Archive | December, 2014

Happy New Year’s Eve!

31 Dec

No New year’s resolutions for me.This is the first year, though, that I am taking up the idea of One Little Word. My OLW for 2015 is

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Shift can be a noun and a verb, so there will be actions and consequences.

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Here are the main reasons why I chose this word:

A shift can be a small change or seismic.

I want to shift the way I think about my job. I’ve had 4 jobs in 4 years since the library job was eliminated. This is the year I plan to make my final shift. Either I will get a middle school job, or I will shift my thinking about being an elementary school teacher and stay there.

We are talking about instructional shifts at school. There’s been some resistance. I’m going to do my best as we go down this road and shift my thoughts away from the negativity I hear from colleagues who are less excited about these changes.

I will shift the way I spend my free time.  My spare time has been full of reading,  knitting and dog rescue, but some committee work I’ll be part of this year will require changes (shifts) in how I spend my spare time.

Starting tomorrow, I will be a Cybils Round 2 judge. This committee meets virtually until mid February.

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Even more exciting than that, I have been selected to sit on the 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Committee.This is a commitment that runs from Feb 1,  2015 tho Feb 1, 2016.

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 This means I will be reading A LOT of YA debut fiction. I might not have time to knit. OMG! According to everything I’ve been told so far, this might become an all-consuming extra-curricular activity. But I’m excited about it. I will have to go to ALA meetings in June 2015 (San Francisco) and January 2016 (Boston).  I’m willing to shift some priorities to make this happen.

Favorite words: a Slice of Life Story

30 Dec

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I love words. That is not really surprising to those who know me. I read and write a lot. I speak English and Spanish well, have taught French and learned Danish while living in Denmark for a year. I’ve been trying to think of my One Little Word (OLW) and I think I’ve been overthinking it. So, instead of writing about my OLW, I will just write about some words I really like.

Bungalow: I just love the way this words roll out of my mouth. I think this was the first word I fell in love with. I first came across it when we moved to Abitibi Canyon, when I was in grade 2. It was a company town set up around the hydro-electric dam.  The houses were set up in 2 circles: the old colony and the new colony. We lived in the old colony, first in a 2 story green house, then in a pink bungalow where I had my own room for the first time ever.

Hygge, hyggelig: These are 2 Danish words that are hard to translate. The first is the verb; the second the adjective. They are usually translated into some form of cozy or coziness, but that doesn’t really capture the essence of these words. Here are Danes explaining it

Se demander: this French verb is generally translated as to wonder, to ask oneself. I fell in love with this word in  French class at the University of Toronto, where my instructor, a middle-aged French woman had the cutest way of saying “I wonder” in English. It is a verb of self-reflection and curiosity.

Moist:  Moist sound like what it is. A perfect word, really.

Bubble: This is just a funny word. try saying it when you are angry.

Behoove:  A nice verb to use when you want someone to do something, but don’t want to sound preachy or bossy, though that is what you are being.

What are your favorite words?

Getting Graphic

29 Dec

This trio has been sitting on my shelf for a bit:

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Lowriders in Space,  written by Cathy Camper and illustrated by Raul the Third, is a graphic novel with a strong Latino storyline.

From the Publisher:Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria love working with cars. You name it, they can fix it. But the team’s favorite cars of all are lowriders—cars that hip and hop, dip and drop, go low and slow, bajito y suavecito. The stars align when a contest for the best car around offers a prize of a trunkful of cash—just what the team needs to open their own shop! ¡Ay chihuahua! What will it take to transform a junker into the best car in the universe? Striking, unparalleled art from debut illustrator Raul the Third recalls ballpoint-pen-and-Sharpie desk-drawn doodles, while the story is sketched with Spanish, inked with science facts, and colored with true friendship. With a glossary at the back to provide definitions for Spanish and science terms, this delightful book will educate and entertain in equal measure.

Tomboy,  by Liz Prince, is the author’s memoir of growing up a tomboy. I can think of a few girls I know who would enjoy reading this because they can finally see themselves in a book.

Finally, To This Day,  is not really a graphic novel It is the published for of Shane Koyczan’s anti-bullying poem, illustrated by 30 artists. If you haven’t seen his video, here it is:

If you enjoy graphics, these are really great.

YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-In #3

28 Dec

Thank goodness for the holidays!!! I read three of the books this week: 2 Morris finalists & 1 NF finalist.

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I finally finished  The Carnival at Bray, which I liked, but fund I kept expiating it to be narrated in the first person and was surprised every time I picked it up because it wasn’t. That said, I liked it, but didn’t love it. I felt it took some time to get going, then everything happened at once. That said, it was beautifully written, so give it a read.

Next, I read  Laughing at My Nightmare which I was very excited about.

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I wonder if this book was a contentious choice. With gallows humor, Burcaw describes what his life has been like so far. He is trying to be a typical teen, while confined to a wheelchair. While the book is inspirational and really sheds light on what life is like for people with disabilities, the tone sort of rankled at time, especially when he is critical of others with disabilities. Maybe that’s  just my white middle-class sensibility, but it felt like he was over-compensating for the wheelchair. I feel like a bad person for saying that.

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Finally, I finished The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender yesterday afternoon. I loved this book.  It is magical realism wrapped in a world where the reader’s senses are tantalized. It s also very sad and violent, though not graphically so. It begins with the sad history of the Roux family, from which Ava is descended. When we finally got to Ava’s story, I was very worried for her, and with good reason. But the ending is so full of hope. Read this one.

Books under my tree

26 Dec

OK, so the title of they blog post is a bit of a lie because I haven’t put up a Christmas tree for years. My place is only 700 square feet and I am lazy. I am also up to about 75 Howliday cards, which festoon my bookcase.

Speaking of which, I received 3 books this holiday and thought you’d like to know what I’ll be reading shortly.

For my birthday I got Dispatches from the Front by David Halton.

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Goodreads Summary: As senior war correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation during the Second World War, Matthew Halton reported from the front lines in Italy and Northwest Europe and became “the voice of Canada at war.” His gripping, passionate broadcasts chronicled the victories and losses of Canadian soldiers and made him a national hero.

Born in Pincher Creek, Alberta, in 1904, Halton was to achieve the fastest ever ascent in Canadian journalism. A year after joining the Toronto Daily Star as a cub reporter, he was in Berlin to write about Adolf Hitler’s seizure of power and – long before most other correspondents – to begin a prophetic series of warnings about the Nazi regime. For more than two decades, he witnessed first-hand the major political and military events of the era. He covered Europe’s drift to disaster, including the breakdown of the League of Nations, the Spanish Civil War, the sellout to Fascism at Munich, and the Nazi takeover of Czechoslovakia. Along the way he interviewed Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Hermann Göring, Neville Chamberlain, Charles de Gaulle, Mahatma Gandhi, and dozens of others who shaped the history of the century.
In Dispatches from the Front, acclaimed former CBC correspondent David Halton, Matthew’s son, also examines his father’s often tumultuous personal life. He unravels the many paradoxes of his person­ality: the war correspondent who loathed bloodshed yet became addicted to the thrill of battle; the loner who thrived in good company; and, in some ways most puzzling of all, the womanizer with a deep and enduring love for his wife.

For Christmas, I received two books, Tell by Frances Itani, is a sequel to  Deafening (which you should read if you haven’t)

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and Emancipation Day  by Wayne Grady which is set in  post WWII Canada and “Steeped in jazz and big-band music, spanning pre- and post-war Windsor-Detroit, St. John’s, Newfoundland, and 1950s Toronto, this is an arresting, heartwrenching novel about fathers and sons, love and sacrifice, race relations and a time in our history when the world was on the cusp of momentous change.”

 

 

 

I’m 50 today. OMG!!

23 Dec

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Yup, today my twin sister and I (along with Eddie Vedder, former lead singer of Pearl Jam) turn 50.

It makes me giggle to say I’m 50 because I feel as though I am lying. My body might be 50, by my mind and soul are not.

As a kid, Christmas birthdays are hard because you fear your special day will get lost in the holiday shuffle. At 50, you sort of hope it will.

Here, are some of my favorite books that turned 50 this year:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang  by Ian Fleming

Whistle for Willie by Ezra jack Keat

Ribsy by Beverly Cleary

The Pushcart War  by Jean Merrill

Rascal  by Sterling North

The Book of Three  by Lloyd Alexander

Well, it looks as though I am in good company! Have a wonderful day and a wonderful holiday season!

A bassety post today

22 Dec

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Howliday Card Exchange time. I have already received about 40 cards and everyday there seems to be at least one in the mail. The biggest bonanza was a day with 8 cards. A little bit of heaven.  Here is the card I sent out this year:

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One of the Droolers always creates a webpage of the cards they receive, so if you’d like to see what I’ve been getting, click here. It is good for a chuckle.

Lucy had an appointment  Saturday morning for her bordatella vaccine, a nail trim and anal gland expression. As we were waiting to check out they mentioned she was due for a heart worm test and I let the vet tech take her back. She didn’t return for a while and I thought they might be backed up. Then my vet came out and said the tech had done a jugular draw and Lucy had a hematoma. They were keeping her a bit to be sure the bleeding had stopped and that they’d put a note in her chart that she should never again have a jugular draw. When Lucy came out she had zebra wrap around her neck and I was told to take it off in about 30 minutes.

Lucy was exhausted when she got home and slept most of the afternoon and into the evening. By Sunday morning, her chest was swollen and purple. Here are before & after shots:

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After a moment of panic when I was planning a trip to the emergency vet, I searched about hematomas following a jugular draw. Apparently this is an uncommon, though possible, complication. I relaxed and decided not to go to the emergency vet since Lucy seemed to be her normal, funny self. I called as soon as the vet opened this morning and Lucy had a 9:15 appointment to ease my mind.

We saw the vet and she said it is indeed a hematoma and that Lucy isn’t bleeding to death. However, she is concerned Lucy might have a mild form of Von Willebrand’s Disease, which is a clotting disorder. Some tests are on order for after the holidays.

YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-In #2

21 Dec

Tis the season to put down the books and madly finish my Christmas knitting projects. I’ve hardly read this week. I had to renew my driver’s license, so I had about an hour to read at the DMV. I’m about a third of the way through  The Carnival at Bray  by Jessie Ann Foley.

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It’s good, but so far, I like  Gabi  and  Owen  better. We shall see what the next two-thirds bring.

On a happy note, I finished all my knitting last night!  The last item was a pair of gloves.

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It’s a little hard to see in the photo, but there is a bit of cabling on the wrist. This is my favorite glove pattern to knit, Knotty, and it is a free pattern you can download from Ravelry. I am giving these to the recipient today, which explains the lack of reading this week. Now, that school and knitting are finished for the year, I can really relax with some good books.

 

When Twins Don’t Get Along

18 Dec

I recently reread Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson, which I have always said is my favorite KP book. It wasn’t quite the book I remembered, but I still enjoyed it.

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 The main character, Sara Louise Bradshaw, has a twin sister, Caroline, who is prettier and more talented, and better at social situations. The book is essentially Louise’s attempt to break free of her sister’s shadow.

As a twin, I find this a fascinating book and I remember now why I liked it so much. My sister and I got along very well, and still do. I was the quieter, shyer twin and sometimes felt like I lived In my sister’s shadow. Sometimes that was a safer, more comfortable place to be. I could let her take the lead in social situations where I felt uncomfortable, and often let her speak for both of us.

I am currently reading I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.

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It features boy-girl twins, Noah and Jude who are very close until around age 13. Noah is artistic and solitary, Jude is much more outgoing. The story is narrated in an alternating pattern, with Noah telling the early years, and Jude telling about life at age 16. As each chapter unfolds you find out what happened to break their connection, and what helps put it back together.

Even if you are not a twin, both stories explore complex sibling relationships that most people can connect to.

My favorite time of day

17 Dec

We do all our heavy work before lunch: reading, Writing, math, Social Studies. Science, Health. The kids go to lunch at 12:10 and, because they have Specials immediately after lunch, I don’t see them again until 1:35. They come in, we fill out our planner and I do read aloud.

Read aloud is my favorite time of day. We’ve read four books since September:

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We finish Flora and Ulysses by Friday, and begin a new book when we come back in January.

I chose The Doll People when I heard there was a 4th book in the series. The boys in my class were skeptical, but I asked them to give it a chance and, of course, they loved it. In fact, we are writing letters for the Library of Congress’ Letters about Literature contest, a couple of boys are writing about that book. Just the other day, I said “Sock it to me” and I was rewarded by a chorus of mini Aretha’s. They learned about the RESPECT song because of The Doll People.

The fourth book is The Doll People Set Sail.

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Goodreads Summary:Annabelle Doll, Tiffany Funcraft, and their families are whisked out to sea when the Palmers accidentally place them in a box destined for charity donation. And it turns out they’re not alone-there are plenty of other doll people on the ship, too. After traveling thousands of miles, will they be able to find their way home?

The summary sounds a bit like the last Toy Story  movie, but this is way better. fans of the three previous books won’t be disappointed and, readers who haven’t read those books will bo OK, although I always recommend reading things in order because it makes more sense. Although I was disappointed that Brian Selznick is not the illustrator, Brett Helquist does an excellent job capturing the essence of the Doll/Funcraft family adventures.

If you are looking for a good series to give a middle reader, this is an excellent choice.

Randy Ribay

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