Monday, December 31, 2012

Did you reach your goals in 2012?

Reading goals for 2012:

Gah! Why can't I EVER make my goal?  47 and a half books and I'm still 6% short!!!  The average is 58 for Goodreads. The only thing that makes me feel better is that my stats on Goodreads show I have 13815 pages for the year PLUS at least 35 children's books I didn't count. At least I have that.....

Anyone make their goal????

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Montanamarynotmartha has read 47 books toward a goal of 50 books.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Meet Morris Lessmore

I have to share with you the most amazing children's picture book ever. And if you are not into picture books, how about an award wining Pixar "short" video or an iPad/iPhone App or an interactive webpage?  

This story has the best opening line and the narrator brings it to life..... 

Morris Lessmore loved words.  He loved stories.  He loved books.  His life was a book of his own writing, one orderly page after another.  He would open it every morning and write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped.
The picture book goes on to show Morris living out his life with books.. He lives with them, reads to them, fixes their covers, and grows old with them. Meanwhile he's writing his own book to leave behind to keep his book-friends company. 

On the iPad App, you can listen to the narration while you create the action on each page. Or, if you want less interaction and more focus on the paper book, you can use the other $.99 iTunes IMAG-N-O-TRON app to experience "augmented reality". It's a fancy word for mixing a 3-d image with your surroundings. You can print off an 8 1/2 by 11 inch page like above and hold your iPad or phone over it and it will mix the images as you move the device - it looks like books flying around you. The app is only a few dollars and the printouts are available with it. I used the iPad app with my boys and book club students and they loved it, but the print outs would have been fun at the club, too.

What fun for under $10!  And what an amazing way to share the love of books than with a mash of old fashioned writing and artwork and modern technology - no matter your age, it just draws you in!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Did I just fulfill a global prophecy?

Hey Bloggy-World! I have missed you!! I am recovering from a very exhausting semester - but IT'S ALL GOOD because I had TWO literature classes and I am now "edge-u-mucated" in Young Adult literature and Children's literature - my TWO favorite things.  Hopefully I can share what I learned about strategies and choosing quality books and maaaybe I'll share link to my Literacy Strategies website I created.  Onto the good stuff.....the B-L-O-G.

    First off, I have to thank Susan Kaye Quinn, author of the amazing Mindjack Trilogy for the email suggesting some fantastic and FREE newer titles available in e-books. Somehow I got carried away and now have 26 new FREE ebooks! Visit Susan's Blog

And that brings me to my deep-thinking, question of the order of the universe.......

If I downloaded a free e-copy of H.G. Wells' Time Machine 

did I just fulfill a prophecy?

Remember this bookshelf???

EEERRRRIEEE!  (click to cue creepy music)

Have you ever had that happen??  Ever fall down a well and send your dog for help?
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting - Count your blessings!

Could it be any easier? Everything is handed to us - candidate info, ballot issue pamphlet written by the Secretary of State right in our mailboxes, time away from work and school to vote and on campus they will even drive you to the polling station. We are so spoiled!
      This semester, we read a children's picture book set under Stalin's rule called Breaking Stalin's Nose. This book is no "fluff and puff". It is a serious look from a child's perspective about living under Stalin's "democracy"  - it gave me chills! 
     Imagine what it's like to be told you have a vote, but be forced to vote how the authority's want you to vote. Voting any other way would mean you are a traitor and traitors go to the labor camp. Usually we call that "dystopian", but it's real life, baby. This little book based on the experiences of Eugene Yelchin and his father can make you count your blessings all the way to the voting booth:

Find Breaking Stalin's Nose at

Monday, November 5, 2012

Children's Festival of the Book

     Bozemanites love their books!  For a city of 40,000 people they recently built a 50,000 square foot LEED certified library. That's just under 1 square foot per person. With the average novel having a one inch spine, I'd say they have 12 books per person in Bozeman.

     So, what to do with all that space? CELEBRATE! The 5th annual Children's Festival of the Book was out of this world! Caldecott winner Paul Zelinsky gave a wildly entertaining presentation about how he became an illustrator and how illustrating a book happens. Here he is signing Z is for Moose for my son, Dakota.

     And Ernest Hemmingway's grandson who is a fantastic children's author and illustrator, Edward Hemmingway is signing Bump in the Night for him too. He looks so much like his grandfather!

Both are unique stories - Moose is taking over the boring alphabet book, Bump in the Night is about a good monster who captures all the other monsters for the boy who is afraid of the dark.

And for young adult literature fans, Jeanne DuPrau's City of Ember novel and graphic novel adaptation. What was even more fantastic than having her sign them, was sitting in on her presentation titled, "The Road to Ember".

Word of wisdom shared by Jeanne for the audience who may want to write:

  • Know your grammar
  • Write about what you like
  • Write about what you dislike
  • Write about what you know
  • Write about what terrifies you
...and all those people and things important to you will come to the surface.

Her presentation was followed by a hands on circuit building session with light bulbs and wires - so cool! 

After listening to Jeanne DuPrau, my 9 year old told a wild story all the way home about HIS ideal underground city. I tell you, he didn't stop with one novel idea but told about each book in his series. The boys and I can't WAIT for the next festival!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Do I look like I'm ready for Comic-Con?

Is this a writer's costume?

      I got the shirt made  and the inspirational Wonder-socks. How about the Comic-Con pass I'm trying to flip over in the pict - maybe that's convincing? Or maybe the Query/Reject letters in the briefcase? If only I had a picture of myself with Chewbaka, that would be convincing!

     It was tons of fun! I couldn't help thinking that when writers are in Starbucks typing away on their laptops, are the really just collecting data on strangers?

And to make it even more fun, I got to make my teenagers VOTE FOR PEDRO shirts and one most certainly pulled off the Napoleon costume! 

And to top it all off, our church's Harvest Party was such a blast AND had team of Fire-dancers!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Need Costume Help!

Here we go readers, I need some help with my costume for tomorrow. I am going to be a writer!

So far, I have a shirt in the works that says:

"Careful, or you'll end up in my novel."

A Starbucks cup.

A briefcase with query letters sticking out - rejects included.

Ratty Notebook

Pens in my hair

What else do I need to be convincing as a writer? (besides talent!)


Friday, October 5, 2012

Banned Book Week Wrap Up

     Having given Banned Books Week a shot this year, I'm trying to put it someplace in my head - someplace concrete, like yes, I agree, no I don't. Looks like I'm still on the fence. I still think school libraries need some censorship based on maturity - a parent permission shelf would be a good idea for over-the-top novels. In my opinion, public libraries should only have censorship when it comes to the safety of others. For example, books on bomb making at home and books written by pedophiles really shouldn't be bought with public tax dollars for citizens use. 

     In our class session we learned that the state of Arizona is banning all curriculum and library books that support multicultural education on the basis that it is "Anti-American". Wow-that's progress. Here we are taking courses designed to make us be culturally literate teachers and have Indian Education for All requirements for our lessons. We are learning to teach with a completely different approach and there they are in Arizona - de-evolving! 

     How about this for food for thought -  Three books I was really surprised to see on the banned list are Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain and Are You There God? It's me Margaret. 
     I read an article recently that someone was proposing to write a censored version of Hucklberry Finn for classroom use (with good intentions due to use of the N word). And almost every girl between the ages of 30-45 loved Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's me Margaret. So there you have it! The answer to the most often challenged author is Judy Blume with 5 books on the banned list.  

Which book surprised you the most?

all images sourced from

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Banned books prove that....

.....the written word is more powerful than movies.

What? How could that be when people spend millions to see box office hits every week, but many people don't read at all?

Hilarious, yet highly offensive & challenge-worthy!
The simple fact that people take the time to submit challenges for and protest and even burn books is proof. When's the last time anyone legally challenged a movie in a public library?*

What do you think? Can you disprove it?

                            Do you see the POWA'?


*Credit to Sheila at MSU library for hinting at this
Tuesday, October 2, 2012

More on Banned Books Week

     So, in our Children's Literature class today we had a good half-hour presentation all about the history of censorship and the processes of challenging a book in a school and it was really interesting!

I won The Perks of Being a Wallflower
     Book banning goes back a long, long way and sometimes you can see why, for the time period, a book would be challenged. It was even more interesting because she focused on specific Montana challenges. Imagine your teenager graduating high school in Butte, MT and writing a book calling their hometown residents "dry and warped" -  banned!

     She helped us make sense of it all and I feel much better knowing that books in school libraries have to have certain criteria to be included in the collection. So, no, my teenager probably won't find a copy of Shades of Grey in his high school collection and write a book report on it. And yes, teachers can have some say if a student chooses something that's way above their maturity level for an assignment. Still, the amount of backup required for a teacher's choice is incredible.Whew! 

   And, just for fun she had trivia and prizes and I answered this question correctly and won a banned book I know nothing about, lets see if you can guess:

What children to adult author is most currently challenged?

Here's a link for hints - this author has 5 books on the top 100 Most Challenged books.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Banned Books Week - help me sort this out...

The college is really into Banned Books Week. I spent some time reading their display as well as this poster on my literature professor's door:

     I was reading the reasons on this poster and for their purposes I can see why they banned or required parent signature for some of these titles. I'm still not sure what's up with Mary Maclane, but what's the whole push to get kids and young adults to read banned books? We are having a class discussion Monday night on this, but honestly I'm not sure what to think or even how to ask the right question of the presenter to put it all in perspective. Should children and teens have free access to all pieces of literature? In what ways does it benefit the student to seek out a banned book rather than choose from award winners, such as Newberry's? Then there's The Giver - both banned and awarded - I was blown away by this book as an adult but some elementary students may be too sensitive for the book's perspective on the value of life the characters had. I'm not concerned with college students, but as a teacher - how do we approach the topic of banned books?  Should we promote a book just because it's banned ?Even pointing them out as "banned" makes kids want them. What do you think?

And just for fun...

Friday, September 28, 2012
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Orbis Pictus...ain't no hocus-pictus
Anything can happen during an average college day. Friday - the Undie-Run came through the lunch room, Monday - bombed a physics test, Tuesday - our Children's Literature class had the honor of going through all the Orbis Pictus books nominated for the 2013 Quality Children's Non-Fiction award!

Not all that actually looked like this:

and this.....

      Once we gave our recommendations according to their criteria for the award, we sat back and thought about what it meant. "Oh, just some ol' non-fiction award," most people would think, but the reality was, we were sorting through any new release for children that was not fiction - that means EVERYTHING ELSE! Math, Social Studies, Anatomy, Science. It was so interesting to see books that were fascinating and surprising to see books that made you go, huh? How did THAT get in print? Even a big ol' typo in a book that had very few words - seriously! 

     So it's up to the NCTE Committee to select the winners, but it was amazing getting to give it a whirl and see what it's like to judge brand-spankin' new literature.
Monday, September 17, 2012

Feed your brain with TED

     Most of us are happy with what we know. We go along our day just being ourselves, working, raising kids, sleeping. It isn't until something new and bizarre comes along that we kind of question - how in the world did that  person think of that? 

Think Bill Gates, Steve Jobs.

I read an interesting article titled  "31 Ways to get Smarter in 2012" listing foods that reduce the risk of dementia, coordination exercises, brain games, art websites like MoMA, and my new favorite TED -

Not this Ted

TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design and has conference style short videos you can watch of people sharing their ideas. They've expanded their content and you can listen to short presentations like a man discussing his idea that the path to design should favor the end user - specifically his infant incubator that won an award but was far from practical. He shares how medical technology needs to be affordable, accessible, and maintainable for third-world hospitals. 
     My favorite so far is the body engineer, Lucy McRae - imagine swallowing a pill and suddenly your sweat is scented with your favorite perfume. You have to watch her 6 minute video and see just what she's coming up with for bodies - imagine an interactive tattoo that lights up when you touch it - WOW. They even have a phone app for TED. Imagine yourself walking into the dentist office, watching a video or two in the waiting room and leaving with new ideas like liquid filled tubing clothes that change color with your mood - sure beats reading about Brad & Angelina and how they make all us real people feel! 
      I challenge you to click on Lucy McRae's link above and spend 6 minutes wow-ing your brain. 

What ideas would you present at a TED conference?  How about interactive landscaping? Select the book you are reading and as you walk through your yard, the scenery changes to the Wayless Wood in Inkheart with the fire elves and water nymphs. Oh yeah, I'm there!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
      Kristin Cashore mesmerized me with her characters Katsa and Po in this fantasy/paranormal adventure.  Graceling takes place in the fantasy world called The Seven Kingdoms, where occasionally a person is born with a "Grace". By the time they turn two, their eyes will change to two different colors revealing that they are graced. A grace can be only slightly useful, like being a gifted cake baker or  invaluable like unstoppable sword fighter.

     Katsa is graced, only she's led to believe that her grace is fighting. Not only an excellent archer, she can also fight hand-to-hand and sword fight. No one in the seven kingdoms had ever defeat her, which makes her valuable. He uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, forces her to kill for him until she is motivated by his evil to leave his kingdom and transport a child princess, Bitterblue, to safety in another kingdom.

     Early in the story, Katsa and Po meet  when he allows Katsa to escape King Murgon's courtyard so that he might see what she's up to rescuing his Lienid uncle. The build a strong, beautiful friendship based on trust. Together Po and Katsa try to solve the mystery of who ordered the kidnapping of his old, frail uncle. They spend their time spying and training for battle, fighting  with each other as opponents. Although Po has unrivaled sword fighting ability, Katsa's grace makes her  unbeatable, even for him. One of my favorite scenes in Graceling is when Katsa and Po really go at it fair and square (almost!). Po never expresses embarrassment from the many, many times she's beat him in training, and Katsa is never boastful of her grace. She always just says that's just the way she is, almost sad at times because of the constant threat of people trying to manipulate her for use of her grace.

     Katsa makes a rash decision to take Bitterblue, the young princess of Monsea, over the impassable Monsean mountains in winter. Her trials reveal to her the true nature of her grace, which was not merely fighting. Katsa and Po meet up and Po sufferes a terrible accident that changes his demeanor for the worse. Can Katsa get Bitterblue to safety against all possible odds? Can Katsa help turn Po's outlook back to what it once was? Can she get him to share his secrets?

     Graceling is written in a way that takes you on a nail-biting adventure and soothes it with a friendship that stands out even farther than the romance that  buds from it. Katsa's self-discovery, unashamed and unassuming of her magnificence will make Katsa your heroin for life.

I give Graceling Photobucket 5 stars  and a quiver full of arrows for my heroin!

Check out this alternate cover - worth 1000 words describing Katsa 
See also the companion books Fire & Bitterblue

You can read my review of Fire (here) and as soon as I read Bitterblue I'll post a review.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wordy-Nerdy Wednesday

     A new addition to Reading, Writing, Raisin' Boys : 
Wordy-Nerdy Wednesday

     Inspired by Ingrid Law, author of Savvy  -  we all need to learn a new goofy word now and then to spark our creativity. Her entire book Scumble was born out of a word of the day definition. BUT, why let Webster or Oxford generate some stuffy, mundane words, noooo, let's have some fun.
the Burgess
      For our second Wordy-Nerdy Wednesday I bring you the Burgess Unabridged - A Classic Dictionary of Words You Have Always Needed, by Gelett Burgess (henceforth - the Burgess) .

This week's definition:

Spuzz, n. 1. Mental energy, an aggressive intellect.  2. Stamina, force, spice
Spuz'zard, n. An active, forceful thinker. 2. A cocktail with a "kick" in it.
Spuz'zy, a. 1. Highly seasoned. charged with brain-electricity.

New Spice Girl "Spuzzy Spice"

Thank you Burgess for providing that definition. I once read that if you make up a word for a novel, you have to use it at least twice to "own" it. Here's my attempt:

Hit me with a double-shot mocha latte, 'cause I got to get my SPUZZ goin' on!  

That girl's got so much SPUZZ she makes my brain hurt when she talks!

Now it's up to you readers - use "Spuzz" in a sentence this week and let us know how it goes!  Can you own it? 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mom Monday: What could be better than...

watching your son's first game of the season?

Watching TWO son's first games of the season!! 7th grade and "Froshmore"

And next year, when Joshua is driving, we will have son #3, too!


GOOO Panthers!!!