Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Favorites

This year I believe I read more books than I ever have in one year.  I think I will top out at about 550 books.  I still have one more day though so it's not a final number yet.  It's true that around 300 of them were picture books, but more than 200 of them were novels or narrative non-fiction so it's still a lot of pages.  Whew.

This whole reading frenzy was inspired by Donalyn Miller.  She has this great reading challenge called Bookaday on Goodreads.  I happened to see Bookady and think maybe I could read 365 this year since I know I did it once in Jr. High (seriously - I wrote them all down).  I laughed though because I noticed that there was a guy on there who was aiming for 2011 books this year.  I even called my daughter over and said, "Look at that - he's got to be crazy."  By now I have come to discover that yes, he is crazy.  Crazy about books.  And, I have come to appreciate all that Mr. Schu does to promote reading and books.

During this reading challenge, I have read some simply amazing books and as most Nerdybookclub members seem to do, I must share some of my favorites.

Picture Books

Me...Jane - the text and illustrations fit together so well. I loved the mix of created illustrations with actual photos from Jane's childhood and it had a quiet feel. Beautiful.

Blackout - pictures are great, but I also enjoyed the message of taking a time out to reconnect with each other.


Press Here - just absolutely fantastic for many ages. The interactivity of it is so fun for little ones.

I Want My Hat Back - hilarious and a great way to get people interacting since some things are left to the imagination and readers don't always agree about what happened. Plus, the eyes of the animals are just a hoot as one of my students demonstrates above.

Queen of the Falls - the pictures are fabulous and the story (based on a real person) is a jaw dropper.

Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes - My kids adore this - the song adds so much, but Pete is just too cool.  I wrote about him earlier in the year here.

Middle Grade Novels

Wonderstruck - Selznick has done it again with a weaving of stories that pulls the reader along. The excellent illustrations really move the story.

Bigger Than a Breadbox - a bit of magical realism that touches the heart of any reader, but particularly a reader that has experienced the separation or divorce of parents. Beautifully done.

When Life Gives You OJ - unique storyline and I fell in love with the Grandpa even though he is seriously cranky.

Ghetto Cowboy - a part of urban life that I did not know was possible and characters that touched my heart.

Friendship Doll - great historical fiction following a Japanese dolls' interactions with people on a tour of the states prior to and through WWII.  Great for the history, but the doll was convincingly learning and growing while also affecting the people around her.

A Monster Calls - powerful message for anyone dealing with grief. Gives me shivers when I think about it.


Over and Under the Snow - loved learning about this fantastic other world full of creatures under the snow.  Also especially loved being able to talk to Kate Messner about writing this book. See post here.

Amelia Lost - I appreciated learning that Amelia was not perfect.  This was a more well rounded biography than those I have read in the past.

Heart and Soul - just beautiful and it is wonderful to see US history from the African American perspective.


Hidden - fantastic novel in verse that has strong characters, a mystery and hidden messages.

Every Thing on It - unbelievable luck that there were still more Shel Silverstein poems out there for us to enjoy.

Graphic Novels

Zita the Spacegirl - feisty and fabulous main character.

Amulet: The Last Council - enough action for anyone and gorgeous illustrations.

Anya's Ghost - reminds me of something Neil Gaiman would do. Fantastic and seriously creepy. (YA)


Divergent - LOVED IT! Action, adventure, and strong characters all together in a dystopian world. Excellent!

Under the Mesquite - another great book dealing with grief - this time through verse. I appreciated that it was based on the author's own struggles. Beautiful.

It's a long list, but I was wowed by a lot of books this year and there are even some I am leaving out to keep the list shorter like Balloons Over Broadway, Grandpa Green, Perfect Square, Breadcrumbs and Inside Out and Back Again.  I just have to stop at some point though.

Monday, December 26, 2011

It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

Sheila over at Book Journey started  

This led Jen and Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts to start 

With this meme, the aim is to get people to reflect on the reading they did during the past week, and to also make a reading plan for the coming week.  Sheila had a great idea and Jen and Kellee just tweaked it with a kitlit focus. It's a great way to see what other people are reading, but I really like that this might just get me to make a plan for the week.

During the past week, I have had the chance to read some hilarious picture books. I finally got my hands on A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid and loved it.  Petunia is adorable.  I also got to read Baxter the Pig Who Wanted to be Kosher by Laurel Snyder.  It was fantastic and educational (in a good way).  A Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale was entertaining and the board book Welcome to the World looks like a very nice book for little ones.  They always seem to enjoy looking at the faces of real babies.        One final picture book was Oops by Arthur Geisert that totally reminded me of a Rube Goldberg experiment gone awry.  It wasn't my favorite, but was fun.

I was also making an attempt to catch up on some non-fiction reading so had several on my list. Reading Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets, The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs, Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature, and Can We Save the Tiger? helped to make a dent in my TBR pile.  Swirl by Swirl was my favorite of the bunch. I loved the illustrations and the text weaving throughout.

Anya's Ghost was the only graphic novel that I got to read, but wow it was amazing and creeptastic. It was one of several young adult books that I was lucky enough to read.  Beauty Queens by Libba Bray was simply hilarious on audio.  Libba Bray does a phenomenal job with the characters.  My Name is Not Easy was the most serious and challenging book of the week, but was also quite moving.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of my fantasy-adventure jaunts that certainly kept my attention and left me waiting for more with a seriously annoying cliff hanger.

My only two middle grade reads were Liesl and Po which was an excellent fantasy and The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales, which contains some rather bizarre short stories that are very intriguing.

Now for the week ahead.  I am in the middle of Jefferson's Son by Kimberly Bradley and am finding it fascinating.  It is definitely a book to make a reader wonder many things.  I am also in the middle of Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.  I am going to try to finish both of those.  Then I will plan to read a bunch of picture books and those below:

Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet by Kashmira Sheth
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode they Bicycle to Freedom by Sue Macy
Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac
How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Around the World by Matt Phelan

I am excited to be reading so many great books over vacation and being able to fit in more than one book a day is fantastic.  Happy reading!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Nerdy Book Club

Enjoying My Nerdy Book Club Gifts
I have had such a great time learning, laughing, and reading so far this year with the Nerdy Book Club.  This group of readers gravitated toward each other on Twitter and have gathered members rapidly. Within a month or two they have gone from talking about books on #titletalk and daily on Twitter, to organizing the First Annual Nerdies book award, creating a group blog, starting a Cafe Press Store for getting Nerdy t-shirts and other fun stuff, and contributing pictures of favorite reading spots to make a fun video.  I can't wait to see what the new year has in store with this very creative and extremely enthusiastic bunch of readers.  I'm so glad that I get to be involved!  Now I'm going to get back to my book.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reading Stacks!

I am eagerly anticipating my winter break. Of course I want to spend time with my family, but I also have a plan - a reading plan. I have a stack of books from my own school library, a stack from the public library, and some from my son's high school too.  I have gathered them and ordered them from all over. Some from the public library are still yet to come on loan from many miles away. A lot of them are sitting in our office waiting for me to get out of school on Thursday and begin my winter reading break.  Here are some of them. Oh, and the knitting I hope to get to while I listen to a couple of audio books.

Not surprisingly, many of them are on my TBR list based on recommendations from Twitter friends. Some of them will also be read as a result of the Nerdy Book Club and in particular the very first Nerdy Book Club Awards. I tried to read many of the nominations before voting, but there were simply too many fabulous books to get through in a short time so now that I will have some extra time, I think I can catch up.

Next year, I hope to be better prepared.  This summer I signed up for the 2011 Reading Challenge, but half of the year was already gone.  This coming year, I will be in it for the whole year and so hopefully I will not be so far behind. I look forward to a fantastic year of reading and anticipate reading more books than ever before.

So I hope you are making your reading plans. I wish you many wonderful pages.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kate Messner & Our Skype Visit with Update

Our third grade was very lucky and had the opportunity to visit with Kate Messner recently.  We had all read her picture books Over and Under the Snow and Sea Monsters First Day, and a lot of us had read Marty McGuire.  We really enjoyed getting to talk to her and ask lots of questions about her writing process.  She shared about some of her favorite books she read as a child (Ramona books and Judy Blume books), where she got her ideas for the books we had read, and about carrying around a notebook to jot cool ideas down.  We found out that the new Marty McGuire will be published in the spring and we cannot wait to get our hands on it.

After the visit, we wanted to figure out a way to say thank you.  The students that are happy to be in front of a camera have spoken for all of us in the video below.  We hope you enjoy seeing their response to Kate.  If you or your class are interested in Skyping with Kate or with other authors, she has a fantastic blog post explaining how it all works and which authors do this: Authors Who Skype with Classes or Book Clubs (for free).  This was our schools' second Skype author visit.  The first was Tom Angleberger of Origami Yoda fame with our 4th & 5th grade - and he was a hoot.  We would like to make virtual author visits a regular occurrence because we learn so much and they are extremely fun. Thanks again to Kate Messner who made our day.

P.S. I forgot to add the video messages of one of my classes.  They let me know it when I showed them the video above.  Sooooo, here are their messages too.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Technology Conference

My brain is extremely full, but in a good kind of way.  After attending SLATE (School Leaders Advancing Technology in Education) this week, I have many ideas of things I would like to do.  Narrowing them down and seeing which ideas are actually the most logical to work on will take awhile.  It is fun to meet and talk with so many people that are excited about teaching in innovative ways.  I’m a bit overwhelmed, but am enjoying thinking about and imagining the learning that could happen in our classrooms because we went to this conference.  These kinds of events are meant to be transformative and I hope that this truly will be for me and the others from our school district that attended.

We had keynote speakers that talked to us about the big picture.  We are educating our students in a rapidly changing world and we need to prepare them for a job market that has also changed.  They will need the skills of collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication along with content knowledge.  We have a big job ahead of us.  

I was able to see nice examples of digital student portfolios using collaborative wikis with teachers from the Kiel Area School District.  That got me thinking about how digital portfolios could be used in our own school, but also about how it may help my own teenager as she moves towards job and college applications.

I was fortunate enough to be in a session with Tammy Lind @taml17 learning how to use mobile devices to share student work.  I already had Evernote on our iPads, but had not considered the many amazing uses of that app.  I took advantage of it throughout the rest of the conference.

The next session I was able to attend was the iPad App Shootout and wow - they (Marion University instructors) had some amazing apps to share.  The most awe-inspiring one was the Tour Wrist and the 123 Sculpt was way cool. There were too many to mention here, but they supplied a list of favorites.

My final session was with a high school French teacher, Cecilia Schoultz @profhutch who is a technology leader in her school.  She gave us many excellent suggestions for encouraging technology use in our schools.  Her presentation was fantastic and her information may be found here

Our closing keynote speaker also gave us a lot to think about.  Things are definitely changing and we will have to take advantage of those changes and move forward.  We will create our future as a district.

Another big benefit of this trip was getting to spend a lot of time eating, shopping and relaxing with my fellow LMC directors and talking technology AND books.  I am glad I was a part of this, but am also very glad to be back in my very own living room with holiday lights and my dog curled up in my lap as I get ready to do a little reading.  Good-night.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thankfully Reading Results

I have to say that I was not able to read nearly as much as I had hoped for the Thankfully Reading Weekend, but I had fun with my family and made a significant dent in my NaNoWriMo novel in addition to stealing a little time to read a few books.

The first book in my weekend was Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner.
I stole minutes every chance I could to sink into this fun middle grade novel about a young figure skater struggling with her priorities.  Claire must balance helping out at her family's Maple farm, school, skating and her friendships.  Since I have spent many hours watching my daughter skate and prepare for competitions, I truly enjoyed this novel. It was a nice escape when I needed a little quiet time.

The second book I was lucky enough to read was Seaglass Summer by Anjali Banerjee.  Seaglass Summer tells of a young girl spending part of the summer with her uncle, a veterinarian, while her parents visit family in India.  She has been waiting and waiting for this opportunity because she wants to be a vet when she grows up.  Her eyes are opened as she sees the many messy and difficult things that a vet must do.  Poppy has pluck and I had fun watching her learn.

The final book of my weekend was The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy.  Since I was reading a galley from Netgalley, I wasn't able to see the illustrations, but the story was unique and very entertaining.  I enjoyed the Dickens allusions and the wonderful old inn where the story takes place. Skilley is a cat of refined tastes.  Mice do not interest him, but the fabulous Cheshire Cheese, now that is another story.  Skilley and his new mouse friend, Pip, work together in spite of some dangerous enemies in their way.   Reading this book was a wonderful way to while away my Sunday.

While I didn't get to nearly enough books over the weekend, I enjoyed every moment I could manage to carve out.  I have a wonderful pile of books waiting for me now.  I'm off to read a few.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankfully Reading Weekend 2011

As a Thankfully Reading participant, my first challenge is to write about a book that I am most thankful for from any time in my life.  This should be an easy task, but there are so many books that I am thankful for that I am having quite a difficult time focusing in on just one.

I think back to the early books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar that helped me learn and practice my own early reading strategies.  I remember books like those in the Ramona series that showed how my little sister was not the only pest in the world.  I remember Are You There God it's Me Margaret that assured me that I was perfectly normal and that growing up was tricky for everyone.  The Hobbit completely blew my mind and Gone With the Wind made my little heart break.  Robin McKinley and Anne McCaffrey both managed to show me that women can be strong and intelligent despite what most literature displayed.  

There have been so many wonderful books in my past, that narrowing it down to one that gets my thanks is just impossible.  If I have to name the book that has shown up repeatedly in my life that I am thankful for, it would be Little Women.  I first read a children's version of it in elementary school.  I read it over and over again.  Then, in middle school, I read the real deal.  I have read it many, many times and always cry over Beth, am annoyed by Amy and Meg, cry with Jo and adore Marmee.   The way the family cared for each other touched me in the midst of my difficult years.  I really related to Beth, since I was painfully shy myself, and I longed to be more outspoken like Jo.  We owned the book, so it was available to revisit and I lived with the Marches anytime I felt lonely.  I am thankful that Louisa May Alcott wrote that and many other books that were childhood and teenage friends of mine.  She brightened many a day for me and helped me in my quest to overcome my shyness and to deal with my temper (the one area of myself that was very much like Jo).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Balloons Over Broadway

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet is a wonderful way to learn the history of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  In addition, the book is a fantastic work of art itself.  Melissa used unique collages to illustrate the text.  The illustrations really fit in well with the picture she paints of Tony Sarg, the puppeteer that engineered the giant balloons in Macy's parade.  He was an inventor that used anything around him creatively to solve problems.  I loved learning that the parade grew as a way to honor the traditions of the immigrant staff members of Macy's and allow for celebration.  Mostly it was just fun to see the way Sarg invented whatever he needed and kept trying things that might have seemed impossible to other people.

Here is a video showing how the modern balloons are inflated before the parade.  In the book, it said they used sandbags to restrain the balloons, but now they use nets.

In the video below, you get to see how they test out the balloons and practice moving as a group.

A sample of some typical things seen in a Macy's Parade

It was cool to learn that Tony Sarg also had two apprentices.  One, Bill Baird, went on to create the puppets seen in the movie The Sound of Music (video clip on YouTube).  The other was Jim Henson, who created The Muppets.

Here's is the latest incarnation of The Muppets opening during Thanksgiving week.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thankfully Reading Weekend

Here is an opportunity, or excuse as it may be, to read, read, and read over the Thanksgiving holiday time.    The Thankfully Reading Weekend invites you to read a little or read a ton, but read as much as you can.  I have never participated before, but it appears that the main point is to make time for reading.  In Jen's words, it is "an excuse to do an insane amount of reading over the long Thanksgiving weekend!"  Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Friendship and Hope for A Changing World

I love this video from D-PAN (Deaf Professional Arts Network).  I hadn't ever heard this song, but it would be great to show at school when discussing friendship or at the beginning of the year.

I had completely forgotten about D-PAN though I have seen some of their work in the past.  Obviously a lot of their work focuses on the deaf like the video Waiting on the World to Change, but beyond that, the material  speaks to respect for others regardless of our differences.  You can see that in the powerful  video Beautiful with the music of Christina Aguilara.

I can't help but think of the book The Deaf Musicians by Pete Seeger and Paul DuBois Jacobs when I watch the combination of music and signing.  It would be a great text to pair with the videos.  Many hearing people don't associate music with the deaf or hard-of-hearing, so this book and the videos can be quite an eye opener.  In 2007, Tony Evans wrote a review of the book on the blog Deaf Echo, and closed with this, 
"I do hope that many of his admirers and fans see this book, read it, and reconsider deafness and what being deaf means today. At the very least, I hope they’ll understand that the interpreter standing on stage at any concert or artistic function isn’t there to distract, or to be annoying, but to help those of us who want to attend to share in the arts."
I am fortunate that my aunt thought to post one of D-PAN's videos because it was a great reminder of the wonderful work that they are doing and the positive message that they provide for us all.  I hope you take some time and experience the art of D-PAN.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

10 Cool Things I Learned on Twitter This Week

Inspired by Colby Sharp's post in combination with my appreciation for Twitter, I felt that I must also share what I have learned on Twitter recently.

1. @MrsBMG-shared that Toontastic was free this weekend - so I got a great app I've been wanting - FOR FREE!

2.  @langwitches- shared a copyright article by Wesley Fryer that included memory device for teaching wise way to search for audio (and other additions to presentations) Harry Potter Can Fly: 
H = Homegrown
 P = Public Domain
 C = Creative Commons 
F = Fair Use

3.  From the same copyright article I was led to a fantastic site, digccMixter, that has links to places that provide audio for use in presentations, videos etc....

4.  I read and participated in more great discussion around the picture book I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen at #hatback (particularly with @colbysharp, @mentortexts, and @PaulWHankins)

5. @pageintraining and @MarciaDressel provided much needed #NaNoWriMo encouragement and @maureenjohnson shared advice for how to survive

6. I was unsurprised but happy to learn via @the1stdaughter that @Patrick_Ness won the Galaxy National Book Award for A Monster Calls.

7.  Twitter has led me to Picture Book Month and #picturebookmonth is chock full of ideas that I can't wait to use in my library.  I will likely have my students recommending their faves in the coming weeks.

8. @Tamara_Jaimes Tweeted "Following familiar authors gives kids (&me) a peek into the writing process of the best writing mentors. It's instant credibility!"  Made me think I might need to show a few author tweets at school.  Hadn't thought to do that.

9. @JensBookPage led me to great article by Mo Willems (@The_Pigeon) about why we need books.   His article even helped me with writing hints for my NanoWriMo book.

10. I got to find out about many new and old books to add to my To Be Read pile through #Fridayreads and #bookaday and of course #Titletalk.  There are so many awesome people on Twitter that love reading and literacy.  

Twitter is an awesome tool and is a whole lot of fun.  I am loving how it influences my teaching and my library while providing more than a few laughs.  Thanks to all of you wonderful Tweeters busy teaching and learning with each other.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

November is National Novel Writing Month

Okay, so I am now going to make an attempt at writing a novel.  Pfffft.  I am shaking my head at myself.  Unbelievable.  I start a blog and all of a sudden I am jumping into a novel.  Way crazy, but it should definitely be a learning experience.  Notice I didn't say a wonderful or fabulous learning experience.

I heard about this event, affectionately called NaNoWriMo, on NPR a few years ago and thought it might be a fun experiment someday when I have a lot of time.  Right.

Here is the official press release about this bizarre insanity they describe as Novel Fever. There are six days left before the craziness begins.  We will have one month to write a complete novel of at least 50,000 words.  My courageous daughter has just decided that she wants to join too.  Wahoo!  Wish us luck.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Crazy Time of Year

I realized that I haven't posted for awhile.  It is really a crazy time of the year for me.  Last week was my first full marathon, I had an evening class to attend, I had a workshop to teach aside from several after-school meetings, and we celebrated Read for the Record (see my student blog here).  This week, I am volunteering at a local high school one evening, teaching a class one evening, setting up our book fair, and going to a cross country meet on another evening.

So when am I going to get to read books?!?  Hopefully, I will always have a book with me for those few spare moments in between events.  I have a few Babymouse books waiting in the wings along with the sequel to Killer Pizza and The Fourth Stall.  It will be a miracle if I read them all, but maybe this is my lucky week.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dot Day Pictures

Wow, time has gotten away from me.  I was planning on posting some pictures a long time ago.  We had a great time with our Dots.  I hope you enjoy seeing some of our pictures.  We sure had fun making them.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dot Week

We had a great time celebrating the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds.  Around 300 students used their creativity to design dots.  We had little dots, big dots, and all different colors of dots.  You can see some of the fun in the slideshow below.

I will post a few pictures tomorrow. I had some great fifth grade students give up their recess and come paint huge dots to put up around the school.  On the official Dot Day we all took home a "dot" that looked suspiciously like a pompon to remind us to use our creativity and make our mark.

I am so glad that I found out about Dot Day because it is a wonderful way to encourage creativity and reaches out to the artist in all of us.  I send out a huge thank you to Peter Reynolds.  He knows that a lot of us get caught up in that thinking that tells us we just can't draw or we just can't ... (fill in the blank with whatever you might be afraid to try). He reminds us to go ahead and make that first mark and see where it takes us.  Be bold!  Be brave!  And above all - have some fun!  We did.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dot Day Here We Come

Have you heard of International Dot Day?  It is scheduled for September 15.  I had read the book, The Dot by Peter Reynolds many times in the past, but didn't know there were activities connected to the book until recently.  I am looking forward to celebrating and exploring our creativity next week in honor of this special day.

If you want to be involved, please visit this page for some great ideas and videos of students that will inspire you.  Another great inspirational place is Mrs. Molishus' page.  She has samples from previous years, suggestions, and fun activities to use.

Go forth and make your mark!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pete the Cat and Penny Dreadful

Just as I suspected, Pete the Cat was a hit tonight at our Open House.  I wore my red tennies in his honor and bought the Nook version of the book.  Parents and students wandered through the LMC and tried out the Nook Colors.  They loved to hear the story of Pete and his colorful shoes.  The greatest part was when the singing would start.  Their faces would light up and there were smiles all around.  I am getting super excited about sharing Pete with my classes next week . 

It's getting late, so I am off to bed to curl up with Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder .

 I am almost finished and it will be the perfect way to end the day.  This book has an old-fashioned sweetness to it, but isn't icky sweet.  Penny comes from a wealthy family and is rather bored in her beautiful well-kept home.  She wishes for some kind of change and certainly gets it.  Her father abruptly leaves his job.  Now with a limited amount of money and a load of bills, they move to a ramshackle old house in the country with a crew of quirky tenants.

I really loved when Penny and her friend were talking about fiction and non-fiction.  Penny's life seemed a lot like the fiction book she had just been reading.  Her friend's response is that she should read more non-fiction (biographies about scientists, explorers or magicians) because they were "...more interesting. Less like real life."  I am off to read and snooze. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yoda and Darth

A desolate space landscape with many moons awaits its moment of glory.

A battle has begun in our LMC.   Origami Yoda and Darth Paper are using all of their power and skill in the ultimate showdown!

The kids loved Origami Yoda and I am sure that there will be a waiting list for Darth Paper Strikes Back! by Tom Angleberger

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Friendship Doll

I just finished a very satisfying book called The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson.  It was a bit like Hitty and Edward Tulane in that it followed a doll on its life journey touching many other lives on the way, but it was quite unique too.  The characters were very rich in personality.  It also provided snapshots of history along the way.  The book tells of a handmade doll from Japan that is a member of the Ambassadors of Friendship.  In 1927, Japanese children sent 58 dolls to the United States in a gesture of friendship to American schoolchildren.  The dolls were sent all around the country.  This book highlights the journey of one specific doll and her impact on many different people along the way.  I look forward to sharing it with my students.

I am also eager to try the craft suggested by Valerie on her site Jump Into a Book.  She provides excellent photos and a tutorial for making origami friendship dolls.  It looks like a lot of fun and I will just have to make time to do it soon.  I am sure many students will enjoy that activity too.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


This looks like it could be a ton of fun! Click here for the website.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Origami Yoda

Tonight is an Origami Yoda night.  When the book first came out I made a little Origami Yoda finger puppet, because who can read the book without trying that?  But I decided I wanted to make a larger version for my library at school.  The first one I made tonight followed the instructions found in the book which I found on the author Tom Angleberger"s Blog.  There's even a video to show people how to fold that one at the Star Wars website.

Not content to do the easier version in a larger size, I felt the need to make the cover version in a larger size.  Yikes.  That one is not for the faint of heart.  I was getting just a little frustrated with all of the crazy folds.  I don't know if I he's correct, but Yoda is mostly recognizable, so to my mind, he is close to being done.  

When I finish my tweaking, Darth Paper will be coming to life.  I just read that book last night and of course had a blast.  

Okay, I just finished Darth Paper.  Wahooo!  I am not sure Darth is too pleased to be at our house.  He seemed a bit put out when my daughter said, "Oh, he's so cute.  I want to hug him."  He's about 2 feet tall and is probably pretty sensitive about that.  And on top of that, I forgot to bring home paper for his lightsaber.  He is likely feeling vulnerable.  Poor guy.