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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: guilt, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 10 of 10
1. Accusation breeds guilt

One of the central tasks when reading a mystery novel (or sitting on a jury) is figuring out which of the characters are trustworthy. Someone guilty will of course say they aren’t guilty, just like the innocent – the real question in these situations is whether we believe them.

The guilty party – let’s call her Annette – can try to convince us of her trustworthiness by only saying things that are true, insofar as such truthfulness doesn’t incriminate her (the old adage of making one’s lies as close to the truth as possible applies here). But this is not the only strategy available. In addition, Annette can attempt to deflect suspicion away from herself by questioning the trustworthiness of others – in short, she can say something like:

“I’m not a liar, Betty is!”

However, accusations of untrustworthiness of this sort are peculiar. The point of Annette’s pronouncement is to affirm her innocence, but such protestations rarely increase our overall level of trust. Either we don’t believe Annette, in which case our trust in Annette is likely to drop (without affecting how much we trust Betty), or we do believe Annette, in which case our trust in Betty is likely to decrease (without necessarily increasing our overall trust in Annette).

Thus, accusations of untrustworthiness tend to decrease the overall level of trust we place in those involved. But is this reflective of an actual increase in the number of lies told? In other words, does the logic of such accusations makes it the case that, the higher the number of accusations, the higher the number of characters that must be lying?

Consider a group of people G, and imagine that, simultaneously, each person in the group accuses one, some, or all of the other people in the group of lying right at this minute. For example, if our group consists of three people:

G = {Annette, Betty, Charlotte}

then Betty can make one of three distinct accusations:

Scales of justice, photo by Michael Coghlan CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Flickr

“Annette is lying.”

“Charlotte is lying.”

“Both Annette and Charlotte are lying.”

Likewise, Annette and Charlotte each have three choices regarding their accusations. We can then ask which members of the group could be, or which must be, telling the truth, and which could be, or which must be, lying by examining the logical relations between the accusations made by each member of the group. For example, if Annette accuses both Betty and Charlotte of lying, then either (i) Annette is telling the truth, in which case both Betty and Charlotte’s accusations must be false, or (ii) Annette is lying, in which case either Betty is telling the truth or Charlotte is telling the truth (or both).

This set-up allows for cases that are paradoxical. If:

Annette says “Betty is lying.”

Betty says “Charlotte is lying.”

Charlotte says “Annette is lying.”

then there is no coherent way to assign the labels “liar” and “truth-teller” to the three in such a way as to make sense. Since we are here interested in investigating results regarding how many lies are told (rather than scenarios in which the notion of lying versus telling the truth breaks down), we shall restrict our attention to those groups, and their accusations, that are not paradoxical.

The following are two simple results that constraint the number of liars, and the number of truth-tellers, in any such group (I’ll provide proofs of these results in the comments after a few days).

“Accusations of untrustworthiness tend to decrease the overall level of trust we place in those involved”

Result 1: If, for some number m, each person in the group accuses at least m other people in the group of lying (and there is no paradox) then there are at least m liars in the group.

Result 2: If, for any two people in the group p1 and p2, either p1 accuses p2 of lying, or p2 accuses p1 of lying (and there is no paradox), then exactly one person in the group is telling the truth, and everyone else is lying.

These results support an affirmative answer to our question: Given a group of people, the more accusations of untrustworthiness (i.e., of lying) are made, the higher the minimum number of people in the group that must be lying. If there are enough accusations to guarantee that each person accuses at least n people, then there are at least n liars, and if there are enough to guarantee that there is an accusation between each pair of people, then all but one person is lying. (Exercise for the reader: show that there is no situation of this sort where everyone is lying).

Of course, the set-up just examined is extremely simple, and rather artificial. Conversations (or mystery novels, or court cases, etc.) in real life develop over time, involve all sorts of claims other than accusations, and can involve accusations of many different forms not included above, including:

“Everything Annette says is a lie!”

“Betty said something false yesterday!”

“What Charlotte is about to say is a lie!”

Nevertheless, with a bit more work (which I won’t do here) we can show that, the more accusations of untrustworthiness are made in a particular situation, the more of the claims made in that situation must be lies (of course, the details will depend both on the number of accusations and the kind of accusations). Thus, it’s as the title says: accusation breeds guilt!

Note: The inspiration for this blog post, as well as the phrase “Accusation breeds guilt” comes from a brief discussion of this phenomenon – in particular, of ‘Result 2′ above – in ‘Propositional Discourse Logic’, by S. Dyrkolbotn & M. Walicki, Synthese 191: 863 – 899.

The post Accusation breeds guilt appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Friday Speak Out!: Making the Choice between Parenting and Pursuing Your Passion for Writing

by Stephanie Romero

Anyone who is a parent (or knows one—which would qualify all of us), is well aware of the mommy wars that can happen. You know the ones I’m talking about…homeschooling versus traditional schooling, stay-at-home mom versus working mom, co-sleeping versus let ‘em cry it out and well, the list could go on and on.

But there’s another battle that can emerge when it comes to mothers who are writers. It is the pull between parenting and pursuing your passion. Somehow we’ve been convinced that we must choose one or the other. Or we have to wait until a “season” or “stage” in our child’s life has passed. Yet the next one could prove to be more difficult and time-consuming than the last. So we remain stuck. Or we end up feeling guilty because we’ve made what we perceive as the wrong choice.

For too long, mothers have been convinced that when they choose something else to pursue (other than parenting), they should feel guilty. As if being a mom is the only identifying factor in her life. When the truth is that we are so much more. We have passions that go beyond motherhood, so why not embrace them?

Do you ever feel guilty about writing? I have been there. When I’ve been holed up in my office downstairs for hours at a time, knowing my full attention isn’t always with my children. So I have to remind myself—this is not only my passion, it’s my job. I get paid to do this—which means someone is expecting me to produce. I’m teaching them responsibility and something about hard work.

But the same thing can happen when we want to take time to break away and work on that novel, polish up the manuscript or write a blog post. The guilt monster sits on our shoulder, needling away at us. “What kind of mom are you?!” And we’re back to believing that in pursuing our passion as a writer, we have somehow failed as a mother.

Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we do it to other women? Because we believe the lies. We have fallen into that trap, the one that tries to convince us we are not being a good mom if we are passionate about something other than our children. Of course, it’s all about balance. But that’s a different topic for another day.

The point is, I feel like women need permission to be excited about something else in life. To understand that the beauty of being a woman extends beyond motherhood. You can be a mother AND a writer. You might have to write during naptime, in the middle of the night or while they’re at school. But for heaven’s sake, don’t wait until the “right time.” Do it now. You really don’t have to choose between parenting and pursuing your passion for writing—there is a way to have both.

* * *

Stephanie Romero is a professional web content writer for "We Do Web Content." Her personal blog, "REAL Inspiration for the REAL Writer" provides weekly encouragement to writers of all genres. But her biggest passion (and what she hopes to one day turn into a book) is helping other moms (and even dads) learn how to treasure every moment with their children. Through her own candid experiences in parenting, she shares how faith has helped her navigate the ups and downs of parenting. In addition, she is the writer/instructor of "Recovery from Abuse," an online course currently being used in a correctional institution's character-based program.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


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3. Comic: Writer Research Or Procrastination?

I'm posting some of my older comics here as I catalog and tag them in prep for a print book compilation. You can find my comics for writers on Inkygirl (http://inkygirl.com), Tumblr (http://inkygirl.tumblr.com) and Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/inkyelbows/comics-for-writers-inkygirl-com)

OHI0097 Blogreading

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4. Guilt Societies and Shame Societies, or, Shame and Guilt from an Etymological Point of View, With Some Observations on Sham and Scam Thrown in for Good Measure (Part 1: Shame)


Long ago, after this blog had barely come into being (Spring 2006), I wrote an essay titled “Living in Sin.” It was about the origin of the word sin. Such abstract categories as sin, shame, and guilt develop from thinking about situations in which people realize that they have done something wrong or covered themselves with disgrace, and every now and then the inner form of the words coined for such purposes is transparent. The idea of sin in its Christian sense was alien to the Germanic peoples before the conversion, and in Gothic, a language mainly known to us from a 4th-century translation of the New Testament, the word for “sin” is frawaurhts, literally “misdeed” (fra- is a prefix of “destructive semantics,” as in Engl. forgo “relinquish,” and -waurhts is akin to Engl. wrought). Nor does transgression, from Old French, ultimately from Latin, pose any problems: it means overstepping what is allowed. But sin is a short word, and how it came to mean what it does is unclear, the more so because the speakers of Old English had forwyrht, an exact cognate of the Gothic noun. Apparently, sin (at that time, syn or synn) and forwyrht referred to different things. Those who are interested in knowing some conjectures on sin are welcome to read my old post. Shame and guilt are no less opaque than sin; shame is especially hard.

Native English words with sh- once began with sk-, and, indeed, the Old English for shame is scamu. The last sound (u) was an ending, while m could be a suffix because sca-m-u had a close synonym sca-nd-u. Scandu and its cognates have continued into modern languages; Germans still say Scham und Schande to express their disgust. Modern English lacks its reflex (if we disregard the archaic participle shent “ruined, disgraced”), but, by way of compensation, in the United States scam appeared in the sixties of the 20th century, as if from nowhere. All dictionaries dismiss it demurely as being “of obscure origin.” If we are unable to trace such a recent coinage to its source, how good is the chance of success in dealing with an ancient word? The chance is probably not very good, but sometimes the remoter the period, the easier it is to advance hypotheses. For example, if scam had emerged in Middle English, there would have been no doubt that it was a borrowing from Scandinavian (Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish have skam “shame”), and the meanings could have been aligned without much difficulty (“scam is a shameful thing”). 17th-century scam would have been more problematic since the best period for absorbing Scandinavian words was the Middle Ages. Present day Engl. scam leaves us stranded: it is definitely not a continuation of a word from the language of the Vikings! Hence the unanimous verdict “of unknown/uncertain origin.” Even sham, originally “trick, fraud,” which is clearly English (it begins with sh-), baffles researchers. Although it sounds like shame, it may have nothing to do with it. Despite all such hurdles there is no harm in trying to guess how shame acquired its meaning.

Since shame refers to the diminution of honor, it has been compared with the Old English adjective scam “short” (what an etymon for our scam!), from whose Old Norse cognate skamt English has scant. However, a much more popular hypothesis looks for a different root. In the old Indo-European languages, the prefix s- existed. It was an evasive entity. Roots existed with and without it, and its presence did not affect the word’s meaning. The same almost parasitic s (called s-mobile “movable s”) has been recorded in modem English dialects: some people say climb, others say sclimb. The main sound change that separates all the Germanic languages from its other Indo-European neighbors is the so-called First Consonant Shift: compare Latin pater, tres, and quod (that is, kwod) versus Engl. father, three, and what (from hw-). The quod/hwat pair shows that Germanic h corresponds to non-Germanic k. But in the group sk the consonant k was not affected by the shift. For instance, Latin had scabere “scratch,” and its Gothic cognate was skaban “shear.” As a result, some words going back to different languages sound nearly alike: scabies is from Latin, scab is from Scandinavian (Germanic), and their English siblings are shabby and shave. This digression was necessary to show that if a Germanic word begins with sk-, it may have variants with initial k- (the same root minus s-mobile), while its non-Germanic cognates may begin with h- (k regularly shifted) and sk- (in which k avoided the shift). This is why prefixed words like Old Engl. -hama “covering” and Gothic -hamon “get dressed” have been suggested as cognates of scamu “shame.” The idea was that the Germanic word for shame expressed the embarrassment of being naked.

Such a development is probable. A person could not experience a greater indignity than being caught by his enemies and stripped of his clothes. The god Othin (Odin) says in a mythological poem from medieval Scandinavia: “When I saw two scarecrows in a field,/ I covered them with clothes;/ they looked like warriors when they were dressed/—who hails a naked hero?” In the Slavic languages, styd- “shame” is related to stud- “cold,” which seems to give support to the scamu—hama etymology. But if hama (to stay with Old English forms) is a cognate of scamu, could it not be expected to mean “clothes”? Yet we have a huge zigzag: from “clothes” to “unclothed” and to the disgrace caused by not having anything to wear, all of it within the narrow confines of a short root. The phonetic part (hama ~ scamu) is flawless, but the semantic leap is “scarcely credible,” as dictionaries say in such circumstances. Another possibility is to compare scam- and Gothic hamfs “maimed,” a word that has an impeccable Greek cognate, though mutilation need not presuppose shame.

The inevitable conclusion appears to be “origin uncertain/debatable,” but I cannot finish my story without one more reference. The Italian scholar Vittore Pisani pointed to the noun eskamitu in an inscription on an Inguvian table (we are dealing here with an ancient Indo-European language of Italy). It means “genitals,” and Pisani compared it with the Germanic word for “shame.” The obscure Italic word may provide a clue more reliable than any other. Shame and genitals form an indissoluble union from time immemorial (this has been, of course, what gave rise to the “dress” etymology: the horror lay in being fully exposed). We may never be able to find out why the sound complex skam- came to designate what it did, but, if eskamitu has been interpreted correctly, reconstructing the development from “private parts” to “shame” looks like our best choice.

Anatoly_libermanAnatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins…And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears here, each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to [email protected]; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.”


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5. Shame and Guilt: Part 2 - Guilt


Although the line between shame and guilt is sometimes blurred, the two differ clearly: guilt points to wrongdoing, whereas shame is the feeling of disgrace. In some communities it is shame that determines people’s behavior, in others it is guilt; hence the division of societies into two groups. In the previous post, I retraced the paths on which language historians hoped to find the root of the Germanic word for “shame,” and we saw how little they know about it (from being uncovered and exposed? from the “scanting” of honor? or was there a more direct way from private parts—so again exposure—to shame?). Guilt, one would think, will be more transparent, for guilt is a legal, rather than moral, category, but look up this word in almost any dictionary, and you will read: “Of unknown origin.” Even entries on shame, a word of rare obscurity, are more informative.

The first citations of guilt in the OED go back to the end of the 10th century, that is, to the Old English period. At that time, the word was spelled gylt and pronounced like German Gült. The OED states that no “equivalent forms” are known in any other Germanic language. This statement should be taken with a grain of salt, for German offers an exact equivalent, namely Gült (from Gült), though in extant texts it does not predate the 13th century. Gült(e) designated a specific tax levied on people in the Middle Ages. The German word provides less help that we need, but it has been around for a long time and its origin poses no problems: it is related to the verb gelten “pay.” Taxes exist to be paid. The English cognate of gelten is yield. However, a formidable obstacle prevents us from interpreting guilt as something to be yielded: the noun should have become guild (or yield); final t in guilt has no explanation.

Guild is a legitimate English word. It seems to have come to English from northern German (gilde) or Dutch. Some details remain obscure, but they won’t interest us here. Suffice it to say that a guild probably meant an association of persons contributing to a common object. Since guilt appeared in English long before guild, its pronunciation has nothing to do with an attempt to stay away from the newcomer (such cases are not too rare, for, although homonyms do not endanger communication, occasionally words choose to keep their distance from obtrusive neighbors): it always ended in -t. As regards the meaning of guilt, the OED appears to be a bit too harsh in its assessment. The earliest senses of Old Engl. gylt were “offence; crime; responsibility.” They are not incompatible with the idea of paying the price for a transgression. The OED says (I have expanded the abbreviations): “From the fact that Old Engl. gylt renders Latin debitum in the Lord’s Prayer and in Matt. XVIII. 27, and that is gyltig renders debet in Matt. XVII. 18, it has been inferred that the substantive [noun] had a primary sense ‘debt’, of which there seems to be no real evidence….” All this is true, but, if Engl. guilt had d at the end, the semantic difficulties would not have deterred anyone from comparing it with yield.

Sometimes, when sounds do not match, the idea of borrowing saves the day. Yet nothing supports the suggestion that Old Engl. gylt, a noun recorded several hundred years prior to its German “equivalent,” came to Britain from the continent, the more so because, as the OED points out, the ancient meanings of the two words do not overlap (it is “crime” in English and “tax” in German). One could fantasize that in the 9th or 10th century northern Germans had gylt “payment; tax” and that it was carried to the land of the Anglo-Saxons, where it changed its meaning to “crime,” with the only vestige of the original sense “payment; that which is due; debt” preserved in ritual texts (the Bible). Not only does the absence of this word in Old High German texts make such a hypothesis improbable. Phonetics also militates against it. The German language of that period lacked a vowel rendered in writing by Old Engl. y and by Modern German u with the umlaut sign.

To nonspecialists such an infinitesimal detail as t versus d may seem sheer pedantry, but the situation is familiar: “For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost,/ And all for the want of a horseshoe nail!” Etymology (a vulnerable kingdom) approached something that can be called science only when it began to pay attention to phonetic correspondences. Every time this criterion fails us, we should either explain the deviation or concede defeat. German t corresponds to Engl. d: compare German reiten and Engl. ride. There remains a feeling that guilt and yield are related despite the fact that we failed to break the magic circle around the English noun, but it will remain just this: a feeling with a bitter aftertaste. Incidentally, the first consonant is not a problem: g- instead of y- can be ascribed to the northern norm, as in the verbs get and give, which, if they had developed as expected, should have “yielded” yive and yet, but, when the entire structure collapses, who will rejoice at the sight of a relatively unimpaired roof?

We can only seek comfort in the fact that the cause of the odd spelling (gui-) is known. In today’s English the reading of g before i and e is always a problem. One should tread gingerly with all kinds of gills, and never assume that one knows how Mr. Gilson pronounces his name. Gill of Jack and Jill’s fame had to change the spelling of her name to avoid misunderstanding. The spellings gui- and gue- were introduced on the French model to clarify matters. Now gest- in digest, gestation, and gesticulation won’t be confused with guest. Right? Well, not quite. English spelling has never been reformed consistently. As a result, we struggle with get and jet, gig and jig, give and gyve (y is a redundant letter having the same value as i), and even guilt coexists with gilt; the last two words are homophones but not homographs. Thus we will live on with a sense of shame that an army of learned linguists has not solved the etymological mystery of guilt. But this is not their fault: something is really wrong with this word.

Anatoly_libermanAnatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins…And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears here, each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to [email protected]; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.”


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6. Waking up Grumpy: Feeling Guilty? Don’t.

Today’s guest blogger is my dear friend, Kristi M! She is a mom, writer and fellow ASU grad. Without further ado — enjoy!  As I prepare to apply for a part-time position in a field I believe benefits people and the environment, … Continue reading

10 Comments on Waking up Grumpy: Feeling Guilty? Don’t., last added: 2/3/2011
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7. Saying I’m Sorry

I’ve often wondered why so many of the public figures in our society say “I take full responsibility for this problem.” These public figures may be congressmen, evangelests, actors, businessmen, and the list goes on. Their actions may be to abuse power, steal funds, or take part in unacceptable, and sometimes perverse, sexual behavior. Currently the inspectors of the nuclear plants in Japan admitted they haven’t done it right for years. The air traffic controller at the Reagan National Airport fell asleep, leaving two incoming planes to fend for themselves. Luckily no one was hurt. Where was the FAA in all of this? They haven’t taken “full responsibility” for the incident either, except to say there will be a “full investigation.” The controller has been fired, but we haven’t heard a word out of him.

I wonder why no one has ever come out and said, “I’m sorry.” It must be that saying I’m sorry means that you admit you have done something wrong. It implies that you must feel some guilt about what you have done. It makes you look bad. In Japan you will “lose face.” But if you say, “I take full responsibility for this catastrophe or problem,” it implies that the problem may have been caused by some other person, perhaps an employee, a spouse (for a failed marriage), an adolescent (whom you haven’t monitered closely,) a neighbor, a colleague, anyone else other than yourself.

I have always thought saying I’m sorry showed strength of character. It shows a person is confident enough in himself to admit to others his mistakes and feels he can overcome the problem and still be accepted. Perhaps I feel so strongly about the importance of saying, “I’m sorry” because my father never, ever in his whole life admitted he was wrong or had made a mistake about anything. That is, not until he was ninety-seven years old and was caught red handed in a mistake he’d made. I am so glad that happened. I can now remember him better for all the positive characteristics he had, and they were many.

Filed under: Becoming Alice, Identity, Personalities Tagged: Guilt, Personalities, self confidence, self-esteem, strength of character 0 Comments on Saying I’m Sorry as of 3/25/2011 1:31:00 PM
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8. I am Not Alone

Wikipedia Definition of Guilt: “A cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation. It is closely related to the concept of remorse.”

I am Not Alone

Guilt seems to be prevalent in most people’s lives to some degree. I have found myself feeling a twinge of guilt in response to a wide variety of my interactions, thoughts, and feelings throughout any given day. The initial cause can be as simple as declining an invitation because I already have plans, not taking the time to see all the people I wish to see, not making the most of my moments, or having a less than positive outlook. It is common for me to then allow these unfavorable feelings of guilt to creep into my conscience and sense of well-being. I haven’t even delved into the guilt that accompanies Motherhood; the disciplining, setting limits, saying no, taking time out for myself and the list goes on and on. I have even caught myself feeling guilty for feeling guilty, as ridiculous as that sounds.

I have noticed from the moment I became a Mom and through my endless conversations with my Mom friends that we all tend to carry around feelings of guilt. There is a sense of guilt if we work full time and aren’t at home caring for our children. There is the same sense of guilt if we are Stay at Home Moms and not in the work force full time. It seems that along with the many joys of motherhood comes this inevitable sense of guilt for reasons that aren’t logical or accurate. The more I began to think about it, the more I became certain the guilt condition must be a side effect brought on by motherhood. Of course just when I thought I had it figured, I learned this isn’t necessarily the case. I ran my theory by my husband and he was quick to enlighten me that all people, men and women alike can be afflicted with unfounded feelings of guilt. I must admit, it was nice to hear that Mr. Right and I share some common ground. I just always assumed that because he is a man of logic and always appears so even and balanced he wouldn’t have these same unreasonable thoughts and feelin

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9. Spin - Review

Spin by Catherine McKenzie

Publication date: 07 February 2012 by HarperCollins

ISBN 10/13: 0062115359 | 9780062115355

Category: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Keyword: Music, Writing, Celebrities, Guilt, Addiction, Rehab
Format: ebook, paperback

Kimberly's synopsis:

Katie Sandford has a little problem. She's thirty years old and finally gets her dream job interview: to work for The Line, a music magazine. But the morning of the interview comes and she bombs! Why? Could be the serious drinking she did the night before. But redemption is here! In the form of... Rehab?
Katie must go undercover at a rehab clinic to get close to a celebrity known as TGND "The Girl Next Door". If she can get the scoop and write an expose on this "IT" Girl, then she'll get a chance at the position at The Line. Katie accepts, but doesn't know what it will cost her.

Kimberly's review: 

I really enjoyed this book. Katie's voice is strong and hilarious. The writing reminds me of Bridget Jones's Diary. Funny, personal and blatantly honest, Katie struggles through her time at rehab. At first, I thought she just had a bit of bad luck. But after reading further, Katie's character morphs into something more. She doesn't realize that this was probably the best place she could be--not for the story, but for herself. Katie's own self destruction is uncomfortable and frustrating to watch, another reason you can't put it down. Through the entire book, I was rooting for Katie, and you will too!

I wasn't sure what to make of her target, Amber T.G.N.D. Spoiled, damaged and suffering, her character's depth becomes more apparent as you read on. And Henry is... blush-worthy.

I'm surprised that this is considered YA. The protagonist is thirty years old, and all of her friends are older as well. The writ

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10. Books at Bedtime: The Huron Carol and some Ho Ho Hos

We’re starting to count the days in our family to when school will break up for all of us… we’re looking forward to indulging in some good “book sessions”, when we can all snuggle up and take turns in reading piles of books to each other – old favorites and new.

Two very different books I’m looking forward to sharing with the boys this year are The Huron Christmas Carol illustrated by Ian Wallace and Santa Knows by husband and wife team Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith.

The Huron Carol takes its text from a carol which, as the name suggests, was originally written in the old Huron language in c. 1641, probably by Father Brébeuf, a French Jesuit The Huron Carolmissionary in what is now Ontario, Canada. Sung to the tune of a traditional French carol, it was translated into English in 1921, beginning “’Twas in the moon of wintertime”. This is the version which forms the text of this lovely book, although both the Huron and French words for one verse are given at the end, along with the tune. In it, the Christmas Story is set among the Huron Indians, so that, for example, “chiefs from far before him knelt/ with gifts of fox and beaver pelt”. Ian Wallace’s illustrations emphasise the cultural setting within the intimate space of a Huron longhouse, as well as through his sweeping depictions of the Canadian landscape filled with local wildlife. This book is a really special way to share the universality of the Christmas message, made relevant to a specific group of people by being placed into their own, familiar context.

Meanwhile, you just have to see the cover of Santa Knows to know that this book is going to be a fun

Santa Knows treat. Just look at those pyjamas! When it came out last year, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast said

This one would make a rousing read-aloud to the elementary-aged children at which it’s aimed

– I definitely agree: especially as that is just the age when the questions about whether Santa exists are starting to emerge. Let Alfie F. Snorklepuss’ experiences (what a glorious name!) be a warning to all those doubters out there! And just to add to the excitement, run to the end of this Cynsations post from a few days ago, where Cynthia Leitich Smith gives details of how to ask her for a signed “Santa Knows” bookplate.

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