Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Cult of Lego

"This fascinating look at the world of devoted LEGO fans deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone who's ever played with LEGO bricks."
Chris Anderson, editor in chief Wired

Yes, this is a recreation of Starry Night in LEGO blocks. How awesome is that? This is just one of the amazing pictures in The Cult of LEGO.

If you've been around my blog for very long, you may have noticed that my oldest son is absolutely obsessed with LEGO blocks. When he's not playing with LEGO sets, he's reading LEGO books or magazines. The rest of the time, he spends playing LEGO Universe online. The kid's nuts for LEGO.

The thing is, his obsession is rubbing off on me.

This summer I started a LEGO social skills club for kids on the spectrum. Spending thousands of dollars on LEGO products made me giddy with delight. I browsed with Danny, making lists of sets that would be cool to buy. I had the LEGO Club kids vote on which sets to order and then when the packages arrived, I eagerly opened them like a kid on Christmas.

And watching these amazing kids play with LEGO sets and learn social skills has only deepened my loyalty to these terrific toys!

So, of course, I jumped at the chance to review this book, The Cult of LEGO, which covers every LEGO-related topic imaginable.

When the book arrived in the mail, I was anxious to get started reading it. The problem is, so was Danny. He saw the book and immediately absconded with it.

With pictures like this, who can blame him? Here's a recreation of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Though the book is really written for adults, it is filled with amazing, color photos of all manner of LEGO creations. Danny and I sat for about 45 minutes poring over the photos of recreations of the Mona Lisa, Easter Island and the Acropolis, all made out of LEGO. The minifigs section made Bil and I laugh as we discovered historical figures, like Gandhi and Mao Zedong in minifig form.

And that doesn't even cover the writing. The writers cover everything from the history of LEGO to Adult Fans of LEGO (or AFOLs). You will learn about LEGO comics and robotics clubs for kids, along with conventions and LEGO clubs for adults. And the history of LEGO was especially fascinating to me. Did you know that one of the first LEGO toys was a wooden duck?

It probably won't surprise you that my favorite chapter of this wonderful book is in the "Serious LEGO" chapter and it is called "Autism Therapy." The authors explain how many groups are using LEGO bricks to help kids with autism learn social skills, just like our little group. The authors even mention the Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health, where I received my training. The CNNH has been offering this LEGO-based social therapy for 15 years.

This is the best coffee table book around. It's smart and funny and colorful. The book appeals to LEGO fans of all ages. An added bonus is that it is extremely well-written.

I highly recommend The Cult of Lego and cannot say enough good things about the book. I'd lend you my copy, but Danny and I are too busy rereading it. Consider getting your own--you won't regret it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to spend thousands on

December is the deadline for using the Pepsi Refresh grant that I won back in May. It was frighteningly easy to spend thousands of dollars of someone else's money, but now I have lots of paperwork to fill out regarding the use of the grant money.

One question on the report asks me to "describe the social impact of the project."

To answer that question, Bil made this video. Check it out:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"The History of My Body" review and give away

The History of My Body by Sharon Heath is the story of Fleur, an 11-year-old girl who is charmingly unusual. Her very literal way of looking at the world and her possibly autistic quirks (hand flapping, pinching, and preoccupation with the "void") make Fleur one of the most unforgettable heroines I've encountered in a long time.

Fleur is a fascinating combination of contradictions; she is a girl who has an imaginary uncle, yet who understands physics. And though she is extremely naive, Fleur seems to understand people at a level most don't ever comprehend. Perceptive, warm-hearted, and courageous, Fleur is infinitely likable.

The History of My Body is actually quite difficult to describe and categorize; the plot is intricate and winding. It is full of relationships and the people who Fleur touches with her charm, honesty and sincerity.

Heath is an amazing writer, who captures Fleur's unusual way of thinking. The book is sometimes surreal and stream of conscious, and always well written. You really feel like you are inside young Fleur's head.


I happen to have one copy of The History of My Body by Sharon Heath to give away to one reader. If you want to enter the give away, all you have to do is leave a comment for this post. Please make sure you leave your name and email address, so I can contact you.

The give away ends on Friday, November 11th at midnight. Good luck!