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Imperial Topaz (Marrakesh, Morocco)

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Bully Free Classroom
Bully Free Classroom
by Allan L. Beane
Edition: Paperback
35 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book I've Seen on the Subject, June 29 2004
This review is from: Bully Free Classroom (Paperback)
I am currently a third-grade teacher, and I have taught many levels of students, from kindergarten to high school. I read this whole book in two days, and it is the best book I have seen on the subject, as a resource for teachers (and for parents).
The book is divided into three major parts: Creating a Positive Classroom, Helping Victims, and helping Bullies. Each section of the book was equally good. Every section is filled with very specific ideas which would work in almost any school situation, of any level. 95% of the ideas and suggestions would be appropriate for Grade 3, without any modification. The book is also filled with reproducable pages which ARE REALLY USEFUL, unlike most reproducables which I have seen for teachers. Not one paragraph of the entire book wasted my time. Every single page is packed with hard-hitting practical ideas. I also liked the many, many suggestions which can be used for journaling ideas. Some examples: "How would you feel--if you were the most popular student, or the least popular student; if you were the new kid in school; if you wore glasses." Also: "When was the last time someone did something really nice for you? What did the person do? How did it make you feel?" Also: "What do you like about yourself? What are you best at? What makes you proud of yourself?" These are just a few of the 200 or so ideas JUST for writing about, which are scattered throughout the book.
On a personal note, in the part dealing with Helping Bullies, I recognized a family member who is a verbal and emotional bully. This book also gave me some excellent ideas for dealing with this adult.
I just wish I had come across this remarkable and helpful book years ago! I can recommend it to teachers of all ages of children (and parents, too).

Color Theory
Color Theory
by Jose Maria Parramon
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 11.21

5.0 out of 5 stars José is a FANTASTIC Art Teacher!, June 22 2004
This review is from: Color Theory (Paperback)
I paint landscapes in oil for a hobby. The other day, while cleaning all my paint tubes, and while looking at the names of the colors, I began thinking about them. I then found I had José's wonderful book on my shelf for several years, still unread. I picked it up, and found I literally could not put it down. For an artist, this book reads like a "thriller!"
One of the things I liked best about the book is that it is not necessary to read it in order, from beginning to end. I turned first to the section on shadows, as shadows are an area I am currently having problems with. José explains EVERYTHING SO WELL, and CLEARLY. When he refers to matter already covered in an earlier section of the book, he clearly states the page number, where you can go back and refer to that section. His treatment of shadows is typical of how he addresses each subject in his little book.
José opens the chapter with a brief discussion of what Van Gogh once said about shadows, and discusses how artists currently view shadows as blue; whereas, at one time, they were viewed as similar to Van Dyck brown, or burnt umber. He explains how the post-impressionists discovered that the basic color of shadows is blue, and he devotes an entire lesson to actually showing us how that is so. Next, he devotes a second lesson to understanding the local color in darker tones, which he also points out is somewhat reminiscent of an old master's painting. In the first lesson, he gives us a sample still life painting, all in shades of blue. In the second lesson, we see the same still life painting, where the shadows are not made with blue, but only by using darker tones of the local colors. The third lesson deals with the complementary color of the local color. Here, we are given a third example of the still life, painted this time in complementary colors, which are used as shadows. José also points out that the still life now looks very much like the style of some paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec, Cézanne, and especially Van Gogh, with the contrast originating from the juxtaposition of the most opposed colors, of highest contrast. He is not advising us to paint like this, only to help us understand. The fourth lesson in the chapter deals with the finished painting. We now see the same still life painted correctly, with proper use three types of colors in the shadows: blue, the local color in darker tones, and the complementary of the local color. As José carefullly guides our eye through each step of the process, we now really understand what he wants us to see!
I then read the other chapters, in order from the beginning. One of the best discussions dealt with looking at various landscape scenes (shown in photographs) and how each painter asks himself, "What color is it, actually?" He then takes us through a whole lesson, showing us his own thoughts (and sometimes, confusion) as he paints the landscape, trying to decide what color each thing is. This really helped me see that every painter is going throught the same thought processes, and having the same problems that I am.
I have several unfinished paintings I am still working on, and yet, after several years, was unable to determine, by looking, just what the problem was. After reading two-thirds of this book yesterday, I looked at my paintings this morning, and can see the solutions immediately! Now I finally know what to do. If only I had found this wonderful book sooner!
I was pleased to look on the back cover and find that José, himself, has written a number of other art books in this series, dealing with many other topics. So often in a series, each book is written by a different author. José is such a wonderful art teacher that I am delighted to see HE has written all of them. I intend to purchase several more of his books, as soon as I am able.

Killer Dust
Killer Dust
by Sarah Andrews
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Disparate Plots, But Still Excellent!!!, June 5 2004
I read the previous Em Hanson book as my introduction to Andrews' forensic geology novels. I loved it so much that I was disappointed when it ended. I was so happy to find Em's story continued in this new novel, Killer Dust. I also ordered her previous novels, which I haven't yet read, just on the strength of the one novel I read. Andrews is an excellent writer.
Certain things about this novel were fantastic and exciting, while other things were disappointing and confusing. What I loved most about this novel was the science. I had never heard about the dust blowing across the Atlantic, from Africa, forming the basis of the soil in all the Caribbean Islands, turning sunsets redder from Venezuela to Miami, and even transporting live locusts from Africa, as well as dangerous pathogens which kill Caribbean coral and dust which gives severe asthma to Caribbean Islanders-especially the dramatic increases in the dust since 1970. Em Hansen's character reads some books, mentioned by name, that gave me a good starting point to research all this on the internet. I easily found confirmation of everything she mentioned in the book. It's all really fascinating and based on excellent science. Furthermore, I found it of particular interest since I live in Africa--in Morocco, where all this dust originates--while I also have family in Florida. Most of the book takes place in Florida, and I learned many things about that state I did not know, in spite of having visited there.
What I did not like about this particular book was that it left too many loose ends, and I wound up feeling confused about some of the things that had happened. I felt like there was something wrong with me, that I had to go back and reread a number of parts, trying to make sense of what was happening. I felt much better after going to Amazon.com and reading that other reviewers had the same problem. It is mainly only the last third of the book that gave me this problem. I think the book has some great ideas and plots, but that the problem is the author has tried to put TOO MANY separate plots into the same book. Maybe she could have separated the plots into two different books, and it might have worked better. She has tried to combine NASA, U.S. politics, George Bush and the War on Terrorism, the blowing African dust question, and anthrax and bioterrorism, together with the main character's personal life with her disappearing boyfriend, and stalking of a woman astronaut. It's just too many disparate things for one novel. The thing that really did bother me at the end of the book was that I could just never figure out, even with looking back and rereading, WHO pushed Calvin Wheat (the African dust researcher) off the cruise ship, and WHY!!! I also felt very confused by the whole commando-island scene, not making a lot of sense out of what was happening, or why, or to whom, even after rereading it three times. I'm still waiting to find out MORE about Leah, Jack's mother. Maybe the NEXT novel will be able to answer some of these questions, in retrospect.
Her last chapter explains a bit about why the issue of stalking is in the novel. The author explains that she herself, in her real life, was the victim of stalking for years, and that the police could/would do little to help her. She wanted to bring these issues to the forefront. She did do that, but I feel that if that was what she wanted to highlight, she should have made that about half the book, with one other major plot, such as the African dust, OR the anthrax question, OR the war on terrorism and U.S. politics. She was just too ambitious in this book. Correct treatment of all these plots would require a longer thriller, as opposed to a mystery.
This was still a good book, and I still found it difficult to put down, in spite of the problems. If you are interested in science, stalking, or just the character of Em Hansen, read this book anyway. I am sure there will be more Em Hansen novels coming (as the book ends with her finding Jack, but we are still waiting to see what happens with their relationship). So if you like Em Hansen, definitely read this book so that you don't have a gap in your knowledge of what has happened to their relationship before the next book.

Morality for Beautiful Girls: A No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel (3)
Morality for Beautiful Girls: A No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel (3)
by Alexander McCall Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.96
212 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Book Full of African Wisdom, May 3 2004
Third in the series of the No. 1 Ladies' Detection Agency, a person could pick this up and read it on its own. But I don't recommend it. I feel everyone would enjoy this book FAR more after reading the first two books in the series.
As good as the first two books were, each book only seems to get better! I couldn't put the book down, and read the whole thing in one day. Unlike some U.S. reviewers, I did not find this book to be weak. I found the fact that some cases/plots resolve more satisfactorily than others to be a mirror of REALITY. (I am an American living overseas, and have often heard British/Australians/New Zealanders criticise American movies/books for having endings that are "too pat," with too many ends tied up TOO well! Perhaps those who criticise this book about the the opposite are more used to American authors. I think part of what they are feeling is that this is a British author.)
As all books do in series, different books focus more on certain characters, to the exclusion of others. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is somewhat on the sidelines in this book, but he does come back into prominence in the successive books (and in fact, book five seems to be primarily about him).
The title of this book comes from a particularly interesting case Mma Makutsi investigates while Precious Ramotswe is away investigating another particulary interesting case. The best thing about the book is the way these two cases resolve! I feel this writer has had a lot of life experience, and ends up imparting this wisdom about life through his characters adventures and investigations. Furthermore, living in Africa these past 12 years, I absolutely love the African settings and how the African people of Botswana are portrayed.

Bulletproof Monk (Special Edition) (Bilingual)
Bulletproof Monk (Special Edition) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Yun-Fat Chow
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 18.20
58 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Our Family Highly Enjoyed Watching the Film Together, April 26 2004
My 10-year-old daughter chose this film as a rental, having seen part of it at a friend's house. She said, "Mom, I know you'll love it!" And I did. I have traveled extensively in Tibet, and anything Tibetan, or Buddhist, grabs my attention.
As we live in Morocco, our version was dubbed in French. I was a bit surprised by some of the language, which I did not feel was appropriate for children, but now seeing the PG-13 rating, feel that this rating is appropriate.
It wasn't the best film I've ever seen, but it definitely held my attention, and our whole family enjoyed it together.

Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women
Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women
by Geraldine Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.68
150 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Improved My Opinion of Ayatollah Khomeni and Iran, April 12 2004
I'm an American woman who has lived overseas in Morocco for twelve years. My friends and I are reading this book for our monthly bookclub selection. None of us was able to put the book down, once we started it. We all read the book in one or two days.
The author is a journalist who spent considerable time in the Middle East, reporting from various countries. Although this is not a scholarly work, it is well-researched. The book focuses on her own personal experiences in each country, and ancecdotes from various women she met in each country.
For me, the most interesting parts of the book discussed the home and personal life of the Ayatollah Khomeni. After reading this book, my opinion of both him, and of Islamic life in Iran, went up by about 300 percent. The author met and interviewed his wife, and various family members. He was a fairly modern, new-age husband, and playful father, who even got up in the middle of the night and gave his kids their bottles, and changed their diapers. The only thing he was quite strict about was the Islamic religion.
Anyone who is interested in the lives of women in the Middle East should read this book. The book is as accurate today as it was when it was written.

Luck Of The Draw: A Novel
Luck Of The Draw: A Novel
by Carolina Garcia-Aguilera
Edition: Hardcover
19 used & new from CDN$ 2.51

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Meaty, Humorous Novel About Cuban Americans, April 2 2004
Another meaty, humorous novel about Cuban Amercians. I never knew that Cuba had a big gambling industry prior to 1959, nor that Batista had invited in the American Mafia to run the Cuban gambling casinos. When Castro took over, shutting down the casinos, all those who made their living working in the casinos fled Cuba, and mostly settled in Las Vegas. I had no idea that Cubans were one of the major ethnic groups in Las Vegas.
This is another great novel. The newest character , from Miami, starts out being rather unsympathetic and unlikeable, seeming odd in her living habits, and giving her kids each two double expressos before school each morning just to wake them up ! But she soon becomes involved in tracking down the disappearance of her sister (who lives in Las Vegas). During the time in Las Vegas, we come to like the main character.
I view ALL of Aguilera's books as "women's fantasies." All of her books are about woman characters, told in first person, solving various mysteries. Yet, each book is about different characters and situations. Furthermore, while each book is a lighthearted mystery, really funny and clever, serious elements are brought in for the reader to consider. Usually, the main character is having some marriage problems (as most people experience in their 30's). Each character in each book deals with those problems in a unique way, while solving the main mystery in the story. I highly recommend ALL of Aguilera's books, and I can hardly wait until she gets her next book written!

St. Patrick S Day
St. Patrick S Day
VHS

3.0 out of 5 stars An ADULT Film�NOT a FAMILY Film, April 2 2004
This review is from: St. Patrick S Day (VHS Tape)
This film is not for the average person. It is full of continuous conversation and small talk, so be sure you like this kind of film before you get it. That said, it is about an Irish-American extended family who gather together at one of the relative's houses to celebrate St. Patrick Day. The film displays some Irish customs in the way that My Big Fat Greek Wedding displays many Greek customs (the latter being a much better film). I bought this film hoping for it to be something good to watch as a family, with my young daughter. Fortunately, I previewed it alone before allowing my daughter to watch it (it's rated PG-13, and my daughter is 10). More than anything else, this film explores the sex lives of three-quarters of those at the family reunion, meaning from young adults through retired oldsters. They have done a good job of it, with some sensitive portrayals, marriage conflicts (that would be most appreciated by those married 15 years or longer), some good Irish music, and a few humorous moments thrown in. I don't feel it's an appropriate subject for watching as a family, except perhaps with older teenagers, or adult children. I bought this film, but it's not one I'm eager to watch again.

St. Patrick's Day (Full Screen)
St. Patrick's Day (Full Screen)
DVD ~ Piper Laurie
2 used & new from CDN$ 38.65

3.0 out of 5 stars An ADULT Film: NOT a FAMILY Film, March 21 2004
This film is not for the average person. It is full of continuous conversation and small talk, so be sure you like this kind of film before you get it. That said, it is about an Irish-American extended family who gather together at one of the relative's houses to celebrate St. Patrick Day. The film displays some Irish customs in the way that My Big Fat Greek Wedding displays many Greek customs (the latter being a much better film). I bought this film hoping for it to be something good to watch as a family, with my young daughter. Fortunately, I previewed it alone before allowing my daughter to watch it (it's rated PG-13, and my daughter is 10). More than anything else, this film explores the sex lives of three-quarters of those at the family reunion, meaning from young adults through retired oldsters. They have done a good job of it, with some sensitive portrayals, marriage conflicts (that would be most appreciated by those married 15 years or longer), some good Irish music, and a few humorous moments thrown in. I don't feel it's an appropriate subject for watching as a family, except perhaps with older teenagers, or adult children. I bought this film, but it's not one I'm eager to watch again.

Black Hawk Down (Bilingual) [Import]
Black Hawk Down (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Josh Hartnett
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 8.01
82 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Violent War Movie About a True Battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, March 21 2004
My husband brought home this movie, and I watched it with him. It is an EXTREMELY violent war movie, but is the story of a true battle fought by American soldiers in Mogadishu, Somalia. Be sure you enjoy violent movies before getting this film, as there is almost two hours of straight violence. The battle starts with one soldier actually falling accidentally out of the helicopter, to the ground, instead of his shinnying down the helicopter rope to the ground, as the other soldiers do. As his comrades try to help get him evacuated, more soldiers get hurt. As others come to help them, even more get hurt. This was supposed to be a 45-minute operation, but turned into a 16-hour quagmire, and that is just what the movie feels like as you watch it. You cannot help but be impressed by the heroism of the soldiers, and of the general, who keeps insisting on "getting every last man out."

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