Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Thoughts on Writing

Strangely enough, I drive with my dog about 20 minutes each way when he has to be groomed. He goes to a lady who knows just how to take care of a Shih Tzu since she has about ten of them herself. He is always excited when we pull into her driveway because he knows he gets to visit with her crew and of course she gives him treats too. The nice thing about the long drive though, is that I can listen to a book or a podcast on the way.

Today I listened to the "Let's Get Busy" podcast with Matthew Winner and his guest Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. I loved learning more about Sudipta and hearing about her stories. As a participant in Teachers Write though, I paid close attention when she mentioned writing. She shared a quote from Jules Renard, "Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted." I love it! Sudipta explained that her books are part of a conversation between her and the reader. Writing is a different kind of conversation because there is this huge pause between the writing and the reader's interaction. So, the reader participates in the conversation, but doesn't interrupt the writer's flow of thought. I like that way of thinking about writing.

Now I just need to do more writing!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Treat Tuesday

Thanks to Niki Barnes at Daydream Reader and Shannon Houghton at Ms. Houghton's Class for the fun meme Treat Tuesday - I am muching on chocolate chip cookies and reading a wonderful book.

You all were inspirational. Yummy!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

I get the cover images from Goodreads and if you would like to see reviews, you may visit me there. I was out of town for over a week, so this will simply be a list of covers without comments since I read many titles over the two weeks.

The Past Two Weeks:

Graphic Novels for #Bookbootcamp

Young Adult Audio

Young Non-fiction


Early Chapter Book

Picture Books

The last two images were from Amazon since pictures weren't available on Goodreads. They are great books that I read at the American Indian Studies Summer Institute. I had to run out and buy Mama's Little One. It came highly recommended by a high school student who grew up reading it.

The Coming Week:
I am reading Adventures in Graphicalistening to Days of Blood and Starlight, and am reading an ARC of Robin McKinley's Shadows. I am almost finished with the audio due to the extensive driving I have been doing recently so I should be finishing that this week along with the others. Unraveled is sitting in my living room taunting me and I will likely pick it up this week. I also have a bunch of ARCs I want to get to like The Dream Thieves, If I Ever Get Out of Here, Open Mic, and From Norvelt to Nowhere. It should be a great week of reading. What will you be reading?

Monday, July 22, 2013

American Indian Studies Summer Institute

This is the first Monday in a long time that I didn't do #IMWAYR, but I have been wicked busy. We were out of town this weekend having fun in Door County. We got to watch the half-ironman (my husband did well), hang out on the beach, and attend two Shakespeare productions. Super fun!

Now I am at a weeklong class in Gresham, WI learning about the federally recognized tribes of Wisconsin. This is a fantastic opportunity and I am sure to share some of what I learn here on the blog.

I love this opportunity. We even got the newest edition of Patty Loew's book Indian nations of Wisconsin. Very cool.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Little Things That Make Me Smile

Here are some of the things that have made me smile this week.

Thanks to Travis Jonker for highlighting the book!

Following Donna and John on their wonderful road trip via the blog is so fun

Getting to read a manuscript of a YA book written by a childhood friend was pretty cool. 

Bringing these JLG books home to read was great!

I'm listening to this on audio and it's fabulous. I have read it before, 
but it's great listening to Sherman Alexie read it aloud.

Have you had anything bring a smile to your face this week?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We Need Change

The past few days have been very disheartening. Watching the conclusion of the Trayvon Martin trial  has been an emotional roller coaster. There are so many people who are shaking my faith in humanity. When reporting on the acquittal, Geraldo Rivera said again, "If you dress like a thug, people will treat you like a thug." Unfortunately it seems many in our country agree with him. This is a classic case of blaming the victim, but it is also just plain false. My teenage son practically lives in hoodies. He is not treated like a thug. The key factor is that he is white. The true crime here is assuming that people from specific races that "dress like thugs" deserve to be killed.

Anyone claiming that this event has nothing to do with race is in denial. We have to do better as a society. As a mother, as an educator, as a human being, I want the world we live in to be better than than this. Things like the We Are Not Trayvon Martin tumblr and the conversations I see happening online give me some hope that change may still come. The song below says it well.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

I get the cover images from Goodreads and if you would like to see my ratings, you may visit me there.

The Past Week:

Graphic Novels

I am really attacking my graphic novel pile for Book Boot Camp. It is the perfect excuse for diving into these fun books. I also attended a great session at nErDCamp about using Graphic Novels for learning so they are especially appropriate. Yummy was tragic and moving. The Storm in the Barn will be good to use with our Great Depression unit and the other two were just plain fun.


Food: The New Gold was actually a bit terrifying. The world's food situation is not particularly wonderful right now. I found the topic worrisome, but it was also a bit dry for young readers. Hope and Tears was written in a more casual style and the wide variety of formats made it engaging. 

This is the audiobook that I listened to on the drive to nErDCamp when I was alone in the car. It is the one I happened to have on my iPad from AudioSync. Very old-fashioned, but hilarious!

The Coming Week:
I have started Adventures in Graphica (a professional book) and an ARC of the new book Shadows by Robin McKinley. I have some more graphic novels and a pile of ARCs that I am eager to read like Dream Thieves and The Boy on the Porch. What will you be reading this week?

nErDCampBC 2013

I had to get up before five o'clock to drive, but it was a beautiful morning and I loved walking up to the high school in Battle Creek and catching sight of the nErDCamp sign in the window. I was so excited to be part of this unique professional development opportunity put on by the Nerdybookclub.

Our Awesome Leaders!
If you have never been to an EdCamp, watch this video explanation. 

If you have an opportunity to attend one, please give it a try. By the way, for people in or near Wisconsin, there are several coming up soon. 

July 27, EdCamp Janesville/Milton in Milton
August 7, EdCamp Oshkosh

I arrived early and was actually feeling a bit of my childhood shyness sitting at a table alone. It didn't take long though to start connecting with new people and also those I had met on Twitter over the past few years. I was so happy to meet Jen Vincent who has inspired me to do Teachers Write and is such an encourager.

After grabbing some food and settling in, Colby got us started. 

It was cool to meet this amazing teacher who has gotten so many students excited about reading. My students will be jealous when they find out I have now met the man who walks on desks when he talks about his love for reading. I also got to talk to author Laurel Snyder for a few moments. Squee!

It didn't take long for our morning session topics to start flowing. The session chart was filled in quickly. The nifty thing about the chart was that it also had a google doc linked to each session and notes were taken so if anyone wasn't able to attend a session, they can still access the notes. I was happy since there were times when I really wanted to be in two places.

I was able to share with other library media people in the first session and then learn with Donalyn Miller and Suzanne Gibbs as they shared about Reading Writing and Technology. Donalyn said, "Whoever is doing the most work is doing the most learning." She explained that she has students create newsletters or messages for parents for that reason. Suzanne & Donalyn provided many great examples of ways to encourage reading and writing through the use of technology.

After lunch, I had an excellent time learning about Graphic Novels in the classroom. We were lucky enough to have Jerzy Drozd, Laurie Keller, and Katherine Sokolowski leading the session. I wouldn't have believed it, but I even made my own little comic while we were there. The session tied in really well with this month's topic for Book Boot Camp and is very helpful since our fifth grade teachers have just added a graphic novel unit this year. I had purchased Adventures in Graphica and brought it home this summer, but hadn't read it yet. Now with their encouragement, I have started reading. I learned a lot, and I got to meet Laurie Keller afterwards too. The day just kept getting better and better.

My final session was about book clubs with Holly Mueller. I am excited to make some changes and maybe some additions to my book clubs/groups this year. Travis pretty much convinced me to do a Mock Caldecott with my second graders. I know they will love it and learn a lot about reading critically through the process.

The day was full of laughter and learning. We also had some swag! I came home with posters, bookmarks, misc. lit items and best of all...books! If you hadn't noticed, this EdCamp had a literacy focus.

We were tired when we left, but it was a happy and satisfied tired. There was so much information to process, but it came with excitement and enthusiasm. There is already talk of doing it again next year. Sign me up!

The end of the day

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books to Movies

The Broke and the Bookish have a weekly feature called Top Ten Tuesday and they invite anyone to participate. This week we are posting ten best movie adaptations.

For Younger Readers/Viewers

For an Older Crowd

Cover images are from Goodreads

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was wonderful in the BBC version and in the newer movie and I liked them both for different reasons. I also enjoyed both the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and the more recent U.S. version - again for different reasons.

My favorite movie adaptation of Treasure Island is, of course, the one done with The Muppets.

I had two other books up there for adult, but after sleeping on it, I decided they weren't all that great so I am back to eight.

What do you think are the best movie adaptations of literature? Do you have any more to add?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

I get the cover images from Goodreads and if you would like to see my ratings, you may visit me there.

The Past Week:
Graphic Novels

I am participating in #bookbootcamp and the assignment this month is to read one graphic novel from three different lists. While at the library to get those books, I found some distractions. Ponyo is a cute introduction to manga. It is laid out in the Japanese right to left format, but the content is for young audiences. Dr. Who is a new obsession that I have. I usually prefer the book, but in this case, I do prefer the show. It's not a bad representation, but I would rather watch David Tennant than read about him. 


I am trying to read more non-fiction. This week I found some excellent examples. Demi again did a beautiful job with biography. I also appreciate that we get to read about a non-European explorer. My only quibble is that it was told in such a way as to make him seem so perfect he isn't quite believable. I wanted at least one flaw - even a tiny one. It was also fun to find out about Mr. Ives. I didn't realize that he was ahead of his time in music. He heard music in everyday sounds. This book would work wonderfully with the Wynton Marsalis book Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! The Eagles are Back is a great explanation of how humans can affect wildlife in positive and negative ways. Bad Girls was entertaining and I liked the format of brief bios with even shorter graphic clips of interchanges between the authors. Growing up Muslim was an excellent and informative book that helped me understand things about Islam that I hadn't known. The author really did a good job of explaining that Muslims are as varied in their practice and lifestyles as those in any religion.

Young Adult

Please Ignore Vera Dietz came out on top for me this week. It was quite a powerful book and I will be thinking about it for a long time. It really made me think about the baggage I am carting around with me. Vera has a lot to deal with after the death of her ex-best friend. I was completely sucked into this book. I am finally working on my Printz challenge again. Since You Asked is a funny look into the life of a snarky high school girl with a talent for writing. It is so cool to have a book about a Koran American teen that is actually written by a Korean American. Miss Fortune Cookie was in some ways similar. It was about a high school girl who was not Chinese, but had lived in China. She loves the culture and her best friends are Chinese Americans. She is also a writer with an advice column and the book has humor. I liked both, but Since You Asked edged out Miss Fortune Cookie for me. Fat Angie has quite a unique storyline. I read it in one sitting. There were some believability issues for me, but overall I was invested in this emotional story.

The Coming Week:
I will be traveling this week to nErDCampBC *jumping up and down doing a happy dance*, so I may not get to all of the books I plan to read. For #bookbootcamp I am planning to read Foiled & it's sequel, The Storm in the Barn, Big Bad Ironclad and Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty. I will read at least one non-fiction book, Hope and Tears: Ellis Island Voices. I am planning to read an ARC of The Boy on the Porch. I will also try to throw in a few picture books too since any book counts for #summerthrowdown. :)  What will you be reading this week?