A book is a friend for life. The words stay with you, even when you put the book down.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


What fun Christmases my family has had this year! We've gathered with nearly everyone. Can't wait to see my Kansas family this weekend! That will be a blast!!

It's been hard, losing my husband's cousin so close to Christmas. In fact, the funeral was just days before Christmas. My kids asked if we could have just one year without any funerals.

All the gifts are wrapped and ready to go, all the suitcases are getting packed up, and I'm ready to roll in the morning.

Wow, I can't believe how scattered my thoughts are today! Can't seem to put together any thoughtful sentiments. Oh, well! Merry Christmas!

Here's a book I got for Christmas: The Story!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I took the kids to shop for each other (and for mom and dad) today. It's one of the special moments I love about Christmas! I love watching their thought processes. Hmm, what can I get for my sibling that s/he will absolutely love? Each one went with me individually while the other waited in electronics. They each had a good idea what they wanted to get for the other, but it was fun to watch them search for just the right thing. Then, they had to make a big production out of hiding their gift from each other. No peeking!

The most fun part about shopping today was taking them into my favorite store to shop for me! I went to the store next door while they went in with their own money to scout out and shop for the "perfect" gift. I popped back in a few minutes later, and mentioned to the sales clerk what those two ten-year-olds were up to, wandering around the store. She went to offer them some assistance, and they were really impressed by how helpful she was. They were totally convinced that they knew her (they didn't) and that they got a special discount just because she liked them (they didn't). Can't wait to see what they bought for me! And it will be fun to watch their dad open his gift too.

A fun read for fans of Sherlock Holmes and Jack Sparrow -- Pirate King by Laurie R. King.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Tree Ornaments

The kids picked out ornaments to give to each of their teachers. (With 8 teachers between them, this was a monumental task!) It was fun to watch them carefully looking at each option, deciding which teacher or coach would like a Christmas tree, or a cupcake, or a candy cane.
So cute! And though I thought some of their choices were a little odd, they were excited to take their precious gifts to school to hand-deliver to their teachers today. (Teachers, hope you're ready for this!)

The kids at church made ornaments for our sanctuary tree this year. It was a fun project, and the finished products looked so pretty!
We took clear glass bulbs (the sturdy kind, since we have several Pre-K kiddos), and poured craft paint inside. Each child got to pick two colors to use. The pastor got to make an ornament, too, but he got three colors! Then, during the Hanging of the Greens service, the kids placed their ornaments on the tree. The church tree looks lovely with the new additions. And the children were glad to have a part in decorating the tree!

While I'm on the subject, I found the coolest pictures of Christmas trees made of books!
How fun is that!! Maybe I'll try it next year. It looks pretty time-intensive, but wouldn't that look amazing in the library! (Although I think the idea behind it was to use old but colorful tomes you weren't reading anymore.) Hmm, maybe that's a good use for all those dusty encyclopedias that are out of date and never used...

How about a great Christmas book to read? Try "What Child is This?" by Caroline B. Cooney! Not her regular style, but an amazing read, nonetheless.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Book to Read


I just finished a powerful, wonderful book. Maggie Stiefvater's Scorpio Races. Please, do me a favor, and read this book!

The plot is a beautifully crafted work of art. The story weaves together two main characters and the mystical legend of water horses. The key here is "horses". This is such a creative twist on the Scotch/Irish mythology, that the reader somehow forgets anything she might have read before about water horses. Somehow, the plots twists and turns enough that the reader is forced to concede that the story might not end in a "happy ever after". And then -- it does. Masterful storytelling at work here.

The teacher in me loved this book, as well. I found myself wanting to underline passages, leaving yellow sticky notes tucked in the pages, going back to reread periodically. Many literary elements combine to make this a teacher's dream! If I was still teaching Pre-AP English, I'd be using this powerful book with my sophomores.

How about this example of powerful setting (and the English teacher-voice begs me to add "simile" and "imagery"):
"There's no one on the second floor of the tearoom at this time of day. It is only me and a herd of small, cloth-covered tables, each bearing a purple thistle flower in a vase. The room is long and narrow and low-ceilinged; it feels like a pleasant coffin or a suffocating church. Everything glows in slightly rose hues because of the pink lacy curtains in front of the small windows behind me. I am the darkest thing in the room." (Chapter 22)

Or this sampling from Chapter 10:
"It's been a long time since I've been in Skarmouth after dark, and it reminds me of the time that Dad cut his hair. For the first seven years of my life, Dad had dark curly hair that was like me -- in that he told it first thing in the morning what he wanted it to do and then in went and did pretty much whatever it wanted to do. Anyway, when I was seven, Dad came back from the docks with his hair close shaven and when I saw him walk in the door and kiss my mother on the mouth, I started to cry because I thought he was a stranger. And that's what Skarmouth has done, after dark: It's turned into an entirely different Skarmouth from the one I've known my whole life, and I don't feel like letting it kiss me on the mouth anytime soon."

But then, sometimes, the story moves so quickly and powerfully, I forget that I want to underline or sticky-note anything. I just read, gobbling up the words on the page, running the races with the characters beside me. There are times I can't put the book down, even though I need to!

The best thing about this book is that it doesn't let up. The author keeps the reader guessing right up until the end. The denouement is perfectly written -- we don't feel let down after the race ends. We feel the need to know more! And the author gives us just enough more at the end that the reader feels satisfied at the end of the story.

Chapter 65 is the best denouement chapter I've read in a long time. And it's not even the last chapter of the book! I'd like to share the entire chapter with you, but I think I'll just share this tidbit:
"I stand up, leaving the notes sitting untouched on the table, and head out into the yard. The breeze runs long and low across the ground, sweeping up the sea and the island grass and the hay and the horses. I think it's the best smell in the world."

If you pick up no other books this next year, please try this book!


Okay, I found my Christmas spirit again!

It was all thanks to the elementary children and their Christmas program. Yesterday was just a bad day. But their bright, shiny faces made my season bright. From the littlest Pre-K kiddos (including my adorable niece) saying their parts so loudly and proudly and singing "Jingle Bells" at the top of their lungs (even when they didn't remember all the words) to the 4-5-6 graders "Candy Cane Lane" message of peace during the Christmas season, my heart was warmed by the outpouring of joy and the miracle that returns (whether I'm ready or not).

The message of the night was surrounding ourselves and our families with the things that remind us of love. So I'm determined not to let the grey weather (which continues in the form of rain today, thank you) steal my Christmas joy.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weather Weary

I am growing weary of the weather. It is growing closer to Christmas, but all I am feeling is down. I'm blaming all of that on the weather. It is cold, grey, and dreary. Nothing but grey clouds, fog, and drizzle all the time. I miss the sunshine. I would welcome snow! Just no more of this ho-hum grey!

Forgive me for sounding whiny, but how can I possibly get into the Christmas spirit when the weather refuses to offer any cheer? I haven't even decorated at my house. I'd thought once that I might bring some cheerful Christmas decorations to the library, but I just feel too tired to do it. What's the point, when school will be out in a few days, anyway?

I'm understanding Scrooge these days. It must be this London-esque weather. Grey, grey, and more grey.

I really want to recommend a cheerful Christmas book. Really, I do. There are lots of wonderful, cheerful, joyful Christmas books. But I'm too weary. The grey weather has overwhelmed my ability to recommend something merry and bright. So, I'm going to go with a fav author, Jane Austen, and one of her less-well-known novels, Mansfield Park.

Hmm, imagine my surprise to discover they've made a movie of Mansfield Park, that I haven't seen. Let's just add to the grey gloom. Ba hum-bug.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Nod to the Great Idea Guy

The guy who created Google docs deserves an award. Seriously.

Using Google docs allows you to write, edit, post, turn in, print, whatever you need to do to a document. Need to write an essay, then send it to your mom to read? No problem -- use Google docs. Wrote a research paper and need to send it to your professor? Use Google docs. Computer froze during the typing process? Just head to another pc and get it from Google docs!

I was afraid. It was new technology, and I didn't think I could run it. Guess what -- it was so easy, even I could use it!

So, a nod to the guy who created Google docs. And a nod to the great idea guy who helped me learn to use it!

On the same note, a nod to a book about a great idea guy -- Conor Kostick's Epic series.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Internet Coolness

I just found the coolest site on the internet!! No kidding! It's called "Human Calendar", and it changes all the time. It uses individual boxes of photos of people holding little cards that indicate the date. And it moves all the time. Amazing technology! Super coolness!

I also found another really cool site. It's "Literature Map". You type in the name of an author you like, and the screen swirls around (cool effect, by the way), and leaves you with names of similar authors you might like. What a neat way to find an author to try next time you visit the library!

I just love the internet sometimes! (Don't like it when it isn't working, but that's another story for another time...) I've found some of the coolest sites, just by accident. The lit map I found doing a search for my grad class, looking for technology related to libraries. The human calendar I found today just flipping through random blogs -- which is also a fun thing to do!

A great series combining lots of things I love (fairy tales, technology, mysteries, and family) is the Artemis Fowl series. Great fun!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Middle of the Night

Did you ever notice how big problems appear at night? Why do problems get bigger in the middle of the night?

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and even the smallest things seems larger than I can possibly overcome!

Then, by the light of day, things don't seem quite so bleak.

Why is that, I wonder?

And how can I remind my middle-of-the-night-self that things will look brighter in the morning?

(Here's my fav book of all time, my go-to book for my can't-go-back-to-sleep moments.)

Walden, H.D. Thoreau

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Carol

I am babysitting today. As usual, the 7th graders don't have a substitute teacher, so I am watching them in the library. Unable to stand just watching them sit around and talk and causing trouble, I put in a movie.

This is the second time in two weeks. So we are watching A Christmas Carol. The George C. Scott version.

Amazingly, the kids seem to be entertained. Enough that they are not causing too much trouble. One commented that it is "scary"!

Perhaps everyone should watch A Christmas Carol during this season -- even better, read the Dickens novel!

In fact, people should know the history behind the novel's writing! How Dickens wrote it just to make money... Interesting irony, I think.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Book I Want to Read

Usually, I write about something that's happened to me or a book I've recently read.

Today is a little different. I want to write about a book I haven't read.

I've been seeing this book pop up a lot in other blogs. The bloggers at SLJ have been passing word around about it. The book seems to be gathering momentum among readers of "award books", and articles about the book seem to be everywhere. The most common thread surrounding this book seems to be that the readers don't WANT to like it, but end up loving it.

I must get my hands on it! Maybe it will appear in my Kindle or Nook -- or maybe I'll buy myself an early Christmas gift. We certainly don't have it in our little school library. And I think I need to read it myself to see if it's appropriate for this audience.

So, what's the book?

The Returning by Christine Hinwood.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Honoring the Dragon Lady

I learned today of the death of one of my favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey.

Anne was a prolific writer, my favorites being the Dragonriders series. I think I've read everything she ever wrote, and many of the things she wrote collaboratively with her son and other scifi authors.

She wrote the first dragon book in the late '60s, and my dad read many of her books before I ever came along. When I was in 9th grade, dad handed me his worn copy of Dragonflight. I was hooked. Her strong female lead and gripping stories have led me to gobble up every book in the dragon series ever since.

My husband and I named our son after one of her characters, much because we were inspired by the character's story. The neatest moment was receiving a personal email from Anne after telling her we'd named our son after the character. She was very personable -- for one so famous, she took the time to write a personal note.

So, we are mourning Anne's passing, but also looking forward to her final book -- due out next year.

(We also heard they are making a movie... we won't hold our breath on that, however...)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fairy Tales

Have you noticed the increasing fascination with fairy tales these days? I've been entranced with the new television show Once Upon a Time.

It's woven fairy tales into a modern drama. Quite an enjoyable mix.

There are some fascinating books out, especially for kids, that do the same thing.

A Kiss in Time, Cloaked, and Beastly by Alex Flinn are great examples. I also enjoyed

Straw into Gold by Gary Schmidt. Vivian VandeVelde has written a couple of books,

Cloaked in Red which was a humorous group of retellings of Red Riding Hood, and Rumplestiltskin Problem, which I haven't read yet...

Amazing what wealth of books are out there, if you're willing to explore!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Movie Versions

Over the weekend, I got to thinking about novels, and the movie versions that are made of certain novels. For the most part, movie versions tend to mess with the story line, change characters, and sometimes do not even attempt to follow the books they are supposed to resemble.

One notable example of this travesty is Rick Riordan's Lightning Thief. My kids have watched the movie several times, and we are reading the book together now. It is interesting to listen to their comments after reading a section in the book, especially those sections that were left out of the movie entirely. "Mom," they react, "that was such a cool part! Why wasn't it in the movie?"

That is increasingly a question I can't answer. Sometimes, I think it's an issue of time and pacing. In order to make a movie, certain scenes must be left out to keep it within acceptable time constraints.

One recent movie that has done honor to the book is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The movie makers got around the time constraints by creating two movies from one book. And I am especially fond of the Part 2 movie. Congratulations all around for that one!

Now I'm looking forward to Hugo, the movie based on the Caldecott Award book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The book was amazing, ground-breaking, breath-taking.

Can the movie version possibly live up to the book? We shall see -- this weekend!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Nervous Morning

I was just visited by my professor today! I knew she might be coming some time this month to observe the library, but I didn't know until Wednesday evening that she was coming.

I was incredibly nervous this morning. I wanted to make a good impression, but I mostly wanted our SCHOOL to make a good impression. I didn't know what would be required of me. I was certainly a worry-wart!

It really turned out to be nothing to worry about! She was incredibly gracious, and the visit went well. I enjoyed having my guest in the libraries, and I hope she enjoyed her time here as well.

So, time to put aside my anxiety about the morning. This evening, husband and I are going on a date. Well, the kids are accompanying us, but still, it will be an enjoyable evening.

I also got to spend a little time at the Chickasha Public Library last night to pick up some reading for over Thanksgiving. Can't wait to nibble the delicious treats I picked up:

Stephanie Barron's series "The Jane Austen Mysteries". Mmmm...

Thursday, November 17, 2011


The next month is going to be busy, busy, busy! Of course, the weeks from Halloween through the holiday season are always quite full, but with my course work for my degree, there is even more pressure.

Somehow, I am going to squeeze in the last of my assignments before the end of the semester. Somehow, I am going to fit in all of the projects and writing that I must accomplish. Somehow, I am going to learn how to download, upload, and email all the finished products.

And somehow, I will find a way to rest from this overloaded inbox of assignments.

Hmm, I'm thinking a bubble bath, a warm comforter, and a good book are definitely in order!

For an escapist read, try Amaranth Enchantment, by Julie Berry.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I am pumped about our new technology!

Okay, now that everyone I know has picked his or her jaw up from the floor, let me just say that I am excited about the options technology gives educators.

I am loving the new ways to send and edit papers, especially Google Docs. Some cool things happening there, let me tell you!

I am also loving iPads! I recently borrowed a helpful book from the Chickasha Public Library. It's iPad for Dummies, and it is amazingly helpful. I now feel confident enough to work on the high school iPads and get things ready to go. I've actually downloaded and chosen apps for the high school, and I am growing more excited about finding even more treasures there. I hope I'll be able to share this new-found joy with the high school teachers, who I hope will share the joy with their students.

Yep, bubbling over with love of technology today! :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mornings and Joy

Let me tell you, I am NOT a morning person. I especially love autumn mornings, crisp and cool and perfect for snuggling back into the covers with a good book.

But Sunday morning was a different story this week. I woke up, glad to see the sunshine. I thought happy thoughts all morning -- until a friend spoke an unkind word (though I don't think she thought about it). I felt like all the happiness was being sucked right out of me. But another friend, who had happened to be there, said some very profound words to me:

"Don't let anyone steal your joy!"

That helped so much. And, you know, it's true. The way I feel should not be changed by someone else. It's up to me to keep that good attitude or have a sunny day drowned by clouds. I'm determined -- no one is going to steal my joy today!!

Fun, joyful books today -- Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party by Emily Jenkins

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Library, My Hope

I was thinking about writing a post about my busy daughter today. You know, the fact that she played a basketball game then turned around and spent the evening in dance class. But her active life led me to think of something else.

We are all busy. Some days, I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I need to do. I sometimes think if I was as dedicated to my profession as I should be, I would spend more hours working on the mess students (and teachers) leave behind when I'm not there. I often wish I had more time to spend cleaning house and having fun with my kids.

I also am tired. What tires me most? The rants I have to read from fellow librarians/teachers/students about how unimportant the library is. Do all librarians and teachers hate their jobs? Why are they in the profession if they hate it so much? Why must the news always be bad? Why is the cup always half empty?

So here is my antidote for all the naysayers, for all those people who seem to have spilled what was left in their cups. Yes, sometimes I wish I had more time, but my cup is still closer to full than empty. My gas tank is not running on empty. My glasses are still rose-colored. "All's right with the world." Need hope, librarians? Here is a dollop:

Book suggestion for hopeful thoughts -- Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford.

(Here's to the little guys and Captain Nobodys everywhere!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Basketball Season

Well, folks, it's officially basketball season again. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE watching basketball! I try to get to as many high school games as possible, usually a junior high game or two, and now elementary games as well since I have a couple players myself! Of course, I'm addicted to NCAA basketball and can't wait for the March Madness season.

However, I'm nauseated watching all the hubbub surrounding the NBA. I will never understand why an industry that makes so much in revenue can't get their acts together to START THE SEASON ALREADY! Besides, our little town is impatiently waiting to see one of our own as a Thunder Girl!

Having had that little rant, I feel better, thank you. I have been enjoying watching my 5th-grader play. She has improved so much since last year, since being aggressive on the court is not exactly her personality. Especially on defense. It cracks me up when she "gets tough". :)

A little basketball reading suggestion -- Mike Lupica's Miracle on 49th Street!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


So, we've been trying to plan the many upcoming holiday events with family. Scheduling is always difficult with so many people wanting to see us, and many people living so far away. The best part about the holiday season is getting to see everyone! Hmm, or maybe I should say trying to see everyone!

It all starts around Thanksgiving. So many family members, so few days off! Then, somehow, we manage to schedule time to do everything in the month of December. But what a fabulous excuse to get together with everybody! :)

I couldn't live without Facebook. That's the only way I manage to communicate with my family. I love how I can send one message, and everyone in my family can get it and respond. A bit like a 5-way phone call! I especially love being able to see pictures of my family the moment they are posted. I just saw my brother's amazing family photos, and I won't see them in person until December! :)

No matter how far apart we live, my family will always be close. What a blessing they are to me!

Recommended Reading? Captain Osborn's Legacy (written by my aunt about our famous great+grandfather!)

Monday, November 7, 2011


It's finally autumn in Oklahoma! It was a long, dreary summer and promises to be a long, cold winter, so I intend to enjoy whatever possibilities autumn may provide... even if there are only a couple of days offered!

I've been working hard on finishing my library degree, and haven't blogged like I intended. In fact, it was working on the degree that made me come back here! I was working on an assignment that called for blogs of interest to librarians (or something like that). And I realized, I could be one of those bloggers!! I miss writing (and reading the works of others), so here is a little tidbit for today!

Best book(s) to read this autumn while curled up in a blanket with that new peppermint hot chocolate from McDonalds = A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray. Which must quickly be followed by the other two books in the series, Rebel Angels and Sweet Far Thing.

Happy autumn!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

Our family celebrated Independence Day at John's house. All the family and kiddos were there, and we all had a great time.

This despite the fact that our county is under a burn ban. So no grill, no fireworks. But we still managed to eat, play, and chat. The kids all played in PaPa's pool (aka horse tank) and played some "golf" and "baseball". They are so cute!

We also celebrated by attending the church of our choice. What greater freedom than that?

Celebrate freedom today by reading a great book -- maybe Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool! It's a fabulous book, reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, and set in depression-era Kansas. Oh, and it won the Newbery Medal for this year!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nighttime Reading

So, the kids and I read aloud together every evening. It started when they were little, with easy picture books (I think we wore out Jaxom's favorite, Are You My Mother?). But now, we read nice, thick books that I really enjoy myself!

Right now, we're working on a really cool series called Kingdom Keepers, by Ridley Pearson. The stories are set in Walt Disney World, which after our trip sounded like a fabulous series to read together! We are now on book three, and the kids love them!

The stories are full of adventure (like getting chased by audio-animatronic pirates and Stitch) and lots of scenes from all over the Disney parks. They are also pretty high-tech -- this third book has an icon which connects with a webcam online to show you a map, games, etc. (

In my Advanced Adolescent Lit class (part of my journey toward my library masters degree), we studied about the Golum in Jewish tradition and lore. Imagine how cool it was to see parts of this legend at work in Kingdom Keepers!

Yep, you gotta read this series to understand.

Recommended Reading:
Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson