Monday, July 25, 2005

I can't believe Monday is about over already. I spent most of the day familiarizing myself with Blackboard - the online teaching software used by SJSU. It is very similar to WebCT and in some ways easier to use, especially with the excellent tutorial the SLIS offers. I am teaching a birth through age 6 Children's Lit class - what fun! :-)

That and cleaning up the mess after our water cooler decided to go wonky. Still don't know if it is the bottle or the cooler. Sure hope it isn't the cooler - we really depend upon it as all we drink is bottled water - ice cubes and cooking too. Over 1/2 of a 5 gal. bottle ended up on the floor before we realized what was going on. I need to listen closer to Sophie when she whines. Her litter box and food are near the cooler and she was not happy about getting wet feet to get to them. If I had listened to her earlier I would have less of a mess to clean up. No cold water - great excuse to drink more diet coke today! :-)

Read Ann Rinaldi's The Color of Fire and marveled at the research she does to discover the little known facts of U.S. history. The author note talks about finding the story of the "great Negro plot" of 1741 in New York City. With so many free black people in the north the wealthy families began to fear an up rising and began a "witch hunt" for rabble rousing blacks. When they were done, 17 blacks were hung, and 4 whites, 2 of them women. Rinaldi tells the story from the perspective of a young black servant who is friends with one of the young men who is thought to be too uppity for his own good. Unlike most blacks Phoebe is educated at the insistence of her employer. Her teacher is thought to be a Catholic priest helping the blacks and baptizing children in the papist faith. At 197 pages it is still a quick read as the font size is quite large and the language fairly simple. Great book for Middle and Jr. High.

Rinaldi is considered the queen of historical fiction by some people but the writing ranges from average to superb in her books - with all of them worthy of a place in a YA collection. My favorite is Wolf By the Ears - one of her earlier novels about Harriet Hemings, thought to be the daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.

All for now.