Archive | June, 2018

The second last day of school

19 Jun

Yesterday, the air in my room crackled with second last day of school energy. My sixth graders were supposed to be quietly working on a task while I called students from each table group to clean and empty their lockers.

J was having a hard time. He alternated between perching on his chair with his knees tucked inside his shirt making silly noises and wandering the room. Incredibly bright, he has some behavioral issues. After redirecting him several times, I was feeling a little frazzled. I walked up to where he was standing (on the other side of the room from where he was supposed to be) and noticed that I had to look up at him. He’d gotten tall over the last year. Sixth graders do that.

“J, you seem really anxious and energized,” I commented in a positive tone of voice. “How are you feeling?”

“I don’t want school to be over.” His reply left me gobsmacked.

“What can I do to help?” I asked.

“Give me summer school,” he replied. I laughed.

“I can’t give you summer school. What can I do to help you right now?” I asked, still chuckling. “You seem to have a lot of energy”

“I don’t know,” he replied bouncing on the balls of his feet.

And then I had a brilliant idea. A Spanish textbook had been sitting in the locker room for a few days. I could send it to the library with J.

“I have an idea,” I said and offered him the book.

He placed it on his head and slowly glided towards the door.




Popularity Contest

18 Jun

The top checkouts in my library this year weren’t all that surprising.


In first place for the second year in a row, Cinder  by Marissa Meyer



In second place, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest


Graphic Novels:

In first place, This One Summer by Jilliam Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki


In second place, Boxers by Gene Luen Yang




Last book talks of 2017-18

15 Jun





Anne of Gables: A Graphic Novel by Mariah Marsden




A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield



Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison



Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth by Sheila O’Connor


A book to die for

13 Jun

I am currently lost in Tudor England, deep in the depths of Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VII Tell All by M.T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park, and Deborah Hopkinson


Publisher’s Summary: He was King Henry VIII, a charismatic and extravagant ruler obsessed with both his power as king and with siring a male heir.

They were his queens–six ill-fated women, each bound for divorce, or beheading, or death.

Watch spellbound as each of Henry’s wives attempts to survive their unpredictable king and his power-hungry court. See the sword flash as fiery Anne Boleyn is beheaded for adultery. Follow Jane Seymour as she rises from bullied court maiden to beloved queen, only to die after giving birth. Feel Catherine Howard’s terror as old lovers resurface and whisper vicious rumors to Henry’s influential advisors. Experience the heartache of mothers as they lose son after son, heir after heir.

Told in stirring first-person accounts, Fatal Throne is at once provocative and heartbreaking, an epic tale that is also an intimate look at the royalty of the most perilous times in English history.

Who’s Who: 

M. T. Anderson – Henry VIII
Candace Fleming – Katharine of Aragon
Stephanie Hemphill – Anne Boleyn
Lisa Ann Sandell – Jane Seymour
Jennifer Donnelly – Anna of Cleves
Linda Sue Park – Catherine Howard
Deborah Hopkinson – Kateryn Parr

First, what a collection of fabulous authors!

What I really want to tell you is why I am so smitten (obsessed) with this book. Each author writes about their character in chronological order, with a few scenes that overlap. They write so well, you can’t help feeling sympathy for the character. Then, when the character changes, you see things from another perspective and fall under the influence of the new character. It really shows you the power that the person you listen to can have over your opinions. A good lesson for our time taught through history.

Because each character has a different author, their voices are truly unique.

Even though I am pretty familiar with these stories, this format gave me an opportunity to re-engage with them in a whole new way.

Bringing Back the Books

12 Jun

Last week, I slowly inventoried my classroom libraries. I keep track of two libraries: one bought & paid for by the school district, the other by me. In total there are about 750 books. As of Friday, 58 books were “missing”. A few were checked out, more were not. Monday morning I charted the missing titles. By Monday afternoon, only 41 were still outstanding.


We still have a week of school to go. I am confident that, come next Tuesday, most, if not all of the books will be back.

11 Jun

In 2002, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation began Canada Reads, Canada Reads, a literary program in which celebrities champion books that are  voted “off the bookshelf,” one each day, until one book is chosen as the title the whole country should read this year.

This year’s crop was, as always, amazing and I am working my way through the titles.


This weekend I finished American War by Egyptian born Canadian author Omar El Akkad, who, like me, lives in Portland, OR.


Publisher’s Summary: An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle—a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.

This one isn’t for kids, but I was so riveted I couldn’t stop. The story builds in such a way that, before you realize it, you are so wrapped up in Sarat’s life that you feel as though you have always known her. The world El Akkad creates seems terrifyingly possible. That also kept me riveted as I ponder how we might get from here to there.

And it has a map. My students know I LOVE books with maps!


American War wasn’t the Canada Reads winner, but it is definitely one adults should add to their summer reading list.


This week’s book talks 6/4-6/8

8 Jun



Rebound by Kwame Alexander



Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith



Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier



Okay for Now  byGary D. Schmidt



Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

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 site


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


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.

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: