Monday Musings…


Driving into work this morning, I thought of a bunch of topics I wanted to include in the blog, but couldn’t decide which one to write about today. So…here’s everything!

1. Congratulations to the winner of this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature – Thanhha Lai, the author of Inside Out and Back Again. I haven’t read Lai’s book yet, but it has moved up a few positions in my “to read” stack.

2. Jon Agee is one of my favorite picture book authors and illustrators. If you haven’t read Milo’s Hat Trick or The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseu, go to the library today. His books are smart and funny and are reliable favorites at school. Over the weekend, I read that he is writing a Christmas story called Little Santa, but it won’t be published until the fall of 2013. Something to look forward to besides the presidential election!

3. I read Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork this weekend. Speaking of books that have been on my list – this one took an embarrassingly long time to read!  A combination of John Grisham and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, this moving coming-of-age story is about Marcelo, a teenager who is somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum. His father gets him a summer job in the mailroom of his law firm so that Marcelo can experience life in the “real world,” but as it turns out – the “real world” finds Marcelo without his dad’s assistance. It’s a sophisticated story, one where the action is psychological rather than physical. In some ways, it reminds me of Donna Jo Napoli’s picture book, Albert. Like Albert, Marcelo steps outside of a protected environment and learns that it’s a complicated world out there.

4. From the “overheard in the library” department, I heard a 6th grade girl wonder out loud if a character’s mother was bipolar. It occurred to me that when I was in the 6th grade, that term would never have crossed my mind! Times have certainly changed…


Calling All “Q’s”!

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I’ve faced bigger challenges, but this one certainly ranks right up there.

You see, I’m playing this game with my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students in which we read a book each week by an author whose last name begins with the “next” letter of the alphabet. For example, during the first week I read Milo’s Hat Trick by Jon Agee. The second week was Doctor Ted by Andrea Beaty. You get the idea…

Anyway, I was moving right along without any trouble, but next week has loomed large in my mind—the letter Q! There just aren’t too many good picture books written by people whose last name begins with Q. Thanks to Harriet Ziefert and Charlotte Zolotow, Z is no problem, but Q has proved a formidable challenge. Luckily, I discovered Robert Quackenbush, the author of a delightful series of stories about a duck named Henry. I ordered one today, and with any luck, it will arrive in time for Q week.

In the meantime, it would certainly fill out every children’s library if a few people with the last name of “Quigley” wrote picture books.  And, of course, the letter “X” is only 8 weeks away!