Tag Archives: Holly Goldberg Sloan

Disrupted reading

22 Mar

A sneeze.

A cough.

Giggles.

A metal water bottle knocked over on the table.

These are the sounds that sometimes interrupt our choice reading time. Usually, it’s the students. This week it was me.

No, I am fine. Thanks for asking. I have managed to mostly avoid the cough/cold/flu that’s been going around.

I laughed and I gasped as I read To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer.

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Early in the week, I was laughing. The book is told in the voices of two girls whose dads have fallen in love. They live on opposite sides of the country and are sent to camp together to get to know each other. Hijinks ensue as relationships are formed and fall apart. My LOLing got me some looks that I usually through at students. Touché, young friends!

With yesterday’s sudden turn of events, the audible gasp I uttered resulted in most heads turning my way. I think I might actually have put my hand to my mouth in a gesture of worry.

I was loath to stop choice reading because I was only 20 pages from the end.  As the students worked silently on an in class essay reflecting on the Ray Bradbury’s short stories, I returned to the world of Night Owl and Dog Fish. I’d peeked ahead and thought I knew how the book would end. I was wrong – but this ending was so much better than the one I’d thought was coming.

What to wear

27 Aug

I can’t say that I’ve spent the whole weekend thinking about what to wear today, the first day of school. I can say that I have given it more than just a passing thought. I was planning on wearing a skirt, but it looks as though I will have tp participate in a game at the “Welcome 6th graders” assembly. Although there is little chance I will fall @$$ over teakettle and expose myself, I believe it is better to be safe than sorry.

A teacher’s first day outfit needs to send a couple of messages:

  • I am professional
  • I know my stuff
  • I am fun
  • I care about you

I am sure there are students out there, getting ready for their first day of school thinking thoughts similar to mine. There are some who have given it no thought at all. There also others whose mother will make the decision for them.

First day of school clothing gets me thinking about Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. This is the book I snorted over at the TCRWP institute two weeks ago.

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Willow, the main character, makes a poor choice about her first day outfit, although she uses flawless logic to come to her decision. To her mother’s credit, although she knows Willow’s choice is a poor one, she lets her wear it.

Another book that gets me thinking about back-to-school is All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson. Imogene’s descriptions of her teachers on the first day made me crack up.

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Happy first day to students and colleagues starting today, to those who have already started, and to those who have yet to start.

This week’s book talks 11/13-17

17 Nov

Monday, one of my favorites to share, because I have stories to tell about real kids this sort of thing happened too. The kids are shocked every time!

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Tuesday, we went the chess route. I asked the kids to think about whether they think they know everything about their parents.

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Wednesday, we took a trip to Vietnam.

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Thursday, we thought about fresh starts.

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And then we finally made it to the end of the first five-day week in a while. I celebrated with a favorite.

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Short

23 Feb

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Like Julia,  the main character of Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Short,  I was always in the front row for school pictures. Like her, I could use a step stool to reach the water glasses in the kitchen, but I generally use a ladle to extend my reach and pull one forward.

Also like Julia, I know how hard it is to lose a beloved dog. Her dog, Ramon, dies just before the book opens, but we learn about it in the first chapter.

Publisher’s Summary:In this heartwarming and funny middle-grade novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s, Julia grows into herself while playing a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz
 
Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn’t ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive—one of the adults with dwarfism who’ve joined the production’s motley crew of Munchkins—and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia’s own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn’t want to fade into the background—and it’s a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!

Bubbling over with humor and tenderness, this is an irresistible story of self-discovery and of the role models who forever change us.

Julia is a quirky and lovable main character. Her observations about the world of the theatre  are insightful, funny, and sometimes she admits she has no idea what the adults are talking about. It is sort of how it is for kids. Shawn Barr (the director),  Olive (her munchkin companion), and Mrs. Chang ( her neighbor and costumer) all help Julia overcome the loss of Ramon and grow in character, if not in stature. A great book for middle grade readers.

 

Celebrating Authors

24 May

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Nervous anticipation buzzed in the room as I entered. Children, with  proud parents nearby,  mingled around a table of cookies and juice, all clutching letters in their hands. They were the authors of the letters and tonight was the night of the 2016  Oregon Letters About Literature Awards. Three of my 6th graders were honorable mentions and this was an event I didn’t want to miss for the world.

They’d written the letters all the way back in December, writing to an author whose book had moved them to some new sort of understanding. I sent them to the Library of Congress, who sent the best back to Oregon for judging. And here we were, five months later, celebrating.

Fonda Lee, local author of Zeroboxer,  opened the event. I was interested as she told us about the books and authors who influenced her, and the writing partners and critique groups that made her a better writer. I got weepy as she shared the comments Holly Goldberg Sloan, Renee Watson and Laini Taylor with whom she shared the letters the three  First Place winners wrote to. Not ten minutes in and I was emotional!

Pride swelled as my first student stepped bravely to front to read her letter aloud. Her mother, sitting in the same aisle as me, was not the only parent recording her child last night.This girl was very poised and spoke in a clear, confident voice. I chuckled when  my second student , the one I think of as my poet, went up. Like the first student, she wore a black dress, but, in her own inimitable style, she had Converse on her feet. I watched her parents, beaming proudly as they held back tears.

I listened attentively as the other students read their letters, but for me, the best had been read. Driving home from the event, I reflected on how much all my students have grown as writers this year. It’s been a year of big changes for me, but, tonight, I know I have done a good job.

Letters About Literature Logo 2015

Seventh heaven

5 Nov

It was a cold & rainy weekend here, so I spent much of my time curled up on the sofa with Fiona, Lucy and Willow. She’s the main character in Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

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I think  we have another Newbery contender here.

Willow Chance is a genius and a social misfit. As quirky as she is, she actually reminds of a couple of kids I’ve taught, so she was believable. Even the way she speaks reminds me of someone in 4th grade right now. It is not normal kidspeak, but it is authentic.

When her parents die, she is in limbo, as she has no other living relatives. She must leave her home and her beloved garden which she spent a lot of time in.   A friend’s family takes her in and so begins the cultivation of a new life for Willow. In the tradition of  Because of Winn-Dixie,  this is a story of the families we make. It is funny and heart-breaking. My only criticism is the ending, which seemed rather rushed, but was still satisfying.

Willow is obsessed with the number 7. Near the end of the book, she’s thinking about the number 7 and comes to this conclusion:

I think that at every stage of living, there are 7 people who matter in your world.

They are the people who are inside you.

They are the people you rely on.

They are the people who change your life.

So, who are your 7 people?

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