Posts Tagged ‘My Favourite Comedian by michael grossman’

The Other “F” Word

January 21, 2020

The first line in my well-received new novel is, “I’m so fat.”

It elicits cheeky giggles whenever I used to read it out. Kids are not used to hearing that word anymore and are especially surprised that a major character in a kid’s book nonchalantly expresses such a candid self-reflection.

By the end of the first page, my audience grows to love the character and appreciate his honesty. Cheeky giggles are replaced with unabashed giggles. Finally, a character that feels comfortable to express the thoughts that many of us feel on a daily basis – seems to be the consensus.

When I first started reading the then-unfinished manuscript, a student approached me and told me how much the character of Jake meant to her. She told me that she had been ignored and disrespected because of her weight and it was inspiring to see those very same students that have ostracised her completely warmed to the fat character and instantly accepted him. She told me it gives her hope that the overweight kid can achieve some positive attention for a change.

I asked her what her name was.

“Nina”, she replied.

I told her I would name one of the major characters “Nina” because her words had moved me so much.

Nina is probably an adult now and probably has no recollection of that day and the origins of her namesake in my book. But her reaction has not been unique.

As a teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to read my book to thousands of students along the journey. There is a good reason why the word “fat” is frowned upon and there is a logic behind society’s reluctance to explicitly draw attention to weight.

But fat people know they are fat and are looking for a character that can own up to it and then prosecute the case why being overweight should never overshadow a person’s spirit, wisdom and achievements.

Enter Jake Archibald and the book, My Favourite Comedian.

Thank you, Nina!

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

 

Nobody’s a Nobody: An Original Poem

January 20, 2020

nobody

 

NOBODY’S A NOBODY by Michael Grossman

I used to be so popular,

When I was back at school.

The teacher’s used to love me.

The kids thought I was cool.

 

I used to be so pretty,

And very good at sport.

Used to think I was quite special,

Or at least that’s what I thought.

 

I used to hang with cool girls

Who knew the latest trends.

Everyone looked up to us,

And wanted to be friends.

 

So many kids we just ignored

I regret it in a way,

They may have seemed like nerds back then,

But look at them today.

 

I remember this one girl,

Big Stella Green

With these ugly, awkward glasses

And a huge nose in between.

 

We used to tease and tease her,

Before and after school.

Once old Tommy McNoughton

Shoved her in the abandoned pool.

 

If only he would have known

That later, in a time of strife,

Stella Green would operate on his fiance,

And all but save her life.

 

What about Kayoko Kishimoto?

Our only Japanese student.

She was brilliant at science,

But at English – not so fluent.

 

We would never come and talk to her.

No one would even try.

They just left her all alone,

Supposing she was shy.

 

Did she end up learning English?

Well, what can you say

About the winner of an Oscar,

For Best Original Screenplay.

 

There was Dante Ferretti,

Who was the ‘school geek’,

With his great boofy hair,

And pimples for each cheek.

 

So tired of getting abused

And so embarrassed with his looks,

He used to hide his spotty face,

Inside a range of different books.

 

Who would have thought

That this reserved, avid reader,

Would go on to become

Our new State Opposition Leader?

 

Everyone used to fear

Max Stockwell “The Freak”.

Rumour had it he ate live snails,

And showered once a week.

 

The girls thought he was mad,

The boys thought he was weird.

He’d come walking through a corridor,

And the corridor all but cleared.

 

I hear he’s no longer weird,

And no longer is he ‘mad’;

Instead, he’s changing nappies

As a loving, stay-home dad.

 

I was never better than them.

I used to be so lame.

If I only understood,

That we are all the same.

 

I used to be “cool”,

But never was I happy,

Until the day I realised

NOBODY’S A NOBODY.

 

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

 

Is There Anything Better Than the Laugh of a Child?

January 17, 2020

 

They tell teachers to avoid showing too much personality and that a teacher’s humour can be seen as a weakness. It can lead to a chaotic and uncontrolled classroom.

But I don’t care. I’ll take my chances.

Humour, is essential to who I am as a parent, teacher and now, writer. I don’t seek the laughter of children in the same way as I seek their happiness, security and academic progress. But I certainly don’t believe in withholding humour from the classroom.

Watching the clip above, I couldn’t help but reflect on the amazing impact of a child’s uncontrollable laughter. One of my great joys has been sharing my book, My Favourite Comedian, and watching kids laugh throughout.

So, no, I am not shutting shop on laughter any time soon.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Is Recess a Human Right?

January 16, 2020

When I was a school kid, I didn’t merely think “play” was a human right, I thought “playing up” was a human right.

As a teacher, I certainly value the benefits of allowing my students to experience pleasurable periods of healthy play. However, I am also of the belief that kids who waste class time risk losing some of their own downtime. Actions must have consequences, and consequences must involve the loss of something important to the child.

Child author, Michael Rosen, would probably be quite disappointed in me:

 

Play is a fundamental human right, Michael Rosen has said.

The children’s author and poet said that play should not be seen as an “add on”, or an “extra” as he urged adults and children to “get out there and play”.

Rosen’s comments come in a video by the British Psychological Society (BPS), which has said it is concerned that break times are being eroded.

In the video, called Right To Play, Rosen, a former Children’s Laureate who is best known for books such as We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, says: “Play isn’t an extra, it isn’t an add on.

“Play is a fundamental human right.”

Dan O’Hare from the BPS division educational and child psychology said: “Children’s break time has been reduced by 45 minutes a week in recent years, and one of the results is that eight out of 10 children now do less than one hour of physical activity per day.

“We are grateful to Michael Rosen and the children in the video for helping us make the case that play is vital for schoolchildren. Because play isn’t just a means to an end: it’s fundamental to children’s development and wellbeing.”

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Why I’d Prefer Kids Read My Book in Print Than Digitally

January 15, 2020

My new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, is available in both print and digital form. My royalty is slightly better for digital purchases due to the fact there are no printing costs involved. But I would prefer that kids buy a physical book over a digital one.

I believe that reading from a physical book is better for kids’ eyes and for their comprehension of the material.

 

A recent article backs up my theory:

But Atkinson, who guesses that her family of four in Orinda, California, spends half their reading time with physical books, said that she has noticed a difference between how her son reads paper books and how he reads digitally. He has a tendency to skim more in Epic! “He might be more inclined to flip in Epic!, just flip through and see if he likes a book, skipping around. When it’s a physical book, he’s going to sit and read until he’s tired of reading. But in Epic!, he knows there are so many [books], he will read a little faster.”

According to San Jose State University researcher Ziming Lu, this is typical “screen-based reading behavior,” with more time spent browsing, scanning and skimming than in-depth reading. As reading experiences move online, experts have been exploring how reading from a screen may be changing our brains. Reading expert Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid, has voiced concerns that digital reading will negatively affect the brain’s ability to read deeply for sophisticated understanding, something that Nicholas Carr also explored in his book, The Shallows. Teachers are trying to steer students toward digital reading strategies that practice deep reading, and nine out of ten parents say that having their children read paper books is important to them.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

 

Elton John is Right About Music in Schools

January 14, 2020

 

I read a report that links music skills with math. Kids that learn to play music make startling progress in mathematics. This report completely dismisses the argument that music is merely an expendable extra-curricular activity.

Elton John is of course right to rail against plans to diminish the scope and importance of music at school level:

There was a rather lovely moment during the Q&A when four of those students stood up and spoke about what they had achieved thanks to their star sponsor. This of course begged the question: what does Elton make of the dwindling presence of music in today’s schools?

“Music was one of the few O Levels I managed to get,” Sir Elton tells Tim.

“A lot of schools [now] have taken music out of the curriculum and I find that really appalling, because music is so inspiring and for kids that have the ability or want to play music, there’s no outlet for this in schools anymore. It’s tragic.”

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Imagine if the Best Picture Nominees Were About Teaching

January 14, 2020

 

 

 

BEST PICTURE NOMINEES

“Ford v Ferrari” – An expose about what car a successful teacher can afford compared to a successful YouTube makeup vlogger
“The Irishman” – An Irish teacher’s anti-ageing efforts are undone by the fact that he is a Primary school teacher.
“Jojo Rabbit” – A horror film about the accidental murder of a beloved class pet at the hands of an errant crayon.
“Joker” – A dark psychological portrait about the slow, psychotic disintegration of an unloved and self-destructive Minister of Education.
“Little Women” – A sci-fi set in a utopian world where girls are encouraged to do STEM subjects.
“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” – The story of a teacher who wishes he had a stunt double to negotiate the pushing and shoving in a narrow school corridor.
“Marriage Story” – A searing drama about the relationship breakdown of an educator and her Assistant Principal after the tumult of a nasty parent email.
“Parasite” – A biographical film about the person who invented standardized testing.
“1917” – An examination of the last year teachers got a pay rise.

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Top 10 Female Characters in Kids Books

January 13, 2020

 

The following is a list adapted from an article by Allison McDonald. The criteria is that the character had to show girls how to be fierce and fearless:

#10) Beatrice Prior from The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Brave doesn’t seem like a strong enough word for Tris. She is more than brave — she seems propelled to do the right thing no matter what stands in her way.

#9) Pippi from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Pippi is the self-proclaimed strongest girl in the world…and she lives with a monkey named Mr. Nilsson! If that’s not reason enough for her inclusion on this list, you’ll have to re-read this classic to find a million more.

#8) Ramona Quimby from The Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary
Ramona is far from perfect but she has a huge heart, a creative mind, and never loses sight of who she is.

#7) Princess Truly from Princess Truly in I Am Truly by Kelly Greenawalt
Brimming with confidence, this diverse character has no problem loving herself. Princess Truly teaches your child about self-acceptance and self-love, showing that she can do whatever it is she sets her mind to. Talk about princess power!

#6) Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anne Shirley has to have puffed sleeves, bravely saves her best friend’s sister, and even walks along the rooftop to show she isn’t afraid. She stands up for herself, her friends, and for what is right many times over —showing her strength and confidence each and every time.

#5) Cleopatra from the Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack
Time traveling and saving the galaxy? What can’t this girl do? Cleopatra shows the universe who’s boss when her 15-year-old self travels into the future to save all of humanity. With a lot of drive, determination, bravery, and a little sass, this traveling queen knows who’s boss and plans to show the world just that.

#4) Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
When I read how Katniss volunteered to take her sister’s place as tribute, I cried. When I saw the scene on film, I cried. And now, years later, writing about it, I still have chills. Sure, she fights and shows strength in so many other ways, but that one act is central to her character, and why she is one of the best female characters you will find on this list.

#3) Matilda Wormwood from Matilda by Roald Dahl
There is something incredibly calm and self-assured about Matilda. She knows her family is filled with idiots, she knows she’s not an idiot, and at a very young age she goes about educating herself because no one else seems to care.

#2) Nancy Drew from the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
If there’s a mystery to solve, Nancy is on the job. With a magnifying glass and a keen sense of wonder, Nancy Drew can decipher any question and her bravery is no match for the cases thrown her way.

#1) Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
I could wax poetic about Hermione Ganger for days. Her intellect is apparent from the start, as is her drive to succeed. She saves Ron and Harry countless times during the series, but her most heroic act is saving her parents. I don’t want to ruin this for anyone who hasn’t read the final book, but let me just warn you there will be tears. You will be awed not only by the depth of her strength but by the depth of the love that fuels it. Oh, one more reason Hermione is my #1 pick? For the time she punched Malfoy. (I know hitting is wrong, but I know you cheered while reading that too!)

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

A Marriage Story: Brilliant, Yet Bleak

January 10, 2020

 

I have long been arguing that we have taken the toll of divorce on children for granted (a theme central to my novel, “My Favourite Comedian”). Many claim that since it is so commonplace, divorce is less a tragic occurrence and more a reality of life. If most children have to go through it, it can’t be that bad, right?

I don’t subscribe to that theory. In fact, whilst there are often very good reasons for divorce and in many cases, the children are arguably better off, the effects of a family break down is as difficult for children now as it has ever been.

Enter Netflix’s masterpiece, A Marriage Story. A movie that couldn’t even spare one scene depicting the perspective of a child in the midst of a giant tug-of-war over rights to his upbringing. Not one!

This film is far more interested in the thoughts and needs of his parents. Parents who are decent people on the surface, but who have been racked with self-interest and continue to be. One had an affair, the other basically got bored and was feeling unimportant. Bad decisions were being made on both sides, with the power divested in terribly immoral lawyers continuing the trend of decisions made with self-interest trumping what is really best for the child.

The movie is quite brilliant. It captures the end of a marriage with great insight and the acting is brilliant. It is also a stark essay on the selfishness of the contemporary person.

Selfishness that I would argue does nothing for the child and his development.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Replacing the Destructive Diet Culture With Healthy Living

January 9, 2020

 

Those familiar with my novel, My Favourite Comedian, are aware that body image is a very prevalent theme throughout the book. Below are some brilliant rules from writer Megan Glosson that seeks to replace the terrible diet culture affecting our children with something far more effective and beneficial:

For starters, avoid characterizing food as “good” or “bad.” While we think this may encourage healthy eating habits, dieticians caution that it actually creates feelings of shame and anxiety for children instead. Furthermore, as an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson, Rahaf Al Bochi, told The Washington Post, when we believe certain foods are “forbidden,” we ultimately crave them even more.

Also, remember that children eat based on their personal preferences, not based on what others consider healthy or what adults pressure them to eat. Instead of pushing certain items or banning others, consider finding healthy ways to help your child explore foods by simply making a wider variety of foods available to them.

Make family dinner a priority, too. Studies show that frequent family dinners, where the entire family sits and eats together, positively impacts a child’s relationship with food. Not only does watching parents’ eating habits help children make smart choices themselves, but it also provides a safe space for families to discuss food and body image in a meaningful, nurturing way. Even if your family is constantly running places, there are many ways to simplify family dinner time so that it still happens.

Most importantly, celebrate body diversity and take a non-judgemental stance on physical appearance. Experts recommend that parents pay close attention to how they talk about their own bodies and the bodies of others, especially when around their children. Also, talk about the body in terms of functionality and stress the importance of eating anything, not harping on specific “healthy foods.” These messages will stick with children for their entire life, so it’s best to start early and build positive experiences for your child, not negative ones.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.


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