Monday, December 31, 2007

Farewell 2007

New Year's Eve is upon us. As well as another 10 " of snow!! I think we have now broken the record for the snowiest December on record. Another storm is on the way for tomorrow night. I wonder if we will be going back to school on Wednesday or if we'll have yet another snow day!!

At this time of year, we all tend to look back and reflect on the past twelve months. I usually try to pick my favorite reads of the year. But this year I haven't had time for that. I'm so busy working on my upcoming BER seminar that I've done little else. Well, I'm also trying to finish up my book too. I guess I could really use a snow day!!

ALA is just a week away. I am looking forward to it but midwinter tends to be more about meetings than attending great workshops. I have come home on Sunday so I'll miss the awards announcement on Monday morning. I'll be watching the telecast at work though.

I've uploaded a couple of more podcasts. Abeele, Veronique van den. STILL MY GRANDMA is a lovely story about a young child who starts noticing changes in Grandma. When Grandma is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, the little girl finds new ways to relate to her beloved grandmother.

Amado, Elisa. TRICYCLE is an interesting story about a little girl of means who watches while her poor neighbor steals her tricycle. The little girl must decide what to do about it. And how she feels about it.
I wish everyone a very safe, peaceful and happy New Year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Back on the podcast scene

I can't believe it has been almost 3 weeks since I posted a podcast! That is so unlike me! The holidays have been busy. We've had plenty of snow so had a delightful white Christmas. They are predicting another 4 inches tonight which should make this the snowiest December in history for us. We've already had 2 snow days and 2 delays. That's usually what we get for the whole year. There are only 2 days built into the school calendar so we may be going late this year!

My days off have been busy with lots of projects. I'm finishing up the book I'm writing and hope to have this done by the time I head back to school next week. I'm also working on my upcoming seminar for BER. And the one for Otter Creek. I've also been asked to be a regular contributer to Scholastic's new Book Wizard. Too cool. But way busy, busy, busy.

There has been a lot of talk on the lists about Sherman Alexie's book. I loved it and it is today's podcast.

Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays

I've been remiss in my podcasting and my blogging. The holidays are upon us, there is lots and lots of snow and I've been busy getting ready. I did take a quiz about holiday spirit and this may explain why I've been "away" from the computer. I guess I have an overabundance of holiday cheer!!

Your Christmas Sprit Level: 95%

Your Christmas spirit is almost as big as Christmas itself. Christmas is definitely your thing.
You celebrate Christmas with enthusiasm. You love every minute of the holidays.

Your Christmas spirit is inspiring to everyone who runs into you during the holidays.
You make everyone's day just a little bit brighter. And that's what the holidays are all about!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ladybug winner announced

It was announced Thursday afternoon on The Center for the Book Blog ( that The Secret Science Project That Almost Ate the School by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Stephen Gammell  was the winner of the 2007 Ladybug Picture Book Award.  Congratulations Judy and Stephen!!!

The Ladybug Picture Book Award is voted on by children in grades K-3 in New Hampshire.

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Wednesday Wars

Busy day today. Worked with 8th graders on their folktale lesson. The kids were so focused on reading a variety of folktales from around the world. Overheard one girl saying how great it was to be able to just sit and read picture books during class. Another was so excited to find similarities with folktales from the same country. Now we start with researching the countries or origin.

I also got to work with 6th graders on VoiceThread. I gave them minimal instruction -- just had them watch me create a short thread. Then set them loose. They are working on skills for a digital storytelling project. So, no great projects today -- just a chance to play with the site and learn what it can do. So many of them begged to be able to do more at home. You have to like that -- begging for homework!

Today's podcast features one of my very favorite books of 2007. Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt is such a wonderful story. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he was bringing me back to my own childhood.

Life during the 1960s were a bit different than we are used to now. On Wednesday afternoons, while his Catholic and Jewish schoolmates leave school to attend religious classes, Holling Hoodhood, the only Presbyterian in his seventh grade, is alone in the classroom with his teacher, Mrs. Baker. Holling is convinced that Mrs. Baker hates him. After all, if it wasn't for him, Mrs. Baker would have the afternoon to herself. But she is stuck with the only kid with nowhere to go. To fill their Wednesday afternoons, Mrs. Baker has Holling read Shakespearean plays. Much to Holling's surprise, he finds he really likes Shakespeare! And he looks forward to their Wednesday afternoon discussions. But he still thinks Mrs. Baker hates him.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Let it snow!

Yea, snow.  We're supposed to get about 12".  And no school!!!  Love these days. Time to sit back, have a cup of tea, start the fireplace and do up the Christmas cards.  I love this!

Today's podcast is for John LIthgow's book Mahalia Goes to College.  This book is based on a speech Litgow gave during college graduation.  It is a sweet story showing that, with hard work, anyone can achieve their dream.

Lithgow, John.
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2007.

Mahalia Mouse is sent out to find food for her family.  They live under a dormitory at Harvard University.  Mahalia accidentally ends up in a classroom and becomes enthralled with the science lecture going on.  Is there anyway that a little mouse can go to school at Harvard University?

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Beach Reads?

I just got back from the grocery store. The lines are really long as everyone tries to stock up on items in anticipation of the nor'easter tonight. I am always amused at the panic the first storm creates. You would think that these people had never seen 12" of snow before. It's like they fear being cut off from civilization over a few flakes of snow. Anyway, I was going down the aisle of "Seasonal Items" expecting to see lots of Christmas stuff -- which I did. I also found a book display stand. Not one to pass up a good book display, I stopped -- and burst out laughing. It was a display for Beach Reads. Guaranteed to withstand sand and surf. Perfect for your day at the beach! Someone at the store must have been cleaning out the store room and thought this would be funny for the first snow storm of the year. I wish I had thought to take a picture of it before I got home! I don't remember all the titles but I do remember that they were all from Penguin!!!

I'm resurrecting my television show -- Kids Book Beat. We've been on hiatis but it is time to start talking about book again. Most of the shows will be done in the old format -- kids sitting around discussing books. But this year we are also going to do some video casting for our school podcast and we are doing booktalks (such a surprise that I would pick that!) We have a ways to go but Tom was good enough to do our first one. These will just be getting better as we go along.

Here's Tom talking about Eldest:

Today's podcast is Levine, Gail Carson. FAIRY HAVEN AND THE QUEST FOR THE WAND

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Snow day!

OK, it's Saturday but I can dream.  I just uploaded the December update of Booktalks Quick and Simple and am watching the news.  Big doings yesterday with a hostage taking at the Clinton headquarters a few towns over.  Took over the whole television schedule for hours.  So, I'm catching up on other news and the weather.  Looks like we are in for our first big snow on Sunday night into Monday.  Looks like our first snow day on Monday!!!  So it's appropriate to feature Laminack's Snow Day on today's podcast!

Laminack, Lester L.  SNOW DAY!
Atlanta : Peachtree, 2007
IL K-3, RL 1.6
ISBN 1561454184
Wait a minute!  What did the weatherman just say?  Did he say what I think he said?  What I hope he said?  Yes!  Snow is in the air.  I can't wait.  We're sure to have a snow day tomorrow.  No alarms.  No running around getting ready.  Just sipping hot chocolate under the blanket while we watch TV.  Sledding too.  And lots of playing.  I'm sure the weatherman just said snow.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Harry Potter Personality Quiz

Don't know why I always take these things but I just can't resist.

This test is based on the principles of the Myers-Briggs Personality Typing system. The result of this quiz will tell you not only you personality type but also which major character in Harry Potter has the same personality type.

Not sure what the results mean but here they are:

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A day with the techies

Today I spent the day at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference.  It is a great conference and I wish I could have spent more than one day attending.  I was on a panel discussing using mp3 audiobooks.  But I did get to attend the keynote speech, Tim Tyson.  I also went to workshops on digital storytelling and using moodle.  And I got to play with an iTouch.  Now I really want one.  Hey, Santa.  Are you listening?

Recent podcasts uploaded:

Washington : National Geographic, 2007
IL 5-8, RL 6.1
ISBN 1426300735
A long time ago, a civilization thrived in Mexico.  They were the Aztecs and had a rich and vibrant culture.  But they disappeared in the 1500s when the Spanish came to Mexico.  If they have been gone for so long, how do we know what they were like?  How do we know what their daily routines were or how they celebrated special days?  These are the things that archaeologists discover.  Find out how they do their job while you learn about the Aztecs.

Enderle, Judith Ross. SMILE, PRINCIPESSA
New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007
IL K-3, RL 2.6
ISBN 1416910042
Principessa's father loves taking pictures of her.  Every day he takes lots of pictures.  Picture of her laughing, crying, eating, sleeping.  Everything.  When her baby brother is born, Papa takes lots of pictures of him too.  But Principessa doesn't want to share the pictures so she decides she will never smile again and doesn't want her picture taken anymore.  Can anything change her mind?

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Learning about Connecticut

Over the holidays, many of us travel to other states to visit friends and family.  Why not do a bit of research on the history of the state before you go.  National Geographic has a series of books that tell the history of the states from settlement to the birth of the nation.  Today's podcast showcases the volume on Connecticut.

Burgan, Michael.  CONNECTICUT, 1614-1776
Washington : National Geographic, 2007
IL 5-8, RL 7.7
ISBN 1426300697
OK, you've been assigned a report on a state and you have Connecticut.  Where do you start looking?  You should start here.  Burgan takes you on a journey through the history of Connecticut from the first English settlers through the beginnings of the United States.  Using first person accounts and archival images, there is much to learn about this state.

The podcast can be accessed at:

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Penguins everywhere

Today's podcast is for a cute non-fiction picture book.

New York : Chronicle Books, 2007
IL K-3, RL 3.4
ISBN 081185664X
I love going to the aquarium and seeing the penguins.  They are just so cute.  And they walk so funny.  I love how they tend to stay in groups when the run around and when they dive into the water.  In this book, you'll see lots of activities that penguins enjoy.  And you'll get an introduction to the many different kinds of penguins.

I just read about this interesting way to cook a turkey.  I wonder how long it would take to do a 20 pound bird?


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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Of podcasts and elves and parties

Today's podcast is for:


Alexander, Elizabeth.
New York : Wordsong, 2007
IL 5-8, RL 6.7
ISBN 1590784561
Back in the 1800s, African Americans had few opportunities for education.  But one courageous woman defied the bigotry of the times and created a haven for young African American women.  Prudence Crandall opened her boarding school in 1833 with 20 students from many states who traveled to Connecticut hoping to find a better life.  Many of her students were freed slaves.  It was not easy for these girls.  They faced racism and the separation from their parents.  And the townspeople made it clear they didn't want them there.  The shopkeepers refused to sell them provisions.  The doctor refused treatment for the girls.  And people pelted the school with rocks, eggs and insults.  A year after the school opened, Miss Crandall was forced to close it down.  This is the story of Miss Crandall's
School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color.

Today we had a fun day at our annual family reunion.  Lots of aunts and cousins I only see once a year.  But these are the times to catch up on everyone's life and enjoy being part of a large Irish family.  Not too many liittle ones today.  My grandsons were two of the few.  My 4 year old grandson played musical chairs with the older kids.  They were great about letting him keep getting a seat.  But when the time came that he was out, it didn't even phase him.  He just went and got one of the chairs that had been taken away and had his own game!  Too cute.

This morning while I was baking for the party, we played with a cool web site called Elf Yourself.  It does just that.  Give it a try. We spent way too much time fooling around with it and laughing hysterically.  If you want to check out Mimi and her boys,   I ended up having two Aiden's just because it was funnier that way.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Podcasts resume

OK, I finally got my voice back.  I have never had this much trouble with a cold.  What happened to the old conventional wisdom -- colds are 3 days coming, 3 days with you, and 3 days going.  This one has been "with me" for over a week now.  Not bad enough to keep me from Black Friday shopping though!!  I will admit that I bought some things for myself instead of just buying presents.  I got new computer speakers -- pretty pink ones.  I also got a new photo printer.  I've been reluctant to buy one since I worry about how much the ink will cost.  But Staples had a door buster for $9.98.  Can't beat that!

Anyway, today's podcast is for Abdel-Fattah's wonderful book "Does My Head Look Big in This? 

Abdel-Fattah, Randa.
New York : Orchard Books, 2007, c2005.
Amal is an Australian-born, Muslim Palestinian “whacked with some seriously confusing identity hyphens.”  She is your typical high school girl.  She loves shopping, watching her favorite shows, IMing her friends, and boys.  But she also decides to wear the hijab.  This is a very personal decision that she knows won't be understood by many of the people she comes into contact with everyday.  Her headmistress is concerned because it isn't part of the school uniform.  Some of her classmates wonder if she is some kind of terrorist.  But she does have some supporters.  Her friends, her teachers and even a non-Muslim boy who wants to be more than a friend, all help her realize that wearing the hijab allows her to be true to her faith and herself.


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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

The masses are fed, the grandchildren tucked in, the kids asleep on assorted couches and chairs and now it's quiet time. I love the hubbub of the day but it is such a great feeling when the day turns to night and everyone is happy and well fed. I wish this feeling to everyone.

While we were waiting for the turkey to cook, my grandson Aiden and I took a look at the new website Lookybook. The site is still in preview but looks great. Lookybook's mission is:

to create a comfortable place where a curious and devotedaudience can search, view, talk about, and buy from a diverse and rapidlyexpanding collection of picture books. We intend to create the greatestopportunity for authors, illustrators and publishers to reach interestedconsumers and dramatically extend the life of their books.

Lookybook currently features over 200 titles and is growing daily. Our goal,by mid-2008, is to feature over 1000 titles.

I didn't know if Aiden, age 4, would be interested in reading books online. He does love to be read so I thought I'd give it a try. We ended up reading 8 books before I had to stop to get back to the kitchen. The site gives you access to the entire book -- not just a few pages. We really liked the selection and being able to grab another book as soon as we were finished. And also putting the book away if we didn't want to finish. The one problem I had was the size. I didn't see a way to enlarge the image and some of that print was pretty small for these old eyes. I need to play with it some more to see if I'm missing a full screen option. Aiden did ask if we could buy a couple of the books because he wanted to touch them.

When I had to go back to the kitchen, I set Aiden up on BookPals so he could be read to by a celebrity. He liked it but not for too long. At bedtime, he asked if he could have a real book instead of the "puter book". Gotta love it.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

We are in good hands

NH Representative Paul Hodes Reads at my library!

Today started out with a great program in the library. Americans for Campaign Reform held an essay contest for 8th graders and the three finalists were celebrated this morning. NH Rep. Paul Hodes and Stoneyfield Farms president Gary Hirshberg were the main judges. The three students read their essays "What I Would Do If I Were President". I was so blown away by these essays. I wouldn't be surprised if one of these kids did become president some day. Even if they don't, they will be doing something wonderful. With kids like this, we don't have to worry about our future. We are leaving it in great hands. Congratulations Ethan, Laurie and Morgan.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Strasser, Todd. Can't Get There From Here

Today's podcast is for Todd Strasser's book Can't Get There From Here

I had planned to record some podcasts today to get me through the week.  Unfortunately, I have a terrible case of laryngitis and sound horrible.  Believe me, no one wants to listen to me like this.  I was complaining to my daughter that I had trouble getting anyone to help me in the electronics store yesterday.  Acutally, it makes sense that no one wanted to be near me!!  But, here is the last pre-laryngitis podcast I have prepared.

Strasser, Todd.
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004.

Why don't you just go home?  Can't.  Mother's new husband is still there.  Can't.  Mother threw me out.  Can't.  Don't want to talk about it.  Can't get there from here.  So here they are.  Street kids.  Trying to take care of each other when they can't even take care of themselves.  They are cold, dirty, hungry and hopeless.  Society doesn't care about them.  They are throw away kids.  But you will care about them by the end of this book.  Get to know Maybe and Tears and Rainbow and Jewel and the others as they form a tribe and try to survive on the streets of New York City.


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Saturday, November 17, 2007

ATN Reading Lists

Recent changes/additions to ATN Reading Lists wiki.  Check out all the pages at:

Page Date Author Comment
Noodlehead Yesterday 1:17 pm guest (
Books written in verse Thursday, 6:23 pm guest (
Earth Day Read-alouds Thursday, 5:29 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Earth Day, elementary Thursday, 5:27 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Capacity Thursday, 5:20 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Buddhism, Fiction Thursday, 5:16 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Boys, Teen Thursday, 5:14 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Books without clear endings Thursday, 5:12 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Body modification Thursday, 5:09 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Analogies Thursday, 5:05 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Afterlife Thursday, 5:02 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Afterlife Thursday, 5:01 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
ADHD Thursday, 4:56 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
3rd grade read-alouds Thursday, 4:53 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
2nd grade Thursday, 4:48 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Signal drummers Thursday, 4:43 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Seizures Thursday, 4:41 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Science, easy Thursday, 4:36 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Science fiction for young Thursday, 4:33 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Scary but funny Thursday, 4:12 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Drinking and Driving Wednesday, 3:46 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Covers - Crime Scene Wednesday, 3:44 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Clouds Wednesday, 3:41 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
clique Wednesday, 3:40 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Boredom Wednesday, 3:34 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Book care Wednesday, 3:28 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Book care Wednesday, 3:28 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Bad Day Wednesday, 3:25 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Apostrophe Wednesday, 3:22 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
If you liked Fallen Angels... (deleted) Wednesday, 3:19 pm booktalker2 booktalker2 Deleted Page
If you liked Fallen Angels Wednesday, 3:17 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
If you liked Fallen Angels... (deleted) Wednesday, 3:14 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Themes Wednesday, 3:09 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Absentee parent Wednesday, 3:08 pm booktalker2 booktalker2
Picture books - high school Wednesday, 6:21 am maryschwander maryschwander
Tall tales Nov 13, 2007 6:18 pm KristaKat KristaKat
Tall tales Nov 13, 2007 5:41 pm KristaKat KristaKat
Historical Fiction - 9th grade Nov 13, 2007 5:40 pm KristaKat KristaKat
Japanese folktales Nov 13, 2007 5:34 pm KristaKat KristaKat
Books written in verse Nov 13, 2007 5:29 pm KristaKat KristaKat
Gingerbread boy Nov 13, 2007 5:19 pm KristaKat KristaKat
Feminist fairy tales Nov 13, 2007 5:07 pm KristaKat KristaKat
Fantasy, Non-scary Nov 13, 2007 5:04 pm KristaKat KristaKat
Books that persuade Nov 13, 2007 5:01 pm KristaKat KristaKat
Adventure Nov 13, 2007 4:59 pm KristaKat KristaKat
American Children Classics Nov 13, 2007 4:51 pm KristaKat KristaKat

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