Reading Log #2

Home of the Brave

Realistic Fiction

Applegate, K. (2007). Home of the Brave. Square Fish.

Home of the Brave is a book written in verse that guides the reader through Kek’s story of immigrating from Africa to Minnesota. It documents his experiences as a child learning English, learning how to navigate school and social interactions in the state, and mourning the loss of his brother and father (and his missing mother). The story is moving and relatable and also provides the reader with context about what it might be like to move from another country with completely different culture and climate and be forced to acclimate without the help and support of one’s parents. The characters in this story are rich with words and experiences; Kek doesn’t understand American customs and idioms, so reading through his perspective gives a gleam into those experiences. The setting is also descriptive, sharing a lot of information about the Minnesota cold – what it looks like; how it feels – which really allows the reader to feel like they are there beside him. Because this book is in verse, it can end up being more or less intimidating to the reader (depending on the person). For this reason, it can be recommended to children (ages 9+) to read independently or in a school setting as a full class read aloud or independent reading book.

Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again

Historical Fiction

Lai, T. (2011). Inside Out & Back Again. Harper Collins.

Inside Out and Back Again is a historical fiction book written in verse. It tells the tale of Ha and her journey of leaving South Vietnam. Through Ha’s experiences, her words are told from the perspective of a child learning and understanding all that goes into immigrating to the United States during a time of war. In one section, appropriately titled “July 4,” Ha recounts how her mother chose the USA over France or other countries where the Vietnamese fled at that time: The hope of college and even scholarships for her sons. Reading on, Ha’s experience was not what her mother was promised; there are many struggles found with classmates being unkind and teachers assuming Ha and her siblings know or understand less than they do. Overall, this book asks for perspective taking on how new immigrant families in American cities and town may feel, know, understand, and need. This book is recommended for children ages 11+ with the hopes that the older the child, the more they will get out of the book beyond just the tales and stories shared.

The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter

The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter


Larkin, S. (2020). The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter. Read by: Shabazz Larkin, Legend Larkin, Royal
Larkin, Ashley Larkin. Live Oak Media. Audiobook. 11 minutes.

The Thing About Bees was both written and read by Shabazz Larkin. There was a second voice in the narration to show the onset of the book. In the background is music/tunes. Larkin uses wait time as he reads; almost like you would in a read aloud situation. Larkin showed intonation as he read and the sound effects amplified the meaning behind the words. This book is a great informational text because it teaches readers about the importance of bees and includes examples of all of the foods we eat and experiences we have with those items as a result of bee pollination. On a personal note, I love that Shabazz Larkin wrote this book because of his fear of bees and his desire to grow so that he does not pass that fear onto his children. This book could be used with toddlers through early grades children, ages 3-7 as a read aloud for a library or even as a read aloud for an elementary-level science class.

Wings of Fire

The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire #1) (1)

Fantasy: The Dragonet Prophecy

Sutherland, T. T. (2012). Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy. Scholastic Press.

The Wings of Fire series is one that is very popular amongst children ages 10+. The Dragonet Prophecy is the first of the series (which currently has 14 books in publication). In this book, there are highs filled with excitement from battles and lows filled with fear from fallouts. Word choice fuels the imagery at play when reading and allows the reader to reenact vivid scenes in their minds. This book is recommended to anyone interested in fantasy books, specifically that lean toward dragons. The fact that this book kicks off a series allows the reader to really invest in the literature and the fate of Clay and the rest of the MudWing dragons/dragonets.


Drama: A Graphic Novel

Graphic Novel

Telgemeier, R. (2012). Drama. Scholastic Press.

Drama is a coming-of-age graphic novel that follows the trials and tribulations of the protagonist, Callie. In the book, Callie is on the stage-crew for her school’s drama performance; she learns that there is more drama than that performed on-stage. Callie experiences a crush, frustration at school with members of the cast and crew, and everyday dealings. Brightly colored text is used to emphasize sounds in the story. The text compliments the pictures well in this graphic novel and really tells the story of Callie’s experiences. This book can be used as an independent reading book and can be enjoyed by children ages 10 and up. 

Graphic Novel Evaluation

For the purpose of this assignment, I chose to evaluate the graphic novels section of the [Redacted] library. There are a wide range of graphic novels but there are opportunities to make the offerings more robust and diverse. As a result of evaluating the graphic novel collection, I learned that the paper books get worn far faster than some of the more circulated hard back books. Of course, this makes sense, but seeing how worn and tattered some of the paper books were really stood out. It’s hard to take them out of circulation and replace them before they are unreadable due to budget constraints and supply chain issues that are currently affecting vendors. 

In order to make the graphic novel collection more diverse, adding more LGBTQ+ titles, more titles with disabled or differently abled characters, and more books that address issues children face (divorce, adoption, death in families). There are a number of picture books for our youngest readers that cover such topics but it seems like the middle grades ages (8-12) do not have the same access to resources on these topics. These are topics, I personally, would add to this collection to make it more robust.

Some books that might be worth adding are Just Pretend by Tori Sharp and Stepping Stones: (A Graphic Novel) by Lucy Knisley; these books are both graphic novels that cover divorce. Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke, Epileptic by David B. are books about disabilities that would be worth adding (this collection has El Deafo, which is another great book about a disabled child). Overall, adding books like these will add to the collection and offer children a fully well-rounded graphic novel collection to access.

TitleAuthorDate of PublicationContent EvaluationCondition EvaluationDecision
Minecraft Sfe’ R. MonsterOctober 2020Vivid Images; Small Paragraphs (mostly dialogue); Not intimidating; ages 8-12.Great condition; looks brand new. (Hardback)Keep
The Lost HeroAdapted by Robert VendittiOctober 2014Large print and colorful onomatopoeia words; picture sizes vary. Ages 10-12.Slightly worn; corners are worn and there’s some slight tearing at the bottom of the spine. (Paperback)Keep
Be PreparedVera Brosgol2018Some pages have blurry pictures; a lot of text throughout in each pane but mostly only 1-2 sentences in each. Ages 8-12.Very worn. Spine is taped with heavy tape but is still coming apart; corners are frayed. (Hardback)Replace with a new copy (U)
Dog Man: A Tale of Two KittiesDav Pilkey2017Simple text; bright pictures; no more than 2-4 sentences on each page. Ages 7-10.Worn spine and torn cover. (Hardback)Replace with new copy (U)
Time ShiftersChris Grine2017More pictures than text on each page. Most panes only have 1-2 words in them. Ages 10-12.Slightly worn. A little fraying on cover edges. (Paperback) Keep
SaintsGene Luen Yang2013Most of the pages in the book are full of dialogue but some have the same word over and over to emphasize a point; some words are in an Asian language as well (likely Chinese). Ages 12+. Good overall condition; looks like the book has only been checked out four times (per the stamp in the back). (Paperback)Keep
Space Boy Volume 5Stephanie McCranie’s2019Bright, vivid pictures; handwritten font. A few sentences on each page in total between 4-8 panes. Ages 10-12.Very good condition; no wear and tear on the book at all. (Paperback)Keep
Amulet: Book Eight, SupernovaKazu Kibuishi2018Pictures are dark; font is dramatic; bold is used to emphasize. A lot of noise; not a lot of discussion or words; this story is mostly told through pictures. Ages 10+Slightly worn; fraying at the corners. (Paperback)Keep
Secret CodersGene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes2015Pages are very busy (this book is very different from Saints); they are green with white pictures drawn. 
This book gave me a headache.
Slighthly worn; fraying at the corners and along the spine. (Paperback)Keep
Sunny Rolls The DiceJennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm2019Pictures are muted; there is a lot of dialogue. Ages 9+.Worn; increased fraying at the ends and along the spine. (Paperback)Keep but budget to replace in another year.
This Was Our PactRyan Andrews2019It is like a subtle rainbow; pages/sections are all pink in pictures and then purple and then blue, etc. Not a ton of text; the book mostly relies on pictures to tell the story. Ages 11+Slightly worn; fraying along the top of the book and at the bottom corners. (Paperback)Keep
The Crossover: Graphic NovelKwame Alexander2014 (text); 2019 (illustrations)

This book is an adaptation of a chapter book and is far heavier on text than on graphics. Pictures. The font is playful though and large, which makes it less intimidating. Ages 11+.Good condition; very little fraying along the corners. (Paperback with increased binding)Keep
The Dragon PathEthan Young2021Very  bright images; heavy on text but a light font. Ages 10+.Brand new condition; no wear and tear. (Paperback)Keep
A Silent Voice 2Yoshitoki Oima2015 (English translation)All black-white-gray scale images; mostly short bursts of text. Good condition; slight wear/fraying at one corner.Keep
Big Nate: A good Old-Fashioned WedgieLincoln Peirce2017A good bit of text; pictures support text but this reads more like a regular book than some of the graphic novels, which are very picture heavy. Ages 8+.Worn; torn spine; frayed edges.Replace; local elementary school library (in-district) also has a copy of this book and can send through inter-office mail (U)
Chi’s Sweet Home Volume 5Konami Kanata2011 (translated)Very muted; natural colors and images of nature. Not many words; relies on pictures to tell the story. Ages 10+.Good condition; some yellowing on cover but the book is largely in-tact.Keep
The Breakaways: Bad at Soccer. Okay at Friends.Cathy G. Johnson2019A balance of text and pictures. Some series colors/ text.Good condition; no fraying on spine; only slight fraying on the corners.Keep
SmileRaina Telgemeier2010Pictures aren’t overly bright but images are colorful and plentiful; a good balance of words and pictures to tell the story. Ages 8+.Book has cover on it; cover it tattered but book appears in fine condition. (Hardback)Keep
DramaRaina Telgemeier2012Pictures are mostly bright and light; text is a nice compliment. Fairly heavy text. Ages 10+.Book has ripped spine and frayed edges; not in good shape but still bound. (Paperback)Weed (several copies exist in library) (U)
GutsRaina Telgemeier2019A nice balance of pictures and text to tell the story. Pictures change based on the setting. Ages 10+.Okay condition; slight fraying Keep

Reading Log #1

It’s Okay to be Different

Picture Book

Parr, T. (2009). It’s Okay to be Different. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

In It’s Okay to be Different, Todd Parr addresses all the ways that make you different and how different individual and family dynamics are all needed for us to all thrive. The book is well-illustrated with pictures that align with the words of the text: It is colorful with hand-drawn (looking) images. The print is large and
in a comic sans-like font, which makes it accessible for younger children reading the book. This book would be a great read aloud book that connects to a larger story or lesson because it asks the reader to understand how everyone’s differences are okay and how
everyone is needed to appreciate the world.

The Book With No Pictures

Picture Book

Novak, B. (2014). The Book With No Pictures. Dial Books.

The Book With No Pictures is a book filled with nonsense words and sounds
throughout. The book is light and fun with its variant fonts and typeface sizes. This is a picture book with no pictures which seems kind of silly at first; alas,
the words are used as pictures in the sense of their sizes/fonts taking up whole pages and
going from small to large to emphasize sound increase. This book is for young children and
allows them a chance to hear series of words in different ways and recognize how words
themselves can draw a picture.
This book would be great to use in a reading class with young elementary students working on nonsense words. It would be a great companion piece to The Jabberwock because of the use of nonsense words.

The Tummy Mummy

Picture Book

Madrid-Branch, M. (2004). The Tummy Mummy. Adoption Tribe Pub.

This book documents the journey of two separate families (the tummy mummy and the adoptive family). It shows the process of considering adoption, the love both families have for the child being adopted, and the feelings both sides can have. The Tummy Mummy has depth through illustration that helps to guide the
reader’s feelings by showing care and understanding to the characters in the book. The text in the book is at the bottom of the page in a medium-large, serif font.
This book could be used in a number of ways; understanding adoption (for adoptees),
social workers, and anyone else trying to run a book group that touches on the non-traditional family.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

Traditional Literary Tale

Scieszka, J. (1996). The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Puffin Books.

In The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, the wolf’s perspective is shared. This book is a fun play on Three Little Pigs, which is told from the perspective of the pigs. Graphics correlate to the story and allow the reader to understand the wolf’s side of the
story instead of just seeing the wolf as the villain. This book has a clear plot (order of events where the wolf is sharing his viewpoints on how the houses were blown down); there is character development (each of
the three pigs and the wolf have their own identities and characteristics). The illustrations in the book support the plot and character development and help the reader best understand the story being told. In addition to using this book to compare traditional stories; it can be used as a preview of a lesson about each story having three sides (each opposing side and the truth). It’s a great teaching text because it offers such a contradictory lesson to that of the Three Little Pigs.

Love That Dog


Creech, S. (2001). Love That Dog. Harper Collins Publishing.

Love that Dog is the story of Jack who decided only girls write poetry, and thus he did not want to… until he did. Jack wrote about school and things that didn’t make sense to him; he wrote about his yellow dog (in the shape of a dog no less); and he wrote about an
artist he so admired – Walter Dean Myers. All of Jack’s words are in verse. This book does not have a consistent rhyme scheme but does seem to have
meter on each page, which makes the book easy to read through. Apple is a poem shaped
like an apple, which is fun for readers to think about when writing their own poems. I think this book has several uses but I, personally, could see using it as part of a poetry unit to make poetry less intimidating to some students (kind of how Jack’s teacher used it to offer him space in writing).

Childhood Reading Memories

I have been a long-time fan of the library, which is why it’s so surprising to me that it took a close friend becoming a librarian before I realized it was even a job I could have. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting her school library and learning more about the programming in libraries elsewhere.

As a girl, my mom regularly took me to the local public library. There, I would check out stacks of books to read at night. The best thing about that particular library was that they had a book mobile (kind of like an ice cream truck but for library books).

(MCPL Indiana, 2019, Video)

I always loved seeing it around town and thought it was so cool; now, I think it’s such a great way to get books to people young and old. When we moved from that town to the next, the local library was not as child-friendly and so most of my books came from classroom libraries. I really loved White Fang and read it several times in fifth grade.

My reading continued when I went to the JR-SR High School and could peruse the robust collection there. I remember frequenting the school libraries both in undergrad and graduate school, but didn’t much as an adult until I became a mom. My local library is a gem for my town and I appreciate the rich programming they do for the community. Incidentally, as I both work and live in the same beach-town community, I spent a lot of time talking to those who run the public library and am ever grateful for their commitment to the community. 

Personal picture from local beach.


MCPL Indiana. (2019, April 9). Site name. The Bookmobile. YouTube.

Picture Book Evaluation

Last week, I wrote about the picture book, What Do You Do With an Idea?; this week, I want to further evaluate that text to see how everything comes together to make it a complete text. The five criteria used to evaluate this picture book are:

Character: This book has two main characters; the boy and his idea. There are incidental characters shown when he is sharing his idea but they are not otherwise used or considered. Both the boy and the idea character are consistent with age through the use of imagination and caring for an idea, thinking through it more, and watching it grow and take shape.

Plot: The plot of the book is easily mapped with the exposition showing that the boy does not know what to do with his idea. The rising action discusses giving the idea exposure and the hardships/questions that coming alongside having an idea. The climax is when the idea blooms. The falling action discusses all the great stuff that happens in that moment. Finally, the resolution is that you share your ideas.

Style: The book has a clear style: image on the top and writing on the bottom. The font used is medium-large and is a serif font. Each page is consistent with this style.

Setting: There is no clear setting to this story. It takes place in the boy’s mind, in town/with others, and through life.

Illustration: The illustrations in this book are muted but clear. They are mostly grayscale with a splash of color representing the idea.

Overall, this book is clear and simple with a simple message. When looking at evaluating through these elements, it is easy to see that simplicity was a targeted approach to writing when this book was created.

Favorite Picture Book

It took me a bit of time to really think about what my favorite picture book is. In my mind, I went through the list of books that are some of my known favorites that I have read with my son and/or my students: Into the Forest, The Book with no Pictures, A is for Activist, and King & King are only a few books that crossed my mind when I started to think about my favorite picture book. Then, I decided on What Do You Do With an Idea by Kobi Yamada. This book is part of Yamada’s What You Do series and sets a glowing example for children and adults alike on how to express themselves, how to gain confidence in their thoughts and beliefs, and how to turn those thoughts and beliefs into realities.

Yamada, K (2014). What Do You Do With an Idea?. Compendium, Incorporated, Publishing & Communications.

This picture book encourages readers, young and old, to follow their paths and share their ideas. The child in the book reviews the scary side of sharing ideas, so he goes through the progression of keeping the idea to himself. Once he gained more confidence through attending to his idea, his idea grew, and continued to take more space in his mind and life until it expanded into the greater space of the world.

To me, this book really encourages young people to build upon their ideas and to stick with them even if others do not support them. It challenges the reader to gain confidence and understanding in his/her/themselves and allows for ideas to be transformative. While this is a picture book and is geared toward pre-school to early elementary aged children, it could be beneficial for older children as well.

If this book has piqued your interest, then I also recommend looking into other books by the same author: What Do You Do With a Problem? and What Do You Do With a Chance?

What are some of the books you’ve read that address ideas or creative thinking?

spring reads

The quarantine has forced us all to stay in/around our homes. Aside from dog walks and now, trips to the private beaches in town, I have been busy in the house. I’ve reorganized the pantry and kitchen, we started to put in new flooring, we’ve updated our deck — we’ve been busy, but through that busy, I’ve tried to make time to read. Admittedly, taking my spring course-load and two summer courses has slowed me down but I’ve been trying to read lighter books to keep me balanced.

Here the books I managed to get through in the spring:

1 Becoming by Michelle Obama

There’s so much to say about this book; it was refreshing and real and pretty much everything I would have expected by the former First Lady. I found the writing to be equal parts authentic and warm. On a personal level, I was moved by her openness around fertility struggles. I am an instant fan of anyone willing to openly discuss their experiences around this and I had no idea I could like and respect her more prior to reading this text but I now do.

2 Open Book by Jessica Simpson

I’ll happily admit to being a JSimps fan since her show Newlyweds aired. I had no idea about some of the darkness she experienced or her struggles. Though none of them surprised me, the raw and open information she shared about herself hit the mark — she mentioned in the book that her goal was to make you feel like you were talking to her and it really did. Overall, I found this book to be kind of sad — a lot of people took advantage of her throughout her life but she discusses her resiliency and hope.

3 Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Evicted told the tale of housing issues throughout the city of Detroit. It was written in the early 2000s and documented first-hand accounts of experiences as renters and landlords. This book was heavy and eye-opening about the renters market, eviction process, and dynamic between both renter/landlord.

4 Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan

I had high hopes for this book. I can appreciate the introvert tendencies because I relate heartily to them. Though the sense of humor of the writer and my sense of humor are not the same, I think a number of others would also appreciate this text.

5 Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno


Since I will be starting as a middle school librarian in the fall, I have been trying to read more YA literature. This is one that I enjoyed — it was nice to read another piece from the SATC visionary. This was a quick read — read it in a few hours.

6-10 I plowed through four of Jasmine Guillory’s books; these are great if you’re looking for a light love-story that’s fairly predictable which was really nice to read during these times. Guillory has another book that’s either newly released or coming out soon and I’m looking forward to reading it soon as well: The Wedding Date, The Proposal, The Wedding Party, and Royal Holiday.

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11 Accused! by Larry Dane Brimner

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This book was heavier than I’d prefer but in my quest to read more YA literature, I came across this one. There are a number of elements of race and a deep sense of helplessness that came with reading about these young boys/young men being accused of rape by two white women. It is a powerful read that can be used to understand how society places value on white voices while suppressing black ones.

12 March: Book One by John Lewis

Prior to finding this book while perusing the YA section of the Libby app, I had no idea John Lewis had been a part of writing a book. I believe there are three in this series, all of which progress in the coverage of the Civil Rights Movement. Admittedly, I am not a big graphic novel fan — but I am trying to branch out and read more so that I can better engage with my students in the fall. This book really lays out ideas and history in a clear way and is great for middle schoolers.

I am on a bit of a reading hiatus as I slog through hundreds of pages about government resources, primary sources, and digital media this summer but I am hoping to delve into more YA texts and a few more fun reads before the school year begins.

evil powers

Last week, my husband did something very uncharacteristic of us — we made the kids an early dinner (tacos) and then used the TV as a babysitter, setting 14, 12, and 4 up with the movie, The Smurfs. We needed to have an adult’s only dinner and waiting until 9PM when 14 begrudgingly goes to bed just wasn’t going to work. The kids seemed to enjoy their time together bonding over a movie and so this ended up working out for all of us.

Since then, 4 has brought up ‘the evil guy’ from the movie (good ol’ Gargamel) and yesterday, it seemed like such a great way to start having the conversations that we, as parents, should have with our children. We used Gargamel’s evilness as an intro to what we can do to combat evil. 4 was upset — he doesn’t have powers like Gargamel, and so we talked about what powers he has: the power of kindness and his secret powers, his brain and his boice.

This seemed to give him something to think of and I’m trying to figure out how to connect that more explicitly to the Black Lives Matter movement, especially given the small gathering we plan to attend later on.

There is still a lot of explaining to do and many discussions to come over the next days, weeks, months, and years but this is definitely the start to our future understanding the powers he holds just by being him.

tough conversations

Nearly fifteen years ago, I started my teaching career: I walked into my classroom at Anacostia High School in Washington, DC and met the students and staff that would forever change my life. The year was 2006 and all students in my class and nearly all through the school were Black. During my time there, I heard students lament about police brutality; I listened as students compared stories of when they first saw a dead body spread across the street; I saw the plight on my students’ faces each and every day as they faced oppression at the hand of the white man.

I spent my first two years taking all I could in from students — listening and learning and then processing with older, more experienced teachers who also were POC. Prior to my time there, I’d formulated my own opinions on topics based on life experiences, but once I started to gain exposure to others’ experiences, my views and understandings began to change.

Fast forward to today. I have spent the last three days trying to figure out how to have conversations about race and responsibility with my son. He’s four and attends a private Catholic school where most of his classmates are children of color. My heart breaks for the parents of those children — parents who will have to have even more difficult conversations about how to survive simple tasks like trips to the store or walks to the park.

So, what do we do about these tough conversations?

We have them.

We talk to our children and family and friends and anyone else who may need to hear about those who are oppressed. We use our voices to try and help other white people understand how profoundly white this problem is. If they listen, that’s great — we keep talking to them and try to help them understand and if they don’t listen, we try a different strategy or conversation.

In the meantime, we listen.

We listen to POC who struggle and air their feelings of experiences of oppression. We do not respond with ‘not all’ or stories of our own experiences. We listen. We support. We sit with the stories and information they impart on us and process and then use it to be better people — better parents — better advocates.

The news is filled with images of brutality and it’s our responsibility to have those tough conversations to ensure our children know how to navigate their feelings and their exposure.

It’s time to have a tough conversation. With ourselves. With each other.

quarantinis: 1 part vitamin sea

We found our house five years ago when we expanded our search radius on a popular real estate website. Instantly, we loved our home but the beach town community is really what drove our decision. Because both my husband and I grew up in landlocked states, it never really dawned on us that we could live within walking distance of the ocean. To me, that was reserved for vacation rentals and hotels — to him, it was just something you might read about.

Nearly five years ago, we moved into our home; we spend much of the summer at our town’s various beaches but that’s not all — 4 and I go to the beach every few weeks to run around. It’s easy to toss on rain boots and head down to the wide open space and it’s a great place to let the dog and older two play as well. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the area surrounding our beaches has been slammed — everyone is walking and trying to enjoy the beautiful weather we’ve had.

I get it.

In the meantime, we have spent our days walking laps around the school. Each day, I walk the dog about three miles — that’s roughly 10 laps around the school for those of you counting at home. It’s a real thrill. The last two days, however, I was able to get down to the beach and breathe in the calming vitamin sea.

The weather turned from sunny and nice to breezy and dreary — this was my chance and I made it down two consecutive days. It was a much needed break from school laps and my neighborhood, where it feels like we pace the streets. The sky was gloomy, but Bru and I were able to log five miles through the breaks in the rain.

The break to the beach was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits and I’m hoping that with the rain in the upcoming forecast, we can get all of us down there for a little frolicking in the sand. This served as a really great reminder that having the beach as a backyard really can make a difference in the day-to-day happenings of life.