Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Shock of all shocks - I was up, on my own, by 7:30 this morning! I have cut out Diet Coke as my main source of liquid and I am sleeping better. Like that is any surprise as I was consuming large amount of caffeine. The headache for the first few days wasn't much fun, but it was worth it to sleep more than a few hours at a time. So I was actually awake to give Steve a kiss goodbye as he headed out for work. Of course, Sophie and I had to have our Mommy/Kitty time as I did some reading. I'm reading through the age appropriate sections of Joan Borysenko's A Woman's Book of Life: The Biology, Psychology, and Spirituality of the Feminine Life Cycle. It was published back in the mid 90s, but is still very appropriate today. Very interesting reading, takes the cycle from birth to death.

Spent the day at Montessori yesterday. Got there and couldn't park in my normal spot as the torrential rain we have had basically destroyed the parking lot that the parents drive through to drop their kids off. I normally park on Vessup Lane - not the not normal drop off point, but got caught up in the line. Ended up parking on the side of the road under a tree. Wondered how much iguana poop I was going to have on the car by the end of the day. I was lucky - no big offerings! It isn't just dropping coconuts you have to worry about landing on your head down here!

It is amazing to think that someone so young, born in 1977, can write something so creepy and fascinating and wonderful and thought provoking as The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray. Chris Wooding has created a London that no one wants to live in. After the Prussians bombed the city the wych-kin have begun to take over the city. Thaniel is the 17-year-old son of a legendary wych-hunter and is living up to his father's name, working beside Cathaline, the female wych-hunter who moved into his home to care for him after his father was killed. During a hunt they discover a young woman who appears to be crazed, but after they find the tattoo on her lower back they know she is possessed. Thatch, the 200 year old wych, was supposed to have taken over Alaizabel's body when the poison took effect, but it didn't work that way, and both the two women are fighting inside of her. Because Thatch is the one who is to open the doors to the presence that will destroy the world as we know it, the Fraternity is after Alaizabel. Thaniel and Alzaizabel fall in love, but it isn't a pleasant love story as the Fraternity abducts her again and after the spirit of the wych is removed, she is put in the insane asylum, run by the head of the Fraternity. With the help of the King of the Beggars and an honest police officer, they are able to stop Thatch, but as the Kirkus starred review states, "readers will get finger cramps from rapidly turning the pages." Don't read this one while you are home alone at night! Initially published in 2001, the Scholastic Point paperback edition came out this year. Now to see if I can find a copy of Poison - another Wooding title, with a young woman seeking her stolen baby in a world where humans are the lowest form of life. Oh, I love these creepy books!

Speaking of books I love, I have a copy of Nicola Davies' Ice Bear: In the Steps of the Polar Bear in front of me. The art by Gary Blythe is incredible! I lived in Alaska for 15 years so when I saw the book was about the Inuit and the nanuk, the Inuit word for polar bear I had to explore it. The text is sparse, but with the illustrations the combination is stunning. For example, the close up illustration of the bear's satiated eyes and nose, with splotches of blood on it, accompanies "Polar Bear is a white shape in a white world, invisible until it's too late. A lightning paw strike, a crushing bite, and the seal is gone." No more words are needed - the illustration says the rest. My favorite twosome is the next shadowy illustration of a mother bear with her little ones cuddled under her chin along with the text "But Polar Bear is gentle too. Mother Polar Bear, in her winter snow den, tends her newborn cubs. She lifts their tiny bodies in her great paws and suckles them." Accompanying each double page spread is a bit of factual information at the bottom of the page. I now know that a newborn is just over a lb. - about the size of a guinea pig. Beautiful illustrations accompanying sparse but well written text, enhanced by factual information. What more could a teacher or librarian want - an index? It's got that too! Way cool book!!

Okay - this is getting long. Time for me to do some grading and check my own class. I am taking an online two week class on Blackboard - an online teaching software program.