Tag Archives: birthdays

Happy birthday Kate DiCamillo!

25 Mar


I was born at the tail end of 1964.

On that same day, December 23, 1964, Eddie Vedder, lead singer of   Pearl Jam was born. Although I have never met Eddie, I like to think of him as my other twin, since I already have a twin sister.

I learned recently that Kate DiCamillo was born on March 25, 1964. Happy birthday Kate DiCamillo! The Tale of Despereaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane are two of the books I would take with me to a desert island.

That got me wondering if there other writers were born in 1964. So ex-librarian that I am, I did a little digging to see which of my favorite children’s and YA authors turn 52 this year, like Kate, Eddie and I.

Libba Bray turns 52 on March 11. I read Lair of Dreams  recently, but my favorite book remains Beauty Queens.

 On April 9th, Margaret Peterson Haddix turns 52. My sister gave me Running Out of Time when it came out in 1995 and I have been a fan ever since.

Frances O’Roark Dowell’s birthday is on May 30th. hough I’ve read fewer of her books, my favorite is Shooting the Moon.

On June 5th, we will celebrate Rick Riordan’s 52nd birthday. One of the best book clubs I ever ran was a small pull out group reading  The Lightning Thief. I snapped up that series and even skipped lunch one day in 2008 to make a Powell’s to pick up a just released copy of The Battle of the Labyrinth.

And finally, on October 2nd, Elizabeth Wein, the author of one of my heart books, Code Name Verity,  turns 52.

A year later, in 1965, Frank Sinatra recorded this song.

Two birthdays

3 Feb


Fiona shares a birthday with one of my students. V turned 10 on Sunday and Fiona turned 14. I was excited to celebrate Fiona’s birthday, but worried about V’s.

V was excited all last week. He’s been talking about his party and his birthday. I do a birthday poster for each student who has a poster. Just a piece of white butcher paper with “Happy Birthday _______” in a bubble in the center. Throughout the day classmates can write on it. V and I had talked about his poster and he decided he’d rather have it on Friday than Monday.

V has had a tough life and has difficulty with some of his peers at times. He’s the kid you have to put a lot of time and effort into but you both end up being better people at the end of it. So, as his classmates went over to sign the poster. I reminded them that if they had nothing nice to say, they should just sign their name. By the end of the day V was pleasantly surprised at how full his poster was. I was, too.

As we left the room to go to the buses at the end of the day, V asked one of his best friends if he’d be able to come to his party. The friend replied that he wasn’t sure because of the Superbowl. That’s when I started to worry. I felt really sad for him, worried he’d be that kid, the one who hosts a birthday party and no one shows up.

Fiona, on the other hand, seemed unaffected by her birthday.


I made turkey cakes, with sweet potato frosting, which were the hit of the party. Fiona, as the birthday girl had hers served on Royal Albert china.


Yesterday morning, V came in happy and excited, claiming he was a little wired because he ate too much cake. He was thrilled because he got drawing pads and now had a pad to draw on at home and a separate one for school. He made a few funny comments about how much harder it is to be 10, but talked very little about the party. I didn’t press it. I was just relieved that it went well enough that he came to school happy.

Lucky 13

1 Feb

Today, Miss Fiona turns 13.


As I lay in bed last night, on the verge of sleep, I got to thinking about myself as a 13-year-old. I turned 13 in December 1977. I was in grade eight,I’m Mr Ziegler’s class. He is one of my all time favorite teachers. I’ve written before about what a good fit he was for me, because he wasn’t a traditional teacher. He read aloud to us in 8th grade and let us do open-ended book projects. That got me thinking about what I read around that time. I remember a few things.

First, as one of my self-selected books for reading, I chose, The Wooden Horse by Eric Williams.


Even back in 1977, I loved reading about WWII. It tells the story of prisoners in Stalag Luft III who devise a daring escape plan by digging tunnels  in the open air beneath a wooden vaulting horse.

I also went on an Agatha Christie binge, starting with The ABC Murders, which I ordered through Scholastic. To be honest, I don;t think this was in the regular book order. I must have been reading Agatha Christie already because Mr. Ziegler told me it was in the teacher order form.


In our reading text, the only story that I recall is The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. It stands out because it is not a very nice story. It is the tale of a  big-game hunter who falls off a yacht and swims to an isolated island  where he is hunted by a Cossack aristocrat. That makes me remember that I think I might also have read The Island of Doctor Moreau by H G Wells, which I might also have purchased through Scholastic.


I probably also read  Mrs. Mike  by Benedict and Nancy Freedman.


I loved this book and would check it out a couple of times a year for many years. It  is a realistic account of the joys and hardships of life in northern Alberta in the early 1900s.Katherine Mary O’Fallon is sent from Boston to Alberta to recover from pleurisy. She meets and falls in love with RCMP Sergeant Mike Flannigan and together they live in remote parts of Canada. Such compelling characters, happiness and heartbreak.

Do you remember what you read when you were 13?

Are you ready to rumble?

19 Nov

Remember how, when you were a kid, you thought The Flintstones was funny, then, when you were older and watched it again you saw there was a different level of humor? It takes some talent to pull that off. And guess what! Jon Scieszka and mac Barnett have pulled it off in their new book, illustrated by Matthew Myers


Yes, it is a picture book, but there is a story behind the story. Clearly, Grandma has given Alexander the book Birthday Bunny. Alexander went through and made some improvements.



It is too hilarious. As I read Alex’s story, I loved seeing what he changed. The “original” book art is reminiscent of kids books of my youth. Alex’s improvements include readers smudges and cross outs, along with the text so you can see how creative he is. Yes, it is violent, but this is the story a boy like Alex would love.

It got me thinking: I could go to Goodwill, pick up a bunch of old mediocre books, bring them in and have kids rewrite them and improve the illustrations. No violence, though, It’s a school assignment.

Happy birthday!

4 Jul

Not only is today Independence Day, it is my niece’s 15th birthday. With this in mind, I have a new book she won’t read and which certainly does NOT describe her.


The Meanest Birthday Girl  is written by Josh Schneider, who won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for  Tales for Very Picky Eaters. Dana gets to do what she likes on her birthday: pinch people, call them names and steal their deserts. Dana soon learns that receiving a big white elephant for her birthday is not as wonderful as she thought it would be. And she earns a lot about being a good friend. Written in 5 chapters, this beginning chapter book lends itself nicely to making predictions and kids could even be asked to write  chapter 5 before reading it, or even to write new chapters about what happens to the elephant, or Dana, afterwards.

I hope Alexis has  great birthday (even though she has to work at her day camp job) and that all of you have a fun and safe 4th of July!

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