Thursday Quick Write 6/28

     Today the quick-write prompt that I chose was to write a story from the perspective of another character.  This prompt actually coincided nicely with the topic that my writing group chose in my workshop today, although I am tweaking it a bit. 
     Before I start with my writing, I want to say that I really liked the idea of using a word cloud to help to discover a theme in a piece of text.  I think this would be a great experience for students. I also think it would be a good exercise for them in word choice. 

 Summerfest from the perspective of an inanimate object

Brainstorm: Stage
Spitting      Different types of music    Breath      Heat     Over-worked      Different shoes
Loud     Back breaking with dancing    Equipment scrapes      Annoying screams 

Here are my attempts:

Heat spills off my back
Stomping, jumping, and twirling
Can’t they just stand still?

      Ear-piercing sound vibrates through me. Tonight it is one of those pathetic boy band groups.  I know I will have to hear teenage screams all night as well as the nauseating music.  Every year it seems to get worse.  When I first started, the music was decent at least and that made it easier to have the stamina to get through it all.   Now, the endurable music is few and far between and I feel exhaustion creeping in.  Night after night crews scrape and bump equipment on and off my back without even trying to take care.  There are scars and scrapes everywhere showing the long years of service.  Every night I endure an endless barrage of mediocre music while supporting multiple areas of my body so that I won’t ache so much in the morning.  The worst is when the band is energetic and likes to move.  I cringe as their heels dig in every time they jump, twirl, or stomp their way through another song.   Each type of shoe brings its own particular brand of torture.  Stilettos seem to be made especially to bring pain.   Thank goodness I only have to work during the festival season.  I am not sure I could survive this workload if I had to do it all year. 

Not a lot of writing here but an interesting exercise.  I would like to revisit this sometime when I have more time to spend refining it.  I can see how an activity like this would work well in the classroom as a prompt.

Teachers Write 6/26 Quick Write

 Today’s quick write prompt is a multi-media prompt.  The assignment was to find an image of a person and to begin to develop the character from that image by also finding songs that would represent the character.  I will focus on the girl in the image here.

The girl in this image has long brown hair, and brown eyes.  She is beautiful and has a round face with a long nose.  She is a smart girl and works hard in school.  Her passion is music and many people do not know this about her.  She has been playing the cello since she was 6 years old.   At this moment in time she is sitting on this boat furiously hoping that this friend of hers will realize that she is crazy about him and kiss her.  She doesn’t want to look too interested in him and so she is pretending to be content to sit and contemplate the horizon.  She does not want to be too hopeful because she has messed up friendships in the past by reading signals wrong.  This friend of hers just lost his dad a month ago so she is trying to be there for him without adding pressure to his situation.

External Song: James Taylor   You’ve Got a Friend

Internal Songs: Bonnie Raitt  Something to Talk About   Cello Suite No.1– Bach

As she stared into the distance, Katie couldn’t help but feel a tickle of anticipation.  Surely Taylor was feeling something too.  They had been spending a lot of time together since his dad died.  She had been there at the hospital, through the awful next days at the house, and through the whole funeral.  She had not left his side.  Everyone said what a great friend she was, but she wanted more.  She peeked at Taylor, he seemed so deep in thought.  Katie wondered if he was thinking the same thing that she was.  She knew she should say something, but she couldn’t.  It had been so awful when she lost Chris’ friendship.  She had read that situation wrong and made a move at the wrong time.  What followed was awkward and horrible.  She could not do that to Taylor…not when he had just gone through this awful time.  On the other hand, they could have something amazing if he felt the same.  Katie wished she had her cello with her.  When she was playing her music nothing seemed impossible.  This opportunity was surely the one she had been waiting for.  They had hardly had any time alone lately with all of Taylor’s relatives around and his mother so worried about him.

Children at the Beach

     As we pulled up to the beach house, I could barely contain my excitement.  This was it, this once a year ritual that my brothers and I had.  As soon as the car came to a stop, we vaulted out and raced to the beach.  Knowing we were going there, we had come prepared and all of us had swim suits on.
    “Last one there is a rotten egg,” my kid brother, Kevin screamed.  You had to love that little kid attitude.  Kevin burst into giggles as he darted toward the water.  The kid had two speeds: lightning fast and asleep.  I stopped just long enough to peel away my dress and reveal the turquoise bikini that had cost me babysitting money and a fight with my dad.  Then, it was full speed ahead into the frigid water.  Once we had all gotten used to the water, we all sort of congregated together.  Standing here in the water, I thought about how we always seem to be at war except for these first few peaceful moments on vacation.  I wonder why I had been so adamantly against this trip.  I thought back to Thursday when I announced to my mother that I would not be coming to Englewood this year and that was my final decision.  That went so well that seven fights and three nights grounded in my room later here I was.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  How could I forget about the salty air and the soothing sound of the waves crashing on the shore?  I looked over at my brother Lenny who now had had enough of standing still and was searching the shore for sea glass, coaching Kevin about the finer points of a search on the beach.  These two dorks drove me bonkers every day of the year, but I couldn’t imagine life without them.
“Lenny, where should I look?” I shouted, as I got down to the business of being an older sister.

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

Jen and Kellee at host a weekly meme entitled “It’s Monday! What are you Reading?”  This is a chance for people to share the books that they have been reading throughout the week, especially focused on kid lit and YA lit. 
This week I spent a lot of time in meetings and trainings so it didn’t quite feel like summer vacation yet.  I managed to get quite a lot of reading in but not so much writing for the Teachers Write camp.  I am hoping to turn that around this week while still making the time for reading.  
Books Finished this week:
Brody’s Ghost byMark Crilley–a graphic novel that was okay.  I had a student begging me to find the sequel earlier this school year so I know that some 8th graders will like it.  
Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block–I am not sure I know why people seem to like this book so much.  I know that there will be some students who will enjoy the unconventional style of the book.  I need to read more of the books before really passing judgement…perhaps Weetzie will grow on me.  
The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting–I just began with the Newbery challenge so I am woefully behind anyone who started in January but I will plug away at these books.  I went through the list this week and realized I have already read quite a few in the last ten years or so.  I am planning to reread the books I read as a child and don’t really remember but may not reread books that I have read more recently…especially ones that I have used for teaching and have read multiple times in the last five years.  This book was pleasantly surprising and entertaining after suffering through some of the last one.  
Babymouse: Burns Rubber, Babymouse: Cupcake Tycoon, Babymouse: The Musical, Babymouse: Dragonslayer by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm–I am almost embarrassed to say that I had never read any of these graphic novels before.  I really enjoyed the quick and easy reads and was astonished at all of the literary references.  I loved that the musical one referred to so many musicals also.  I could see using one of these fun scenes as a lesson about allusions for my 8th graders.  I am definitely going to try to get some copies of this series for my class library.  
Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles–Participating in Teachers Write has given me so many great ideas for my writing, but it has also exposed me to a number of excellent authors.  This book was riveting and I stayed up way too late reading it and didn’t do anything the next morning until it was finished.  
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater–I have been waiting to read this book for a long time now.  I finally ordered it from Scholastic this Spring and opened the box while my students were in the room…long story short, I had to wait until summer to read it as it circulated the room to my Shiver series readers.  I like this conclusion to the trilogy and felt satisfied by the way everything was resolved. 
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green–This book is heart-wrenching and I spent the last 50 pages or so sobbing.  However, I would never have wished back the time that I spent reading and loving those characters.  The voice of the main character is so candid and I truly wished throughout the whole book for a miracle cure for everyone.  
See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles–I connected with this book on a very deep level.  I lost my father when I was thirteen and I remember the moments in the ER when we found out.  I felt exactly the way Fern describes feeling.  Her grief in this book reminded me of my own grief at that age and I spent yet another morning crying through a book.  (My husband thinks I am nuts at this point I am sure) I will be ordering multiple copies of this one for my class library.
50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James–This one is most definitively NOT a book for young adults.  I was curious about it and knew it was trashy but wanted to indulge in a little guilty pleasure.  Holy naughtiness, Batman!  Enough said.  
Books I am Reading:
The Glass Maker’s Daughter by V. Briceland–So far it is entertaining.  I have not gotten very far in the book.  
Last Train to Paradise by Les Standiford–I am slowly but surely plugging along in this non-fiction book.  It is interesting but slower going than my usual choice of novels.  
The CAFE Book–I love the ideas that the two sisters have about literacy instruction.  Although I teach 8th grade, I am enjoying reading about this assessment system and imagining how to alter it for my grade level.  
Books to Read this week:
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia–this one is calling to me from the tbr shelf
I will be picking up holds from the library tomorrow: The Dark Frigate and Tales from Silver LandsI will try to get through at least one of these if not both
I am also planning to read a few picture books from my pile of potential mentor texts and will probably pick up and start another professional book.  
Lastly, I have to say that I love the book a day challenge.  I have been doing this challenge for 12 days and have read 17 books already.  It makes it easy to give myself permission to sit and read because I am accomplishing a goal 🙂
Happy Reading!

Summer Reading

     This summer I am participating in the book a day challenge.  I have made it a goal to read at least 1 book a day this summer so that at the end of the summer I will have read at least as many books as I have days off.  I am starting off the summer way ahead of my goal which is great because then I might be able to pick up one of the books that I need to sink my teeth into later this summer while still meeting my goal.  I have to warn you reader, this may be a long post because there are a lot of great books to talk about. 

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block is a book that I have been curious about for a couple of years.  Earlier this week I saw a new Weetzie Bat book in the library and was reminded that this was a series I wanted to read.  I found the first book in this series to be quite interesting.  There are many people who simply rave over the style of Francesca Lia Block’s writing and I can see how it would appeal to people.  This book is a poetic and modernized fairy tale and the characters are fun to read about.  I would recommend it to teenagers as it deals with some fairly tough issues in a very light-hearted way, but I am not sure I understand why it is so well-loved. 

I read The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting this week as part of the Newbery Challenge.  It was a different story from what I thought I would read, but I enjoyed the book.  It is obviously written in the 1920’s and if I were to read it with students there would be some race issues to talk about since the thinking at that time was quite different from now.  All in all, I found this to be a fun adventure book and I enjoyed reading it. 

I had some students in fifth grade a few years ago that thoroughly enjoyed Babymouse books.  At the time there were only 1 or 2 of them, but I never picked them up to read.  This week I decided to remedy that situation and discover what my students had seen and what Colby Sharp kept raving about on Twitter.  The four different books I read from the Babymouse series were all fun reads.  I loved the many literary references that were made throughout the books and enjoyed Babymouse’s exploits in each book.  I will definitely pick up some of these for my class library to recommend to students who need a quick and light read some days.  Although they seem to be written more for students in middle grades, I think young adults would also be entertained by Babymouse. 

Forever by Maggie Steifvater is the third book in a trilogy about the wolves in Mercy Falls.  I love all the books that I have read by this author and really enjoy the depth of the characters.  Sam and Grace have gone through so many ups and downs throughout this trilogy and they seem to be star-crossed in so many ways.  The end of the second book in this trilogy was quite a cliff-hanger so I was excited to read this one to find out how everything is resolved.  There were many people who did not give this book very good reviews on Goodreads and I couldn’t disagree more.  I think the author did a brilliant job of wrapping up this complex plot in a way that really helped me to suspend my disbelief and jump in to the story.  I enjoyed getting to know two more characters in this book and I love the way she switches point of view so the reader can see the depth in all the characters.  I would highly recommend the whole series starting with Shiver.

     One of the things I have been doing for the last few weeks is an online writing camp for teachers and librarians called Teachers Write.  There are assignments and prompts throughout the week and plenty of opportunities to post writing and give feedback to others on their writing.  One of the organizers who has been extremely generous in giving her time and talent to this program is Jo Knowles.  I am ashamed to say that before this program I had not heard of her before…and, boy, was I missing out!  This week I read two of her books and realized just how talented she is. 
     The first book I read was Lessons From a Dead Girl.  This book was a haunting tale told from the point of view of Laine, a teenage girl who is telling about the complicated relationship she had with a girl who has just died.  Laine recounts how much she wanted to be friends with Leah Greene and how excited she was in fifth grade when Leah seemed to choose her as a friend.  Things quickly become strange for Laine when Leah makes her do things behind closed doors that she says are just practice.  This book really dives into the difficult topic of abuse and victimization from an original point of view.  When I started reading this book I could not put it down and ended up staying up until the wee hours of the morning (way too late in other words) to finish it. 
     The other book I read this week by Jo Knowles was See You at Harry’s.  This week the book had recognition as an editor’s pick in the New York Times and it is well-deserved.  I read this book in one sitting riveted to my spot by the powerful narrative voice.  The protagonist Fern feels invisible to her family and annoyed by her baby brother Charlie.  Her parents are busy with the family restaurant, her older siblings are wrapped up in their own lives, and it seems like Fern is always stuck watching Charlie, who is three-years-old.  All Fern wants is for her family to understand her and for her mother to show some of the affection to her that she seems to reserve for Charlie.  Then, tragedy strikes this family and leaves everyone reeling and grieving in their own way.  The author captured the moments when tragedy strikes in such a realistic way.  Fern’s thought processes as she grieves are laid bare on the page and echo the way I was thinking when my father died (I was 13 at the time).  The descriptions bring the reader into the moment and help her to see and feel what is happening.  I highly recommend this book, just make sure to have some tissues at hand.

    Last, but certainly not least, is the book The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  It is the story of Hazel, a girl who is living with cancer and her struggle to come to terms with dying.  One day at her support group Hazel meets Augustus Waters and the two of them are kindred spirits.   The kids in this book have jokes about cancer and understand one another because of the common experience of cancer.  I found the voice of Hazel to be honest and witty and just the way I would imagine a teenager with cancer to react to her world.  This book is a tough one to read because it is a star-crossed relationship story if I ever read one, but the uplifting power of love is really at the heart of this story and the ending, though not a happy one, leaves the reader feeling satisfied and not completely devastated.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I will avoid a sad story like the plague because I just don’t want to be brought down by the stories I read.  This sad story, however, is one that I am glad I read.  I will certainly recommend this book to all my students in the fall and would highly recommend it to all my friends as well.  Beware when picking up the book that you will most definitely need a box of tissues by you.  I sobbed for the better part of 50 pages at the end of the book, but would still recommend the experience to everyone. 


Teachers Write 6/18

Today’s assignment on Teachers Write had two great ideas for generating ideas in writing.  The first idea was to go to a random word generator and let the random words inspire a quick write.  This is my attempt:

Random Words:     Lizard     Edge

As she sat there on the balcony basking in the bright sunshine, she couldn’t help but notice the lizards clinging to the outside of the house across the street.  How different this life was from the one she left in Wisconsin.  It was so fascinating how things that are mainstream in one place could be so exotic in another place.  The outside wall of the house across the street had five small lizards basking in that same sunlight and hanging there as if it were a lazy day lying on the beach.  Everything here in Sevilla seemed to move in a slower way and to defy gravity in the slightest way.  Deciding to study here was the best decision she had ever made.  

The second idea is similar to the Nancie Atwell idea that I use every year at the beginning of the school year–writing territories–except this idea has a much more directed brainstorm list.  I am really excited to spend time doing this thinking and I hope it will help me come up with some great ideas for writing.

Setting Ideas:
1. List ten places that you have lived in your lifetime:  Camp Webb, Glenside Circle, Brookfield, Oconomowoc, The Cochrane House–Madison, Langdon Street, Triana, Gran Plaza, Grandma’s house, Milwaukee

2. List ten places to which you feel a strong emotional connection. The emotion can be positive or negative. Either is powerful. (it’s okay to have repeats in the bank. That can tell you something useful about where your heart lives.)
Camp Webb, The house/small bathroom in Brookfield, Kopps, Disneyworld, St. Francis Church, Memorial Union, Gambrinus, Streets of Sevilla

3. List ten places you’ve visited on vacation or places you’d love to visit in your lifetime were money and time no object:  Mallorca, Australia, Paris, Other cities in Italy, Greece, Grand Canyon, Tropical islands, Key West

4. List ten places from which your ancestors or in-laws come: Spain, Germany, England, Ireland, Czechoslovakia, Poland

5. List ten books or movies that have settings you’ve found particularly captivating:  Harry Potter–I LOVE Hogwarts and the idea that there is another world right in the same space as the real world,  

Character Ideas:

6. List ten jobs whether paying or volunteer that you’ve done in your life: tutoring, Urban Outfitters, Culvers, Respite care for families, baby-sitting, camp counselor, charity fundraiser

7. List ten famous people, historical or contemporary, that you would love to share a meal with: Jane Austen, Barack Obama, Oprah, Emily Dickenson, JK Rowling, Walt Disney, Matt Damon, Madeline L’Engle, Picasso, Sarah McLachlan

8. List ten ethnicities, religions, tribes, cultural groups, gender or sexual orientations, or political philosophies that are represented in your extended family: Spanish, Irish, Catholic, Episcopalian, Religious right, conservative, liberal,

9. List ten people who can make you laugh: Ramon, Matt, Tim, Konell, Tony, Christen, Scrubs, Bernie Mac, Jim, Michelle, Carl

10. Complete this sentence ten times. “I’ve always wanted to _____ like ____________

Sing like Sarah MchLachlan, Perform on Broadway, write like Jane Austen, Dance like an Irish dancer, Cook like Giada or Mario, Do gymnastics like Mary Lou Retton, Ice Skate like an Olympian, Ride horseback like an equestrian

I didn’t quite get to 10 ideas in each list, but I definitely see the value in an exercise like this for a great idea bank.  I will have more than enough ideas to pull from here and these guided lists will help me add to my writing territories list this summer and at the start of the school year.

I want to do the Monday quick write from Jo Knowles’ blog as well, but I am having a hard time coming up with a project to describe.  I will have to let that idea simmer for a night and I hope that I will come up with something tomorrow.  If not, I will do what I tell my students to do if they can’t think of a real-life example for a prompt—make it up.

Happy Writing to all of my fellow Teachers Write participants…see you tomorrow.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 6/18/12

Jen and Kellee at host a weekly meme entitled “It’s Monday! What are you Reading?”  This is a chance for people to share the books that they have been reading throughout the week, especially focused on kid lit and YA lit.

This week I did a lot of reading since I did not have to plan for students.  I was working on packing up the classroom but was able to use my evening hours for reading rather than planning.

I was excited on Monday to go pick up a stack of books that I had requested at the library.  I have been busy requesting books that have been recommended by fellow teachers and that have been written by the authors participating in Teachers Write this summer.

I finished: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Fallen by Lauren Kate, Sidekicks by Dan Santat, The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner, Wonder by RJ Palacio, Brody’s Ghost by Mark Criller, and a grown-up book Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson.

I decided to do the Newbery challenge and started to read The Story of Mankind but I will take Mr. Schu at his word and make this a non-stress challenge for me.  I cannot get through this book and I don’t want to waste precious reading minutes on it any longer.  If someone were to ask me about the book, I have read enough of it to give them the gist of what it is about and I do not see recommending this book to anyone anytime soon. I am counting it finished and moving on to The Journeys of Doctor Doolittle.

This week my tbr pile includes: Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles,  The Fault in our Stars by John Greene, Babymouse (multiple titles are waiting for me at the library), Forever by Maggie Stiefvater, Weetzie Bat by Francseca Lia Block and Last Train to Paradise by Les Standiford (This one is a non-fiction book about the building of the railroad from Miami to Key West–not YA or kid lit but one from my tbr shelf)

The Wonder of Wonder and Ivan

     As promised, I am back to day to talk about the two last books I read.  These two books are amazing stories and I hope to see both on the short list of Newbery nominees this year.

    Wonder by RJ Palacio is a fabulous book about a boy who is seriously disfigured.  August Pullman had the complete bad luck of losing a genetic lottery and has spent his life going through surgeries to make it possible for him to eat without a feeding tube and to have a jaw bone, etc.  Because he was constantly having surgeries and recovery time, he has been homeschooled his entire life.  At the beginning of the book Auggie finds out that he will be going to fifth grade at a regular school and he is not very thrilled about the idea.  He knows how people stare and shy away from him in public and he is reluctant to go to school because it will happen there as well.  This book follows August through the entire fifth grade year, telling a remarkable story of bravery.  I love the way the author switches narrators throughout the book so the reader can get the perspective of more than one character.  One of the most touching things in this book is the incredibly tight-knit family and how the parents and August and his sister Olivia really love each other and support each other.  This is an uplifting story that sometimes made me laugh and sometimes made me cry.  I think every kid should read this book and understand that people are more than just their outside appearances.

     The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate tells the story of a gorilla living in a circus mall.  It is based on a true story of a gorilla in similar circumstances.  I love how the author gives us the animals voices and narrates this story from their perspectives.  When a baby elephant comes to live at the mall, Ivan finds that he is sad for her and wishes she had a better place to live.  He works hard to send this message to the people surrounding him.  I was touched by the relationship that Ivan had with the small dog that was there and with the groundskeepers daughter.  Children sometimes have a more perceptive way of looking at the world and in this world that is definitely true.  As I was reading, I made a few connections to one of my favorite kid lit books Charlotte’s Web.  Ivan’s attempts to gain attention reminded me of Charlotte’s messages in the web to save the life of Wilbur.  I am really interested now in reading more about some of the gorillas that have lived in captivity throughout the years.  Perhaps I will look for some of Jane Goodall’s books.  I would highly recommend this truly unique book to everyone.  

Heading into Summer

Summer vacation is finally here and I am so excited to be able to have time to read more amazing books!  I did a lot of reading this week because I came home so exhausted from packing up my classroom every day that I didn’t really feel like doing anything else.

    I will start with my reviews of a couple graphic novels I read.  These books are quick to read and will be great additions to my class library.  I witnessed the power of the graphic novel this year when the only time I had no trouble at silent reading was when I had a new GN to give one of the boys in my class.  I will be pushing this genre next year and am really excited about the idea of helping students see the inferences they have to make when reading these books.

The first GN to talk about is Nightschool: The Weirn Books Vol. 1 by Svetlana Chmakova.  This graphic novel was reminiscent of Manga for me.  I don’t think it is classified as such but there were many Manga like faces drawn that conveyed certain emotions of the characters.  This is a book about vampires, witches, and other supernatural forces.  There is a school that serves as the Nightschool campus and the woman that is the director of this school is a new employee there.  There seems to be all sorts of evil and danger lurking about which I am sure the reader finds out more about in the next book.  This is an intriguing first book in a series and I will be interested in finding out more about the story in subsequent books.  I would recommend it to students that are more into fantasy because I don’t see it necessarily appealing to all audiences.

The second GN that I read this week was Sidekicks by Dan Santat. This is a fun story about a superhero who is searching for a new Sidekick.  In the past he has used his pets as sidekicks but this time he wants to find someone else because he does not want to put his pets in danger.  The pets have something to say about this and go out to train so that they can audition for the part.  Meanwhile, there is a new superhero on the scene and mayhem is about to break out.  I love superhero stories and this one was a fun one.  I would recommend this for kids from 4th grade-adult.

On to the other books for this week.  The only strictly young adult book I read this week was Fallen by Lauren Kate.  I have had this book in my to read pile for a couple months since I found it at HPB one day.  I enjoyed this book, but I felt that the action was dragged out.  It might just be because I have read so many of these paranormal romance books, but I felt a little tired of the whole “does he like me or not?” back and forth that was going on.  I did think the setting of a boarding school for court-ordered youth was an interesting twist.  This book reminded me of Hush, Hush because of the rough treatment of the main character by her love interest and Evermore because of the story of generations of the same doomed love story.  If I had read this book first maybe I would have liked it more, but I couldn’t muster the same enthusiasm for this one as I have for others in the past.  I am going to read the other books in this series because I am intrigued and I do like the characters.  I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoyed the other paranormal romance books.  I don’t think anyone will be disappointed by this one.

The other three books I am reviewing here were books I read because of the blogs I have started following thanks to Twitter and Teachers Write.  I am participating in an online writing camp this summer and I have been very inspired by book recommendations and writing that is occurring there.

The first book is one I looked up because the author is one of the people who founded our writing camp, which actually has over 1,000 participants at this point.  Gae Polisner is very active in commenting on Facebook and providing feedback to everyone who posts.  I really enjoy reading her comments and answers to questions.  I requested her book The Pull of Gravity from my library and devoured it almost in one sitting.  Her characters jump off the page and come to life in this story.  When Nick’s neighbor and best friend the Scoot asks him to take a book back to his father, he finds himself compelled to comply with the request.  It doesn’t help that his new friend Jaycee seems to be plotting along with the Scoot to get Nick to help out.  Scooter has a very rare condition and is dying and this is a request that Nick cannot refuse.  Nick and Jaycee end up on an adventure to remember at a time in his life in which his family seems to be crumbling before his eyes.  I very much enjoyed this story.  I found myself making connections to the book Freak the Mighty.  Both Scooter and Freak had a condition that seemed to be similar, if not the same condition.  I enjoyed the references to Of Mice and Men throughout the book and now find myself inspired to read this classic and a little embarrassed that I haven’t read it yet.  I would highly recommend this book to all students and I will be seeking out a copy to add to my class library this year.

Since this post is getting extremely long, I will reserve my reviews of the following books for the next post.  These are the other books that I would highly recommend reading and please come back tomorrow for their reviews.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Wonder by RJ Palacio

Teachers Write Week 2 Tuesday prompt

     Since I do not currently have a work-in-progress, I decided to write the letter about a character that I am tossing around in my head right now.  I have witnessed my husband’s immigrant journey and feel that it would be an excellent story to follow a teenager who is going through similar things.  I have had some interesting interactions with my in-laws because of cultural differences and I wonder what it would be like to be a teenager having to deal with these situations with your own parents and grandparents.  To that end, I have written a fake e-mail to my mother describing this girl, who does not have a name yet.

Hi Mom!

   I hope you are doing well and enjoying your time up north with the family.  I had a fabulous week and am excited to start summer vacation.

   This morning I met the most interesting girl.  She has been living in the USA for most of her life, but her parents are from Spain.  Ramon and I met her parents and invited the family over for one of our ex-patriot parties so they could connect with the other Spaniards in town. She is a typical teenager but feels a little out of place at times because of the way her parents act.  I can tell that it is embarrassing to her that her family does things differently at times.  Her grades are good and she likes school.  She is definitely an amazing soccer player and she is looking forward to some good prospects for scholarships to good schools.  When her friends ask her about her culture, she sometimes feels like an alien and is sometimes blown away by the stupidity and ignorance of their questions.  Why should she have to defend her love of caracoles to anyone?  They are delicious!  What kind of moron asks if there is popcorn in Spain?  What a stupid question!  Her abuela is an amazing person and I can tell that she has a great relationship with her, albeit a long-distance one throughout most of the year.  Her abuela is always telling her Spanish old-wives tales and she has to constantly decide which superstitions to abide by.  I am excited to get to know this teenager better.  I think she also has a younger brother and possibly other younger siblings.  I am sure that she loves to read and will be reading all kinds of books in Spanish and English when I run into her in the future.

    That’s all for now.  I am sure I will have more to say about this girl in the future.