Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review :: The Morning Meeting Book

Title: The Morning Meeting Book
Author: Roxann Kriete
Genre: Education

Publisher: Northeast Foundation for Children
Publication Date: June 1st 2002 (first published January 1st 1999)
Source: Borrowed from library

Did I like the cover?: Clean, simple. I like that it matches the other books from Northeast Foundation for Children.

This book reminds me of: First Six Weeks of School by Paula Denton

Summary from Goodreads:
The time one commits to Morning Meeting is an investment which is repaid many times over....Morning Meeting is a microcosm of the way we wish our schools to be--communities full of learning, safe and respectful and challenging for all.

- from The Morning Meeting Book

Since its original publication three years ago, The Morning Meeting Book has introduced thousands of teachers to this powerful teaching tool that builds community, increases student investment, and improves academic and social skills. The book's step-by-step implementation guidelines; clear explanations of purposes; and specific examples of activities, greetings, and charts have helped teachers across the country launch their school days with Morning Meeting.

This is my second time reading this book. It was first recommended to me by my professors in my teaching credential program. I read it earlier in my career and struggled to implement it in my classroom because I couldn't validate my reason for taking away instructional minutes from the curriculum and state standards to build classroom community.

8 years later, I know what it is like to use almost every single instructional minute to teach our state standards every day but, I also know how hard it is to deal with upper grade (5th graders) students when they go through their many issues. Bullying is an issue that is garnering a lot of media attention lately and rightly so, schools are implementing more and more training for teachers on how to handle bullying with their students. At one of our trainings at the end of our school year, one of our teachers shared about class meetings and I immediately remembered reading The Morning Meeting Book. Her presentation really moved me and inspired to work on building a better classroom community in my class for the upcoming school year.

So with more experience under my belt, I am ready to implement Morning Meetings in my classroom next year in a wholehearted attempt to build classroom community. I can teach the standards all day long and cram it down their throats, but if my students don't care about each other, then can I really live with myself as an educator? For many years, I was confused about how to go about this because of the high-stakes, test-driven environment that plagues the education system today. I have proven myself as a teacher with students that perform well on the state tests, I need something more than that and I'm ready to make that stand now.

The Morning Meeting book reads well and it provides a lot of research to back up the effectiveness of Morning Meetings (MM). The book includes many examples of how to implement MM in classes of all different grades, including middle school in the 2nd edition. The extensive appendix provides sample greetings and a list of group activities. There are other books of greetings and messages that I'm curious about, but I'm going to start with just this book to see if it's enough or if I should supplement.

My only complaint about this book is that I tend to want more practicality than theory when I read teacher books. I was on board with MM in theory from the get go, I wanted more real life examples of what it looked like in a real classroom. It did provide many examples, but I think the book weighed a little too heavy on the theory side and repeated the some things over and over again that could have been said once.

It was an easy read and looks like it'll be a great resource I'll be pulling from throughout the school year. The book is organized intuitively and I highly recommend it to all of my fellow teachers.

4 out of 5 stars

This is book #14 of the year. I am participating in the 2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge. My goal is to read 50 books this year.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review :: Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland

Title: Scones and Sensibility
Author: Lindsay Eland
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication Date: December 22nd 2009
Source: Borrowed from library

Did I like the cover?: I really love the cover art. It's actually why I picked it up to read from the library.

This book reminds me of: Jane Austen, of course. It also reminds me of the TV Show, Dawson's Creek because of the way the main character speaks.

The main character reminds me of:
The middle child of Modern Family, Alex Dunphy. She's smart and kind of an oddball in her family because of her intelligence.

Summary from Goodreads:
Seek tirelessly and you shall not find a contemporary heroine of middle-grade literature as refined and romantic as Miss Polly Madassa. Still swooning over the romantic conclusions of Pride & Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables, twelve-year-old Polly decides her purpose in life: helping along lonely hearts in search of love. Polly's only task this summer is to make deliveries for her parents' bakery, leaving ample time for this young cupid to find hearts to mend—beginning with the kite-store owner, Mr. Nightquist, who will pair perfectly with Miss Wiskerton (the unfairly labeled town curmudgeon). Polly's best friend Fran Fisk is in desperate need of a mother ever since hers ran off with a man she met on the Internet; Polly must find a match for Mr. Fisk. And while she's at it, it wouldn't hurt to find Clementine, Polly's teenaged sister, a beau worthy of her (so she can shed that brute, Clint). Polly's plans are in full swing, so she definitely cannot be bothered by the advances of classmate Brad Barker.

But maybe Polly should have turned her attention to Miss Austen's Emma next, because she quickly learns the pitfalls of playing matchmaker. How will Polly patch up her own relationships, while ensuring that destined love can take its course?

I chose to read this book because of the beautiful artwork on the cover. The story sounded intriguing from the recipe on the back and I was sold. Unfortunately, the story itself wasn't as great as I was expecting.

The main character, Polly is a very bookish young lady of 12 years. She loves Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice in particular) and Anne of Green Gables. She loves all the romance of the books - the language, the relationships, everything. So much so that she models her own life after her favorite characters.

She speaks the way Elizabeth Bennett would speak in Pride and Prejudice. This is cute for the first half of the book or so, but it gets pretty aggravating towards the end. For me, it was hard to believe that a 12-year old would maintain speaking so grandiosely throughout the WHOLE book. It reminded me of the old TV Show, Dawson's Creek, because the characters on the show did not speak like normal teenagers would. They spoke fast and furious and the vocabulary they used was definitely above average for a teen. The main character in this book does the same thing and I'm surprised that her family and friends put up with it for so long. I think this is an issue for this book because it would be hard for a pre-teen/tween to read and understand. The language of Jane Austen is not easy to read even for adults. I had to re-read a lot of passages myself just to understand what Polly was really saying.

Polly decides to play match-maker on her summer break to the fellow people in her seaside town. Her ideas of romance, however, seem to muddle her ability to see that she is just meddling in everyone's business.

What I did enjoy about this book was the fact that Polly's family owned a bakery and the author's descriptions of all the yummy pastries that Polly would deliver sounded very delicious. Even though Polly is overly meddlesome and the language gets old after awhile, you do believe in her and root for her (at least for most of the story) because she really does have good intentions even if she going about it in all the wrong ways.

It was an okay book. It was quick to read and I think the pre-teens/tweens might enjoy it if they are familiar with Jane Austen and Anne of Green Gables. Otherwise, I'd pass on it.

2 out of 5 stars

This is book #15 of the year. I am participating in the 2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge. My goal is to read 50 books this year.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bookshelf Monday :: 10

I love how this person put artwork on each of the shelves of this expansive wall of shelves and it doesn't look overly cluttered. I used to put things, albeit it wasn't artwork per se, and it just made my shelves look messy and disorganized. It was most photo frames and other knick knacks that didn't have a home anywhere else, but I personally like my bookshelves without the extra stuff because my "stuff" just doesn't look as nice as it does in this photo. :)ez

How about you? What's on your bookshelves?

image courtesy of: a lover's discourse

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Midsummer's Eve Giveaway :: $10 Amazon gift card WINNER!

What a fun week of giveaways! Thanks to everyone who entered! The bookish mama now has over 100 followers!

I used to choose a winner of the $10 Amazon gift card:

The winner is:
Mona Garg

Thanks again to everyone who entered! Stay tuned for another giveaway coming next week!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pottermore :: Interactive Book Experience!

So the time has come and J.K. Rowling finally made her much-anticipated announcement early this morning. As the week progressed, I moved more and more away from the idea that it would be a book especially as I read more online. (Even though, deep down I was still crossing my fingers for a book!) I started to think it would be an online Multiplayer Online Role-playing Experience. Hence, the M O R E.

Turns out, it will be an interactive book experience! You can be a part of the story and my understanding is that you'll be able to shape the story. Release date in October with some early beta testers being invited before then. On a side note, didn't the video of the paper animation look amazing?!

Intriguing! I wonder what it'll be like. It makes me hopeful that there will be something Harry Potter-related that I can look forward to because I've already been mourning the fact that it's the last movie being released in the next month.

What are your thoughts on Pottermore?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Midsummer's Eve Giveaway :: $10 Amazon gift card

Welcome to the Midsummer's Eve Giveaway!

For this giveaway, I'm giving away a $10 gift card to so that you can purchase a book of your own liking. :)

Over 250 participating blogs are offering a book related giveaway and we are all linked up together so you can easily hop from one giveaway to another. The hop runs from Tuesday June 21 through Friday June 24, 2011.

(To follow, scroll down on the right side bar and click "follow")

Giveaway Details:
To enter giveaway please follow this blog then fill out the form below.
Last Day to Enter is 06/24/11

To have more than one entry, you can do either one or all of the following:

Open to US and International winners! Have fun! Thanks for dropping by!


Once you're done entering my giveaway, go ahead and hop on over to another giveaway:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bookshelf Monday :: 9

This just takes the whole wall-to-wall bookshelves to a WHOLE.OTHER.LEVEL. Wow.


image courtesy of: shelterness

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weekend Photo :: 5

We are traveling this weekend and one of the things I love most about traveling is the time to read. I actually do my best reading on airplanes because there's no other distractions. Well, that was all pre-baby, but I'm still bringing along my book just in case.

I'm finally going to start Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. That's my book of choice for this trip.

What's your favorite reads to bring along with you when you travel?

image courtesy of: Lobster and Swan

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer Reading 2011 :: San Diego County Library Summer Reading Club

Summer Reading 2011

School is out and summertime is in the air! That means lots of time in the sun, pool, and riding bikes. I loved summer breaks as a kid and now as an educator, I still enjoy the respite from the busy school year.

As an educator, I cannot stress enough how important it is that children have fun during their summer break, but that they also spend a regular time each day reading as well. Even though summer is all about relaxing, it is so important that kids read everyday. I tell my students and their parents all the time that the only way you can become a better reader is by reading. The more you read, the better you get at it. The better you get at it, the more you want to read.

Summertime is an excellent time to visit your local libraries because they put on free summer reading programs. At my visit to my local library last week, I picked up some fliers on their summer reading club and wanted to share it with you.

The San Diego Country Library has a Summer Reading Club for all ages from babies to adults. When I first walked past the Summer Reading Club table, I told the girl I wasn't interested because my baby was too young but she said babies could participate and so could I!

Here are instructions on how to sign up:

Signing up one person:
1) Go to the Summer Reading website
2) Click on the correct button
  • Babies and Toddlers
  • Kids
  • Tweens
  • Teens
  • Adults
3) Click on "Sign Me Up"
4) Fill out form and click "Save"

Signing Up a Family on One Card:
1) Sign up one family member and click "Save"
2) Click on the "Add Member" button
3) On the pop-up, pick the appropriate program from the drop down menu, then click "Continue"
4) Fill out the form and click "Save"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Harry Potter Announcement!

I saw on twitter today that J.K. Rowling released a teaser for her big announcement in regards to Harry Potter planned for next week! You can check the official website here!

The official tweet was:

Looks like the owls are getting ready to deliver some exciting news:

I love, love, LOVE Harry Potter and all things related to it. Words cannot express just how excited I am about this teaser! I wonder what it is?

There are talks online that it might be about Harry Potter finally being accessible as e-books, but that just doesn't sound big enough to me for something like this.

I'm thinking it might a new book! Or maybe I'm just really, really hoping it will be. But why would J.K. Rowling call it "pottermore" if she wasn't going to give us "more Harry Potter"?

What do you think it might be?

You can follow @pottermore on twitter for the latest updates.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Review :: Baby-Sitters Club Graphix: Mary Anne Saves the Day by Raina Telgemeier and Ann M. Martin

Title: Mary Anne Saves the Day
Author: Raina Telgemeier, Ann M. Martin
Series: The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction / Graphic Novel

Publisher: Scholastic/GRAPHIX
Publication Date: September 1, 2007
Source: Received via PaperBackSwap

Did I like the cover?: I just adore Raina Telgemeier's work so much so YES!

This book reminds me of: reading The Baby-Sitters Club when I was in 4th grade and devouring each and every book.

The main character reminds me of:
ME! Out of all the characters, I actually related to Mary-Anne the most because I was a pretty shy kid myself.

Summary from Goodreads:
When a terrible fight breaks out among the four BABY-SITTERS CLUB friends, Mary Anne is left to her own devices. She has to sit by herself at lunch, make new friends, and deal with her overprotective father without advice from the BSC gang. But the worst part is when she faces a terrible baby-sitting predicament, and she can't find any help.

Luckily, Mary Anne rises to the occasion. Not only does she handle all her problems with aplomb, she also manages to get the BSC back together again.

I was so excited when the first of The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix book was released. Being a Baby-Sitters devotee, I was so excited that the series that got me hooked into reading series of books when I was 9 years old would get a new breath of life. I was excited that it could possibly become a series that a whole new generation of kids could fall in love with.

Raina Telgemeier's work is ah-mazing. You need to check out her portfolio here. I think she did a superb job of updating the characters to give it more of a modern flair without compromising the essence of each character's personality. I think she really captured each character nicely. The only character that looked a little different in the book than in my head was Claudia.

In this story, the girls of the Baby-Sitters Club are at war with each other and Mary Anne is in the middle trying play peacemaker between all the girls. I had a hard time remembering the original book, but it seemed like the girls spent whole book fighting with each other and the preteen hormones were getting a little old towards the end. I especially liked how Raina introduced Dawn and the back story of the high school relationship between Mary Anne's father and Dawn's mother.

It was an excellent graphic novel. I think a lot of young girls could definitely get into the Baby-Sitters Club series through this book and that makes it worth reading and sharing!

4 out of 5 stars

You can also check out Raina's other book, Smile.

Summary from Goodreads:

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there's still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.
This coming-of-age true story is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in middle school, and especially those who have ever had a bit of their own dental drama.

This is book #12 of the year. I am participating in the 2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge. My goal is to read 50 books this year.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Big e-Reader Decision :: To e-Read or not?

Those of you closest to me have known about my "Big e-Reader Decision" and you would also know that I've had a really hard time making a decision not only which e-Reader to purchase, but whether or not I want an e-Reader at all.

To e-Read or not?

Ever since the first generation of Amazon's Kindle was released, I was very adamantly AGAINST e-Readers. I felt like the integrity of reading was being compromised because the written word was being removed from all the things that I hold dear about reading... turning the pages, knowing how far you are into the book, putting in a bookmark to hold your spot in the book to return to later, flipping back to look at the cover art and understanding more and more about why the illustrator included all the little details as you read, and even the smell of the book... I felt like all those things were being stolen away from what made reading so special to me.

Finally, something in me changed last year as it was hard to ignore the tremendous rise of the e-Readers. The changing point for me in my decision was actually having a baby. I spent a lot of time nursing at the beginning, like many other breastfeeding mothers before me, and I found it very difficult to nurse and read at the same. I figured, I might as well be doing something, anything, while I would sit for hours each day nursing my sweet baby girl.

In addition to that, with the help of PaperBackSwap, my book collection has grown almost exponentially this year and we are quickly running out of bookshelf space in our little home. My husband and I jokingly say that I should call it "PaperBackCollect" because I rarely swap books back unless I didn't like the book or the book is not in the greatest condition.

So, that is how I came about to accept the idea of e-Reading, but now comes the decision I've been grappling with for almost 10 months now, which e-Reader should I purchase? I've been very wishy-washy and I've gone back and forth hundreds of times now. I can't seem to decide, but I am going to make a decision... once and for all. My birthday and anniversary is coming up in the next month and I'm ready to pull the trigger.

I am open to any and all suggestions. What do you think?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bookshelf Monday :: 8

What a wonderful space for books! It feels very M.C. Escher-esque because of all the different levels and it has an overall asymmetrical feel to it. I'm not usually a fan of things that are not symmetrical, but this is an exception. I love the spiral staircase on the side. Plus, there's a ladder and we all know about my love of bookshelves and ladders. :)

I think I'd be distracted the whole time if I were to read in that chair though. I'd just stare at all my lovely shelves... and probably daydream the afternoon away.

image courtesy of: thehauteshot

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Weekend Photo :: 4

One of the things I'd love about living in a big, busy city are the used book sales on the streets. I'd love to spend this weekend perusing and browsing through one to find that one special deal on a book that's been sitting on my TBR (to-be-read) list.

I really don't need any MORE books in my home... but I can always make room for one more, right? Or two. ;)

image courtesy of: Ayeffen

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book-to-Movie :: Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

"Judy Moody was in a mood. Not a good mood. A bad mood. A mad-faced mood."

Today, Friday June 10th, is the release date of the movie, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. From the trailer, it looks like a fun, summer, kid-movie. From just the previews, it seems like a lot of fun and very much like the Judy Moody in the books.

Over the years, I've had several students really get into the Judy Moody series. I think it's a little bit more popular with younger kids because it's a pretty easy read for my 5th graders. It's more of a 3rd/4th grade read.

The thing I love the most about the Judy Moody series are the beautiful pictures. I love the illustrations and they seem to really capture the essence of Judy Moody and all her moods so well. They're fun to look at and I love looking at all the little details on each page. They also just re-released the books with brand new covers.

About a month ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Megan McDonald at the LA Times Festival of Books. She was promoting her upcoming movie, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. My students over the years LOVE reading Judy Moody and I was so excited to see her speak and get her autograph.

Megan McDonald speaking at the Target Children's Stage.

Megan McDonald interviewing the stars of the movie, Jordana Beatty as Judy Moody and Parris Mosteller as Judy Moody's brother, Stink (who also has his own book series).

Autographing books.

It was such a pleasure to meet Megan McDonald and to congratulate her on her upcoming movie.

You can find out more about the movie on it's official movie page, facebook page and/or follow it on twitter @judymoody_movie

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Throwback Thursday :: 4 :: RL Stine & Goosebumps

This week's Throwback Thursday is in honor of R.L. Stine and his series, Goosebumps.

When I was a kid, I was very easily afraid and scared of things. Maybe my parents sheltered me too much, but it didn't take much to scare me. I used to sleep under the covers because my friends told me about night-stalkers (people that watch you when you sleep). Why I believed them, I still don't know, but that was my version of the "monster in the closet" when I was a kid.

That being said, I actually enjoyed the Goosebumps series when I was younger believe it or not. Even though I was such a scaredy-cat, the books were just scary enough to satisfy my curiosity, but not so scary that it would cause nightmares.

My 5th grade students every year without fail DEVOUR my Goosebumps books in my classroom library. Girls AND boys, once one kid starts reading one, the rest of them follow in suit and literally devour them. So much so that now I have two tubs full of Goosebumps books and have had to replace several books because the covers were falling apart because of the wear and tear of being used so many times.

Now that there is a NEW series, Goosebumps Horrorland, there is a whole new generation of kids that are enjoying reading because they love these scary stories. I have yet to read one on my own, but my students have raved about the new series. According to my students, the back part of the book is an ongoing story that continues in the next book. I think some of them were confused about it, but I think that's because they weren't reading the series in order.

At the LA Times Festival of Books about a month ago, I had the awesome opportunity to listen to R.L. Stine speak and get his autograph. I brought it back to my students and they were SO stoked to see his signature. I think it definitely upped my "cool
teacher factor" for a little while. :)

He shared one of his favorite poems, "Haunted" by Shel Silverstein, when he spoke at the Target Children's Stage. I loved that he shared with the kids that he reads and enjoys other authors. Authors and writers are real people too!

There was a REALLY long line to get his autograph. All ages of people - old and young were there with copies of his books. Some were old and tattered like the ones in my classroom and others were holding the new Horrorland books. What a honor to have such a wide range of fans!

By the time we got to the line, we were all the way around the corner and didn't think we'd get to the front in time. We waited anyway and I am so glad that we did because we did get to meet him and get an autograph. It was quick and there were no pictures allowed, but that didn't stop my Mom from snapping a few from the line. :)



It was an exciting day for all of us. Thank you R.L. Stine for creating generations and generations of readers with your books.

You can follow R.L. Stine on twitter at @RL_Stine.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Review :: The Mis-Adventures of Phillip Isaac Penn by Donna L. Peterson

Title: The Mis-Adventures of Phillip Isaac Penn
Author: Donna L. Peterson
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction / Action & Adventure

Publisher: Cedar Fort
Imprint: Bonneville
Publication Date: June 8th, 2011
Source: Received electronically from publisher via NetGalley

Did I like the cover?: The reason why I chose to read this book was because I loved the colors of the cover. So bright and catchy. Plus, the boy looks so cute!

First lines: Hello, my name is Pip. Please don't laugh. It really is my name.

This book reminds me of: Horrible Harry, Junie B. Jones, Ramona Quimby... they were also misunderstood kids.

The main character reminds me of:
Pip reminds me of Luke Dunphy on Modern Family.

Summary from Goodreads:
Pip, whose real name is Phillip Isaac Penn, feels that the world is against him as he struggles to deal with angry parents, a bossy older sister, a frazzled teacher, and memorable characters such as Bully Bart, Cheater Chaz, Know-It-All Nell, Liar Lizzy, Stealer Steffan, Conman Cody, and Tattle-Tale Tess. Every day of the week brings another challenge that Pip handles in his own endearing way. Yet, no matter how hard he tries, he realizes that it’s just not easy being a kid.

This is a story that follows a week in the life of Phillip Isaac Penn, otherwise known as "Pip." Each chapter is one day of his life. He is a very misunderstood boy and seems to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is accused of all kids of mayhem, but he always seems to have good intentions.

The character Pip reminds me a lot of Luke Dunphy on the TV Show, Modern Family. He seems a little ADHD and everyone around him has a difficult time understanding why he does the things he does even though it makes complete sense to him. I kept picture Luke in my head while I was reading this book.

As a teacher, I had a really difficult time reading about how badly his teacher treated him EVERY DAY. Everything was his fault even before he was given a chance to explain, even after he was proven innocent just the day before. As a teacher, I understand how hard it can be to deal with challenging students, but I'd like to think that I'd give all my students a fair chance to explain before blaming them for something. I kept wanting Pip to defend himself in the story. To explain himself and his actions, but it seemed like he wasn't given enough chances to do so.

I didn't really care much for the pictures because they looked a lot like sketches and didn't quite match up to the nice cover, but I did like the discussion questions at the end, which would be good to use as a parent reading this book with their child over the summer break.

Even though, it really bothered me how Pip was picked on by everyone around him, I did enjoy how he reflected upon each day and how he planned on making the next day better. I kept wanting him to find redemption at the end, but the author did a good job of showing that it really is hard to be a kid.

I think kids would enjoy this story of the adventures of a very much misunderstood boy. I can especially see young boys (ages 6-10) enjoying it.

3 out of 5 stars

This is book #13 of the year. I am participating in the 2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge. My goal is to read 50 books this year.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bookshelf Monday :: 7

Continuing with my obsession lately with wall-to-wall bookshelves, this sun room looks like such an elegant, peaceful reading area, I don't think I would ever want to leave it. I love how clean and white it is. The walls of windows would also be lovely for a sunny day of reading or crafting!

This room is actually a part of the Colonial Revival House that was used in the 2008 movie, The Women, starring Meg Ryan. It is currently for sale if anyone has $7.5 million laying around. ;)

image courtesy of: hookedonhouses

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