Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson

Leepike Ridge first came to my attention over the summer, when I read a review on a long-forgotten blog. Every so often I would search for it in a local bookstore, but it was never in-stock. I was again intrigued when it was nominated for the middle-grade Cybils and spent some more time searching for it. Finally, my wonderful media specialist ordered it for our school library. As soon as it was cataloged, covered, and put into circulation I snapped it up!

This is an awesome book! First of all, N.D. Wilson can write. I started out flagging the various passages that thrilled me in one way or another, but quickly ran out of steam. I was flagging something on every page! His sensory details, similes, metaphors, and all-around descriptions are mesmerizing. Take a moment and savor this, one of my favorite descriptions:

“After a few mouthfuls of moon-flavored air, even the stubbornly drowsy can find themselves wide-eyed. Tom was hardly drowsy, and he took more than a few mouthfuls. By the time he had reached the base of the rock, his senses were heightened nearly to the point of bursting. All of the normal noises of life were gone, leaving behind the secretive sounds, the shy sounds, the whispers and conversations of moss disputing with grass over some soft piece of earth, or the hummingbirds snoring…”

Just WOW. And every passage is like this! Even better, every passage is like while still being extremely readable and not overly academic. There are certain books that I consider well-written but I can not get a single child to pick up and read. They are too heavy-armed for many of my students. However, I know this will not be the case with Wilson’s novel. I’ve already recommended it to one of my students, a great adventure-lover.

Now for the story….Tom is a kid. He lives on top of a rock, in an old house that’s literally chained to the ground. He’s not too thrilled that his mom is considering marrying her boyfriend, Jeff, a teacher from his school. When a new refrigerator is delivered on the same day that his mother ponders accepting Jeff’s proposal, Tom takes the large box and sets off sailing down the creek that runs through his yard. Rebellious and angry, he rides the current for miles, eventually falling asleep. He awakens when the water becomes rough and he is suddenly pulled under a ridge and into the bowels of the mountain. He is alone, and trapped. Save for a dog and a corpse to keep him company….

I hesitate to summarize anymore of the plot for fear of spoilers. Tom is brave, scared, brilliant, naive, and in a million other ways a normal eleven year old boy. He is Robinson Crusoe. He is Odysseus. He is MacGuyver. He is eleven.

 

This is an adventure story; an Indiana Jones for a new generation, and Odyssey for a new century. I highly recommend it!

 

N.B. How can you not love a book that begins with one of the greatest leads I have ever encountered?

 

In the history of the world there have been lots of onces and lots of times, and every time has had a once upon it.Most people will tell you that the once upon a time happened in a land far, far away, but it really depends on where you are. The once upon a time may have been just outside your back door. It may have been beneath your very feet. It might not have been in a land at all but deep in the sea’s belly or bobbing around on its back.

 

 

Poetry

I am sitting here, trying to plan for April. In reading workshop we will be studying the Holocaust and reading Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic.  I began reviewing my great big binder this weekend and I have a rough sketch of my unit.  I plan to spend spring break finalizing my plans and gathering up any more materials that I might need.  I feel confident and this is one of my favorite units to teach. It is also one of the most important, I feel.

In writing workshop, I am planning to study poetry. I have been reading Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School by Georgia Heard and getting some great ideas.  Right now, I am struggling to find a way to start.  I want to really pull my kids in, start with a bang.  I know that my first lesson can make or break te unit because they have a lot of preconceived notions about poetry.  Thankfully, we do a monthly poetry museum where they bring in a poem of their choice and share it with the class.  But of course, I know they won’t make the connection between that and the genre study on poetry.

I am putting a call out to the educational blogosphere- D=does anyone have a great way to begin a unit on poetry?  Or any recommendations on other professional resources?  My biggest problem is finding something grade appropriate.  A lot of the poetry lessons and resources I find are aimed at K-3.  I am interested in 6-8, if at all possible.

Slice of Life Challenge #13

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I have an addictive personality- my vices are many.  Not the average vices of a 324-yr old, though.  I am obsessed with office and school supplies.  Post-its, pens, notebooks, markers, pencils, the list goes on and on.  One of my favorite store is OfficeDepot because of their phenomenal clearance section.  In the past I have purchased Post-it notes for $0.25.  And Post-it notes are my worst vice.  Well, Post-its and Moleskines.

For the past week I have been planning a trip to OfficeDepot because I hadn’t been there in a while.  This morning I discovered that this week’s circular has a coupon for $10 off $25 which also made me excited.  Thankfully, I discovered the coupon before heading to the store and not after it, like I usually do.

Upon entering the store I made a beeline to the left-hand corner in the front, the bright red signs and exclamation points drawing me in like a moth to the flame.  This was a particularly good day for clearance!  There were Crayola art tools for $2, 5-packs of bubble mailers for $1, Expo marker holders for $2, calendars for $2, and much more!  I began pulling items off the shelves, balancing them in my arms.  Soon enough, I realized I would need a hand cart- I couldn’t keep carrying all of the items I was grabbing!

Bubble mailers, check.  Post-its, check.  Crayola Explosions for my little sister, check.  Expo case, check.  My hand cart was quickly filling up.  I was attempting to reach a total of $25 so that I could use my coupon, but it wasn’t happening.   I just kept adding to my order and I still wasn’t close enough!

Shopping for office supplies relaxes me.  And I love new supplies for school.  It reminds me of the first day of school, back when I was a student.  Walking out of the store with my two ginormous bags, I smiled.  This was a great start to my week!

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