The debut issue of Gygax magazine (a reborn version of the classic Dragon gaming mag) carried an article I wrote explaining the variant D&D rules my then-four-year-old daughter an I were using. It involved a blend of random toys from the living room, painted D&D miniatures, dice, and pennies from the piggy-bank for scorekeeping.
Now, one of Gygax's readers has posted his experience playing the game with his own daughter. He used a set of My Little Pony toys (including an awesome MLP castle) to build a campaign called "Assault on Equestria" and it sounds like his daughter had an amazing time -- as did he! It's been a while since I've played D&D with my kid; this makes me want to go dig out the dice-bag!
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In a stirring NYT op-ed, author Catherine Newman talks about the kind of girl her daughter has become and who she may yet be. Her daughter, Birdy, is intensely moral, unconcerned with being "pretty," indifferent or hostile to strangers who want to strike up conversations about her appearance. She is polite about things like second helpings of food or asking for assistance in locating her rain-boots, but doesn't care if you know that she thinks gendered toy-aisles are stupid. It's a delicate balance, but an important one.
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The Inspirations 4 Your Life tumblr had a great suggestion for entertaining your kids: "Make a 'laser grid' by taping yarn to the walls and let your kids try to get though it. Also great for parties and laughing at your friends.
I mean really, who doesn’t see those lasers on TV and think it would be fun to try..."
Make a “laser grid" by taping yarn to the walls...
(via Mary Robinette Kowal)
Sara O'Leary was kind enough to send me a copy of her picture-book, When I Was Small , which recounts a bedtime story told by Henry's mother to Henry. Henry asks what his mother's life was like when she was small, and she spins a series of delightful stories about her life as a child -- "When I was small, my doll and I wore the same size shoes" -- and finishes up with a kicker so sweet and unexpected that it nails me between the eyes every time I read it to my daughter: "When I was small, I couldn't wait to grow up. Because I knew one day I would have a small boy of my own...And I would tell him stories, because in stories we can be small together."
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An 11-year-old girl was sent home from a week-long summer-camp on the Isle of Wight for smuggling in a chocolate bar; a fact that her teachers discovered after they opened a sealed letter addressed to her mother and read it. Her mother, who is unemployed and cares full-time for her autistic son, had to drive 160 miles through the night to pick up the child. She had saved for six months to pay for the trip. Teachers conducted a full search of the child's possessions -- including pulling out her suitcase lining -- to discover the banned chocolates.
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If you want to have your guts ripped out through your eyeballs, have a look at "Lies I've Told My 3 Year Old Recently," a short, sweet poem by Raul Gutierrez (possibly this Raul Gutierrez, but I'd be grateful for correction if you know better) that has a barb buried in it. Here's how it starts:
Trees talk to each other at night.
All fish are named either Lorna or Jack.
Before your eyeballs fall out from watching too much TV, they get very loose.
My favorite line is: "If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky."
Update: That's the right Gutierrez; I've updated the link below to go to his site.
Lies I’ve Told My 3 Year Old Recently
(Image: Clouds, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from nirak's photostream)
The Anti-Vaccine Body Count
site reminds us that since celebrities like Jenny McCarthy took the cause of scaring parents into avoiding life-saving vaccines, thousands of preventable illnesses and deaths have struck. Since 2007 alone, more than 110,000 preventable illnesses and 1,170 deaths have occurred. In that same timeframe, the number of autism diagnoses linked through scientific evidence and review to vaccination is zero
. (via Making Light
Stephanie writes, "I found this absurd 60s adolescent psychology record in a thrift store years ago and finally digitized it - the world needs to hear it. It's plagued by bad acting but peppered with amazing quotes about paisley-wearing longhairs, dating older boys, and mothers who force you to go to church." (here's the whole thing)
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, chief of London's Metropolitan Police, has officially apologised
for the Met's systematic, ongoing theft of the identities of dead children to create cover identities for its spies, a practice it has engaged in since the 1970s. "However, he has refused to tell any families that the identities of their children had been stolen by the spies."
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund -- tireless free speech crusaders who fight for comics' legitimacy -- commissioned a great educational resource about comics' role in literacy called Raising a Reader (PDF).
This new resource is written by Dr. Meryl Jaffe, with an introduction by three-time Newbery Award honoree Jennifer L. Holm (Babymouse, Squish) and art by Eisner Award winner Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Drama) and Eisner Award nominee Matthew Holm (Babymouse, Squish). Raising A Reader! was made possible by a grant from the Gaiman Foundation.
You can get print-ready digital files from the Foundation, and they'll have print copies at at San Diego Comic-Con.
CBLDF Releases RAISING A READER, a Resource for Parents and Educators
Thingiverse's Cookie Cutter Customizer is a tool for taking doodles and sketches and turning them into 3D-printable cookie-cutters.
Thingiverse | Draw and Print Custom Cookie Cutters
The Littlest Pirate King is David B and Pierre Mac Orlan's 2008 kids' comic about a living child who is adopted by the damned pirate crew of the Flying Dutchman, who sink to the bottom of the sea every day at dawn, and rise every night at dusk to murder and terrorize and try as best as they can to smash their cursed ship to smithereens and end their eternal damnation.
At first, the crew spares the baby so that they can raise him to adolescence before murdering him and making his ghost into their cabin-boy, but they quickly become sentimentally attached to him, and can't bear to kill him. In the end, they send him back to the land of the living -- a strange place he fears and loathes -- and leave him howling and abandoned on shore, begging them to kill him and make him undead like his friends.
So, it's a little grim.
But it's also gorgeous. The seas of Littlest Pirate King are filled with monsters and huge fish and wrecks and strangeness of all sorts. Each page is more gorgeous than the last, and the fantasy sequences in which the dead pirates parody the land of the living for their boy are perfect in their monstrosity. (just page through the image-search for some previews)
If you liked the premise of Neil Gaiman's award-winning Graveyard Book, you're sure to love this, but be aware that it's much a darker and sadder story than Gaiman's. I think this is probably suited to kids eight or nine and up -- my five-year-old loved it, but burst into inconsolable tears on reading the last panel, and I had to read her the entirety of Art Baltazar's loony Superman Family Adventures twice before she'd get to sleep.
The Littlest Pirate King
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My journalism school classmate Clay Wirestone has a fantastic series at the Concord Monitor, describing the stories and struggles of gay and lesbian parents as they adopt and raise children. It starts with the story of his own adoption, with his husband Max, of their now 2-year-old son Baxter
. Other entries in the series examine how the legal landscape of gay parenting has changed in the last 20 years
; the issues of language, word choice, and gender
that GLBT families deal with; and the diverse stories
of other families. — Maggie