Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Support A Local Bookstore

Many of you know it has been my lifelong dream to open my own children's bookstore.  Recently, I have been wondering if my passion for literature is better suited for another future.  However, there is one bookstore owner in this world who has already started the dream...and is need of your help.

Lorem Ipsum Books, in Inman Square, a happening place right on the Cambridge/Somerville border in Massachusetts, is on the brink of closure.  When I say brink, I mean the FOR REAL brink.  As in, they need to raise a lot of money by TOMORROW or the bookstore will be closed. (You can read about the day I first fell for Lorem Ipsum here.)

Matt Mankins is the owner of Lorem Ipsum.  He opened the bookstore about 8 years ago after graduating from MIT.  He has made a huge effort to embrace technology in the the ever-changing face of the book business.  While he admits that not all of it worked the way he hoped, he has a plan for the new future of Lorem Ipsum.  However, to make that future a reality, he has 29 hours (as of right now while I am typing this) to raise the money.

I gave.  I don't have much, but I did it.  Because for a small amount, I can make someone else's dream come true.  Imagine if this were you.  Imagine if you had a dream, on the cusp of greatness, and you just needed folks to come together to help you out.  You would be emailing everyone to get support.  You would tweet, Facebook, call, write, etc. 

The world could use more books people.  More books, less guns.  There, I said it.  Whether it is $10 or $2,500... send your love and your money to something that makes things better...

To donate whatever you can, click here.  AND SPREAD THE WORD PEOPLE!!!!


Monday, January 28, 2013

And then THIS happened

Yeah, we have been there since
the beginning!
As I have mentioned via Twitter and our Facebook page over the last couple of weeks, today was the big day, the American Library Association Youth Media Awards...aka the party where we find out who won all of the awards for children's literature!  This year I was especially excited because there was a lot of buzz about two of my favorites from 2012.

So, this morning, thanks to the world of technology, I set up live streaming of the awards.  As my students entered the classroom at 8 am, they were greeted with the faces of librarians, a sheet to keep track of the winners of each award, and my giddy, overly-smiley face.  One little guy said, "Meg, this is like the Oscars for you." Yup.  That's how I roll.


Getting ready to watch live!
Our favorites this year were Wonder by R.J. Palacio and anything by Jon Klassen.  (Remember, we stormed his book release of This is Not My Hat back in the fall. And we are slightly obsessed with him in Room 39.)  We watched, hands clutching our papers, as we got closer and closer to the final awards.

Sadly, Wonder did not win...even more sad it wasn't even an honor book.  (Think Silver Medal.)  However, the Newbery winner was The One and Only Ivan, which my after school book club, GAB (Girls and Books) just happens to be reading!  Lots of shrieks for that one!

The real excitement came when they announced the Caldecott Medal for illustrations.  We all sorta groaned when Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen was awarded a Caldecott Honor (Again, think silver medal) because we thought that meant no love, again, for Jon Klassen.  Boy were we in for a treat!  Jon Klassen won!  For This is Not My Hat!  The very book that we got signed...on the release date...in a small bookstore in our neighborhood!


Jon Klassen FOR THE WIN!!

Many of you know I have a goal of making authors the new celebrities.  Today, it felt like it was real.  Kids were walking around saying things like, "Oh, yeah, I met Jon.  He drew a picture on my book."  When we read This is Not My Hat...for the 3rd time today...one kid asked if the big fish really did eat the little fish in the end.  I was about to explain my thoughts when one little guy raised his hand and said, "OOOh!  I remember what Jon Klassen said at the thing!"  "Oh yeah?  What did he say?" I responded.  "He said, 'I guess.'"  We have decided tomorrow will be Jon Klassen Day and we are all wearing hats. 

It was a magical day in my classroom.  My class felt a strong connection to real life authors.  Life is pretty good for us, how are you doing Mr. Klassen?

Oh, and for a complete list of all today's winners and honor books, check out this link. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Time to Dance!

I rarely ever watch TV but I LOVE New Girl with Zooey Deschanel.  This week she made a break through with one of her students and had her own teacher "victory" dance.  I was rolling!  You gotta love TV that shows what teachers are really like!  All you other teachers have victory dances too... right?

Yeah, so as I was watching I thought, "YES!  I will find a short clip of her dance for Dance Friday!"  Alas, I cannot find it anywhere on the interwebs. (If you find it for me I will love you forever!) However, I landed on this video that is a sort of complement to the movie 500 Days of Summer. Zooey Deschanel + Joseph Gordon Levitt.  The term adork-able was invented for them. The song is by She & Him, a band featuring Zooey herself and M. Ward

So, for today's Dance Friday (yeah, the tradition is lasting...so far!)  I am bringing you the runner up to Zooey's teacher dance.  Happy Dance Friday!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sharing the Love

2012 Newbery Winner
Count down until the ALA Book Awards are announced...5 days!  I am going to try to stream them live in my classroom this year.

And, since it 'tis the season' our school decided to host it's own book award.  For the first time ever, we created the Wolf Award.  (Our school mascot is a wolf.)  It was a fun process that started back in December, before the break.  We took a look at a variety of processes for awarding a book and came up with our own hybrid formula. It worked like this:

1.  All students in the Middle School (Grades 4-6 at this point) could nominate any book they had read in 2012 to win the award.
2.  A small group of teachers met, looked at the nominations, and narrowed the selection down to 3 books.
3.  Any student who wanted to participate in selecting the winner, thus becoming a part of the "Wolf Award Committee," had to read all 3 books and choose one to be the winner.
4.  The Wolf Award Committee met on two separate occasions, the first to discuss the books, the second to place a vote.

Last Wednesday (and sadly the day I was sick in bed), two of our committee members presented the award winning book.  The book will be purchased for every classroom in our school and will have our own Wolf Award seal on the front cover.  We are also sending a copy with the seal to the author of the book.

I know you are all dying to know our nominations.  Here are the two nominations that ended up not winning:


When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Steward


And the winner, of this year's Wolf Award is....

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

That's right folks!  I don't know if I have said enough about this book on the blog but it is the book I believe every person in the world should read.  It tells the story of a young boy with a serious facial disfigurement and sometimes you get to hear the perspectives of other folks in his life.  It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will give you hope.  My students gave it a standing ovations when I finished reading it.  That was the first time in my 8 years as a teacher.  Read it.  Read it.  Read it.  Also, it is a strong contender for this year's Newbery Medal so keep your peepers peeled next week!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dance Friday

Y'know what?  I found so many more cool dance videos since I posted my two faves last Friday I think I am going to start a new tradition.  My favorite thing in the world is to go dancing on weekend nights.  Usually I head to any Anthony Valadez/KG Superstar event I can find.  Yes, I am a children's book blogger/hip hop head.  There are many of us out there, actually.

Anyway, back to the (possible) new tradition.  Every Friday, just for you, I will post a new dance video to watch.  So, get your groove on folks!

Today's dance video is brought to you by one of the biggest names in YA lit.  John Green, author of many books but most recently, The Fault in Our Stars, and his brother Hank Green run a vlog (video blog) and have organized nerd fighters all over the world.  Earlier this week they had an "Evening of Awesome" at Carnegie Hall that you should check out. I tried to watch it on live streaming but the sound was all wonky.  However, while dismayed from missing out on the live version, I discovered they hosted a happy dance contest a few years back.  Here is their video and the first of many! (Hopefully.)



P.S.  We were totally on the same wavelength... Mr. Green just posted on this http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com/ a fun new word for dancing.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fall in Love, All Over Again

Everyone I know, myself included, is sick.  This marks my second day in bed.  Mostly I sleep, wake up to eat oatmeal, and then sleep again.  Yesterday I didn't even have the energy to read or watch a movie.  Today I mustered up enough to watch this new video by Oliver Jeffers. I already loved him, now I love him more.  Maybe he can cure our sickness too! Now, back to sleep for me.


Oliver Jeffers Author Video 2013 from Oliver Jeffers on Vimeo.


P.S.  Is it just me, or did they show his wedding ring a whole lot?  We get the picture!  Taken!  (C'mon, you know you were looking too...)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hats! Hats! Hats!

Today is National Hat Day...which I discovered the same way I discover most fun holidays, through Anita Silvey's Book-A-Day Almanac.  (It just so happens she and I share a love of hats and children's books.) She suggests the famous Caps for Sale for today's celebration.  Here are my picks!

What kind of hat holiday would it be without Jon Klassen's tremendous hat-book team, I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat?? As one of my students tweeted on our class Twitter board, "I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat both have hats and someone gets eaten."  Yep.  I mean, what other solution is there for a guy who steals your hat?  Check out these sweet AND hilarious hat books today.





Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina is an obvious winner too, as Silvey points out.  A man selling hats is tricked by a monkey who wants them.  What's up with everyone wanting to steal hats? I am honored to say that as a child growing up in the days of Reading Rainbow, I first heard about Caps for Sale when it was featured on that show.  *Tear (Silvey also suggests When Everybody Wore a Hat by William Steig, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss, and Milo's Hat Trick by Jon Agee)



The stacked-high pile of hats in Caps for Sale reminds me of a Shel Silverstein poem about just such a thing.  In "Mr. Smeds and Mr. Spats," Mr. Spats has 21 hats, and Mr. Smeds has 21 heads.  Will they compromise?  See for yourself!  Check out A Light in the Attic to read this poem and many others. 





The Hatter.  Some call him mad but Lewis Carroll simply referred to him as The Hatter.  It was the Cheshire Cat who informed young Alice that both the March Hare and the Hatter were mad.  Do you know how the phrase "mad as a hatter" started?  It is because back in the not-so-good ol' days, hatters used mercury when making hats.  This caused some damage to their nervous systems and could make them, well, a little crazy.  Another fun fact, mercury poisoning is still known as "Mad Hatter's disease."  Hmm.




If you need a hat, check out my not-so-mad but oh-so-fab hatters at Salmagundi in Jamaica Plain.  Whether it is a stack of hats for your friend with 21 heads, some flat caps for monkeys, or just something to don today, they are sure to have it! Happy National Hat Day! (Just don't let somebody steal your hats!)


Salmagundi hosts top secret hat parties where
you can try on hats and mingle...get on their
mailing list to get the invites!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Just Dance

This is not a post about children's books...sorry.  It is Friday and after my first full week back at school I am exhausted.  I was going to make an attempt to go dancing with my BDF (Best Dancing Friend...and YES, we have BDF necklaces) however, a movie and my big fluffy orange cat won me over.  I'm tuckered out but thought I could use just a little dancing tonight...and maybe you could as well.  Here is one of my favorite go-to dance videos.

Sorry there haven't been any posts, I promise I will overload you with oodles and oodles of great books soon.  In the meantime, well, just dance!

P.S.  This was actually filmed at the laundromat down the road from me.





P.P.S.  I like this one too.