Wednesday, August 26, 2015

First Week of School

At my teen's high school, we have to report to the office before going onto campus and get a special visitor sticker
Which is fine except that the office is at the lowest level of the campus with nothing close to it. 
To get to where you consult with counselors or teachers, you have to go up two long flights of outside stairs and across quite a bit of the open campus. I cannot handle stairs and the handicapped elevator is always locked, so I usually simply drive around the campus and enter any of the OPEN gates close to the school buildings. But I can't park in the upper parking lot. It's only for teachers. (they only use one-third of it, but you get a ticket if you use any of the empty spaces.)
Sometimes I simply skip the office and walk onto campus to the building for the meeting. And NOBODY questions me.

There are no public school buses, so you have to drive your child to and from school every day - what a mess.  
I've never seen an accident at the pick-up lane, but there have been very close misses. 
(Two crazy cars almost got me today. Must have been ninth graders' parents. The rest of us are pretty courteous and take turns nicely.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Read Across the Globe

You've heard about Read Across America?  Well, there seems to also be a Read Across The Globe.

Here is an opportunity to join in bringing an awareness of literacy to  your  community -- Join the 25 points of light initiative - October 19th.

A picture book biography Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by 
Jacqueline Briggs Martin has been selected as the book to read in President George W. Bush's 25th Anniversary celebration of his Points of  Lights initiative. The celebration will include an effort to enlist thousands of volunteers to break the Guinness Book of World Records listing for the number of children being read to in a 24-hour period as part of the "Read Across the Globe" initiative. 
A gigantic conference is planned October 19-21, 2015 at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, Texas. The record is 238,620 and officials are aiming to go past the 300,000 mark with 10,000 volunteers fanning out to Houston area schools and day care centers during the conference to read aloud the children's book, Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table. 
Even astronaut Scott Kelly plans to read the book aloud from outer space, although he won't be counted in the tally since he won't be in a classroom.

Connect here to get more information regarding information on how to get involved in this
day to bread the record.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Jane Yolen - On the Writing Life

Another wonderful quote from Jane Yolen, the Hans Christian Anderson of the United States of America:


Today I want to talk about the Everyday-ness of writing. How the extraordinary must become ordinary.
Just as I do my morning exercises to get these old bones moving, I write every day. Every single day. Sometimes it's a chapter, sometimes it's a poem. Sometimes I make lists of things: nouns, verse to revise, ideas for new books, suggestions for stories with my children (in case you haven't been paying attention, they are all writers!).
Even if I am ill, traveling, caring for a sick husband, running around a convention, walking the Royal Mile--even then I will manage to write something. Because being a writer means that kind of commitment. It doesn't have to be something for publication (though what does get published is almost always a surprise.) It i something to get the brain, the heart, the imagination, and the fingers coordinated, working together. Not strangers but a good team.
After my big back operation, part of my recovery was to walk a mile (or more) a day. As the amazing nurse Donna explained it to me: if you walk a mile at a good steady pace (mine is fast) outside, taking in the fresh oxygen, your spinal fluid moves up and down oiling the spine. Well, that's what writing every day does. It keeps the fluid moving about our brain, oiling its parts. Writing needs such fluidity.
Yes, life happens. It interrupts all our careful plans. A person from Porlock, an auto accident, a shooter in the movie theater, or more happily twins born, a friend stopping in for tea, your book winning the Caldecott, your editor calling to say you won the Nebula, your agent messaging that you sold a book, falling in love.
But the bottomest of lines is this: if you are a writer, you write. And you turn all of life's hiccups into poetry or prose.
How lucky are we--accidents, incidents, handicaps, heartbreaks all become research, become prompts. So don't ignore them, but use them. Every day.
Every single glorious, bloody day.

(quoted from a Facebook Post on Monday, August 24, 2015.)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - 10 Rivers That Shaped the World

Peters, Marilee. 10 Rivers that Shaped the World. Illustrated by Kim Rosen. New York: Annick Press, 2015.   (available now)

The Awash, a river of bones
The Tigris & Euphrates, twin rivers of civilization
The Nile, the giving river
The Rhine, An International River
The Amazon, a world of water
The Zambezi, exploring the river of freedom
The Thames, the river that built an empire
The Mississippi, a river of song
The Ganges, river of faith
The Yangtze, a changing river

Glossary, Acknowledgements, Sources, and Index.

Traditionally, I mostly review picture book nonfiction for preschoolers and up to 2nd grade, but this book, although skinny, would probably be of interest more to third grade and up.

Each chapter begins with a story about a possible child living near one of these rivers - from ancient history to modern day.  Then there's a quick sketch about what made the river famous or important to the people living near it - from farmers to kingdoms, to robber barons charging ships who tried to pass their castles on the rivers.

Besides large chapters on those major rivers, the author often includes one page sketches of other important rivers.

Heavily illustrated with photographs, maps, and artwork.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - Dick King-Smith

King-Smith, Dick. Chewing the Cud. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.



This isn't a children's book. It's Dick King-Smith's autobiography and it's definitely aimed at fans of his books.
What books?, you ask.  Hmmm. You do remember that little pig who herded sheep?
Yes, he wrote Babe, the Galant Pig (known as Babe, the Sheep Pig in the United Kingdom where it was first published.)
Babe -- the very popular movie.

But this wasn't his only book. (he wrote over 100 books)  Nor was writing his only means of support.


Dick King-Smith was a failed farmer, a soldier, a salesman, a factory worker, and a teacher.  But he always loved animals, he and his family always had animals around, and this shows in the books he wrote, which are well-loved by children all over the world.

Readers will see how this collection of experiences gave him much fodder which he used in his writings.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Losing weight - Reasons why

Once home, I discovered that I'd lost 4 pounds while in Vermont. 
Must have been all the walking I did. 
I'm glad I had gotten myself up to walking at least one mile before I arrived, because walking around the VCFA campus meant for 10 days I walked at least 4 miles a day. 
Plus the only way to the cafeteria was to go slowly down some stairs. And then pull myself back up them. 
(Stairs count as exercise, too.)
 
However, I"m still losing - because I just got two wisdom teeth pulled and the darn tooth surgeon said "no chewing" for a week. My water and consume' diet expanded yesterday to include chocolate pudding. 

Yay. 
Crossing fingers and toes that I make it for 3 more days until I can sink my teeth into meat and potatoes, again.

The question is -- can I then keep those pounds off?