Saturday, May 26, 2012

the ending

If you could change the ending to any novel, 
which book would it be and how would you revise it?

Thursday, May 24, 2012


The latest Super Star book character... Beatrice Prior.
Or, to those in-the-know, 'Tris' - former member of Abnegation Faction now Dauntless Warrior. Tris is a Catniss-like, exceptional, kick-butt heroine (can you say 'kick-butt' in a book suggestion?).

In a dystopian Chicago, society has been divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue - Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Once a year, all sixteen-year-olds must choose a faction to which they will devote their lives.

One Choice - decides your friends
One Choice - defines your beliefs
One Choice - determines your loyalties 
... forever

... or something

Sunday, May 20, 2012

summer slide

The other day I was talking to a friend about the 'summer slide'. It sounds fun, right? But it's not the kind of slide you're thinking of. It's not a trip to the water park or a slippery piece of wet plastic on the lawn.

In 2009 the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, described the summer learning loss as devastating... a 'summer slide' of reading loss that compounds with each summer. If you google 'summer slide' the list of articles and facts on this widening, on-going gap is what is devastating.

As luck would have it, it turns out that independent reading is perhaps the most effective way to combat any loss over the summer. A study of 1600 sixth-graders in 18 schools showed that reading just 4 - 6 books over the summer was enough to alleviate the summer slide. And as common sense would have it, summer reading helps improve spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. Really!
Turn your summer into a 'summer climb'. 4-6 books, you can do that... make it 6-10*. With approximately 88 days of summer vacation and a world of adventure and mystery waiting for you at your local library... 
the sky's the limit.

*If you ever need a suggestion for a book, just leave a message in the comments... I'll be sure to find you something you will love.

Friday, May 18, 2012

make your art

I love Neil Gaiman... 
not just because he wrote 'The Graveyard Book' and not just because he sounds like Severus Snape... 
but because he gives great advice on following your passion.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.

June 20, Sunday 
Ahhhh.  Summer vacation started yesterday. That means for the next 79 days, including today, I have absolutely nothing to worry about.

It's the summer before fourth grade, and Justin's new favorite thing is "Nothing To Worry About".

Nothing to worry about except... Camp GoldenBrook, for goodness' sake.

Camp GoldenBrook summer day camp involves a daily bus ride, changing in front of others, runny-aroundy-kids, James/Jay the camp counselor, flip-flops, swim tests, an obstacle course, and Color War.

This summer Justin decides to be bold. He doesn't quit. And, mighty forces come to his aid... in the form of the Super Dooper Big Boogie Boondoggle Splashmaster Cannonball.

Next summer, it looks like it will be back to science camp. Not quitting Camp GoldenBrook is one thing. Signing up for it again is just nuts!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

and then...

and then it's spring...
a wonderful little book about hope and patients,
beautifully written by Julie Fogliano 
and illustrated by 2011 Caldecott Medal winner, Erin E Stead.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

it all starts with a school essay

Assignment: Write an essay titled 
The True Meaning Of Smekday.

What is the Smekday holiday? How has it changed in the year since the aliens left? You may use your own personal experiences from the alien invasion to make your points. Feel free to draw pictures or include photographs.

I am reading The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex and loving it.

The narrator is 12 year-old Gratuity, a self-reliant girl with the nick name of "Tip" and a cat named Pig. Her tale is told through her above writing assignment.

Gratuity and Pig befriend an adorable alien who answers to "J.Lo". The three end up on a road trip in a souped-up hovercar to find Gratuity's mom... oh, and save the world. 

This book is full of insightful social commentary, unexpected depths and beauty... while also being awesomely funny.

Check out the Smekday website and Gratuity and J.Lo's 10 Reasons for reading The True Meaning of Smekday.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

because this is where things start to get, well... awesome

Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.

So begins A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. The author takes the story of Hansel and Gretel and morphs it into something gruesome and dangerous and creepy and fascinating... and with dragons.

But that's not the best part. The best part is the narrator. The narrator keeps the story humorous and witty in a pseudonymous bosh or Lemony Snicket sort of way. The narrator warns you when the bloody parts are coming; he warns you to remove young children from the room.

For example: 
Read on if you dare...
As for the next story, it is really dark. Frightening things happen. You may feel upset - I'm talking to the big kids now.
As for the little ones, if they are still around, I warn you, I plead with you: Make them go away. Don't let them hear this story. They may have nightmares. No, they will have nightmares.
At least read it yourself first. Then, if you think they can take it, maybe, maybe you can read it to them. And then you have only yourself to blame if they can't sleep for a week.