Tuesday, October 11, 2016


About two and a half years ago, I brought my mom's dog, Boo, home to live with me.
I wrote about it here.

And on Saturday I said goodbye to her.

I wasn't expecting to say goodbye so soon.

On Wednesday, Boo was fine. Greeted me when I came in the door from work. Monitored the squirrel activity in the backyard and then laid in a patch of fall sun on the deck. Ate dinner. Sat next to me while I did schoolwork.

On Thursday, she stopped eating. Was acting kind of lethargic.

On Friday, I called the vet and made an appointment. I wasn't too worried. She had just had her shots and and a senior wellness check up right before I went back to school in August. At the time, the vet said her blood work was perfect.

Her appointment was at 9:30 on Saturday. The vet checked her out. Couldn't find any visible problems. Wanted to redo the blood work. Sent us home. Called me an hour later. "You have a very sick dog." Her liver values, which had been normal a month ago, were ten times the normal limits. She wanted me to take her to the emergency clinic for more tests. And so we went.

The vet was young. So young. And very sweet. Wanted to do an abdominal ultrasound. Four hours later he had an answer for me. A gall stone had traveled from Boo's gall bladder and lodged in a valve in her liver.  Surgery would cost $8000 to $10,000. And would be very risky. She probably wouldn't survive.

And so they took me down the hall to the "Comfort Lounge." Brought Boo to me. I said goodbye. Held her and rubbed behind her ear, her favorite spot, while they put her down.

And about all I can say is that Boo lived life on her own terms. And that she was as brave as she could be.

Boo had a very hard life. She was a puppy mill mama for the first six years of her life. Lived in a wire cage.  Had litter after litter after litter after litter of puppies. Was abused, probably, given her fear of my boys, by a man. She was finally saved by the National Mill Dog Rescue, then adopted by my mom. When my mom's living situation changed two and a half years ago, I brought her home to live with me.

Every single thing she did was an act of bravery. It was brave for her to move beyond the confines of her bed in the corner of my living room. It was brave for her to initiate eye contact with me. It was brave for her to allow my granddaughter, Esveidy, to stroke her ears. It was brave for her to ride in the car with me. Or to allow the vet to touch her.

Boo lived the last three years of her life bravely.

And I hope happily.

Rest in peace, my brave girl. Rest in peace.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

WISH by Barbara O'Connor

I have been trying to read WISH since about March. It wasn't out then, but people in Children's lit world, were reading ARC's and talking about it. I kept trying to get hold of a copy- wishing someone would send me one, entering drawings on the web, begging pretty much shamelessly.

I knew I would love the book. I love Barbara O'Connor's books. HOW TO STEAL A DOG is pretty much one of my all time favorites. In fact, I hardly ever read a book, at least a chapter book,  more than once to classes. But I've read that one at least five times. And it's sitting on the chalk rail at school waiting for me to read again on Monday. I love the big truths in that novel. Love how it brings classes, even the world's squirreliest kids, into a community that cares about books, and more importantly, that cares about each other.

So I couldn't wait to read WISH. But I didn't win a copy. And so I had to wait. And wait. And wait.

It finally came out a few weeks ago. And of course, even though I am not supposed to be spending money, and especially not on books, I had to run right over to Tattered Cover and buy it. And of course, I loved it.

I loved the main character, Charlemagne Reese, better known as Charlie. When the book opens, Charlie has just moved to Colby, a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, to live with her Aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus. Charlie's father, Scrappy, is in jail and her mother won't get out of bed in the morning.  On her first day in her new school, Charlie fills out a "Getting to Know You" survey. She describes her three favorite activities as soccer, ballet, and fighting.

I loved the characters that surround Charlie. Aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus haven't quite figured out the parenting thing. Charlie's room is filled with an old tv and canning jars stacked against the wall. Aunt Bertha talks a blue streak and has seven cats. She buys Cinderella pillowcases and a rainbow and pony lunch box and she puts slightly burnt cookies in Charlie's lunch.

And then there's Howard Odom, the boy who has red hair and ugly black glasses and walks with an up-down limp. He becomes Charlie's best friend and teaches her to say "pineapple" instead of slugging someone when she gets mad. He helps her to capture and adopt a stray dog named Wishbone. He forgives her when she is mean to him.

WISH is a story of brokenness. And friendship. And love. And healing. I think you should read it. You will probably love it. I know I did.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

OCDANIEL- Wesley King

Daniel is maybe a more typical middle school kid than most kids would like to admit. He's smart, gifted even. He is writing a book. His best friend, Max, is a talented athlete. Daniel is not a talented athlete, but plays backup kicker on the football team. Mostly that means he fills in when the water boy is gone. He plays because his father, brother Steve, and best friend, Max, all love football. And Daniel has a crush on a cute and popular girl named Raya.

Daniel is not like all the other kids in some ways. He suffers from something he calls the Zaps. The Zaps make him do crazy things, such as like some numbers and not like others, flick light switches, and sometimes have weird attacks at school. He also has a routine he does every single night, that involves taking so many steps to the bathroom, brushing his teeth a certain number of strokes, wiping the rim of the toilet, drying his hands on a specific towel. He can't sleep until he has done the routine perfectly. Sometimes that takes several hours.

Daniel's life takes an unexpected twist when a girl named Sara, who the kids at school call "Psycho" befriends him. Sara has a special aide who accompanies her to all of her classes. Even so, sometimes she melts down in class and has to be removed. Sara needs Daniel's help in finding out who killed her dad the year before. It is Sarah, who tells Daniel that his Zaps have an actual name.

Author's notes reveal that this book is partly autobiographical. There is information about Obssessive Compulsive disorder and resources to get more information.

A book lots of middle schoolers and high schoolers will love. And a book that some kids will need.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Trying to get back into blogging a little more regularly…

Frederick Lipton, the actor, and Mr. Pip, the monkey are best friends. When Frederick’s birthday rolls around, Mr. Pip can’t wait to give Frederick a special, handmade card. Because Frederick is so famous, he receives a number of other gifts- including a solid gold car from the sultan of Brunei and an invitation to dinner at the White House and Mr. Pip can’t find a time to give Frederick his simple present. 

Mr. Pip becomes very sad and Frederick is concerned. He takes Mr. Pip to every vet in town; they all say he is fine, but Frederick is not convinced. He finally leaves him at the Guild of Geniuses, where four of the smartest people in the world hold court. The geniuses try everything they know, including bringing in other monkeys especially from Africa, as well as sending Mr. Pip into space, but nothing works. Will Mr. Pip’s problem ever be solved?

A terrific primary grade book about friendship. And wisdom. And things that matter. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

THEY ALL SAW A CAT- Brendan Wenzel

The cat walks through the world,
with its whiskers, ears, and paws…

A child saw the cat.
A dog saw the cat.
The fox saw a cat
The fish saw a cat
A mouse saw a cat
A bee saw the cat
A  bird saw the cat
A flea saw the cat
A snake saw the cat
A skunk saw the cat
A worm saw the cat
A bat saw the cat

But they all saw the cat very differently.

A gorgeous new picture book that would be absolutely terrific for introducing a unit on point of view or perspective! And the illustrations are interesting enough that I think the book could get a look from the Caldecott Committee!

An added bonus: Emily Arrow has written a song to go with THEY ALL SAW A CAT!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Poetry Friday

“Dear students, the summer has ended.
The school year at last has begun.
But this year is totally different.
We’re going to only have fun.
“We won’t study any mathematics,
and recess will last all day long.
Instead of the pledge of allegiance,
we’ll belt out a rock-and-roll song.
“We’ll only play games in the classroom.
You’re welcome to bring in your toys.
It’s okay to run in the hallways.
It’s great if you make lots of noise.
“For homework, you’ll play your Nintendo.
You’ll have to watch lots of T.V.
For field trips we’ll go to the movies
and get lots of candy for free.
“The lunchroom will only serve chocolate
and triple fudge sundaes supreme.”
Yes, that’s what I heard from my teacher
before I woke up from my dream.
Kenn Nesbitt

There’s a new ME this year,
An on-time ME,
A clean-desk ME,
A first-to-hand-in-assignments ME,
A listens-in-class-to-the-teacher ME,
A teacher’s-pet-for-the-first-time-in-my-life ME,
An-always-willing-to-be-good-and help-out ME,
A dead-serious-get-the-work-done-and-hand-it-in
Before-it’s-due ME.
The problem is
The new ME
Is not like ME
At all.
Kalli Dakos

POETRY FRIDAY is at Dori Reads

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Super, super, super late to this party, and I don't even really have a theme, but I still don't want to miss out completely. These are just books that I am looking forward to sharing with kids when we go back next week. 

My guys would have appreciated this book about all different kinds of families when they were little!

Love this new book about the names. I'm delighted to have another book to pair with Kevin Henkes' CHRYSANTHEMUM!

Ian is a rule follower. His big sister Jenny is not (and she is a pincher besides!). The family goes to a cabin in the woods, where they are instructed not to open a specific door. Jenny opens it anyway and lets a whole group of monsters into the house. Ian is faced with the difficult dilemma of whether he should save his sister. 

A perfect beginning of the year (and maybe later too) about friends who fight, but then also care enough about each other to make up! 

A fun fairy tale adaptation for my dual language school!

Terrific mentor text for little guys just learning to write informative texts!

A little girl desperately misses her mom, who is in jail for violating immigration laws. After one particularly difficult visit, her mom starts sending tape recordings of bedtime stories. So many of my kiddos will connect to this book.

A picture book biography, told in first person, about Maria Tharp, the woman who mapped the ocean floor. Talk about growth mindset- phew!

Another biography- this is about Edith Houghton, a ten-year-old girl who played on a women's professional baseball team.

Gotta have at least one poetry picture book!