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Your part matters

6 Nov

The cold and rain have returned to the Pacific Northwest. I put flannel sheets on my bed and baked cranberry-pumpkin bread this weekend. When Lucy and I went out for a walk, few people were on the street and Lucy turned right around and headed for home as soon as she had done her business.

I was warm and cozy at home when I heard about the latest tragedy.   Fortunately, the characters of Come With Me, written by Holly M. McGhee and illustrated by Pascal Lemaître, reminded me, and younger readers,  that it is important to get out of my cozy comfort zone and be a positive part of the world.

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Publisher’s Summary:

McGhee’s website has a great explanation of the story behind the book. It is worth reading.

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John & Hank All the Way Down

31 Oct

Lucy must have sensed how excited I was when I got home because she clearly knew I was going out again and refused to eat her dinner. That upset me, but not enough to keep me home. I was going out to see John & Hank Green!

As I pulled up to Portland’s Revolution Hall, I saw the bus. I didn’t know they were travelling by bus! It seemed to blend right into the neighborhood.

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I was early because I thought it started at 7, when in fact it started at 7:30. Fortunately, the doors opened at 6:30, so I didn’t have to wait long to find my seat, where there was swag.

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Inside the bag was a poster, a signed copy of Turtles All The Way Down, and a tour brochure. The brochure had letters – one to “people who are only here for their friend/      child/partner/sibling”, another to “the people who are here by themselves”, and a third to everyone.

One of the up sides of arriving an hour before the show is that I ran into a few librarians I knew and watch as the hall filled with excited fans of the brothers. Although John Green writes for young adults, I was not the only unaccompanied adult in the room. And there were not as many young people as I expected. There were plenty, don’t get me wrong, just more people closer to my age than I thought there would be.

Slowly, but surely, the hall filled. And then, the show began.

John came out first, alone and did a reading from Turtles All The Way Down,  which is the reason the whole tour was happening in the first place. After the reading, he spoke a little about his own experience with OCD and the importance of novels. Every novel, he said, is a way to live in another person;s consciousness, to see the world through other people’s eyes. I knew that already, but it is always good to be reminded that reading builds empathy.

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After that serious bit, Dr. Lawrence Turtleman came out. (It was really Hank in a turtle suit.) He gave a funny, sciencey talk about the Carl Linnaeus, how animals are classified, and how tuatara have boney protrusions instead of teeth, among other things.

This was followed by John answering questions about the book. One of the questions had to do with the conflict between writing expository and narrative text, which as a teacher of writing, piqued my interest. He spoke about how reading really good expository texts, like the essays of Joan Didion and the works of Toni Morrison, can help shape writers and teach them to write narratively in their expository text. Hey, That’s what I try to teach my students every day!

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A live version of their podcast followed with a Q & A that was simultaneously serious and hilarious. Hank sang some songs that had me watching the ASL interpreter as much as him because he sings fast, complicated songs with a lot of science thrown in.

John came out again and spoke about Amy Krouse Rosenthal. He told us of how she helped him during a difficult period and taught him that the soldiers of WWI sand “We’re here because we’re here” to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. And then he asked us to sing it. I got weepy.  A beautiful denouement.

 

There was an encore that involved another sing along and then we all went home, encouraged by the words “Don’t forget to be awesome!”

 

 

A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt

29 Oct

Yesterday afternoon, the lobby of the Newmark Theater was buzzing with treasure hunters. Scurvy Sam’s 4-Story Treasure Hunt was the pre-show activity for the Oregon Children’s Theatre‘s production of

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I went because one of my students plays Tall Boy in the production, which is excellent.

I’d read the book years ago to second graders and wondered exactly how they would pull off the multiple scene locations. Brilliantly, as it turns out. The set design was simple and versatile as the ship unfolded and got turned into a variety of locales where Judy and Stink were looking for clues.

The play ran an hour which was perfect. I loved seeing my student on stage, but the entire cast was great. All the kids were extremely talented and Scurvy Sam kept the adults laughing.

 

The little boy siting next two me was almost as much fun as the play itself. He really got into it, laughing and squealing at all the right parts.

If you have a young person, I highly recommend taking them to see this production. Heck, subscribe to the whole season. If this production is any indication, they will all be excellent.

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.

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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

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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.

 

 

This week’s booktalks 9/18-9/22

22 Sep

Monday, I actually encouraged students to listen to The Inquisitor’s Tale  because the audiobook is rather excellent.

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Tired Tuesday, feeling groggy after BTSN, I chose a book I could get super excited about sharing.

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Wednesday, I went for inspirational.

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Thursday, because we were talking about maps as inspiration for writing personal narratives, I chose The Map Trap, with its obvious connection.

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And, finally, Friday, I recommended All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook,  just because I like it. It is the perfect book to curl up with this week.

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2017 National Book Awards for Young People’s Literature

13 Sep

The 2017 National Book Awards Longlist for Young People’s Literature was announced yesterday.  I’ve read four already. I have a few on hold, one ARC, and there are a few that my library doesn’t have yet. And the first three weren’t even on my radar.

MY TBR pile just got longer.

Elana K. Arnold, What Girls Are Made Of

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Robin Benway, Far from the Tree

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Samantha Mabry, All the Wind in the World

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Mitali Perkins, You Bring the Distant Near

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Jason Reynolds, Long Way Down

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Erika L. Sánchez, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

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Laurel Snyder, Orphan Island

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Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

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Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

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Ibi Zoboi, American Street

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Thank you!

10 Sep

Thanks to everyone who has donated to my project to get books for a Mock Newbery Club. The Donors Choose fundraiser finished and most of the books arrived this week.

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I couldn’t order everything I wanted through their program which utilizes Amazon Business. I have a second fundraiser going through a local  school district-based organization, the Beaverton Education Foundation.  I will use that fundraiser to order the rest of the books through Powells Books, who have been great supporters of Beaverton schools.

I am only $250 away from fulfilling that fundraiser. Your tax-deductible donation to the Stoller Middle School Mock Newbery Club,  no matter how small, can help me provide students with the books that will make our Club a wonderful experience. Just click on the link above. Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 9.31.37 AM

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