Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The pic isn't as clear as I'd like it to be, but don't they just look cute? Thank goodness my grandkids love books! Wish they lived closer to help me review books as there is nothing that works better than the look on a child's face as to whether or not a book is working.

I've had new car envy all afternoon. Keep looking at the 2009 Santa Fe online as there are big incentives going on right now but basically they don't look any different than the 2007 model I already have. And, I'd just be adding more debt we don't need. So, I've opted to refinance mine at a lower rate with our KY credit union and get it paid off faster. We are waiting to see what is going to happen with Saab since GM isn't going to keep them in production and that's what Steve drives. I guess some small Swedish company made GM and offer that they turned down.

The sun has finally come out after days of dreary weather but it has pretty much melted all of our snow. The forecast is for possible snow on Christmas day. We are having a quiet Christmas at home this year. We didn't even put up the big tree, the lighted village, or any of my many other Holiday decorations. I just don't have the energy to do it all and Steve just isn’t into it. I found a cute little holographic tree that doesn't even need ornaments and it looks very cute in front of the fireplace. We did get the wreaths out, including the beautiful one Monica made for me a few years ago. It goes on the laundry room door so I can see it, rather than outside. Steve put the lighted garland on the mantle and I put out the Spode table cloth and napkins in the dining room. Also have carpets and dishtowels for the kitchen and we are set. I hope someday the grandkids will all be here for Christmas and I can decorate big time, but for now I'm good with what we have out.

I spent most of the day answering Christmas cards and finding the top of my desk, including a few books I wanted to blog. I have Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom that is noted as "The Official Picture Book of His Bestselling Autobiography" abridged by Chris Van Wyk and illustrated by Paddy Bouma in front of me. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Nelson-Mandela/Chris-van-Wyk/e/9781596435667/?itm=2&USRI=nelson+mandela+long+walk+to+freedom . Both author and illustrator were born in South Africa. Van Wyk shares incidents in Mandela’s life that children can relate to, such as wanting so much to be like his father than he rubbed ashes in his hair to make it gray. Short, easy to read sentences and lovely illustrations rich in soft blues and browns bring Mandela’s maturation from a village child, to a college student, to a demonstrator, to a political prisoner, to his election as the President of South Africa beautifully to life for even the youngest reader. As I read this book I could hear Mandela’s lilting soft voice in my head and I smiled. I’ve not seen the new movie, Invictus, http://www.filmofilia.com/2009/06/09/morgan-freeman-as-nelson-mandela-in-invictus-first-look/ with Morgan Freeman as Mandela, but if anyone can portray Mandela well it would be Freeman. He is one of my all time favorite actors as he feels like part of the family from his time on Sesame Street and The Electric Company when my kids were young and these shows were daily regulars.

Speaking of kids – Mary just called and I’m still teary eyed. We didn’t realize today’s Scholastic book delivery by UPS was actually from her and it was sitting next to my desk waiting for me to open it. She called as she knew it had been delivered so I found it and sure enough – it had her handwriting on the address. Inside were two folksy Santa figures (I collect Santas) – the wooden one is now on the mantle and the small tin ornament is hanging from the kitchen light.  What brought me to tears is the framed collage of pictures she created. Some have the kids with I and, oh my goodness, but do we all have “that Finn look” to us. I especially love the pic of Mary and I standing with our arms around each other as it is so evident how much taller she is than I. Pretty soon my grandkids will be affectionately calling me “Shrimp” as Mic did with my mom who he towered over at well over a foot taller than her.

In yesterday’s blog I mentioned Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Leo-the-Late-Bloomer/Robert-Kraus/e/9781435109919/?itm=1&USRI=leo+the+late+bloomer . I immediately thought of this book while reading Bartleby Speaks! by Robin Cruise and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes – the other picture book sitting on my desk impatiently waiting to be blogged. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Bartleby-Speaks/Robin-Cruise/e/9780374305147/?itm=1&usri=bartleby+speaks . Bartleby, like Leo (but not a tiger cub), is a quiet, happy child. At age three he still had not said a single word but it is no wonder as the rest of the clan is so busy trying to get him to talk he can’t get a word in edgewise! And then Grampy came to visit for his birthday and instead of blowing out his candles when Bartleby drew in a breath, he said – “Listen!” And, they all did. For a change, Bartleby’s family is quiet enough to listen to all the wonderful sounds they’ve been missing. Finally, Grampy whispers a query to Bartleby, asking if he has anything else to say and he does! With a huge smile on his chocolate covered face, Bartleby says – “Good cake!” I adore this book as Mic was a quiet child while Mary was verbal from the moment she was born. So when Mic spoke I paid attention, and if I hadn’t, I would have missed his amazing comments in the clamor of a busy household had I not known he didn’t speak unless he truly had something to say. Mic would sit back with a calm smile on his face and listen and watch. If my son had lived to become a father I suspect his son would have also been a quiet soul like his father. My greatest wish, which can never come true, is to watch my children’s children play together, but God had another role in mind for Mic and with time I have come to accept that, not like it, but accept it.

Initially I picked up Bartleby Speaks! because I saw Kevin Hawkes name – he is one of my favorite picture book illustrators. Check out the many books he’s illustrated: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=kevin+hawkes&box=kevin%20hawkes&pos=-1 . Library Lion comes up first and that is no surprise, but take a look at Chicken Cheeks http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Chicken-Cheeks/Michael-Ian-Black/e/9781416948643/?itm=3&usri=kevin+hawkes. If this book of animal bottoms by Michael Ian Black doesn’t have you chuckling aloud, nothing will!

That’s it for today. I hear Steve playing an Indiana Jones game on the Wii so I can sneak into the bedroom and wrap a few of his presents when he isn’t paying attention!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter has come to Lexington with colder temperatures than normal for this time of year, but it certainly looks like Christmas! This pic was taken from our back door looking up the green space between the houses. Sophie is not too keen on the snow. Our not so little "piglet kitty" looks quite silly trying to tippy-toe across the deck. We can't complain too loudly though as Eastern KY got slammed with a lot of snow and power outages. We are just far enough south and west that we don't get as much snow. I am praying we don’t get another ice storm like last winter.

Fall semester officially came to a close this past weekend. I don't know where the semester went. I never did get caught up from the extremely busy 2009 summer session. I didn't even have the Fall 2009 grades posted before my Spring 2010 YA materials course students were asking me for the syllabus so they could do some of the reading between semesters. Before I know it the semester break will be over and it will back to the normal hectic schedule.

But, I am hoping to find the floor of my office before then. I have review books spread out far and wide that I have read, want to read, and to blog about. I didn't get to this blog anywhere near as much as I wanted to this semester - I need to just schedule it into my week and once in awhile ignore the darn emails that keep popping in. One could spend all of their time answering emails or deleting the junk that comes in. I’ve had a couple of friends ask about my Facebook account and I just laughed – I can’t keep up with the blog, so another online site to keep up with is out of the question. And, I don’t Twitter either. And, if you have emailed me at my Yahoo email, I have not had time to check it in many weeks. Try clarkr@ecu.edu instead.

Since there are not enough hours in the day to keep up with what I want to read, my spending more time online just isn’t an option. Even with all the hours I’ve spent sitting in doctor's offices, which I am still doing a lot of again, I don’t get as much reading done as I’d like. The medical problems are never ending - I am now having issues with my heart rate. Went through all of the cardiac tests and my heart appears to be healthy, which was a relief as both parents had strokes. But my resting heart rate averaged 100 with spikes of 140 during the 24 hours I wore a heart monitor. All I can say it is very tiring and my chest just stays sore - like Sophie is sitting on it! The cardiologist thinks it may be a reaction to the Savella, which is the new fibromyalgia medication I started taking in April. So I am weaning myself off of it to see if that helps. I'm not happy about it as the Savella is helping with the fibro pain and stiffness. If my heart rate goes back down I'll have to consider some of the other fibro medications, which I haven't tried due to their lactose content - it is used as a filler in a lot of medications.

And, who knew a fall down a set of steps could have such long term consequences? January 2009 Midwinter in Denver seems like eons ago, but it is a conference I will never forget because of that tumble. I am waiting for the go ahead from Worker's Comp. to have a MRI on my knee as the orthopedic surgeon thinks I will need another surgery to complete the repair on my left knee. So I'm hobbling around on it, never sure when it is going to give out. And, waiting for an approved head trauma doc's appointment to figure out why the headache around my left eye, where I landed, is still banging away. Guess my head isn’t as hard as I thought it was – it lost the battle with the marble steps!

While sitting in the cardiologist's office I chuckled my way through Marlene Perez's Dead Is So Last Year http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Dead-Is-So-Last-Year/Marlene-Perez/e/9780152062163/?itm=1&USRI=dead+is+so+last+year This is part of the Dead Is Series, along with Dead is the New Black http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Dead-Is-the-New-Black/Marlene-Perez/e/9780152064082/?pwb=1& and Dead is a State of Mind http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Dead-Is-a-State-of-Mind/Marlene-Perez/e/9780152062101/?pwb=1& . I remember one of the YALSA pre-conferences when the presenters were talking about zombies being the next “big thing” in young adult novels and I thought of that while reading about the zombie like Doppelgangers of the local residents in small-town Nightshade, CA. At first no one is too alarmed as this is a town where werewolves, witches, psychics, and invisible restaurant owners are the norm. But when one of the sugar-crazed clones appears to be the long missing Mr. Giordino, Daisy and her sisters are out to find out if this is really their father or a clone out to ruin his reputation as a loving father and family man. Add a band of young out of control werewolves, one of whom just happens to be Daisy’s football playing boyfriend, and the mysterious happenings take the reader on a boisterous supernatural romp. The addition of tongue-in-cheek humor makes this a good recommendation for middle school through high school age teens looking for a fun, fast read as well as lovers of supernatural novels.

As readers of my blog know, I am a big fan of Orca Soundings titles for resistant teen readers as well as anyone else who wants a quick, satisfying read. In the Woods by Robin Stevenson http://search.barnesandnoble.com/In-the-Woods/Robin-Stevenson/e/9781554692002/?itm=1&usri=in+the+wood+stevenson is a must have for high school libraries. Cameron and his twin sister are as not alike as twins can be. Katie is driven to succeed in both her school work and on the swim team. Cameron struggles to complete his school work and is back riding his bike because of an accident with his mother’s car. He’s home alone with Katie calls and begs him to ride to the park. Katie won’t tell him why, but Cameron responds to the insistence in her voice and sets out in the icy rain. He has just about given up on finding out why his sister made the frantic call when he hears a baby crying. Someone has left a newborn in the park. Everyone – parents, social workers, and the police – are questioning Cameron as to why/how he knew to go to the park at just the right time to find the baby. And soon questions are being asked of Katie as well. Although only 124 pages long, Stevenson develops teenage characters the reader responds to as well as addresses the self preservation/denial stage a teen can go through when unable to face the truth of a pregnancy.

If you are looking for a last minute Christmas gift for the children’s literature lover in your life, consider giving them a copy of Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life edited by Anita Silvey http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Everything-I-Need-to-Know-I-Learned-from-a-Childrens-Book/Anita-Silvey/e/9781596433953/?itm=1&usri=everything+I+need+to+know+I+learned+from+a+children+s+book+silvey Silvey asked a variety of folks, from children’s authors such as Judy Blume, Marc Brown, and Betsy Byars, to the heart surgeon William C. Devries, to the actor Kirk Douglas, to the physics professor Ronald Mallett, to the football player Tiki Barber, as well as many more leaders – “What children’s book changed the way you see the world?” The delight for the reader of this compilation of essays is revisiting well known children’s books such as Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Where-the-Wild-Things-Are/Maurice-Sendak/e/9780060254926/?itm=1&usri=where+the+wild+things+are to meeting characters in books you may not have read such as Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp by Mercer Mayer http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Liza-Lou-and-the-Yeller-Belly-Swamp/Mercer-Mayer/e/9780606115728/?itm=1&usri=liza+lous+swamp+monster This is the perfect book for a lazy evening with a cup of tea or glass of wine and a leisurely literary walk down memory lane. And, a perusal of the list of books addressed in the essays will have you asking yourself how many of them you don’t recognize and when was the last time you read a particular book whose title you do recognize. Hmmm – I wonder where my copy of Robert Kraus’s Leo the Late Bloomer http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Leo-the-Late-Bloomer/Robert-Kraus/e/9781435109919/?itm=1&usri=robert+kraus is. Sadly, his name is misspelled in the “Recommended Booklist”. It is Ruth Krauss, the author of the classic The Carrot Seed http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Carrot-Seed/Ruth-Krauss/e/9780694004928/?itm=1&usri=ruth+krauss whose last name is spelled with 2 s’s. What you may not know, the illustrator of this classic, Crockett Johnson, was Krauss’s husband. Most of Krauss’s 30 books have been reissued, if they ever went out of print. Her ability to connect with the inner child makes her books timeless.

And, that is it for me today. I may not blog often, but when I do – I tend to be wordy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I didn't realize just how much my daughter Mary and my niece Liz look alike until Mary sent me this pic. They even chose the darker rimmed glasses. I wish they lived closer together as I think they would be great friends if they did. Liz, like Mary, is very close to her mom.

Mary is holding McKinley and Liz is holding Kegan. Liz was born about 3 months before Mary and my Mic was born less than two months before Ben, Liz's brother. I spent time at my brother Bob and sister-in-law Lennie's home when our kids were little and my brown eyed, darker haired children looked more like Len's kids and her's like mine as Liz has my coloring. Who knows what the gene pool will do as far as our children are concerned. As they mature we see more of family in them and that makes me feel closer to the loved ones who are no longer with us. Mary looks like me but she is tall and willowy like her paternal aunt Marlene who I think is one of the most beautiful and kind women in the world. I smile to myself as I watch Mary mature into the same kind of woman as her aunt. I guess with the Holiday season approaching I am thinking about family. With both Mom and Dad playing Rummy with Mic in heaven I feel like the only "blood" family I have left is Mary as my brothers are not the kind to stay in touch, though I wish they would. But, not all mothers can say, as I can, that their daughters are not only the joy of their lives but also their best friend, so all things considered I feel blessed.

I just got home from the dentist and trying to sip a soda with half of my mouth numb is quite interesting. So far I haven't dribbled too much. At least this time it was just a filling and not another implant, root canal, or crown. We have spent a lot of money on my mouth in the last couple of years. Guess I inherited Mom's soft teeth. I never knew my mom without dentures as she had all of her teeth pulled years before I was born. No dental care when she grew up so she made sure, no matter how tight money was, that all four kids went to the dentist every year. As children we just don't realize how much our parents sacrificed for us. I am realizing it more and more as I let go of my grief over Mom's death just when we were becoming close and let myself remember what a wonderful, resilient woman she was.  Even though there wasn't much as far as "extras" in our home my mom made sure we always had a bountiful Thanksgiving and Christmas meal. All those hours baking and cooking on the wood stove made our kitchen cozy, or at times downright hot. You did not want to wear a big heavy wool sweater in Mom's kitchen during the Holidays as it was toasty and then some! Sadly, as a child and a teen I was so selfish I never thought to offer to help Mom with any of the preparations and she rarely ever asked for help. But, I knew I would be washing dishes for what seemed like hours after those meals while the boys and any guests for the holiday meal would be in the livingroom watching sports or chatting. The dishes were my job no matter how big or small the meal was.

I am feeling nostalgic all the way around today and listening to Rod Stewart's new CD Soulbook http://music.barnesandnoble.com/Soulbook/Rod-Stewart/e/886973025628/?itm=1  It has so many of my old favorites on it with even a few duets, such as Tracks of My Tears with Smokey Robinson and My Cherie Amour with Stevie Wonder. Right now I'm singing along with Wonderful world. I only sing when I am alone as I can't carry a tune at all.

My students are responding to a set of 10 questions Richard Peck came up with instead of book reports when he was a HS English teacher many years ago. He was at the American Association of School Librarians conference in Charlotte, NC last week and many of my students attended. One of them told him how I use his questions in my YA lit course. I should email him and thank him for making my students think about the YA novels they read from different perspectives. The response essays are a delight to read. These questions could so easily be adapted for children. There are so many ways for a reader to respond to books rather than those awful electronic reading quizzes.

And, Susan Beth Pfeffer's dystopian novels Life as We Knew It http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Life-as-We-Knew-It/Susan-Beth-Pfeffer/e/9780152058265/?itm=1&usri=pfeffer+susan and the dead & the gone http://search.barnesandnoble.com/the-dead-and-the-gone/Susan-Beth-Pfeffer/e/9780152063115/?pwb=1 the second book is the Life As We Knew It set of companion novels are frequently used to answer the Peck question about why a book is set where it is, location or time wise. I really hate to use the term series as to me this means the books are about the same set of characters, but B&N online notes the dead & the gone as Life as We Knew It #2. (I dislike when titles are all in lower case.) I checked the Library of Congress cataloging information on the verso and sure enough, even lower case here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Well, I have spent the hours since I blogging last working on the article on booktalking and I am a bit saddened by the lack of support I see in the data from HS teachers for booktalking. Most of them did enjoy listening to the booktalks and do see booktalking as an effective reading incentive activity but only a couple of them actually said they might try it themselves. I hope my YA lit students are proactive and go out there and train more booktalkers at the schools they become school librarians in. At UHCL we made YA lit a required course of alternative licensure students getting secondary certification and what a great group of students they were to teach. I loved seeing these guys start out with their arms crossed and "yeah-right!" looks on their face to emailing me after they had classrooms of their own to tell me how they were booktalking in their classrooms. I loved it!
And, since I was a bit frustrated after I finished the rough draft of the article I started going through picture books as I knew there was no way I could stay grumpy if I read picture books. :-)

With Halloween tomorrow I had to read a book about owls. My all time favorite owl book is Jane Yolen's Owl Moon http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Owl-Moon/Jane-Yolen/e/9780399214578/?itm=1&USRI=owl+moon It is both the rhythmic text and the wonderful snowy night illustrations by John Schoenherr that makes this the most wonderful father and daughter story for those of us who grew up in cold country where we were so bundled up that we could hardly walk, but would have walked through the snow as long as needed to spend time with our fathers. This may be set it New England, but it may as well have been the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I grew up where the Great Horned Owl hoot can also be heard in the dead of the night.

I have found a new beloved title in Jennifer A. Ericsson's Whoo Goes There? illustrated by Bert Kitchen. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Whoo-Goes-There/Jennifer-A-Ericsson/e/9781596433717/?itm=1&usri=whoo+goes+there+ericsson As with Owl Moon B&N indicates ages 4-8 for this book but I am a lot older than that and this one stays with me! I will share it with lots of folks, old and young, but I won't give my copy to anyone. The illustrations are so beautiful I thought of buying another copy so I could frame some of them. The predictable text is an absolute delight - Owl is listening and watching for his evening meal. He is hoping for a mouse but it turns out to be a slinking Siamese cat - not a fit dinner for Owl. Something moving under the brush - perhaps a squirrel for dinner but it is a skunk - Owl didn't want skunk for his dinner. And so the evening goes as Owl predicts what the sound might mean but he is wrong each time and the man scares him away and little mouse can find his evening meal. A wonderful title for teaching little ones about the various animals who search for food at night as well as prediction skills. A must have for every primary school collection and public library. What a great storytime book to support the science curriculum or just as a fun Autumn read.

I really did want to like it, but Tim Hopgood's Wow! Said the Owl http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Wow-Said-the-Owl/Tim-Hopgood/e/9780374385187/?itm=1&usri=wow+said+the+owl is not going to be on my recommended. list. I have real problems with books that are meant to teach colors and they are not clearly the color indicated. The pink looks lavender to me and the orange ranges from almost red to gold. When teaching little ones colors we need to have very true colors and these are not. The indigo looks black and the red looks orange and I just ended up being frustrated. I will not share this one with my grandchildren as they will as confused as I am by how these colors came about.

And, since I was feeling grumpy I just had to add The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrated by Andrew Joyner  http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Terrible-Plop/Ursula-Dubosarsky/e/9780374374280/?itm=1&usri=terrible+plopto my reading pile because the grumpy bear on the front reflected how I was feeling. But, soon I was laughing out loud at all of the animals running for fear of the Terrible PLOP! The rabbits were dining on chocolate cake and carrots by the lake when they heard the Terrible PLOP! And off they went, just like Henny Penny and her fear of the sky falling, in fear of the Terrible PLOP! The rhyming text is as delightful as the illustrations. "Up jump the rabbits ' Hop, hop, hop! They shout to each other, "Run! Don't stop! We must get away From the Terrible PLOP!" Bear is not happy about having his time in the sun being interrupted so he grabs the slowest little bunny by the ears and insists he sees where the terrible PLOP! happened. So, there they are at the lake, the apple swaying in the breeze when it happens again. The little bunny knows what caused the Terrible PLOP! but Bear is on the run in abject fear. It is hilarious and a great companion to other books that address the "sky is falling" wherever it happens to be!

They are all boy! Kegan is sitting on big brother Michael's back. Wish they lived closer so I could see them all dressed up for Halloween. I need to remind Mary she needs to take pictures of all three kids in costume.

Too bad today is not trick or treat day as we are supposed to have temperatures as high as the low 70s today. It is already 65 this early in the morning. But, then it will get cold and rainy. Perhaps a duck costume! I love Halloween and have the Today Show on because they are all dressed up as characters from Star Wars. Al Roker said he saw Star Wars three times in the same day when it first came out. In some ways it is difficult to watch this as Mic was an avid Star Wars fan and had just about every figure and prop there was. Sadly, we sold them at a garage sale when we left Alaska. I would love to have all of that now. Hindsight is always 20/20. No matter what generation you are from you know recognize the major Star Wars characters. Yoda is my favorite.

We had a wonderful chat with Suzanne Crowley last night. It was very clear she had done her research for The Stolen One http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Stolen-One/Suzanne-Crowley/e/9780061232008/?itm=1&USRI=stolen+one+crowley  and we were all intrigued by the details. Imagine an entire warehouse next to the wharf to store Queen Elizabeth's close to 2,000 gowns. Many of them were encrusted with real jewels. Not Halloween costumes I'd like to wear though I love the elaborate costumes of Tudor England. It is unusual for an author to have input as to the cover art for their books, but Crowley chose the dress and even got to keep the gorgeous necklace. She has begun to collect pears, which do have a role of their own in The Stolen One. Wild red-haired Kat never met her parents, but she knows she isn't ready to settle down as the wife of a local farmer. She escapes to London, taking her less than willing sister along, playing the role of her maid. Soon Kat is one of the Queen's maids of honor and a confidant to Elizabeth. The rumors swirl through court that she is the illegitimate daughter of the Queen. Kat is in more danger than she realizes. Fans of historical fiction will be right there with Kat due to the lush descriptions of the settings and the wardrobes of the characters. When booktalking this novel, I wouldn't even say it is historical fiction - I'd focus on Kat and her quest to find out why her adoptive mother will not talk about her birth parents and the dangers she faces at court. Booktalks with teens is all about finding an element of the book that relates to teens today and that can be done with any genre, including historical fiction. There are plenty of teenage girls who will relate to feisty Kat.

Crowley's family history suggests that she is a descendent of Lady Jane Grey who was beheaded. Ann Rinaldi's Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Nine-Days-a-Queen/Ann-Rinaldi/e/9780060549237/?pwb=2  would be a good compliment to The Stolen One. Offer it to the readers who bring back Crowley's book and want to read more about the Tudors. Jane Grey lived during the reign of Henry the VIII and lived in his court, developing a close relationship Katherine Parr and playing with Elizabeth and Edward. The intrigue of the Tudor court is fascinating and to think that if Elizabeth had been crowned queen instead of Jane Grey, and beheaded just days after being crowned queen, the future of England would have been drastically changed. I read Rinaldi's book when it came out in 2005 and I was fascinated by the intrigue and how the members of the court could start a rumor and destroy a life.

All of the cool costumes on the Today Show has me thinking of costumes for kids. A great book character Halloween costume would be Olivia, from Ian Falconer's delight series of books about a vivacious and imaginative young pig, http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=falconer+olivia&box=falconer%20olivia&pos=-1  There are several picture books and board books to introduce your own vivacious little girl to Olivia. My granddaughter McKinley would be a very good Olivia as I can see her drawing all over the walls and trying on every outfit in her closet as she gets ready for school. Falconer used red as the only color in the first Olivia title and focuses on a different color in each book. A great set of books to introduce colors to preschoolers.

So, when I saw the cover of Trouble Gum by Matthew Cordell http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=trouble+gum+cordell&box=trouble%20gum%20cordell&pos=-1 I immediately thought of Falconer's books as it is illustrated in a very similar minimalist style and has a very feisty piglet main character. We now have a little boy piglet book for the boys who don't want to been seen with the Olivia books. Ruben is bored because it is raining outside. Mom tells him to go play with his little brother Julius and his cars. He proceeds to be a very loud ambulance and mother asked him to be quieter. But that doesn't deter Ruben for entertaining himself, if not Julius. His red Superpig cape does not keep him from landing with a THUMP! on a small couch pillow when he leaps off the arm of couch. Julius, in his round frame glasses, just quietly sit by and watches his older brother's antics. Of course, Grammy had an answer - GUM! Ruben teaches Julius how to chew gum with a smak, smak, smak while laying down, balancing on his head, etc. And, of course he swallows it. Mom said no more but Grammy reminds her that she too swallowed her gum when she was a piglet so Ruben was given another piece. Ruben's further antics will elicit giggles and even a few snort laughs from you and the youngsters you share this book with. And, of course there is a bubble disaster with Ruben delightfully shouting, "GUM!".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Isn't this just the cutest picture of Michael, McKinley and Kegan at the pumpkin patch? Well, Kegan looks like he may be sitting on a pumpkin stem, but I still love it! It wasn't long after this picture was taken that WI had a dusting of snow. BRRR!!
We are having wonderful weather in Lexington, but I am in no shape to enjoy it. Lucky me - I caught the flu from a guy next to me at physical therapy last Friday who was snuffling and coughing and then literally sneezed on me! When that happened I had a feeling it was going to be a lost cause and it was. I am starting to feel a bit better, but just taking a shower wore me out. I can't imagine being a child and feeling like an elephant sat on you. Mary said Michael has been sick with this wicked flu and said he was too sore to walk. Poor kiddo. On top of the flu he has been having nose bleeds from the cold dry weather in Green Bay.

Speaking of Michael, his teacher told Mary he is the second best reader in his First Grade class. Happy Gramma!! Her Parent Teacher conference was the same day of the book fair (Of course - smart librarian!) and Mary treated Michael to two new books. She has fallen in love with The Library Lion by Michelle Knudson and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Library-Lion/Michelle-Knudsen/e/9780763622626/?pwb=2  I don't know where my copy is, but I would never have given away a book both about a lion and the library. Mary is so enchanted with the illustrations that she has claimed ownership of this one and doesn't mind reading it over and over again. The other book Michael picked out is Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton, http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Splat-the-Cat/Rob-Scotton/e/9780060831547/?itm=1&usri=splat+the+cat  which is quite hilarious. I need to send Michael a copy of Merry Christmas, Splat http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Merry-Christmas-Splat/Rob-Scotton/e/9780060831608/?itm=2&usri=splat+the+cat  as I love any Christmas book and a book about a this funny cat and Christmas. What could be better?

Speaking of Christmas, Steve did the sweetest thing for me last night. He had to run to the store and when I went to crawl back into bed there was a very large lump in my side of the bed. Warming my side of the bed was the cutest stuffed Christmas moose you've ever seen. He has the plaid flannel ear-flap caps that many a male Finn wore when I was growing up. It made me think of my dad and uncles as they got ready to go deer hunting, all bundled up. Never could figure out how they walked in all those clothes! So Merry Moose and I spent the day in bed emailing students about their Spring 2010 course schedules. Out of the corner of my eye I was watching a day long marathon of my favorite 1980s TV series with Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman - Beauty and the Beast http://video.barnesandnoble.com/DVD/Beauty-and-the-Beast-The-Complete-Series/Ron-Perlman/e/097361377643/?itm=1&usri=beauty+and+the+beast  I remember avidly watching this on my roommate's tiny little b/w TV while I was going to school for my MLS at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. I'd love to have my own copy of the series as it is such a cool show! I just can't see Ron Pearlman as Hellboy as he will always be the lion-like Vincent to me. I'd take a small DVD player and this series with me on a vacation for sure.

I noted that I mentioned Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Hunger-Games/Suzanne-Collins/e/9780439023481/?itm=2&usri=hunger+games  in my last post. I have the perfect book to suggest to the readers who want another book like it - Maurice Gee's Salt http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Salt/Maurice-Gee/e/9781554692095/?itm=1&usri=salt+gee . This fascinating dystopian tale published by Orca will reach stores this month. This is the first title in a trilogy by a New Zealand author who has many accolades and has come out of retirement to write this trilogy. It took less than a handful of pages for me to be hooked as I could visualize the dark and brutal world of the Burrows where the dark skinned folks like Hari and his father fought for every bite of food and every bit of warmth. Hari often snuck into the Company compounds to spy on the families who ate their fill and dressed in sumptuous clothes, not rags. It is when Hari's father is captured and sent to the Salt that Hari sets out on a journey to rescue his father. At the same time, Radiant Pearl of the Deep Blue Sea was fleeing from an arranged marriage to a despicable older man, Ottmar of the Salt. It is the mysterious Tealeaf, who used her powers to ensure Radiant chose her as her maid years before and trained the young girl to defend herself, who leads her young charge away from the privileged life. As the reader anticipates, the two teens end up together as they escape poverty and privilege and join forces to rescue the men who have been sent to mine an ore that can destroy with just a few drops, but also eats away at the men who dig for it. Once you begin reading Salt, there is no way to not keep reading as you have to know if Hari rescues his father and if the two young people will overcome their differences. Now I have to wait for volume 2!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

About right now I wish I had McKinley's pigtail hat! BRRR!! We are looking at 40s tonight and high 50s tomorrow. I actually turned on the heat in the house a bit ago as it got so chilly in here. I am bundled up with a heating pad on my knee and an afghan and I hear the heat kicking on again. YES!!

I am now over my snit after a not so great news appointment at the orthopedic surgeon's office today. Not only did I have to sit in a waiting room full of sniffling and coughing fellow patients I also sat for way too long in a freezing cold examing room. The knee surgery was a bit more complicated than cleaning up a meniscus tear due to a growth that was impacting the kneecap and had to be removed. Between that and the slow healing normal for a fibromyalgia sufferer, I am looking at another month of physical therapy along with limited walking and standing. So, I won't be taking a long walk through the neighborhood to enjoy the Autumn color as the leaves will have fallen before I get the possible go ahead in late October or early November. At least Steve and I can take a relaxing drive along the backroads down to the KY river to enjoy the Autumn colors.

I took my first "big outing" since the surgery yesterday and attended a writer's workshop lead by Ellen Hopkins, YA author of Crank, http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Crank/Ellen-Hopkins/e/9780689865190/?itm=1&USRI=crank+hopkins Glass http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Glass/Ellen-Hopkins/e/9781416940913/?itm=1&usri=g and the not yet published final book about her own daughter's meth addiction.  She was very open about her daughter's addiction and how it has impacted the family. It was heartbreaking to listen to her talk. Mic died in hiking accident and I thought I would die for a long time. I still miss him every day of my life but I cannot imagine watching my child kill herself a little bit at a time each day. She asked us to do a bit of writing of our own and I actually got the writing bug again as I used to write poetry before I began teaching at the university level and writing professional materials. I even bought a small spiral bound notebook to try writing poetry again. Don't know if I will have much time to write poetry as I am always behind with work due to my inability to work the long hours I used to. Brain stops working so much quicker these days.
We all received signed copies of Tricks http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Tricks/Ellen-Hopkins/e/9781416950073/?itm=1&usri=t written in her signature poetry style, that tells the story of a group of teens who find themselves selling themselves into prostitution. I have read about 1/2 of it already - I stayed up last night until I couldn't keep my eyes open as it is so good. I am feeling maternal toward these teens and would like to give their fictional parents a piece of my mind! I took a picture of her with my cell phone but I haven't figured out how to get it onto my laptop yet.

My students have been emailing me about the second Suzanne Collins title Catching Fire http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Catching-Fire/Suzanne-Collins/e/9780439023498/?itm=1 which I don't seem to have a review copy of it or I would have read it immediately as I loved Hunger Games http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Hunger-Games/Suzanne-Collins/e/9780439023481/?itm=2 I enjoyed getting to know Katniss, a strong a fiery female character living in a dystopian world that should scare us all silly.
With that book in mind I went looking for my copy of Margaret Wild and Anne Spudvilas' Woolvs in the Sitee http://www.amazon.com/Woolvs-Sitee-Margaret-Wild/dp/1590785002/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254270204&sr=8-1 which is one of the creepiest dytopian futuristic picture books I've ever read/viewed. The stark illustrations draw me back to them over and over again. They portray a young boy who fears the wolves in the city, who aren't the 4 legged kind who roam the woods, but the ones who stalk the remaining humans when they venture into the city streets. He writes on the walls in phonetic spelling that often takes some thought to decipher. The boy's upstairs neighbor, an elderly woman, rushes out to get him when he thinks he sees bloo sky that, instead, turns out to be a painted wall that is quickly turning black. The old woman then disappears and he goes in search of her, leaving the reader to only imagine what happened to both of them. This is one of those picture books you would never give to a child as it is more horrific than any scary tale about a folklorish witch.

Which, of course, brings me to Arthur Yorinks' The Witch's Child illustrated by Jos. A. Smith. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Witchs-Child/Arthur-Yorinks/e/9780810993495/?itm=1&usri=w This is the book that sits next to the above YA level picture book.  Again, another picture book I would not share with young children. Upper elementary, yes, but not little ones. They'd be scared silly that a witch would turn them into thorny bushes! Smith's illustrations are beyond creepy in detail and nature. Let's just say the ending to the witch is similar to the Hansel and Gretel folktale with the witch's child being adopted by the little girl's parents. A little girl brave enought to enter the witch's house and try to mend the witch's child, a child of straw and leaves that even a lonely witch could not bring to life, but the love of a little girl could. There is a reason these two 2007 titles are still sitting on my bookshelf - they are ones I could not bear to give away. Nor will I!

My NCIS is over and Ziva is back home where she is supposed to be so all is right in my TV world. I have not decided if I like the California version with Chris O'Donnell yet. One week wasn't enough to draw me in but I plan to give it a chance. But it doesn't have Mark Harmon so how could it match up? :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

I think Kegan and McKinley are going to be as close as my Mic and Mary were as kids. These two are even closer in age and McKinley already has Kegan and her older brother Michael wrapped around her little finger. Well, for that matter, her Mom and Dad too! Mary said they are now getting their summer weather. She called me yesterday from the park and she was in shorts and a tank top.

It has gotten chilly here in Lexington due to all the rain we have been getting. But, the flowers and wild strawberries in the front flower bed are growing like crazy. Steve picked a bunch of the tiny strawberries for me. They bring back memories of picking them as a kid and my mom making a white cake and covering the white frosting with the tiny berries. The coup was to find the first ripe ones so Mom could bring the cake to the St. John's Day celebration in late June. Summer came slowly to Upper Michigan - perhaps not as slowly as to Finland but my grandparents brought many of the celebrations with them.

I've been reading The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Blue-Zones/Dan-Buettner/e/9781426204005/?itm=3&USRI=blue+zone. I found out about this book from Veronica, one of the other LS professors at ECU whose husband is Greek. One of the Blue Zones is a Greek island, very near to the one Nick grew up on. One of the secrets to a long life is "Your Tribe" - in other words, your family and close friends. I did not realize what a close knit tribe I grew up in. My dad and his brother married my mom and her sister so my cousins are double first cousins and the two families grew up together. I was the youngest so I missed out on many of the activities but it just seemed normal for my mom and Aunt Ruth to be together. Their friends were people my dad had grown up with as both families settled in the same little area. I have come to realize I have missed out on so much by leaving my tribe behind when my kids' dad wanted to move as far away as possible and that was Alaska. So now I am rethinking this whole tribe thing and how those close connections are what may be why my parents' generation were as healthy as they were.

Speaking of the Zone, many of us grew up watching Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, which to me is much scarier than the blood and gore movies of today. There is no skill in scaring an audience by cutting people into piece with blood spurting everywhere. But, to scare viewers with the possibility that the person sitting next to you in that little diner may actually be a Martian in disguise and the cook is from Venus, is a gift. Mark Kneece, one of the founders of the Sequential Art Department at Savannah College of Art and Design, has brought 8 of the Twilight Zone episodes back to life via graphic novels that will appeal to readers from upper elementary through adult. This series, including Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone: Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Twilight-Zone/Rod-Serling/e/9780802797278/?itm=2 which spooked me when I saw it years ago and again in this graphic novel. Give these to the resistant reader boys and they will be asking for each one. I hope Kneece adds to this series as it will be very popular and 8 books isn't going to be enough.

Although I was not impressed with Nuggest on the Flight Deck by Patricia Newman, with colored pencil illustrations by Aaron Zenz, I am still very aware that it will be popular with elementary age boys http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Nugget-on-the-Flight-Deck/Patricia-Newman/e/9780802797353/?itm=1&usri=n They will be delighted with the detailed drawings and enjoy the jargon used on an aircraft carrier. Nugget is the term used for a new aviator on his first tour of duty, but the illustrations make him look like an upper elementary age boy, rather than a young cadet. Young readers may think it odd that a boy is taken on a training mission. Nevertheless, it is still worth purchasing for the military and jet avid young readers.

Since the inception of Harry Potter there have been a lot of dragon focused fantasy for middle grade readers, but Shadow of the Dragon, Book 1: Kira by Kate O'Hearn is a bit unique in that it is set in a kingdom where girls must be married at age 13 and they certainly cannot have anything to do with dragons, which are trained and used by the king's army. Kira is a feisty 12 year old who is fascinated by dragons but not by the idea of being married. When Lord Dorcon, her father's nemesis, arrives at their farm to collect the family, Kira and her little sister Elspeth escape, but the middle daughter does not and is thrown into prison with the other girls who the king plans to starve to death. Kira's father and brother are forced to join the army. Not about to accept defeat at the hands of girls, Lord Dorcon continues to search for the girls, driving them into the mountains ruled by a rouge dragon. Their fate changes when they find an infant dragon who grows to allow Kira to ride him. With the help of a wizard, the sisters intend on rescuing their sister. A fun read. Upper elementary and MS readers will be impatiently waiting for the next book, which focuses on Elspeth. O'Hearn's debut novel will be enjoyed by fantasy readers who may have the same dream of riding a dragon that the author had, but she was vicariously riding between the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Isn't McKinley adorable? Mary says she'll add a pink bow or something to the costume so it is clear she's a little girl. Wish I could be there to see the kids all dressed up for Halloween. I had as much fun on Halloween as my kids as back then I dressed as a witch (green face and all) and had a cauldron and turned out the lights and read or told scary stories in the elementary school library. Sure can't do that anymore! Now it is a harvest festival and no Halloween type decorations. Need to find the lighted jack-o-lantern for the front porch. I am buying Halloween candy I can't eat or else I will!

I played flamingo (my bad left leg up with my foot on my other ankle) while holding onto the counter tops as I made chili for dinner. I was in the mood to cook and that is very unusual for me so I ignored not being allowed to stand for any length of time on my left leg as I was going to cook. I am paying for it now as my knee is hurting like Hades but I am not taking anything stronger than Advil as I have to keep myself awake until 12:30 a.m. and set an alarm for 6:30 a.m. so I get a max of 6 hours of "bed time" for the next 5 nights. I am seeing a cognitive/pain doc to help deal with the fibromyalgia insomnia and pain. He assures me that if I am willing to give this the 5 days of 6 hours and then add a 1/2 hour until I am past the number of hours I need I will not need to take sleep meds. and I'll get more "refreshing" sleep. He swears that they have a 97% success rate with this technique and biofeedback with fibro patients. Since I am more than tired of hurting 24/7 I am willing to try most anything. Acupuncture only worked for a few weeks as the fibro pain got smart and just moved from the area he was working on.

So, I stopped at Barnes and Noble and picked up Dan Brown's Lost Symbol http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Lost-Symbol/Dan-Brown/e/9780385504225/?itm=1 I had read both previous books about Langdon long before the movies so I was really disappointed to have Tom Hanks play him as Hanks just doesn't live up to the good looking young guy I had in my mind! I am interested to see if I now see Tom Hanks in my mind as I read this. Hopefully I can stay awake until after midnight by reading this.

I also picked up a copy of the graphic novel of The Gunslinger Born http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Dark-Tower/Peter-David/e/9781615531318/?itm=1&usri=1 which was on sale for less than $7 so I didn't think I could go wrong as I loved Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Again, I read it when it first came out so I've forgotten much of it but it will be interesting to see if the illustrations work for me. This graphic novel series is a gotta have for HS level graphic novel collections and at $7 it is a bargain! I'll write more about it when I finish reading/viewing it.

We all know that Stephen King writes really creepy horror that gets into your head and does not want to leave. Another author, who is incredibly gifted in creating dialog and narrative that makes the reader look behind him/her to see if the creepy character is Neil Gaiman. Lots of discussion about The Graveyard Book http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Graveyard-Book/Neil-Gaiman/e/9780060530921/?itm=1&usri=1 which to me is very much a MS level book and isn't one I'd hand to an elementary school student. But, that Newbery designation causes many librarians and teachers to misjudge this book as a children's book. It is pure creepy tween reading. Perfect to create an October book display around. He has also taken on the Norse mythology I grew up with in his Odd and the Frost Giants http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Odd-and-the-Frost-Giants/Neil-Gaiman/e/9780061671739/?itm=1&usri=1 Don't let the short length trick you into believing it isn't a sophisticated story even though it seems quite simple and easy to read. Odd is a young boy lamed in an accident while trying to use his deceased father's cross-saw. Odd states things as he sees them - simple yet confusing! It is his blunt look at the world and his simple logic that saves him from forever being lost in the world of the Norse gods. Although the reviews suggest ages 8-12, this is one I would suggest MS teachers read aloud when studying mythology as it is an absolute delight.

Since I started out talking about Halloween, I need to end on that note with the boootifully delightful Never Say Boo! by Robin Pulver and illustrated by Deb Lucke http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Never-Say-Boo/Robin-Pulver/e/9780823421107/?itm=1&usri=1 Poor Gordon - his ghostly parents have moved in the abandoned house across the street from the elementary school and have insisted he attend. But, his fellow classmates are more than a little scared of him. "Bummer!" as Gordon will say more than once. He has a blood curdling "BOO!" but knows better than to open his mouth, even when the teacher, Ms. Boodle, starts asking questions for which the answers all start with boo, including boomerang and booster. His haunted lunchbox is not a big hit, but Gordon saves the day when there is a fire in the school. Well, let's just say he wasn't booed for his "BOO!" that cleared the school. :-) Lucke's illustrations are as funny as the text as poor Gordon's teeth keep falling out of his mouth and he has a scar on his head similar to Frankenstein's monster. I know, I know - no Halloween books during story time in the school library, but at least this is a gotta have for the picture book collection. And, what a fun way to introduce words that start with boo.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Isn't she the most beautiful child you have ever seen? Well, I may be a bit prejudice as I am her Gramma, but this pic of McKinley is my screen saver. She has the same fine, white-blonde hair that I had as a child. Her mom's wasn't quite that blonde but she was a towhead as well. I have the weather for here in Lexington, Mary's Green Bay, and our, hopefully, next home, Ft. Lauderdale on my main page to compare the weather. It is as beautiful in Green Bay today as it is in both Lexington and Ft. Lauderdale, though not quite as warm. Perhaps Mary has taken the kids to the park again while the weather is nice. Winter will arrive in Green Bay way too soon. Hopefully we'll have this warm Autumn weather for awhile yet. I'd like to be able to take a walk in the neighborhood after the trees change, but my knee won't allow that yet.

Speaking of weather - I just received a copy of Mitzi's World: Seek and Discover More Than 150 Details in 15 Works of Folk Art by Deborah Raffin and illustrated by Jane Wooster Scott. The folk art depicts the seasons in the detail rich Americana folk art. I like the winter scenes best, even if I only like to look at snow from behind a window pane these days. Hopefully we won't get ice storms here this winter. Mitzi is a little white and black dog that kids, and adults, will enjoy finding in the illustrations, along with lots of other listed items. I am not a Waldo or I Spy fan but I do like this book. I like to look at the art even without trying to find the items listed. The only thing the kids might find confusing is that there are 15 illustrations but the last page states "And now a new year begins". Nevertheless, this is a wonderful book to curl up under a blanket with a child as the rain or snow blows outside.

My adult reading as of late has been Wild Women and Books: Bibliophiles, Bluestockings, and Prolific Pens from Aphra Behn to Zora Neale Hurston and from Anne Rice to the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Brenda Knight. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Wild-Women-and-Books/Brenda-Knight/e/9781573242714/?itm=1 A very interesting set of short biographical essays about female writers from religious zealots to cult favorites like Anne Rice who arrived to an event in a hearse. J. K. Rowling is included as well as Laura Ingalls Wilder as far as authors with child appeal. I don't agree with Knight's list of "Other Beloved Children's Authors" as it includes Anne McCaffrey who is an adult author with teen/tween appeal. She listed Beatrix Potter but does not highlight her; that is a disappointment. But, at least the list includes Judy Blume.

I am listening to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Picture-of-Dorian-Gray/Oscar-Wilde/e/9781556852534/?itm=1&usri=1. I read it years ago as a teen but listening to it has been very entertaining, especially Lord Henry's witty, but cutting, anti-female comments, which are down right funny when heard rather read.

What would people today sell their soul to the devil for? Well, how about a 1958 Cadillac? That is exactly what happens to Eunice, aka Bug, a multiracial girl whose grandfather made a deal for his soul, and his granddaughter's. He may have died but somehow he beat the devil and now he's come to El Paso to collect on Bug's soul. She isn't about to give it, or her Cadillac, up to Beals, who is tied to the car. Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Soul-Enchilada/David-Macinnis-Gill/e/9780061673016/?itm=1&usri=1 is wickedly funny and very much an urban tale. He pulls no punches as far as the gross out factor or Bug's gritty language, but you have to keep reading to find out if Bug, with the help of Pesto, a car wash manager who is also an agent for the ISIS, International Supernatural Immigration Service, figures out a way out of the contract her grandfather signed. Now I have to tell you - I sure wouldn't sell my soul for a Cadillac - it would be more like a Jaguar!! No - I am just kidding!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I felt like I had let my "baby" go out into the world when I dropped my tenure portfolio off at UPS to be sent to ECU today. A 4" high binder full of examples of my professional life/contributions since August 2006. Hard to believe I am beginning my 4th academic year at East Carolina University. Seems like yesterday that I attended all those "new faculty" meetings and realized why it is good idea to stay at one university long term - you only have to attend those once! :-) But, now maybe I can catch up a few things and actually enjoy life for a bit even if I am stuck sitting with a heating pad on my knee. I have migrated from the bedroom to the recliner in the living room - I feel less like an invalid out here and can look out at the ferns swaying in the breeze on the back deck and the plum tree we planted when we first moved in, which is growing like a bad weed. Thank goodness for small laptops. I absolutely love this little Dell Latitude E4200 - it is bigger than the small notebooks but so much lighter than the average laptops and I really don't mind the smaller screen. It is small enough that I don't even have to put any pressure on my left knee when I sit with it.

Trying to catch up on email and saw that Reading Rainbow is going off the air. Not enough funds to continue airing it. Here's a bit of the quote from NPR http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112312561

The show's run is ending, Grant explains, because no one — not the station, not PBS, not the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — will put up the several hundred thousand dollars needed to renew the show's broadcast rights.
Grant says the funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration, he explains, which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling.
Grant says that PBS, CPB and the Department of Education put significant funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read — but that's not what Reading Rainbow was trying to do. "Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read," Grant says. "You know, the love of reading — [the show] encouraged kids to pick up a book and to read."

For those of you who know me, you can probably hear me grinding my teeth and growling at the shift to telling kids what to read and how many points a book is worth based on the often incorrect reading level and how everything is standardized test focused these days. The way kids become better readers is to read, for pleasure, and by selecting books they want to read, even if the books are below or above their supposed reading level determined by a test. I'd love to see someone do a reading level test on a paragraph of a limited text book about dinosaurs - the one that has all the dinosaur names in it and then tell me that a primary age boy can't read this book because it is above his reading level. Heck - the Kindergarten-2nd grade boys used to help me pronounce the names - they even know how to spell them. Delight in reading comes from reading what interests us. But, I have sung this song before and am sad to see a beloved show that actually encouraged the love of reading to be let go like this.

Some of you may recognize Susanne Dunlap's name from her adult historical fiction novels - several of them that look very interesting. But, I was pulled in by the lovely illustraqtion on the cover of her first YA novel, published by Bloomsbury, The Musician's Daughter http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Musicians-Daughter/Susanne-Dunlap/e/9781599903323/?itm=1 - a young woman with what looks to be a violin in her hands, but the character of this book, fifteen-year-old Theresa Marie has learned how to play the viola. It is 18th century Vienna and her father has been found dead in a Gypsy camp on Christmas Eve, his beloved violin gone. With her mother pregnant and a younger brother who is as hungry as she is, Theresa goes to her Godfather, none other than the composer Hayden, for assistance. He hires her to create the sheet music as he composes as he can no longer see well enough to do it on his own. Young women of her day do not go out alone, but she is determined to solve the mystery of who killed her father and where his violin is and in the process puts herself and her younger brother in grave danger. This is a historical mystery that will pique the interest of possible female musicians and those who like historical romance, as there is a bit of that as well. Yes, some of the incidents appear to be a bit stretched, but that's part of what historical fiction does - takes real people and creates a new story around them, while being seeped in historical setting accuracy. And, as far as the musical accuracy I wouldn't know if something was wrong as I have no musical talent or knowledge, but I trust Dunlap to have gotten it correct as she has a PhD in music history from Yale! From her website, it looks like she has another YA novel coming out soon in March 2010, Anastasia's Secret http://www.susannedunlap.com/Susanne_Dunlap/Home.html

My grandson Michael started his first day of First Grade today and was not the least bit happy about being back at school from what my daughter Mary said. Hopefully that will change as he gets back into the school focused schedule of the academic year. Maybe he feels a bit like the kids in many of the poems in Laura Purdie Salas's Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Stampede/Laura-Purdie-Salas/e/9780618914883/?itm=1&usri=1. The rhythm and the rhyme of the poems will make them great fun to read aloud to elementary age students. Lots of the issues addressed, such as not having done your homework and getting lost in the school, are topics that cross all age levels, but the bold illustrations by Steven Salerno make this more appropriate for primary grades, though I am sure some of the older elementary students will also enjoy the poems. Love all the illustrations except for the one for "New Mouse" about getting lost in the maze of hallways. The other illustrations are appropriate to the elementary school environment, but this one shows a maze with arrows pointing to rooms such as Woodshop, History, and French - none of which would be found in elementary schools even though the mouse girl illustrated is of elementary age. The one thing I do like about this particular illustration is that Salerno uses the term Library rather than media center, a term I really detest, especially since in most school libraries the students are not allowed to check out any of the media! Order this one rebound as the trade edition is so poorly bound a child could easily stick a pencil under the binding string and pop it. One circulation and that would be it if first checked out by the inquisitive child who wants to see what happens if the string in the book is broken. If you can't find a rebound edition it would be worth adding to your own collection for storytime.

And one other gripe - children's picture books normally have the same illustration on the book itself as on the dust jacket, but if an elementary librarian wants to save money by taking the jacket off and processing the book without it, the author and illustrator information is no longer accessible to the children, nor is the book blurb. I wish they'd be "forced" to keep the dust jacket on as is the case with most YA and adult hardbacks as the book itself is not illustrated and a blank cover with the title on the spine only will not pique a potential reader's attention as did the cover art of The Musician's Daughter for me.

That's it for today - back to over flowing email inbox. I haven't checked my yahoo email in weeks so if you sent me an email there, bear with me. I have to catch up with ECU email first.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm sitting on the bed with heat on my knee (instead of ice now) watching Ted Kennedy's funeral. We watched the "wake" at the JFK Library last night. I laughed and cried and truly tired myself out. Many of us vicariously grew up with the Kennedy family. I don't remember a time when there wasn't a Kennedy in the news. I've always had a fascinating with Jackie Kennedy and how she lived her life in the years after JFK died, including being a well thought of editor. It isn't just the Kennedy born who are incredible in their own way, it is the women and men they choose to marry and the children they bear. I hope Teddy's sons will carry on their father's work and all will continue the family expectation of public service of some type.

Sophie has gotten used to sleeping on her own blanket on the bed as I do my "elevation" time. Cats can snore almost as loud as humans! But, we've put a lot of hours in together here on this bed. When I saw the surgeon earlier this week he prescribed another 3-5 weeks of limited use of my left knee. The physical therapist wasn't as optimistic as he measured it, saw the amount of swelling, and the limited movement. He predicted 5-6 weeks at best if I behave myself. Well, that is not so easy to do when creating the 3# binder full of "stuff" that has to go in when going up for tenure. The sections are spread out across the dining room table. Steve can't believe that I am expected to create such a "scrapbook" to prove my worth when it is all cited on my vita and my Cumulative Annual Review form. Honestly, nor can I, but academia is a world unto itself!

I did take a break or two when I hit "brain dead" from all the work on the grant and the tenure portfolio to escape with a Fern Michael Sisterhood novel, Under the Radar http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Under-the-Radar/Fern-Michaels/e/9781420106831/?itm=1 I'm amazed that there are 13 titles in this series. No wonder I was surprised by the relationships of the Sisters as I have only read a handful of them, though I'd like to sit and read the rest of them in order to see how the heck the relationships occurred. This was not one of my favorites because it was a bit too "in your face" for me in relation to how they treated the older women in the polygamist cult they raided to rescue the young pregnant brides of the leader.

Steve is home from the gym and has the grill heated for lunch so I will close for now. Sorry - no young adult book or children's as I am not in my office where I love being surrounded by books. Next time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I make great resolutions that I will blog more often and I swear the more I "resolute" the less I blog. So, I am going to only say that I will try and see if that helps. What got me going this a.m. was an exploration of the Monday, August 17th issue of USA Today and finding an article on books and gaming. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2009-08-16-shadow-complex_N.htm. Lots of hot links in the article so I had to warn myself not to start exploring or I would still be "exploring". Teens may not be big newspaper readers, but articles like this one can be highlighted as "today's cool newspaper article". Add USA Today as a favorite on the computers in the library - http://www.usatoday.com/ We can bemoan the fact that teens don't read the newspaper, but rather than "accepting" this bad news about teens, make the newspaper a source of what they want! Show them its link to their online world of gaming and social networking.

I love USA Today and am always delighted when it is the newspaper outside the hotel room door and it was at the Sheraton in Kansas City. I am just now getting to read it though. Very interesting article "A 'Complex' road to the game world: Designer, book author team up". I had to read it as there is a cover art shot of Orson Scott Card's Empire http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Empire/Orson-Scott-Card/e/9780765355225/?itm=2#TABS This futuristic novel about the American Empire, and what can happen when the vicious fighting between the right and the left result in the assassination of the president and the "team" around him, has a setting perfect for the basis of a virtual world game. For readers who love Card's Ender Quartet series http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?SID=365953, four SF novels focused on Ender Wiggins, a young boy who saves the world, Card's myriad adult novels may not be to their taste, but many male readers move from Ender's Game http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Enders-Game/Orson-Scott-Card/e/9780765342294/?itm=2 to Card's adult SF. Card has joined forces with the gaming industry and Card readers will be able to play the downloadable Xbox Live version of Shadow Complex http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/s/shadowcomplexxbla/ based on Empire. Be aware the game is is rated T (teen) for violence.

Why is this book lover talking about gaming? Because teens love to play games and if we can make the connection for them to books, let's do it! Card states: "When you play the game, instead of trying to act out the whole story of the novel, instead you get to do the cool things that you only read about in the book." Games have players' guides that teens will practically memorize so help these teens realize that reading Empire will increase their ability to play Shadow Complex. Once this word gets out, the library will have waiting list for the book.

What else can we do? Set up displays that connect the books to the games as well as create book lists that focus on the books that have been used as the basis for a game. Take a look at the extensive list of hot links on Wikipedia entry - "Category: Video Games Based on Books" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Video_games_based_on_books to the content of the games. Yes, I know - Wikipedia is not the most accurate source of information, but in this case it is a good place to start. We have to meet teens in the places they occupy and this is often role playing games.

Librarians are the gatekeeper to the books that will help players excel in the game and yes, even the non-reader teen male will check out classics and and fantasy titles, such as the Shannara series by Terry Brooks http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=shannara+brooks&box=shannara%20brooks&pos=-1 if he realizes reading the books will help him excel in playing the game.

I am a big Brooks' fan, but my favorite series of his is Magic Kingdom of Landover series http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=magic+kingdom+of+landover+series&box=magic%20k&pos=0 I'd like to take this series with me as audiobooks on an extended vacation. I'd sit back, close my eyes, and let Brooks take me to Landover so I can visit with Ben, Willow, and Abernathy - my favorite characters in this teen friendly series. In most cases, adult fantasy and SF are "safe" for teen readers.

As far away from gaming as I can go, the same issue of USA Today has an opinion column "Teach the Bible? Of course." http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/08/column-teach-the-bible-of-course-.html There are 58 responses to this opinion piece. I have added The Bible and Its Influence http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/08/column-teach-the-bible-of-course-.html to my B&N Wish List. It is a high school level textbook so it is pricey. I'll watch for it on used book sites. Many of my MLS students assume that they can't have the Bible or Bible stories in a school collection. When they tell me this I ask them if they have other books on religions of the world and most respond they do. Hmmm - it is okay to have books on other religions, but not Christianity? Whether you are a Christian or not, Bible "stories" are part of our cultural literacy, such as referring to someone as a "good Samaritan".

Okay, enough for me today. Back to getting my YA Materials course materials updated for Fall semester. Classes begin next week, but faculty has officially been back to work as of Monday. That extended vacation with Brooks' audiobooks? I need it after a wickedly busy summer session teaching 3 classes, having knee surgery, and fibromyalgia symptoms at their worst. I'm working from bed with frozen peas on my knee - the spot I've been in more often than any other this summer. Thank goodness for small laptops. I love the new Dell Latitude E4200.

Monday, July 13, 2009

We are such creatures of habit. Once I hear Steve and Sophie moving about in the a.m. my body says it is time to get up. Well, when it is shortly after 6 a.m. I am not too keen on this, but I can't fall back to sleep so I got up and read for a bit. Steve crawled back into bed and he'll fall back asleep quickly (the bum!). He has his cardiologist appt. this morning. I am going with him so I can hear the test results. Steve is so macho he waited an hour before he actually told me he was having a tightness in his chest that wasn't normal. It was almost an hour before that he had asked me when I'd be done with what I was doing. I somewhat sarcastically responded that I was grading and it would be literally days, but, in a kinder voice (I hope!) asked what he needed. He said nothing, of course. I knew something wasn't right, but it took close to an hour before he admitted what was going on. He said let's give it five more minutes. I told him no and to get in the car! Thank goodness the hospital is less than 1o minutes from the house. He was in the hospital over night and most of the next day before he finally was released. I can't help but think it was some type of infection/virus that got into his heart as he was running a fever a couple of day before and after he got home. I changed the sheets twice one of the nights as he soaked through a t-shirt, sheets and mattress pad. If the doc didn't do testing on that I am going to insist he does as it could be serious.

Since I was up at 6 a.m. I finished The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sidney Poitier. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Measure-of-a-Man/Sidney-Poitier/e/9780061357909/?itm=1 I love his movies To Sir With Love and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night. I respect him as one of the great actors who has not gotten the attention he deserved. He writes about what it was like to be a star in the 50s and 60s yet not be able to walk in the front door of many hotels and restaurants. He shares a bit about his life as a child on Cay Island in the Bahamas where he ran around in burlap clothes and had no idea there was a different way of life. He has certainly come a long way - via Nassau, Miami, and New York. He could call the greats of Harlem his friends. He rambles a lot - it is after all, a spiritual autobiography written in his 70s after he survived prostate cancer, but I didn't see a man who grew as a father or a husband. He rarely wrote about his children and basically never about his wives. I don't think we can write a spiritual autobiography and not address our own nuclear family. He wrote extensively about his father, who he clearly respected greatly, and his quiet mother ,who rarely spoke, but he has at least 4 children and there is probably less than two pages total about them. So, I was disappointed in the book. A year later he wrote Life Beyond Measure: Letters to my Granddaughter http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Life-Beyond-Measure/Sidney-Poitier/e/9780641983726/?itm=2 Perhaps that is the book I should have read. Will see if I can find a copy of this is Half Price books. Hmmm. I think I'd rather listen to it as I love his voice.

I am still reading new YA author's debut novels. Julie Berry's The Amaranthe Enchantment http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Amaranth-Enchantment/Julie-Berry/e/9781599903347/?itm=1 is one my latest reads. As do many of the new YA authors, she has a MFA in writing for children and young adults. This is a Cinderella story about 15-year-old Lucinda whose wealthy parents are killed in a carriage accident when she is young. She becomes the ward of her uncle and aunt who own a jewelry repair shop were he ekes out a living. Her aunt does not hide the fact that Lucinda is a burden and makes her do all of the cleaning and may well ask her to scrub a floor over that she had just finished scrubbing. Everything in Lucinda's life changes whens the Amaranthe Witch entered the repair shop with a huge, unique jewel that she wants reset so she can wear it around her neck. When her aunt discovers who brought the jewel in for repair she said they will not do business with a witch and Lucinda is to return it to her. Well, Lucinda doesn't quite do that and it is stolen by the young thief who boldly enters her bed chamber that night and sleeps on her floor. Their lives become intertwined and she finds herself dancing with the Prince at an outdoor fair. She is quite bold in her approach to him as the thief has stolen the jewel from her room and sold it to the Prince to give to his new bride. She steals it from his pocket. Lucinda has fallen in love with the Prince and knows he is out of her league, but one's heart doesn't know when we shouldn't fall in love. The tale takes many twists and turns with Lucinda taken to prison to be hung in the morning for stealing the jewel from the prince, but her aunt, who is the one who "fingers" her as the thief, then bribes the jailer to free her. The Amaranthe Witch plays the role of fairy godmother, but she is from another world and the jewel is what will allow her to journey home. As all good fairy tales, and retellings, do - Lucinda lives happily ever after. And, of course, there is more to the young thief than meets the eye. Give this one to MS through HS girls who like to read fantasy romances. It is a delight fairy tale romp with a "intergalactic twist."

My students, along with introducing themselves, they also address the first book they remember reading or being read to them. Many of them are the old I Can Read or Dr. Seuss books. These all have a unique feel to them due to the limited use of color, often red, green, and blue, and the controlled vocabulary. A new title, that has that old "feel,"to add to the Early Reader group is Hat by Paul Hoppe. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Hat/Paul-Hoppe/e/9781599902487/?itm=1 The cover immediately grabbed my attention as it is a simple drawing of a boy wearing a huge red hat that covers his eyes, but not the the satisfied grin on his face as he stands nonchalantly with his arms crossed. Young Henry finds a large brimmed red hat sitting on a park bench and the adventure begins. We see Henry laying spread eagle on a beach towel with Hat covering him almost down to his belly button. Hat keeps off the rain; it's great for catching mice, for hiding a rabbit - he is a very smug magician. It even becomes a sailboat and sled racing through the snow. Henry's imagination and Hat can even make Henry a superstar. But, imaginary adventures must come to an end when Mom reminds him that someone else may need the hat. Off his imagination goes again and he see a smug crocodile with the outline of a head poking out of him, because the adventurer didn't have Hat to shove in the croc's open mouth, a terrified grandma whose kitchen has been taken over by mice, and a sweating, sunburned lifeguard. Henry knows it is time to lay Hat back down on the bench and head for home with Mom. I absolutely love this book! The illustrations are of a minimalist style but throb with emotion and fun. A delightful book to share with your little and let him/her go on adventures with Henry and learn they can read this one on their own. What could you do with a hat the size of an umbrella? :-)

Time to get ready to head to the doc's with Steve.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Oh my gosh - it has been over a month since I blogged. Guess I shouldn't be surprised as June was filled with the preparation for the COLRS Workshop for the scholarship students. We had so much fun and meeting them was such a joy. We had two great author presentations. Jacqueline Ogburn spoke about The Bakeshop Ghost http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Bake-Shop-Ghost/Jacqueline-Ogburn/e/9780547076775/?itm=1 The very cool part was she went to California to watch the filming of an independent film version. We were all sorry we can't buy it on DVD. Seeing how they made the huge cake with cardboard boxes covered with frosting and that the bakery hired to create the real cakes used in the film is "haunted" by the prior owner and the baker talks to her was way cool! We also enjoyed listening to Shana Norris talk about how the library and books impacted her desire to be a writer. She also shared the number of refusals she received in the beginning. But, now she is on a roll with her second book, Troy High http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Troy-High/Shana-Norris/e/9780810946477/?itm=1coming out in August and of course, the warring football teams are the Trojans and the Spartans. I made the mistake of setting my copy of the ARC down at the Workshop and it disappeared. Will have to ask for another one from Abrams. I finished listening to three audiobooks since I last blogged. My favorite one of the three is The Splendor of Silence by Indu Sundarsan http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Splendor-of-Silence/Indu-Sundaresan/e/9780786147717/?itm=2 I love to listen to books set in foreign countries as I then know how to pronounce names as well as feel like I am there as the narrator typically has the accent of the country. Mathan certainly does - so beautifully melodious. This love story is set in India during WWII. Sam, a young Army captain on the surface, but in reality a OSS spy, meets Mila when he stays in her home as a guest of her father, supposedly recuperating from his shoulder injury. But he is trying to find his brother who has disappeared from his unit. The two fall in love in a time when there are few bi-racial couples. Mila is betrothed to a rich raj and when Sam leaves, she marries the prince, knowing she is carrying Sam's child. After Sam's death, a trunk arrives from India for his daughter, filled with her mother's saris as well as a long missive from the man who loved her mother as much as her father had, but sent her to Sam's family to raise. Through letters from the prince, she learns of her mother and father's love for each other, the political situation in his small kingdom of Rudrakot. An omniscient narrative style, changing from character to character, as well as to incidents before Sam and Mila met, adds depth, and sometimes a bit of confusion. However, it is a beautifully written novel that I would recommend to older teens who enjoy either historical fiction and/or a touching love story. Not at all "mushy" so male teens may also enjoy this novel. Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier http://www.amazon.com/Falling-Angels-Tracy-Chevalier/dp/1565115082/ref=sr_oe_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247322340&sr=1-1 pulls the reader into early 20th Century London where two young girls become friends, and sometimes enemies, because their family's grave sites are next to each other. Although they are separated by social class, with Maude really caring nothing about their wealth or social standing and Lavinia acting like she is from a family of higher social status than hers actually is, they love to play together in the cemetery. The grave digger's son, Simon, is a fascinating character to both girls and his life becomes intertwined with theirs, in part because the maid and cook in Maude's home feel sorry for him and feed him when he sneaks in by the back door, but also because his mother is the one who both delivers babies and terminates pregnancies. Maude's mother is not aware it is Simon's mother who terminates her pregnancy after a dalliance with the cemetery caretaker. Shortly after she recovers from the abortion, Kitty - Maude's mother, becomes a suffragette. It is at one of their rallies that Lavinia's younger sister disappears and Simon knows who is to blame. Lots of subplots to keep any reader involved. Chevalier is a superb historical novelist. Older teenage girls may enjoy this. I also listened to The Lady and Unicorn http://www.audible.com/adbl/entry/offers/productPromo2.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes&productID=BK_HCUK_000061 awhile back, which I also enjoyed. I would not have chosen Jane Hamilton's When Madeline Was Young http://search.barnesandnoble.com/When-Madeline-Was-Young/Jane-Hamilton/e/9781437614893/?itm=1if I were to read it as I was not terribly intrigued by the book summary, but it was too inexpensive at Half Price books not to buy it! I am very glad I did as it caused me to pause and think how I would react to a man asking me to marry him and having to take care of his brain damaged wife who has the mental capabilities of a 6 or 7 year old. I suspect I am not a good enough person to have taken on this role, but Julia is. The family saga is told from the perspective of Mac, Julia and Aaron's son, who "grew up" with Madeline without realizing who she was until he was almost a teenager. Perhaps he had avoided knowing, but it certainly raised questions in his mind as to how different his family is from the normal conservative 1950's family. The narrative spans decades, with Mac resisting his wife's insistence they attend his cousin Buddy's son's funeral. Buddy had tormented Mac at the family lake house in Wisconsin when they were kids and though now a surgeon, Mac knows how Buddy will react to him. Hamilton pulls no punches and sometimes I found myself cringing as I read the personal feelings and experiences of this family, but it a novel I would recommend to anyone who needs to address the needs of a brain damaged adult. I also read what I would refer to as very hot on the spicy scale! Do not give this to a teenager as the sex scenes are not raunchy, but they certainly are close to erotic in nature. I love Christine Feehan's books and Burning Wild http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Burning-Wild/Christine-Feehan/e/9780515146233/?itm=1is no exception. Like the bodice rippers I've been known to consume like a candy bar, I would take the cover off of this one before I read it in public. Steve noticed the studly man with rock hard abs covered in leopard print and I just smiled and said it was about a group of leopard people! It really is, but more of a romance than a study in how a human can become a leopard. Of course, the male falls in love with the woman who is caring for his son and .... well, you know how the story goes. I am addicted to her series. I did not realize there was a Leopard Series, with this being the second title, but I will find a copy of Wild Rain now that I've read the second one. My favorite series of Feehan's is The Drake Sister Series - 7 sisters who each have their own unique power, and of course fall in love with men after a love/hate relationship. I always say my inner child/teen is alive and well due to the amount of youth literature I read, but I admit when I step out of the youth literature arena, I need to just ready some "beach reads" for awhile. All of the above are going to Half Price today so I can see what other Feehan titles I can find. No point in trying to read any children's or YA while recuperating from knee surgery as I won't remember what I read anyway. I need to call the doc to reschedule on Monday - thought it was going to be Weds. but has to be postponed for 2 weeks as I have to be off the fibro fog meds. for 2 weeks before they'll put me under. Guess it can mess with heart rate. Not something I want to deal with! That's it for today. Need to get back to grading. I am teaching 3 classes this summer and it is about killing me.