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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More on SongeBob SquarePants

GOT KIDS? Like I keep telling ya...

"The kids who watched the fast-paced cartoon performed worse across the board than the other two groups. While 15% of SpongeBob viewers passed the problem-solving task, for instance, 35% of those who watched the educational cartoon did, compared with 70% of the kids who spent the time drawing."

Read more:
What kids watch — and not just how much — matters when it comes to television viewing, according to new research that finds that preschoolers who watch fast-paced shows have far more trouble concentrating than other children.

When a #1 Show needs to be changed just to shift audience

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  • Sneak Peek
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  • Sneak Peek
New look for "Harry's Law." Last season, NBC got a pleasant surprise in the performance of "Harry's Law," a legal drama starring Kathy Bates from producer David E. Kelley. The show proved popular with a large portion of the audience. Alas, for NBC it was the wrong portion. Looking to add younger viewers, the show is being overhauled although whether it will be any less preachy remains to be seen. Details from USA Today.

Faculty Response to Community College Task Force Recomendations

Faculty senate chairs across the state have serious concerns about the Community College Task Force report as it was represented to the board yesterday. Our faculties will take a great interest in this report and, we are certain, will want to verify the data it contains and to vet the recommendations. Our community college faculty share common goals with the task force and are working hard to achieve the goals outlined in the report: to meaningfully address the problem of remediation, to increase the number of degree holders in Nevada, to focus on student outcomes, and to provide Nevada students the educational pathways they deserve. At the same time, we as chairs would like to express skepticism regarding some of the recommendations' means to achieving these common ends. The concept of outsourcing education to entities that have a terrible track record of student success is, frankly, alarming to faculty across the state. We respectfully submit that as this report stands, despite the common goals among faculty and the task force and despite several ideas worthy of investigation, many of the recommendations as they stand will not be acceptable to the vast majority of our faculty in Nevada and we look forward to working with the Board of Regents to cull through the recommendations in order to determine the best course of action to achieve our common goals for the benefit of Nevada students, the state of Nevada, and the Nevada System of Higher Education.


Ben leaned against Robby's windowsill until it made a red line across his chest. He watched the clouds roll in. He thought about the times when the aurora borealis, the northern lights, appeared in the night sky. Everyone along the lake would call one another, no matter what time it was, so they could watch the strange shimmering curtains vibrating above them. Even though his mom had quit smoking two summers ago, Ben vividly remembered the smell of her cigarettes as they stood outside. She'd cross her arms and blow the smoke out the side of her mouth. When the air was cold enough, Ben would cross his arms and blow his foggy breath out the side of his mouth as well, which always made her laugh. Then she would open her jacket so Ben could stand inside it with her, and for hours they would stare heavenward at the beautiful colors in the sky.
A sudden streak of light interrupted Ben's memory. Wide-eyed, he watched from the ledge of Robby's window as a shooting star blazed between the clouds and disappeared. He made a wish about his mom, one that he knew could never come true.
Ben hadn't realized how tightly he'd been gripping the seashell turtle until he felt it digging into his skin. He almost cried out, but he caught himself, not wanting to wake up Robby again.
That's when Ben noticed something very strange. In the black silhouette of his house, eighty-three steps away, a light had come on. The curtains in his mom's room glowed a bright yellow.
Ben stared in disbelief.
Feeling dizzy, he placed the turtle in the box, locked it, and tucked it back under the cot. His heart was pounding as he put on an old tank top and slid into his sneakers without bothering to lace them up.
He grabbed the red flashlight and slipped silently out of his cousins' house.
Illustration from Wonderstruck (pages 58-59), by Brian Selznick.
Brian Selznick
Illustration from Wonderstruck (pages 60-61), by Brian Selznick
Brian Selznick
Illustration from Wonderstruck (pages 62-63), by Brian Selznick
Brian Selznick
Illustration from Wonderstruck (pages 64-65), by Brian Selznick
Brian Selznick
Water lapped at the dock, and the boats clacked against one another. A loon called across the night, and the stones of Gunflint Lake glittered faintly in the darkness. The woods at night were always spooky, and the weak beam of the flashlight didn't stretch very far. Ben kept moving toward his house, where the one glowing window beckoned, staring back through the darkness like an unblinking eye. Under a vault of shaking black branches, he ran.
The doors to his house, like nearly all the doors along the lake, were unlocked. Ben quietly entered through the back, into the kitchen. He moved his small beam of light around the room. The flowers and food from the funeral had been cleared out, but the owl-shaped cookie jar sat on the counter with its head off, the way it always had. The junk drawer remained closed crookedly. The refrigerator was still covered with his mom's favorite quotes. It was like entering a museum of his old life.
Ben realized that he could hear music playing softly in the distance. He turned his head to hear it more clearly and a chill went down his spine.
"This is Major Tom to ground control;
I'm stepping thro' the door,
And I'm floating in a most peculiar way.
And the stars look very different today
For here am I sitting in a tin can far above the
world ...."
Ben heard footsteps. He turned his good ear toward the direction he thought the sound was coming from ... somewhere near his mother's room, he guessed.
Ben had never really believed in ghosts, although some of the stories his mom had read to him when he was younger had kept him up at night. He tiptoed slowly down the hall to his mom's room, the blood pounding in his head. A faint smell of cigarette smoke grew stronger as he got closer.
Ben paused in the hallway, dizzy with fear. "You shouldn't be such a turtle."
He inched closer until he was right outside her door. He turned off the flashlight and put it in his back pocket.
The door was open a crack, and he could see the framed Van Gogh print — a big black tree and a swirling night sky with golden stars. A shadow moved across the room.
Ben thought about the shooting star and the impossible wish he'd made. With a trembling hand, he slowly pushed open the door.
Excerpted from Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. Copyright 2011 by Brian Selznick. Excerpted by permission ofScholastic Inc./Scholastic Press. All rights reserved.

It's not often that a writer can illustrate his own books, but Brian Selznick is that rare find. He began his career as an artist collaborating with authors on children's books. But he gradually realized that he wanted to tell his own stories in both words and pictures — and to do that, Selznick invented a unique narrative device.
Wonderstruck is both a novel and a picture book, a form Selznick first experimented with in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, when he had the idea of telling a story in much the same way that film does.
"I thought: Is there a way of combining what the cinema can do with panning, and zooming in and out, and edits, and what a picture book can do with page turns, and what a novel does?" Selznick says.
Selznick's illustrations work like a camera, zooming in on details and following his characters around as they move through the world. In the beginning of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the reader follows a boy through a grate in the wall, down a hallway, to an old man in a toy booth who sees a clock, and behind the number 5 in the clock, there's the boy.
A writer and artist who is fascinated with film, Selznick is about to see a fantasy come true: In November, the film version of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, directed by Martin Scorcese, will be released on the big screen. ... (Click here to see that opening sequence of drawings.)
In Wonderstruck, Selznick wanted to take this narrative experiment a step further. "I had this idea to try to tell two different stories," he says. "What if I told one story just with pictures, and then told a completely different story that was set 50 years later with words? And then had these two separate stories weave back and forth until they came together at the end?"
Wonderstruck is the story of Rose and Ben, a young boy and girl who live years and worlds apart. By the end of the book, the reader learns they have a special connection. But from early on, they have one thing in common: She is deaf, and he loses his hearing when he is struck by lightning.
Selznick says the idea for the book began forming when he saw a documentary about deafness and deaf culture. One of the deaf educators emphasized how hyper-attuned deaf people are to the visual world. So Selznick set out to tell the story of a deaf character in pictures. "We experience [Rose's] story in a way that perhaps might echo the way she experiences her own life," he explains.
Hugo and Isabelle look out over Paris from behind a clock face in Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
EnlargeBrian Selznick
Hugo and Isabelle look out over Paris from behind a clock face in Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Rose's story, told almost entirely through Selznick's compelling black-and-white illustrations, alternates with Ben's story, which unfolds in written form. At first, the reader is not sure how the two stories relate, but here and there, the characters' worlds collide. Both get caught in a storm, both go in search of their parents, both find refuge in New York's Museum of Natural History (one of Selznick's favorite destinations when he was a kid growing up in New Jersey). When Ben and Rose finally do meet, Selznick says, the book becomes all about how we communicate with each other.
"At the end of the story, we have scenes where there's a deaf character who signs, a hearing character who signs, and a deaf character who doesn't sign — and they all have to have a conversation," Selznick says. "And so who speaks, who writes, who can sign ... it all becomes mixed up until they can figure out a way to communicate."
"It's sort of like going through a treasure map backwards in a certain way, where I know what I want it to be, but I don't know how to get there," he says. "It does end up feeling like I have been on this really exciting journey that I ultimately hope that the reader will be excited to be on, too."Creating these books is a complicated process, Selznick says, and he is always a little surprised in the end when everything comes together. When he's in the middle of it, it's a little like looking for buried treasure.