Archive | January, 2017

February is National Pet Dental Health month

31 Jan

Twenty years ago, if you’d told me that one day, I’d be brushing my dog’s teeth, I’d have laughed in your face.

But there I am every night, kneeling in front of Lucy with chicken flavored toothpaste on a brush. I start on the right, pulling her upper lip to the side so I can slip the brush all the way to those pesky back molars that have too much tartar. Right from the get-go, her tongue starts working, trying to lick all that delicious chicken flavoring. From the back, I move forward to those long, pointy canine teeth. And her tongue is still moving! On to the left, and then we are done.

February is National Pet Dental Health month so I’ve written a limerick to celebrate the fact that my dog has better dental care than many people in the world.

There is a sweet basset named Lucy

Who’s grin, though quite wide, is too toothy,

So we brush using paste,

With a quite lovely taste,

That her momslave applies quite profusely.



Companion Books

30 Jan

In 2009,   Grace Lin gave us Where the Mountain Meets the Moon,  which was a 2010 Newbery Honor book.


In 2012, she gave us Starry River of the Sky.


Late last year, grace Lin gave us another companion, When the Sea Turned to Silver.


Publisher’s Summary:Pinmei’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.

Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei’s grandmother–before it’s too late.
All three books are a testament to the power of storytelling. And maybe this is just the sort of light we need these days.

This Week’s Book Talks 1/23-1/17

29 Jan

I was only at school for three days, but managed to squeeze in eight books. I am crafty that way.

First, I shared the DC Comics I got last Friday night.

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I spent much of Friday getting these ready to add to my classroom library (while the kids worked on their Ancient Sumer test) because several students were chomping at the bit to read them.

Thursday, I talked about a book I’d hoped would be on the Newbery list.



Friday, I book talked a 2017 Sibert Honor Book.


Next week, I get to teach my first full five-day week since November!

Hooray for Baby Lincoln

27 Jan

I was a Baby Lincoln when I was young. I was the youngest (by 4 minutes) and very shy. In fact, I was so shy, my parents thought about giving me an extra year at home and letting me start school in grade one. Fortunately, they decided to let me try out kindergarten and boy, did I find myself!

Baby Lincoln didn’t find herself in Kindergarten. She has never managed to come out from the shadow of her older sister, until now.


We learn the back story of the Lincoln sisters and Baby’s real name!


Publisher’s Summary: What if timid Baby Lincoln broke free of her bossy sister and set off on an unexpected journey? Kate DiCamillo presents a touching new adventure set in Mercy Watson’s world.

Baby Lincoln’s older sister, Eugenia, is very fond of telling Baby what to do, and Baby usually responds by saying “Yes, Sister.” But one day Baby has had enough. She decides to depart on a Necessary Journey, even though she has never gone anywhere without Eugenia telling her what to take and where to go. And in fact Baby doesn’t know where she is headed — only that she was entirely happy in the previous night’s dream, sitting aboard a train with a view of shooting stars. Who might Baby meet as she strikes out on her own, and what could she discover about herself? Will her impulsive adventure take her away from Eugenia for good?

A lovely story of self discovery.

Clearing the bookshelves

25 Jan

I picked up more advanced readers copies of books than I’d planned. I thought I was being choosy, but I had to ship a lot home.  I actually shipped them to school and I will get to revisit them today. Because of this, I want to read all the library books I have checked out so I can start in on the ARCs.

Growing up where I did, The Oregon Trail and Westward expansion weren’t really part of my formal education. I knew about them tangentially, but only heard about the Donner Party when it was mentioned by Robin Williams in Patch Adams.

Skila Brown is back with a novel in verse about that tragic event.


Publisher’s Summary:The journey west by wagon train promises to be long and arduous for nineteen-year-old Mary Ann Graves and her parents and eight siblings. Yet she is hopeful about their new life in California: freedom from the demands of family, maybe some romance, better opportunities for all. But when winter comes early to the Sierra Nevada and their group gets a late start, the Graves family, traveling alongside the Donner and Reed parties, must endure one of the most harrowing and storied journeys in American history. Amid the pain of loss and the constant threat of death from starvation or cold, Mary Ann’s is a narrative, told beautifully in verse, of a girl learning what it means to be part of a family, to make sacrifices for those we love, and above all to persevere.

Told in riveting, keenly observed poetry, a moving first-person narrative as experienced by a young survivor of the tragic Donner Party of 1846.
Brown effectively imagines what the journey might have been like and captures the emotions Mary Ann and the others on the journey might have experienced.  Although there is nothing inappropriate for younger readers, the book would be more appropriate for middle and high school aged readers.

The Journey Home

24 Jan

” Approaching Shelter H. Arriving at Shelter H,” the electronic voice of the parking lot shuttle called.

I sat upright. Wait a second! We just left G. How could we already be at H?

I leapt up and off the airport economy parking lot shuttle and headed towards my car, one row away. I shrugged my back pack on. As I navigated between the cars, I suddenly realized I’d left my suitcase on the shuttle.

The shuttle wasn’t far ahead and I tried to chase it down. but a tired middle-aged woman with knee issues is no match for a bus engine.

I was so tired, I could have gotten weepy, but I didn’t. I just wanted to get home so I summoned my best problem-solving skills.

I figure the shelter had some sort of emergency system so I headed back to it. No phone but two buttons on a call box. A red one for emergencies and a black on for other issues. Although this felt like a personal emergency, I pushed the black one.

A kind voice listened to my problem and gave me a cell phone number to call. Picture me fumbling for my phone, realizing it was still in Airplane mode and trying to punch in the numbers. I called the number but it went to voice mail.

A few moments later, another shuttle bus came along. Thank goodness they run every eight minutes, I thought. I jumped on and explained my situation to the driver. She was excellent and called it in. While she was solving my problem, I apologized to the two passengers sitting on the bus. My bus had been packed, which was part of the reason I had forgotten my bag. I’d put it on the rack and sat right across from it. Because the bus was so full the last passengers had to stand and a young woman stood right in front of mine. Out of sight, lout of mind, right!

Rescue plan in place the driver pulled away.

Another shuttle came along and I jumped on and explained who I was. Everyone on the shuttle had heard the story over the radio. They didn’t have my bag, but I remained hopeful.

The next bus did!!! I thanked the driver profusely and finally, walked to my car for the last leg home.



ALA Midwinter-Day 4

24 Jan

Another early morning, but SO worth it.


I wanted to check out of the hotel and get breakfast before lining up for the Youth Media Awards. I guess I was  excited, because I got to the auditorium in which they were announced earlier than I’d planned, early enough to be one of those people sitting on the floor near the front.

The excitement on the floor was palpable as the event got underway. If you haven’t seen the list, you can see all the titles HERE.  People were whooping, clapping, live tweeting and generally having a great time elaborating literature for children and teens. I can’t wait and get to school tomorrow to talk to one particular girl on whom I pushed the Newbery winner earlier this year.


Because John Lewis’ March, Book 3 won so many awards, the venue for the YALSA Morris/Nonfiction Awards presentation was moved to a rom other than that written on my ticket. I set off right after the YMA awards to find it.

Although I love the celebratory raucous nature of the YMAs, the YALSA Morris/Nonfiction Awards Presentation is my sentimental favorite. It is like a mini Caldecott/Newbery banquet where recipients tell their story and there are few dry eyes in the audience. The big difference is that all the finalists for each award speak, but they only get five minutes apiece. A lot can be said in five minutes to make a room full of adults get weepy!

So, yes, I got to hear John Lewis talk! Through the whole morning, I took many blurry and off kilter photos. Here is a sample of my terrible photography.


After the speeches, the authors sit at tables to hand out and personalize books. Attendees have to choose which three authors they’d like to meet and whose book they want. It is a bit of a negotiation. The John Lewis line was incredibly long. I opted to get these three books:


Canadian author, from Toronto. Most ALA awards require the author to be a US resident or citizen. The Morris is one that doesn’t.

I loved this book and was hoping it would win.



I don’t very often get to see a book with a main Character named Adrienne, but I did in Calla Devlin’s book.

Finally, I chose the book I had book talked to my classes on the day before I left.


That done, I left for the airport.


ALA Midwinter Day 3 #alamw17

23 Jan

After going to bed early, I woke up energetic. Go me!

The day started and ended with Macmillan. I had a 6:45 a.m. breakfast and a dinner at a seafood restaurant this evening. The breakfast was large and showcased all kinds of books and was a formal presentation. The dinner was fancier, but the books were on our tables. Macmillan editors and marketing staff sat with smaller groups of conference attendees and it was just a lovely evening of intelligent conversation.

In between, I had a hilarious presentation by Scholastic. Gordon Korman, Madelyn Rosenberg, Wendy Wan-Long Shang, and Natasha Tarpley, did live readers’ theater presentations of parts of each of their books. It was laugh out loud funny!

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From there I went to a Penguin Random House luncheon where more new titles were presented.

I took some time after wards to rest up before my first 2018 Sibert Committee meeting. We mostly introduced ourselves, got to know each other and talked logistics, but it fueled my excitement for working on the committee.

It will be another early mooring so I can check out before the Youth Media Awards.  I will attend the YALSA’s 2017 Morris/Nonfiction Award presentations afterwards.

I am scheduled to fly out mid afternoon but the weather is looking a bit dodgy. Please send thoughts and prayers. I’ve had lots of fun  and learned a lot, but I am looking forward to getting home again. I miss my Lucy.


ALA Midwinter Day 2

22 Jan

I had an early start to my day, rising early for a 6:45 breakfast with National Geographic and Kwame Alexander to celebrate their forthcoming collaboration, Animal Ark.


The book is a collection of Joel Sartore’s photos and haiku by Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess and Deanna Nikaido. With his passionate words, Kwame inspired us to do what we can to protect the earth.

In spite of the coffee, I was still tired. I felt incredibly jet lagged. And yet, I decided to venture into the exhibit hall. I love this part of a conference. I talked to book people and picked up more arcs than I’d planned, but got a few a I really wanted. I also sat in on a panel of authors who contributed to Flying Lessons, 


a middle grade anthology of short stories that was just published by  We Need Diverse Books, a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

Lunch was a Simon & Schuster reception showcasing new books, and highlighting Amina’s Voice  by Hena Khan, who was the guest speaker.


Following that, I returned to the hotel, organized my books and headed off to the Post Office. Tomorrow is a very full day and I probably won’t have time to get ship the books I picked up today. I ran into some fellow Beaverton colleagues on my way out of the exhibits before returning to my hotel for a quiet evening in to rest up for tomorrow.

ALA Midwinter Meeting Day 1

21 Jan

Travel went well yesterday. I was in my hotel by 4 but boy did I pack wrong. It was 68ºF when we landed!


After heading over to Registration to get my ID, I went back to the hotel to get refreshed and plot it my route to my 2 evening events.

The first, put on by Holiday House, was in a restaurant. I ran into  a couple of people I knew and met some new people. Most everyone at the events I attend is on some sort of book committee, so we all have a lot in common. I picked up a few arcs I am excited to add to my classroom library.

From there, it was a short walk to The World of Coca Cola, where Penguin Random House hosted a reception. It was cool to tour the venue where we had free access to fountains where we could taste Coca-Cola products form around the world.


 Each fountain offered drinks form a particular continent and I ran into an old friend from Latin America : Inka Cola!


After sampling the beverages, a group of DC Comics artists showed up to sign free books. I had each of the artists dedicate them to my class. Three of them were from the Portland area and we had a good chat.

Here is a shot of today’s book haul:


I was exhausted walking back to the hotel, but excited and energized for tomorrow.

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