Monday, October 23, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Some call it "reading flow".  I prefer to call it "book coma".  It's that feeling you get when you are reading a really good book, one that's easy on your eyes and invites you into the story from the first page to the last, transporting you with its voice and characters and setting.  That's what happened to me this weekend, reading Catching a Story Fish by Janice N. Harrington.
This book is different than other novels-in-verse I've read. Each poem has its own title, and the author includes a "Poetry Glossary" at the end to explain several different types of poetic forms she employed--this one a haiku, the next concrete, another the blues--yet the story flows from one poem to the next.  The consistency of the speakers' voices holds the narrative together, so that the changes in rhythm and patterns aren't jarring; in fact, I think it makes the story that much more interesting.

At the heart of Catching a Story Fish is a realistic fiction tale of a young girl trying to find her way in a new school and a different culture.  It's a story many of us can relate to, especially this military BRAT.  

If you want to learn more about poetry forms, check out this website from The Poetry Foundation:  .

It's Monday!  What new book did you pick up this weekend?

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Fall blew into Austin this weekend!  Chilly mornings, temperatures below 85 degrees in the afternoon, and the telltale sign of leaves littering our lawns bring welcome respite from the heat of summer.

I have been shying away from cooking these last few months; the thought of turning on a stove after getting into my hot car at the end of a workday just wasn't appealing.  The sound of the leaves skittering across the patio, and a walk on the hike and bike breathing cool air inspired me to break out my cookbooks and plan some meals for the months ahead.
I pored over these cookbooks, and a couple more, for hours this weekend.  My eyes were drawn to the recipes I had starred and  the notes I had written about substituting ingredients, changes in cookware and oven temps.  Soups and stews and baked goods found their way onto my menu templates.
Cookbook reading is a fundamental procedural text skill, and menu planning is the yummiest reader's response I know!

It's Monday; what are your favorite cookbooks?

Monday, October 9, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I usually save my Book Nook reading news for the Wednesday library update...but we've been sharing a GREAT baseball book with the first and second graders:
Featured on both the Texas 2x2 list and our own district's Armadillo Readers' Choice list, The William Hoy Story is a biography that surprised everyone in our Book Nook these past two weeks.  We are using the "Depth and Complexity" icons on our campus this year, and this book easily demonstrates the "Over Time" icon.  I don't want to give too much away, but William Hoy, who played professional baseball in the 1880s through the early 1900s, is thought to have initiated changes in the game which are still in use today, and will likely remain in the future.

The William Hoy Story is a great book to get students wondering about the origin of current practices and digging into history to answer those questions.  It's easy to just accept the many details of our lives as ordinary--but what's mundane these days started as someone's great idea.  Think of the brainstorming sessions you could have with this topic!  When and why did traffic lights come into use?  Who invented the shopping cart, air conditioner, plumbing?  When did drive-through restaurants come into being?

If you've got baseball or history fans in your circles, The William Hoy Story would be a welcome addition to their book collections.

It's Monday!  What books are you sharing with others this week?

Monday, October 2, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This is my fifth year as a librarian and at Sommer.  I inherited a library of 20,000 materials to manage, so it is no wonder that I keep discovering new books as I read shelves and oversee circulation.  One of the books that I've noticed, but never checked out before, is Richard Peck's Here Lies the Librarian.
After recently reading Peck's The Best Man from our Bluebonnet Award Nominee list, I was in the mood for more of his writing, so I checked it out for the weekend.  

Here Lies the Librarian didn't disappoint--though it was more about cars and small town living in the early 1900s than it was about the deceased librarian in the title.  PeeWee and her brother eke out a living fixing the first cars on the road, competing with the underhanded Kirby brothers for business.  A quartet of library science students show up one day, determined to revive the town library that's been closed since the librarian's demise.  Peck's cast of quirky characters in this period piece manage to educate us on the  living conditions of Midwestern towns before paved roads crossed the country, the empowerment of women that access to education and transportation enables, and a bit about the birth of the automobile age.  

I'm glad I took the time to read for fun this weekend!  What did you read?

Monday, September 25, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I'm continuing my trek through this year's list of Bluebonnet Award nominees!  This past weekend, I got halfway through Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee.
This story pulls at the heart from the very beginning, exploring the way feelings of love, loss, frustration, and hope can all coexist in profound relationships with family and friends--in human and animal experience.  Appelt and McGhee draw us into the book with vivid descriptions of both story setting and character psyches.  The mysterious spirituality woven throughout makes me feel like I'm in a place set apart, like the story of "Brigadoon".  

I'll be finishing up Maybe a Fox this week.  What are you reading today?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?

Students have been picking up their prizes for their Summer Reading Beach Blanket Bingo. Here are some of our Level D winners, who earned lunch in the library with a friend!

Ms. Margocs will be hosting a volunteer orientation this coming Monday, September 25th, from 115p to 2p.  Please attend if you have signed up to volunteer to help in the library!  If you cannot attend, the slideshow will be posted on the library website next week.  Click here for the link to the library volunteer signup.  Our busiest days are Tuesday through Friday!

Our first big book order of the year arrived today!  Ms Margocs and Mrs Woodul will be sharing the books with our students tomorrow.

We are preparing for our upcoming Fall Scholastic Book Fair!

Funds from our book fair help pay for author visits, books for the students, and library supplies.
Tune in next week for more book fair information!

Monday, September 18, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Feeling under the weather with allergies is a good excuse to lie down on the couch and read--and I read The Best Man by Richard Peck in one day.
I hadn't read a book by Peck since grad school, and had forgotten how much I like his writing style.  His words just flow for me!

Archer is our narrator, and lets us in on the facts and foibles of his life leading up to the biggest event yet--a family wedding, in which he gets to be the best man.  There are a few mishaps: an embarrassing stint as a ring bearer, being teased for having a girl as a best friend, dealing with the celebrity of a student teacher. But in true Peck style, there are a lot of tender moments: walks with Grandpa and talks with his parents, friends sticking up for one another, and lessons learned in the bleachers of Wrigley Field.

If you're in the mood for a rollicking read that may bring a happy tear to the eye, pick up a copy of The Best Man by Richard Peck--and sign one more book off of your Bluebonnet nominee list!

It's Monday!  What was on your weekend reading pile?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?

We had an author visit yesterday!

Carmen Oliver is the author of Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies, illustrated by Jean Claude.  She visited with Pre-K and kindergarten students, and talked about her reading and writing life and path to becoming an author.  Ms. Oliver read her story for us, and made connections to Winnie-the-Pooh, too!
PTA provided funding for this visit--thank you very much!
Our fabulous PTA library support team visited with Ms. Margocs on Monday to start planning our Fall Book Fair--it's coming in October!  Funds raised through book sales help pay for authors' visits, our Bluebonnet Reading Program party, and library supplies.  Stay tuned for more news about the Book Fair in the next few weeks!
There will be a library volunteer training session in the library on Monday, September 25th at 2:00pm.  If you would like to shelve books for our busy library, please plan on attending this 45 minute training session.  If you can't make it, a tutorial will be available on the library website afterward.

Thank you for supporting our Sommer Library Program in so many ways!

Monday, September 11, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

If you've followed this blog for awhile, you know that I am a huge proponent of picture books.  Words accompanied by static illustrations make a perfect  environment for beginning readers, vocabulary building for older students, and for anyone's eyes tired of constant text in novels and moving images on a screen.  Picture books are like photo albums; they allow the eye to rest on details, to ponder the connections at the reader's own pace, marvel in the artwork and how it enhances the story.

Picture book biographies bring their subjects to life.  Such is the case with Edward Hopper Paints His World, written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor.
From a young age, Edward knew he wanted to be an artist--but that doesn't mean that it was an easy road to making a living.  Hopper studied art in New York and Paris, and illustrated magazines to earn money while he was pursuing his passion for painting.  His earlier work did not sell well, but he persevered.  Hopper is now best known for his iconic painting of a city diner, Nighthawks.

The author takes us on a journey of Hopper's personal life and the evolution of his work, and the illustrator evokes the feelings of Hopper's paintings, incorporating four of his most famous works into the story.  The original paintings are shown at the end of the book, as are quotes from Hopper, musings on the artist as a hero and explorer, important dates in Hopper's life, and bibliographic references from both the author and the illustrator.  Edward Hopper Paints His World is a beautiful way to teach biography and nonfiction text features in any classroom, at any level. 

NOT for kids book: I am trying to do more "just for me" reading this school year, starting with Cheryl Strayed's Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.  
I remember when the movie based on the book came out, thinking it was "just" a "finding myself" kind of story--intriguing, but not enough to pull me to the theater or bookstore at the time. 

In July, I happened across a Facebook post forwarded by the American Library Association from the Multnomah County Library .  The librarians there would make book recommendations based on your tattoos!  I sent them a picture of my last inking, explaining how it commemorates my 51st birthday--the age at which my mother died from ALS.  Wild was their suggestion for me, and it was spot on.  

Strayed may have taken a much different path (figuratively and literally) in dealing with her mother's passing, but the emotional unmooring she experienced is very familiar to me.  This book is less about surviving a thousand mile walk, and more about how we deal with profound grief and keep on living.

Last, but not least, I've also started Ralph Fletcher's Joy Write: Cultivating High-Impact, Low-Stakes Writing.  I'll let you know what I learn in a future post!

It's Monday; what are you reading?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?


That's what happened in the Sommer Library last week!  We had fourth and fifth graders listening to We're Going on a Book Hunt with our kindergarten classes, then helping the younger students find and check out books :

The older students were wonderful participants in storytime, and the level of care shown to the kindergarten students while they taught them  how to use their shelf markers and check out scanner was a heartwarming sight for their librarian and teachers.

Third graders paired up on the iPads for a student-paced Nearpod lesson, helping each other with the quiz questions:

Second grade classes reviewed library expectations by listening to Shelf Elf  by Mim Hopkins:

First grades got to listen to We're Going on a Book Hunt, too; then they headed for the shelves to check out their first two books of the year!

Fourth grades got a project-based orientation, with the directive to answer questions about the library for an incoming alien contingent.  They had fun making their video answers on the iPads, and Ms. Margocs finally tried "airdropping" for the first time--easy peasy!

It's great having students back in the library to enjoy our collection!  Our shelf-wide Bluebonnet Nominee collection is down to just a few books already:

This week, we're reading School's First Day of School by Adam Rex in the Book Nook.  Older students are playing the Bluebonnet/ Genre Mashup game and exploring our databases for future research projects in the classroom.

Next week, we'll talk about a few new displays in the library, and provide details for volunteer orientation this year.

Please note new morning hours:  the library is now open only for book returns before school.

Welcome back to the library, Stallion Readers!

Monday, September 4, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Labor Day weekend--and I caught up on two more Bluebonnet Award Nominees today!

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes is an historical fiction novel--if historical fiction can be written in present day mode.  The story opens on Dèja waking up in a family shelter, about to face her first day of fifth grade in a new school.  Her mother works hard as a waitress, but cannot make ends meet for Dèja, her two younger siblings, and her father, who can't hold a job due to physical and mental illness.  The curriculum that year is centered on the events of 9/11.  What Dèja learns about the event will impact her relationships with friends and family in ways she didn't anticipate.

I read this book in one day, sitting in the quiet of my living room.  When I finished the last page, I was glad for the stillness of my surroundings; it allowed me to think about the messages of this book, to breathe and let go of the tension I felt for Dèja's family and friends.  I was really impressed with the way the author handled the details of 9/11 with a gentle touch, giving just enough to emphasize the tragedy without overwhelming younger readers.

Little Cat's Luck by  Marion Dane Bauer was a much lighter read!
Patches loves her home and her girl, but has an inexplicable yearning to find a place that is dark, warm, and cozy.  A story in free verse, we follow Patches as she follows a leaf through town, getting lost in the chase.  Luck is on her side, however--she has traveled safely to the yard of Gus, the meanest dog in the neighborhood, who just happens to have a dark, cozy doghouse.  But will Gus let Patches stay?  Animal lovers will enjoy this story's personification of suburban creatures, and the twists and turns this story takes before a happy ending.

It's a Monday off for teachers and students--what did you read today?

Monday, August 28, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

We've had a REALLY wet weekend here in central and east Texas.  

Our part of town was lucky; we aren't in a floodplain, and our power only blinked once.  I have friends in town who have been without power for a full day, and friends in Houston who can't leave because they are surrounded by water.

When I wasn't busy checking weather reports and Facebook updates, I got some reading done!  I'm still trying to finish up this year's Bluebonnet Award nominees; can check off The Last Kids on Earth by Max Braillier (it was really funny!) and reread Whoosh! by Chris Barton--love Don Tate's illustrations!

After a summer of much-less-reading than usual, I am working on rebuilding my reading stamina.  I'm glad the rain pushed me to indulge in some great books this weekend!

It's Monday; what did you read during our wet and windy weekend here in Texas?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?

Oh, no!
What has happened to our book displays?

No worries; there will be books back on top of our shelves soon!  We are busy getting ready for the school year, including some cleaning, rearranging, and ordering great new books for the library!

The teachers have been busy meeting in the library too.
You can tell we have a LARGE staff count here at Sommer, to serve our ever-growing student population.

Ms. Margocs met with all the grade level teams today to schedule their weekly library visits, review our read-aloud books, and discuss lessons for the upcoming school year. Library staff and PTA helpers will be ready to take ID photos of our newest Stallions this Friday, August 18th, during supply drop-off.  Thanks to our PTA library liaisons for helping us out!

Can't wait to see our students back in the library!  

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Do you ever want to read just to clear your mind, to escape from the world for a little bit?

I was getting ready for bed last night, and didn't feel like diving back into either of the chapter books I'm still trying to finish.  I picked two picture books to read instead.

The title echoes my feelings about this past break--It Was A Short Summer, Charlie Brown, by "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz.  My uncle inscribed his gift to me in 1970, the same year it was published.  I was only four at the time, so I'm not sure if I was able to read by myself then.  I laughed as I read it last night, since it opens with Charlie Brown and Linus working on the classic back-to-school essay assignment--answering the question "What did you do this past summer?".  Summer camp didn't go the way Charlie Brown would have liked it to, so he was hesitant to write down the details that Linus was more than ready to pen.  

The second book I chose is one I bought for my own children from a used book store.
The Sea-Breeze Hotel, written by Marcia Vaughan and illustrated by Patricia Mullins, is a beautifully illustrated story about turning a problem into an opportunity.  The Sea-Breeze Hotel is a lovely place to stay--if one can stand the winds that buffet the locale eleven months a year.  Sam decides to take advantage of the wind by building and flying a kite, and soon the near-empty hotel turns into a destination spot for kite fliers of all ages.

I drifted off to dreamland with images of Snoopy and beautiful kites flying in the wind.  What books did you read before going to sleep last night?

Monday, August 7, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Good morning, Readers!  I'm up way before dawn today, because librarians are back on the job on this wet, thundering morning.  We have to get our libraries ready for our teachers' return on Thursday, and our students' first day of school on August 22nd.  I hope my learning community is ready to share their summer reading and explore new books with me this year!

Speaking of summer reading...I am waaaayyyy behind this year.  A lot of my summer reading has been procedural, taking care of family medical needs and college preparations for my son.  So now I am in a scramble to catch up a bit!  My current book is a Bluebonnet Award Nominee:
The Last Kids on Earth is a first person zombie-and-monster apocalyptic narrative by Max Brallier, heavily illustrated by Douglas Holgate.  Thirteen-year-old Jack Sullivan, a foster kid used to dealing with trouble, tackles the new threats in his life like he's taking on a video game.  Jack's sense of humor and honesty about his failures and teenage insecurities will have you giggling as you read about his adventures with flesh-eating zombies and CVS (yes, the drugstore)-crushing monsters.

It's Monday; what's on your reading pile for this wet week ahead?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

It's Wednesday! What's happening at the Sommer Library?

Stop by our library tomorrow afternoon to check out some great books!
Can you guess what day it is tomorrow?

Fly a Kite Day!  Check out a book about kite flying, color a kite picture, or make a kite bookmark in the library.

We've got another holiday coming up...

Students and staff of Round Rock ISD may check out books from our library.  See you tomorrow afternoon!