What is it with Narwhals?

10 Aug

I feel like a salty sailor when I say narwhal. Try it. Can you say narwhal and NOT want to sound like a pirate? Maybe we should write narghwhal instead. A little narwhal humor for you.

It seems as though narwhals are everywhere! It started last year with Ben Canton’s Narwhal, Unicorn of the Sea.

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Publisher’s Summary: Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together.
A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three stories. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever — even though it doesn’t have any words…or pictures!
Ben Clanton showcases the joys of friendship, the benefits of working together and the power of imagination in the delightful Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea.

This year already has two narwhal books, a sequel to Narwhal, Unicorn of the Sea  entitled Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt , and a poignant picture book by Jessica Sima called Not Quite Narwhal.

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Happy-go-lucky Narwhal and no-nonsense Jelly find their inner superheroes in three new under-the-sea adventures. In the first story, Narwhal reveals his superhero alter-ego and enlists Jelly to help him figure out what his superpower is. Next, Narwhal uses his superpower to help a friend find his way back home. In the third story, Jelly is feeling blue and Narwhal comes to the rescue. Ben Clanton showcases the joys of friendship and the power of believing in yourself and others through this irresistible duo.

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Publisher’s Summary: Growing up in the ocean, Kelp has always assumed that he was a narwhal like the rest of his family. Sure, he’s always been a little bit different—his tusk isn’t as long, he’s not as good of a swimmer, and he really doesn’t enjoy the cuisine. Then one night, an extra strong current sweeps Kelp to the surface, where he spots a mysterious creature that looks just like him! Kelp discovers that he and the creature are actually unicorns. The revelation leaves him torn: is he a land narwhal or a sea unicorn? But perhaps, if Kelp is clever, he may find a way to have the best of both worlds.

Told with heartwarming illustrations and spare, sweet text, Jessie Sima’s debut picture book is about fitting in, standing out, and the all-encompassing love of family.

It is hard to say why two authors are suddenly thinking narwhal thoughts, but it doesn’t matter; the books are fantastic.

Fans of Narwhal and Jelly can look forward to a third book in April 2018.

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A shameless plea for your help

9 Aug

Dear Readers,

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I want to run a Mock Newbery Club at my school this year. I have a great list of books for the students to read and discuss.

 

I want to make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed, so I just created a DonorsChoose.org classroom request:

A Middle School Mock Newbery Club

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Give to my classroom by August 16, 2017 and your donation will be doubled thanks to DonorsChoose.org. Just enter the code LIFTOFF during checkout and you’ll be matched dollar for dollar (up to $50).

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I m also running a fundraiser through a district based organization, the Beaverton Education Foundation. These donations are tax-deductible. You can donate to my project at this link: Stoller Middle School Mock Newbery Club 2017

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In return, you’ll get awesome photos of your gift in action and our heartfelt thanks.

Thank you so much,
Adrienne

P.S. If you know anyone who may want to help my students, please pass this along!

The Road to Bend

8 Aug

Way back in the Spring, a friend and I signed up for a union sponsored, all-expenses paid, leadership conference to be held in Bend, Oregon. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

A few weeks before the conference she called me, thinking she didn’t really want to go anymore. I didn’t want to be assigned a random roommate, so we looked into cancelling. Apparently, others have felt this way in the past and cancelling would cost us each $150. So, we made plans for the trip.

The day before we made plans on where to meet. Thinking I was being helpful, I suggested the Starbucks 3 blocks from my house. My friend has a history of being late and I figured I could enjoy my coffee while I waited. I could also leave my car at home and buy her a coffee, since she would be the driver. While talking on the phone, I looked up the address and read it off to her.

The next morning, I was at Starbucks about 5 minutes early, as is my wont. The deal was that, if she wasn’t there by 7:15, I would call her. I placed my order and picked up my Venti soy latte when it was ready. Little did I know that my first sip of the mocha, would foreshadow other little mistakes.

By 7:10, I was getting anxious… and then my phone rang.

“Where are you?” my friend asked.

Well, it turned out I had not really been paying attention the night before because I;d given her the WRONG address. She was at a Starbucks on Burnside Street, but several miles away. Why hadn’t I noticed that last night? I gave directions to my location and she arrived within a few minutes.

Once she had her coffee, we sat to plan the route. East over Mount Hood, then South? Or South down I-5, then east? We opted for the Mount Hood route and tried to plug in the hotel address to her phone. It wasn’t taking it, so we just typed in Bend, and loaded the car.

After three hours of conversation, the phone began giving us directions. We followed them until she said, “Arrived at Bend”.

We burst out laughing, remembering we hadn’t put in the hotel address. My friend did so and we were off and driving again. Except it still didn’t seem right. Maps had the hotel in the north end of Bend and the phone was sending us South. We knew we were int rouble and started laughing. I was  laughing so hard at one point, I couldn’t speak. My friend pulled over because she was laughing and had to go to the bathroom badly. An accident was imminent. We pulled ourselves together and carried on, after finding a bathroom.

The phone sent us off the highway and through a round about then told us to turn left, but the barrier in the road made us turn right. We pulled off and put in the hotel’s name, instead of the address and, miracle of miracles, we had new directions. we arrived within a few minutes. We registered and made it to the opening lunch, which had just begun, and sat down, hopeful that our misadventures were over.

Just for fun, her are some pictures from the trails near our hotel and conference center.

The print book is better than the audio

7 Aug

I LOVE a well-narrated audiobook. But if the voice doesn’t work for me, I will stop and either  read the print book, or abandon the book completely because I’ve been so turned off.

I started listening to See You In the Cosmos as an audiobook, but I so hated the voice, I stopped. I chose to pick up the print book. This is a book with a strong voice, and you will either love it or not. There is no fence-sitting  here. Narrated as a series of recordings on his iPod, the main character, Alex, describes situations he clearly does not understand. As I read, I often wondered if the readers this book is aimed at will.

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Publisher’s Summary: A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel for fans of Counting by 7sWalk Two Moons, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
 
11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.

 

Nikki Grimes’ Golden Shovel

6 Aug

Poet Terrance Hayes is credited with inventing Golden Shovel poetry. When you write a Golden shovel poem, you take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire, and, maintaining their order, use each word as an end word in your poem.

Poet Nikki Grimes has taken this strategy and written a beautiful homage to the Harlem Renaissance in One Last Word. 

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Publisher’s Summary: In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking.

This special book also includes original artwork in full-color from some of today’s most exciting African-American illustrators, who have created pieces of art based on Nikki’s original poems. Featuring art by: Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, Nikki Grimes, E. B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.

A foreword, an introduction to the history of the Harlem Renaissance, author’s note, poet biographies, and index makes this not only a book to cherish, but a wonderful resource and reference as well.

Books of poetry rarely win Newbery medals, but this one is certainly in the running, although I wonder of the presence of the Harlem Renaissance poems disqualifies it. regardless, Grimes’ book bring artists and writers of the period to a new audience and addresses tough issues that persist.

A Journey Through Hobohemia

4 Aug

One of my favorite French poems is “Ma Bohème” by Arthur Rimbaud. I had to do a presentation on it in a university french poetry class and it has always stayed close to my heart. As you can probably tell from the title, this poem is a fantasy of bohemian life, and very much romanticizes the freedom of roaming with no cares in the world.

Ceceil Castellucci’s middle grade graphic novel, Soupy Leaves Home,  tells the story of a young girl who flees her home during the Great Depression and becomes a hobo and learns about the freedom and burdens of her “bohème”.

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Publisher’s Summary: Set in 1932, this is the story of two misfits with no place to call home, who build a relationship during a train hopping journey from the cold heartbreak of their eastern homes toward the sunny promise of California.

Pearl “Soupy” Plankette ran away from her abusive father, but has nowhere to go until she stumbles upon a disguise that gives her the key to a new identity. Reborn as a boy named Soupy, she hitches her star to Remy “Ramshackle” Smith, a hobo who takes her under his wing. Ramshackle’s kindness and protection go a long way to help Soupy heal from her difficult past. But Ramshackle has his own demons to wrestle with, and he’ll need Soupy just as much as she needs him.

In case you;d like to read “Ma Bohème”, you can click here for the original French, and/or the English translation.

The Parking Lot

1 Aug

I’ve started thinking about my next car. I am hoping it will be my last car because, when it dies, I will be retired and hope to rely on public transport.

I’m thinking t will be a small car, a Mini Cooper or Fiat. Maybe a Honda Fit. I want my next car to fit into small parking spaces. And what I witnessed yesterday reaffirmed my commitment to a smaller car.

I had just exited Trader Joe’s and was walking through the parking lot to my car. I had parked at the far end of the parking lot, in the shade of a tree. (In case you hadn’t heard, we are having a heat wave).

It was already hot and I was thinking happy thoughts about blasting the AC. As I crossed the road in front of the store, a big, white SUV pulled into the same row my car was parked in. I turned down the row and stopped. The SUV driver was having a little trouble turning into a spot. The driver pulled forward, then backed up and cranked the steering wheel. The driver pulled forward some more and still didn’t fit, so s/he backed up again And then turned the tires the wrong way.

I was feeling impatient – it was a hot morning after all – but suddenly I had a feeling I was in for a show. Again the driver pulled forward and did not fit. Sheesh! They backed out again. Again they turned the tires the wrong way. They pulled forward some more and I think that was when the driver realized it was never going to work.

This must have been the moment they realized that, only one car away, were two empty spots side by side. An easy park! They backed up once more, but it was once too often.

I saw the collision coming before it happened. I think I might even have called out, but I don’t think the driver heard me over the crunch. They pulled forward and it only took two tries to fit in the new spot.

By then, I’d walked to my car. I passed the victim vehicle, a van that was hardly marked. I didn’t see the SUV driver get out. Didn’t see if they left a note on the van or not. Surely they felt the collision and would do the right thing.

As I drove out of the lot I passed the shiny new SUV that did the damage. There was a football sized dent on driver side bumper.

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