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It ain’t over yet

17 Mar

Saturday morning, I ran through my regular weekday routine – up with the alarm, shower, coffee, walk Lucy – before heading out the door. I wasn’t on my way to school, I was on my way to our regions OBOB tournament.

OBOB is short for Oregon Battle of the Books and I was taking in a group of wiggly sixth grade boys, who I hoped knew their 16 books well enough to come out on top. They had battled through january and February to come out on top at our school. Today we’d find out if they had the stuff to get to the State finals.

Our very large and heavily populated region has been broken into three mini-regions. We should have had 16 teams, but apparently only ten would be showing up.

“That could be good,” I told the team late last week at a before school practice.

“But not if the weak teams dropped out,” replied one of the four. Too, true.

We arrived Saturday morning and looked over the four battles we’d have in the round robin portion of the morning. I was glad we were in the half of the teams that would be rotating – these boys needed to move between battles, not sit in the same room.IMG_0192

By the end of the round robin we had won all four matches and were hopeful we’d end up in the final four. We waited with the other 9 teams in the school cafeteria for the results were posted. As we waited, cupcakes arrived at a neighboring table and “Happy Birthday” could be heard. We all joined in. The more cupcakes arrived at another table and a second round of singing filled the room. What a way to spend your birthday!

A hush fell as the chairperson arrived to post the tallied points. We had the highest point total!

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 6.12.58 PM

And then we were off to the next battle. We were now in sudden death elimination battles and this was a tough one. Fortunately, the boys prevailed and we were in the final.

The final was made up of 32 questions, twice as many as the preceding rounds. I was nervous after the last match, but the boys were cool-headed and prevailed, beating the other team 95 to 35, and earning a trip to the State final.

I gave the boys the option to not meet to practice next week, and that we’d start up again after Spring Break. They would have none of it. They are excited about representing our school and our District and are eager to stay at the top of their game.

Wish us luck!

Toe Jam

16 Mar

I got home Thursday night, tired, but determined to finish the toe of my sock.

After dinner, I got myself settled with my favorite knitting podcast and my project bag. I knew I was close to working on the toe. Once I got the toe started the sock would be finished in an hour. After knitting for a while, I measured and tried it on. I was close, so I knit two rounds and began the toe.

As I had predicted it took less than an hour to knit the toe. I sewed the toe closed and wove in my ends before doing my favorite thing: putting the finished sock on for the first time.

It fit, but it felt a little short. It was nearing bedtime and I weighed my options. I could live with it, or I could rip out the toe and revise my work. It was like I was one of my 6th graders. Tearing it out would mean I wasted a whole evening of knitting. If I just lived with it,  I could be finished, and start the second sock – but would I be really happy with the finished product?

I grabbed my scissors.

Friday evening found me back where I started.


Friday night found me happy.


Guest blogging at The Hub today

7 Feb

The Hub gave me the opportunity to interview John Hendrix, a 2019 finalist for YALSA’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for his book , The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler.

Click on the link below to read what he had to say.
Read the interview at The Hub.


An unexpected surprise

6 Feb

Last summer, I picked up an ARC of Mary McCoy’s I,Claudia. It looked vaguely Roman and I thought it might work for the seventh grade Humanities teachers, who teach Ancient Rome and might be able to use it for a book club. It sat around in a TBR pile until last week when it became  Printz Honor book. Now, I am reading it. I am far enough in to know that it is a little too mature for middle school, but I am really enjoying it.


From the author’s website: Disaffected teen historian Claudia McCarthy never wanted to be in charge of anything at the elite Imperial Day Academy. She never even wanted to be noticed. But when she’s pulled into the tumultuous and high-profile worlds of the school’s Senate and Honor Council, suddenly Claudia is wielding power over her fellow students that she never expected to have and isn’t sure she wants.

Claudia vows to use her power to help the school. But there are forces aligned against her: shocking scandals, tyrants waiting in the wings, and political dilemmas with no easy answers. As Claudia struggles to be a force for good in the universe, she wrestles with the questions: does power inevitably corrupt? Can she rise to power without losing herself in the process?

Based loosely on Robert Graves’s I, Claudius, Mary McCoy’s novel sheds light on the insidious nature of political power through the lens of one very smart and shrewd girl who uses ingenious methods to tell her version of history.


The Haul

31 Jan

True confession: I didn’t read the whole time I was at ALA. Well, I read menus and schedules, but no books. I find it kind of funny.

I mailed two medium sized boxes of books home and the last one arrived last night. I made an effort to be selective about what I took – in part to be mindful of my consumption, in part because I took a small suitcase on the train. Aside from about five books I brought to school yesterday, this is my book haul:


Here, in no particular order, are the ones I am most excited about.

Patron Saint of Nothing by Randy Ribay


The Size of the Truth  by Andrew Smith


Last of the Name  by Rosanne Parry


Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt


Susan B. Anthony by Teri Kanefield





#alamw19- Day 2 – Equity and Diversity

27 Jan


With no required meetings to attend I took the opportunity to drop in on business meetings to understand better how ALA functions. Equity, diversity and inclusion EDI) were the key words of the day.

I began the morning at the ALSC  leadership meeting where addressing anti-bias education, equity, diversity, inclusion, race relations, and more.

Afterwards, I took a lap or two around the exhibit hall. It wasn’t very busy and I was able to talk to reps and get my hands on a couple of ARCS I wanted.

After a little lunch (a bagel & cream cheese from my hotel food stash) I went to sit in on the discussions held by the 2019 Children’s Notable Books Committee. Unlike awards committees which are closed meetings, Notables is open. Publishers often sit in when their books are being discussed. A publisher was sitting next to me. When her books were being discussed she took notes, I also noticed her taking notes when committee members talked generally about good and bad features of texts for children.

From there, I went to the YALSA Strategic Planning meeting, which was open. I honestly thought more people were going to be there, but when I walked in, only one other person was sitting in the audience. The Board was doing some reflection around EDI and their mission, with a pair of facilitators. As I settled in my seat one of them came over and let me know what was going on. He also told me they’d be doing an activity shortly and I was welcome to participate. In for a penny, in for a pound!

I went back to the exhibit hall – I’d only seen half in the morning. I was on a mission for bookmarks. It makes me nuts when my students dog-ear or lay them down open with the spine up. When i walked past a table with bookmarks, I grabbed a little stack. And they added up.


The Youth Media Awards are Monday morning. You can watch the livestream here.


#ALAMW19 – Day 1

26 Jan

The nice thing about ALA being in Seattle is that I didn’t have to get up at a crazy hour to catch an early flight to some point  east of Portland. Instead, I got up at my regular time and took the bus to the train station because I was travelling by train.

A business class round trip ticket wasn’t much more expensive than coach,  and it was totally worth it. We got out own waiting room!


As you can see, I was early. The train was 30 minutes late but I didn’t care. I was happy not to be driving! And besides, how often does a plane have a delay of some sort? Business class is set up with two seats on one side and single seats on the other. I had been assigned a single and settled in to knit and listen to my audiobook as we rolled North. Business class passengers were given a coupon for the Bistro, so partway through the journey, I went to see what was on offer. I got a yogurt cup with granola and it was delicious. It was a local Seattle brand and the cup indicated they had a shop in Pike Street Market. I filed that info for later.

When I get to a new city, I like to get oriented. The weather in Seattle was beautiful, so I walked – uphill all the way – from the train station to my hotel, where I was able to check in early. I walked to the convention center to get my badge and then decided to walk to Pike Street Market, only 5 blocks from my hotel.

Conventions are great, but often the food is rich.  As I walked around, looking for the yogurt people, I kept my eye out for breakfast food. I almost didn’t find the yogurt and then, suddenly, it was right in front of me. Woohoo! I found some fresh bagels and got a smoked salmon cream cheese spread and headed home, stopping in a Target for plastic spoons and some La Croix. The basics taken care of, I felt ready to start conferencing.


Traditionally, the Holiday House reception marks the start of the conference for many. Some texts flew between a Beaverton colleague and I and we met up to go together to the first of three events.  She was off somewhere else afterwards, but I met up with a few other people to go to a Penguin/ United for Libraries event.

I walked over to the table where they where handing out copies of this book


The person behind the table said, “Are you doing OBOB at your school?”

“How did you know I did OBOB?” I asked, startled.

“I am the author of Avenging the Owl,” was her reply. I looked at her tag and sure enough, she was Melissa Hart. We had a lovely chat. She will be the guest of honor at the State OBOB meet April.

From there my group was off to the Seattle Public library with an evening with Hervé Tullet where were played and created. Here is my piece:


Even though it was late, my hotel wasn’t far, so I walked back. the fresh evening air was wonderful. I went to bed a lot later than usual, but I was so exhausted I fell asleep right away.

I am ready to get serious about the conference today.


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