Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer Book-a-Day July

43.  The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine - middle grade - a great story of an inter-racial friendship in the South near the end of segregation

44. Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum Peril and Romance by Marthe Jocelyn - middle grade - set in 1900's, a girl deals with contrasts between traditional and reforming friends and family

45. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - middle grade - 1970's story of friendship, with a touch of science fiction

46. The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander - middle grade/young adult - The Godfather meets middle school boys

47.  Rip Tide by Kat Falls - middle grade/young adult - Sequel to Dark Life; continues the futuristic story of living under the ocean

48.  The Genius Files:  Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman - middle grade - siblings find out they have been recruited by an agency where kids are used to fight crime

49.  The Genius Files:  Never Say Genius by Dan Gutman - middle grade - the siblings story continues

50.  Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri - middle grade - boy spends summer with his father caring for horses in the inner city

51. New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb - adult

52.  The Great and Only Barnum by Candace Fleming - middle grade/young adult - Biography of P.T. Barnum

53.  My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian - middle grade - summer story of a boy who is not fond of reading

54.  Empty by Suzanne Weyn - young adult - the story of what the world is like when oil starts to run out - actually hopeful, not depressing

55. Pemberly by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds - adult\

56.  The Sherlock Files:  The 100-Year-Old Secret by Tracy Barrett - middle grade - siblings find out they are descendants of Sherlock Holmes and solve one of his unsolved mysteries

57.  Accidental Lessons by David W. Berner - adult

58.  Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - adult

59.  New Moon by Stephenie Meyer - adult

60.  The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser - adult

61.  Baby Steps by Peter McCarty - picture book

62.  The Yankee at the Seder by Elka Weber - picture book

63.  Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer - adult

64.  First Pooch:  The Obamas Pick a Pet by Carole Boston Weatherford - picture book

65. Now & Ben:  The Modern Inventions of Ben Franklin by Gene Barretta - picture book

66.  Neo Leo:  The Ageless Idea of Leonardi da Vinci by Gene Barretta - picture book

67.  When Harriet Met Sojourner by Catherine Clinton - picture book

68.  Perfect Fit by Linda Wells - adult

69.  Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer - adult

70.  Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford - middle grade - a boy becomes a superhero while his brother fights to come out of a coma, actually has some good humor

71.  Interlude in Death by J.D. Robb - adult

72. Capture the Flag by Kate Messner - middle grade - three kids work together to find the stolen Star-Spangled Banner while snowed in at the DC airport

Monday, July 30, 2012

Agape adoption video

I'm saving this for the day when Joy asks about her birthmother.  It's doubtful they will ever meet in person, but this might just help her understand.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

Wow, this is inspirational!  The family's website is at

The family's website is at

Monday, July 9, 2012

2012 Summer Book-a-Day


1) The 39 Clues Cahills Versus Vespers:  The Dead of Night by Peter Lerangis - middle grade - The next book in the second 39 Clues series, Amy and Dan's adventures continue while they try to save their Cahill relatives being held captive

2) LMNO Peas by Keith Baker - picture book

3) Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter - picture book - Tells the story of Josephine Baker and her life in the early 1900's.

4) A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard - adult - Tough read.

5) The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall - middle grade - Love this story of sisters!  Hope I can get my oldest to read it someday.

6) How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm and Other Adventures in Parenting by Mei-Ling Hopgood - adult - Interesting read, both reflective and informative about parenting around the world.

7) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - young adult - Compelling and disturbing all at once.  Not interested right now in reading the rest of the series.

8) Hound Dog True by Linda Urban - middle grade - Young girl moves in to a new town with her mom, living with her uncle, and her adjustments.

9) Those Rebels, John and Tom by Barbara Kerley - picture book - Features John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

10) George by Frank Keating - picture book - Features George Washington

11) One World, One Day by Barbara Kerley - picture book

12) One For the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt - middle grade/young adult - Loved this book!  Reminded me a lot of The Great Gilly Hopkins but updated.  The ending is sad, but hopeful.

13) The Apothecary by Maile Meloy - middle grade - A fast paced adventure story.  It felt like Harry Potter meets John LeCarre.

14) When Dads Don't Grow Up by Marjorie Blain Parker - picture book

15) Finally by Wendy Mass - middle grade/young adult - A connected book to Eleven Birthdays, it could be read alone or first and the story would still work.  A girl can't wait to be twelve and get all the privileges that have been promised to her at that age, but it doesn't quite work out the way she thinks it will.

16) The President's Daughter by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - middle grade - A fictionalized story about Edith Roosevelt, President Teddy Roosevelt's second daughter.

17) Wonder by RJ Palacio - middle grade/young adult - Excellent book! A great story about accepting people who are different and pushing yourself to do your best.  This is going to be my first or second read aloud book this year.

18) Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor - middle grade/young adult - Read for Mother-Daughter book club and enjoyed.  The main character does not have a normal relationship with her mother and the story details about a year of their life.

19) Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming - middle grade/young adult non-fiction - Gripping story of Amelia's life and her last journey around the world.

20) Rainy Days by Lory Lilian - adult - P&P what if novel

21) Impulse and Initiative by Abigail Reynolds - adult - P&P what if novel

22) The Witness by Nora Reynolds - adult

23) The Escape of Oney Judge:  Martha Washington's Slave Finds Freedom by Emily Arnold McCully - picture book

24) The Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux by Emily Arnold McCully - picture book

25) George Washington's Birthday: A Mostly True Tale by Margaret McNamara and Barry Blitt - picture book

26) I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt - picture book

27) We've All Got Bellybuttons by David Martin - picture book

28) Abraham's Search for God by Jacqueline Jules - picture book

29) Affinity and Affection by Susan Adriani -adult - P&P what if book

30) Go the F__k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach - adult picture book

31) Clara's Kitchen by Clara Cannucciari - adult - Advice book and cookbook combined

32) 13 Gifts by Wendy Mass - middle grade/young adult - Another story set in Willow Falls, it could be read alone but is a companion book for Eleven Birthdays and Finally.  The main character has to find a list of objects and complete other tasks before her thirteenth birthday.

33) Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Practicing the Piano (but she does love being in recitals) by Peggy Gifford - early middle grade - Fast reading short chapter book

34) The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing by Suzanne Jurmain - middle grade/young adult non-fiction - Compelling story behind the discovery of the cause of yellow fever in the early 1900's.

35) If All the Animals Came Inside by Eric Pinder - picture book

36) Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock - young adult - The third book in a trilogy following Dairy Queen  and The Off-Season, the main character returns to deal with junior year, basketball, boys, and where to go to college while living in rural Wisconsin.

37) Something to Hold by Katherine Schlick Noe - middle grade/young adult - A fictionalized account of the author's experience growing up white while living on an Indian reservation in the 1960's

38) My Uncle Emily by Jane Yolen - picture book

39) Abbie in Stitches by Cynthia Cotten - picture book

40) Last Day Blues by Julie Danneberg - picture book

41) The Big Test by Julie Danneberg - picture book

42) What Teachers Do (after you leave school) by Anne Bowen - picture book

Second Semester Books

Just realized that I didn't update my completed book list ALL second semester!  Some of these will be pretty sketchy since its been awhile.

36.  Fifth Avenue, 5 AM  by Sam Wasson - adult - The story behind the making of Breakfast at Tiffany's
37.  Troublemaker by Andrew Clements -middle grade - Another fine book by this author.
38.  Only Mine by Susan Mallery - adult
39.  Only Yours by Susan Mallery - adult
40.  Walker Evans:  Photographer of America by Thomas Nall - middle grade/young adult non-fiction - Very detailed and accessible book about this Depression area photographer.
41. Only His by Susan Mallery - adult
42.  Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - middle grade/young adult - Looks at the stories of two of Jefferson's sons by Sally Hemmings and the story of another young slave at Monticello
43.  The Endless Forest by Sara Donati - adult
44. Deception at Lyme by Carrie Bebris - adult - P&P continuation mystery - Incorporates characters and settings from Persuasion, very enjoyable
45.  The Silenced by James DeVita - young adult - A book that makes you think - a lot.
46.  Titanic: Young Survivors by Allan Zullo - middle grade non-fiction
47.  Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl - middle grade/young adult - The fictionalized story of Princess Victoria's path to becoming queen.
48.  Star Trek:  A Time for Love by Robert Greenberger - adult
49. Star Trek:  A Time to Hate by Robert Greenberger - adult
50. Stolen into Slavery: The True Story of Solmon Northrup, Free Black Man by Judith and Dennis Fradin - middle grade non-fiction - Short book telling the true story of a free black man who was tricked into slavery and unable  to gain his freedom for a decade
51. Ghosts in the Fog:  The Untold Story of Alaska's WWII Invasion by Samantha Saple - middle grade/young adult non-fiction - Great book telling of a mostly unknown event in WWII
52.  The Trouble with Mr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan - adult - P&P what if continuation story
53.  Star Trek Titan: Taking Wing by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels - adult
54.  Star Trek Titan: The Red King by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin - adult
55. Star Trek Titan:  Orion's Hounds by Christopher L. Bennett - adult
56.  The Cemetery Keepers of Gettysburg by Linda Oatman High - picture book
57.  A Picture Book of Robert E. Lee by David A. Adler - picture book
58.  John Brown:  His Fight for Freedom by John Hendrix - picture book
59. The Silent Witness by Robin Friedman - picture book - Tells the story of Appomatox Courthouse through the eyes of a young girl and her doll who lived there.
60. Louisa:  The Life of Louisa May Alcott by Yona Zeldis McDonough - picture book
61.  Lucy Maud Montgomery by Alexandra Wallner - picture book
62.   1862 Fredericksburg by KM Kostyal - picture book
63.  B is for Battle by Patricia Bauer - picture book - Civil War topics
64.  Hold the Flag High by Catherine Clinton - picture book - The story of the Massachusetts 54th Negro Regiment in the Civil War

65. Star Trek Titan:  Sword of Damocles by Geoffrey Thorne - adult
66.  The Duel:  The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr by Judith St. George - middle grade/young adult - Interesting study of two Founding Fathers
67.  Star Trek Destiny:  Gods of Night by David Mack - adult
68.  Star Trek Destiny:  Mere Mortals by David Mack - adult
69. Star Trek Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack - adult
70. Star Trek Titan:  Over A Torrent Sea by Christopher L. Bennet - adult - We get to meet Riker and Troi's baby!
71. Mysteries of the Mummy Kids by Kelly Milnar Halls - middle grade non-fiction
72.  Star Trek The Next Generation: Death in Winter by Michael Jan Friedman - adult
73.  Star Trek The Next Generation:  Resistance by JM Dillard - adult
74. Star Trek The Next Generation:  Q&A by Keith RA deCandido - adult
75. Star Trek Titan: Synthesis by James Swallow -adult
76. Star Trek The Next Generation: Indistinguishable From Magic by David A McIntee - adult - Love Scotty!
77.  Death Comes to Pemberly by PD James - adult - P&P characters, in a continuation - but not my style, did not enjoy
78.  Star Trek The Next Generation: Greater Than The Sum by Christopher L. Bennett - adult
79. The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma - adult - Interesting premise, Dad and daughter read every night for years - not that enthralling though
80. Star Trek Online: The Needs of the Many by Michael A Martin and Jake Sisko - adult
81.  Star Trek Typhoon Pact:  Paths of Disharmony by Dayton Ward - adult
82. The Magnificent Twelve: The Trap by Michael Grant - middle grade - Second book in the series, didn't seem as good as the first
83.  Celebrity in Death by JD Robb - adult - Eve Dallas mystery
84. The Buffalo Jump by Peter Roop - picture book
85. Keep the Lights Burning Abbie by Peter and Connie Roop - beginning chapter book - Nice bit of early historical fiction
86.  Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos - middle grade - Newberry book, but just ok for me
87.  The Voice that Changed a Nation by Russell Friedman - middle grade non-fiction - Great information book about Marion Anderson
88.  Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story by SD Nelson - picture book
89.  Chomp by Carl Hiaasen - middle grade/young adult - Another great mystery/adventure story set in Florida with an unusual cast of characters, this time including an alligator and reality tv
90.  Truce by Jim Murphy - middle grade/young adult non-fiction - Great informational book about the first winter of WWI - nice background info about the war itself also
91.  With Courage and Cloth by Ann Bausum - young adult non-fiction - The story of the challenges in gaining the right to vote for women
92.  Star Trek Typhoon Pact:  Seize the Fire by Michael A. Martin - adult
93.  Imperative Volume One by Linda Wells - adult - P&P what if story
94.  Imperative Volume Two by Linda Wells - adult - P&P what if story
95.  Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor - middle grade/young adult - Our last class novel of the year
96.  Holes by Louis Sachar - middle grade - Can't believe I never read this - saw the movie and then had to read the book.
97.  The Elephant Trail by Susan Lowell - picture book

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In what other profession...

In what other profession...

I’m going to step out of my usual third-person writing voice for a moment. As a parent I received a letter last week from the Kansas State Board of Education, informing me that my children’s school district had been placed on “improvement” status for failing to meet “adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind law.

I thought it ironic that our schools were judged inadequate by people who haven’t set foot in them, so I wrote a letter to my local newspaper. Predictably, my letter elicited a deluge of comments in the paper’s online forum. Many remarks came from armchair educators and anti-teacher, anti-public school evangelists quick to discredit anything I had to say under the rationale of “he’s a teacher.” What could a teacher possibly know about education?

Countless arguments used to denigrate public school teachers begin with the phrase “in what other profession….” and conclude with practically anything the anti-teacher pundits find offensive about public education. Due process and collective bargaining are favorite targets, as are the erroneous but tightly held beliefs that teachers are under-worked, over-paid (earning million-dollar pensions), and not accountable for anything.

In what other profession, indeed.

In what other profession are the licensed professionals considered the LEAST knowledgeable about the job? You seldom if ever hear “that guy couldn’t possibly know a thing about law enforcement – he’s a police officer”, or “she can’t be trusted talking about fire safety – she’s a firefighter.”
In what other profession is experience viewed as a liability rather than an asset? You won’t find a contractor advertising “choose me – I’ve never done this before”, and your doctor won’t recommend a surgeon on the basis of her “having very little experience with the procedure”.

In what other profession is the desire for competitive salary viewed as proof of callous indifference towards the job? You won’t hear many say “that lawyer charges a lot of money, she obviously doesn’t care about her clients”, or “that coach earns millions – clearly he doesn’t care about the team.”
But look around. You’ll find droves of armchair educators who summarily dismiss any statement about education when it comes from a teacher. Likewise, it’s easy to find politicians, pundits, and profiteers who refer to our veteran teachers as ineffective, overpriced “dead wood”. Only the rookies could possibly be any good, or worth the food-stamp-eligible starting salaries we pay them.

And if teachers dare ask for a raise, this is taken by many as clear evidence that teachers don’t give a porcupine’s posterior about kids. In fact, some say if teachers really cared about their students they would insist on earning LESS money.

If that entire attitude weren’t bad enough, what other profession is legally held to PERFECTION by 2014? Are police required to eliminate all crime? Are firefighters required to eliminate all fires? Are doctors required to cure all patients? Are lawyers required to win all cases? Are coaches required to win all games? Of course they aren’t.

For no other profession do so many outsiders refuse to accept the realities of an imperfect world. Crime happens. Fire happens. Illness happens. As for lawyers and coaches, where there’s a winner there must also be a loser. People accept all these realities, until they apply to public education.

If a poverty-stricken, drug-addled meth-cooker burns down his house, suffers third degree burns, and then goes to jail; we don’t blame the police, fire department, doctors, and defense attorneys for his predicament. But if that kid doesn’t graduate high school, it’s clearly the teacher’s fault.

And if someone – anyone - tries to tell you otherwise; don’t listen. He must be a teacher.