Archive of ‘Mrs. McGriff’ category

June Books Read

My first two books for the month of June were birthday gifts.  I think my family knows me well.  They gave me books and chocolate–and some new patio furniture for the back porch.   Let the reading continue!

68) Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow – The illustrations brought back so many memories of favorite books and characters from my childhood.

69)  A Love that Lasts – There is no one right way to live in a happy marriage.

70) Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema, pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon – I knew there was a reason I didn’t like those pesky mosquitoes!

71)   Best Friends – story & pictures by Steven Kellogg – the highs and lows of friendship captured in a vivid imagination

72) Together – by George Ella Lyon, pictures by Vera Rosenberry – another combination of friendship and imagination

73)  A Pond So Blue – by Dan Waters, pictures by Danny B. Dalby – little fish work together to overcome the big catfish

74) A Gift of a Tree by Greg Henry Quinn, pictures by Ronda Krum – I picked up this one in honor of my forester husband

75) The Tooth Tree by Nicholas Heller – What happens when you bury a tooth in the backyard instead of under a pillow?

76) Finding Nemo by Disney Pixar

77) 101 Dalmations by Disney

78) Simba and Nala at Play:  A Book About Opposites

79) Curious George Snowy Day adapted by Rotem Moscovich

80) Jamaica Tag-Along by Juanita Havill, pictures by Anne Sibley O’Brien

81) A Wish-For Dinosaur by Jane Belk Moncure, pictures by Vera K. Gohman

82)Muppet Babies Count with Me by Louise Gikow, pictures by David Prebenna

83) The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult – lots of good things in this book, but a difficult read for me

84) Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully – I got this from the summer reading program at our library.  Now I want to try walking on a high wire.

85) Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans – I loved reading this one to my daughter.  It’s still good now that she is a teen.

86) Madeline and the Bad Hat by Ludwig Bemelmans – another adventure with Madeline

87) How Do You Hug a Porcupine? by Laurie Isop and Gwen Millward – cute rhyming story about–hugging different animals

88) 102 Wacky Monster Jokes -by Michael Pellowski – Some definitely caused groans, but certain kids will eat this one up.

89) The Butterfly Counting Book by Jerry Pallotta – Much more than I expected from a counting book–including words for butterfly in many languages

90) The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – another mystery full of danger, intrigue, and of course, symbols

91) Where Is Home, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman – cute picture book about a penguin who gets separated from his parents and can’t find his way home

92) W.A.R.P.:  The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer – This new series has an evil villain, two spunky orphans, and time travel back to Victorian England.

My favorites this month were from the picture books:  Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears and Mirette on the High Wire.  What were your favorite reads from this month?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila atBook Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

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The #bookaday challenge that I usually participate in through the summer has turned into #bookaweek and then some this week.  I finished just one book this week:

71VjepfB1-LWhere Is Home, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman – The Little Free Library organization sent me this picture book in my Steward’s Packet.  It’s a cute story about a penguin who gets separated from his parents and can’t find his way home.  I can’t wait to add it to the library outside.  This edition has both English and Spanish text.  Unfortunately, I can read only the English.

In related library news, I wrote a press release about our new little library and sent it to the regional paper in the next county.  The Columbus, IN, Republic published to story in Sunday’s paper.  That was exciting!

I’m currently reading:

imageW.A.R.P. The Reluctant Assassin b Eoin Colfer – One more run should put me through the end of this one.  It’s definitely exciting, and I can’t wait to see how–and if–Chevron and Riley defeat Garrick.  I will be looking for the next one in the series soon.  I am glad I don’t live in Victorian England.  I’ll stick with modern sanitation.

imageThe Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling – Wow!  I’m just past the halfway mark in this one, and I like it.  At first I had trouble keeping the large cast of characters straight in my head, but now that I’m seeing the connections between them (that sometimes the characters don’t realize), I am enjoying the wicked humor.

What’s coming up:

In addition to finishing the books above, I’d like to read more in Les Miserables this week.  Will Marius ever find the girl of his dreams again?

I’d also like to continue reading another short story or two in Fidelity by Wendell Berry.

Five Favorite Things

imageI’m taking part in the weekly Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by  Two Writing Teachers, where teachers write and share each Tuesday. Join in yourself or head over to check out what’s happening with other slicers. If you’re taking part in the SOL, leave a link to your post. I’d love to read it.

I’m sitting on the back porch listening to the rain sweep across the grass and trees.  Thunder echoes deep behind the clouds while birds call goodnight to each other.  Cool breezes caress my skin, providing relief from the day’s heat and humidity.  And I smile as I think about my favorite things from the grand opening of our Little Free Library.

1.  The weather cleared!  Earlier Friday afternoon, a thunderstorm exploded overhead, but about an hour before the clouds broke up and blue sky even peeked through.  After we were done, the clouds reappeared, dropping rain on us again.

It was still humid, so my camera lense kept fogging up.

It was still humid, so my camera lense kept fogging up.

2.  People came!  We had no idea if anyone would show up or not.  Several neighbors dropped by along with friends from church.  Most took a book or two home with them.  We all enjoyed the brownies and punch and conversation.

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3.  More people donated books!  Another friend had seen news of our LFL and messaged me to ask if I wanted the children’s books left over from her yard sale.  That box was filled with treasures–Madeline, My Side of the Mountain, the Boxcar Children, and Magic Treehouse.  The best part is I get to read the books, too!  Now I may need a warehouse to store them all.

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4.  Some visitors surprise us!  One evening while we were reading in the living room, a car we didn’t recognize pulled into the driveway.  Instead of stopping at the library, though, a young woman with a handful of books came to the door.  ”These don’t have the stickers in them, so I wanted to give them to you,” she said as she turned back to the car.  (I’ve been putting Free Little Library stickers in the front cover to advertise.)  I’m not worried about the stickers, but I love to see people taking ownership for caring for the books.

 

5.  We are now official!  The day after the Grand Opening, I received my official Steward’s Packet with our sign.  They also sent a lot of helpful information and cool stuff:  bumper sticker, book plates, bookmarks, and even a book for the library.

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It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila atBook Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

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I thought I was going to have my first week in a long time where I did not finish any books.  I was reading, just longer books.  I also did lots of writing this week, and welcomed my mom for a week long visit.  We also had the grand opening for our Little Free Library Friday night.  You can read all about that tomorrow.

lost symbolI knew once I got into it, I would have a hard time putting down Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol (Anchor 2010).  For once, Robert Langdon is not awaked on the first page with the scene of a grisly murder, but there is plenty of danger and death to come.  Once again, I enjoyed following the clues and interpreting–and misinterpreting–the symbols and clues.  I see Brown has a new novel, Inferno, that I’ll have to add to my TBR pile.

I also had a friend drop by a box of books for our Little Free Library.  I had to read some of the picture books before adding them to the library.

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  • Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully – I got this from the summer reading program at our library.  Now I want to try walking on a high wire.
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans – I loved reading this one to my daughter.  It’s still good now that she is a teen.
  • Madeline and the Bad Hat by Ludwig Bemelmans – another adventure with Madeline
  • How Do You Hug a Porcupine? by Laurie Isop and Gwen Millward – cute rhyming story about–hugging different animals
  • 102 Wacky Monster Jokes -by Michael Pellowski – Some definitely caused groans, but certain kids will eat this one up.
  • The Butterfly Counting Book by Jerry Pallotta – Much more than I expected from a counting book–including words for butterfly in many languages

 I am currently reading:

imageWARP:  The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer – I’ve taken several long runs and done lots of yard work so I could listen to more of this one.  Riley and Chevron make a good pair as they try to prevent the evil Albert Garrick from creating even more evil as they travel through time.  There were several surprising twists.

les-miserablesLes Miserables by Victor Hugo –  I haven’t read much this week, but I did get a few chapters read while waiting to pick up my daughter.  I love having it on my phone to pull out whenever I have a few moments.  For all those readers who complained that Bella wasted too much time crying over Edward, Marius has her beat longing after a girl whose name he doesn’t even know.

What books are coming up:

imageI plan on picking up JK Rowling’s Casual Vacancy this week.  I will probably read some more of the pictures books that have come my way, too.  Who knows what other books the week may bring.

Come visit our Little Free Library!

imageI’m taking part in the weekly Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by  Two Writing Teachers, where teachers write and share each Tuesday. Join in yourself or head over to check out what’s happening with other slicers. If you’re taking part in the SOL, leave a link to your post. I’d love to read it.

It all started with the snow that overwhelmed us this past winter.  My husband looked at the unused basketball goal in our driveway and suggested that he build a birdhouse to fit between the posts.

“I’ve got a better idea,” I responded.  ”Look at these.”  I pulled up the website for Little Free Library.  ”Would you build me a library instead?”

I couldn’t believe it when he said yes.  Then came months of discussion.  He thought the books should be in a waterproof plastic container inside the house.  I said no containers.  The library needs a glass door so people can see the books.

I know with my students, they are much more likely to pick up a book to read if it’s easy to pick up.  They are more likely to read from my classroom library than the school library.  They are more likely to pick up a book that has the cover facing out on the chalk tray or book stand than they are to pick one up from all the titles standing on the shelves with just the spine out.

Once spring arrived, my husband started building.  He created a little library with three shelves out of spare material he had lying around.  The wood is wrapped in water-proof cloth. The roof has shingles.  Cedar siding warps around three sides.  The door does indeed have a full glass window so everyone can see the books.  I was responsible for painting the inside.  White reflects light from the ceiling and two walls.  Turquoise pops along the back wall and shelves–at least what you can see around the books.

I am also responsible for filling the shelves with books.  I’ve been hitting up yard sales and thrift stores.  As I’ve told people about the Little Free Library, several have offered donations of books for it.  Two overflowing boxes sit behind me waiting for books to be taken so I have room to add them to the shelves.  My husband’s comment:  ”I thought this library was going to get rid of books in our house, not multiply them.”

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Now that the library was built and officially registered, it was time to spread the news.  We copied a flyer and set off Saturday afternoon around the neighborhood.  We live in a rural neighborhood, so it is two miles around the “block,” and that doesn’t include heading back long drives shared by multiple houses.  Thank goodness for the four wheeler.  On some of the houses we just left a flyer stuck in the door, but if people were home, we stopped to tell them about it.  What were the reactions?

  • Most people were quite excited about it–especially those with kids.
  • Some people offered donations of books.  I explained that they were encouraged to trade out as many books as they wanted.  The whole concept is “Take a book, leave a book.”  I can’t wait to see what comes in.
  • A few people gave me strange–or maybe it was just confused–looks.  But they thanked us anyway.
  • One person asked when the block party was.  It’s Friday night!  We plan to have refreshments for our grand opening!
  • Only one person had a negative comment–and he even thought his grandkids would like it.  He would like it if we’d keep the grandkids for a while.  No.

Now the library has been built, the shelves have been filled, and the invitations have been sent.  Now all that’s left is to see who will come to the party.  I hope the whole neighborhood will.

 

The new Slam Dunk Books Little Free Library 15682.

The new Slam Dunk Books Little Free Library 15682.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

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This is is my first week joining this meme, and I am excited to be a part of it.  Be warned.  This is not a typical reading week for me.  I am a brand new steward of a new Little Free Library that my husband built to go in our front yard.  I’ve been hitting up yard sales and thrift stores to find books to fill it.  Since we don’t have a lot of picture books left in our house, I’ve been searching for those.  Of course, I had to read them before putting them on the shelves!

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  • Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema, pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon – I knew there was a reason I didn’t like those pesky mosquitoes!
  •  Best Friends - story & pictures by Steven Kellogg – the highs and lows of friendship captured in a vivid imagination
  • Together - by George Ella Lyon, pictures by Vera Rosenberry – another combination of friendship and imagination
  • A Pond So Blue - by Dan Waters, pictures by Danny B. Dalby – little fish work together to overcome the big catfish
  • A Gift of a Tree by Greg Henry Quinn, pictures by Ronda Krum – I picked up this one in honor of my forester husband
  • The Tooth Tree by Nicholas Heller – What happens when you bury a tooth in the backyard instead of under a pillow?
  • Finding Nemo by Disney Pixar
  • 101 Dalmations by Disney
  • Simba and Nala at Play:  A Book About Opposites
  • Curious George Snowy Day adapted by Rotem Moscovich
  • Jamaica Tag-Along by Juanita Havill, pictures by Anne Sibley O’Brien
  •  A Wish-For Dinosaur by Jane Belk Moncure, pictures by Vera K. Gohman
  • Muppet Babies Count with Me by Louise Gikow, pictures by David Prebenna

circle-500I also finished The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult.  I loved the interplay of the narrative with pages in graphic novel format (one of the characters was a graphic novelist), the allusions to Dante’s Inferno (one day I’m going to get brave enough to read it), and the folklore from Native Alaskans.  I found it to be a difficult read for me.  As the mother of a 15 year old girl, reading about the rape of a 14 year old girl and it’s aftermath hit too close to home.

 

This week I am continuing to read these books:

 

  • les-miserablesLes Miserables by Victor Hugo – I’ve been reading this off and on for a year and a half.  Now that summer is here, I am getting back into it.  Thank goodness I’m back to the story after a long detour of political hisTory and theory. Now I get to read about Marius moping over the beautiful girl whose name he doesn’t even know.
  • lost symbolThe Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – one of the advantages of being a LFL steward is finding books I want to read that have been donated.  I just started this one, but so aural no dead bodies or gruesome murders.  I suspect it’s coming soon.
  • 9780679748311_p0_v2_s260x420Fidelity by Wendell Berry – I didn’t know Berry wrote short stories until my former pastor passed on this collection to me.  I’m reading about one a week to let them soak in.  This week’s story “A Jonquil for Mary Penn” was a lovely love story.
  • imageWARP The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer – I’m listening to this one from a download by Sync YA earlier this summer.  I know I’m enjoying it because I keep finding reasons to run a little more or clean a little longer so I can keep listening!

Enjoy Strawberry Jam Tonight

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I’m taking part in the weekly Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by  Two Writing Teachers, where teachers write and share each Tuesday. Join in yourself or head over to check out what’s happening with other slicers. If you’re taking part in the SOL, leave a link to your post. I’d love to read it.

 

June brings strawberries to southern Indiana–red, ripe, lucious berries that beg to be savored.  Every day or two, we stroll to the raised bed in our back yard to pick a quart or two or three of starwberrries.  Even though we love them, there are only so many berries we can eat before they start to go bad.  Our favorite way to preserve them to enjoy through the rest of the year is to make strawberry jam.  Now I could go out and buy a package of commercial pectin to make our jam, but I prefer the art of using the natural fruit pectin and sugar to make jam.  It takes a little more time and stirring, but it’s really not that hard.

Find guidance:

The Ball Blue Book has everything you need to know.

The Ball Blue Book has everything you need to know.

If you have never made jam or canned fruits and vegetables, you will want to find someone or something to help you do it safely.  We started by using the Ball Blue Book years ago.  It has directions and recipes for canning (and freezing) almost everything.  You can also contact your local agricultural extension office for the latest information on food safety.  I grew up helping my mom make jam.  I remember her sealing the jars with paraffin.  No one every got sick from that jam and jelly, but today food safety experts recommend a water bath canning method for preserving jams and jellies.

 

Gather jam ingredients and prepare the strawberries:

The recipe I use for strawberry jam is simple:

  • 2 quarts strawberries, hulled and crushed, and
  • 6 cups sugar.

That’s it.  If you can’t walk out into your own backyard to pick strawberries, use the freshest strawberries you can find.  Visit a pick it yourself farm or your local farmer’s market.  When strawberries are in season in your area, even the grocery stores are more likely to have fresh strawberries, though they will have sat longer than those picked just that morning.

To prepare the strawberries,

  1. Rinse off any dirt.
  2. Then cut off the stems and cut the strawberries in halves or quarters.  I’ve never tried one of the specialized strawberry hullers.  A paring knife works well.
  3. Mash the strawberries.  I use a potato masher to smush the berries in the bottom of a quart, glass measuring cup.  You could also use a food mill.
Just add strawberries and sugar!

Just add strawberries and sugar!

Gather canning supplies:

Don’t panic.  Many of these supplies you may have in your kitchen already.  Most are inexpensive, too.

  • Water bath canner:  I use the smaller size since I can jam in 1 cup jars.  The rack keeps the jars off the bottom and makes it easy to take the jars in and out of boiling water.  If you don’t have a canner and don’t want to buy one, you can use a large stock pot.  Just make sure it is deep enough for water to completely cover the jars.  You will also need some sort of metal rack to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot.  It might be easier to ask around and borrow one!
  • Canning jars with lids and rings:  Definitely use real canning jars because the glass is strong enough to take the heat.  If you reuse jars that held commercial products, the glass might break during canning.  That’s a mess (and a potential hazard) you don’t want to clean up. Canning jars can be reused year after year.  So can the rings.  You will need to buy new lids to ensure an airtight seal.
  • Small pot to boil lids:  The lids have to be boiled to sterilize them and to help improve the seal.
  • Funnel and ladel:  These are to put the jam into the jars.
  • Tongs:  You can even buy a magnetic lid lifter to help get the lids out of the hot water without burning your fingers.  I find that putting the lids in by alternating them upside down and right side up prevents them from sticking together most of the time.  Then I can just use a simple pair of tongs to get them out.
  • Jar lifter:  How else will you take the hot jars out the boiling water?
  • Hot pads, towels or paper bags, or boards:  Everything is hot, so you will need to protect all your working surfaces from the heat.  We set the jam pot on a large cutting board and then fill the jars on paper bags (which can be thrown away afterwards).  You could also use cloth towels.  You will also need to set the hot jars on a protected surface to cool.  Don’t set hot jars to cool on a cold stone countertop.  You could crack the jars.
Canning supplies aren't too scary!

Canning supplies aren’t too scary!

Now that you have everything out, you are ready to start cooking the strawberry jam!  Take a deep breath.  The biggest skill needed is stirring!

  1. Put washed canning jars into water bath canner and fill with water.  The water should cover the jars by an inch or so.  Cover with the lid and bring to a boil to sterilize the jars.  Once the water boils, you can then turn off the eye of the stove.  The water and jars will remain hot while the jam cooks.
  2. Put the lids in a small pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil to sterilize.  Just like with the jars, you can turn off the eye and put a lid on the pot to keep lids hot.  It doesn’t take very long to bring this amount of water to a boil, so you can wait to do it while cooking down the jam.
  3. Combine crushed strawberries and sugar in a large stockpot.  One with a thick bottom will help prevent burning.  You will want to use a large pot because the jam will splatter as it boils.  I use a large wooden spoon to stir.

    Keep stirring!

    Keep stirring!

  4. Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir until the sugar dissolves.  Keep stirring occasionally as it comes to a boil.
  5. Once the strawberry and sugar mixture comes to a boil, keep it boiling rapidly.  Keep stirring.  How long do you boil and stir?  That’s the secret to the art of jam making.  The recipe  in the Ball Blue Book suggests about 40 minutes, but my jam never takes that long to be ready.  Once the color turns to a dark, rich red (after about 30 minutes), I drip some jam on a plate.  Once it cools a little, I check the consistency by running a finger through it.  The jam will set up firmer as it cools, so err on the runny side unless you like your jam to be thick enough to cut.
  6. Remove jam from heat.  Grab a jar out of the water bath canner and pour out the water.
  7. Place the funnel on the mouth of the jar and use the ladel to fill the jar with jam.  Fill the jar until there is a half inch of space between the top of the jam and the rim of the jar.  Continue filling jars until you run out of jam.  Most water bath canners can hold seven jars.  If I fill more than seven jars, I put the extra jam in a jar to be enjoyed immediately!  The extra jar can be stored in the refrigerator.
  8. Take a wet paper towel and carefully wipe clean the rim of each jar.  If there is any jam (or anything else) on the rim of the jar, the lids will not seal.
  9. Take a lid out of the hot water and place rubber side down on top of the jar.
  10. Take a ring and screw it down over the lid.  Use a tight fit, but don’t overtighten the rings.
  11. Return jars to the water bath canner and lower into the water.
  12. Bring water back to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.  You will need to boil longer if you are at a higher altitude.
  13. Remove jars from canner and let cool.  For best results, place jars in a location without drafts.
  14. Once jars have completely cooled (the next day), check that the lids sealed.  The lids should not move or flex when you press down on them.  If any jars did not seal, store them in the refrigerator.

 

Enjoy the jam!

Enjoy the jam!

Summer, Slow Down

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I’m taking part in the weekly Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by  Two Writing Teachers, where teachers write and share each Tuesday. Join in yourself or head over to check out what’s happening with other slicers. If you’re taking part in the SOL, leave a link to your post. I’d love to read it.

For the past several summers (and other school breaks), I have looked forward to diving headfirst into stacks of books with the #bookaday challenge thrown out by Donalyn Miller.  I don’t always succeed in reading a book every day of evert break from school, but I loved devouring a sea of words in book after book.

This summer, though, I find myself wanting to stay longer with the books I read. I finished Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys several days ago, but I’m not ready to let her story go.  I want to visit longer with Josie and wander the streets of the French Quarter with her as she schemes to find a way out of the past that haunts her.

I still have stacks and boxes of books that are waiting for me to read them (not to mention the unread books on my Kindle and the audio books I am downloading weekly from Sync YA).  I currently have a large enough supply of unread books that I could read a book a day for the rest of the summer and not run out.

DSC05492But I also find myself wanting to be open to books that come into my life serendipitously.  Just the other weekend, a former pastor brought a book for me as his contribution to our cookout.  I didn’t even know Wendell Berry wrote short stories, but now a collection of them waits in my purse for me to dip into its pages.

I also want to explore books that make me think, and I want time to reflect on and absorb their words, even write in response to them.  I have been wanting to read books by Barbara Taylor Brown that reflect on faith, especially her newest book Learning to Walk in the Dark.  I even feel an urge to revisit Thoreau–maybe while I’m out hiking or camping.

I know after the pressure of this past teaching year, I need to slow down.  #Bookaday is not a competition where others will put me down for not meeting that goal, but I put the pressure on myself.  I want to savor the words I read and write this summer instead of rushing through them.  Books will be my companions as I wend my way through this summer.  So will my pen and notebook as I reflect on where I’ve been and where I may be headed.

May Books Read

58) The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth – a spooky mystery with a secret world filled with fantastical creatures in graphic novel format

59) Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner  - a detective story donated by one of my students’ parents.  I enjoyed the mystery but it’s not a good fit for a 7th grade classroom library.

60) Asylum by Madeleine Roux – Not my cup of tea (It will probably give me nightmares), but students who love scary stories will enjoy this one.

61)  **House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle – Such lyrical writing in this story of cruelty, forgiveness, and redemption

62) **The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde – I couldn’t help myself.  When a friend returned it, I just had to revisit some of my favorite scenes and found myself wandering through all the pages again.

63) *Imperfect Spiral by Debby Levy – a touching story of friendship and loss

64) **A Northern Light by Jennifer Donelly – luscious prose wraps this story of daring to reach for your dreams

65) The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugen – a modern mystery with roots in World War II Amsterdam

66) **Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys – amazing story of strength and courage

67)  *Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – very thought provoking–and not at all what I was expecting.

A read a lot of very different books this month–many of them outside my comfort zone.  I enjoyed the stretch in my reading diet.  I starred my favorites.

What were your favorite reads from the month of May?

Asylum by Madeleine Roux

imageDaniel Crawford has always been a bit of a loner, not fitting in at his high school, but now that he is at a summer program for gifted students on a college campus, he hopes to make friends at last.  Things are looking up when he meets Abbi and Jordan.

Since the regular dorms are undergoing renovations, the summer students are staying in Brookline, a former psychiatric hospital with a dark and secret past.  Dan and his new friends explore the twisting tunnels and dusty rooms underneath Brookline, and in so doing, stir up ghosts that do not want to rest in peace.

Asylum (Harper 2013) by Madeleine Roux is the kind of book that gives me nightmares, but I know I will have students who will enjoy it.  If you like the kinds of movies where you want to scream at the main characters for entering into the deserted house or dark woods where the killer is lurking, you will enjoy the fear these pages dredge up.  It’s not too gory, but the mind games and bizarre occurrences are chilling.

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