Sunday, August 26, 2012


I have never spoken one single word. 
I am almost eleven years old.

I'm surrounded by thousands of words. Maybe millions.

Cathedral. Mayonnaise. Pomegranate.
Mississippi. Neapolitan. Hippopotamus.
Silky. Terrifying. Iridescent.
Tickle. Sneeze. Wish. Worry.

Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes - each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.

Melody Brooks has Spastic Quadriplegia, a severe type of Cerebral Palsy. She can't walk; she can't talk; she can't feed herself; she can barely move. But from Melody's perspective, in which the story is told, she is brilliant, poetic, and has a photographic memory. She is ... trapped in her own body. Imagine how frustrating that would be. Imagine life from that perspective.

Melody is brave and grateful and authentic. Just because her body is broken doesn't mean her mind is too. Her everyday challenges are things we often take for granted. Just imagine...

One line in the book:

There's so much my mother doesn't know.

I read it several times... so much my mother doesn't know. It makes you wonder... do you really ever know, or can you possibly ever really understand anyone else's experience in life? All you can do is imagine.

Update: I found this awesome quote:
"Quiet people have the loudest minds." 
- Stephen Hawking

Thursday, August 23, 2012

poor moe

Hound Dog True by Linda Urban... love.
Mattie Breen, Uncle Potluck, Quincy... I love them all.

Mattie is the kind of character that will remind you of children you know. She sticks with you. You want to encourage her and protect her at the same time. You want to tell her, "I see you. I get you. I know you." You want to do what Uncle Potluck seems to do perfectly, simply, naturally...

My favorite bits:
This is what Principal Bonnet says. She says, "You can't have brave without scared."
Quincy had a way of talking - flat and dull, like stones dropping plunk, plunk in a puddle. Matter-of-fact, Mama called it. Matter-of-fact. Relating to or adhering to facts. Literal. Straightforward or unemotional. What would it be like to be that way? To tell a story plunk, plunk, plunk, not caring what people think?
Mattie thinks about this. About tricks and understanding. Thinks, too, about how maybe even Stella didn't know the truth until she had to.
Eenie, Meenie, and Miney ... this is a heartwarming book! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I just pre-ordered....

... Abe Lincoln's Dream. When two of my favorites come together (our 16th president and Lane Smith) magic is sure to happen.
Quincy, a schoolgirl, gets separated from her tour of the White House and finds herself in the Lincoln bedroom, she also discovers the ghost of the great man himself. Together they embark on a journey across the country to answer Lincoln’s questions and quiet his concerns about the nation.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

a story told through stuff

I just read Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: 
Ginny Davis's Year in Stuff 
by Jennifer L. Holm

What a fun breath of fresh air! The story of eight grader Ginny Davis is told through photographs, post-it notes, grocery lists, homework assignments, IMs, and report cards. It feels like snooping through Ginny's personal effects. I loved the photo-collages that make up the life of a middle schooler.

Part scrapbook, part comic, part diary... entirely relatable.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

and the ridiculous dog

From the publisher: 
“Suppose there were 12-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, (respectively), John and Abigail Templeton. Let’s say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins- adults- named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton Twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of) inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn’t it be fun to read about that? Oh please. It would so. Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins) and enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn’t?!).”

You may think from the title of this book that John and Abigail Templeton (The Templeton Twins) are the main characters of this book... but think again. The sassy, sarcastic, snarky narrator steals the show.

This book is a FUN read. The story is clever and silly and wacky. The illustrations are creative and the end of chapter summary questions are hilarious.  
For example:
  • Why is it a good idea to call something that sinks a "sinker"? Write your answer in the form of a brief opera.
  • Mary has five oranges. She gives two of them to Tom. Tom then buys twice as many as Mary has left and gives half of them to her. Who Cares?
  • True or False (circle one): The Narrator is a wonderful person?  T   T
  • Essay Question: Write an essay on how clever you think you are. It should be at least 500,000 words and in French. Well, go ahead.
If you know a 10-year-old who is burnt out on reading serious stuff and taking serious tests... and wants to get back to the fun of it all, then The Templeton Twins Have an Idea is the book for you.

*After you read the book, check out this Video ... hmmmm, that's interesting!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

the dots matter

Today I finished Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead.
I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard that Rebecca Stead was writing a new middle grade book. In 2010 her book When You Reach Me won the Newbery Award and was a favorite in our house. We still say "Book Bag Pocket Shoe" to make each other laugh.

Liar & Spy did not disappoint. The writing was beautiful and the characters endearing. And, without giving too much away, Rebecca Stead is still as clever and tricky with Liar & Spy as she was with When You Reach Me.

Georges is a seventh grader dealing with the complexities of friendship, moving, preoccupied parents, bullying, and trust.

Georges is named after French painter Georges Seurat. One of my favorite bits in the book is the mix of science and art and Seurat's painting techniques as a metaphor for life.
"And then I think of all those thousands of dots Seurat used to paint the picture. I think about how if you stand back from the painting, you can see the people, the green grass and the cute monkey on a leash, but if you get closer, the monkey kind of dissolves right in front of your eyes. Like Mom says, life is a million different dots making one gigantic picture. And maybe the big picture is nice, maybe it's amazing, but if you're standing with your face pressed up against a bunch of black dots, it's really hard to tell." ~ Georges

Other favorite bits... chicken is chicken, bittersweet, scrabble notes, umami, Volleyball!, Candy, and Bob English Who Draws. You'll know what I mean once you read the book...

If you love a great book and a surprising twist... 
this is the book for you.
Life is really just a bunch of nows, one after the other.  The dots matter.

*and for Minecraft fans... check out this Minecraft Seurat 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

the Wonder of Wonder

"Everyone deserves a standing ovation 
because we all overcometh the world."   
—Auggie Pullman