EL本棚紹介(59) Pearls Before Swine: BLTs Taste so Darn Good, by Stephan Pastis

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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When I was a child, Saturday morning cartoons on the television were very popular. However, I was not excited about them. Every week, I looked forward to reading the comics in the Sunday newspaper. On Sunday, comics were in full color (not black and white) and covered two whole pages of the newspaper. These are the “four-panel comics” (四コマ漫画) famous in Japan—although many comic strips, like Pearls Before Swine, are only three panels, and the Sunday strips are often longer.

Pearls Before Swine has been running for almost 20 years. Its humor is a little dark and often mean, but there is nothing too extreme for children to read. Each comic is just one joke involving character archetypes. An “archetype” is when a character has one or two defining characteristics. Rat is selfish and cynical. Pig is kind, but very, very dumb. Goat is smart and helpful. And Zebra is in a constant battle with the Crocodiles, who want to eat him. Open the book to any page, read a few strips, and see what you think.

My two cents: Understanding humor is a good way to understand part of another culture. Not all Americans like the same humor, but if Pearls has been successful for 20 years, a lot of people must think it’s funny.

EL本棚紹介(58) The Complete Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, by Don Rosa

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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You know Donald Duck, one of Disney’s most popular characters. Do you know Scrooge McDuck, Donald’s Uncle? Scrooge is so rich that he swims in a giant room full of gold coins. However, he was nor born rich. This book tells the story of Scrooge’s adventures traveling around the world and having many adventures, all while trying to get rich.

Each chapter of this book is a complete story about a different adventure, so you can easily just choose one instead of reading the whole book. As Scrooge travels the world, many of the characters speak world English (or with silly accents), so this book contains some interesting language. If it is too difficult, though, you can just read a story set in America, where most people speak American English. One important issue is that Scrooge encounters several “natives” and “aboriginals” in some of the stories. Because this is an older book, it uses some orientalist or racist stereotypes.

My two cents: This story is part of the American capitalist mythology of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” It is all about working hard by yourself to earn a lot of money—you decide for yourself if the ending is “happy” or not…

EL本棚紹介(57) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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This is a very silly book. Earth is destroyed because aliens want to build a space highway and Earth is in the way. The President of the Galaxy has two heads and three arms. He rides a flying sofa and is incredibly stupid. And Arthur Dent, the last (maybe) human alive, goes on a crazy space adventure with his best friend Ford Prefect and a spaceship that makes the most mathematically improbable things happen.

Hitchhiker’s Guide is a classic and is the first in a series of very silly books. Like other SF titles, this book is full of weird alien names and cultures, and therefore may be difficult read. Also, there is some British English and a very few cultural references that you may not understand. I often tell students to do “extensive reading”(多読). However, this might be a good book for “close reading” (精読). Choose one chapter or even just a few pages and try to understand 100%. Adams is a skillful writer, and you can learn quality English from reading his work.

My two cents: This book is a cultural “touchstone.” When people mention “the number 42” or “babelfish” you will know what they are talking about!

EL本棚紹介(56) Batman: Earth One, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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Batman: Earth One tells the story of how Bruce Wayne becomes the superhero Batman. Of course, there are already many comic books about the origin of Batman. This is an example of how American comic books rewrite the same stories in interesting ways. This version of the story introduces a lot of interesting characters, showing how “Batman” is not just about Batman alone.

Like several other comic books in the English Lounge, this story jumps back and forth in time. Although this might sound confusing, it is not that bad. The artist uses different colors and settings for the present and the past. Just be warned: there are several violent scenes and some implied violence against children.

My two cents: This is a short book that tells a complete story, and you probably already know at least one or two of the main characters. Give it a try!

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7/14 International Hirodai/Sankaku Dialogue – Rethinking Families – Rethinking families: Realities of rainbow families in Japan

Rethinking Families – Rethinking families: Realities of rainbow families in Japan

表題: English Lounge Forum: International HIRODAI

内容:イングリッシュ・ラウンジでは、外国語、留学、異文化理解、また外国語能力を活かしてのキャリア形成を考えるきっかけとなる、5回の講演シリーズを企画しています。

弘前大学学内、また学外より多彩な講師によるトーク、また直接質問できる機会を通して、自分の進路を考えてみませんか。講演は、英語及び日本語で行われます。

詳細:

〇場所 イングリッシュ・ラウンジのセミナールーム/Teams (Teamsコード:zaaqshd)

〇日程 7/13 Wed. 13:00~14:00  [Prof. Yamashita Azusa Office for Promotion of Gender Equality]

10月以降の後期授業開講期間に4回企画されています。

〇その他 登録不要、途中参加・退席OK

提示期間: 2022年7月5日~2022年7月14日

保存期間: 2022年7月14日

EL本棚紹介(55) Jughead with Archie, by Stan Goldberg

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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The characters Jughead, Archie, Betty, and Veronica used to be as popular in the US as Sazaesan or Doraemon in Japan. I even remember seeing Archie Comics being sold in the grocery store when I was a child! Jughead is a class clown, Archie is the popular guy who is good at sports, Betty is honest and sweet, and Veronica is rich and daring. Although they might not be that popular anymore, Jughead with Archie is an example of a classic American comic book…and with no superheros!

This book is full of very short stories about Archie, Jughead, and their high school friends. Each story is usually only 1-2 pages. They are all silly and most of the jokes are easy to understand. This is a good, light, read for just about anyone.

My two cents: Because this is a real comic book, there are some advertisements inside that you might find interesting, too.

EL本棚紹介(54) The Illustrated History of Football, by David Squires

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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Do you like football (or “soccer” in American English)? Or do you LOVE it? Football is not just a sport. For many people, it is an obsession or even a way of life. This book is written for football nerds (otaku), but it also makes fun of the various people, institutions, and events in football history.

The book is made up of two-page chapters. The first page is 4-5 short paragraphs introducing a topic. The second page is a comic about the same topic. The writing often follows a pattern of mixing together true historical facts and jokes. Do not read this book expecting to learn a lot about the history of football; read it expecting to be entertained and maybe learn something about football. Because each chapter is so short, this is a good book to pick up, flip to a random page, and just read one chapter at a time.

NOTE: Although there is no nudity or sex in this book, some of the jokes are crude or sexual.

My two cents: If you read carefully, you can definitely learn about British humor, which can be very different from American or Japanese humor.

EL本棚紹介(53) Mammoth Science, by David Macaulay

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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Sometimes studying can be boring. Maybe the subject matter is difficult. Maybe there are no visual aids. Maybe there is no humor to keep your interest. Mammoth Science solves all of these problems. David Macaulay has written science and engineering books for decades and he makes them incredibly interesting and informative. Every page of this book is full of explanations of scientific concepts…illustrated using cartoon mammoths and shrews (large mice).

Mammoth Science introduces a wide variety of topics, from basic science like states of matter, to biology, light, earth and space. Each topic is explained across two pages with lots of visual aids and simple English. It does not cover as much detail as the Everything You Need to Ace… series of books (also introduced in the EL bookshelf blog), but it is a good introduction to the English vocabulary for science topics you are already familiar with. This is another really good way to practice “learning what you already know” – using knowledge of science in Japanese to make reading and understanding the English text must easier.

My two cents: Because each topic is covered on just a page or two, this is an excellent book for making an “English habit”: three topics a week, and you will cover a lot of ground before you even know it.

EL本棚紹介(52) Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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Coraline is a modern fairy tale with a little girl, a talking cat, a door to a strange world, ghosts, and a mysterious evil. Coraline has recently moved with her parents to an old mansion in the middle of nowhere. Her downstairs neighbors are a pair of little old ladies who used to be great actresses and singers, and the man living upstairs is training rats to perform in the circus. But one day when her parents are too busy to play and it’s raining outside, Coraline discovers a door to a magical new world…one with a dangerous secret.

There is a reason why Neil Gaiman is a world-famous fantasy writer. This is a lovely book that combines the fun and excitement of Alice in Wonderland with real danger. The language is not too difficult, and the novel is not too long: it is a good choice for practicing extensive reading (多読).

My two cents: This book was made into a movie, a little like Nightmare Before Christmas or The Corpse Bride, which I also recommend: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0327597/

EL本棚紹介(51) Vocabulary Cartoons, by New Monic Books

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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Vocabulary Cartoons is very helpful for teaching you how to study vocabulary. Every page introduces a vocabulary word with a “hook,” a funny picture connecting the word and hook, and three example sentences. The “hook” is a mnemonic (a memory trick) that sounds a little like the vocabulary word. It is meant to help native speakers study for the SAT, something like the Center Test in the USA. I don’t think the “hook” will necessarily be useful for Japanese students, but you can still learn a lot with this book.

When I teach vocabulary, I stress the importance of connecting words with images. “Agile” means “someone who can run, jump, and balance well,” so I suggest always connecting the word “agile” with the image of a “cat.” This book can help you do this, even if not all of the pictures make sense. For example, the picture for “ballistic” (related to bullets, missiles, or shooting) is of “lipstick” (the hook word) coming out of a gun. If you connect the word “ballistic” with the strange image of the “lipstick gun,” you may be more likely to remember it. The three example sentences give more realistic uses of the words in context, though, which is very important.

My two cents: People who compete in memory competitions (e.g. memorizing long lists in a short amount of time) often say that the weirder or more surprising an image is, the easier it is to recall. This may be a good technique to help you learn vocabulary.