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A very satisfying end

25 Sep

Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote a post about the fourth Lockwood & Co. book. At the end I refer to an unnamed fifth book.

Well, this weekend, I finished the fifth book,  and with it, the series has truly come to an end. Fortunately, it was a very satisfying end.


Author’s website: After their recent escapades, Lockwood & Co. deserve a well-earned rest  . . . so naturally they decide to break into the country’s most heavily-guarded tomb.

What they discover there changes everything.

So begins a desperate battle to uncover the truth behind the epidemic of ghosts. It’s a battle that will force the team to journey to the Other Side, bring them face to face with hideous phantoms – and pit them against the most terrifying enemy they have ever known.

Will everyone make it out alive?

As much as I like the US cover, I must show you this UK cover. I


Although Lucy is the narrator and Lockwood the leader, I think George and the Skull might be my favorites in this book. Their characters are more fleshed out in book 5 than in any of the previous four books, and  Skull’s humor provides a nice counterpoint to the scary ghost stuff.

I am sad to see this series end. Stroud leaves things open enough that more books could come, but I imagine he already has something new series in mind.



Très drôle

18 Sep

The rain has finally returned to the Pacific Northwest. The smell of smoke in the air has been replaced by the scent of damp earth and I imagine those fighting fires are celebrating. Those of us who prefer cooler, wetter weather are celebrating, too. It is as though we have crossed a line: life before the rain, life after the rain.

And that gets me thinking about My Pictures After the Storm by Eric Veillé.

More witty than funny, this picture book proves that a picture is worth a thousand words.


The book, which has a cover that is reminiscent of a board book, is simply a collection of before and after pictures, all of which have a


We have Back to School Night tonight. The picture of me after BTSN will be more about exhaustion than humor.



I hab a liddle toad

22 May

I woke up Friday morning in Hood River with a sore throat, the kind you get from post nasal drip. I was a little congested all weekend and felt worst Sunday morning, though I had a bad sleep last night.I medicated myself with decongestants and Emergen-C.

Little Louie, the main character of  Bob, Not Bob,  by Liz Garton Scanlon and Avery Vernick also has a cold, but he needs his Mom’s help. Unfortunately every time he calls her, his dog, Bob comes running.


This is a great book to read aloud, with the voice of someone with a really bad cold. This could just be a silly book, but it is also a heartwarming read.


A cleaning disaster

8 Mar

Despite the raised voices of all the people, save The Queen, at the Royal wedding, God did not  save my Solar Queen.

It wasn’t the windowless room that killed her, though it kept her from being as cheery as she’d been in the room at my old school that was windowed along one side. No, it was my own carelessness. I have a meeting tomorrow and I was cleaning my desk in preparation for my sub. I guess I was a little over zealous and I knocked her to the floor, where she fell to pieces.

I was heartbroken because the yellow Solar Queen is the Royal Wedding edition. Perhaps you saw the lovely yellow dress in the video. There are a lot of blue & pink Solar Queens, but fewer yellow, as you can see in this video, that highlights the charm of the Solar Queen.

The one good thing I can say is that none of my basset hound tchotchkes were damaged in my cleaning frenzy.  I will be more careful next time I clean. Better yet, maybe I will just give up cleaning altogether. I don’t really like to do it, and, clearly, I am not very good at it.


Goodbye, Old Bag! #SOLSC17

1 Mar

Yesterday was our last day together. After over 20 years of near constant companionship, we are splitting up.

The end came a few days ago as I was packing my school bag and I realized, the seams on the bottom had frayed to the point of no return. If I put anything more than my lunch in my bag, a disaster might happen.


Outside, things look perfectly fine, but her insides are all messed up. I suppose I could repair the damage, but my faith in her ability to do the job, especially when I miscalculate and have an essay and a test the same week, has been shaken. She wasn’t built to carry a laptop, a beverage and seemingly endless stacks of papers. My unfair expectations have taken their toll on her, and so, I retired my school bag.

Today, I carried my new bag to school.

She is a lovely thing, all blue and shiny, but our relationship isn’t quite as comfortable. My new bag is stiff and I find I am more formal with her, asking where I have put things, rather than knowing intuitively. I know over time, I will learn to love her as much as my old bag, but I am just not there yet.She is a bit of a diva, having her own YouTube video that shows off all her bells and whistles.

 Do I need three Napoleon pockets? I don’t know. Only time will tell if this is a long-term relationship or a passing fancy.


27 Oct

I have a couple of boys who truly laugh out loud when they read. They are young 6th graders. They like funny books and they really get into them. The class will be reading silently, then, suddenly a snort or a chortle erupts. The best part of this is that these boys seem to be oblivious to the effect of their outbursts. They blithely carry on reading.

Jonathan Follett and Matthew Holm must have had in mind when they wrote Marvin and the Moths.


 I can picture them chortling as they read this book, which I won in  Goodreads Giveaway. For my part, I found it a little slow to get started and stereotypical, but it will be a welcomed addition to my classroom library.

Publisher’s Summary:Matthew Holm, the Eisner Award–winning co-creator of Babymouse, teams with his childhood best friend for a hilarious prose debut.

Middle school is off to a rocky start for Marvin Watson. Doomed to misfit status, his only friends are a girl with major orthodontics, the smelliest boy in school, and the trio of sarcastic man-sized moths that live in his attic.

No one said middle school would be easy! Also, no one said that Marvin’s town would be threatened by mutant bugs, including a very hungry, Shakespeare-quoting spider. But life in the suburbs is full of surprises. Will Marvin be the one to unravel the mystery behind the mutants and save the town? Or will he be too busy with the real threat: his first school dance?!

This hilarious send-up of middle school has the humour of James Patterson’s I Funny, the underdog hero of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the zany action of NERDS… and features illustrations by co-author Matthew Holm, New York Times bestselling illustrator of the Babymouse series and Sunny Side Up.

Plus: talking moths!


Navigating the classroom

20 Sep

There are 29 kids in each of my 6th grade classes this year.  It feels like a blessing because the were 38 and 39 in last year’s classes. It was a huge challenge to conference during writer’s workshop because we were packed in like sardines. compared to last year, conferencing is a breeze. Not only do I have space, but I have fewer students, so I can talk to each.

There was a time I would have considered 28 an abomination. I remember the first year I had 25. The I groaned, but I long for those days. I wrote this poem last year after I watched a skinny little girl squeeze between tables – a feat I could not perform.

38 kids

I watch

the petite 6th grader




between chairs,



obstacles in

our overcrowded classroom.

How must it look to her

as my half century bulk

rises and squeezes




Chairs are

pulled in

and I





hunching my shoulders

to keep my matronly bosom

out of an eye.


Homo neanderthalensis

16 Sep

Neanderthals were a species of humans that went extinct. They co-existed with homo sapiens, made  tools,  kindled fire, and probably had a language. It seems like dry stuff, but Jeffrey Brown has brought homo neanderthalensis to life in his graphic novel Lucy and Andy Neanderthal.


Publisher’s Summary: For fans of the New York Times bestselling Jedi Academy books comes a hilarious new graphic novel series about two young cave kids living 40,000 years ago.

The laugh-out-loud adventure features Lucy and her goofball brother Andy, as the duo take on a wandering baby sibling, bossy teens, cave paintings, and a mammoth hunt. But what will happen when they encounter a group of humans?

Humorous and entertaining, Jeffrey Brown’s signature comical touch enlivens the scientific and historical content, including a special paleontologist section that helps to dispel common Neanderthal myths.


The book was really quite captivating. Brown has clearly done his research. The humorous story has bits of factual information dropped into the narrative just when I was wondering about some of the details.


Curious readers who like a little humor with their facts will find this an enjoyable read.

My classroom confession

11 Sep

There was a sharp intake of disbelieving breath on Thursday when I told my class I didn’t like funny books. I’d book talked Nine, Ten  on Wednesday and Towers Falling on Thursday. I told them I loved a good “rip your heart out your chest” serious book that made me cry. And I told them  that making me cry was one way I measure how good a book was.

When the time came Friday for a book talk, I wanted to show them I could get out of my comfort zone, just like I wanted them to do. So, I book talked a funny book, Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories by Mary Amato.


Publisher’s Summary: Award-winning author Mary Amato has created another funny and engaging novel set in an elementary school. This time a notebook passed from student to student becomes a repository for wild rumors, heartfelt confessions, and truly creative writing.

It all begins when Alexander H. Gory Jr. passes around a notebook in which he reveals a tantalizing secret: he has proof that their teacher, Mrs. Penrose, is a vampire. Soon the entire class is speculating and adding their opinions to the notebook until . . . it lands in Mrs. Penrose’s hands. It turns out that Mrs. Penrose has been keeping a secret: she is expecting a baby. But since the notebook is encouraging her students to write and improving their spelling and grammar, Mrs. Penrose allows it to continue circulating as long as some basic rules are followed.

The notebook becomes a place for make jokes, poems and stories. When Mrs. Penrose’s baby comes too soon, and she is replaced by a no-nonsense substitute, the students express their fears for their teacher, their frustrations and their hopes.

I chose the read aloud portion of my book talk carefully and settled on this page



I know Omar is going to get mad, so don’t pass this book to him. But there’s exciting news that cannot wait until free time or recess tomorrow. After we came back from lunch, Nick told me that he found more proof.

“Go look in her cup!” he said.

I went up to “get a tissue” and saw inside Mrs. Penrose’s white cup. It’s not filled with water. It’s filled with dark red liquid. Blood!

Seriously yours,

P.S. Pass it on or else toads and locusts will fall on your head like rain.

This got a big reaction and a lot of students added it to the “Next” list we’d added to the back of our reader’s notebook. It is a quick read and I suspect my copy will be well-loved by the end of the year.

Hello Grumpy!

8 Aug

I am a morning person and wake up cheerful. Alas, some days, the world conspires to make you grumpy. Other people wake up grumpy. I feel sorry for them, because it is a burden they have to overcome everyday.


In the book Grumpy Pants, written and illustrated by Claire Messer, we do not know the source of Penguin’s grumpiness.


With each turn of the page we see Penguin try to take control of his grumpiness, shedding its layers as he sheds his clothes.


He has a strategy for dealing with these feelings and readers can laugh as he makes his way towards the bath and hot chocolate that will was away the grumpiness.

It’s a good lesson for readers, regardless of age. The book is simple, with sparse words and pictures that deal effectively with an emotion we all feel.


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