Thursday, June 29, 2006

3 children's books

I just finished 3 2006 children's books. I finally finished WEEDFLOWER by Cynthia Kadohata. I had started it a while ago and seemed to have lost it on a pile of books. So, I finished it yesterday. A good book. I loved the character in this one. I also read VICTORY by Susan Cooper. I think this one is worth a read. It is told from 2 perspectives and the stories come together. One character is a girl today and the other is a boy in the 1800's. I really liked it. The other one I finally finished was LISTEN! by Stephanie Tolan. My class had chosen it as a read aloud and we never had time to finish it on the last day. It is a good book--a dog story with depth. I liked all 3 of these but still don't have that "I LOVE IT--HOPE IT WINS THE NEWBERY" feeling yet. The girls at Cover to Cover suggested BLACK DUCK so I hope to read that in the next few weeks. It sounds like a good one.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Finally-Reading Again!

Okay, so you have been reading far more than I have! I am finally getting into a routine that includes lots of reading time again. It took me a while to settle into summer mode:-) I just finished FAIRIES OF NUTFOLK WOOD by Barb Bentler Ullman. I really liked it. It was a sweet story with characters that I loved. It got a starred review from Booklist and I think it was well-deserved. It is one of my 06 favorites SO FAR. A possible read aloud, depending on the class I have this year.

I also finished SKINNY DIP by Carl Hiaasen. It was OKAY. Everyone I talked to loved it so maybe I was just not in the right frame of mind. It is a fun book. I liked it okay. Just not a favorite.

And I just read RETHINKING RUBRICS IN WRITING ASSESSMENT by Maja Wilson. LOVE IT! It is a bit of an uncomfortable read--making me rethink some things about my writing assessment that I was pretty comfortable with before I read the book. But Maja Wilson seems to be a brilliant new voice in writing. Can't read it without thinking hard about practice and assessment. As Randy Bomer says in a blurb about the book, "This book will create the conversations educators desperately need: about accurate assessment, quality writing, and informed teaching." I worry that lately we have had lots of books that tell us what to do. But, this book really gets us back to the professional roles that we have--really thinking about what matches our beliefs about students and learning--the conversations that seem to have become lost over the last few years. I'd highly recommend this one.

So, I read a children's book, a professional book and an adult fiction book. I am feeling almost balanced!
I'll put the Sisters Grimm on my stack of next reads. I keep hearing about it and your last post convinced me!

I am debating reading the whole Series of Unfortunate Events. I am not in the mood but I don't want to miss the fun of reading the last one this fall. What do you think? Is it worth of week or two of my reading?

I'll be reading VICTORY by Susan Cooper and the new book by Carolyn Parkhurst called LOST AND FOUND: A NOVEL (same author as DOGS OF BABEL). They are next on my stack. I'll keep you posted!

Belated Reviews

FLY BY NIGHT by Hardinge

I'll borrow from the UK for a synopsis, but not because I'm lazy. I want to make sense. This is a LONG (500+ page), complicated book. Some of the time I wasn't sure I knew what was going on. Because I have a hard time following the ins and outs of politics and religion in our world, it was doubly hard to follow in Hardinge's imaginary world. But just like the end of WICKED, the end of this book made it all worth while. Here's the synopsis:

"A fantastic adventure story set in an alternative historical world that launches the career of a uniquely talented children's writer. In a fractured Realm, struggling to maintain an uneasy peace after years of civil war and religious tyranny, a 12- year- old orphan and a homicidal goose become the accidental heroes of a revolution. Mosca has spent her life in a miserable hamlet, where her father was banished for writing inflammatory books about tolerance and freedom. Now he is dead, and Mosca is on the run after unintentionally setting fire to a mill. With a delightful swindler named Eponymous Clent, she heads for the city of Mandelion. A born liar, Mosca lives by her wits in a world of highwaymen and smugglers, dangerously insane rulers in ludicrous wigs, secret agents and radical plotters. She is recruited as a spy by the fanatical Mabwick Toke, leader of the Guild of Stationers, who fears losing his control over the publication of every book in the state. Mosca's activities reveal a plot to force a rule of terror on the Realm, and merry mayhem soon leads to murder... FLY BY NIGHT is set in a re-imagined early-eighteenth century England, where kite-powered coffeehouses take to the river, and citizens lay offerings at the shrine of Goodman Blackwhistle of the Favourable Wind. Funny and surprising, stuffed with wonderful characters, at its heart it contains an inspiring truth - that the power of books can change the world."

As challenging and rewarding a read as FLY BY NIGHT was, THE SISTERS GRIMM: THE FAIRY TALE DETECTIVES by Buckley was just plain fun without too much work. I love books that allow young readers to discover the joy of understanding literary (albeit fairy tale) allusions.

And then we can fall clear off the literary map into cotton candy made of words with BABY MOUSE: BEACH BABE. Sugar is good occasionally, in small doses.

I thought GOSSAMER was a very sweet "explanation" of dreams and nightmares, woven into a story of a screwed up mom, her angry boy, and a lonely old woman and her long-suffering old dog.

CORYDON AND THE ISLAND OF MONSTERS is the first of what appears to be a trilogy of novels based on Greek mythological characters. But if you squint, you're reading Harry Potter. Boy hero has a goat leg instead of a lightning scar. He's away from society -- literally a scapegoat living with monsters instead of away at boarding school at Hogwarts. There are journeys, battles, a magic staff, honor, and lots of allusions to/inclusions of stories of myth, heroes and legend. The list of sources in the back includes movies, TV programs and PS2 games.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Two More

While waiting for the fuel pump in the VW Golf to be replaced (warranty/recall) for the SECOND time, and I probably shouldn't count either one:

Too short to be counted, but I will: Baby Mouse: Beach Babe, by Holm and Holm
#21 Children's

Skimmed it enough to know I haven't trained right for next week's open water swim at Alum Creek: Open Water Swimming, by Dean
#12 Adult

I put "Random Books From My Library" back on, but I got it at the bottom of the sidebar where it's not so annoying.

Mid-Year Reading Goal Report Card

YEARLY GOAL: 52 children's books
MID-YEAR TOTAL: 20 books
In the last week: The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Detectives, Buckley
Gossamer, Lowry
Fly By Night, Hardinge

YEARLY GOAL: 20 adult books
MID-YEAR TOTAL: 11 books
In the last week: We Are All Welcome Here, Berg
Teacher Man, McCourt, audio

Thoughts, comments, and reviews to follow.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


From a review in the New York Times Book Review of the book DOING NOTHING: A HISTORY OF LOAFERS, LOUNGERS, SLACKERS, AND BUMS IN AMERICA. This reviewer (Dave Barry) obviously doesn't know what it's like to be a teacher:

"I suspect that most people -- like me and the Federal Reserve Board -- think they work pretty hard. But it isn't always easy to tell the difference between working and slacking, especially in the modern American "information" economy, where relatively few people do anything that is inarguably work, such as going down into a coal mine and coming back up with pieces of actual coal. A lot of us would have to admit that if we skipped a day or two of "work," or even a couple of months, or maybe even three or four years, we might miss our paychecks, but the impact on society would be minimal, or in the case of some professions (consultants, editorial writers, Paris Hilton) nonexistent."

As for me, I know without a DOUBT that I've worked hard for the last 180 days and that my impact on society is SIGNIFICANT and if they want me to come back and do it all over again next fall, I better have a couple months off to rest and recover!

Let the summer reading begin!