Sunday, November 29, 2009


My life is overrun with animals lately, none of them real. It began with traced hand turkeys a little over a week ago. We were coloring and decorating them in preparation for the Thanksgiving which largely wasn't due to swine flu. Piggy flu hit our household and we're still feeling its effects. To distract one son while he underwent a nebulizer treatment, I read some wonderful Aesop's fables. As you know, those are largely concerned with animals, clever foxes, timid mice, ants, grasshoppers, and the wolf the boy cried about. I have not read Aesop's fables in years, and I'm now on a mission to find some really good versions. It was pretty slim pickings at my local library. The best animal of the long weekend was a fox, Fantastic Mr. Fox specifically. My husband and I took the kids who we judged to be finally noncontagious to see the film last night. It is genius, genius, genius (I'll stop now before I wear out the "g" on my keyboard)!

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

Happy Thanksgiving

I haven't added anything to this little blog in a long time now and that has been bothering me. I've been a bit overwhelmed with sick kids, a commute home from work which gets longer each day due to the Christmas shoppers at the mall on my route, my own holiday shopping, teaching a hundred sophomores to write research papers, grading their efforts, and ice hockey season. While it bugs me that these things keep me from writing, I am thankful for them all too. Okay, maybe I'm not grateful for the traffic and the virus, but I am glad of the job and the moments I can spend comforting my children. I'm sure I'll get back to writing about books soon. I have so much to be thankful for today. I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Foodie Friday: Clementines Are Here!

I am soooo happy! Why, you ask. I'll tell you why. I am so happy because clementines, or as my children sometimes call them, clementimes, are n the groceries stores of the northeast once again. From now until January, I will have an easier time packing school lunches and I will feel better about my parenting. I will feel like a parent who dispenses citrus fruit rather than leftover candy as an after school snack. If we have company coming over, I throw a bunch of clementines in a bowl and tell myself I've created a Martha Stewartesque centerpiece. If I haven't really done that, please don't burst my bubble.
In honor of the return of the clementines, I have decided to mention Sara Pennypacker's Clementine books about a creative and challenging little girl named Clementine. These books are perfect for first through third graders. Despite the female protagonist, I've had success reading it with boys and girls. Like Junie B. Jones' voice, Clementine's voice takes a little getting used to, but it's worth it. Also worth mentioning are Marla Frazee's lively illustrations.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It Always Comes Back to T-Shirts

I'm up to my eyeballs in research on Edgar Allen Poe. I want to do a good job preparing these lessons because a) I've never taught Poe before and b) Some of my students have told me they are looking forward to reading his works, and I don't want to disappoint them. Of course I keep thinking of the awesome Simpson's version of "The Raven." While I can mention it and maybe even show it, I think I need more than that. I've found some great ideas and biographical information on Poe, which is good, but as is so often the case, I end up at cool t shirt websites.

I love this Nevermore Raven, but I can't quite justify purchasing it to wear for only one school day a year.
I guess I'll just have to come up with a gangbuster lesson plan instead.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Everything is Relative

Our current family nightly read is the first Hardy Boys book. My sons are very interested and my daughter hates it. She has no interest whatsoever in Joe and Frank Hardy with their motorcycles and sleuthing skills. It's just not her thing. It has gotten us talking however, about how different people view the same thing in different ways. Besides the Hardy Boys, a recent example is my daughter's Halloween costume. She made a candy button costume and kept it secret from her friends until the big day. About a week before Halloween we were at a neighbor's house and the kids kept asking me and Hayden what her costume would be. Of course I didn't reveal the secret, but I gave what I thought was a hint. I said,"It's delicious." The dad over there said, "She's going dressed as a rack of ribs" while his daughter asked, "Is she going to be a cupcake?" See, everything is relative.
In a similar vein, my older son dressed as an Ipod. Most people recognized him as such, but in one neighborhood where they trick or treated, a number of elderly people mistook him for a television remote control, saying things like, "Come here, Marge, there's a clicker at the door."
In any event, we'll be wrapping up the Hardy Boys soon so I'd better get looking for a book that will please everyone.