Saturday, August 29, 2009


Last night I planned on posting something (didn't have a plan for what as I am still reading Once a witch) but I got so wrapped up in reading down my list of other bloggers-I never made it back to post. I was too sleepy to write but not too sleepy to keep reading all the other great posts out there.
I loved seeing the pictures of Jannsen's new Boston apartment as she gets ready for her next adventure-you can check out the pictures over at her blog, Everyday Reading.
I scrolled way down to an Aug. 14th post at Reading Rumpus and found some fabulous back-to-school lists of picture book choices!! I made notes 'cuz there were quite a few I don't have in my school library and I think they would be worth purchasing. Even though we are officially past the first days of school most teachers are always looking for great read-alouds. Go check out the lists at Reading Rumpus!
Kaye at Pudgy Penguin Perusals had a whole slew of historical books I'll be searching out to add to my tbr bookshelves. I found The Confidential life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbe, A hint of wicked by Jennifer Haymore- then I clicked over to Jennifer's blog and website and spent a fair amount of time reading her posts. The front cover of A hint of wicked is so well, wicked...check it out on Jennifer's website and I loved how she had a nice long excerpt of the book there for me to read. I'm not a fan of romance novels but I love historical fiction and this one read very well!! Glad I could sample a little.
Seriously, one thing leads to another great thing out here on the web and my Friday night was gone but well-spent, "visiting friends".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • 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!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser.
"I look up and meet his eyes, and for one inexplicable second I feel as though I am looking at someone else. Or rather, as if another person is looking out from behind his eyes, watching me eagerly."

from pg. 59 of Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Monday, August 24, 2009

Saving the world thorugh Judy Moody's eyes.

Judy Moody saves the world! by Megan McDonald (2002)

This is one fast-paced book, which makes it very appealing to kids! Judy and her brother, Stink are trying to win a band-aid decorating contest, which Stink ends up winning. At school, Mr. Todd, is teaching Judy's class about saving the earth. When her teacher says "it only takes on person to make a difference", Judy is off and running with this great idea. Here is my favorite quote " One person! If all it took was one person, then she, Judy Moody, could save the world!" Such enthusiasm!!
They learn about all sorts of recycling ideas like composting and Julia Butterfly Hill-my favorite tree-hugger!!! Judy has very similar energy to Junie B. but without all the negative (stupid, etc.) language. Appropriatly, J and I found this wonderful gem at our local second-hand book store. Find a copy and read it with a little person!

How many readers out there know who Julia Butterfly Hill is...or are willing to find out? Post a comment and tell me what spectacular thing she did to make a difference...I'll send you a copy of her amazing book.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Historical fiction perfect for today!

I finished Patricia McKissack's A friendship for I picked this one from our Scholastic Book Fair last year because it looked like an interesting historical fiction choice for 4-5th graders. McKissack's main character, Rosemary is smart yet struggles with the issues of the day like is it okay for her to let her best friend, J.J. (a boy!) beat her in a race just because the other boys are watching. Her parents are not much help as they argue about a woman's independence over dinner. Both her parents want Rosemary to remember that she's as good as anybody but also not better. Brown vs. Board of Education has just passed and Rosemary's colored school is closing and she will be transferred to Robertson Elementary, integrated into a previously white school. Right before the beginning of school, J.J. contracts polio and is hospitalized. Now Rosemary will be the only integrated student in her 6th grade classroom. It's very difficult being the only one but with the help of some hard-earned friends, a progressive principal and a very positive teacher Rosemary makes it through the year. This is an easy read and one that will really help 3-5th graders understand this very important era of change in our history. Reading the author's note at the end it is made clear why this story is such a believable one as Ms. McKissack experience this same 6th grade year right outside St. Louis, MO!

Find a great article about Patricia McKissack here at the Brown Bookshelf.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bella And Bean by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

This little book by Dolitch, is the kind that give me tingles after I read it! You know, like when someone brushes your hair-those tingles!
It is a lovely story! Bella writes poetry and Bean wants to play, she wants the attention of her friend, Bella.
It begins like this: "Bella lived in an old brick house with white shutters, just up the hill from Spoon Pond. Every day she wrote poetry at a small desk, beneath a small window, shaded by a canopy the color of plums. " Bean likes to come to that exact window to talk to Bella and is bored with Bella's writing time.
Eventually Bella gets to a stopping point, misses Bean and goes off to seek her friend. What happens next is wonderful because the two friends begin to create some word imagery together and Bella puts it all together!! I've already taken this to my favorite 5th grade teacher so she can use it to introduce her poetry unit this year! The illustrations are beautifully drawn by Aileen Leijten. Thank you Rebecca and Aileen for giving me book tingles!! (2009, simonsayskids publishing)
Click her to see Aileen's website. (including a link to another great blog (seven impossible things to do before breakfast for an interview with Aileen.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Picture Books

It's the first day of school!!! There is only one first day and it is turning out to be a very smooth day! Now that I'm back in the library I am surrounded by all the beautiful book purchases I made at the end of the school year but didn't have time to read! One of those gems is Apples and Oranges; going bananas with pairs by Sara Pinto. I read it with J (my six-year-old and constant reading companion) and she thought this book was hysterical. She actually read it to me so it is perfect for k-2nd grade but truthfully all ages would love the humor and be able to think of their own silly pairs (great writing assignment). Here are some of my favorite pairings: "How are a book and a letter alike?" (turn the page) "they both don't go out for sushi." The accompanying illustrations are giggle-worthy as well with this one showing the book and the letter sitting at a sushi bar trying to get the chopsticks to work! And another: "How are a starfish and an octopus alike"? "They both don't knit." I can picture many ways for a classroom teacher to use this gem of a book. I plan to create a slideshow in my introduction to the library lesson using my own silly pairs. Sara has a beautiful website-click here to explore.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Love is a mixed topic; either you are a believer or not...and perhaps there are certain degrees on each side. Gray areas if you will but Remy Starr, our heroine in This Lullaby is very much a "love is a sham"-kinda person! She is also a just graduated senior on her way to Stanford at the end of summer.
Her mother is preparing for wedding number five when the book opens. Remy keeps the Starr family together while her mother, a Romance Writer(the Barbara Starr), writes and swoons and her brother, Christopher is busy trying to have a regular life.
Remy, finalizing wedding details with the groom, is bumped into by Dexter, a new-in-town musician, looking at well, tires. He repeats their first encounter later that night at Bendo, the local club:

We arrived at the booth in a pack; me, Dexter the musician, and Chloe. I was out of breath, she looked confused but he just slid in next to Jess, offering his hand. "Hi," he said. "I'm with them."
Jess looked at me, but I was too tired to do anything but plop into the booth and suck down a gulp of my beer. "Well," she said, "I'm with them. But I'm not with you. How is that possible?"
"Well," he said, its actually an interesting story." No one said anything for a minute. Finally I groaned and said "God, you guys, now he's going to tell it."
"See," he began leaning back into the booth, "I was at this car dealership today, and I saw this girl..."
Dexter continues to relay exactly how he feels about Remy and how that feeling is so, so grand! Remy's crew of friends giggle and Remy is slumped, embarrassed but this quick repartee between Sarah Dessen's well-structured characters is just what makes her books so fun and readable. This is not an easy love story just as Remy is not an easy character. She's complicated, she's experienced things beyond normal, her world view is a bit skewed but somehow she feels comfortable with long-limbed, shoes-untied bumbling Dexter, once she gives him a chance.

This book is has some wonderful across the spectrum views about love and is very funny-like-laugh-out-loud-funny! I sat by the pool yesterday and read, and I was the only mom, who was reading and laughing at the same time. This is my second Dessen book this summer, I reviewed Someone like you here, and now I've gone and purchased her first one, That Summer to round out Kaylee's collection. I like that Dessen's books appeal to a wide audience, high school through adults. I asked my 14-year-old son if he would read this book...after a long pause, he said sheepishly, "maybe".

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Our DC photos-July, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Grief for children

An old expired library friend of mine once said something about award books (this one is on the Iowa Children's Choice list) always being so dreary and this title reflects just that! Oh, sure there is hope at the end and the story is good but the sadness is bang right there in the first three pages.


While Cara spends the night with her best friend Marlee, her home is destroyed by a fire. When she arrives at the hospital, she discovers her mother, Julia and her little sister, Jane have been killed in the fire. Her father is filled with grief, works late and expects Cara to survive on her own. This 148-page book tells the story of her grief and how she and her father learn to survive together. I enjoyed the friendship between Marlee and Cara until Marlee lets Cara know that she has grieved enough. Marlee wants her "old Cara" back. After getting over her initial shock, Cara finds baking as a way to connect with her mom and eventually with her father. Cara and Marlee's families are Jewish so many holidays and customs are explained throughout the book and there is a glossary at the back. I did notice the author has a new book out and I look forward to reading it
Recommended for 3rd and 4th grade.

Brenda A. Ferber's website

Iowa Children's Choice Awards

Friday, August 7, 2009

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

This book has been on my mental to-read list for awhile and I finally found it in at the library. I suggested it to my book club to read and I thought perhaps I should pre-read it to see what I got everyone into.

The book began slowly for me, then I got involved with the characters and loved it.

Olive Kitteridge is set up in thirteen different vignettes, each one giving us just a little bit more information about Olive and her husband, Henry in Crosby, Maine. This book made me think; information is doled out in small snippets and even then you need to read between the lines to fully understand how each person fits into the big picture. Olive is not a friendly character yet I grew to love her and her gruffness. The book slowly winds you from one part of Henry and Olive's lives together, finishing with Olive alone, having learned something of herself. I can understand why this book won the Pulitzer Prize as it is a real snapshot of American culture. The characters are human and believable and this is the meat of everyday.

Here are two of my very favorite quotes from the book:

"That's what Kathleen says. Tim met her when he was driving around the country following some band. I guess people just follow this band around, Fish or Pish. Something. Remember Kevin talking about Dead Heads, people who followed around that mess-what were they called? The Grateful Dead? I always found that offensive."
"He died," said Harmon. "That fat fellow Jerry of that band."
"Well, I hope he died gratefully," Bonnie said. (pg. 89)


In the doctor's waiting room she sat, reading a magazine. After an hour, the nurse came out and said, "Mr. Kennison's worried about you waiting so long."
"Well, tell him to stop it. I'm perfectly comfortable." And she was. In fact, it had been a long time since she'd been this comfortable. She wouldn't have minded if it took all day. It was a newsmagazine she was reading, something she hadn't done for quite a while-she turned one page quickly, because she couldn't stand to look at the president's face. His close-set eyes, the jut of his chin, the sight offended her viscerally. (pg. 255)

The idea of someone being more comfortable in a doctor's waiting room office than somewhere in her own life is so very much Olive. To understand why you'll have to read the book!!

Here is the NY Times article about Olive Kitteridge.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Home again, home again, skippity skip!

Love being home after being away. Upon entering my beloved home though I noticed a pet smell that has permeated our home from this new puppy we love! Hmmm-any solutions?? Light more candles, you say-I can do that.

I had a huge stack of mail waiting for me, including several packages! Love packages! One was my new calling cards from Laura Beth @ Happy Girl Greetings!!! Yeahhhh-birthday gift to myself! They are lovely and make me think of Beatrix Potter for some reason, even though there are no small woodland creatures on the card. What they do have on it is my pertinent school and blog information as well as a beautiful antique engraving of two girls-well, ta da- easier to show the card then try to explain it!!!! Isn't it lovely??

Back to my packages: two more packages contained books:
1. Umbrella Summer
2. Jantzen's Gift (free, but not an ARC)
3. A script book for my husband even though addressed to me-yes, I was a little let down!

The third package was a birthday greeting from my step-mother, even though she already bought me a dress and sandals. Love her too! Maybe more than my new business cards.

Now to my reading. I finished two more books in Ely after I finished Hungry by Michael Grant.
I read an easy one first: Nory Ryan's Song by Patricia Reilly Giff. She is a great author who has quite a variety of books. My book club partner at school and I decided to feature Giff in one of student clubs this year. This is the second time I've read this book and I liked it even more this time. Nory's story covers the time in Ireland's history leading up to the potato famine. I loved how her family tried to stick together and how horrible it is to watch the community crumble around them as food becomes more and more scarce. The language is wonderful and the story is a fast read-perfect combination for a fifth-grade book club offering. I still have eleven by Giff to read as well. If you have not read any Patricia Reilly Giff, give her a try.
Click here for a list of other PRG titles.

The second book I finished was purely for fun. I've been reading post after post from other bloggers about Sarah Dessen's books. I knew I had purchased some of her books for my step-daughter, Kaylee so I asked her if I could (pretty please) borrow them back from her book shelf for awhile. I started with Someone like me and I loved it! What great characters and unique twisting story line Dessen created.
The book describes the friendship between Halley and Scarlett, best friends since forever. Now they are teens and life for them is about boys. We come into the story after Scarlett has dated Michael, a sweet rambling young man. The romance ends when Michael is killed on his motorcycle and Halley is summoned home from some leadership camp she didn't want to be at anyway. In every conversation these two characters have you are made of aware of their close connection, which makes it really endearing. I loved the likeable scumbag character, Macon; the boy Halley begins to date. The interactions between Halley, Macon and Scarlett are well-written as well as minor typical high school characters like Ginny Tabor. We've all known our own version of Ginny, know-it-all, always-causing-trouble, busy-body .
This book made me think of the few fabulous women I've been "best" friends with over the years as well as some of my endearing but troubled young boyfriends. Read this book as the book tag says "anyone who's had a best friend-or a first love-will understand" and I did on both accounts. Sarah Dessen has a great website/blog!