Tuesday, July 26, 2011

No One But You

Tomorrow I go back to school.  As usual, I'm pondering the new year a lot.  My mind has been racing for the last week!  I still have about 100 things to do... and a short time to do it.  It seems as if summer just started.  Tomorrow I have a ton of work to do!
      To relax a bit today, I spent the afternoon at one of our local independent bookstores, The Tattered Cover.  It's always such a treat to spend the afternoon shopping with your children, perusing the shelves.  My youngest son and daughter went with me!  We had a great time drinking coffee (and hot chocolate), perusing, and chatting about books.  My son came with us and then I dropped him downtown to join his friends at Tha Myx (His youth group joins them periodically for service events).  It was a great afternoon.*
     My daughter and I found ourselves in the children's department for nearly two hours... just long enough to fill two bags with books.  My son hung out in the music section...
     No One But You by Douglas Wood is one of the books that made it into my overflowing basket.  There was something provocative about the book... from the the cover illustration to the narrative text to the last line, I was hooked.  I was looking for a book to start out the year with... (last year it was Necks Out For Adventure by Timothy Basil EringWe used it as our "theme" for the year... rereading it several times and asking "How are we sticking our necks out right now?").
     This book ends, "And no one – no one in all the wide world but you - can feel the feelings in your heart, knowing that someone loves you…and saying words only your lips can say; 'I love you, too.' No one but you."  It's a perfect sentiment, "No One But You!"  As I read through the book, I realized that it's going to be our "go to" book this year.  I'm reading it the first week as we talk about ownership, exploration, and growth.  Who's in charge? "No one but you..."
     I think it's the perfect book to start out the year (thanks again, Candlewick Press for publishing such great books).  I love the text (even though it's not school specific) and the illustrations are amazing.  I can't wait to share it with my students!  
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Thanks for the gift certificate... you know who you are!  It was a special treat even though it's taken me this long to get there!

I'll be blogging a bit about some of my other finds!  Stay tuned.   

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tales of a Gambling Grandma

Tales of a Gambling Grandma by Dayla Kaur Khalsa is one of those books that you find in your stacks and say, "Oh, I love this one!"  It's a story told through the eyes of a young girl who loves and adores her grandmother as "told to her by her grandmother."
     I love using snippets of this book during a study of memoir or personal narrative.  I've also used snippets when encouraging children to write about one of their "heroes."  It also lends itself to a study of worthy sentences or grand punctuation.
     It's a delightful read and as you move through the pages, you can't help but think about your own grandmother, grandfather, mother, or father.  It's perfect for nudging a ten-minute write in writer's notebook... in your own or in a student's.  It's a perfect read to stretch any writer.
     My friend Cathy recommended this book to me.  And, I'm so glad she did.  It's endearing and charming, funny and sad, complex and captivating.  Lines like, "My grandma sat like a flowering mountain in her big green garden chair." or "There were occasional visitors under our willow tree--other children in a quiet mood, the next-door cat on its way somewhere else, the mailman, and two tall nuns who lived around the corner." or "I sat in a chair in her silent kitchen, with no soap opera, and ate a sandwich cut only in two."  The writing is often explicit, often simple... a perfect text to mentor young writers.  
     Although not everyone will have the experience of having a "gambling grandma" or growing up in New York, everyone can experience the gift of good writing.  I'm so glad I picked up this old favorite from my stacks and read it again...
     I can't wait to use it in writer's workshop next year.  Now just to fit it into the right study...