Archive | October, 2014

The Cure for Dreaming

31 Oct

My father hasn’t been to the dentist for decades. I was a teenager when I asked my mom about this. She told me that he hadn’t been to the dentist since the time he went to one who didn’t use anesthetic because he hypnotized his patients. Apparently he wasn’t able to hypnotize my father and ended up turning Dad of dentists forever.

So imagine my delight when I found out that Cat Winters’ new book,  The Cure for Dreaming, involves dentistry and hypnosis!

Unknown

Last Saturday I went to her launch party at Powells’ Books in Beaverton, where she gave background to the story, read a bit, and gave us insight into her inspirations and future projects. Of course I got a copy of the book and had her sign it.

IMG_1760

The story takes place in Portland, Oregon. It is 1900 and Olivia Mead, the protagonist, is a suffragist, much to the chagrin of her father, a dentist. He has a mesmerist hypnotize the rebellion out of her. Rather than doing so she becomes able to see people’s true natures, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud.

You can watch this segment of Oregon Art Beat where Cat talks about her book and the research that went into it.

Digging Deep

30 Oct

In fourth grade we are all about digging deep, re-reading to find evidence to back up our ideas and opinions.

In Sam and Dave Dig a Hole  by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, two boys are digging in order to find something spectacular.

Unknown

There is humor here, lots of dead pan humor, as well as a little dog who is very wise, and a surprise ending. Here’s the trailer Mac & Jon made.

If you have a slightly more Gallic sense of humor, you might enjoy Three Little Peas by Marine Rivoal.

Unknown-1

Here, two little peas go on an adventure of a different sort and eventually end up underground. The artwork in this is stupendous and tells more of the story than the text does.

I have a fondness for stories about peas. Seriously. In first grade, I wrote a story called “The Pea Family” and later, in grade seven, I returned to it during a writing unit and wrote “The Pea Family and the Yellow Beans”, a story a bout cultures clashing. I used felt for the peas and beans. Very cutting edge. It was the 70’s after all.

Enjoy!

Writing About Reading Begins With Thinking About Reading

29 Oct

Some really good “stuff” here.

Springing Forward and Falling Back

28 Oct

11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

Somewhere in the late 90’s my clock radio died and I had to get a new one. I purchased the replacement at Montgomery Wards and I was really excited about it. Although not that attractive, it had an amazing feature: a chip that automatically told the clock to Spring forward or Fall back as the season demanded. It was wonderful and I enjoyed this small luxury. Temporarily.

In 2007, a small but mighty amendment to the Uniform Time Act occurred. We changed the dates when the time changes. We would, from now on, Spring forward on the second Sunday of March  instead of on the first Sunday of April and Fall back  on the first Sunday in November, rather than on the last Sunday of October.

So now, I have to change the clocks four times a year. On the last Sunday in October, I have to Spring forward the one hour my awesome clock fell back at 2:00 a.m. Then a week later, I make it Fall back again, along with all the other clocks in the house. In the Spring, I reverse the process, falling back on the second Sunday in March, and then making the clock radio Spring forward along with all the other clocks on the house.

I could get a new clock and send this one to the Island of Misfit Toys, but that would mean admitting defeat. And by gum, I’ll not give in that easily.

 

 

Ideas for young writers

27 Oct

I have always loved playing around with words. Jokes, puzzles. rifles, word games are all right up my alley. I was the fastest word searcher in grade 6. My earliest word memory is around age 3 or 4. My Papa used to call people “jackass” all the time so I started to do so, too. My mom finally pulled me inside and told me I had to stop.. I vaguely remember asking her why I couldn’t use it if Papa used it. I recall that she said it wasn’t a really bad word, but it wasn’t a nice word. Funny the lessons you remember from childhood.

If, like me you enjoy playing with language, check this out:

Unknown

Written by Michael Escoffier and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo, Take Away the A is a playful romp through the alphabet.On each page we encounter a word, which becomes a different woe when a letter is removed.

Unknown-1 Unknown-2

I can imagine classrooms where kids are reading and discover more words where this can happen, then making their own version.

Oliver Jeffers is in the wordplay game right now, too.

Unknown-3

 “If words make up stories, and letters make up words, then stories are made of letters. In this menagerie we have stories, made of words, made for all the letters.”

And so begins a book of 26 short stories, each built around a letter. The book is 112 pages a long and a little dark in places, but still delightful.

Budding writers might be interested in  Any Questions? by Marie Louise Gay.

Unknown-4

Many children want to know where stories come from and how a book is made. Marie-Louise Gay’s new picture book provides them with some delightfully inspiring answers in a fictional encounter between an author and some very curious children, who collaborate on writing and illustrating a story.

Enjoy!

Thinking about Ottawa

24 Oct

My sister shared this video with me today and it made me cry. I thought I’d share it with you, too.

That’s all I have to say today.

Some more on WWI

23 Oct

I am still reading  The War That Ended Peace,  but that is not the only book related to World War I I’ve read recently. Two newish picture books feature different aspects of “the war to end all wars”.

Unknown

Harlem Hellfighters tells the story of black Americans from New York who picked up brass instruments—under the leadership of famed bandleader and lieutenant James Reese Europe—to take the musical sound of Harlem into the heart of war. J. Patrick Lewis’ poems are generally short snapshots and are complimented by Gary Kelley’s sepia toned illustrations. Some background knowledge of the war would be helpful, though not necessary. Includes an introduction, bibliography and artist’s notes.

Unknown-1

Shooting at the Stars: the Christmas Truce of 1914, by John Hendrix, is a fictionalized account of the eponymous event. I do so love using the word eponymous. In a letter home to his mother, he describes how, despite fierce fighting earlier from both sides, Allied and German soldiers ceased firing and came together on the battlefield to celebrate the holiday.This is a compassionate book with lovely illustrations. Includes an author’s note, glossary, bibliography and index.

Henri Matisse

22 Oct

Unknown

The Iridescence of Birds written by Patricia MacLachlan and marvelously illustrated by Hadley Hooper, is a book about Henri Matisse. It begins with this line

“If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray/ And the days were cold/ And you wanted color and light and sun…”

then goes on to explain the things in young Henri’s life that might have influenced him. It is more speculative than factual biography, but would be a great way to get kids tinkling about what inspires artists and even writers. It end with this line

“Would it be a surprise that you became a fine painter who painted/ Light and Movement/ And the iridescence of birds?”

Fantastique, non? as a french reader might say. MacLachalan’s ponderings are beautifully enhanced by Hooper’s illustrations.

images-1 images-2 images

What inspires you?

Read Aloud is My Superpower

21 Oct

11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

Read aloud is one of my favorite times of the school day. I’d forgotten that, not having had my own classroom for six years.  This year’s class is a handful. but they love read aloud too!  It is the one time there are no side conversations and my class LOVES to  have side conversations.

The first book I read to the this year was The Worm Whisperer  by Betty Hicks. I knew this class was special because they referred back to events and characters in it when we were talking about other things. One day, just before we left for a long weekend, I was talking to them about being sure not to forget their homework, which led to a discussion of having a regular homework time.We talked about how plans sometimes change on long weekends, so they should have their regular plan in place, but have a back up plan just in case. One student piped up and said “You shouldn’t be so rigid that you can;t break your own rules.”, or something to that effect. I asked where they learned that and they said, “From Ellis’ teacher in The Worm Whisperer.”  I was impressed.

We read Dear Mr. Henshaw next, which they loved, though they were a little hesitant to leave The Worm Whisperer  behind. A couple of kids have borrowed both of those books to reread them on their own.

Friday we started The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin. I wanted a book with a strong female lead and was reminded of this one by the recent publication of the 4th book in the series. The boys were not impressed by the cover. Too girly. By the time I reached the family sing-along I had hooked them. The Doll Family was son gong from Greatest Hits of the Sixties. I think it was my own singing of  R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and particularly the “sock-it-to-me ” chorus that really grabbed their attention. Apparently they didn’t know the song, so I played it for them, doing some silly movements with my head and hands. Just as the song finished, the principal was doing a walk-through with the custodian and the fire marshall. We all had a good laugh at that.

I enjoy watching their faces move from skeptical as I begin a new book, to entranced when I’ve hooked them.  I think read aloud might be my superpower.

Courage

20 Oct

We are talking about Everyday Heroes in reading this days. The word courage has come up, as have many other characteristics. IN Courage for Beginners,  by Karen Harrington,

Unknown

twelve-year-old Mysti Murphy has a mom who has agoraphobia and a former best friend who has turned “hipster” and now treats her terribly. When her dad is hospitalized because of an accident she feels alone and as though she sis the on one keeping her family afloat. Then she meets Rama Khan, a 6th grader whose name sound like that of a Superhero,  at the “loser” lunch table. Mysti doesn’t like change, but with her friend Rama Khan by her side, she is able to face her fears and move on.

At first I was frustrated by Mysti’s acceptance of her ill-treatment by he reformer friend, Anibal. I wanted her to confront him, call him out for his bullying behavior. But that wouldn’t be true to her character. Almost 50 year lob me would do that, but I don;t think my 7th grade self would have done that either. Sometimes, it takes a while for a person to give up the hope that a friendship will go back to normal.

Everybody has fears they have to face. And it is courage that helps us do it.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

The Fat Squirrel Speaks

Knitting, spinning, and assorted awesomeness.

Global Yell Blog

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Jone Rush MacCulloch

Deo Writer: Musings to Spark the Spirit

Klickitat St. Readers

Just another WordPress.com site

Readerbuzz

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

PLUMDOG BLOG

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Gail Carriger

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Kate Messner

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Cybils Awards

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Someday My Printz Will Come

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

Tundra Books

Home of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers and Friends

andrea gillespie

Inquiring My Way Forward

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Horn Book

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The History Girls

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

%d bloggers like this: