Friday, December 29, 2006

Why I Love Cat Royal

Okay, I'm thoroughly enjoying break and getting a lot of good reading in. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE The Diamond of Drury Lane and its heroine, Cat Royal. In her own words, here is one reason why:
"I'm going to be a writer," I said on impulse. "I'll write for the stage." Pedro gave me a skeptical look. "I've been taught to read and write by the old prompt. He always told me that there was no better education to be had anywhere in the world. Shakespeare, Dryden, Johnson - I've read them all. I speak French with the ballerinas - and I can read it too."
The book is thrilling and particularly well written. I must now await the second delivery from so that I can read the sequel, Cat Among the Pigeons. Here's the synopsis:
As gripping as "The Diamond of Drury Lane", this stunning second volume from Julia Golding sees Cat storm a gentleman's club, jump aboard a slave ship and enter the heart of the shadiest part of London - blindfolded! As the book opens, we discover that Pedro's slave master has come over from the West Indies to track the boy down and drag him back into slavery. Cat obviously decides she is not going to let that happen, but hereby makes herself another enemy. Soon, she finds she has the police on her tail...Cat is driven to flee the theatre and ends up going into hiding, passing herself off as a boy at Westminister school. Then Billy Shepherd turns up...Once again, Julia will have you captivated from page one.
Also on my booklist, the following fabulous selections:
And for those of you who don't know, the announcement of the Newbery, Caldecott, etc. will occur on Monday, January 22nd. I can't wait to learn about the winners.

Happy reading!

Monday, December 25, 2006

O frabjious day! Calooh! Calay!

Dear Friends,
Happy Christmas! Our day started before 6 am this morning and we are still going strong. We have played games, read new books and had an absolutely wonderful time together. All in all, its been a fabulous day! We hope yours was terrific as well.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Euphoria! (Random Musings After Grading)

It's done! I just posted my last grade and can happily say that I won't be reading anything academic for at least two weeks. Hurray!

In yesterday's mail I received from a copy of The Diamond of Drury Lane. It was excruciating not even cracking the cover, but now that I am finished, this will be my first book of the break. (In fact, I will start as soon as this entry is complete!) Here is a taste for you from the prologue, page 1:
"Reader, you are set to embark on an adventure about one hidden treasure, two bare-knuckle boxers, three enemies and four hundred and thirty-eight rioters. It is told by an ignorant and prejudiced author-me. My name is Cat Royal, though how I came to be called this, I will explain later. For the moment I will start with the riot, for that was where the story really began."

I received three e-mail updates from Borders today, all announcing what those familiar with the worlds of MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron already know: Book 7 is now titled Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. While I am anxious for the conclusion, I know that I will be very said to see it end, though as I do now, I am sure that I will continue to re-read.

While I generally read every day, during finals and the grading madness, I'm lucky if I look at a newspaper, let alone set aside time for a literary diversion. I must get better at making time for this, as I think it would see me through these "dark days" with fewer frayed nerves and, perhaps, a cheerier disposition.

I did take time out today to visit the library with William. He received his very own library card today and promptly signed out 10 books. Okay, so he went a bit overboard, but it was his first time. I did tell him that on subsequent visits he must select his top three choices, but that we can stay and read books for at least an hour or so. Every book came from the nonfiction section, with three of them written by Gail Gibbons. We will be reading about firefighters (4 titles), airplanes, kites, dinosaurs, trains, elephants and reindeer.

Hats off to Maureen Johnson, author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I purchased this book for my niece for her birthday, and Maureen was kind enough to send a birthday note for me to include with the book. The card is fabulous, and with the silver stamps of Parisian scenes, the young lady who spent a week in Paris just before Christmas 2005 will be thrilled. Thanks, Maureen!

I am quite confident that my best friend doesn't read this blog, so I can freely say that the mittens I ordered her from the Sundance catalog have arrived, and they will look smashing with the dog hat she bought to wear at recess. However, today they are on sale for $11.00 less than what I paid! Go figure . . . . . Perhaps I need a pair!

The children's literature portfolios turned in by my students were particularly good this semester. As usual, they have taught me much, and I can't wait to spend some of my Christmas cash on new books for my collection. (Christmas cash you say? Yes! I can brag that all my gifts this year were paid for with cash and that I even have some funds left over. They have already been earmarked for cookbooks (if they don't appear under the tree) and other literary treasures. I may even throw some of it at my iPod.)

That's all for now. I am going to curl up in front of the fire with Cat Royal and read for a good long while. Goodnight!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Books for Christmas

I have always been a book giver for holidays, birthdays and the like. These are also the very things that top my list when friends and family ask what I want. When my parents recently came to visit, they were astounded at the number of books William owns. This didn't surprise me, given that he receives books regularly. Last night at bedtime we read Anatole and Petunia. These were actually books I purchased as Christmas gifts, but when they arrived in the mail with William's name on them, it was hard to keep them from him. (Okay, so I can't wait for the big day either!)

In the book Petunia repeats a phrase she has heard, " He who owns Books and loves them is wise." Immediately William said, "Wow, Mommy, I have lots of books and take care of them, so I must be wise too." Ah yes, well let's get to the end of the story. For as Petunia learns "Now I understand. It was not enough to carry wisdom under my wing. I must put it in my mind and in my heart. And to do that I must learn to read." We both love the story and always talk about how great it will be when William reads on his own. He still worries that I won't read to him when he's reading stories himself, but I assure him that this won't happen. Once we push on into chapter books there will be so much more to share together.

Until then, here are the books the William is getting for Christmas. They're all pretty great, so check them out.
Flotsam by David Wiesner
The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon by Mini Grey

And because we're meerkat crazy right now:
Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett
Meerkat's Safari by Claudia Graziano

I'm sure there will be more before the day arrives, so I'll keep you posted. But for now, it's back to grading.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Love, Love, Loving LibraryThing!

Okay, I'll admit it. I am in procrastination mode. I have tons of grading, a self-study (inquiry brief) that is all but stalled, and too much additional work to mention. So, what am I doing? I am cataloging my library of teaching books (children's literature) at LibraryThing. You can catalog a library of up to 200 books for free. I paid the $25.00 lifetime fee to be able to enter all my books. So far I am at 418 books, and haven't come close to finishing. I'll even need to steal a few books back from William, as he loves to raid the shelves in my office!

You can view my library here.

LibraryThing is easy to use, fast (except for yesterday when they were slashdotted!), and customizable. As an organizational enthusiast I find this just too cool.

Here is my plan. First, list all my books and then tag them with appropriate labels. Next, add comments that suggest appropriate areas of curriculum integration. Finally, link to the fabulous lesson plans my students are writing. I'm hoping to focus on math first so that my students this spring will benefit. All I need now is time.

Go ahead, try it out for yourself at LibraryThing.