This week’s book talks 1/14-18

18 Jan

Continuing to introduce new books I added to the classroom library

Monday

Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz
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Tuesday

Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart
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Wednesday

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
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Thursday

Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh
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Friday

The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix
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Transmutation

17 Jan

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When one thinks of  transmutation, alchemists turning lead into gold is the natural first example that comes to mind. Rumpelstiltskin is a classic fairy tale that involves the transmutation of straw into gold. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Island of Dr. Moreau are all 19th century novels that look into human transmutation. The results are always disastrous.

In The Strange Case of The Alchemist’s Daughter,  by Theodora Goss, we see a transmutation of a different sort. Goss has transmuted these stories, plus the less well-known Rappaccini’s Daughter, into a wonderful tale that also involves the greatest detective of the time: Sherlock Holmes. The result is a delight to read.

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Publisher’s Summary: Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.

Who needs directions?

15 Jan

I decided to reorganize my yarn stash over Winter Break.

You might be thinking, Big whoop! She moved around some yarn.  What you might not understand is that knitting, like reading, can be aspirational. I have patterns and yarns I’ve never knit, just as I have books sitting around that I have yet to read.

This reorganization was serious and required new furniture. So, naturally, I turned to IKEA. Knowing the limitations of my strength and my desire to stay home, I ordered the perfect shelving unit – an eight square Kallax . You might have seen it before. Heck, you might even have one.

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When it arrived, I pulled everything out, sorted them by shape and function and set the instruction booklet in a safe place. I assembled the exterior frame and stood back to admire my work. That’s when I realized I should have looked at the instruction book.

With the frame assembled, there was no way to insert the shelves. My heart sank and I went to fetch the instruction book. I disassembled the frame and started on page one.

It all worked out in the end, but I hope I have learned from this mistake. Whether I do or not, I now have a nicely organized yarn stash.

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The Voice in My Head Last Week

14 Jan

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Last week, knitting and driving, I listened to Philip Pullman read the collection of his essays that constitute Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling. I’ve since put the print book on hold because he says some wonderful things in it. I want to see them in print and ponder them. I want to share some of them with my students.

If you like stories, storytelling or writing, I highly recommend it. It is not written for kids, but readers and writers of upper middle school and high school age might also find this fascinating.

Publisher’s Summary: From the internationally best-selling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, a spellbinding journey into the secrets of his art–the narratives that have shaped his vision, his experience of writing, and the keys to mastering the art of storytelling.

One of the most highly acclaimed and best-selling authors of our time now gives us a book that charts the history of his own enchantment with story–from his own books to those of Blake, Milton, Dickens, and the Brothers Grimm, among others–and delves into the role of story in education, religion, and science. At once personal and wide-ranging, Daemon Voices is both a revelation of the writing mind and the methods of a great contemporary master, and a fascinating exploration of storytelling itself.

 

This week’s book talks 1/7-11

11 Jan

This year, I received a couple of gift cards from students and decided to use them to add more books to our classroom library. I book-talked some of them this week.

Monday

Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages

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Tuesday

The Rhino in Right Field by Stacy DeKeyser

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Wednesday

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

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Thursday

Echo’s Sister by Paul Mosier

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Friday

Dog Days in the City by Jodi Kendall

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Guest blogging over at The Hub

10 Jan

I am the guest blogger over at The Hub. In anticipation of the Youth Media Awards later this month,  I wrote a piece called “A Morris Award Reflection” about Morris Award finalists from my year  on that committee. Please click on the link above to see what I got up to.

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Snack time

8 Jan

Monday.

Right back at it after Break.

It’s like we were never gone.

The bell rings. Sixth graders enter the locker room. They grab their stuff. They come to class. They mostly sit down and open their choice read books. There are always a few chatterers and stragglers who need a little herding or redirection, but, by the time I get in the room, the class is sitting, reading and eating their snack. I survey the room thankful for the routine.

And that’s when I spy him.

In a room full of kids eating healthy snacks, one boy has a giant tube of cotton candy.

While cotton candy might fall nicely into one of Buddy the Elf’s four main food groups (candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup) it does not qualify as a healthy snack in sixth grade.

I looked at the young man in question. He was nonchalantly reading his book as he pulled a strand from the tube. Although he avoided my eye contact, I could tell he was waiting to see if he’d get away with it. Maybe it was the smirk on his face.

He was a good sport when I sent him to his locker to put it away and get something healthier.

It’s good to be back.

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