Monday, August 30, 2010

Hippie Chick/Teaser Tuesday

"It did not stand to reason that a shark would find you in the first quarter hour you were in the water.  Statistically it would have been a fluke, a crazy ironic coincidence, like lightning burning a Z in Zorro's shoulder blade, or a boat impaling itself on a rusty engine part."  (30)
                                                   ~hippie chick by Joseph Monninger

Teaser Tuesday is a bookish weekly meme hosted by MizB. at Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along.  Just grab your current read and do the following: 

  1. Open to a random page
  2. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  3. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (don't share too much;  You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  4. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Happy Tuesday! 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Busy Week in Review

     I've been trying to spruce up my blog the last few weeks by changing colors and backgrounds but nothing seemed to fit.  While jogging from one blog to another one day I discovered The Eagle's Aerial Perspective blog and my eye caught a little blurb about button-making and viola, after lots of magic wand waving, she created a beautiful banner for me!  Doesn't it look lovely!  Beyond that I'm pretty happy with my white background and varied color scheme as I'm not a fancy girl.  Tell me what you think!

    I finished Shiver last night and loved it-it made me ache for young love and for all those moments I see my husband doing his quirky things that make me so giddy.  For instance recently he's been needing cheater glasses to read-he hates this-but I ADORE it as he reads next to me at night.  Something about those glasses makes me happy and Shiver brought out tons of good raw emotion.  More on that later when I review it and now I need to find me a copy of Linger-second in the Mercy Falls series.  I still need to write about One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, which was really good, and several new picture books burning a hole in my library bag. 

    I am reading hippie chick by Joseph Monninger while I wait for teenage son to finish Mockingjay-but I agree with JuJu of Tales of Whimsy who left me a comment acknowledging that starting it means ending it so I'm not racing to read it but am aware of its presence in the bedroom next door, right on the nightstand, sitting closed.  It will call to me soon enough.

    I did make the Cheeca Sauce I posted about yesterday but otherwise did not cook much this weekend.  We had a wedding reception to attend and I had a ton of homework to do after my first week of school.  I've finished my lesson plans for the week and some charts for positive behavior-I'm ready to  roll for my second full week of teaching.

     What about you...what made your week exciting?   Mine is having that new banner to enjoy!  Thank you to The Golden Eagle at Eagle's Aerial Perspective.  Happy Monday everyone...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Eating and Reading

This looks exactly like the mix of tomatoes I used for the Cheeca Sauce.
I got my copy of Mockingjay on Thursday and even though I'm happy to have it in my hand it wasn't as exciting as (the old days) getting the new Harry Potter in the late post on the same day.  Those were some thrilling days, waiting in the driveway for the UPS man to hand deliver it in its brown wrapper.  My son is taking his turn first since I am still enjoying Shiver.  I have the third book in the Millenium series to read but maybe I'll tuck Mockingjay inbetween. 

In other household news I have gazillions of tomatoes in every size including tons of cherry tomatoes and these tiny, yellow pear-shaped ones so tonight I boiled water, made pasta and whipped up this so easy sauce from my food goddess, Giada. 

Checca Saucee
Giada De Laurentis's everyday italian

12 ounces of cherry tomatoes, halved
3 scallions (white and pale parts only), coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 ounce parmesan cheese, coarsely chopped
8 fresh basil leaves
3 T. olive oil
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

In the bowl of food processor, pulse the first six ingredients just until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped.  Transfer the sauce to pasta bowl and stir in the mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper.  Toss freshly cooked and drained pasta into sauce and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. 
I scrapped more Parmesan on to individual servings as well.  I love this sauce because it's raw and so easy! 

I did make the pickles last weekend and they worked.  We are letting them sit for two weeks but we had extra so we've been eating them like an appetizer.  It was a great family project and we are going to repeat it this week sometime with 5 lbs of cucumbers from a friend's garden.

What are you reading and eating this weekend?
  This post is part of Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Place for Delta

by Melissa Walker, PhD
272 pages, includes glossary and further reading

     Every once in awhile I'm contacted by an editor, or publicist, to read a certain book because it matches my interests. You never really know if the book is going to be a good fit but this one was perfect.   A Place for Delta, sent to me by  Lisa Roe, from Online Publicist, is an environmentally-friendly, pay-attention-to-the-world-around-you, kind of book!   It is a fast read with great details, the first book of a series,  and I love when a series excites kids about reading! 

 Synopsis from Whale Press website:

The first book of the series, A Place for Delta, was published in June 2010, and has already been selected by International Book Awards as winner of the Best Children’s Fiction category. It is a 272-page, smythe-sewn, jacketed hardcover; a middle reader chapter book for 9-12 year-olds. A Place for Delta captivates, inspires, and empowers children. The novel incorporates current environmental concerns into the narrative of one family’s multi-generational adventures. Eleven-year-old Joseph travels to Barrow, Alaska, the most northern town in the United States, to help a group of wildlife biologists care for an orphaned polar bear. Stationed at a research center with his Aunt Kate, Joseph becomes a player in a complex web of mystery, scientific discovery and danger.

    I appreciated how this book merged a great story with such deep scientific facts.  As a non-sciencey-type person I enjoyed learning about the natural environment of both Georgia and Alaska.  The above synopsis mentions the multi-generational structure of the book so you get a feel for how important the link is between our past and our future.  Most of the story focuses on Joseph and his Aunt Kate taking care of Delta, first in the Alaska research center and later at a natural habitat on Joseph's grandmother's Georgian farm.  Kate records data for Dr. Yu as he strives to learn more about the polar bear population and how global warming, and the local oil companies, may or may not affect their survival.  He discovers a young polar bear on an ice floe one morning and later they find the mother bear dead.  A mystery unravels as Joseph flies to Barrow, Alaska, to help his aunt care for the baby bear.  Taking care of Delta turns out to be only part of his grand adventure.

   Because my 15-year-old son has traveled to Alaska three times for fishing excursions I kept fact checking with him.  "Would you actually see a moose close to downtown Anchorage?"  and he would answer me (an exchange of conversation occurred-YEAH), filling me in with all sorts of his own details.  Yes, it is possible to run into a moose in Anchorage and he knew of the spot Walker makes reference to in the tale.   I was happy that each time I fact checked he was able to answer in the affirmative and it was a great way for me to hear more about his previous trips.   I love a story that has the details correct-even fiction needs to make sense most of the time.

     Melissa Walker has created a timeless tale using current  issues, interesting cause and effect, problem-solving and makes it all very mysterious.   It also is written in language easy-to-understand so students won't feel overwhelmed. 

Random Quote:
Inside the toy box, Joseph found a fuzzy wind-up mouse for Delta to chase, a blue ball the size of a canteloupe, and a bag of large foam blocks.  Then he sat down on the floor next to the cub.  For a few minutes, she was still as they looked into each other's eyes.  Joseph wondered what could be going on in her mind.  All he could do was stare back, almost hypnotized by her gaze.  Slowly Delta moved closer to Joseph.  (97)
Kids will want their own "Delta" to feed and play with, perhaps opening their minds to the real issues facing all Arctic animals.  Highly recommended for middle grade and everyone above, science read-alouds, animal lovers and earth-friendly classrooms.  I look forward to the next book in Walker's Delta series.  Thank you Lisa for sending me a copy. 

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Shiver for Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by the amazing MizB at Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along-just grab your current read, turn to a random page and find two good "teaser"
sentences to share. 

My teasers are from Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, which has been on my stack for far too long! 

I know many have already read this but I'm only a few chapters into it and I  love it.
The brilliant colors of the brittle leaves all around the shed mocked me then, evidence that a year had lived and died without my being aware of it.  I knew with sudden, chilling certainty that this was my last year. (82)
The book fell open to this part-amazing-now I've got to keep reading!

What random words are teasing your today??

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Winners Announced

I've had a fantastic birthday month...and it's not over yet!  My birthday giveaway ended yesterday so I thought I'd take a few minutes to announce the winners! 

And the winners are  (heavy drum roll):
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Missy B. from Missy's Book Nook

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow:

Nancye Davis (blog unknown)

Congratulations to the winners!!

**winners chosen by random method which involved blindfolding my husband and spinning him around 10-12 times... 
I swear he'll recover soon (he, he)

If you didn't win I do hope you'll take time to read both of these fantastic books anyway!!

Blueberry Dessert and friends.

I've been to the Farmer's Market twice now to collect my 5 pounds of pickles and today is the day I begin the Bread and Butter process!  I've had a really busy beginning of school week and each night we've had events so I've set aside this afternoon to start, finishing tomorrow hopefully. 

Last night we had friends over for wine and homemade pizza.  One of the best things ever is to whip up dough before school, come home and roll it out on my pizza stone.  I made the sauce quickly from soft tomatoes from our garden and added sautee'd zucchini and garlic, with homegrown red pepper, store bought mushrooms and fresh mozzarella!  Oh, it was so delicious-the crust was perfectly crisp!

For dessert we had something I made the night before using a recipe a friend gave me last year.  It isn't "healthy" but it is yummy and tastes like summer.  Luckily, I had fresh blueberries to use!

Blueberry Lemon Squares

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer on low to beat together the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Add the flour and beat just until it forms small crumbs.   Press about 2/3 of mixture evenly into bottom of the baking dish.  Set the remaining mix aside.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until slightly browned.  Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile whip up the filling.

1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
Juice and zest from one lemon
1/8 tsp salt
3 eggs
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt.  Add the eggs and lemon juice, then whisk until smooth.  Spread the blueberries over the already baked crust.  Pour the filling over the blueberries.  Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the top.  Bake 30-40 minutes, until topping is golden and the filling is puffed up.  Let cool completely then cut into squares.  Makes about 9 squares.

We ate the entire pan even after finishing the pizza.  My friend Nikki is English and has served me delicious tea at her house and she brought me some Tetley English Black Tea so I can make it myself now.  She says the key is to add 2 % milk-not skim.

I finished A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker this morning and hope to finish One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia Williams today or tomorrow.

I hope your weekend is filled with incredible food and friends with maybe a little reading inbetween!

This is linked to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking meme.  Take a moment to go check out the other food-related posts on her beautiful blog.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Girl Who Could Fly

by Victoia Forester
328 pages

     I picked this up from out Spring Scholastic Book Fair.  The cover grabbed me!  Luckily, once I started reading it-the story hooked me as well.  The story is a little bit tall tale mixed with Spy Kids.  My daughter, also attracted to the cover,  asked me to read it with her after starting it myself.  Oh, what fun some books are to read aloud!  I cannot do a great English accent like the rest of my family so she has to listen to Harry Potter in "American English" but I can do a Southern drawl  from our three years in Little Rock and Piper and her parents have drawls!

The beginning:
Piper decided to jump off of the roof.  It wasn't a rash decision on her part.
This was her plan-climb to the top of the roof, pick up speed by running from one end all the way to the other.  Jump off.
Finally, and  most importantly, don't fall.
She didn't make plans in the event that she did fall, because if you jump off of the roof of your house and land on your head, you really don't need any plans from that point on.  Even Piper knew that. (1)
     Piper McCloud is a character with big plans and great ideas throughout this delightful book.  She lives with her ma and pa on a farm in Lowland County, Southern USA and discovers at an early age that she can lift off the ground and eventually by meditating on the idea of flying she can make it happen.  Even beyond her flying ability she is a rare and uniquely sensitive young girl.  She questions her farmer father about cow's having feelings as she clearly watches a mother cow mourn for a lost calf!
    But alas life never remains in balance and  Piper's flying ability is discovered by the townsfolk and she is ostracized for being so radically different from the norm.  Enter her saviour -Dr. Hellion (great name), who whisks her away in a helicopter to a safe haven for kids who are "different."  I.N.S.A.N.E is Dr. Hellion's school for children who are "lost"  in the world because of their special abilities and Dr. Hellion runs it with a crew of minions.  They've made it a very desirable place to live with special diets, comfy beds and clothing made-to-order.  Piper, having been homeschooled, is thrilled to be surrounded by other children for the first time in her life. 
As soon as Nurse Tolle was seated at the head of the table and Professor Mumbleby at the foot, the kids hungrily dug into their scrumptious food.  It became immediately clear to Piper why mealtimes were such a high point at the facility.  She had never tasted food quite so good in all her life.  There must have been five different flavors she'd never experienced before in her first bite alone, and every part of her mouth sat up and sang.  (108)
    The facility introduces a whole new cast of interesting characters and we're not always sure who is good or evil.   Piper's  journey is worth traveling as she discovers the truth about the institute and stays true to herself throughout.  Teamwork is a huge element as many of the students need to trust their own instincts and rely on each other's unique skills.  This would make a fun read-aloud for 4th-6th grade students, especially if you can do that Southern Drawl!  4/5 stars

Other spots on the web to read about Piper McCloud:

Victoria Forester's website
Kay at The Infinite Shelf's review
and another good one at
Elizabeth's blog at Swords for Fighting

Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One Crazy Summer-Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading, highlighting a random passage from your current read.  It's easy to play along. 

My teaser is from One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia.  There are two other books I'm trying to finish up before I fully immerse myself in this one~I am intrigued from the few pages I've read.
   I did as Big Ma had told me in our many talks on how to act around white people.  I said, "Thank you," but I didn't add the "ma'am," for the whole "Thank you, ma'am."  I've never heard anyone else say it in Brooklyn.  Only in old movies on TV.  And when we drove down to Alabama.  People say "Yes, ma'am," and "No, ma'am" in Alabama all the time.  That old word was perfectly fine for Big Ma.  It just wasn't perfectly fine for me.  (16)
She has such spunk and I love how this quote highlights the changing of an era over the word "Ma'am."  I'm excited to keep  reading!
What's teasing you today??

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I want to dance like that...

     My husband just arrived back this evening from the Minneapolis Fringe Festival. His youth theatre group performed there and did an excellent job. They were able to catch quite a few shows and Casebolt and Smith was the big favorite. I didn't get to go to the Fringe-I was at home with children and the dog, preparing to head back to school (tomorrow!) but after watching several of their videos I had to share this fun!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oh, Saturday I Embrace You!!

Patricia's Pickles at Brownies for Dinner
     I know another Saturday will roll around in 7 days but it will be just the regularly scheduled weekend Saturday, not this fantastic summer Saturday  I am blessed with today.  I've been to the farmer's market, bought some small cucumbers and 4 red onions and I'm preparing to make bread and butter pickles, for the very first time!!  I know-the thought is overwhelmingly scary-Are you just a little nervous for me...

     I'm going to use this man, Drew Kime's help.  When I googled bread and butter pickles his site, How to Cook Like Your Grandmother appealed to me on a soulful level.  Plus he has pictures and a sense of humor (or at least he writes with one.)  I have about 10 projects I am trying to finish up to give me a sense of satisfaction for my summer:  How many do you think I can complete this weekend???

1. Bread and Butter Pickles
2. Organize certain clutter zones in our house. (about half done)
3. Continue to work on alphabet book (check)
4. Finish many books on my tbr pile (hmm, could have done better but I have been reading)
5. Lesson plans (school) (not)
6. Flip charts(school) (not)
7. Yoga every day (well, that back injury got in the way but I'm back at it)
8. Laugh a few more times with my children (check)
9. Eat ice cream (almost) everyday (YES)
10.  Have everone ready for school by next week and the week after that. (darn close)

   Yesterday I took my kids on a school shopping adventure to the Mall where we visited many stores and had a late lunch/early dinner in between.  We found a backpack for my tiny dancer at The Children's Place-she picked from the "boy" rack of BP's- a purple/blue choice with skull and crossbones!  Hey, I'm so glad she took a step away from pink and picked something so unique.  At the inexpensive shoe place she found slip-on sneakers that (almost) match.  I didn't want to mention they were boy's as well but hey, she loves them.  For her gym shoes she did pick white ones with a silvery/sparkly swoosh so she hasn't completely gone over to the darkside.

    Teen-age boy was in a good mood (you know that's rare if you also have a teenager:) and found sneakers he could live with at the more expensive shoe place but they were on sale so it was a go!  I have a new dress code policy this year (I cannot go into details because it really mortifies me that I have a master's degree and someone far superior to me has to tell me how to dress-well, it just raised my hackles)  I can say it... "I have trouble with conformity."  We cannot wear "open-toed shoes" to school so no fancy sandals to match the heat.  I had to shoe shop a little and found a great pair of Merrell's on sale.  Does anyone else work in a school district that dictates what you wear??  Share with me please so I can have a little hope that this too shall pass and I will live through it unscathed!   Truly it's hard to be calm about this!

     I have several finished books to discuss (The Girl Who Played with Fire, Rainbow Jordan and The Girl Who Could Fly) and have to finish That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week before our family meeting on Tuesday night.

     After today I hope to cross off number one on the list; bread and butter pickles!!  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!  I hope mine will look half as good as the picture at the top and still be edible. 

So what do you have planned for this glorious Saturday??

Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

     Well, it's 9:30 in the morning and there are already 189 entries over at Jennifer's blog, Crazy-for-Book!  It's a great list of blogs so I'm ready to start "hopping" around.  I've had fun the last few weeks and have been amazed at how many book blogs there''s downright crazy!!

Her question today via Michelle's Book Blog is: 

 How many books do you have on your 'to be read shelf'?

It's not so easy to compile this from the many different piles around my home and the
variety of lists I keep but here goes:

113 tbr list on Good Reads
155 in my house in various locations
100 on my computer list
For a Grand Total of 368 books

Thanks you seven-year-old for helping me run around and count piles!!
This doesn't take into account the books on my library shelves at school that
I want to read but never get around to them.

Have fun "hopping" around!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Blues and 4 cool picture books

     I am suffering a little from "What happened to my summer blues!!"  It all went so fast and I only got a fraction of my (many) projects done.  I set out to organize our home and only got a small amount accomplished.  I am trying to round out my summer by going through my Food and Wine and Vegetarian Times magazines;  saving recipes and tips so I can recycle the magazines and get them off my shelves.  Because I've taken to reading books so much I lost track of the joy of paging through these lovely mags as soon as they come in the mail.  I aim to get back to that tradition as soon as I get caught up.  Really-(my husband 1. rolls his eyes  2. chuckles when I mention "getting caught up!")  The nerve!

     I have four lovely picture books to share with you today; all thee are from my local library and have been added to my titlewave list (which is already overbudget). 

1.  I'm Your Bus by Marilyn Singer; pictures by Evan Polenghi (5 stars)

Cute happy cover which will attract massive amounts of children to check this book out. It begins:  "Howdy, you can count on us.  Morning, evening, I'm your bus. Sweepers sweeping, bakers baking.  Dawn is barely even breaking.  Time for buses to be waking!" It's cheerful, high-energy "talking" bus will have every student wanting to ride the smiling bus!  The illustrations show diverse children and a bustling clean city.   I think it would be great  paired with Kate McMullen's series, I Stink, I 'm Dirty,I'm Mighty.
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     This is a beautiful book with much needed information whether your a city kid or a country kid. My only complaint with this book is the very first page. "A is for ammonia fertilizer." Hmmm. Not that thrilling of a beginning but hey, the glossary says A.F. is important for the soil and I don't get how the picture gives us that info. Hey, it's my only concern in an otherwise informative text. The next page is "B is for Barn Cats" and the illustration clearly shows us cats wandering around on the farm. I think students at my school will love seeing such an elaborate farm inside the pages of this book. I found an Iowa connection, while researching this book, and the article is from the Quad-City Times. Geisert based the book on a farming community in Iowa where he lived.

3.  Animal Crackers Fly The Coop, egg-secuted by Kevin o'Malley  (5 stars)

     Kevin O'Malley cracks me up in all of his other books so I knew I was in for some serious belly laughs when I picked this one off the shelf.  This is a unique retelling of The Bremen Town Musicians using humor as the catalyst instead of music.  The first page:  Hen loved to tell jokes.  Jokes like:  Why did the chicken go to the library?  To check out a bawk, bawk, bawk.  And:  How do comediens like their eggs?  Funny-side up!  Hen dreamed of standing on a stage in a comedy club and cracking up the crowd.  She simply had to be a comedi-hen."  And the book is FILLED with puns like that...My mom and I got the jokes but most of them flew right over my nephews and daughter in the bedtime story audience.  They still thought it was funny and cute but theydidn't get the play on words.  Like I did, a teacher will just have to do some explaining-and that's okay.

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4.  Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain by Dave Keane; illustrated by David Clark

Another one with lots of puns to go around as "Bobby Bramble had ants in his pants, a thirst for adventure and evergy to spare."  and he's been duly warned by his kind-hearted mother that if he's not careful he will "crack his head open like Humpty-Dumpty."  He does just that when he falls on his head and his brain "ran off as if it had a mind of its own."  Its a wild rumphus as the whole town spots and looks for Bobby's brain all over town!  This will make a magical read-aloud as kids laugh at the puns as much as the pictues of Bobby, with the top of his brain hinged off!  5 stars

Enjoy your last bit of summer...
with more reading!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 for 10

Visiting one of my favorite blogs, Literate Lives this morning I discovered a list of 10 favorite picture books and as I love lists and picture books I decided to jump squarely on the bandwagon and pick my 10 favs!  The post is part of August 10 for 10: A Picture Book Event hosted by Cathy at Reflect and Refine.    In her post she asks what 10 books are a must-have for the classroom.  The lists are fantastic and definetely worth stopping over and taking a look.  I had to stop reading them in order to write about my own (i'm going to try and not duplicate any books) even though each list includes some of my personal favorites! 

Without further ado...

1. Bella and Bean by Rebecca  Kai Dotlich; illustrated by Aileen Leijten.  I loved sharing this book with students, love how it leads into poetry and I could simply live in Leijten's illustrations.    I reviewed it here.

2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  I've loved this book for years and then some and love that kids get it is about imagination.  I still have my poster book of his art from my college years.  My husband has given me a collection of the Wild Things over the years for various anniversarys and birthdays.  The kids in my story teepee loved it this year.

3. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.  Lots of kindergarten students haven't heard this book (well, at my school they haven't) It is a great read-aloud and I feel the same about Green Eggs and Ham but am not going to repeat authors.

4. The Water Hole by Graeme Base.  This one offers surprises and kids love the tactileness of the actual circle in the book plus Base's illustrations pull them in and hold them.

5. Black and White by David Macaulay.  I love the elements of this book and after reading it to older students they always want me to read it again.  A great thinking book.

6. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.  A classic love story and it is wonderful to read it to prek, kindergarten and 1st grade students for the first time.  My own little ones always mimicked the little bunnies actions.

7.  The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.  I love sharing this one for same reasons as above with little ones.  We take for granted reading to our own little ones because we are literature-minded but many parents don't read at home and these are two must reads to little ones.  You'll wish you had a rocker and could just pull them up one by one for a snuggle.

8.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  I read an article long ago that explained how young children feel a deep sense of comfort while listening to Eric Carle books.  I do a Carle unit early in the year for kindergarten students and for the rest of the year they say "I'm going to read you a book by..." invariable two or three students will pipe up with "Eric Carle!??"  It' s so cute and proves to me how much he sticks to them. 

9.  Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell.   Boys and girls alike adore her spunky and positive attitude.  She is as sassy as  The Recess Queen and The Ladybug Girl.  Great book to show how important it is to simply be nice to each other.

10.  Yoko by Rosemary Wells.  Love what this book does for diversity and trying new experiences.  Kids love to tell me the odd things they like to eat after I read this one.

Oh, there are so many runners-up-worthy of another post sometime.  Many of these would be on my own favorites list but I tried to stay focused on what students like in my reading teepee.  Now I'm ready to go back and explore more of other's 10 on 10 lists.

The Girl Who Could Fly/Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading!
  1. Grab your current read
  2. Open to a random page
  3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here are my teasers:
She was not more than a heartbeat away from eating dirt when the miraculous happened.  Like a plane in an air show, Piper grazed the ground in a death-defying loop that changed her course by a hundred and eighty degrees and turned her face from the ground to the sky. She sailed upward with the unexpected thrust and precision of an F-22 Rapton. (17)  The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

What's your teaser today?

Monday, August 9, 2010


by Naomi Shihab Nye
259 pages

     Read this book...It's crazy when a gem like this has escaped my attention.  This is a book that I will recommend to many students, parents and teachers this year.   Really everyone should read it because it says so much about conflict, resolution, peace and religion-all hot button topics and dealt with so well by Ms.. Nye.

Indiebound Synopsis:

The day after Liyana got her first real kiss, her life changed forever. Not because of the kiss, but because it was the day her father announced that the family was moving from St. Louis all the way to Palestine. Though her father grew up there, Liyana knows very little about her family's Arab heritage. Her grandmother and the rest of her relatives who live in the West Bank are strangers, and speak a language she can't understand. It isn't until she meets Omer that her homesickness fades. But Omer is Jewish, and their friendship is silently forbidden in this land. How can they make their families understand? And how can Liyana ever learn to call this place home?

My thoughts:

     Arrrrgggghhhh!!  *%%$##@!!  Not very peaceful like at all but I had several well-thought out paragraphs written out with 4 interesting quotes highlighting Naomi Shihab Nye's poetic writing and it all disappeared when I pushed "publish post." Just disappeared-everything that I'd written in the last hour. Arrrgghhh, again!!
      I have to prepare a dish for a women's party I'm going to tonight and clean my step-daughter's room for her evening arrival so I Don't Have Time to Go Back and Rewrite it all!  I leave you with this...many should read this book about an area of the world that is still in crisis.  Naomi Shihab Nye is obviously very talented and I plan to purchase this book for my school library and I plan to bring it to the  attention of my 5th grade book club.  It will make for great discussion.  Now I feel a little like crying.  Has a  post ever disappeared for you??  I guess the greater question is "where did my words just go, floating out there in cyberspace...???" 

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Riding Lessons

387 pages

I loved Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  It was one of those rare books that interested my husband first and he easily talked me into reading it.  When we heard Gruen had a new book, Ape House, coming out we thought it would be great fun (??) to read  her other titles first. 

Riding Lessons, published  2 years before, shows Gruen's love of horses and riding.

Good Reads Synopsis:

     As a world-class equestrian and Olympic contender, Annemarie Zimmer lived for the thrill of flight atop a strong, graceful animal. Then, at eighteen, a tragic accident destroyed her riding career and Harry, the beautiful horse she cherished. 

   Now, twenty years later, Annemarie is coming home to her dying father's New Hampshire horse farm. Jobless and abandoned, she is bringing her troubled teenage daughter to this place of pain and memory, where ghosts of an unresolved youth still haunt the fields and stables—and where hope lives in the eyes of the handsome, gentle veterinarian Annemarie loved as a girl . . . and in the seductive allure of a trainer with a magic touch.  
    But everything will change yet again with one glimpse of a white striped gelding startlingly similar to the one Annemarie lost in another lifetime. And an obsession is born that could shatter her fragile world.

My Thoughts:

     Annemarie hasn't bothered to pay much attention to her life since that long-ago accident.  Quickly after her recovery  she married, had a child and completed a degree.  Still she's been on hold and it isn't until her husband announces his affair and desire to leave the marriage that Annemarie takes some kind of action.  She runs away to New Hampshire with her daughter, the daughter who is generally mad at her! 

     She lacks parenting skills-big time-both my husband and I were stunned by many of her choices.  She seems spoiled and self-centered and worthy of an epiphany!  Thankfully, she does grow by the end of the novel or I wouldn't be so interested in reading the sequel, Flying Changes.  I think actually I liked her daughter, Eva, best.  I wouldn't be getting upset over a tiny unicorn tattoo!!  I did enjoy the horse conversation as I've wanted a "pony" since I was 12 myself so I lived vicariously through Annemarie's and Eva's farm journey. 

Random quote:
I pass by Harry's old stall, or rather, reach it and find myself unable to continue.  I haven't turned my head yet, am still facing the aisle that leads to the arena, but I can tell that Harry is there.  His presence is large and voluminous, an electrical cloud that swirls and draws me toward it like a vortex.  (39)
It shows Sara Gruen is not a one-hit wonder and she shares her deep passion for animals with us.  Hmmm, maybe I want to pre-order Ape House!!  This gives me another entry inHomeGirl's  2010 Library Challenge.

My copy came from the public library but if you are interested...
Think you want to own it-click here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

292 pages

     I've read a few  less-than-stellar reviews about this book yet I adored it!   Everybody has their own opinion, naturally soooo I'm here to share mine.  I think my favorite college professor would have had a field day with this book's symbolism.  It delves headlong into the mother/daughter role and how a mother loves her children.  Even though it takes place in modern day I'm reminded of a 1950's family at times.

Synopsis (from good reads):

     On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.
    The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

My thoughts:

     Eating just that one bite of what should be a special birthday cake draws her closer to her mother than most girl's her age ever get.  She tastes loneliness and despair=fairly typical feelings for some housewives with  lack of direction but Rose loses her appetite.  Rose continues to uncover her mother's secrets including an affair=suddenly she tastes a lightness mixed with a new happiness. 

     Family dynamics are fully explored in Bender's story as she looks at the triangle formed between a mother and her two children.  Rose knows her mother and is her mother's aide.  She never tells her mother's secrets, there's a confidante aspect to their relationship.  Mothers and daughters often have a special and fairly difficult relationship and Bender portrays this through the food sensory idea.  What symbolizes a mother more than food??  The second part of the triangle is Rose's brother, Joseph.  Joseph has his own magical talent which makes him completely introverted and seperate from his family but of course, he is the one his mother dotes on. Rose admires Joseph and wants to spend time with him while Joseph feels overwhelmed by human contact. 
    See daughter tries to help and please mother while mother obsesses about son.  Now Rose and Joseph's father is a lawyer and spends his quiet time working at home and having minimal contact with his family-he's nice but not emotionally there.  Dad has his own secrets.  Classic family psycho-drama well-told by Bender.

Good Quote:

Every now and then, I would crawl out of bed in the middle of the night to find her in the big armchair with the striped orange pattern, a shawl-blanket draped over her knees.  I, at five, or six, would crawl into her lap, like a cat.  She would pet my hair, like I was a cat.  She would pet, and sip.  We never spoke, and I fell asleep quickly in her arms, in the hopes that my weight, my sleepiness, would somehow seep into her.  I always woke up in my own bed, so I never knew if she went back to her room or if she stayed there all night, staring at the folds of the curtains over the window.  (20-21)


She put her cheek down to rest on our matched hands and closed her eyes.  She was wearing a new eye shadow, pale pink on her brow bone, and she looked like a flower resting there.  How much I wanted to protect her, her frail eyelids, streaked with glimmer: I put a hand lightly on her hair.  (100)

I loved the connection Rose establishes with her mother and food. How do we cook?  Do we cook frantically or do we stop and smell; cook with love.  That's what Rose needs.  What Rose does with this knowledge later as she becomes more comfortable with food is passionate.  I also adored the close-up view of Los Angelos.  Bender gave me a real sense of  location as I walked the streets with Rose even though it's been years since I've visited LA.  Now that I've gone through intimate details of this book it's crazy that I'm giving it away-I should read it again as I'm sure with Bender's wonderful writing I haven't found every detail.  Oh, it's really so good.  I hope you'll try it yourself!

Enter my birthday giveaway here.
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Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger HopJennifer at Crazy-for-Books hosts Book Blogger Hop, which allows for a fun
exploration of a vast variety of blogs.  I participated last week for the first time in a long while and was amazed, simple amazed at how many of us there are out there.   Hop on over to her blog and check out her expectations, link your website and then hop around and discover all sorts of new worthy new blogs! 

Today Jennifer asks about music while blogging.  I do love music and Pandora but I do not make a consciese effort to listen to  music while I blog as there is just all this family noise happening around me.  I should try it though-maybe it will add more zing to my mental state!

This week I'm going to do a better job of keeping track of my cool blog finds so I can share them next week with you.

If your'e here because of the hop let me know by commenting or following.  Please have fun exploring my blog and I'll be sure to visit you back!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Don't you luv me? video clip

     My handome husband runs a youth theatre group.  This year they are presenting this play at the Minnesota Fringe Festival this week and next.  Please click and watch the movie so these young actors can see their You Tube numbers go up, up, up!!  The play has a strong message for all teens and adults as well.  It was was written by Linda Daugherty, playwright in residence at the Dallas Children's Theatre.
If you live in the Minneapolis/St Paul area go support good theatre by attending the Fringe and this group of talented young actors!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

From Alice to Zen and Everyone in Between

247 pages
The title of this book stood out to me as I glanced quickly through the new (er) section of my local library. 

Synopsis (from IndieBound):

Alice likes playing soccer and working on her go-kart with her dad. Her bedroom is decorated with a baseball theme. But when she moves to the suburbs, she learns from the boy down the street that she has no hope of fitting in at her new middle school unless she starts acting more "like a girl." Zen seems kind of weird himself--how many boys read fashion magazines and dream of someday owning a spa? Alice learns that fitting in and being herself are two very different things--until she tries to fit in with people who like her for who she really is.

My Thoughts:

     While I liked the essence of this book I did not fall in love with the characters.  I found their actions to be slightly off-balance.  But then this a middle school read and I'm no longer in that category.
     Alice is happy to live in her new suburban neighborhood in a big, new house (which was purchased from her father's ebay sale of a book signed by JFK-for $60,000) but she hopes for some other kids nearby. Walking the 'hood one day, exploring with her backpack on she discovers Zen: 
"Are you running away already?"

Around the corner to the left of the stop sign, a big, bulky boy sat in a ratty lounge chair under the thick shade of an old tree. His hair was so blond it looked white. And it was unusually curly. He wore a hand-painted t-shirt and cut off jeans exposing the palest legs I had ever seen. In his right hand, he held a magazine, and in his left, a glass of lemonade with a bendy straw.
"Don't you like Hemlockless Trail?"
I stopped and stared, not sure if I should talk to him.
"Isn't it clever how the builders named the road after the very trees they cut down?"
I glanced back up the street, but I had no idea what a hemlock tree would look like.
"So didn't you people just move into your cookie-cutter chateau? Which one is yours?' (25)
And their rocky friendship begins.  They are total opposites as Zen helps her become (his idea) of a popular girl and she listens and accepts it all, giving up her tomboy image.   Alice is dumbfound by his lack of boy traits-she'd be happy with a boy for a best friend but this boy is not boyish at all!  Zen has his own standards and I do like his comments about Hemlock (less) Trail and cookie-cutter houses so he does have a sense of humor.  He likes to crimp hair and read fashion magazines but he also does some snarky things behind Alice's back.  He could be Alice's gay best friend but it doesn't end up that way as once Alice is in school and in with the crowd she ignores Zen.   Ultimately this is a book about following your own path and staying true to yourself and while I got the message but my feelings were mixed.

     I did like Atkinson's writing style and would try another book written by her.
  2.5/5 stars
Other compelling  reviews:

Literate Lives
Kiss The Book

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Birthday Giveaway

(Beautiful Cake by Jessica N. Diamond)
     Tomorrow is my birthday (I hope I get a cake just like this) and I think it would be fitting to give away a book or two in celebration!!   In my ongoing quest to simplify my life I am trying not to keep all the books I've read and loved; but to let some of them go back out in the greater world and circulate...

 In honor of that resolution I am going to part with my two favorite books from July; The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.  Both books are hardcover, excellent reads and neither are review copies.  To be perfectly fair I should be giving away my copy of Still Alice, which I liked equally as much, but my  mother is reading it now so it's out of my hands, literally!

This birthday giveaway will run through August 20th.  No fancy rules, you can tweet it and share it just for fun, but to be eligible to win just leave me a comment about your own favorite birthday memory, which book you would prefer to win and your email address.  Good Luck!!

I hope my family has exciting adventures planned for tomorrow!!! 

July Update

     I've spent the last two days thrilled to have my fifteen-year old back home.  He's been traveling and fishing his way through Wyoming, Montana, Canada and Alaska with his grandparents for  a month!  We've missed him and it is good to have him back.  He's grown taller and his voice dropped a little and he has about 300 photos of their fun. 

     So I'm about two days overdue with my July update.  And turning a black cloud into a silver lining my back injury upped my reading by almost double.  Yeah for crawling around my house, twisted, I don't mean that!  But yeah for the amount of reading the pain pills allowed me to get done during that time.  Other important events during July:  a beautiful baby girl was born over at Janssen's blog, Everyday Reading-check out her posts and photos!   I won not one but two books from Rebecca at Lost in Books.  My friend Tina says has reached 101 followers!! 

38. Devil on My Heels by Joyce McDonald (YA)****
39. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen (YA)****
40. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (adult)****
41. Never Change by Elizabeth Berg (adult)***
42. The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by e.l. konigsburg (middle)***
43. The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank (adult)****
44. Home to Italy by Peter Pezzelli(adult)***
45. The Reinvention of Edison Thomas by Jacqueline Houtman (elementary-middle)****
46. The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro (adult-short stories)***** not reviewed yet
47. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow (adult fiction)*****
48. Still Alice by Lisa Genova (adult fiction)*****
49. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (literary fiction)***** not reviewed yet
50. From Alice to Zen and Everyone in Between by Elizabeth Atkinson (middle grade)**not reviewed yet

     I have been desperately trying to read The Girl Who Played with Fire so it could have been added to my July total but it just didn't happen.  I'm still about 45 pages from the finish-I love the story and the character, Lisbeth Salander so I guess just enjoying it and adding it as my first August read will be just fine. 

     How about you...did you meet or exceed your reading goals?  Have you read any on my July list and if so, what did you think of them?