Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On the Wings of Heroes

On the Wings of Heroes is another book I've finished on my Summer Reading list. It is written by Richard Peck. I love Richard Peck!! (To read more of my thoughts on him, click HERE). Once again, he has perfectly captured a time period in this historic fiction. On the Wings of Heroes tells the story of Davy Bowman and how his young life changes during WWII. When Davy's older brother, Billy, leaves home to fly B-12 bombers over Europe, Davy does all he can to help with the war effort at home. He collects scrap metal, paper, and even milkweed for life vests. As always, Peck has filled this book with the right combination of humor, oddball characters, adventure, and heart-warming moments.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Although not an official book on my Summer Reading list, Seedfolks is a book I've been meaning to read ever since I saw the author, Paul Fleischman, speak at a conference last year (To read my thoughts on the conference, click HERE). I finally got around to reading it this week. Seefolks is about several neighbors living in a low socio-economic apartment building in Cleveland, OH. This building is located next to a vacant lot strewed with trash and discarded junk. This lot changes one summer after a young girl decides to clear a small section and plant a few lima beans. This inspires one of her neighbors to clear a small plot for herself and plant her own seeds. Neighbor after neighbor decide to do the same thing until the lot has been completly transformed from a trash-filled lot to a garden paradise. The lot isn't the only thing that is changed by these new gardeners. They, themselves, are transformed from strangers to close friends. The great thing about this book is that it is less than 100 pages and can be read in a single sitting. And, in true Fleischman style, each chapter is written using a different narrator until all the neighbors have told their own story.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian came out on May 5th, but I just finished it this week. It is the 5th book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. This school year I had my students read the first book in the series, The Lightning Thief. This was the best academic decision I have ever made as a teacher. My students loved the book. About 50 of my students finished the book ahead of schedule and went on to read another book in the series. Every copy of the series was checked out of the school library and a parent told me every copy of the series was checked out of the local library. As a class we talked about the novel and Greek Mythology (which the series is based on) constantly, even after we had finished the novel and moved on to read something else. My students even had a count down to the release of book five, The Last Olympian. After May 5th, I had a dozen students who had bought the book. They quickly finished it and passed it on to another student who couldn't afford to buy it themselves. It was great to see!! I loved it. It's what a reading class should be all about.

Anyway, so I finally read it. Although it was not my favorite in the series, it was a great way to wrap up the series. If you haven't started this FANTASTIC series, head to your local library NOW!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Since I've been in Pennsylvania, I've finished three more books on my Summer Reading list. This post is dedicated to the hilarious novel, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney (who was recently voted one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people). All school year long I had seen students (mostly boys) with this book. I had wanted to read it, but just hadn't gotten around to it. As a thank you present, a student gave me a copy of the book telling me, "I LOVE this book," so I knew it had to be one of the first books I read this summer. I'm sure glad I did. It was hilarious.

The novel tells the story of Greg Heffley's first year in middle school. The book is written in a fun font that makes it look like an actual diary. It also has drawings littered throughout it. In fact, the book is advertised as "a novel in cartoons." Kinney perfectly captures life as a middle school boy as Greg deals with his annoying brothers, bullies at school, and problems with teachers, family, and friends.

I highly recommend it for anyone who has worked in a middle school, has children in a middle school, or was once themselves a child in middle school.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

PA, Here I Come

I'm off to Pennsylvania for two weeks. I don't plan on interneting at all while I'm there. Try not to cry and miss me too much. (Mom, that means you).

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Consignment Shopping

There's a fantastic consignment shop in Midvale called, Home Again. I love it. They have great things there on consignment. Anyway, today I walked in there and fell in love with these beauties:

Vintage glass windows

Same windows, different photo

Now, I usually won't buy something so impulsively. If I see something I want, but hadn't planned on buying, I usually obey the 3 day rule. What is the 3 day rule? Wait 3 days and if you still want it, get it. Well, I walked in, saw them and wanted them. I hadn't planned on buying them so I continued walking through the store. I circled the shop three times and figured that was close enough to waiting 3 days.

I LOVE them!! I think they will make a great faux headboard. I'm planning on mounting them to the wall in my guest bedroom behind the bed. Two of the glass panes are cracked, but I think that adds a little character to them. The best part . . . I got them for $40 each. I couldn't be happier.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Finally, I'm done . . . Well, almost

So, I'm finally done with my picture project. Well, I'm almost done. I have to print off and add four more pictures. Anyways, you'll get the picture (pun intended). To see the process, click on any of the past posts:
All the frames. Plus, they're all full (except for 4 pics).

I'm in the middle,
my Grandma Ault is on the left,
and my Grandma George is on the right.

All of these photos are of my grandparents.
The middle two are my grandmas when they were young
The left are of my Grandpa George and the right of my Grandpa Ault.

Me and my siblings.
First it was just me and Kyle,
Then me, Kyle, and Adam,
Finally, it was all four of us - me, Kyle, Adam and Louis.

My Grandparents' weddings.
My Grandma Ault and her wedding party are on the top.
My Grandma George and her wedding party are on the bottom.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The River Between Us

So I finished the first book on my Summer Reading list. I read The River Between Us by Richard Peck. This novel was a great example of historical fiction. It is set in the small town of Grand Tower, Illinois during 1861. The town is right off the Mississippi River, which is usually packed with boats traveling from the South to the North and back South again.

One day, two young women, Delphine and Calinda, arrive in Grand Tower on one of these boats. They are two mysterious young ladies from New Orleans, who have left to avoid any fighting that may come to the city because of the Civil War. Delphine is wealthy and glamorous, while it appears Calinda is her servant, maybe even her slave. These two young women rent out a room from the Pruitt family. The narrator in the story is Tilly Pruit. She lives with her mama, her twin brother, Noah, and her younger sister, Cass. Delphine and Calinda soon transform the lives of the Pruitts, bringing a Southern flair to their small country home.

As the war gets closer and closer to Grand Tower, Illinois, the lives of our characters change more and more. The traffic on the river slows, the town folks begin to believe that Delphine and Calinda (and possibly the Pruitts) are Southern spies, Noah leaves and joins the Union army, and finally Tilly and Delphine leave to aid him and the other Union solders.

This is a great book filled with mystery, love, and life from the Civil War.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

D-Day Anniversary

As a huge history buff, I've always wanted to visit the beaches of Normandy and all the historical sites located in this area of France. Can you imagine standing where over 150,000 Allied servicemen (half of them Americans) stormed the French coast to establish the foothold that would end World War II? Just thinking about it leaves me in awe. I can't imagine what it would be like to see it in person.

Today marks the 65th Anniversary of that historic day. President Obama and British PM, Gordon Brown, were in Normandy today to honor the sacrifice of those who fought 65 years ago. I was particularly impressed with Brown's speech. Here are just a few of his remarks:

And now, more than half a century on, we remember those who advanced grain of sand by grain of sand, utterly determined amid the bullets and the bloodshed that freedom would not be pushed back into the sea, but would rise from these beaches below to liberate a continent and save a generation.

This is sacred ground. This day marks the triumph of good over evil, and truth over lies, and the victory of human decency over hatred and the Holocaust.

Those who risked everything here sixty five years ago demonstrated that although tyranny may suppress, it cannot endure forever. They proved that dictatorship may for a time have the power to dictate, but that it will not in the end decide the course of the human journey.

They enacted the belief that as long as one of us is not free, no one of us is free. They made real the timeless values enshrined in the bill of rights, the declaration of independence, the charter of liberty and in the call of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

In doing so they embodied not just the hopes of one age but the dreams of all ages.

So now we must complete our great covenant with the dead of D-Day: our promise that we would build a world worthy of their sacrifice and their heroism.

For how can we say we have achieved all we set out to do, the promise of peace and justice, when the shadow of nuclear proliferation still spreads across the earth? When Darfur is in the grip of genocide, Burma is in chains, Zimbabwe is in agony? When the enemy is not just violence but the mortal threat of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, disease and want?

There are dreams of liberation still to be realized, commitments still to be redeemed, and vows to the dead still to be kept. And so we must be as if liberators for our day and for our generation.

For today we are only half way to honoring the pledges we made for a new world. The beacon of hope that was lit with the liberation of Europe must now lead us on. Lead us on to a world, finally delivered from the evil of poverty and the sin of prejudice, where intolerance is never tolerated; where no one suffers persecution or discrimination on grounds of race, or faith, or differences of identity and nationality.

This place of all places affirms that free people can bend history in the direction of our best hopes. So it was on D-Day; so it is today.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Rockin' the Suburbs

"Rockin' the Suburbs" is the theme I've chosen for the summer. Why? I live in the suburbs and I like to rock. I just purchased the above t-shirt so expect to see me wearing it and rockin' out all summer in my suburban neighborhood.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Summer Reading

I've compiled my list of books for my summer reading. If you've read a really great adolescent book and you think I should add it to my list, let me know.
  • Uglies/Pretties Series by Scott Westerfeld
  • A Time of Angels by Karen Hesse
  • Amaryllis by Craig Crist-Evans
  • On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck
  • The River Between Us by Richard Peck
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • The Shadow Thieves (The Cronus Chronicles) by Anne Ursu
  • The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins by Walter Dean Myers
  • Temping Fate by Esther Friesner
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
  • Pandora Gets Jealous (Mythic Misadventures Series) by Carolyn Hennesy
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • The Maze of Bones (39 Clues Series) by Rick Riordan
  • The Curse of the Campfire Weenies by David Lubar
  • The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  • City of Ashes/City of Glass (Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare