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Content by Charles Ashbacher
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Reviews Written by
Charles Ashbacher (Marion, Iowa United States)

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Integers, Fractions and Arithmetic: A Guide for Teachers
Integers, Fractions and Arithmetic: A Guide for Teachers
by Judith D. Sally
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 51.92
5 used & new from CDN$ 46.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Material that will help solve the problem of U. S. STEM inadequacy, Nov. 25 2015
Several years ago I taught the “Fundamentals of Arithmetic” class designed for future teachers of K-8 classes. It was a fun class, for it allowed me to demonstrate many of the “why things work the way they do” in the basic mathematics taught in those courses. This book is a series of twelve seminars covering some of those basic concepts. They are:

*) Number systems
*) Divisibility and order in the integers
*) GCD’s and the division algorithm
*) Prime numbers and factorization into primes
*) Applications of prime power factorization
*) Modular arithmetic and divisibility tests
*) More modular arithmetic
*) The arithmetic of fractions
*) Properties of multiplication of fractions
*) Addition of fractions
*) The decimal expansion of a fraction
*) Order and the number line

All of the material is well presented and exercises for the students to do are embedded in the seminars. Full explanations of the solution process is included for all of the exercises and immediately follows the problem.
If you teach a course that educates future K-8 teachers in the fundamentals of arithmetic, there is much that you can use in this book. The real and lasting solution to the problems of STEM training in the United States is better teachers in the early years of education. A lot of material that will make that a reality is contained in this book.

This book was made available for free for review purposes.

Sacred Mountains of China: An Epic Human-Powered Adventure Through a Remote World
Sacred Mountains of China: An Epic Human-Powered Adventure Through a Remote World
by Ryan Pyle
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.75
27 used & new from CDN$ 11.06

5.0 out of 5 stars A North American undertakes four pilgrimages around four sacred mountains in China, Nov. 23 2015
Pyle is a North American expat that lived in China for many years before he made the decision to circumambulate four of the most sacred mountains in China. Like people in many other countries, the Chinese believe that the top of a mountain is where the gods reside. Therefore, it is considered sacrilege to reach their peak. However, it is considered a positive act of faith to walk around them.
The four mountains that Pyle and his cameraman circumambulate are Minya Konka, Amne Machin, Mount Kailash and Kawa Karpo. Since these mountains are very high and rugged, the trip around them is strenuous and dangerous. All of their travels are on foot, nearly all of the time at very high altitudes. They used pack animals to carry supplies, including propane tanks to power stoves as there was no wood or other fuel readily available. Much of the time they were walking far above the tree line.
Pyle’s story is one of endurance in the face of hardship, determination to succeed and the occasional human or nature-generated setback. In nearly all cases he found the local people very receptive and friendly towards the two men from outside their region. They respected Pyle for his efforts in carrying out a pilgrimage that is considered one of the most honorable things to do.
Although it is generally in the form of a journal rendition of the events of their days, the book retains your interest. Without question, the highlights of the book are the two sections of color photographs of various locations and scenes on their journeys. Spectacular is too weak a word to describe some of the scenes of the mountains, valley and rivers.

This book was made available for free for review purposes

Aoneky Foam Dumbbells Toys for Kids, Recommended for Children Above 3 to 6 Years Old, Best Gifts for Boys, 2 lbs
Aoneky Foam Dumbbells Toys for Kids, Recommended for Children Above 3 to 6 Years Old, Best Gifts for Boys, 2 lbs
Offered by Aoneky
Price: CDN$ 28.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Soft foam exterior makes it safer and easy to grip, Nov. 22 2015
Having been a figurative dumbell in the past, dropping a literal dumbell on my foot, I appreciate the foam padding surrounding this one. The gripping surface is also soft and has some give to it, allowing for a firmer grip, especially when your hands are moist. There are also ridges in the gripping surface that increase your ability to hang on to it.
At two pounds, this is a very light dumbell, it is advertised for children. However, it is one that women and men will also find useful when lighter weights are desired, such as when walking or doing steps, where a light supplement is needed.

This item was made available for free for review purposes

Mod Squad (Widescreen/Full Screen)
Mod Squad (Widescreen/Full Screen)
DVD ~ Claire Danes
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99
40 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars It lacks the charm of the original television series on which it is based, Nov. 21 2015
This movie is a remake of the very popular television show of the 1960’s having the same name. Unfortunately, it almost completely lacks the charm of the original series. The primary reason is that the Pete character is incompetent at almost everything. Street kids tend to be very smart and good at their craft, Pete is neither.
The premise is that three problem teens have had brushes with the law and are slated for jail. However, the farsighted Captain Greer decides to give them all another chance if they will work with the police and infiltrate teen events in order to gather information. One of the problems with this is that none of the three main characters comes close to looking like a teenager, much less one with a record.
The predictable happens and they end up on their own, having only each other to rely on in the battle against a major and ruthless drug ring. At times the acting leaves a great deal to be desired, some of the scenes designed to be humorous fall flat. At times this was a boring movie.

Uncle Jed's Barbershop
Uncle Jed's Barbershop
by Margaree King Mitchell
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.43
58 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Never, ever, ever give up on your dream, Nov. 20 2015
This review is from: Uncle Jed's Barbershop (Paperback)
This is both a history lesson as well as one of persistence in pursuit of a dream. Jedediah Johnson is the uncle of the child narrator (Sarah Jean) and the only black barber in the county. The time is in the segregated south of the twenties and thirties, so Jed’s transportation is via a horse and he plays a vital role, as blacks are not allowed in barber shops reserved for whites.
It is Jed’s dream to own his own permanent barbershop and he is saving his money. Sarah Jean’s parents are poor sharecroppers that are struggling to survive. When the narrator is five years old she gets very sick and is taken to the hospital, where they have to wait in the colored waiting room until all white patients have been served.
The doctors concluded that an operation was necessary and would cost 300 dollars that must be paid in advance. Uncle Jed uses some of the money he had saved to pay for the surgery and Sarah Jean recovers. The next adversity is the failure of the local bank and the onset of the Great Depression. Jed loses all the money he had saved and is now forced to accept items such as food and produce as payment for his services.
The Depression ends and Jed starts getting paid again and finally, on his seventy-ninth birthday he opens his own barber shop. Jed died shortly after that but he died a happy man, for he was able to fulfill his dream. In the process he also taught Sarah Jean to never give up trying to achieve your dream.
This is a great story about the decades long pursuit of your dream, even through major adversities. It is also a history lesson, with major points made about the reality of segregation and the struggles of black people.

Tall Blond Man With One Black Show, The (Version française)
Tall Blond Man With One Black Show, The (Version française)
DVD ~ Pierre Richard
Price: CDN$ 29.98
18 used & new from CDN$ 16.86

5.0 out of 5 stars A farce that goes to extremes while the agents deadpan seriousness throughout, Nov. 19 2015
The most famous fictional French detective is almost certainly the bumbling Inspector Clouseau played primarily by Peter Sellers in the “Pink Panther” series. In this film, nearly everyone is a Clouseau, bumbling through the film making silly errors having many forms.
The premise is that there are two rival factions in the French national intelligence service, that rivalry is so intense that it has reached the level of bugging the rival’s living quarters. The leader of one of the factions is aware of the bugs so he directs an underling to lead the other side astray by selecting a man at random at the airport. Their selection turns out to be a man wearing a black shoe and a brown shoe, he is an accomplished violinist and we later learn there is a simple reason for his podiatric attire.
Many of the events are from the standard stock of spy movies, including toilet flushes, microphones everywhere and more suspicion than can be consumed. All are funny, even the love scenes are turned into comedy, not by having failures take place during the act but by having the spies on watch react in unison to events taking place in the bed.
A farce in the classic French tradition, Film Movement is to be commended for putting this movie on a DVD. It is amusing, absurd and full of ignorant action, the scenes where the agents confront each other are played out standing in the middle of a carpet labeled ridiculous. Even the extra-marital affair with the jealous spouse is turned into a comedy aspect as nothing is taken seriously by the film makers. Although the intelligence agents deadpan a serious demeanor throughout the movie.

This DVD was made available for free for review purposes

Two Cities
Two Cities
by Dare Delano
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.61
5 used & new from CDN$ 4.69

5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and effective way to teach young people about the classics, Nov. 19 2015
This review is from: Two Cities (Paperback)
The books in the Book Keeper series are based on a unique premise. Liz and Charlie have the gift that when they open one of the special books owned by the Keeper of the Books, they are transported into the book and they are given specific tasks that they must do. What they do has the result of making sure that the events in the book follow the plot as originally written. If this is not done once every fifty years for a book then it is as if the book was never written.
In this case the book that Liz and Charlie open is “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. Their adventure begins as French society is beginning to disintegrate and is moving on the path to what is historically known as the French Revolution. Their task in this case is to make sure that Lucie is kept safe.
Although this book is much shorter than the story by Dickens, the reader learns the basic plot, from the carriage running down the child to the voluntary death by guillotine of Sydney Carton. It is hoped that some of the young readers will be prompted to read the full book by Dickens, for it is a complex tale of life, false accusations and sacrifice. It has been many years since I read “A Tale of Two Cities”, yet like so many people, the opening phrase and that uttered by the man about to lose his head are still fresh in my mind.

This book was made available for free for review purposes

by Viz Communications
Edition: Paperback
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A book where you have to give it that certain look, Nov. 19 2015
This review is from: Stereogram (Paperback)
In one of my previous jobs a co-worker brought in a large stereogram and I would look at it periodically but would fail to see the internal image. Then one day something happened and I could see it and from that day forward I have had little difficulty in seeing the images embedded in the stereogram pictures.
This book contains a series of stereograms as well as a history of the art form, a description of how they are constructed as well as an explanation of how human eyes transform the two-dimensional into the appearance of three-dimensional.
Stereograms are something that is challenging and fun to view, for all of them there is that moment of transition where suddenly the image is transformed from the flat to one that either comes at you or goes away from you. Therefore, I found this book entertaining to stare at in that certain way that makes it all clear.

Hynes Eagle Soft Shoulder Handbags Tote (Turquoise)
Hynes Eagle Soft Shoulder Handbags Tote (Turquoise)
Offered by Hynes Eagle
Price: CDN$ 110.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Solidly constructed with plenty of room, Nov. 18 2015
Being skeptical of the advertised color I asked some women what color they thought this purse was and their responses were “sage green” and simply “green.” None of them thought that it could be described as turquoise.
In terms of construction, there is a lot of metal showing. The handles are attached via metal rings and metal studs, there is a chain hanging from the bottom and there are more metal studs in other places. The flap on the front pocket is held closed by a metal clasp and above that there is another pouch that is closed via a zipper. There are two main pouches that are accessed via separate zippers on the top and one has a small internal pouch closed via a zipper and the other has two internal long, open-topped pockets. The kind that you would slide a cell phone into.
I conducted a survey of some of the women in the class I teach and some of the reactions were, “Pretty color, but not my style,” “I like it but not my favorite color,” “Would go good with the right outfit” and “A bit too gaudy for me.” Not surprisingly, this mimics the reactions that I get every time I conduct such a survey, demonstrating that female fashion accessories are very specific to personal taste.
While I did not conduct a stress test, this bag appears to be sturdily constructed, so if it is your style and color, it will serve you well. There is also a lot of internal space for whatever items you want to pack in it.

This item was made available for free for review purposes

Alexander Revisted: The Final Cut (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Alexander Revisted: The Final Cut (Two-Disc Special Edition)
DVD ~ Colin Farrell
Price: CDN$ 9.93
36 used & new from CDN$ 3.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly accurate for a Hollywood film about history, Nov. 18 2015
The man known as Alexander the Great was an inspiring leader, his military prowess is still of mythic proportions. His Macedonian/Greek armies moved across the Middle East all the way to the Himalayan mountains and down into India itself. In general they conquered all in their path, yet in the manner of conquerors throughout history, once he passed from the scene his mighty empire quickly falls apart.
This film contains a great deal of royal deception and intrigue as Alexander’s mother claims to have been impregnated by Zeus as she schemes and plots to have Alexander assume the throne of the kingdom of Macedonia. This role is played very well by Angelina Jolie, there is nothing that she will not do in order to move Philip of Macedonia, Alexander’s father, out of the way.
The battle scenes are depicted with a lot of blood and mayhem, which is historically accurate. Two mighty armies fighting with spears and swords spills a lot of blood on the ground as well as on each other. This is particularly the case in the final battle scene between Alexander’s forces and those of an Indian army attacking with a large number of war elephants. They were in essence the first battle tanks, men on the ground were easily brushed aside by crazed elephants charging through their ranks.
The movie is also historically accurate in depicting Alexander’s sexual orientation. As a king, it was his duty to produce a male heir, yet many times he expresses his sexual attraction to males. While there is of course a great deal of poetic license taken with specific events, in general the movie is historically accurate. Some people object to this depiction of Alexander as gay, but all they are doing is demonstrating their ignorance of ancient Greek society.
Under his direction, Alexander’s army fought many great and bloody battles, as a military commander he was never defeated in the field. Live fast and die young is a mantra used in several contexts, no one did both at a higher level than Alexander. When you read about how he moved such large armies thousands of miles and defeated all that stood in his way, it is amazing to discover that he accomplished all of his victories in a period of approximately 10 years. There are many theories as to his cause of death, one of the simplest is that his body was just wore out after years of war and many relatively minor injuries.
This is an epic movie about one of the most amazing historical figures of all time. Educated by Aristotle, Alexander was more than just a gifted warrior, he was also a builder of cities and a surprisingly reflective man. It is a movie with enough historical accuracy to be shown to history classes.

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