Archive | personal geography RSS feed for this section

His tongue to paper

15 Oct

Oh man!

Last night I got to hear Jason Reynolds speak.

avatar.jpg.320x320px

He was the closing speaker at the Oregon Association of School Libraries conference.

download

Once, I was a member of OASL and even served on the conference committee. This time, I just showed up for the culminating event.

Though he said he wasn’t feeling well and he clearly sounded congested, Jason Reynolds spoke powerfully. He made us laugh and cry.

He is a storyteller and he told us his story. What he did right and, perhaps more significantly, what he did wrong.

He told us how Queen Latifah inspired him and how he learned to write poetry. At times. he spoke directly to the kids in the audience about writing past the people tells them they aren’t (good enough, white enough) or that are wrong with them (their accent, their clothes) and just be them,tell their own stories.

Because it was an encounter with Christopher Myers, author, illustrator and son of Walter Dean Myers, that helped Jason Reynolds. Meyers told him he needed to tell his own stories to put his tongue to paper.

On October 24th, Jason Reynolds’ newest book Long Way Down,  a novel in verse,  comes out. I already have a hold on a library copy.

long-way-down-9781481438254_lg

Publisher’s Summary: An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

 

Advertisements

Bus drama

3 Oct

images

I looked at the other teacher sitting with me on the bus, my eyes sending her a telepathic message,  Did she just say that?

It was our annual  bus evacuation drill and we were on the bus with a driver who had just told our 6th graders that if they didn’t listen and follow the rules they would die.

The driver certainly had our attention.

She had presence, a well-projected voice and a flair for the dramatic.

I learned about the double hull construction of a school bus . Who knew?

I learned that a bus will fill with smoke in two minutes.

And I learned that this driver would drag the “lifeless body” of a child who choked on a piece of gum off the bus and begin first aid as soon as she could.

As we exited the bus, reeling a little, one of my students simply said, “She talked a lot about dying.”

Definitely the most dramatic bus evacuation drill I have ever experienced.

 

Not so silent reading

26 Sep

I almost laughed out loud during silent reading yesterday. Not at my book. Not because the kid at the table in front of me was laughing at his book.

I almost laughed out loud during silent reading yesterday because of all the sounds I hear. Sniff. Cough. Sneeze. Blow.

It is the fourth week of school and cold season has descended upon us.

I made my own contributions to the Congestion Symphony. I’m in the trumpet section, rising frequently for a kleenex. There is a choreography of sorts as students get up for a tissue, blow, put the tissue in the trash can,, then return to their seats. Some rise only one; some are frequent flyers. Perhaps I should call it the Congestion Ballet instead.

 

The over-the-counter medication I brought to school wasn’t doing much. I could have added moans and groans over the sinus pain I felt, but I’m the adult in the room and I am trying to be a good role model.

Today, I am bringing the out-of-date prescription decongestant I have in my bathroom cupboard, a relic from a more serious illness a few years ago. They might be out of date, but they still work.

Today, I am hoping to not be part of the audience. I am sure there will be someone new to take up my spot with the horns, so I can listen to the symphony and watch the ballet.

slice-of-life_individual

Libraries to the rescue

12 Sep

I pulled into the grocery store parking lot at 5 on the dot. It was the end of the first week of school and I wanted to treat myself (celebratory ice cream?) and get grocery shopping for next week out of the way.

I grabbed my school bag, heavy with a laptop, exited the car and walked to the trunk where I would keep the bag while I shopped. I hefted the bag into the trunk and opened it to get my wallet.

I couldn’t find it.

I pulled everything out and it still wasn’t there. As I repacked my school bag, I realized that I must have left the wallet on my desk as I packed it before leaving school. I remembered taking the wallet out in order to make room for everything I wanted to take home. Apparently, I’d forgotten to put it back in.

Getting back into the car, without my treat or groceries, I thought about what to do. By the end of the five-minute drive home, I had a plan.  After parking the car, I texted my VP. Her office is close to my classroom and maybe she’d still be there at 5:15. I entered the house to Lucy’s manic greeting and took her for a walk, hoping for news when we returned.

After her quick walk, Lucy got dinner and I checked the phone. My VP was already home. I was disappointed but decided I had one last hope. Maybe someone was still at school and checking their email. I could send out an email SOS.

I opened my school email, looking for an “all staff” email I could use for a “Reply all” when I noticed that Kelly, our school Library Assistant, had sent a message mere minutes before.

Hope rose in my heart.

I sent the SOS directly to her and she replied. At 5:30 pm. On the first Friday of school.

Screen Shot 2017-09-09 at 7.06.57 AM

Relief washed over me.

On Saturday, I took a credit card and walked to the grocery store. With my driver’s license at school, I didn’t want to tempt fate by driving. The walk was about 20 minutes, so I didn’t get the celebratory ice-cream – for fear it might melt- but I walked home knowing I had what I needed for the week and that my wallet was safe.

slice-of-life_individual

 

A limited time

1 Sep

By the end of the day yesterday, I started seeing the shimmering signs of an ocular migraine. Am I feeling stressed about being ready by the end of the day today? You betcha!

Working to a deadline can be hard and stressful. The children of Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder, are living to a deadline.

25753092

Publisher’s Summary: For readers who loved Sara Pennypacker’s Pax and Lois Lowry’s The Giver comes a deep, compelling, heartbreaking, and completely one-of-a-kind novel about nine children who live on a mysterious island.

On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?

Jinny isn’t ready and makes many poor decisions, some of which have rather significant consequences for everyone, and for the island itself.

A Little Luck

29 Aug

 See a penny pick it up.

All the day you’ll have good luck.

I don’t really believe that old superstition.

And yet, whenever I see a penny on the ground, I pick it up and recite the rhyme. It is just what I do.

I don’t really believe picking up pennies will bring me luck.

And yet, last week, while taking Lucy for a walk, I found a penny and picked it up. A littler further on, I found another penny and a dime. I picked those up, too. If a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, what is 12¢ worth, I wondered.Did I now have 12 times the luck I’d left the house with?

IMG_0758

 

 

Post-apoc-eclips-ish

22 Aug

I had intended to write a post about how I sat, eclipse glasses on, knitting  my 2018 Back-to-School socks with my eclipse yarn, during yesterday’s eclipse.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

I started planning weeks ago. I bought my eclipse glasses on the way home from Bend in the first week of August. I tested them Sunday, just to understand what I would see.

I preordered my “Total Eclipse of the Sun” yarn, picked it up on Saturday and cast on my 2018 Back-to-School socks Monday night. I wanted to be ready.

 

20799436_10154891427372475_2281929031024752773_n-1

Yesterday, I made sure Lucy took a potty break just before 9 a.m.  Her tummy has been a little off and I didn’t want  any accidents (cosmic or biological proportions) while the eclipse was going on.

A little after 9, I heard on the radio that the event was beginning. I donned my glasses, opened my front door  and took a look. A  nibble appeared on the sun’s upper right edge. I felt more excited than I thought I’d be. No one else was out and we still had at least an hour before we made it to the 99.2% eclipse we were expecting in Portland. I had joked earlier in the day that we were in the Path of Totalitish.  I puttered happily in the house, then decided to pop my head out again. And that is when my glasses slipped.

It was a mere, momentary flash in my right eye, but that was enough. I quickly entered the house and tested my vision. I was OK, but when my eyes were closed, I could see the residual image of the eclipsing sun. I had heard on the radio that such an accident probably wouldn’t cause blindness, but I was spooked. I stayed in the house for a while testing my eye, relieved that, within about 20 minutes, the residual image had disappeared. But I was done with my ill-fitting glasses.

I heard my neighbors setting up in the courtyard popped my hatted head out the door again, facing away from the sun. They had eclipse glasses and pinholed paper plates.

I had found these directions on-line earlier in the day and sent them to my brother-in-law who had no glasses. He had made one, tested it and said it worked, so I knew I could be safe and experience the eclipse.

download 7.20.16 AM

 

I had a box I’d been planing to use to for the classroom books I’d collected over the summer.  I grabbed it and got to work.

I almost gave up when I realized I had used up the last of my tape that morning on a package I planned to mail today. Of course, I could find no glue. Fortunately, I have a “can do” attitude and found some stickers I could use as tape.

I made sure the foil was well secured.

IMG_0753

Then I attached the paper that would capture the image,

IMG_0755

Voilà! I felt safe to join my neighbors.

IMG_0749

Feeling more confident, I had a great time in the courtyard with my neighbors, who were also a little skittish about blinding themselves.  They mostly used their pinhole devices, but, from time to time they put on their glasses and quickly turned to look at the eclipsing sun, then back again. We laughed at how much more excited we were than we’d expected to be.

We noted the darkening world, the dropping temperatures, the strange color of the light as the moon moved across the sun. When we got to the point that was as close to 99.2% as we were getting,  the light seemed almost orange and we noticed strange patterns that I later learned were called shadow bands. It was fun to go into the street and, back to the sun, and doff my box to see all the people who were home and excited by the eclipse.

“The sun is still frowning,” my neighbor James commented.

“It was a smile inside my box,” I joked, realizing the pin-hole camera had given me a reversed image. My near disaster had turned into a community event. Everyone was amazed.

When the process started reversing itself,  I donned my box once more and saw that the smile was getting bigger. People started slipping back in to their homes and, before too long, the sun was fully back in the sky. I brought my box back into my house, and set it back near the stack of books I will take in to school later this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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

Books Around The Table

A potluck of ideas from five children's book authors and illustrators

The Book Smugglers

Smuggling Since 2007 | Reviewing SF & YA since 2008

Chez Lizzie

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

Yarn Harlot

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

Diversity in YA

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

%d bloggers like this: