Monday, November 29, 2010

First Dog's White House Christmas - J. Patrick Lewis & Beth Zappitello

Illustrated by Tim Bowers
Sleeping Bear Press, 2010
32 pages
Rating: 5
Endpapers: Green with drawing & info of ten dogs, where they originated, and some Christmas history from that country.

I read First Dog so was immediately drawn to this book. It is SO much more than a simple story of the Obama family's dog!

When Dog sees that ambassadors from all over the world are being invited to the White House for a Christmas gala, he adds "canine" guests to the invitation. As he waits and prepares, he tours the White House and checks out the many decorations. On the night of the gala, he meets ten new friends. Each has brought a gift and some informations about Christmas traditions in their respective country. At the bottom of each page is a "photo" of people from their country celebrating.

We meet English Bulldog, Canadian Newfoundland, French Poodle, Dingo from Down Under (Australia), Mexican Chihuahua, Rhodesian Ridgeback, German Affenpinscher, Italian Neapolitan Mastiff, Dutch Keeshond, and Turkish Kangal Dog.

Interesting information, clever story, and expressive illustrations make a top-notch Chrismas book...or a top-notch book for dog lovers!

Thanksgiving 2010

To Pennsylvania and back, a little snow, only one minor disaster (and I didn't consider it a disaster, the stuffing was delicious, yummy, mmm mmm good even though it was, I must admit, a tiny bit mushy). Finally finally, finally finding jeans that aren't too baggy, and look and feel pretty decent (thank you Laura!). Family. Professional photos. Swimming with two of the kids, reading and doing projects with another, feeding and watching the baby laugh and smile and talk and figure out how to use his hands. What could be better?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Small Medium & Large - Jane Monroe Donovan

Sleeping Bear Press, 2010
32 pgs.
Rating: 4
Endpapers: White

In this beautifully illustrated wordless picture book, a girl writes a letter to Santa and is rewarded on Christmas morning with three boxes - one small, one medium, and one large. Inside are a cat, a dog, and a miniature pony. They all immediately become fast friends, eating together, playing and tobogganing in the snow, making snow angels and snowmen, having snowball fights, baking cookies, sitting by the fire together, than all snuggling into her bed at night.

At the end of the book the author tells of her own three animals who are really the prototypes for this story.

This is a lovely wordless book, a perfect addition to a Christmas library, for animal lovers especially. I went through it a number of times - the illustrations are beautiful, full of happy Christmas feelings (and I wouldn't consider myself a great animal lover, either).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

75. Bad Luck and Trouble - Lee Child

Jack Reacher #11
audio read by Dick Hill
Random House Audio, 2007
10 unabridged cds
13 hrs.
384 pgs.
Rating: 3.5 (a little to long and drawn out in places)

When I visited the Tucson Mystery bookstore, the owner recommended the Jack Reacher mysteries highly. She said you could start anywhere and did not have to read them in order. This is the first one that I was able to get from the library. It passed away many a mile on the road, I must say that!

Jack Reacher is a character unlike any I've "met" to date. He owns nothing (well...a folding toothbrush....), lives on the road, has no cell phone, no computer, no one to keep in touch with. The only clothes he owns are on his back, when they get dirty he simply replaces them. Okay..... He's a numbers whiz, and I love the way he plays with them, looking for primes, reciprocals, meanings....

In this novel, Reacher is reunited with the Army Special Unit team that he'd worked with many years before. There had been eight of them, and there are four surviving - trying to discover what caused the other four's murders. Frances Neagley, Dave O'Donnell, and (oh shoot, her name has just flown out of my head) join Reacher for a no-nonsense hunt and vendetta.

Reacher is loyal, smart, big, and has no problem killing. This part put me off a bit, but when I really thought about it, it made the story all the more real. He worked on adrenaline and it was payback time. I think some of the story was dragged out a bit, it could have been done in 8 discs instead of ten as far as I'm concerned, but it kept me entertained back and forth to school for a couple of weeks!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This List and That

I am a list maker and a list reader. I look back at my blog entries and see lots and lots....and lots....of lists. They're fun to go back and look upon!

BBC (100 Books)
Picture Books as Models for Writing
Top 100 Children's Novels
100 "New" Classics

Subjects that interest me, so I read a lot of books on the subject:

Africa in Children's Literature
Caldecott Awards
Day of the Dead
Maya Civilization
Mideastern Novels
Personalities in My Radar
Pima County Libraries
Poetry Books
Series for Kids
Tucson Stuff to See and Do

And then there are the lists I add to all the time:

Movie List
Novel List

Picture Book List
Authors a-k List
Authors l-z List

Illustrators a-k List
Illustrators l-z List

Mysteries Read
Middle Grade Novels Read
Young Adult Books Read

Reading Challenges:

2010 Book Challenges

2009 9-9-9 Book Challenge
2009 Mini Challenges
2009 Jewish Literature Challenge
2009 1st-in-a-Series Challenge
2009 TBR Challenge

2008 New Classics Challenge

Book Awards:
2010 ALA Awards
2009 ALA Awards
2008 Young People's Literature National Book Awards

Teachers as Readers Book List

Movie Awards:
2010 Academy Award Nominations
2010 Golden Globe Nominations
2009 Academy Awards

BBC "100 Book" List

My friend, Morgan, posted this on Facebook. Interesting. He’d read 24 (I counted quickly, might be off a bit).

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. I've read over 20 and started or partially read quite a few. If seeing the movie counted, I'd have a lot more! (My big question….WHY would you even WANT to read some of them???? Because they're in some canon of great literature?) I wonder what the criteria for the list is?

So the directions were to copy, paste, then bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 1984 - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 ?
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Thursday, November 18, 2010

74. All the Wrong Moves - Merline Lovelace

A Samantha Spade Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime (paper), 2009
230 pages
Rating: 2

The setting of this book is El Paso and just east of there, with a foray to Tucson and Sahuarita. I love it when the protagonist hits I-10! I enjoyed the setting a lot.

Sam Spade joined the Air Force after her quickie Las Vegas marriage disintegrated and ended up getting a pretty cushy job - the head of a unit that tests all sorts of new inventions/contraptions that people all over the country cook up, possible technology for the government. While trying out a robot (by being strapped inside it), she discovers two corpses in the desert.

There are lots and lots of acronyms here, as well as humor, hormones, and all the things that belong in a "cozy" mystery. Unfortunately, cozy mysteries are not really my cup of tea. The book went fast, but I must admit this isn't my genre and I won't read this author again. Oh well. It was the setting I went after, and I enjoyed that part a lot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nonna Tell Me a Story - Lidia Bastianich

Lidia's Christmas Kitchen
Illustrated by Laura Logan
RP Kids (Running Press), 2010
56 pages
Rating: 4
Endpapers: Diagonal yellow striped "tablecloth" with small cookies whose recipes are given at the end of the book.

Nonni Lidia gathers her five grandchildren around her and tells the story of finding a juniper tree in the woods and decorating it for Christmas when she was a child in Italy. The family didn't have much, and they decorated the tree with candies and fruits, homemade cookies, strings of bay leaves and dry figs.

When the time comes for the grandkids to help Nonni trim the tree, they feel the store-bought decorations are not sepcial enough. So they all set to work cooking and creating the decorations in the same way Nonni had when she was a young girl.

The last third of the book are cookie recipes - more than a dozen really yummy ones. And the last two pages give hints for decorating the tree with fruits, nuts, Christmas cookies, first aid cotton, and cinnamon sticks.

Apparently Lidia Bastianich is a famous tv chef. Not the type of show I watch - but I bet it's fun. The book's the kind of book I read - it's great.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mattoo, Let's Play - Irene Luxbacher

Kids Can Press, 2010
32 pages
Rating: 4.5
Endpapers: Dark rusty clay

Illustrations: Black and white with added colors of dark red, olive green, mustard, dark blue. Collaged a bit - mainly the fabrics, I think. It's different and very cool. All the way to the edge of the page.

Story: Simple, but boy does it bring back memories. A boisterous little girl keeps trying to get her cat, Mattoo, to play with her. She's imaginative and her ideas are clever and loud and wild. Poor Mattoo just isn't up for any of it. In each of the illustrations you can see his fluffed-up tail peeking out from wherever he's trying to hide. It isn't until the girl decides to go on a safari, where you have to be really quiet to see animals, that Mattoo comes around.

There aren't a whole lot of words in this book, there don't need to be. it's a great story, imaginative and creative.

Irene Luxbacher's website.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Basil's Birds - Lynn Rowe Reed

Marshall Cavendish, 2010
32 pages
Rating: 4
Endpapers: BRIGHT yellow

The humor in this book is very appealing. The illustrations are particularly interesting as well. So that means the story and the pictures are both a GO.

The illustrations look like something I could draw. I'm sure I couldn't, but they LOOK like I might be able to. I love the eyelashes, the teeth, the necks (or lack thereof, Principal Kabalsky) and the added phtots here and there. Reed uses clay birds as well, so the illustrations have a definite collage look.

Basil Birkmeister, the Janitor at Perch Elementary School, has had a bird build a nest on his bald head. He becomes quite attached to the nest, the bird....and then the baby birds that hatch and grow there. He caters to them, and even sleeps standing up so that he does not disturb them. It's really that simple...and that fun.

As simple as the illustrations are, I examined each one for the added touches that were included. Real tool fabric makes up Basil's nightshirt. And the worms - real, yucky worms. Kid's will love this! It's different. And fun. And it even has some great language included in some really good writing. A hit for me!

Lynn Rowe Reed's website.
Lynn Rowe Red's Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Mitten Tree - Candace Christiansen

Illustrated by Elaine Greenstein
Fulcrum Publishing; Golden, CO, 1997, 2009
Paper $7.95
32 pages
Rating: 4

"Old Sarah" (okay, let's stop right now and say I hate that that's her name) watches the neighborhood children play. She misses the time when her own children were young. One day she notices a boy standing to the side, watching the kids make a snowman. His hands are shoved in his pockets and she realizes that he has no mittens to wear.

Sarah hunts through her house for her old supply of leftover yarn and begins knitting a pair of mittens. She works all night and then hangs them on a tree near the school bus stop for the boy to find....which he does. She begins to knit more and more mittens for the neighborhood kids, leaving them anonomously hanging on a big decidious tree (thus: the mitten tree).

And when she runs out of yarn , a big basket of yarn appears at her door. No one's paid any attention to her, so the book ends with this small, wonderful, mystery. Who's been watching her and who cares enough to do this? Cool book.

I just bought five copies and I've been knitting mittens like crazy for the last couple of days. I've also found a fleece mitten pattern that looks pretty easy, and fleece is pretty inexpensive. So as my list of new nieces and nephews begins to add up, I'm happily creating this year's Christmas present for all of them - a book, and two very different pairs of mittens!

My favorite Christmas story when I was a kid was "Granny Glittens and her Amazing Mittens." Maybe I'll find a copy of the story and include it. I really loved that story! I'm not even sure why.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

73. Big Whopper - Patricia Reilly Giff

Zigzag Kids #2
Illustrateda by Alasdair Bright
Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, 2010
Simultaneously in paper?
68 pages
Rating: 3

Patricia Reilly Giff, award-winning author, has begun another series of early chapter books for young kids. Set in the after-school program at the Afternoon Center at the Zelda A. Zigzag School, readers meet the same group of children in each installment. However, each one features a different child as the protagonist. Alasdair Bright’s line drawings accentuate a small part of almost every two-page spread.

I read this one before the first, but there was no problem understanding what was going on. I'm guessing you can jump in anywhere. This one's about a frizzy blonde-haired girl named Destiny who loves the afterschool program. She runs into trouble, however, when she tells a lie because she's feeling a little like a loser. It's a simple lie, but it troubles her greatly. Then she tells her friend, Mitchell, and he tries to help her fix things. Meanwhile, it's DISCOVER week at the center, and Destiny feels she's never going to DISCOVER anything - and be able to write it on the huge drawing-paper wall. It's another student, one named Gina, that precipitates much of the frustrations that Destiny is feeling this week. We all have a Gina in our lives! Of course everything turns out well. Too well??

It's a very cute story. Teachers and adults are helpers and friends, not the enemy. When I look online for reading level guidelines, I see ages 9 - 12 everywhere. This seems much too high to me. My nine and ten year olds could read this just fine, but it would seem very young for them, I think. But would a first or early-second grader, which I would think would be the target group, be able to read it? Yes, it's written in short sentences and paragraphs. Is the font the right size? I'm really not sure!

72. The Cardturner - Louis Sachar

A Novel About a King, a Queen, and a Joker
Delacorte Press, 2010
for: YA and adults who understand (even just a little) the game of bridge
337 pgs. (okay, ok, I only skimmed the last pages, the in-depth bridge descriptions...)
Rating: 5

I giggled my way through this story. I love the way Sachar creates characters...some with no surprises, some with lots of little surprises that keep edging in and making you smile, making you like them more (or less) or understand them better, or wish you knew them yourself...

Our protagonist, Alton. A 17 year old who pretty much lets people walk all over him, but has the ability to keep his mouth shut even when he could come up with a snappy retort. Sometimes it's better to be that guy. He likes and respects his 11 year old sister. Wow. He knows his parents are full of it, but he just silently rolls his eyes. He's smart, but doesn't let many people see that he is.

His uncle, Trapp, the grumpy, blind-from-diabetes, millionaire bridge player. He doesn't say much, but he packs a punch. He is insightful except for when it comes to Alton (but he makes us wonder, all along, if he's pulling the wool over our eyes about that, too.) He's a good man, with lots of love and caring that he doesn't show in "normal" ways. He's a brilliant card player. I love when he talks about the urge to communicate, "Why do you think people gossip so much? Why can't we keep secrets? Why have we invented the printing press, the telephone, the Internet? It's so ideas can grow and reproduce. Our bodies, our brains, are just machines that ideas use for a while, then toss aside when they wear out."

Toni. Toni Castaneda. Close family friend of Trapp. New friend and card partner for Alton. She carries a secret....and becomes the only one with whom Alton can confide about some pretty weird stuff.

Bridge. As in the card game. Duplicate bridge, to be precise. Who would have ever thought that a book about teenagers playing a game that Sachar portrays as mainly played by senior citizens would be so entertaining? So interesting? So ....well.... magical almost. I don't play bridge, though I played lots of whist and hearts in college a zillion years ago. Therefore, I had a bit of an idea about trumps and four players. The bidding, the intricacies, were all new. I got it, though, except what I decided NOT to get...some of the bidding, for example. My big questions: Will Young Adults Like All The Details? Some will, for sure. But most? I can't wait to find out.

The plot moves along quickly. What Sachar introduces in the last quarter of the book is magical, special, and fun, fun, fun. I won't spoil it here, but I've got to say I loved this and couldn't wait for every fifteen minutes I could stick my nose into the book.

Written in the first person, on p. 310 Alton says, "Since you've stuck with me this long, you know I don't do a lot of long descriptive paragraphs. I don't use many similes or metaphors. "A screaming lightning bolt of pain" is the only one that come immediately to mind....." Sachar writes this so that you really get to know this kid - and want to know him more!

I've rambled, I've rambled, not good. I'd better end, And what have I really said?

Louis Sachar's website is here.
GreenBeanTeenQueen writes a review that actually tells about the story and gives more information than I'm able to in my current reflective mood.
Presenting Lenore gives some great quotes from the book and some interesting comparisons to other books.
And Sherry at Semicolon sums it all up quite nicely (and don't you feel you MUST read a blog whose subtitle is Books We Must Have Though We Lack Bread ??)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Yasmin's Hammer - Ann Malaspina

Illustrated by Doug Ghayka
Lee Lows Books, 2010
Endpapers: Royal Blue

Found this at the Chicago Library when I spent some meandering hours there.
Setting: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Two sisters go every day to work in the brickyard in the city of Dhaka. Abba (their father) pedals a rickshaw all day and Amma (their mother) works a a maid. To survive in the city, money must be earned by every family member. That is, until the oldest girl, because she wants to read, go to school, and make something of her life, works extra hard to earn enough to purchase a book. This makes Abba and Amma realize they must do anything they can to get their daughters an education.

Illustrations cover the entire page with the text in the street or walls. This is a heartwarming, eye-opening story that shuld be read to all the kids in the U.S. who take school for granted.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day of the Dead 2010

Here's this year's Day of the Dead altar. This is one of my favorite holidays, and the only one I really "decorate" for. I found the little green wooden shelf at Savers for a couple of bucks, and added the skeleton dog and sugar skull candle this year. I enjoy adding to it every year - I'm going to save for a really nice Catarina next fall.

The huge (and I mean huge) All Soul's Procession here in Tucson is next Sunday November 7th. I'm hoping to attend.

71. Fragile - Lisa Unger

Audio read by Nancy Linari
Books On Tape, 2010
10 unabridged cds
11 hrs. 35 min.
327 pages
Rating: 2

The last two disks were not needed. The book went on and on....and on. Yes, it was a mystery, but not the gritty type of mystery that I usually like, where clues mount up until they all fit together. This is not a cozy, but one of the more nicey-nice "thrillers." Sorry, it didn't seem too thrilling to me.

Set in small town The Hollow, New York, where everybody knows everybody and what they had for dinner, we meet the Cooper family: Jones and Maggie and their son, Ricky. We meet Maggie's mother, retired HS principal and a parade of interwoven characters that only a small town could dream up. Ricky's girlfriend Charlene disappears, and it brings back uncomfortable memories for most of the players - when a high school girl named Sarah was murdered 20 years previously. (Like what was kept under wraps for 20 years with this crowd would REALLY be kept under wraps....mmhmm) The blurbs made it sound really intriguing.'s ultra-predictable. It's told from different points-of-view and gets a little laborious. Perfect Maggie is the perfect wife, mother and psychologist. Son Ricky is the rebellious though super-smart son that will, of course, go to a major college without too much protesting, husband Jones is the super handsome dynamic cop who was the high school super star....and most of the other characters are damaged pretty much beyond repair or really, really good. There's supposedly redemption at the end, but everything becomes way too pat. Come on!

I've spent a couple of weeks listening to this as I drive back and forth to school. It was pretty endless, I've got to admit. Guess I've got to stick to police procedurals or private eye whodunnits when I look for my mysteries from now on. I'm sure there's a great audience for this book out there, but it's not the genre for me. I wonder how I should separate the mystery genre. Cozies (I know these aren't my cuppa tea), police procedurals, private eye whodunnits, and these mysteries that unfold without cops and private eyes. It's the private eye wodunnits that I really enjoy.

Tuesday Teasers 11-2-10

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along (and silly me, I decided to....)! Just do the following:

-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
-BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From pg. 38 of The Card Turner by Louis Sachar, a 2010 middle grade/YA novel:
"Okay, I was too lazy to get a job, and my mother knew it, but I wasn't as lazy as she thought I was. I was fairly certain that I could have packed groceries or hauled boxes from one end of a warehouse to the other with a much vim and gusto as anyone."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Carmen Learns English - Judy Cox

Illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Holiday House, 2010
32 pages
Rating: 3.5
Endpapers: Bright dark pink

When Carmen begins kindergarten, she's the only one who speaks Spanish - with no English at all. And she worries about her little sister, Lupita, who will start school next year and knows no English. But Carmen is blessed with a caring teacher. Mrs. Coski doesn't laugh at Carmen, and has her teach her classmates Spanish. When she goes home each day she teaches Lupita the English that she is learning.

Carmen admires her teacher and enjoys teaching her sister and her classmates. A future teacher, for sure!

Put yourself in another's shoes. How difficult it must be fore kids when they can't understand a word. A new kindergarten student at our school knows not a work of English, only Hebrew. She cries and cries and cries. At first I felt badly for her, but then I got irritated to see (and hear) her crying all the time. Her shyness was also hindering her. Shame on me! And now, three months into school, although I still see her crying, it is very much less frequent. To be so young, alone, and not able to understand what's going on around you or be able to communicate even simple needs....well.....

I picked up this book at the library and put it back down. But as I did I flipped through the pages. Its' written in a cool font, "Providence Sans." I changed my mind - because of the font - and checked it out.

Book Challenge Update

I am not doing well with my book challenges. I was SURE that I could read 100 books this year, but I just finished book number 70. That's 30 more to go in two months...the two months that I have a huge pile of unfinished Christmas projects to complete.

What happened that makes me disappoint myself so? Three things. I've read lots of picture books this year, and of course I don't count those. I've spent a lot of time reading well into books that I decided not to finish. (I always tell my students that there are too many books out there to spend time reading a book that we don't really care for.) And I've worked 70 t 80 hours a week since August, which allows no time for pleasure reading....or anything that includes pleasure for that matter.

My 10-10-10 Challenge means I must read at least 100 books. I know I can repeat titles (ten of them, I think), but I was determined not to do that this year. The Medieval challenge is totally bookless so far - I've got one on my TBR pile, but there are others that always call my name in a much louder voice. My 39 Clues challenge bombed because I realized that I really disliked the books and didn't want to waste my time on them. Even my Caldecott challenge his bottom because there are always so many more new books or curriculum-related books that I want to read.