Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dr. Seuss: Virtual Book Club for Kids

Dr. Seuss is a special author at our house.

First, Dr. Seuss’ birthday is Toddler Train Man’s half birthday. Here’s a picture from TTM’s first half birthday:

My Many Colored Days is also special to us.

This is the book I read to my class and the book they made the first time I met the Professor. Have you ever considered Dr. Seuss a matchmaker? Me neither, but it happened! (Abbreviated version: the Professor was a special education consultant in my district, I was a 5th grade teacher. He came to my classroom to “consult” on some students, and then we consulted on other matters…)

Today I read My Many Colored Days to TTM—both the Seuss version and my class’ version. Their activity (oh so long ago: those 5th graders are in their 20s now!) was to paint—using mostly one color—then describe the kind of day it represented. As I looked back at their work, I was really impressed with the ideas they had.

“Blue days make me feel like the leaves getting swooped up by the wind.”
“Blue makes me feel like a rainy day, but I like it anyway.”
“On purple days I feel like I can spread my wings and fly.”
“On black days, I feel like a squirrel running in the night.”

So TTM had a go at it. (Ok, this was really just an excuse to paint. Caught.) I asked him what color day he was having and he said, “White. It makes me happy.” That could have something to do with all the snow still in our backyard??

Here’s his painting. It seemed like more of a red/pink day to me, but he assured me it was definitely a white day. As for me, my day seems a little more like this:

What color day are you having? Do you have any special Dr. Seuss associations?

I'm linking up to the Virtual Book Club for Kids at Ready-Set-Read!...check it out!

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy is hosting a “Twitterature link-up,” so I’m giving it a try. I’m not a tweeter and I learned that trying to write a review in 140 characters is trickier than a full length one! And yes, I cheated a little with bonus comments in parentheses. I'm working on concise!

Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich. 3.5 stars
Fiery, fast, fun Jersey girl/bounty hunter finds trouble everywhere aided by former ho Lula and crazy Grandma. Two hunks thrown in for kicks.
(If you’ve read the others in the Stephanie Plum series, you’ll know just what this is about; if you haven’t you should start with One for the Money!)

No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark. 4 stars
Pretty girl with a past has it thrown in her face then faces danger herself. Handsome detective helps her overcome.
(I just can’t give up MHC, but I realize that this summary can be copied for most of her other books, right?)

When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison.  4 stars
Private chef nurtures clients, vows not to marry. But life changes things. Clients are strange, kind, unexpected. Is her psychic client right?
(Fun author I happened upon—I liked her writing style!)

A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick. 4.5 stars
Divorce. Cross-country move. New quilt shop. Cancer. Evelyn Dixon experiences all of this and somehow makes it through with help from new friends.
(This is book 1 in a series that I just found. I’ve already requested book 2!)

Any of these sound good to you? What are you reading?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Snow Storm Nemo is raging outside our house right now, so I wanted to share a book that I just loved that might help you get through whatever weather you're having! 

Read while home alone? yes
Tissues needed? yes
Overall rating: 5 stars

Middle school is tough. Especially if you’ve been homeschooled until then. Especially if you were born with a craniofacial abnormality. This is August Pullman’s life. He’s used to the stares and startled responses—he doesn’t like them, but he’s used to them. To ease the transition into school, the principal selected a “welcoming committee” to help August adjust to his new school, but what happens when the welcoming committee isn’t welcoming?

You should really read this book…it’s fantastic! The story is told from a variety of perspectives, including August, some classmates, and his sister. I love that writing technique—it gives a fuller picture of the story. There’s plenty of compassion, but there’s also some cruel reality, and it was good to read both. As I read about students’ reactions to August I wondered about how I would have acted as a middle schooler in that situation. There was little diversity (ability, race, economic, etc.) in my middle school, so I’d like to think I would have been one of the kind people, but I’m not sure—middle school is a weird time of life. It did give me goals for my little guy, though—I want to be sure he’s the boy who’s kind to everyone.

Wonder is considered Juvenile Fiction; it’s Palacio’s first book, but I’m hoping for more!

What’s the latest book you’ve read and loved? 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

Read while home alone? sure
Tissues needed? definitely
Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Love Anthony is the story of two women whose lives entwine in an unexpected way. Olivia moves to Nantucket following the death of her young son who had autism. With her marriage crumbling, Olivia tries to find the sense in all that has happened. Just down the road, Beth’s world is rocked by her husband’s affair. She has to make some big decisions for herself and her three daughters. Beth remembers that she used to enjoy writing and finds herself pouring out a story that proves to be just what she—and Olivia—need to heal.

This was a lovely book! I chose it because I read another of Genova’s books, Still Alice, a year or so ago. That one was about a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s, and one thing I enjoyed about both books was Genova’s compassion for and knowledge of the conditions featured: autism and Alzheimer’s. Though I know people with both conditions I’m not an expert on either; if you have more experience it would color your reaction to the books, I’m sure.

The stories of Olivia and Beth were well-crafted and they were characters I felt I’d like in real life—kind but quirky. And I’m always drawn to stories set in places like Nantucket—I think I’d enjoy living in a summer place year-round. The story flowed between the two women easily and kept me interested in the book—I knew their paths would cross, but it was interesting to read about when it actually happened. There were a few issues I had to reconcile for myself (Beth’s book had a sort of eerie source and Olivia didn’t have a job for quite awhile after moving—how did she get groceries?) In all, though, I highly recommend Love Anthony!

Do you enjoy books about “in the news” conditions like autism and Alzheimer’s? Do you know “enough to enjoy” or “too much to believe” them? Could you live in a summer place year-round?

I'm linking up to Bookin' It!