Today’s thought process went something like this:

“Ugh, it’s 8:30am.  I need to take more decongestant.”

Sleep until 11:00.


“We need to go out and buy Mucinex…my mom and the doctor said it’s my best bet.  OH MY GOD IT’S CYBILS DAY!”

Run down the stairs, turn on the computer, wait impatiently for it to wake up.  Load up the Cybils website and squee while reading all of the winners!

Check them out for yourself!


Hot Books in My Classroom

I haven’t done a Hot Books post in a while. But I’m back with a great list.  I was out for the past two days with an awful cold, and when I came back today I had kids begging to talk to me about their books.  Here are some of the books they chatted about today!

The Luxe series is being passed from one girl to another in my morning class. Every morning one of them runs into school just bursting to talk about what she read the night before. And we have to whisper, because there are five girls behind her who haven’t read as far into the series as she has!  It’s awesome.

And of course, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw hasn’t been seen since I first handed it to a student last month. Other than bursts of hysterical laughter during independent reading.

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and The Graveyard Book have been gaining a lot of fans lately. In fact, when I came back to school today one of my reluctant readers told me he had finished The Graveyard Book and it was an awesome book, “maybe even better than the dead and the gone!"

Two of my more reluctant girl readers have been struggling to find books they enjoy. But just this past month I think we may have found it! One of them is reading Wendy Mass’ Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall and loving it. The intriguing plot, combined with the ease of the verse novel set-up, has really hooked her. And her friend can not put down Frances O’Roark Dowell’s The Kind of Friends We Used to Be, the sequel to The Secret Language of Girls.  I am thrilled that they are both finding their niche!

These are just a few of the most popular books in my classroom right now!

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

I first got wind of Janni Lee Simner’s Bones of Faerie at a publisher’s preview last fall.  When the representative described the book as post-apocalyptic fantasy, I was immediately intrigued.  I spotted a copy of Bones of Faerie at Barnes and Noble last week and fell in love with the cover (contrasting black and pale blue).  While I was sick yesterday I was able to finish the book and now I want to make everyone I know read it!

Post-apocalyptic fantasy?  Faeries?  Dystopian?  Can all of these words really describe one book?  And can that book possibly be good with all of that going on?  In Janni Lee Simner’s case, the answer is a resounding yes!  

The War between humanity and Faerie devastated both sides.  Fifteen-year old Liza only knows about Before from warnings and stories told by humans who lived through the War.  There are references to things like TV, airplanes, and plastic- all gone since the War.  Magic is forbidden now, and nothing in Faerie has been seen or heard from since the War.  However, the remnants of the War still remain- plants that are now predators, animals that have developed increased predatory skills toward humans, and crops that fight against being harvested.  

Liza’s town is closed to strangers and they struggle to survive.  If children are born with the markings of magic (pale hair) they are killed.  Liza’s baby sister, Rebecca, was left on a hillside to die when her father saw that she was clearly fay.  Liza’s mother runs away soon after, and Liza follows when she realizes she, too, might be magic.  

She is joined by Matthew, a friend who shares his secret with her- he is magic.  Together, they seek out her mother, making new friends along the way.  Liza begins to realize that not all towns are like hers.  And that maybe magic can be good.  Maybe the Faerie and human worlds can coexist in peace.  Just maybe.

This is a though-provoking page-turner that and I really, really enjoyed it.  The post-apocalyptic magic angle is one I haven’t seen explored before and yet it worked so well.  You will be hooked as soon as you read the first paragraph of this debut YA from Janni Lee Simner.  Simner has crafted a believable, haunting world  and I hope that she writes more about the War!  In fact, I am already dying for a prequel, to learn exactly what happened between Faerie and humanity.  Thankfully, I am at least a bit appeased by Simner’s short story in  Coyote Wild Magazine, “Invasive Species,” set in the world of Bones of Faerie. 

If you love dystopian fiction, this one is for you!


Too sick to review today.  I promise reviews tomorrow!

Swamped with report cards

This past week has been one filled with report cards, report cards, and more report cards.  And on top of that, I now have an awful cold!  But now I am relaxing while watching the Westminster Dog Show, one of my favorite events of the year.  While I relax, here are some random bits I picked up around the web this week:

  • The Library of Congress’ Flickr Photostream– So many cool photos, with more being added everyday.  
  • This phenomenal chalk art is absolutely stunning.  My favorite is the monarch, of course.  But all of them are awesome.  Thanks to the London Paper.
  • Classroom 2.0 if full of ideas for using technology in the classroom.  I’ve only explored a little bit so far, but I love what I have found.

Memoir Monday

   He is almost as old as me.  In fact, he has been in my life since my second day on this earth.  Doggyhat is my teddy bear.  Never a dog, and no longer wearing a hat, he has been by my side (or on my bed) for my entire life.  He has moved from one home to another with me.  He came to college with me.  He moved into my condo with me.  And someday he will be given to my child.

Oh sure- my mom tried to replace him more than once.  I once went to bed as a child only to discover an impostor Doggyhat!  He was bigger, newer, softer (and certainly cleaner) and I threw a fit.  Doggyhat was irreplaceable and my mom learned that very quickly.  Sure enough, within a few minutes the original Doggyhat was back in my bed after being rescued from the trash and quickly washed.  And the impostor disappeared, handed off to a younger sibling.

Small enough to fit in the crook of my arm, my pink teddy bear is missing a few patches of fur, his nose is scratched and dented, and he lost his hat decades ago.  But nothing makes me feel better than glancing to my bedside table and seeing him on my shelf.  He can’t talk.  He can’t make a sound.  But a quick brush of his fur and I am transported back to the most comforting times of my life with the most important people in my life.

Flip Video Camera

Agh!  I just caved and bought the Flip Video Ultra Series Camcorder, 30-Minutes (White) from Amazon (Deal of the Day)! It’s 60% off and I think it will be awesome to use in the classroom. I can already foresee a future of book trailers, book commercials, interviews, digital storytelling, and more!  The deal is only good for today, and is the cheapest price in 9 months.  Come on, you know you want one too.  So that I have someone else to commiserate with. OK, or plan with!

Anyone else use a Flip in their classroom? How do you use it?


(I figure it will also be good to have around for non-school related things, too.  I really should own a video camera!)