Showing posts from May, 2012

still guessing?

My next clue for next weeks camping destination: Humpback whales swim in the waters not far from where I will be!

sometimes you can't just hug it out

After recently reading many reviews of Eleanor Brown's new book, The Weird Sisters, (and seeing it on a couple summer book club lists) I decided to order it. What caught my attention was not only the title's references to the three witches in Shakespeare's MacBeth, but also a quote from the book:

"See, we love each other. We just don't like each other very much." --refering to the relationship among the three main characters in the story That's something I often think about my relationship with my sister (if I'm being honest with myself), and after another bout of arguments with her lately, this just felt much as I love my Lizzie and Jane Bennet, and my Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, I needed something else.

Summary: The story follows as the Andreas sisters wind up back in their parents home, in the middle of nowhere Ohio, not long after finding out their mother has cancer. The story follows the sisters, named for Shakespearean beauties, sis…

so much to look forward to!

I am so excited for this weekend:
My friend's coming for the weekend (from Chicago)
Bestie Kim's wedding reception (Bro A2 & Dayna, Bestie L & K, Chris & Kate, and old roomie Melissa will all be there celebrating too!)

And then next week!! A SHORT WEEK! Then headed off to the Farm and some camping HERE!! Ok, no peeking...can you guess where it is? I will give you a clue: The total area of this park is more than 47,000 acres.

losing faith in Newbery winners

Some time back I finished another Newbery award winner, The Midwife's Apprentice, a book I was looking forward to both in its plot and brevity, but finished it feeling nothing but relief. I like the idea of the story: a nameless girl wanders from place to place eventually finding herself in the job of being, yep, you guessed it, the midwife's apprentice; a girl who learns how to stand up to the things that confront themselves as challenges (both people and situations in her life)...but I just didn't like it.

I was so glad to be done with it, excited to move on to another book...though now I am reading The Wheel on the School, Meindert DeJong, illus. Maurice Sendak--this is proving to be terrible...not quite Miss Hickory bad, but pretty close...I am losing faith in Newberry winners, seems like the bads are outweighing the goods...

I know a chicken and more

We are finished with our normal spring storytimes, and since we don't do normal storytimes during the summer (because of Summer Reading) we are doing scattered storytimes starting with storytime this week. I wound up with an energetic, involved group of about 37 people (kids and adults) who loved loved loved everything I did. This weeks' theme was

Ms. Monster's Favorites:

“Shake Your Sillies Out,”#13, Raffi’s More Singable Songs

Flannel Board: It Looked Like Spilt Milk, Charles Shaw

Book 1: Little Cloud,Eric Carle

Music/Movement: “Jumping and Counting,” #7, Jim Gills Irrational

Book 2: Bark George, Jules Pfeifer

Prop Story: Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothes, Judi Barrett w/laminated pictures

many always

Wound up going to Michigan this weekend for the funeral of my friends' father; one of those necessary events in life which always leaves me wondering about the trajectory of my own life; I sat and marveled at how quickly life goes as I looked over at my best friend L's girls A (7yrs) and L (9.5yrs), sitting next to me. I thought of myself in my friends' shoes, sitting consumed by grief, trying to figure out how life could continue without my Dad...that was nearly 5 years ago...

I also spent time with Mom (who's in MI for a month of visiting), friends College Kim & Jesse and their new baby Liam and best friend L and her brood; saw some extended family. Yet in all of this being with others I could do little more than think ahead to June. June will bring best friend Kim & Joe's wedding reception and time with a friend who's coming up from Chicago, my long awaited vacation to the Farm. It will be over 6 months since I left the Farm and moved to Ohio before …

crazy days

One Crazy Summer, Rita Williams-Garcia, follows sisters: Delphine, Vonetta and Fern as they travel from Brooklyn to Oakland, CA in 1968. Abandoned by their mother years before, their father (against their grandmother's wishes) thinks it's high time his girls spend some time with Cecile, the woman who ran out on their family. All I kept thinking was, "What the hell are you thinking, sending 3 girls under the age of 12 to Oakland in 1968!!!?"

Leaving all that they know in a world of Big Ma's manners and rules, the three sisters enter into a world of afros, hippies, and a summer camp program run by the Black Panther Party (When I was reading anything to do with the Black Panther Party I kept hearing Forrest Gump's voice in my head, "Sorry I ruined your Black Panther party" and couldn't help but smile) that their wanting-nothing-to-do-with-them-mother seems to have some dealings. While I was impressed with how Williams-Garcia was able to portray so…

you can call me Al...or Bud

In my continuing Newbery award winners quest, I recently read Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis. The book was good, definitely an improvement on some of my recent reads, (i.e. The Cat Who Went to Heaven and The Secret of the Andes).

The story follows Bud, an orphan who's "on the lam," after running away from a foster home where he was beaten; as if that's not bad enough, throw in the fact that it's during the Great Depression, Bud is black and he's trying to get from Flint to Grand Rapids, MI on foot. As Bud searches for his father (based on some clues left behind when his mother passed away) he learns a little bit about what he is capable of, and what family really means.

I appreciated that it all took place in Michigan; that Curtis weaved snippets of history into the story, i.e. Hooverville, (which Bud mishears as "Hooperville"--where he meets Deza Malone, the star of Curtis' latest, The Mighty Miss Malone.) I like books like Bud, Not …

magically delicious

While bored at the desk one day this week, I snatched Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, & a Very Strange Adventure, Lissa Evans,from our new book cart and was immediately sucked in. The book follows Stuart Horten—a boy obsessed with his small stature—as he and his geeky parents pack up and move to his fathers’ boyhood city. Stuart learns of his Great Uncle Tony’s last great act—his own disappearance! and gets sucked into solving the clues that were left behind over a generation before; along the way Stuart must deal with the annoying, newspaper writing triplets next door, and the sneaky, suspicious magicians in town—friend or foe? I love when authors introduce new language to kids (I LOVED that about the Lemony Snicket books—in those the narrator would stop and explain what the word meant), in this story, Stuart’s Dad is a crossword puzzle creator so he’s always using the most Herculean (difficult—see what I just did there? Eh eh!) words. While the book wasn’t too…

more Chicago

I have Chicago on the brain these days, for many reasons...I can't wait to get back...maybe July...hmm...

storming Chicago

 Chicago was a blast. We left my apt. at 1:30am Sunday, arrived there at 6:30am Chicago time; a drive that was one of those over-tired-slappy-giggly-listening to good and bad music-fun-mini-roadtrips I won't soon forget. We couldn't check into our hostel until 3:30pm, so after dropping our bags off (they had lockers available) we hit the city. We:
ate at Yolkwandered through this cool sculpture exhibit (see pics below)saw Buckingham Fountainsaw the glorious design of Grant Park Music FestivalWent to the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower--lame!) and stood out on the glass walkout with nothing but some glass and the city below us! We saw the Main Branch of the Chicago Public Library (which was less than a block from our hostel) I wandered through every level, fell in love with Winter Garden on the top floor. WHAT A GORGEOUS BUILDING!! Gah, I could live in Chicago to just use that library!!Met up with my friend Scott for a good Mexican dinnerSaw Navy Pier at nightWalked along Lake …

storming Cleveland

Haven't been the best at keeping up lately, things have been crazy busy. My family: Mom, sister A1, her husband Mike and niece S (age 7.5 yrs) and nephew A (5.5 yrs) came up for a visit at the end of April to meet my new niece Sav. It was lots of family time and lots of pictures and lots of the baby being held, etc. It was a good visit, low stress which is good since my sister can make both my brother A3 and I a little nuts.

After all the goodbyes were said and Mom was safely delivered to my Uncle Jim, bound for a month in Michigan with family, I had just enough time to clean my apartment and get ready for my visit with my friends, Magdalena and Yannick. Magdalena and Yannick are German volunteers currently working at the Farm I used to work at; I'd promised to show them some of the Midwest if they visited.

Magdalena was only able to come for a long weekend (Yannick for a week), so we crammed in as much as possible. We started with Cleveland:

We went to the West Side Market (O…

thinking on burial-clouds

In others' losses and sadness we see our own; this morning I am praying for my friend Mike as he mourns the death of his father; I am thinking back to my own fathers' death. I am sitting in silence and reflecting on those very dark days after my Dad's death when I found little true consolations, until I found C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed. As I sit and think and pray and hope for peace for my friend, I reread passages from Lewis:

"Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief."
- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
and reread this old favorite:

"On the beach at night"

On the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in …

goodbye to a wild thing

"In plain terms, a child is a complicated creature who can drive you crazy…There's a cruelty to childhood, there's an anger. And I did not want to reduce Max to the trite image of the good little boy that you find in too many books."
–Maurice Sendak
Thought I would share a little bio info on Sendak: Maurice Sendak was born on June 10, 1928 in NYC. Growing up in Brooklyn, the son of Polish immigrant parents, he was sickly, spending much time indoors left to drawing and readingGot a part-time job at at All-American Comics while still in high schoolAt the age of 20 (1948),he began working for F.A.O. Schwartz Attended New York Art Students League While working at F.A.O. Schwartz, Sendak met legendary children's book editor Ursula Nordstrom who helped himget his first illustrating job. his first job illustrating children's books. He left F.A.O. Schwartz to become a full-time freelance children’s book illustratorWon a Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are in…

kids love animals

I recently visited two 2nd grades for storytimes using animals as the theme. Kids love animals. Kids also love looking at things that you pass around the room, so while I read our first story I passed around a non-fiction book with pictures of peacocks and a beautiful (I believe Folkmanis?) peacock puppet we keep in the storytime room.

While I didn't use everything on my list, here's my lesson plan:

The term "peacock" is commonly used to refer to birds of both sexes. Technically, only males are peacocks. Females are peahensThe two most common peacocks are the blue peacock lives in India and Sri Lanka, while the green peacock is found in Java and BurmaOnly the male birds have the feathers and every year a peacock sheds the 150-plus feathersBook 1:The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock, Bill Peet DID YOU KNOW?: Each giraffe has a pattern of blotches that is unique to that individual, like a human fingerprintGiraffes can …

walking towards good

My Newbery reading challenge recently led me to Sharon Creech's 1995 Newbery medal winner, Walk Two Moonswhich I ABSOLUTELY LOVED--a much needed breath of fresh air after reading The Secret of the Andes and The Cat Who Went to Heaven, both books which I DID NOT enjoy. Walk Two Moons is many stories within a story; the stories unfold as Salamanca Hiddle (our narrator) goes on a roadtrip with her grandparents from Euclid, Ohio to Lewiston, Idaho (occassionally dipping back to Bybanks, Kentucky). With occasional funny comments from her grandparents and flashes to the present time with them, Salamanca takes us on an adventure where we discover the mysteries of the lunatic, Ms. Cadaver, and the Winterbottoms.
Creech does a wonderful job of twisting the plot and keeping the readers guessing, but what I loved even more than that was the character development that takes place in Salamanca--we see her grow into a different, more empathetic girl by the end of the novel...and did I say how …

folking good tales

Did a Folk Tales themed 2nd grade storytime some months back--we didn't have time for all of these things, but still wanted to share ideas.

Prop Story: “Bear and the Crow,” from Arnold Lobel’s Fables
*tell the story while putting on ridiculous outfit—need pot for head, sheet for coat, 2 paper bags for shoes*

Book 1:Clever Beatrice, Margaret Wiley, HeatherSolomon(I love that this takes place in the Upper Penninsula, Michigan)

Prop Story: “The Emperor’s Dragon,” Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take,
D. de Las Casas

Book 2:Stone Soup, Marcia Brown (French tale)

Prop Story: “Joseph had an Overcoat,” Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take,
D. de Las Casas

Book 3: Anansi and the Magic Stick, Eric A. Kimmel (African tale)


World Trade Center

One World Trade Center Time-Lapse of Construction

Watching this awesome time-lapse video made me think of my last visit to NYC this past fall. I miss being close enough to take day trips into the city.

What am I doing in Ohio?

llama what?

In my quest to read all Newbery winners, I recently read The Secret of the Andes, Ann Nolan Clark.

Summary of the story: An Indian boy in Peru is trying to learn about his Inca ancestors. This book features a lot of llamas.

Age: Amazon suggests ages 8+

Would I recommend it?: What did you say? I fell asleep during the part about the llamas...oh, wait, that was about 90% of the book. Yes, I would recommend llama farmers/lovers.

a lost generation

Amazon’s book description (sorry if you wrote it, there was no name attached to the descript.) for The Paris Wife reads as follows,

“A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled 'Lost Generation'—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest strugg…