Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Slice of Life

I signed up for Teachers Write, but haven't written very much since it began. A trip to Michigan for Nerdcamp was the first lovely and inspiring distraction.


The next was a trip to Indianapolis with my mother and sister to see my brother. Then, the three of us women went to Niagara Falls and Toronto.



When I arrived home from that week long adventure, I prepared to have my daughter home from her four week trip to Japan. She was bringing her exchange sister. We have been sight-seeing locally, but have also taken three different day trips to Minnesota, Milwaukee, and Chicago. It makes me tired remembering, but it also makes me happy.




I haven't had a lot of time to sit down and write, but one place where I can "write" is on my runs. I am training for RAGNAR which is a team relay race. My training days have been out of wack, but they have been happening for the most part. On those runs, I have a lot of time for thinking. I've brainstormed a few poems out there on the paths and thought a lot about my writing. With the girls away for part of the time today, I am hopeful that I will be able to finally write for a significant amount of time. In some ways, this break has been good since I am often avoiding my writing time or putting it off. I have missed writing. Absence has been working its magic. Today I am getting some words on the page!

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs   comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelfImages via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

It is 11:48 on Monday and I am just now starting this post. My daughter and her exchange sister arrived from Japan last Monday evening and we have been sight-seeing and doing all kinds of activities so there has been very little time for blogging. So here are snapshots of my reading from last week:



I am still reading these two that I started before the past week and will keep reading them this week:


For the coming week, I am also planning to read these two and maybe a few more:


I hope you have some fun reading this week!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday


Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Non-fiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. This week I have a nautical theme happening though it wasn't on purpose.


The first is Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud. It was written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. It was fascinating to see how Eleanor learned so much about sailing from her father and put it to use. The story was interesting and so were the notes at the end of the book. The link to the book at the beginning of this paragraph, also leads to online resources that the author has suggested if a reader wants to learn more.


Plastic Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch reminded me of the Scientists in the Field series though for a lower grade. This focuses on three female marine scientist who are studying the effects of plastic on the life in the ocean. The author is Patricia Newman and the photographer is Annie Crawley. Here is a trailer that gives you a peek inside.


The facts they reveal about the amount of plastic in the ocean unsettled me especially in relation to the critters that help process our CO2 and provide us with our oxygen. Eek! At the end, Newman suggests ways that readers can help with the situation. The photographs are fantastic and it is great to see a picture of what a scientists job might look like on a given day.

I truly enjoyed both of these texts and will be happy to share them with staff and students.

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs   comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelfImages via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

You may have noticed silence after my post last Monday. That was because I was off to #nErDcampMI and then to Canada for vacation. I ran out of time to prepare more posts ahead of time. I am back home as of about midnight last night. I didn't get a lot of reading accomplished this week because I was out having too much fun. :)

The Past Week:

Amazingly, these are the only two books I completed (or remember finishing) this week. I listened to The Riverman through WI, IL, IN, OH, and MI. It is very difficult to classify. In my mind, depending on the truth in the end, it could be mystery, realistic fiction (if someone has mental issues), magical realism, fantasy or even sic-fi. I believe it is fantasy, but no matter how it is classified, The Riverman is quite unique. I didn't realize that it isn't a stand alone while I was listening, but it doesn't have a tidy ending at all so I felt a bit gob-smacked. In talking to others and hearing it highly recommended and book talked at #nErDcampMI, I found out that there will be more and that helped to counter some of my negative thoughts about the book. It is still not a favorite, but I do understand why others (review by Elizabeth Bird) love it so much.

A Taste of Colored Water is a look at the civil rights era and is not what you might expect given the cover art and title. It is about two children who are looking for the "colored" water fountain and find something other than what they expect. It would be a great entry to discussion about that time period and would be great paired with Ruth and the Green Book. The book is also found in this civil rights unit. The author, Matt Faulkner, was at #nErDcampMI to share this book and his graphic novel Gaijin: An American Prisoner of War, which I want to read too. It's about the Japanese Internment.

The Coming Week:


I am still working on the professional book I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla. I started the novel in verse Etched in Clay while we were in Toronto and am enjoying it. China Dolls was my companion on my drive back from Ohio, but I am only a little over half way through. It is an adult historical fiction book about three Asian-American friends. Two of the friends are of Chinese descent and one of the women is actually Japanese, but she passes as Chinese. It takes place as WWII is beginning and anti-Japanese sentiment is running high. The storyline is quite interesting though in the beginning I had to keep jumping back on the CDs because my attention would wander. Later in the story that didn't happen.

I am not sure what else I will be reading though I know I will be reviewing a picture book The Poet Upstairs. This will be another very busy and exciting week since my daughter returns from Japan today along with her exchange sister that she has been living with for the past month. We will likely be running around doing touristy types of things and sharing pictures and stories from our trips. It should be a fantastic week, but I don't know how much reading time I will have. What will you be reading?


Monday, July 7, 2014


It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs   comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelfImages via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

Blog Posts From the Past Week: Review of Dalia's Wondrous Hair, Celebrate!, Holy Bagumba! (My Flora costume preparations), Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - Water Can Be... & Picture Yourself Writing Poetry, and #MustReadin2014 Update

The Past Week: 

I loved my dip into poetry this week with Sarah Kay's books B and No Matter the Wreckage along with Laura Purdie Salas' book Water Can Be.... I even managed to write a few poems myself after that.

I jumped into several adult books this week and really enjoyed all of them. Neverwhere was a fun fantasy that kept me wondering. Round House was intense. It was a mystery, but it was also about family. The Right Mistake was interesting especially given the fact that it is the third in a series and I hadn't read the other two. Oops. It worked as a stand alone though. 

A Baby Elephant in the Wild is an excellent nonfiction title for very young readers just learning about nonfiction. Marathon Mouse was a cute book about running. I also had a great time reading a few more Pura Belpré books. Altogether it was a fantastic week for reading.

The Coming Week:
I am still reading a professional book, I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla. I will be listening to The Riverman and then China Dolls on my road trip. I am also taking a few books with me: Etched in Clay and West of the Moon. I don't know if I will get to them though. Have a great week!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review: Dalia's Wondrous Hair/El cabello maravilloso de Dalia

Title: Dalia's Wondrous Hair/El cabello maravilloso de Dalia
Author: Laura Lacámara
Publisher: Arte Público Press
Pages: 32
Review Copy: Final copy supplied by Publisher
Availability: On shelves now

Summary: In this whimsical bilingual picture book for children, Dalias hair, which is as tall and thick as a Cuban royal palm tree, takes on a life of its own!

Review: I was intrigued before I even opened the book. The amazing tower of hair on the cover inspired many questions in my mind. I wondered how her hair got to be that way, if it had magic powers, what Dalia would do with her hair and so much more.

The story itself also kept me wondering about many things and asking things like, "What are coontie leaves?" Fairly early in the story there were vocabulary words that had me searching for a glossary. The author's note at the end explains that many plants and animals in the story are things that are found on the island of Cuba where the author was born. The note provides a brief explanation of each of these mentioned in the story. It was fun to experience Cuba through the author's eyes.

The imaginative story kept me guessing and would be fantastic to use with students especially if you want to talk about making predictions. Dalia has a plan from the very beginning and the suspense keeps building as Dalia does things that just don't seem to make sense. Children may try to guess what she is doing and will be excited once they understand Dalia's idea. There is also a hint at the end that she may do something else next and that could be a springboard for writing about Dalia's next adventure. Students may also enjoy going back through the book and looking for all of the clues that the author snuck into the story that they may not have noticed the first time through.

The illustrations are vibrant and engaging and I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading even when Dalia's hair gets a little on the icky side (I don't want to spoil it for you so I won't disclose the ickiness). This is a book that will be a hit during story time for sure and I look forward to sharing it with students.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Celebrate!

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every day. Here are some of my celebrations from the week in no particular order.

I have to write this quickly because I have a list of things to do that is way to long to fit into this one day, but that brings me to one of my celebrations.


** Tomorrow morning I am going on a road trip. I will see my mother and sister and many friends. I get to go to nErDcampMi on Monday & Tuesday. On Thursday, I get to go to Toronto and Niagara Falls with my mom and sis. I am SUPER EXCITED! I am almost ready and it begins to look like I will get everything done that needs to be finished before I leave.

** Last weekend I got to go to Chicago. Some of the highlights were running along the lake, seeing my husband compete in his triathlon, spending more than 4 hours at the Art Institute, seeing Sarah Kay perform her poetry, walking in the rain, and writing in my journal at the outdoor symphony concert. It was a wonderful weekend.

** On my run this morning I had many beautiful butterflies accompanying me on the trail.

** I got a new dryer! My old one was wrecking our clothes. This one is more efficient and has a "no heat" option too. Yay for a better dryer.

** I have been able to read a lot of great books in between weeding, cleaning, and otherwise making our house ready for guests.

** With help from Laura Purdie Salas, I have written a few poems this week.
** The loss of Walter Dean Myers is not something to celebrate, but his life and work definitely deserve celebration. I have appreciated seeing the many tributes and reflections on his life this week such as the one written here by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. His work has spoken to so many and his words about diverse literature have moved many to action. The world is a better place because he was here.