Saturday, March 24, 2007

Scaredy Squirrel, by Melanie Watt

My class cracked up during my read-aloud last week of Scaredy Squirrel. I squeezed in the first half of the book during the few minutes we had between the first bell and the time we had to start walking to Abravanel Hall for our annual Utah Symphony field trip. My students were all quite anxious to hear what happened after Scaredy took his great leap into The Unknown. Finishing this hilarious story was a nice way to end a day that included a whole extra hour of sitting quietly (listening to the symphony).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Meme

1. What is the thing that most surprises you about being a grown-up?

When I was a kid, the part about being a grown-up that I worried about most was the financial responsibilities. I worried, even as a beginning college student, that I wouldn’t make enough money for a house, a car, etc. It’s not easy, of course, but this part of being an adult is surprisingly manageable.

2. What do you miss most about being a kid?

Friends and siblings. I miss the way we had lots of secrets and how we loved to invent new games and new worlds. I miss the unfinished basements, empty houses, and secluded hedges that were our hide-outs. I miss the protective shell of a tight group of kids who loved playing together and who always looked out for each other.

3. What do you look forward to in being a senior?

Hours and hours of reading and card games. Learning to play bridge.

4. What stories do you think your kids will tell their children that they have heard from you?

I think the way I tell stories is something Easter has already picked-up. She does dramatic character voices and exaggerated narrations that remind me of me. "The TV turns human brains to mush" is a saying I’ve already heard them quote. I hope they learn The Cheerios Mouse by heart, and tell it to their own children one day. That will make it a four generation story.

5. If you could put a children’s author and an illustrator together to work on an e-book for fifth graders, who would you choose and why? (They get to write the story and design the artwork as a team.)

Karen Hesse, who writes amazing prose and poetry, and Kadir Nelson, whose art I adore. I’d let them come up with the rest—the plot, characters, setting, etc. Although, if I could give a little direction, something connected to some piece of American History would fit the fifth grade core and would be well within the scope of both these creators’ talents.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Not Quite Burned Out, But Crispy Around the Edges, by Sharon Draper

This is a book to inspire and encourage teachers by a veteran teacher turned children's book author. A few of the chapters were very boring and so I skipped and skimmed them, but a few were quite beautiful. I especially adored this one chapter where she wrote character sketches of individual students and then followed these loving descriptions with poems dedicated to each kid. One of the chapters I thought was rather boring was the one about involving parents and families. There just wasn't anything new or interesting there. I'm glad Robert found it at the U library for me, cuz I liked it fine, but I would have been disappointed if I'd ordered it off Amazon.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs

Wow! I haven't ever found fantasy stuff that's NOT written for elementary aged kids, that I've really enjoyed. Which has always been rather frustrating, cuz I like lots of children's fantasy books, and I love the Lord of the Rings movies. I've always wanted to enjoy more adult fantasy. Moon Called is marketed as a YA fantasy book, but it was "old" enough to keep me very engaged. I'm glad I didn't judge it by its cheesy cover, though. The main character and first-person narrator Mercy isn't a wimpy sex object. She's this powerful, smart shape-shifter whose other form is a coyote. The setting is contemporary Washington state. There are gremlins, werewolves, vampires, and other magical creatures---all well crafted and believable. The plot is a fast moving mystery/thriller, with Mercy connecting all the characters and action. Fun, good, sexy read.