Top ten series I haven’t finished


I know, I know, it’s Thursday.  So much for my goal of blogging regularly this week . . .

The top ten series I haven’t finished . . . this is a tough one!  I don’t read a lot of series, and the ones I have read, I generally finish (the Mitford series, the Harmony series, and a few that are decidedly not religious). 

But for what it’s worth, here’s ten eight book series that I started and haven’t finished, in no particular order:

1.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid

I’ve read the first Wimpy Kid book, and liked it fine enough, but just haven’t found the desire to go back to it.  Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers is all the humorous cartoon books I need, I guess.

2.  Twilight

Really, don’t get me started on Twilight.  Okay, since you asked.  I was taking a class in Young Adult Librarianship and we had to read this book.  In our discussion, all the other ladies loved the book, as well as my professor.  I just kept thinking of a girl in my high school who was abused by her boyfriend, if this book had been out then.  She might have thought, “Wow, this is exactly how my boyfriend treats me!” – with Edward’s stalking, bullying behavior.  But then she realizes that not only her classmates, but her mother, her teachers, her librarian think it’s romantic.  I was told in class that I was being silly, but the next day I heard on NPR of a government report that some crazy percentage of high school girls are in abusive relationships.  So there.  (Though I think it would be an excellent book to read with high school girls to discuss.  But I won’t be reading anymore of her work.)

3.  Series of Unfortunate Events

I read the first, but just didn’t like how unfortunate everything is!  Should I try again?

4.  Ghost and the Goth

This is a fun quirky book.  And although I was at first disappointed that there is a second book – why can’t authors just finish the story in one?  It was a fun one and I should get the second for the library.

5.  Lord of the Rings

I actually read The Hobbit, which technically isn’t part of LOTR, but in my mind it is.  I really enjoyed Farmer Giles of Ham, but this heavy of fantasy just isn’t for me.  Too dense.

6.  Work and the Glory

I’m a lapsed Mormon and have read some of these, but good Lord!  Talk about preachy – and I thought that even when I wasn’t a lapsed Mormon.

7.  The Great Brain Adventures

I read a lot as a kid and this is one of the few that I remember reading.  Actually, that’s not true – when I read it as an adult, I realized that I’d read it as a child.  What fun!  I did go back and read several of them, but not all.  Fun reads, I wish they were still popular for kids.

8.  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

The problem with this book is I have no idea where I left off! 



Here’s a great site to look for book series you may have met.

It’s Monday – What are you reading?

I mostly stuck with blogging last week – took a long weekend away then did one last night.  But this one, “It’s Monday! What are you reading?” (sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey) has sure motivated me this week to read, read, read!

I was so excited when The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry came in off the hold shelf for me at the public library!  It’s British, so there’s a few “what the heck” moments with the vocabulary, but it’s an interesting book.  It’s the story of a newly retired man who gets a letter from a woman he knew decades before.  He responds by letter, and intends to drop it in the mailbox – but just keeps walking.  “He hunched his shoulders and drove his feet harder, as if he wasn’t so much walking to Queenie as away from himself.” 

I’ve read The View from Saturday before, but it’s the first selection for the 5th grade Book Lovers’ Club in the library (reason:  we had enough copies!).  I think it’s an appropriate book for that, too, because it’s about a group of smart kids . . . and that’s my Book Lovers’ Club!  I’ve done a book discussion group for fifth graders before, and it remains the best thing I’ve done in a school.  I hope the kids get as much out of it as I do!

I just started Why We Broke Up by Daniel Hadler and Maira Kalman.  That’s Daniel Hadler, AKA Lemony Snickett.  The one thing that stands out for me with this book is the quality of the book itself.  The pages are really thick!  I appreciate that in a book.  I wonder why more don’t do that, or why they did (or how they had the clout to demand it).

And I’m highly anticipating J.K. Rowling’s new book, Casual Vacancy, which comes out this week.  I read all the Harry Potter books, but only once, and I definitely am more on the “muggle” side of the wizarding spectrum.  As Daniel Radcliffe said in his SNL monologue, “And to the adults who read the Harry Potter books and devored them, I just want to say, those books were for children. You were reading children’s books.”

What are you reading?

Another week, another workload

It’s been a busy week.  Here are things I’m going to hit hard and heavy starting tomorrow:

*Book orders at elementary and high school
    This should have been done a month ago.  Sigh.

*Finish article for newsletter
    I just need to get a couple quotes from staff and students.

*Prepare for Wednesday Teacher Explorations meeting
    This is a new initiative – an optional, after-school meeting for teachers to explore some aspect of technology.  We just had the Google Chromebook roll-out at our school (look for a quote from me in this article!), and teachers are eager to learn about using these effectively in their classrooms.

*Make infographic for year-end report
    I’ve been meaning to do this for a couple months now, and I’ve given myself September 30th as a deadline.

*Create page on website with ebook information
   We have some new ebook initiatives this year and with our AEA, so I need to put all the resources in one spot for teachers and students.

And I do have an outside life, too!

*Start Coursera class on Greek and Roman Mythology
   This will be the third one I’ve started – let’s see if I’ll stick with it.  I got an email that says, “We’ll be engaging in something the likes of which has never quite been seen. You have joined over 50,000 people from around the world.”  Does that mean there’s fifty thousand students in this Greek Mythology course???

*My son’s dermatologist appointment
   DH will be taking him, methinks, as it’s MAP testing at school and I won’t be able to get away.

*Start up Shangri-la diet again, in preparation for starting the 30 Day Shred program
   I’ve lost 14 pounds so far – not weighing myself for a few days after eating a big dinner at my mom’s today! – but have a long ways to go.  It feels good, though, that people are starting to notice.

*Write 2 letters
   Handwritten – so quaint, I know!  But don’t you love getting a hand-written letter in your mailbox?

*Blog five days this week (not counting this one)

*Long bike ride
   Last weekend, DD and I went on a 12-mile ride.  It’s starting to get cooler, but as long as the wind dies down, I’d like to ride a couple days this week, too.

What are you doing this week?

Things I love Thursday

I just found this blog last week.  What fun!  I shared with my daughter and . . . well . . . she didn’t find it nearly as funny as I did. 
“When I find out there is yet another book in one of my favorite series.”
(It’s funnier if you go to the original.)
We buy fruit from a church fundraiser twice a year.  This year, I had Ranier cherries (amazing) and peaches for canning (delectable), and now it’s apple season.  I love them because there’s no hurry on them, they will keep.  Not much longer, though, with me eating two a day . . .
I love outlines.  That’s how I do public speaking or term paper writing or most anything I have to prepare:  I create an outline first.  I also love lists.  My siblings laugh about finding a to-do list of mine Christmas morning, 1978, that included using the restroom  (okay, I admit that was excessive).  So to combine the two into one?  Perfect.  I used Evernote and really liked it, but the more notes I had, the harder it was to find what I needed.  Work Flowy takes care of that, with the ability to drill down sublists.  Watch this video to learn more.

I’ve been listening to PHC for fifteen years or more.  My favorite part is the ketchup bits and the Powder Milk Biscuit song, but lately, I love hearing the Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian skits.  My husband and I went in January to see PHC live at the Fitzgerald Theater and it was amazing – Josh Bell on the violin was the headliner.  I wish I could go to the October show in Indiana to see Old Crow Medicine Show!
1.  My husband

This December 1, it will be 23 years!

Top Ten Bookish People I’d Like to Meet

I’m getting into this daily blogging . . . we’ll see if it holds!

10. John Grisham

I’d  tell John Grisham how his books are the only ones that I’ve ever stayed up literally all night long reading.  I’d also say how his books for children, like Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer, have helped me connect with reluctant readers at my elementary school library.  And I’d finally mention that it wasn’t my fault that The Firm was cancelled on NBC – I was a loyal viewer!
9. Rick Bragg

I would tell Rick Bragg that, despite all the bad press he’s gotten the past few years, I still think he has the most authentic voice I’ve ever read.  I thought All Over But the Shoutin’ was a perfect book, that it needed nothing more.  Then I read Ava’s Man, which completed the story I had thought was finished. 
8. Seth Grahame-Smith

I would tell Seth Graham-Smith that I hate vampire books.  Seriously, I hate them.  Dracula scared me, and Twilight, well, let’s not talk about that.  With that said, I loved, loved, LOVED Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.  So why did he ruin a great book?  Here’s my review of the movie – which, all in all, I admit isn’t that bad.  But I’m still mad at him about it. 
7. Dav Pilkey

I would tell Dav Pilkey how I love to share Captain Underpants with students.  I love to see their face when I tell them that I love Captain Underpants myself.  I remember working at the Sioux City Public Library and a woman and a boy sitting at a table, laughing uproariously.  I had to see what was so funny, and I wasn’t surprised that it was Captain Underpants.  Dav Pilkey is genius. 
6. David Wiesner

Have you ever seen a more beautiful book than Flotsam by David Wiesner?  I know I haven’t.
5. J.K. Rowling

 I’d love to talk to J.K. Rowling and ask her how she got motivated to write.  I want to want to write, if that makes sense.  This will be my third year at NaNoWriMo.  Will the third time be the charm?  I’d also love to see my kids have a conversation with her.  They are much bigger Harry Potter fans nerds than I am.
4. Gary Paulsen

I have a lot of favorites when it comes to books, but my all-time favorite book is My Life in Dog Years.   I read this last year with a few classes of elementary students.  It’s the perfect book for that, as you can read a chapter in about fifteen minutes and then not pick it up again for months and months.  My favorite story is about Ike, and I could read it a hundred times and it would still make me cry. 
3. Kate DiCamillo

This is the one bookish person on my list that I’ve already met!  I went to a book reading a signing at Davis Kidd Bookstore in Nashville in 2000 to support DiCamillo’s first book, Because of Winn Dixie.  I’ve read all her books, but the most special one to me is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, the story of a special china rabbit dollI talked about why in my successful application to be a book giver for last year’s World Book Night.

2.  Carl Hiaasen

My favorite author, bar none, is Carl Hiaasen.  His books for adults are saucy fun, and his books for children?  I love that they have the same setting – modern day Florida – and theme – stick it to the man.  (Okay, perhaps not exactly, unless the man is some egotistical environment-hating man.)  I love how he puts “Easter eggs” into his books for children for people like me who read both.  His books are always checked out my school library.  What can I say?  I love to book talk them!
1.  Tori Ross

And finally, my favorite bookish person, Tori Ross – or Miss Tori, as she’s better known – the children’s librarian at the Edmondson Pike branch of the Nashville Public Library.  She is my role model, my mentor, my hero, my friend.  (And had I known, I could have met both Carl Hiaasen and seen Tori for the first time in ten years!  In March, not sure how I could have convinced my superintendent that I needed to go to the national Public Library Association conference, but . . . )

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I’m going to try to blog more this year, as a journaling exercise if nothing else.  So I’m going to join into the librarian meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  I love to read what other people are reading, so here’s my go at it.  I’m hoping it will inspire to read more books and fewer articles!

I already blogged about the books I read for storytime here (libraries and books theme).  I can’t wait to read the books about books I’ve picked out for older students – Biblioburro and Ron’s Big Mission and That Book Woman.  Two of my favorites.  (An aside:  Have you ever noticed how many books are out there about traveling librarians?  But it’s always geography-specific.  I wish there was a category for traveling librarians, not only traveling librarians from Columbia or Appalachia!

Anyway, here are other books I’m currently reading:

Tomatoland is an interesting and sad book, too.  It will definitely make you go out and start a garden!  I’ll want to discuss this with the Ag teacher when I’m done.
This book was given to me by a great friend who is a children’s librarian in the Nashville Public Library system.  It even has a personalized inscription for me from the author!  It’s very suspenseful and I am trying to rush through it to get to the end, without rushing through it and missing all the great details of life in Music City.  (We lived there for twelve years, moving back to the Midwest eight years ago.)
And the greatest, Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers.  I love all the press that Dav Pilkey has gotten lately.  One of my favorite things to do when I was substitute teaching was when I’d see a student – inevitably a boy – who had a Captain Underpants book in his hands.  I’d say, “What are you reading?” in a somewhat grumpy teacher voice – and then when they sheepishly admitted to having a Captain Underpants book, I’d exclaim, “Oh my gosh!  I love Captain Underpants!”  Sadly, you could tell for a lot of them, this was not the reaction they usually got.  One of my prized possessions is my Captain Underpants blow-up doll.
The next book I’m going to start is:

There are students at my elementary school who didn’t like reading until we introduced graphic novels in the library last year.  It’s so great to get to introduce them to some great books, and I love to tell them about the research that shows graphic novels can make you smarter.

Libraries and books storytime

Preschool storytime started again at MNW today.  What a great way to start the week!

We started with “The More We Get Together” by Cedarmont Kids.  I think I should try to find a new song, but it’s so easy for the kids to learn it and if I forget my iPhone, it’s easy enough for me to sing a capella. 

I introduced myself and explained that later in the year, they’ll come down and visit the library.  I’m going to do storytime every Monday for the four-year-olds (a morning and an afternoon class) and the Friday three-year-olds. 

I first read Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk:

I ended up winging it halfway through – it’s pretty long in parts for new preschoolers – but what a fun book!  I see there’s others with this character; I’ll have to check them out.  I wish I had brought little blank paper booklets like Sam the Mouse used to create his books.  I don’t think I’m ready for crafts in storytime, though . . .

Next I read Baby Bear’s Books by Jane Yolen:

Then we did a fingerplay from this RIF site, “Open Shut Them” (I reworked it a bit so it was about books). 

Then I read Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss.  I love this book – and it’s fun to show the students the first word in the title, and then have them read the title themselves. 

Then we sang a song, also from the RIF site, “Ten Little Children” (reading a book).  I think I worried the preschool teacher that I was going to sing the original song that has this tune . . .

Then I showed the book, Librarians by Dee Ready and talked about what librarians do:

Then I read The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore.  The kids did a great job remembering what it was that the rabbit, bear, mice, fox, and worm thought the book was (a house, a hat, a table, a bed, and a snack, respectively).  What good listeners!

Then we sang “The More We Get Together.”  I did this rundown again for the TK class and will use it again during the week.  I also have Biblioburro by Jeanette Winters, A Book by Mordicai Gerstein, That Book Woman by Heather Henson, and Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne Naden to share with older students.

I’m looking into a program for preschoolers, 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, that I read about when I got caught up on my RSS this weekend.  If you’re like me and have innumerable posts to read, just keep at it – don’t delete!  You might miss something great like I would have, had I deleted them.  Of course, they are piling up again, and I found some new blogs to follow, too . . .

Finally ready for business!

Well, that is if you ignore that I still need to:

  • inventory holiday books that are in the cupboard
  • get new books from the summer on the shelf
  • place the big fall order for books
  • get bulletin board put up
  • place ebook page on website
  • write newsletter piece (by next week)
  • do the 2011-2012 year-end report (as an infographic?)

Well, I intend to ignore all the things I haven’t done yet.  Not forever, but for now, I won’t let that dissuade me from writing this blog post, celebrating the fact that I finally (mostly) have the elementary library in the state I wanted it to be for the first day of school. 

In case you’re new here, the elementary library received a generous donation from a former librarian who passed away.  I thought for a long time about what to do, what I would want done if I gave money to a library.  I wouldn’t want it to go for books – I see what happens to books and the school should be buying them anyway. I wanted to do something substantial, something that would let the family say, “Look what we did.”  Read here and here and here and here for other posts about the progress.
It’s not entirely my fault., taking this long to get it in opening day condition.  The shelves didn’t get put in until the day before school started (everyone was super busy this summer), and we (being my husband and adult daughter – how is that “we”?) still had to put a polyurethene stain on them (or more like five coats, with sanding in-between). 
I had to weed them still, and put any that I thought appropriate into our beginning reader section (Hop on Pop type of books).  I decided to create another section for the reader that has mastered those but aren’t quite ready for juvenile fiction books.  So this is the Henry and Mudge type of book, but I don’t yet know what I’ll call this section, or if I need to buy yet another sticker to differentiate those from everything else.  Those books tend to be all the same size, but I suppose a special sticker is the way to go.  Perhaps I can just get gold stars from the teacher supply store?
Anyway, here are pictures!  I can see that I should improve my picture-taking habits.  Not skills so much – I mean, I’d like to do that, but to do that, I need to first improve my habits.  I don’t have any pictures of Josh Anderson painting the sun or the well, of the shelves without any books, or me moving books and books and books.
Here’s my first layout of the library. This time, I used a tape measure instead of a ruler:

After conferencing with me, one of Kandice Roethler’s Virtual Reality students made this 3D model of the stage. I tweaked it a bit, but I really appreciated his work because I was able to really visualize the possiblities:
After struggling with graph paper and pencil, I made this layout of the stage on Microsoft Publisher:
This is my rendering of the bookshelves (again, in Publisher) after Brian Nelson, shop teacher and all-around handy guy, got done with them:

 Here’s Brian starting the stage:

Here’s Donna Ulrich, Library Associate and painting master, contorting herself to make sure all nooks and crannies get her special treatment:
Here’s my husband, Robin, and daughter, Rebekah, sanding the shelves. Well, one of them is sanding, and one is making a face at me:
 Here’s the picture book shelf. It looks as great as I imagined it would months ago when I first designed it:
I can’t wait to see how quickly the books we feature will check out:
Like that one, and that one, and that one:
Oh and definitely that one. (And yes, I do need some photo skillz, too!):
Here’s the view from the top:
And yet, here’s my to do list, still unfinished after a full Saturday at work:
 Oh well.  I can now cross off #20, and the others can wait until Monday.

Flatter Iowa

No, not fatter Iowa.  This is not a post about the new nutrition guidelines at state schools!  (Which I think are fantastic, by the way.)  You know, The World is Flat and all that . . . 

I was named to Governor Brandstad’s STEM Advisory Council for the North Central Region.  I applied on a whim, really.  I’d gotten an email from the IASL encouraging school librarians to apply, so I did.  I said that as a K-12 teacher librarian, I have the opportunity to work with all students and staff in a district.  I talked about the grant that I helped spearhead with which we are this year studying the Manson Impact Crater using GIS technology.  (Helped is the operative word.  I was in wayyyyy over my head!)  But most importantly, I said that I’m a mother of five children, from 8th grade to a senior in college, and I know the importance of challenging our children academically in school.

The part I didn’t say was that I thought I had something to add because I’m not a scientist.  I barely based Advanced Biology in high school, I shouldn’t have passed Astronomy in college.  (I dropped it because I was getting 50% on the tests and still passing with a C – the Bell Curve – and I said to myself, “That ain’t right.” Not an English major either!)  I took Astronomy again years later with one of my children who needed challenge.  The dean had to approve her taking it since she was in 8th grade, and she told me, “Now, you know, your daughter has to do her own work.”  HA HA HA.  As if B. was the one she needed to worry about!!!  (Okay, okay.  I did my own work, but got some liberal tutoring from my 13 year old daughter.)

I have a degree in Elementary Education, and one of my endorsements is in TAG.  In my ed classes, I often heard this sentiment:  “I’ll have the gifted kids help those who struggle in the subject.”  At first, I tried to be nice, but eventually, all my classmates hated me for saying over and over again:  It’s not their job to teach.  What are you doing to challenge the gifted kids???  

Which brings me back to STEM.  What are we doing to challenge our brightest kids in science, in technology, in engineering, in math – especially in our rural schools?  I don’t think we’re doing enough.  We do have to encourage all students in STEM, but I believe, most importantly, appropriate challenge for our best and brightest.  

So at our meeting today, we heard about some great opportunities that our regional council will be funding.  There was a bit of confusion (deadlines for applications is Friday – as in the day after tomorrow), but even so, this is a great opportunity for Iowa students.  One fellow council member questioned how are we going to help all students – I mean, this is great, she said, but we’re still not helping very many students.  She’s right.  But I do think it’s a great start.

What are you doing to challenge our rural students in STEM? you may ask.  Well, I did help with our successful grant as I said before.  I am the site coordinator for two students taking AP Chemistry, a first for our school.  And at the elementary, I’m starting a Technology Club, with our first meeting on Friday.  I don’t know yet what we’ll do, but I know where to turn for some ideas!