Monday, July 30, 2012

Still Summer...

Two Writing Teachers hosts a Slice of Life each Tuesday.  Please join Stacey and Ruth and the community for a wonderful time reading everyone's slices.  

        I am living my slice this week because my grandson is here visiting.  I'll share about our time and adventures together next week, but for now, it's the end of the month and time for Chalk-a-bration!  
        Betsy, at Teaching Young Writers, (whom I met during the Tuesday slices) has begun a tradition of what she calls a Chalk-a-Bration where poets write poems and chalk them for others to see.  Check out what everyone does today for this celebration.  August arrives tomorrow and with it our last summer days of some relaxing, some preparing, some "oh mys, where did the summer go?"  Here is my poem in tribute to still summer...  Thank you Betsy for your idea and for continuing it!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Good Reading Everywhere!

Visit  Teach.Mentor.Text, with Jen and Kellee who are hosts of this kid lit meme, from primary to YA.  Check the links to see others' ideas of a good read!

        It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys, a variety of reviews to find even more books for your TBR list. 

        Myra, Fats & Iphigene host this meme at Gathering Books, and today I'm reviewing The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater for that challenge.

       It’s hard to believe I’ve put this book off for so long. I loved every single line of it, and only wish there was more. I savored those last pages, but worried yesterday and today about the ending. I cannot give away the ending for you readers, only that part of it was how I saw the book moving so inevitably. You will have to do your own predictions, and hope that the end is satisfying to you. 
I loved the alternating and strong first person narratives, the weaving of the two stories together as they created the final binding off of the piece. This is no stereotypical girl in Kate(Puck) Connolly, but one who insists upon the future she envisions, then sets out to get it. Sean Kendrick almost holds the antagonist position until his enemy, the employer’s son, takes over, leaving the author to push Sean into a more tragic role as a parallel to Kate. One could almost see them side by side in a modern drama, working together like Clark Kent and Lois Lane to battle evil. And evil there is, but also dramatic interest in the parts about the water horses, legends from the British Isles, what Maggie Stiefvater calls the capall uisce. Here is an excerpt showing some of the terror of these horses: ‘The capall uisce looks at her and opens its jaw, and then it makes a sound that turns my blood into ice. It’s a hissed exclamation with low clucks behind it, clicking from somewhere deep in its throat: kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw.”
I also loved the way Steifvater made the third character the sea, surrounding the island. “As the sun shines low and red across the water, I wade into the ocean. The water is still high and brown and murky with the memory of the storm, so if there’s something below it, I won’t know it. But that’s part of this, the not knowing. The surrender to the possibilities beneath the surface.” One learns that life on an island means life with the sea. 
If you like horses, that is another part that’s fascinating. If you like anticipation, Steifvater has written a book that’s doesn’t stop one wondering what could possibly be next. I am now wanting to find the Shiver trilogy to read more of this author’s wonderful writing.  The Scorpio Races is a Michael L. Printz Award honor book as well as the Odyssey Audiobook (for excellence in audio book production) honor book.  

The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer, illustrated by Chris Sheban.  This newly published book grabbed me immediately because of the wonderful cover and the intriguing title. I love books about books and this is one to add to your collection. It’s about a sweet book that happens to be a little shabby and missing its last page, but a little girl falls in love with the story and makes up her own ending. It’s not quite as simple as that, for the plot takes a few paths before the book finds its own happy ending. This can invite such good conversation and/or writing about favorite books along with what being lonely means. It also could be used for an examination of how plot works with its twists and turns within the beginning, middle and end. Both author and illustrator have won awards for their work.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Some Special Thoughts

               The weekly Slices of Life can be found at the blog, Two Writing Teachers, created by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres. Be sure to visit and read, read, read!

         I have mixed emotions about my slice today.  I have just returned from a wonderful family trip with my daughter and two granddaughters (almost one and three years old).  We spent half a week with my side of the family and the other half with my husband’s side.  All too brief was this visit, but filled with so many good memories.  We swam, we saw and petted goats, we played on playgrounds, and we rode on a merry-go-round, in a mall, Ingrid’s first ride!  Imogene began crawling all over, so her exploration was phenomenal.  Ingrid got to play and sing her songs on a real grand piano, and beat out rhythms on an African slit drum.  Because of the drought, we were sorrowful because no lightning bugs appeared, so that will have to be on the next adventure.  We ate ice cream every evening and talked into the night.  My daughter and I got to talk and talk, then talk some more. 
            Ingrid became so excited seeing wind turbines, and wanted photo after photo of them, so we slowed and took all that she wished – click, click.  “Grandma, can I see?”  We looked for red cars and buses and cows, and saw quite a few.  We noted all the colors of the cattle-black, black and white, brown.  We sang songs and looked for anything we could find of interest on the plains of Kansas.  There are many things of beauty, yes, even in a drought, even when it’s over a hundred degrees, even on the plains. 
            If you notice that I’m speaking of small things and being present in the moment, that is what one does with a three year old.  And when one does that, we grown-ups also notice things with a new brightness, a new appreciation. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reading Catch UP


        It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys, a variety of reviews to find even more books for your TBR list. 

I just returned from a grand trip with my daughter and her two daughters, having a lovely time visiting family in spite of the intense heat.  We did manage to visit swimming pools along the way, along with merry-go-rounds, goats, and little cars for pretend driving (all for the three year old of course).  

And I know I was supposed to take a break till August, but I will need to take another one next week since my grandson is coming to visit! 

I missed last week, so it's catch up time.  Since I last wrote I finished several books, all good, but one that I finished this morning was awesome.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Poetry - A Tale of - well, you guess!

        Join us at Jone's blog, Check It Out for all the posts from others who love poetry.  Thank you for hosting, Jone!
        A few weeks ago, Violet Nesdoly posted an original poem here that she wrote about lightning.  It is a beautiful poem, written in the structure that she called an extended haiku.  I was intrigued by it, and have fussed over several tries, but just couldn't seem to find the right topic, I suppose.  It wasn't easy, and I am not claiming to be close to the poetic craft that Violet shows, but I did find a story to tell and thought I'd like to share it, and give lots of credit to Violet, too.  Thank you Violet!  

This is what Violet wrote about the extended haiku:  what’s happening here is that each word in the original haiku becomes the beginning word in successive haiku. It’s a fun challenge.

       A Little Story

Grey splash contrasts with
grass green.  I’m peering closer,
see the feathers spread.

Grey bird, where are you?
Straying too close to danger?
Giving up your life?

Splash of feathers there-
pieces only of your tale.
Poor tiny creature.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Future Thoughts

The Tuesday Slice of Life happens each week on the Two Writing Teachers blog, hosted by Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz.  Come by to see what's happening in everyone's lives!

      Sometimes poems just arrive, little slices of my life.  Some of you who read my posts regularly know that I am making some life changes, I am cleaning things out of my house, preparing for a move sometime in the future.  I want to be nearer to my daughter and family and to my school. 
      I’ve lived in my house for 34 years and although I do not save everything, my husband has saved quite a lot, some of which are good collections and some that needs throwing out.  So, I’ve started, and I have no pressure from anyone to make big changes like a move, yet this poem kind of appeared a few days ago.  I think this poem is telling me to slow down, be patient, and the right time will come.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Each Week-A Great New Book! Or More Than One


        It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys, a variety of reviews to find even more books for your TBR list. 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” 
 - Emilie Buchwald

         And, this week I am also linking with the blog Gathering Books, where you can discover even more ideas for finding terrific books.  They host a yearly Award-Winning Book challenge where participants read and review many books, sometimes theme-based.  Be sure to check it out.  Two of the books I read this past week belong on my award list of books, although others were nominated for an award.

The Big Field by Mike Lupika

I am really getting into this listening to audio books!  I just listened to my first Mike Lupika book (embarrassed to admit), The Big Field, and loved every single word that the voice of Christopher Evan Weber spoke.  I guess you could call me a sports fan, especially baseball.  Every spring I listen to the sports talk about the predictions for the Colorado Rockies, and although this has been a miserable year, I am still watching games, or listening to them on the radio, when I'm not listening to a book!  I knew that Lupika's books are out there, I even know the titles, but I just never took the time to read one.  Now I will look for more. 


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ephemera From The Past

Please visit the ever entertaining Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference, who is hosting Poetry Friday today.  There’s all kinds of poetry sharing to be discovered!  Thanks very much Tabatha!

           I have been sifting through many boxes of things stored in our house for some time; some from my mother-in-law's things.  In one of those boxes, I found a diary written by her mother, whose son fought in World War II.  The diary is simply written, the words of a farmwoman who rose each day and cleaned, visited, baked, canned, sewed, washed and hung clothes to dry, sometimes in the basement when it was too cold out and the clothes would freeze on the line.  On Sundays, she attended church.  Those are the tasks she recorded of her life.  On the inside cover, she wrote:  Be a lamplighter.  We shall shine as the stars of the morning, something for us all to aspire to.

Giveaway From Last Week

          I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day, with family and friends, watching fireworks and listening to beautiful music if that is what you like to do.  I spent the day with my daughter and family, visiting, playing with the grand girls, trying to beat our ever-present heat.  It was a good day! 
          I wonder if you have a favorite patriotic song, one that brings that tightness in your throat as you stand to sing with the crowd?  I love hearing all the armed services songs played and sung, and then seeing those who serve or have served stand for the rest of us to see and give our thanks to them for their service.  I am grateful and know that they, and their families, make great sacrifices for the rest of us.  In Colorado, the National Guard has lately been doing extra duty helping to fight the fires all over our state.  We are all grateful for them, and also for the seemingly tireless firefighters who've been working for over a month now to stop the fires.  So, on the 4th of July it was time to give special thanks for all those who keep us safe.

       Last week in this post, I shared about a new anthology for older middle-schoolers and high-school-aged adolescents, who are questioning their sexuality, feeling so alone, most often teased and bullied, wondering where to turn for answers.  That book was The Letter Q, Queer Writers’ Notes To Their Younger Selves, edited by Sarah Moon.  I also wrote that the publisher, Arthur A. Levine books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.  would send one copy of this book to a winner selected by July 5th from those commenting to this post.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A True Slice of Writing

        Two Writing Teachers hosts the Tuesday Slice of Life-Thank you Stacey and Ruth for all the Tuesdays!

         I'm participating in a group that is reading Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle.  We are at the beginning of the book, learning what she does and reading the explanations about why she believes it's important to continue those activities.  One activity Kittle strongly recommends within the confines of her writing class is to do a 15 minute quick write every single day.  There are a number of reasons, but the strongest is to help students gain writing stamina, to learn that writing habits give experience, to learn that they do have ideas, that with practice (and good teaching), they will learn to write better!
        Students do these quick-writes in their writers notebooks, so we in the group thought it would be good to start doing them too, to begin filling our own notebooks with our writing so it will be ready to be a part of our teaching repertoire at the beginning of the school year.  One quick-write I've done with my students in the past that has yielded interesting results is to finish the following opening:  I approached the exit ramp and slowed...  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Squeezing out a few minutes for the books!


        It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys, a variety of reviews to find even more books for your TBR list. 

        So, this week, I bought some new books, I checked out others, and I read many blog posts.  I read the newspaper each day, I read some articles on the web, but I only finished one book, one that I listened to in the car, on my way back and forth to numerous places.  Lots happening this past week instead of reading!

                 I love Chris Crutcher, and his book, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes is (was) my favorite of his books.  Yes, I’ve just added another of his books to my favorite pile.  Whale Talk has a strong voice of T.J. Jones, a likable, but complex protagonist who definitely marches to the beat of a different drummer, but makes one want to be in his band every time he makes a decision.  He is thoughtful, kind, helps those who rarely receive help, and rejects those who are only out for the win and the glory at any expense.  For example, he absolutely refuses to go out for football, and is accused of a huge lack of school spirit by not doing do.  I suggest that you read the book not only to discover why it's titled Whale Talk, but also to meet the memorable characters and experience the heart-stopping plot that Crutcher has created.  It's good!