Tag Archives: Halloween

Guest Blogging today

31 Oct

I’m the guest blogger on The Hub today. Come on over and see what’s up.

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2018/10/31/mary-shelley-read/

Here’s a hint:

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All Hallows Eve Eve

30 Oct

I have long disliked Hallowe’en. It is complicated, but let me just say  I still like to include the apostrophe and that the day AFTER Halloween can be hard for teachers. When I taught elementary school, we didn’t dress up – had pyjama day instead.

Middle school is a whole different kettle of fish. It is not as smelly as that implies, but we take Hallowe’en seriously. And I finally have a costume I am excited about.

I found this gem at Macy’s.

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I already had the perfect teacup.

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If you still can’t figure it out, maybe this photo will give you a better idea.

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I’ll post a picture of me in full D.U. regalia tomorrow. I intend to channel her spirit as I teach. I hope the kids enjoy my Halloween hijinx.

Halloween is in the air

22 Oct

My costume is ready and – spoiler alert –  I won’t be a ghost or a vampire. They are, however,  the topics of two fun (middle school aged) graphic novels I read this weekend.

In Sheets by Brenna Thummler, one of the main characters is a ghost. The other is a girl holding her grieving family together. This is a serious story of loneliness, grief and invisibility.

Marjorie Glatt feels like a ghost. A practical thirteen-year-old in charge of the family laundry business, her daily routine features unforgiving customers, unbearable P.E. classes and laundry…always, always laundry.

Wendell is a ghost. A boy who lost his life much too young, his daily routine features ineffective death therapy, a sheet-dependent identity, and a dangerous need to seek purpose in the forbidden human world.

Find out what happens when their worlds collide.

Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner, is sweet, funny, and chock full of Twilight  references.  It is about fandom and first crushes. All I have to say is, are you sure you teachers are what they say they are?

Publisher’s Summary: It’s the beginning of the new school year and AJ feels like everyone is changing but him. He hasn’t grown or had any exciting summer adventures like his best friends have. He even has the same crush he’s harbored for years. So AJ decides to take matters into his own hands. But how could a girl like Nia Winters ever like plain vanilla AJ when she only has eyes for vampires?

When AJ and Nia are paired up for a group project on Transylvania, it may be AJ’s chance to win over Nia’s affection by dressing up like the vamp of her dreams. And soon enough he’s got more of Nia’s attention than he bargained for when he learns she’s a slayer.

Now AJ has to worry about self-preservation while also trying to save everyone he cares about from a real-life threat lurking in the shadows of Spoons Middle School.

This week’s book talks 10/30-11/3

3 Nov

I chose spooky books for Halloween week!

Monday,  I shared Thornhill by Pam Smy

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Tuesday, Halloween, I went witchy, with The Apprentice Witch  by James Nicol.

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Wednesday, I talked about Neil Gaiman’s eerie The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

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Friday is the end of the quarter, and a day without students so we can write progress reports. That meant that my last book talk was on Thursday, when I talked about How to Catch a Bogle  by Catherine Jinks.

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Happy Hallow Reads

31 Oct

Last week, I book talked five books with some Halloweenie connection.

The scariest book was the first one, Coraline,  by Neil Gaiman.

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I admitted to the kids that I had never read the book or seen the movie. I told them that Iknew enough about Gaiman and the book to know that it twists reality in a way that seems eerily possible and that seemed to intrigue a few students.

Next up was Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts, a graphics novel to steer us into safer territory, since I don’t really read scary books.

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Many students had read Telgemeier’s other books and that was enough of a recommendation.

On Wednesday, I told them about My Zombie Hamster, by Havelock McCreely. Zombies and humor seem a perfect combination for sixth graders.

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Thursday, I told them about a new one in our classroom library, The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne. This book gave me a chance to explain a little of the history of grave robbers.

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The last book I told them about was one of this year’s OBOB books: Zombie Baseball Beatdown  by Paolo Bacigalupi.

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I’m not yet sure what I will book talk today. I think I will decide once I am in my classroom. I will take a few minutes to leaf through the book bins and choose the 5 books of the week.

 

 

Enter at your own risk

30 Oct

I’ve been listening to Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning during my commute this week.

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Gaiman is not only the author, he is the reader. Not all authors should read their world on an audiobook, but Neil Gaiman definitely should.

Everytime I read Neil Gaiman, I think I should read more Neil Gaiman, which is how I ended up getting this audiobook. I put it on hold after finishing the last one.

The subtitle of Trigger Warning is Short fiction and Other Disturbances and it is apt.It is a collection of works, most, if not all, having been published elsewhere. So far, five discs in, none have been scary. They have all been the perfect accompaniment to my 30 minute commute in the dark week before Halloween: my Halloween candy.

The longest piece in the book is the introduction and so far, that has been my favorite part. Gaiman reflects on writing, Ray Bradbury, life and literature.

Here is a taste of what the book holds; two stories, just for this Halloween eve.

An eerie tale

21 Oct

Like many teachers, I dislike Halloween. It makes teaching difficult for the days leading up to the holiday and, for days following, there is the candy issue. I also dislike the scariness factor.I have never liked scary stories, or too much graphic nastiness, and Halloween brings out the worst aspect of this.

So I approached The Nest,  written by Kenneth Oppel and illustrated by Jon Klassen, with great caution.

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It is a short chapter book that is more eerie than scary, and that is Ok with me, though I still only read such books early in the day, or listen to them in the car. I did a bit of both with The Nest in part because I wanted to enjoy Klassen’s illustrations along with the text.

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Publisher’s summary:Steve just wants to save his baby brother—but what will he lose in the bargain? This is a haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, from acclaimed author Kenneth Oppel (SilverwingThe Boundless) with illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.

For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?

This book is terrifying, but not scary in the way I hate. If you are loping for a short read to set the mood for Halloween, I highly recommend The Nest.

The book to which my meandering thoughts took me

24 Aug

Yesterday, when I should have been thinking loftier thoughts, my mind took a little trip to Hallowe’en. (I still like to spell it with an apostrophe even though that seems to be going the way of the dodo.) I got thinking about Hallowe’en because, now that I am back at middle school, we dress up for Hallowe’en. And so the eternal dilemma: What will I wear? And can I knit it?

I started thinking about things I could knit as part, or all, of  a Hallowe’en costume. I could where a brain hat with a lab coat.

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And there is quite an array of Viking options. No weapons at school, obviously.

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I will keep thinking on this, but if I am gong to knit for Halloween, I will probably have to get started soon.

Have you ever noticed that when you are thinking about something it seems to pop up everywhere? Well, I went to the library a little bit after my Hallowe’en excursion, and found this little gem:

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Publisher’s Summary: Princess Decomposia is overworked and underappreciated.

This princess of the underworld has plenty of her own work to do but always seems to find herself doing her layabout father’s job, as well. The king doesn’t feel quite well, you see. Ever. So the princess is left scurrying through the halls, dodging her mummy, werewolf, and ghost subjects, always running behind and always buried under a ton of paperwork. Oh, and her father just fired the chef, so now she has to hire a new cook as well.

Luckily for Princess Decomposia, she makes a good hire in Count Spatula, the vampire chef with a sweet tooth. He’s a charming go-getter of a blood-sucker, and pretty soon the two young ghouls become friends. And then…more than friends? Maybe eventually, but first Princess Decomposia has to sort out her life. And with Count Spatula at her side, you can be sure she’ll succeed.

Andi Watson (Glister,Gum Girl) brings his signature gothy-cute sensibility to this very sweet and mildly spooky tale of friendship, family, and management training for the undead.

It is delightful graphic novel. the art is simple black and white, bit this actually adds to the ambiance. The writing is smart and funny. This is an excellent book for kids aged 8 & up.

 

Scary books I couldn’t read

31 Oct

I have not had a TV for over a decade. As a result, I find that I can no longer watch or read scary things. I have nightmares. I am that much of a weenie.

So, my Happy Halloween post is about books that I started reading, but found too scary to finish. It is really a testament to the writing of these authors, because they created scenes so vivid I had to stop. If you are less of a fraidy cat, you might enjoy these.

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I thought I’d be able to read this one. In fact, when I was reading the first few chapters, I was sure I’d make it to the end. Then the kids got on the bus and met Tin-Shoe Joe. I knew I had to stop. I was getting that creepy feeling. I even peeked at the end to be sure all ended well, but I couldn’t keep going.

Oh Rick Yancey, how I wish I could read you. I listened to The Isle of Blood it in the car this summer, but I abandoned

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when the oozing monster appeared. I actually gagged while driving. then, I popped the disc right out.  I abandoned  The Monstrumologist a few years ago. Pathetic, aren’t I.

Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was more creepy than scary. But I still couldn’t finish it.

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The too realistic pictures gave me weird dreams and I had to set the book aside and read something less disruptive to my sleep.

Finally, I also gave up on  Far, Far Away  by Tom McNeal, which is a National Book Award finalist.

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The ghost’s voice simply frightened me. I could imagine it talking to me and that was way too frightening to imagine.

Have a safe and fright-free Halloween!

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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