Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa Sells Out

Today, in a last minute frantic rush to get everything done, I realized we hadn't gone to see Santa yet. So, I packed up snacks, braved the new 2" of snow and set out for the mall. I have to say that I am proud of the fact that this was my first trip to the mall this season. However, when I got to the Santa line, I read a sign that said something to the effect of: "You can take pictures with your own camera, but we require a minimum picture purchase." WHAT?! I can't take my own freakin' pictures! Oh, but Ma'am, you can, you just have to buy our 4x6 picture for $15.00!!!!!!! Now, I'm usually not such a scrooge, but this just seemed like milking the public who is already strapped this season. I wanted to punch Santa's Little Helper in the nose! Okay. I feel better now. I didn't punch him in the nose.

What I did do is this. I took pictures of my kids everywhere in the whole Santa Menagerie except with him. I even took a solo picture of Santa! Maybe I can airbrush the kids in later? Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Musing

In between reading and trying to keep the house clean with four people constantly trying to thwart me, I am taking lots of time to ponder the holidays. While out running errands tonight I heard a clip on the radio about some churches holding "Blue Christmas" masses because so many people become depressed and have difficulty around this time of year. These are apparently church services focused on healing and the stress and difficulty surrounding this time of year. Partially because of the stress, partially because of the shortened days, it seems this seasonal depression is quite common. I was so down yesterday (even though it was a snow day) that I thought something was wrong with me. Granted, we've had some not so great news come our way over the last week, but I know we'll get through it. We just have to tighten our belts and hunker down to ride out this recession like everyone else. I've been googling "positive thinking" and "happy thoughts" to try and keep my chin up. However, I seem to have lost my patience with everyone and the season. The commercialism has always gotten to me, but this year seems to be especially bad.

While I think I would be lonely for extended family if we did indeed hole up in a log cabin, it sure sounds like a great idea right now. But, then, why would I have more patience with everyone in a log cabin if I can't handle everyone underfoot at the present moment? The idyllic image I have in my head of all of us cozied up around a fire with hot chocolate is immediately blown out by the fact that we'd have to have a television, toys, fighting, etc. How to find peace in this season of giving?

The True Adventures of Charley Darwin

I have just finished The True Adventures of Charley Darwin which is coming out on Jan. 1, 2009. Carolyn Meyer, whose main genre is wonderful historical fiction, doesn't disappoint with this one. We are introduced to a motherless 8 year-old Charley in the early chapters and we see how he is spirited away to Shrewsbury School, a boarding school for boys, where Charley's brother Erasmus is already safely tucked away. Ironically, the school is not far from Charley's home and his doctor father and many sisters, and Charley often secretly runs the entire distance home to visit his doting sisters.

Who would have ever known Charles Darwin was a poor student? He hated being told what to read and write and he harbored a special abhorrence for the Greek and Latin he was meant to study. Instead, he found friends to run in nature with him so he could nourish his love of natural science and history. Eventually, Charley convinces his father he isn't a great student and his father suggests Charles become a clergyman! Before taking Holy Orders, Charley is offered space on The Beagle, a ship where he can sail for two years exploring the parts of the natural world he is so drawn to. With his father's hesitant blessing, Charley boards The Beagle, which turns into a five-year journey. The novel ends shortly after his return and his marriage to a cousin.

One of the intriguing pieces of this novel is that Meyer chose to tell it in a first person journal, which makes the reader definitely feel part of the historical plot. I found this book fascinating because I love historical fiction and I had limited knowledge about the early life of Charles Darwin. However, I think it would have limited appeal with middle grade readers. The plot sort of plods along with not much action except that Darwin knew his passion at a young age and pretty much eschewed all of the formal education he received in his privileged life.

Because I did love the slow, romantic story of how young Charley Darwin found his way into our history textbooks, I am going to give this ARC to my resident 8th grade historical fiction reviewer- I'll call her Michelle. I'm interested to see what an 8th grader has to say about this hovel and I will publish her response at a later date.

Post reading, I find that young Charley as a character has stayed with me for several days after finishing the story. Additionally, I found it interesting that he was so pampered by his father; I didn't know Darwin came from a wealthy family. The fact that his father tried to convince Charles to become part of the church seems so humorous to me right now! The church and Darwin have been at odds since his Origin of Species was published! At least he told his wife before marrying her that his views didn't really mesh with those of the church.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Books I Want to Read During Break

There are so many books I want to get through during break, that I wonder if my family would mind terribly if I holed myself up in a small log cabin with a fireplace and a coffee pot for about six or seven days. Because they might all watch tv until their eyes crossed, I think I'll opt for my cozy chair in my bedroom with a cup of hot mint tea and some shortbread. Here is what I want to accomplish:

Teaching/YA Lit.
1. Less Is More
2. Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle (she's awesome!)
3. The Spectacular Now
4. 3 Willows: A New Sisterhood Begins

Adult Fiction:
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Benedictine Book Group:
Seeking God by Esther DeWaal

These are lofty goals but I look at this two weeks as a good time to relax, renew and refresh my blog!

Vacation is Here!

Well, a bit early due to the snow, but we have a vacation commencement. Though my husband's been away and I didn't get a chance to bring in the yummy treats I made for my colleagues, I'm sure they will still be appreciated in January.

As the year winds down and our country is devastated by financial issues (I can't tell you how many people I know who are out of jobs), I want to try and focus on what I am grateful for:

1. My husband and children
2. The Benedictine Monks of St. Benedict Monastery in Oxford, MI
3. My teaching job
4. The first African-American president
5. Books- especially ARCs that are coming in for review (thank you publishers and those who have been so generous with helping me so far)
6. snow days :)
7. Renewed contact with my very dear friend in Venezuela (thank you Facebook)
8. The opportunity to run a support group for my church for women dealing with infertility.
8. Freedom of speech and the ability to vote as I please in my own country.
9. A white christmas
10. Early mornings to write and muse about life.

I am in the process of finishing Carolyn Meyer's book The True Adventures of Charley Darwin and will post a review within a few days. Additionally, I just finished the audio version of The Calder Game by Blue Balliett and have to say that I LOVE the way she incorporates art and math and youthful intelligence into the mysteries that she writes. When I read Chasing Vermeer in it's hardback publication (years ago) I don't think I appreciated the intelligent way that Balliett wove her story. I know I enjoyed it, but found it a bit quirky for me. Either my tastes have changed or she has grown on me as an author, but my 8 year-old is transfixed by the narrative as well. Even the twins are talking about Calder since we all listen to audiobooks in the car whenever we are driving. (Much better than "Hillary Duck" or depressing financial/war news) Perhaps the audio version suits me better as a listener? I did get The Wright 3 from the school library so my 8 year-old and I can read it together over the break.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What I Saw and How I Lied

After all the buzz of the National Book Award, I had to blow through this one to see what the hype was. Wow! Judy Blundell has created a setting not often seen in YA novels. First of all, while we have lots of WWII books, this one takes place about 5 or 6 years after the war has ended. Evie Spooner and her mom and stepdad decide to take a break and vacation in the sparsely inhabited or visited, Palm Beach, FL. While we think of the 50's as bucolic and prosperous, there was actually enough anti-semitism that Palm Beach had a "no Jews" and "no coloreds" law. Thus, it is that the new friends the Spooners make at the undervisited hotel are asked to leave. They are there under a false name- a gentile one rather than their Jewish name by which they are known in NYC.

Evie believes she's ugly because she is constantly comparing herself to her drop dead gorgeous mother. Actually, Evie has become a beautiful young woman at 15, and she catches the eye of a 23 year-old veteran of the recent war, coincidentally a colleague of her father's from his platoon. While Evie pines away for Peter and Peter tries to constantly remember their age difference, another illicit relationship is brewing between Peter and Evie's mother. However, Evie isn't privvy to this information until after a boating accident puts all of the Spooners into the spotlight- on trial. At a crossroads now, Evie has a difficult decision to make.

This is a searing novel where the main character has a painful revelation of the fallibility of her own mother on top of some hard hitting revelations about what it means to grow up. I have read lots of coming-of-age novels, but this one really gripped me with the decisions that Evie was forced to make. She truly matured in a matter of 200+ pages. Her innocence was taken in her new view of the world and her parents. (By the way, the dad has adopted Evie and the mother was previously a single mother in the early 1940's-very taboo.) The hurricane in the novel is a wonderful metaphor for the flight of Evie's childhood and a realization that she has been ushered into a new phase of her life.

I instantly thought of one of my students when I read this book. She, too, devoured it along with her mother. The appeal of Evie and the dramatic irony so cleverly constructed by the author makes this a difficult book for anyone, any age, to put down.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Unfortunately, I can't find a cover for this book anywhere[FOUND IT!] but I blew through Wintergirls, which is Laurie Halse Anderson's next book, due for release in March, 2009. While others were apparently whooping it up in San Antonio at NCTE this past week, I was devouring ARCs while I didn't have any children or students around me. I have to say that this is Anderson's BEST, BEST, BEST work, and I have read everything, starting with Speak. I have always loved Laurie Halse Anderson, but this newest work is exquisite and haunting.

Lia is an 18 year-old high school senior who learns on the first page that her ex-best friend was found dead in a hotel room. What follows is a haunting tale of Lia's struggle to keep her weight above the danger zone (she's been in the anorexia rehab place twice already) and her attempt to keep Cassie - the dead Cassie- from following her.

Lia's refers to her own mother as "Dr. Morrigan". After the mother-daughter falling-out, Lia was sent to live with her dad and stepmother, Jennifer, and Jennifer's daughter, Emma. Most of the book is spent inside Lia's head as she tries to avoid eating so she can get under 100 pounds, preferrably less. Additionally, Lia cuts herself to ease her pain. She wanders to the hotel where Cassie was found dead and adds another layer to the mystery surrounding Cassie's death. Also, Lia discovers that even though she and Cassie hadn't spoken in over three months, Cassie left 33 messages on Lia's cell phone the night she died.

While the story is incredibly moving and intense, it is Anderson's sparse prose, word repetition and incessant labeling of calories after each food Lia records eating that helps you understand the disturbance of the main character. She needs help but refuses. Lia also sees Cassie wherever she goes and has conversations with her which add a layer of almost magical realism to the story. The ending will keep riveted through any disturbance, right to the last word, where you want to start again from page one immediately. I am a HUGE fan of Speak and recommend it to every single 8th grader I teach- the novel is that important to me. However, Anderson may have equalled or surpassed importance with Wintergirls. Another important book that parents and teens should BOTH read!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reading Lately....

So, this is one of the books my daughter and I read together and I have to say that Scholastic has a winner with this one in the tween set. Orphans Dan and Amy Cahill are in a race with the rest of their extended family to find the secret to the "family treasure". We loved roaming all over America and Paris with the duo. Lots of action for kids and edge of your seat kind of suspense. I personally loved the fact that Dan and Amy took their babysitter with them so they technically wouldn't be without an adult on their travels. While this one was done by Rick Riordan, the next one, due out on Dec. 2, is written by Gordon Korman, a perennial favorite of mine.

We also read this one together and it got the 8 year-old interested in historical fiction, which has also been a favorite of mine. Though there was lots of gore and death, it seemed the extreme realism didn't bother her enough not to pick up another Dear America book right away for her Historical Fiction book project.

I am re-reading The Boy in Striped Pajamas because the movie is coming out soon and also because I'm writing a district unit for our historical fiction genre study.

Wow- I Am Pretty Lame

Not that many people are reading this, but I haven't posted in almost three months! See what teaching does to me? I wish I could be like Stacy Schubitz of Two Writing Teachers (http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/) who seems to be able to blog several times a day about her awesome classroom. Yikes! Now I can't get the underline off! Signing off....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vacation Randomness

I thought I would get more reading done while on vacation, but I'm busy playing with the kiddies and making sure they don't drown (esp. when the public beach tells you they can't use FLOATIES!) ugh. Anyway, I AM engrossed in PAPER TOWNS by John Green. Not due out until Oct, but it seems like everyone in kidlitosphere has an ARC. Thanks to my friend, Jen, who will be doing YA podcasts for READ,WRITE, THINK (www.readwritethink.com) and is getting LOTS of these coveted morsels. I am gladly taking them off of her hands when she's done. So, I think this is an exceptional novel. John Green is just so dang smart! And, I love the way he weaves literature, meaning, coming of age, and friendship into every novel he has. I especially love the way he depicts road trips for teens! Quentin, after a night of "mystery" with his long-time love, Margo Roth Spiegelman, decides to go find her when she doesn't show up for the next 6 days and is considered a runaway. The excerpt I found most satisfying was his metaphor of mini-van as moving home. He delineated the different spaces of the car to different rooms in a house as he and his friends Radar, Ben, and Lacey were using them. The passenger seat was the "family room" and the driver's seat was the "living room" because you couldn't get too comfy there and it had to stay neater. The console was dubbed the "kitchen" and the bench seats were "bedrooms." The journey to find the "real" Margo through Walt Whitman's LEAVES OF GRASS was a phenomenal reference to literature and it's relation to life. This was exceptional for 18 year-old Quentin. The ending is satisfying to the reader and the journey is filled with humor (much, laugh out loud), searching, longing and that creative literary edge we all seemed to have in early adulthood- before marriage and children. The searching for meaning of Margo as a person through Whitman's poem had me captivated (because I'm a bookish English teacher). Happy Reading! Read to your kids! No kids? Read to a neighbor or relative.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More New Books!

Here's a widget for a new children's book that looks good. The pictures remind me of the artist who did THE MAGIC HAT by Mem Fox. Actually, I just looked and Tricia Tusa is the artist for both. Jim Averbeck is the author.

Summer Goals

Over at A Year of Reading (http://readingyear.blogspot.com/) summer goals are being assessed. As for me, I have accomplished most of them.

1. Read LOTS! --done-mostly YA; did great catching up in three months.
2. Play with the kids- we seem to have done quite well with this one and now we are headed off to our last vacation on Saturday.
3. Write and plan for the year- well, the planning part is kicking off fine, but the writing-well,.....Julia Cameron, help me!
4. Lose 15 lbs. -I played tennis, etc., and managed to get 4 off. I will keep working at it.

Looking forward to Sept. 2nd and working only until 2 p.m.! But, not looking forward to paying 20% more of my health insurance!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Breaking Dawn- no spoilers

I have to say that I'm relieved to find that others are as disappointed with the plotline of the last Twilight book as I am. Though I still have 200 pages to go, I'm finding it difficult to actually finish. The whole storyline seems so contrived compared to the other novels in the series! Does anyone else see this?

Great Giveaways!

It's the last day, but I found great giveaways at the 5 Minutes sites today. What a cool place! You need to visit even if you don't enter the contests. Great stuff for teachers and moms!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Food and Books

Okay, while continuing to devour BREAKING DAWN, I am obsessed with The Pioneer Woman. You have to check out her website and her amazing August challenge for recipes with dairy. See it here. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/08/august-is-gonna-be-fun/?cp=4#comment-66769
I just entered a recipe that I made up the other night since I have so much zucchini and so many tomatoes! Check it out- I'm number #1338 and #1339 (since I must have deleted the zucchini from the list of ingredients when I was typing...). You also have to check out PW's Love Story she wrote in installments called: "From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels". It's the story of how she met and fell in love with her husband. Well written, too!

So, all I have to say about the new TWILIGHT book is that after the first 400 pages I am truly disapppointed that the whole story has become so far fetched. I guess I expected more, but I will wait until I finish and I will read the reviews of others to see if hard core fans feel the same way.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm Addicted

Okay, I finished the whole TWILIGHT series within ten days. Is that a strange record somewhere? My sleep time definitely suffered, as I usually started around 10 p.m. and couldn't put the dang books down! So, like every other 14-17 year-old girl, I have put in my pre-order for BREAKING DAWN, but I refuse to go to the party from 10- midnight this Friday! ha ha. My YA friend, Jennifer, said she read the series but just "wanted her [Bella] to choose the werewolf and get on with it." She did acknowledge that she is in the minority....I, on the other hand, have been scouring the web for info about the movie and I was delighted to find out that the hunky guy who played Cedric Diggory in HP movies is playing Edward! I just hope he and Kristin Stewart have some on screen chemistry or the whole thing isn't going to work for me. I feel like a teenager doing this stuff! I even went to cafepress.com to search "Edward Cullen" and I found PAGES of t-shirts, etc. My favorite is the one that says simply "I love Edward". I could actually get away with that one because my husband is named Edward as well. Who'd a thunk I'd love a silly vampire series so much!?

Meanwhile, on the homefront, I feel like I am swimming in a million half-completed projects from gardening to sewing to painting to school shopping. I pretty much made a mess out of Laurie Halse Anderson's writing challenge because I was only writing every few days, if that. But, she did post a "forgiveness" entry on her blog that made me feel better. How come I can't seem to get a routine going during the summer? I should start thinking about fall and teaching, but I am still trying to plan our last vacation the week before I return to work. I DID manage to get the small table and chairs repainted and varnished for the twins. But, I started that project last May. I am also trying desperately to get rid of a woodchuck/groundhog who thinks that I have planted zucchini just for his munching benefit!

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'm so BEHIND!

So, I feel like I'm the last one to read Stephenie Meyers' Twilight. But, at the coercion of a Barnes and Noble employee (of all people) I brought it with me to Indianapolis on our visit and DEVOURED it. No pun intended. I made the kids have one hour of "quiet reading time" today so I could finish it. And, even though I have about five copies of New Moon in my classroom, I can't get to any of them due to construction, so I'll give Stephenie more of my money and purchase it tomorrow. I can't wait to get started, even though I've read a million lit. logs on the series and I think I know the basic plot.

On the way to Indy I finished FOUND by Margaret Peterson Haddix and really loved it. I can't wait for the next book. How interesting that she managed to write such a good science fiction novel for young adults with the historical twist at the end. I love historical fiction and can't wait for the next one. I'm dying to see how she structures it! Historical science fiction?

Even though my patience for the twins was incredibly SHORT today, we managed to make an awesome cake a la Pioneer Woman. You HAVE to try out these recipes! http://thepioneerwoman.com/#tab2

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bad Writer Girl!

I just realized that my blog address is spelled incorrectly! Yikes! The English Teacher. Sucketh.

I didn't get my 15 minutes of writing in yesterday because I was making this GREAT Amy Butler bag with my friend, Christy. She is starting a cool business, called TaaDaa, where you can go and make a craft and everything is there waiting for you! My pattern was all cut out and the fusible interfacing was applied. All I did was follow her directions and sew! It took 2 hours and it looks awesome! She's local in Michigan (Ann Arbor), but here's her cool website. http://tadaastudio.com/
Pictures to follow later when I figure out how to upload them from my camera onto the computer.

I need a way to find the True Goodness in the twins. They "sandwiched" me last night in bed and then awoke at 5:00 a.m. and weren't going to take naps, but I "convinced" them otherwise. I zonked on the couch this morning after we all watched 'SHREK THE THIRD' on On Demand. I don't know how their little bodies do it, but I know I should be so grateful for what I have. I was reminded of this when I read the blog for yesterday from Two Writing Teachers. One of my favorites! I hope I have it listed on the side.... Check out their writing challenges as well. My students love them. ttp://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/sols-bedtime-ice-cream/

Monday, July 7, 2008

Writing Challenge a la Laurie Halse Anderson

Check out the writing challenge that Laurie Halse Anderson has given everyone for the month of July. Even though I am late coming to it, it gives me real motivation to write SOMETHING.


Recent Reading

Well, I have finished The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Before I Die and Greetings From Nowhere. It seems as if I am constantly going back to the library to pick up a hold or two. Of the three, my favorite would have to be Before I Die with Jenna Fox coming in a close second. The characters in both of these books really touched me in different ways; Tessa, because of her bravery and bluntness and Jenna because she was kept in the dark for so long. I really loved, loved, loved the ending of Before I Die because I think Downham really captured the essence of what it means for a teenager to pass on. I loved the way it was written in sparser and sparser prose.

As for Greetings From Nowhere, it was a sweet book, mostly for tweens or my Boo who is 8. They were all characters with great stories, but the ending was quite predictable. My heart went out to Aggie and I loved how she talked to her dead husband in the tomatoes. The naivete of Willow almost distracted me from the prose, but I guess that's why it's considered a tween kind of novel. It was written up on many blogs (Jen Robinson http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/ and Professor Nana http://professornana.livejournal.com/ to name a few) so I guess I expected more. Perhaps after the other two YA books I read, this one was disappointing in comparison.

What I REALLY need to do now that July is here is start reading some of my "Teacher Books" like Deeper Reading and Reading Reasons, both by Kelly Gallagher (who I just found out is a guy-not that is matters)

Boo and I continue to read Sea of Monsters which is the second book in the Percy Jackson/Olympians series by Rick Riordan. I am amazed at how Boo can pick up on the mythology even though she's only 8 and hasn't studied it at all. I had to explain Tantalus to her and then she giggled each time he reached for food or drink and it escaped him. Quick learner.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

School's Almost Out...What to Do....

Well, it's been a while. Life catches up with you. I am waiting for the summer to begin and for school to end. I am waiting for my sweet little girl to find the right friend for her. Girls can be so mean. I am looking forward to spending time with my children and yet I am afraid I will be ready for school to resume before it's time. Here is what is on my bedside table to read as soon as school is out:

Before I Die by Jenny Downham
(I still have the ARC and haven't read it!)

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Unwind by Neal Schusterman

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeiffer

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

My oldest and I are still moving through Riordan's The Lightning Thief and, although I thought it was too mature for an 8 year-old, she seems to devour it, even picking it up to read when I have to be out at night.

I hope to be able to blog more often now that school is almost over. Next year will be the first year I am not working full time since I began teaching! Thrilled doesn't even come close to how I feel about that. Now, I just need to curb my book buying habit.....since we'll have only 80% of my pay. Perhaps I could go without food instead.....

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


My apologies. I am fairly new to the blogosphere and I'm not sure how to embed links. My link to The Reading Zone doesn't work, but there is a link on Blogs I Love at the side.

What's Happening to our Curriculum?

Hop over to The Reading Zone thereadingzone.wordpress.com/ to check out the latest on the state of our Readers and NCLB.

Personally, I was at a 1/2 workshop yesterday where we were supposed to be coming up with A Writing Curriculum. Astounding! They wanted to prescribe what assignments should be taught at what time of year(some down to the exact month)! I haven't been part of this group for a couple of years and I can't believe the turn it's taken. Why do we think that closing achievement gaps and higher scores on HIGH STAKES TESTS can only be accomplished with more skill and drill? What has NCLB done to us? How can I help more? My own progressive school district (I thought) seems to have ventured to "the dark side."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

All Gone?

Well, my oldest made her First Communion last Saturday and looked gorgeous. There's something about an 8 year-old in a white dress and veil that makes a mother's heart stop for a second and want to slow life down. A party with lots of relatives rounded out our day, even though my twin son was contagious (?) with some crazy virus....Then, later, as twin son was in the bathtub for, I'm not kidding about 7 minutes, his twin sister came in with a HUGE smile of pride on her face. I looked up to see the hem of her pink skirt in shreds- she found the scissors. Then....I looked up to see HALF (I'm not JOKING- HALF) of her long hair gone. Two lovely HUGE chunks from either side. My husband decided eventually that it looked like her own version of a mullet. Her smile faded as she studied my face more carefully. Slowly I walked to her room to find the pieces of her once gorgeous golden hair. I scooped them up like a newborn kitten and deposited them into the top of a shoe box. I think maybe I'll bag it up and keep it for her wedding day. I know, I know, kids do this all the time, but after all of the chaos of the weekend, YIKES! I shuffled her off to "the haircut store" (as she called it) to get it "fixed" and she ended up with the cutest little pixie cut I've ever seen. Thanks, Kristi! It's a good thing she's completely adorable or she wouldn't be able to pull it off!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Good Intentions

Well, when I started out, I guess I had some really huge plans for this blog and they all got away from me. So, almost a year later, I will start over and begin by blogging about the last great YA book I read. My daughter and I just finished reading The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry, which we both found to be absolutely hysterical. Though she is 8, she has what I consider a very developed sense of dry humor and found humor in many references in the book. I was surprised. Though this book is a far cry from The Giver in terms of genre, I admire the satirical way Lowry has used common themes from all kinds of classic literature.

On my nightstand:

The Zookeeper's Wife (to finish)
The Forgotten Desert Mothers