Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Party! Party!

This has been one of our favorite read-alouds lately:

I Am Invited to a Party! (Elephant and Piggie Series)
We especially like waving our hands in the air and chanting, "Party! Party! Party! Party!" at regular intervals.
We like parties. And, we really like parties at the Bakers'. Good people, good food, about as stress-free as you can get. All of the kids can be shy around new people sometimes, but not at the Bakers'.
There are sometimes pretty girls to chase, after all.
I love seeing how much they have come out of their shells. Some of the adults may wish C. would go back into his, though - his latest thing is tackling random guys and trying to get them to wrestle him. Since these are folks who actually work for a living, he really doesn't stand a chance. 

He made the mistake of thinking this pretty lady would be easier prey. Nope. She is a special ed assistant at a middle school. He was toast. (At least it provided entertainment for his audience, there.)

There is so much to check out, too!

Ooh, I'll bet I could do something really cool with this...
Several kids spent a good hour collecting spent airsoft pellets (Note to Mrs. B.: I have no idea where those actually ended up.) This resulted in one of those never-thought-you'd-need-to-say phrases: "L., please don't throw rabbit turds at your sister." (Hey, they were round, they were about the same size...)

Sometimes, we get a little bit dirty.

I really have no idea how that happens.

Somehow, pretty M. got dirty, too. I'm guessing she slept well that night.

Hopefully, she at least made it to her bed, first.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: Tales from the Top of the World, by Sandra K. Athans

We live in the mountains, so doing a little hiking and climbing is part of most people's lives. A 5.5 -mile hike is no big deal - a Saturday afternoon, maybe.
Climbing 5.5 up other mountains, however, can be a bit trickier - for example, when that mountain is Mount Everest. In Tales from the Top of the World, Sandra K. Athans - a fourth grade teacher - takes us through the process her brother Pete, aka "Mr. Everest", and other climbers go through as they attempt this ultimate challenge.
Tales from the Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest with Pete Athans
The text is written in a very easy style, catching the readers' attention early on with some of the 'wow' facts, and relating the difficulty of the climb without browbeating. Athans' experience with fourth graders has onbviously served her well - she knows how to get the maximum amount of information across with minumim teacher-speak. Kids will zip through the various sections about the history, culture, and where to pee on the mountain.
Yes, that's right, there are designated places to deposit your urine, for very good reasons. I learned a number of things while reading this book, things I wouldn't have thought of before, but which make perfect sense. I knew, for example, that climbers would need to become acclimated to the altitude before starting off, but I never considered what they might do with their time while waiting.
There are enough dramatic stories of falls and rescues to satisfy any adventure-loving young reader, as well as copious use of sidebars for everything from the possible existence of the yeti, to whether or not you should shave. The only thing I would have liked to see more of, is information about the Sherpa. While they are mentioned, I would think they would merit more space.
An excellent nonfiction choice for elementary to middle school libraries, and one older readers may enjoy as well.

Non Fiction Monday

For more great nonfiction choices, click over to Stacking Books, and click on the icon like the one you see above.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Thoughts on Baby-to-Be

S: "I will help take care of the baby. I will lick her. I don't think she will like that." (Last part said quite gleefully)


I am three weeks pregnant. Getting into the van, C. surveys me and says, "Mom, I think you are getting fat."


Me to S: "What will you teach the new baby?"
S: (with no hesitation) "How to be a turd!"

Friday, April 26, 2013


Listening as C. puts a puzzle together and S. keeps up a running commentary:

"I know how to do lots of stuff but I don't know how to do this but I know how to do lots of stuff and you are teaching me to do lots of stuff and you are teaching me to do this and lots of other kinds of stuff..."

(next week's lesson: periods.)


C: (dressed as Batman) "Can I call you Alfred?"
Me: "No, you can't call me Alfred, I am not your butler!"
C: "What's a butler?"
Me: "It's someone who...." (thinking about it) "Okay, I'm your butler."


There seems to be some confusion over Star Wars characters:

S: "...and Dark Vader and Dark Sidious."
C: "Dark Vader cut off Luke Skywalker's hand."
S: "But, we don't want to kill God! God is a nice man."


Me: "L., use a paper towel, don't wipe your fingers on your pants."

F: "He's not wearing pants."


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Parenting - Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, by Amber Dusick

Okay, here's what you need to do: as soon as you have acquired a copy of this book,
Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures
gather all your friends, coworkers, family members, etc., into a group, and start taking turns reading it out loud.
You will need to take turns, because every few pages, you will be so consumed by hysterical laughter, your eyes will be tearing up*, and you will be choking on your words, making it impossible to continue coherently. (*have at least one box of tissues handy)
You should probably make those all female friends/coworkers/etc., because however enlightened a guy may pretend to be, he probably does not want to hear the words, "increasingly extendable nipples". Men may have an intellectual understanding of the changes childbearing brings to a woman's body, but they won't get much of the first part of this book. They may also be mildly offended by the (Not) Sleeping section (truth hurts?)
You will want to read this in a group setting simply for the sake of saving time. We got this here at the library, and I had my name on the card to read it first (librarian perks!) I checked it out, brought it back to my desk, and - big mistake - flipped it open to read the introduction.
Which I ended up reading aloud to the clerk next to me.
Along with most of the first chapter.
Then, I took it to the lounge on my lunch break, and never ended up actually eating anything. I kept bounding out of my seat to find the nearest staff member to read the next few sentences out loud to. It was with superhuman restraint that I finally decided to let them do some of their actual work, but I don't know if they could concentrate much with me cackling like a crazy-woman in the next room.
So, see, it makes a lot more sense to just close the doors for the day, put up a sign saying you are conducting training in growth and development or something, and have a good old readathon.
Do I really need to state that this book is hiLARious? If you don't believe me, go check out Dusick's blog, at crappypictures.com. See if you don't, at least once every post, say, "OMG, Yes!!!" or, "That is SO <insert name of offspring/spouse>!" Make sure you are not in a public venue, btw, because snorting can be less than attractive.
Then, go get the book! Unless you live here, and you want to check it out at the library, because you can't - I got it first! Bwahaha!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: The Lightning Catcher, by Anne Cameron

The Lightning Catcher
I enjoyed reading this book. In fact, I started leafing through it back in early March, when I still had stacks of other books to review, and ended up getting so instantly hooked, I finished it in two days. The writing is polished and engaging, the characters real enough, the pace perfect for its intended tween audience. It was just a little...familiar.
Let's see (massive spoilers alert): A young boy is living with his uncle, his parents largely out of the picture. He suddenly discovers his parents are not who he thought they were, and that he has a magical talent. He is whisked off to a secret school by a somewhat frightening-looking man. There, he immediately makes two friends, a boy and a girl in his same class. The boy's father is a scholar, and the boy himself is the target of the class bullies (whose father is rather influential). The girl has some family issues that would cause many other students to look down upon her. The boy does not initially trust the girl. We meet a kindly older professor who knew the main character's parents, and who isn't telling him everything, but we know we can trust him.
There is a mysterious something at the school that the bad guy (who is responsible for the absence of the main character's parents) is looking for. The three friends go through a tunnel, each helping to overcome a different obstacle, to find that which has been sought. Then the bad guy shows up, and we discover that the eccentric professor with the goofy eye was really him in disguise. The main character is left to face him alone, and uses his magical powers to defeat him - but only for the time being. The thing the bad guy had been looking for is now locked away again by the head of the school, and everything, particularly the presence of the bad guy, is hushed up.
Heck, we even have regular stays in the school infirmary, where we overhear bits of conversation, and diversions that get the whole school's attention while the bad guy tries to do his searching. Not to mention large scary animals that are used to help our heroes. And secret rooms to hide in. And maps that only appear when you do something to the paper. Not to mention the whole LIGHTNING shape on everything.
(end spoilers)
All this is a shame, because the writing is really very good, and the setting is unique and intriguing. I do want to see more of this series (because it is undoubtedly set up to be a series), and I will be adding Ms. Cameron's name to my watch list. I am planning to buy a copy of this one for the library when it comes out May 7, and will point it out to any middle schoolers. I would like to make the suggestion, however, that any sequels not include, say, a ghost in a bathtub.
Thank-you, HarperCollins, for the ARC.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

All I Want for Christmas...

is diapers. Lots of diapers. And wipes.
Yes, diapers and wipes, please, Santa.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Deadly and Dangerous series

We are excited to be hosting this week's Nonfiction Monday!

This is a weekly gathering of book bloggers sharing their reviews of great new nonfiction books. Make sure you visit each of them, and take a look around while you are there - I often find a new favorite blog to add to my feed on Mondays!

Bloggers, just add the link to your post to the comments (we do things the od-fashioned way here), and I will add them as the day progresses - keep in mind I am in the southwest, so your 8AM may be my "come ON, kids, we have to GO!"

Our review for the day:

I hate to stereotype, and refer to 'boy books' and 'girl books', but, let's face it - as librarians, we are often hit with stressed-out parents trying to find something their reluctant ten-year-old son will actually, willingly, read.
These are some serious boy books.
Deadliest Adorable Animals
Okay, I am now afraid to pet... ANYTHING. A platypus has a poisonous stinger on it's foot? Really??? And, that sweet little slow loris?
Run away! Run away!
These are definitely not aimed at small children. Besides the graphic nature of some of the descriptions, statements such as "a giraffe's life pretty much sucks" plant these firmly in the upper-elementary, middle school age range.
That said, the deliberately shocking text does include a good deal of actual information, and even - hey, an acrostic poem describing how a weasel rips apart its prey! So, you know, you can feed your artistic side as well. Maybe.
Deadly Danger Zones
This volume starts off with predictable dangers, like volcanoes and sharks, but then it moves on to others I had never heard of. The Alnwick Poison Garden? I like plants, but...a hole in Turkmenistan that has been burning for as long as I've been alive? Definitely more interesting than another trip to see the relatives (sorry, relatives).
The series also includes the titles Deadly Bloody Battles, Deadly Hard-Hitting Sports, Deadly High-Risk Jobs, and Deadly Venomous Animals. Sensationalized? Yes, but not to the point of total inaccuracy. These will surely be a hit with the age range mentioned, as well as adults who can't help picking them up and get hooked!
Thank-you to Lerner for the review copies!


Around the internet today we have:

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address at NC Teacher Stuff
The audiobook Growing Up in Coal Country at Shelf-employed
It's Our Garden at The Nonfiction Detectives
A four-for-one at a Teaching Life
Holy Spokes! a Biking Bible for Everyone at Anastasia Suen's Booktalking #kidlit
Make a Splash! at Jean Little Library
Dolphin Baby at Perogies & Gyoza (a blog name that always makes me hungry)
A Place for Turtles at Geo Librarian
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster at Abby the Librarian, WITH the description of an entire related science program!
Brave Girl on Kid Lit About Politics
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909
Moonbird at Challenging the Bookworm

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Review: Ungifted by Gordon Korman

It has been so long since I read a Gordon Korman book, I forgot the inherent danger.
You know, the danger that you will be reading it quietly in, say, the staff lounge, and periodically burst into to huge guffaws of laughter, startling the people walking past you so they drop scalding-hot food all over themselves, further triggering a chain of events that include the demolition of the entire reference section.
Okay, that mostly didn't happen to me, but if it had been Donovan Curtis we would have seen that or worse! Things just seem to happen around Donovan. Well, okay, he pretty much makes them happen, but he doesn't mean to. The school psychologist's label of 'poor impulse control' couldn't be more dead-on. While that can be a cause of extreme frustration to those around him, it can also make life for them a whole lot more interesting. And, if there is anything his new friends at the Academy of Scholastic Distinction could use, it's...well, it's Donovan!
Whatever your age, I highly recommend you grab a copy, sit back, and enjoy yourself for a couple hundred pages. This would also be an excellent choice for that after-lunch-read-aloud time for pretty much any age classroom.
Copy borrowed from our library. Um...before it was actually finished being processed. I blame Donovan's bad influence.

Friday, April 19, 2013

F is for Family!

Okay, now THIS is the surprise we were expecting for the letter "F". Although, if you are on my Facebook page, you are well aware of the arrival of F.:
Look who I found at the dinner table!
My sweet daughter, who is overly concerned that this picture makes her look fat. No, honey, it's my granddaughter in there that is making you look larger than usual, and that will change very soon!
I picked F. up at the train station in our neighboring state Sunday, and learned on the way that:
a) Mapquest really stinks sometimes, and
b) 99% of the people living in this particular city have no idea they even HAVE a train station, which makes getting directions a bit tricky.
Fortunately, I had built in some reading time, which became driving-around-confused time. I got to the station in time to be standing at the gate when the passengers filed by.

And the little boy walking out with his father looked up at me and piped, "You're from the library!"

Did I mention I was in another state?!

At any rate, F. is now home, and we are very happy to have her back. We have been busy with appointments and preparations for the baby - whose name very conveniently begins with a G!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Picture Books

Moving is often difficult for children (and adults), but after I read this sweet story, I wanted to be young again, and move to a new place, just so I could make friends the way this young boy did! I can't tell you how, because that would ruin it, but trust me - in a very short space of time, you will go from feeling sad and lonely to feeling all warm inside, just like Neville.
Amelia Bedelia's First Field Trip
Oh! My! Goodness! I grew up on Amelia Bedelia books, and I always want to read them to groups. The problem is, some of the expressions are so dated, the kids don't understand them any better than Amelia Bedelia did. Enter Peggy Parish's nephew, who has a fairly new (how did I not know about this?) series featuring Amelia Bedelia as a young girl. Now the current generation can giggle along and enjoy her boundless enthusiasm as she starts school, visits a farm, and enjoys her first slumber party.Avril's illutrations are perfectly updated, while keeping the spirit of the irrepressible Amelia Bedelia!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Three New Picture Books

Oh! If Only...
Oh! If only I hadn't...how many times have we all had thoughts that started with those very same words? Disasters could have been averted...or, friendships never formed. Children may enjoy coming up with their own "if only" chain stories...they will certainly enjoy both the text and the lively illustrations in this book!
My Crocodile Does Not Bite
Last week, we reviewed The Pets You Get, about a little boy belittling his sister's choice in pets. He would have been very happy with the pet this boy brings to school: a very well-trained crocodile, who does NOT bite. A snippy classmate is not as impressed, and finds out, in the end, that biting is not the only possible danger. Parents may object to the ending, but children (especially those annoyed by similar classmates) will likely cheer.
Cookie, the Walker
All dogs like to go for walks, but Cookie does it on just two legs. This, besides being convenient, brings all sorts of attention, opportunities, and best of all, TREATS! As she tells her canine friend, Kevin:
"People walk up and say 'Hey you are amazing! Want some bacon?' It's pretty nice."
It all gets to be a bit tiring, though. In the end, it's good she still has her old friend Kevin to give her some good advice.
Cookie's (and Kevin's) story is told mostly in comic style, with some humor and over-the-top stereotypes adults will enjoy. Some of that will go over younger readers' heads, but they will still enjoy the comical situations and goofy illustrations. After reading, have them try being dogs for a bit, walking on all fours to see what they can and can't do. Don't read this in front of your dogs, though, or you will never be able to leave bacon unattended again!

Thank-you to Lerner for all three review copies!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Some Poems for Your Pocket!

Not only is April National Poetry Month, but this Thursday, April 18, is national Poem in Your Pocket Day. Participants of all ages are encouraged to keep a copy of their favorite poem in their pocket, and to take it out and read it to people they encounter throughout the day. Ideas for activities can be found by clicking on the link, but to get you started, allow me to suggest one of my favorite poets:
The New Kid on the Block      A Pizza the Size of the Sun
978-006-2239501            978-006-223-9518
Boh recently re-released by HarperCollinsChildrens, these collections contain much of the best of Jack Prelutsky, silly poet extraordinaire. Even the smallest pocket can fit a chestnut like:
Their daily lives are bland,
and if they land -
they're canned.
Or, if you want something more fun to read aloud, see how the lines of The Underwater Wibbles trip off the tongue. When I trained young students to be English teachers in Ukraine many years ago, I made them memorize and recite Jack Prelutsky poems as part of their midterm exams. They had a choice - go with something safe and easy, and get a passing grade, or go for the extra credit points of the tongue-twister, Don't Ever Seize a Weasel by the Tail (not included in these collections, unfortunately).
Besides being wodnerful tools for teaching those tricky English sounds, Prelutsky's poems are great for tucking into lunch boxes, or refocusing students after recess. They are just plain fun and timeless! Pick up a copy of either of these for your elementary school student, and watch it quickly become dog-eared and worn.
Thank-you to HarperCollins for the review copies!

For more great nonfiction books, check out today's Nonfiction Monday round-up at NC Teacher Stuff (I want the Animal Geometry book!)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

F is for Friends and Fun!

Nope, still not the surprise we have been promising for the letter "F", but a good time was had by all. Since it is Spring Break here, and I had Friday off, we decided to have some friends up for a playdate (read: grown-up face time for Mommies!) These pictures will probably be of no interest to anyone who wasn't here, so please feel free to ignore this post.
For those who were here: who are these wild children?!

A little while after this was taken, I found her feeding the Jell-O to the dog...with her spoon...


L. was NOT entirely sure how he felt about all these little girls being at his house!

George, the escape artist, was on a leash. This did not make him happy.

Oh, no! A girl in the man-fort!

That looks like a teenager, but it's really a mommy.