Monday, April 19, 2010

Ruth Reichl and School Matters...

I discovered Ruth Reichl recently and have read and listened to all of her books since the last week in February. She combines my love of food and writing all into one. Her life reads like a Mary Karr memoir, though maybe not as dramatic. But, she sure has lots of entertainment thrown in there! She even did some cool spots for PBS where she goes to other countries and cooks/eats with the natives. Yummy! Check it out:
And, if you've only got a little bit of time, watch the Italian one!

On a more depressing note, our school district handed out 190 pink slips last week to new teachers. First time ever in my 20 years in this district. Then, I get an email that says I am needed for an all day meeting which I will refuse to attend. We handed out 190 pink slips, the administration is demanding teachers take a 4% pay cut, and they are STILL paying out thousands of dollars in substitutes for a program where we are told the same thing each time we go! I am so frustrated with the state of school funding in my area that I could puke! The public is "outraged" that we won't take a cut in pay, yet the school district has not done enough (IMHO) to really cut the fat. When will schools have the money they need? Why is school funding always on the chopping block?

The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones

I just finished The Uninvited last night. This is my first time reading anything by Tim Wynne-Jones and I was intrigued by the mysteriousness of the cover and title. I did buy this one in hardcover after I read a review of it but never got around to reading it.

Mimi Shapiro drives from NYC to get away from a professor-boyfriend-stalker type. She arrives at her artist father's "getaway" cottage, only to find another boy already holed up there. Jay, who she shortly finds out is her half-brother, is busy trying to write music in this small haven. As the two decide to co-habitate for the time being, they discover some creepy pieces of the area. Though remote, the cottage is being watched and burgled by an onlooker who seems quite obsessed with Mimi. The story is told both through the eyes of Mimi and Cramer Lee, resident stalker (another one). Teen readers will love the suspense and climactic drama of this one. I am going to pass it along immediately.

Monday, April 5, 2010


In honor of the beautiful day and spring...

“On a branch ...”

by Kobayashi Issa
On a branch
floating downriver
a cricket, singing.

Glee Music Brings Good Moods

I woke up in an unusually rotten mood yesterday. I know! On Easter morning of all times- I was nasty even during church on the highest holiday, my sister and her family were coming over and I knew I needed to do something fast, PMS or not. You'll never believe what worked! Of course, I can because it's a throwback to when I was a teenager. Usually some exercise, reading and a nap can bring me out of a pms-ing funk, but I didn't have that kind of time yesterday as my sister and her family were arriving at 2 p.m. So, I took a short walk (ala The Spark, which I'll discuss in a later post when I finish it on my Kindle) and downloaded the GLEE cd from itunes. I've loved this show since Daria Plumb and Teri Lesesne talked it up at NCTE during our presentation this year. If you love 70's and 80's music (read: JOURNEY!) then you can't miss this. And, it will be back on tv next week! YEAH! The voices are incredible and the plots are riveting. A pregnant cheerleader who can sing? How can you pass it up? You have to see the football team singing Beyonce's "Single Ladies" on the football field during a game. You can find it on You Tube.

Anyway, after listening to the cast version of "Don't Stop Believing" a couple of thousand times and dancing my heart out in the kitchen (which my kids found downright hilarious) I was flying! No wine necessary :). So, here we are on our first day of Spring Break with the sun shining in a perfectly blue sky....and I'm still listening to the CD while a write. The power of music can sometimes be as powerful as books. I forget that sometimes.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Poetry Month- Entry #1

I love poetry more than anything. That's why I ask my students to do a poetry read aloud each Friday (they take turns) and then the listeners have to respond in writing for 3 minutes. I think I got this idea from a colleague years ago. As the month progresses, I will publish some of the better responses. Obviously, some of them are better than others in poetry choice, reading, and response, but these 8th graders surprise me with their depth at times. Here is a spring poem from Emily Dickinson, since it's been so unusually warm and green in Michigan for the first time in decades.


Emily Dickinson

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!

The madness reminds me of the fact that Mother Nature must have found it funny to have a full moon during the last few days before spring break with thirteen year-olds and then added the 75 degree weather!

What I Have Been Reading...

Here is what is actually occupying my reading (not audiobook) time:

The Eternal Ones by Kristen Miller (Razorbill, Aug. 2010): Like all of the other reviews I've read, I thought this one was going to be about vampires. However, I picked it up and couldn't put it down. Two soulmates continue to be reincarnated and find each other, but the "evil" side continues to be reincarnated as well. Imagine running from your enemies for lifetime after lifetime! While others have found the main character (Haven Moore)too predictable, I found the storyline to be engaging and interesting. She never knows when to believe Iain (her lover). Girls are going to eat this up! My colleague devoured it as I did and it is now in the hands of the first 8th grade girl who was interested.

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett- I LOVED this book and read the end because I couldn't listen to it fast enough, but the AUDIO is fantastic! No need to recap because it's plastered all over the best seller lists.

What the 10 year-old is reading (is she really 10 already?):

Deltora Quest books by Emily Rodda: I get an update everyday about the next gem found to complete the belt and restore order to the kingdom. I am so tickled that she loses herself in fantasy novels!

I promise I will be better about posting now that spring seems as if it has sprung.


How come I can't be consistent here? It's almost 1 a.m. and I'm awake because I know I can sleep in tomorrow morning. It's Spring Break!

I've been obsessed with Ruth Reichl lately. We listened to Garlic and Sapphires on the way to Orlando in February and then I listened to Comfort Me With Apples on my drives around town. Now, I am reading and listening to Tender at the Bone. Those of you who know Reichl's "trilogy" know that I'm reading them backwards! But,the mix of writing, reviewing and recipes for FOOD have me under her spell. I am amazed by how much she can eat! I challenge anyone to listen to/read one of these books and not be moved to fly to Paris for a good meal. The abundant amount of listening is due to my intense driving habits (and no desire to listen to what's going on with the Health Care Reform), and my "dedication" to a new, regular walking habit. My ipod and I are such good friends.