it seems to be derived from the world of boxing, where a fighter might be instructed to "do a number" on his opponent's face; that is, hit it a number of times - hard.

Pretty funny, ay? 



The book also covers topics such as Numbers in Fiction, Numbers in Culture, Numbers in Mythology and Religion, and Numbers in Math and Science.  I love it, and so, I thought Sarah and Matthew, especially, would enjoy this book as well.  I was right.  They love it and Sarah has read it entirely and has found it very helpful and insightful.

The key here is making learning fun, interesting, and exciting so that our children spend their lives learning and wanting to continue to learn and grow.

And the good news is that this book, too, is part of the giveaway!!

So, how about you "do a number" in my comments by telling me the "whole nine yards" of what inspires you to learn.

Comments will be closed on Friday at noon EST. 

The winner will be chosen on Friday afternoon.  Probably about 3pm or thereabouts using Random.org.

This may not be a contest for a mixer or a camera, but I promise you these books will be a fun and interesting read for you and your family this summer!

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We have a WINNER!  CONGRATULATIONS to #6, Deb Davis!  You have won these wonderful books and I hope that you are able to use them in your classroom.

Please send me an email at susan@raisin-toast.com to claim your prize and please send me your address so that I can send you your books!