Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Willoughby's

The Willoughby’s
Lois Lowery

First, I have to admit that The Giver is one of my all time favorite books.  So, whenever I see something from Lois Lowery, I usually give it a try.  Second, my all time favorite Christmas book is Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree.  So, I had a double good reason to pick up this book.  Then I read the cover “A Novel Nefariously Written &  Ignominiously Illustrated by the Author” and I was hooked.  Hadn’t even opened the book yet. 

The Willoughby’s is a dark comedy.  The children want to be rid of their parents.  The parents want to be rid of their children.  But they don’t just want to be rid of them, they have a plan to GET rid of them.  Across town eccentric millionaire candy maker is drowning in trash and grief.  The Willoughby’s inadvertently help him learn to live again.  In the end, everyone gets what he or she wants. 

But what I really love about this book is the rich vocabulary and references to orphan themed children’s literature.  And because she’s awesome, Lowry provides both a glossary and a bibliography.  

Recommendation: I would recommend this book for 4th-6th graders.
Length: 176 pages
Rating: Loved It!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My First Book Review!

Bird Lake Moon
Kevin Henkes

Spencer and Mitch meet by chance at Bird Lake.  Both are dealing with family secrets.  Both need a friend.  Mitch is spending the summer at Bird Lake with his mom and grandparents unexpectantly.  His parents are getting a divorce and everyone is hurting.  The tension at his grandparent’s house mounts the longer the summer goes on.  Mitch thinks the house next door is a solution to his problems.  Until Spencer and his family arrives.  Spencer’s family is deal with their own family tragedy.  The boys end up becoming friends and being just what the other needs. 

Bird Lake Moon is a quick read and enjoyable read. Henkes’ writing style is very descriptive. The cover alludes to more suspense than is actually in the story.  The boys overcome their initial difficulty in a very “boy” way (not fighting ;).  The characters are well developed.  The reader understands why they do what they do. I enjoyed the story being told from each boy’s point of view in alternating chapters.  I would have loved more suspense.  And the ending was a little too tidy.  But overall, a good book.

I would recommend Bird Lake Moon for boys 5th grade and up. 
Length: 179 pages
Rating: Liked It!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


How do you know you have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)?  You do stuff like this...

I have this awesome supply bucket.  I love school/office supplies.  I also love things to organize my supplies.  I ordered this bucket when I taught 5th grade.  I used it to keep supplies handy on my overhead projector cart.  This bucket is usually well organized and I can find things easily.  Not lately though.

This year my two older boys come to my classroom before and after school each day.  Zac is in kindergarten.  He's an artist.  He loves to get into my stuff.  He has his own stuff - it's not good enough.  He needs my stuff.  So, my bucket is not well organized lately.

This morning I needed a certain Sharpie to make a congratulatory sign for 4 of my keyboarding students.   (they had to match the others, hence the certain marker).  I could not find it.  I dumped the bucket.  I organized everything into 6 piles: non-writing utensils, Sharpies, Crayola thin markers, highlighters, smelly markers and general pens.  Actually, general pens were divided into ordinary pens, colored pens and cool pens.  But, in the end, all the pens end up in the same section of the bucket so it didn't matter.

Here's everything organized on my desk. I could bear to take a picture of it all dumped out there.

And yes, I did test them all to make sure everything is in good working order. I also threw out some markers that didn't match anything else (like 1 lone thick Crayola marker).  And yes, in true Monica-style, I clicked all the lids closed.

Here's my newly organized bucket.  Which is off limits to outsiders (anyone but me).

Honestly, I'm not OCD - just weird about my stuff.  Which brings up a question for another day: Do people get to be weird anymore?  Or must we label everything?