Thursday, December 24, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
That picture comes about midway through the book, the exact point when a lump forms in my throat and I have to pause in my read aloud to find tissues. My children love this book too, and reading it is a favorite holiday tradition. Speaking of holiday traditions, perhaps we instituted a new one. As soon as we set up and decorated our Christmas tree and decorated it last weekend, we sat in its glow and my husband and I taught the kids how to play poker, because nothing says Christmas memory like a good game of Texas Hold 'Em.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Stylized is the back story of the creation and popularity of that popular little style manual. For people like me, to whom E.B. White is a rock star, it is sure to be a hit. Much of his correspondence about the book is included, along with a surprising number of anecdotes about it. The author, Mark Garvey, admits that it is a slightly obsessive history, but it is a highly entertaining read. I especially enjoyed Frank McCourt's thoughts on Strunk and White's little jewel of a book. I also enjoy his confession that he was terrified of semicolons and maybe colons as well.
If you are looking to stuff an English teacher's stocking this Chritmas, no doubt he or she already owns a well used copy of Elements of Style, so fill that stocking with Stylized instead. And maybe a gift card to a local bookstore too.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I promise, I will go back to writing about books again soon. I will say that I just finished David Benioff's The Twenty Fifth Hour for my book club and enjoyed it. I didn't love it, but it was short and never lost my attention.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
It is based on the book of the same title by Roald Dahl. That was quite timely as my daughter who adores any word from pen to paper by Roald Dahl is writing a report on him this week. I am happy to report that my nine year old Dahl devotee was satisfied with the film adaptation. I never read Fantastic Mr. Fox, but can honestly say the movie is the best I've seen in about a year. George Clooney and Jason Schwartzman are brilliant as Mr. Fox and his son Ash respectively. The kids and adults in our family left the theater satisfied and talking about the favorite and cleverest parts. There were many.
One last animal note, my six year old son was thrilled to see a preview for the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, a "squeaquel," I can guarantee two things about that movie. One, it will not be as wonderful as Fantastic Mr. Fox and two, he will get me to bring him to it anyway.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
On a positive note, this week I had one of my best book conversations in the classroom ever. I was discussing Benjamin Franklin's autobiography and his "Speech in the Convention." I asked the kids what they think he valued based on their reading and was met with blank stares. Someone said he might have valued the Philadelphia Eagles because (b/c?) he lived in Philly. After we went over the fact that football was not played in the colonies nor was there an NFL, I asked if it had been played then, what position did they think old Ben would have played based on what they read by him. They warmed to the topic so quickly. I then asked if he was dropped into our society today, what sport would he enjoy the most based on what they read. The answers were brilliant and I left work happy that day.
Speaking of leaving work, I have something to listen to now on my drive home. A friend just lent me the audio book of Spencer Quinn's Dog On It, I've been told that it's a humorous whodunit with a canine narrator. Chet the dog and his owner, a down on his luck private investigator, solve a crime and have some adventures in this story that I have been assured I will enjoy greatly. While I'm in no hurry for Monday to get here, I am less cranky about my long commute now that I've got Dog On It to look forward to.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
While I was lecturing them recently on this topic, they reminded me that Harriet from Harriet the Spy ate a slice of cake and a glass of milk after school every single day. While they all love cake, they did think a slice of it each day would get old.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
One hot, steamy day in August, my sister and I took my three kids on a field trip of sorts. We left New Jersey and took public transportation into Brooklyn. Once there, we visited my sister-in-law and her scrumptiously adorable new baby boy. We all went out to lunch together, and my kids whispered to me that we have to buy Mo Willems' Knufflebunny for the baby because his neighborhood looks just like the one in the book. Plus it's really funny. That's one blank filled on my Christmas shopping list. After lunch, we left my sister-in-law and her perfect boy and walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. It was interesting, fun, and ridiculously hot. I believe I told the kids my underwear was so sweaty you could grow rice in it. Or something like that. Once we made it to midtown Manhattan, we stopped in every place we thought might be air conditioned. One of those places was an old fashioned tobacconist shop. It had a wooden Indian outside and everything. I don't smoke and never have, but oh, the smell of pipe tobacco is divine. Combine it with air conditioning on a hot humid day, and I could have moved in. While my sister and I inhaled as deeply as possible and perused the tobacco products and their accoutrements, my three kids asked the salesmen if they had any extra empty cigar boxes. A very nice tobacconist (talk about old school words) led them into a room sized humidor to make their selections.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Did you Spirograph as a kid? That little construction right there, turning a noun into a verb, is pretty new school, so maybe I shouldn't have used it during Old School Week here, but actually, it's more about classic old books and products, not about writing in a retro style, so I'll repeat. Did you Spirograph as a kid? I did. I loved putting the little circle inside the big circle, sticking a ballpoint pen in the middle and making hippy dippy trancey spiral designs. As it turns out, all of those designs have definite mathematical formulas, but I never bothered with that aspect of the activity. I just liked decorating my notebooks, folders, and any piece of scrap paper I could find. The version I had back in the 1970s was put out by Hasbro and could keep me entertained for hours. A few years ago, my daughter received the "Hypotrochoid Art Set" pictured above as a birthday gift and fell in love with it. I hunted it down on the Internet (definitely not how my original set was purchased back in the day) and bought several to give as gifts at birthday parties. Patina Stores sells it for $7.95. By the way, Patina Stores has lots of other fun and sometimes retro gift items for the tweens and teenagers you occasionally shop for. Klutz books has The Spiral Draw Book which includes spiral wheels and pens but apparently it is not as easy to use and is more expensive than the Hypotrochoid Art Set. Therefore, I've only given you the link to Patina Stores. Have fun!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
and you don't want to see the state of my boys' shoes. so I lined up the family water bottles, and while that picture may say "Make love not landfills," it doesn't say "Back to School."
The older kids each were asked to bring a book for pleasure reading to school today. Lucky public school kids! Let me say I attended Catholic schools until college and was never told to bring a book for pleasure reading or do anything else pleasurable for that matter. Maybe a photo of the books would be a nice non-cliche memory, but my ten year old son was still hemming and hawing between Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories from The Wayside School and a nonfiction book called The Kid Who Invented Popsicles as we walked out the door this morning. This is what my nine year old daughter packed:She absolutely loves the wickedly evil pixie Opal Koboi in Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl books. It's a nice cover, but that shot doesn't scream "School Days" either. I believe the following picture does capture the essence of beginning school in September 2009. It is of what I think is the most important school supply my children have with them today, because as I was shouting "I love you! Have a great day!" what I was really thinking this morning as they got on those buses was "I love you, and don't you dare bring home swine flu!"
Friday, September 4, 2009
It's T minus four days until my kids go back to school. Fortunately we've had a bit of a cool snap here in northern New Jersey which makes the idea of school seem logical rather than horrible. We've had a week of weather that makes you grab a sweater and think about apple picking and high school football games. The cool days inspired a bit of organization. Don't worry- it didn't result in full on fall cleaning. We straightened up a bit and returned all of the library books, audio books, and DVDs we've amassed this summer. So long, Artemis Fowl. Fare thee well, Geronimo Stilton. Now I need to dust around the book bench, dagnabbit! The kids and I also made our annual school supply shopping trip armed with lists mailed to us by their teachers. I could get on my high horse about suburban teachers requiring expensive and hard to find items like twistable colored pencils, but frankly that high horse is exhausted. Fortunately, the whole $5.49 twistable colored pencil thing didn't kill the joy I get from sniffing new notebooks and organizing folders and loose leaf paper.
One other side effect of this autumnal weather is that it has inspired a whole rash of play dates. My kids have been hanging out with friends like crazy before homework and soccer practice get in the way. A few days ago, I had three boys building a fort in my yard and three girls playing "Adoption Center" with baby dolls in the house. And while I know it would have made Gloria Steinem wince, I let everyone stay in their little gender role boxes. In fact, I eavesdropped a bit on the adoption center, and it was more compelling than any soap opera I have ever seen! After that, I provided conditioner for a Barbie makeover. Yesterday, it was girls baking cupcakes in the kitchen while little boys ran through the room with paper towel tube light sabers. I tried to mix it up some by having the boys help decorate the cupcakes. They did so while saying, "Sayonara, sucker!" to every sprinkle they ate and by coming up with synonyms for "constipation" and "diarrhea." Won't their language arts teachers be pleased with their verbal skills next week?
Here's hoping that the weather stays cool enough that they don't resent climbing aboard the big yellow bus next week, but not so cool that it ruins recess, because everyone knows that recess is the best part of the day!