Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thoughts for Thursday

I don't often get personal on my blog, but am taking time today for a little public service announcement.

This is my darling mom. She raised 4 kids (5 if you count my dad) and worked the whole time I was growing up. Though she is extremely gifted with words (a letter or card from her is a treasure), most of her jobs involved numbers; I might not have her resume completely right, but I think she worked for the gas company here in Seattle, as well as a company called Allied Electronics. When our family moved to Bellingham in 1971, she went to work for Sears.

Mom was really, really good at her job. She is patient and precise and very detail-oriented, aside from being kind. (In the sexist 70s, there was no thought of promoting her, but Sears did "allow" her to train the men who would become her managers. That's stuff for another post.) She was also incredibly dedicated. So dedicated that, when she sat at her desk one day and saw big black floaters in her eye and flashing lights, she didn't go to the ER or even to the eye doctor. She finished out her day.

The upshot of that choice is that my mom lost vision in her affected eye due to a retinal detachment. Back then, there were fewer treatment options and the surgery she underwent only messed things up more. So for the past 30+ years, she's been legally blind, seeing only shadows and shapes. Not that you would ever know that! She didn't let visual challenges keep her from cross-stitching tiny baby bonnet Christmas ornaments for each of her 9 grandchildren. She still reads, with a big magnifying lamp. And I've never once heard her complain.

As we age, our eyes do change. If you are over 50, and you are near-sighted, you are more susceptible to vitreous tears (I should know -- I have one myself). And not all vitreous tears lead to retinal detachments, as happened with my mom. BUT, if you see dark floaters in your eyes, especially those looking like a rain shower and/or flashes of light, don't mess around. Call your ophthalmologist right away. Or get to urgent care.  

Mom says so.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Wisdom

It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.

Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Teacher Tuesday

Donna Miller, Elementary Library Teacher in Massachusetts, agreed to play along for today's Teacher Tuesday.

Donna, please fill in the blank:
You should never read and (blank) at the same time.

Just had this lesson with my Kindergarteners - never shower/bathe and read at the same time

If you were invited to be on Oprah, what book would you bring for  her to read?

Tough one - Rain Reign by Ann Martin or Counting by 7s by Holly G. Sloan or Hattie Big Sky

What is the funniest book you've read?

Bossypants by Tina Fey

What is the saddest?

Fault in our Stars or Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Favorite reading snack/beverage?

Stacy's naked pita chips or chocolate - as long as it isn't too hot out and it gets all over my fingers.

What's next on your TBR list?

The whole list or just the top few? - Brown Girl Dreaming, Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and WildThings!:Acts of Mischief in Children's literature

Teachers, librarians, reading coaches, principals, custodians, lunch ladies, anyone with school connections: Please play along! Email me here and I'll get you the questions so you, too, can be featured on Teacher Tuesday. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friend FridayKimber

When our paths crossed at the Michigan Reading Association conference on Mackinac Island, what first caught my eye about Kimberli Bindschatel was her bag. Isn't it amazing? It's made to look like her book!

Of course, I had to ask  her how she'd made it and one thing led to another, which led to my inviting her to be a guest on Friend Friday. Take it away, Kimberli!

Kimberli Bindschatel

I wasn’t always a writer. I mean, as a serious pursuit. I’ve always been an artist and nature lover. Only recently did I decide to find writing as a way to explore my passions.

Born and raised in Michigan, I spent summers at the lake, swimming and chasing fireflies, winters building things out of cardboard and construction paper, writing stories, and dreaming of faraway places. Since I didn’t make honors English in high school, I thought I couldn’t write. So I started hanging out in the art room. The day I borrowed a camera, my love affair with photography began. Long before the birth of the pixel, I was exposing real silver halides to light and marveling at the magic of an image appearing on paper under a red light.

After college, I freelanced in commercial photography studios. During the long days of rigging strobes, one story haunted me. As happens in life though, before I could put it to words, I was possessed by another dream—to be a wildlife photographer. I trekked through the woods to find loons, grizzly bears, whales, and moose. Then, for six years, I put my heart and soul into publishing a nature magazine, Whisper in the Woods. But it was not meant to be my magnum opus. This time, my attention was drawn skyward. I’d always been fascinated by the aurora borealis, shimmering in the night sky, but now my focus went beyond, to the cosmos, to wonder about our place in the universe.

In the spring of 2010, I sat down at the computer, started typing words, and breathed life into a curious boy named Kiran. Together, in our quest for truth, Kiran and I have explored the mind and spirit. Our journey has taken us to places of new perspective. Alas, the answers always seem just beyond our grasp, as elusive as a firefly on a warm autumn night.

Kimberli A. Bindschatel’s debut novel, The Path to the Sun, is the story of seven teens who set out on a quest to save their forsaken village, but when it turns into a fight for survival, sixteen-year old Kiran is forced to question everything he was taught to believe about faith, truth, and his place--and ours--in the natural world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Wisdom

I think that, if instead of preaching brotherly love, 
we preached good manners, 
we might get a little further.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Teacher Tuesday

Today's good sport is Craig Seasholes, a teacher with a passion for poetry who teaches in at a school in west Seattle.

Craig, please fill in the blank:

You should never read and (blank) at the same time.

You should never read and ....fight the need to Sleep... at the same time.  I believe in the power of both reading and sleep. It's not an either/or thing at all.

If you were invited to be on Oprah, what book would you bring for her to read?

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino.  This master storyteller's brilliant series of first chapters ending in cliff hangers is a perfect plaything for people who love to small bites. Reading the first chapter aloud would be perfect for an expectant TV audience.

What is the funniest book you’ve read?

I couldn't choose just one funniest book if my life depended on it! Mo Willems is taking the cake for the early reader set, with That is Not a Good Idea tickling several funny bones at once. Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's Peter and the Starcatchers is snort-through-your-nose funny prequel to this re-imagined Peter Pan for upper elementary.  For older readers, I still find Dave Macauley's Motel of Mysteries a brilliant send up to the King Tut hype, as is Leo Lionni's Parallel Botany for spoofing scientific proceedings of biologists and desert mystical philosophists.

What is the saddest?

OK, so the fact is I've got issues with most  question with  -est adjective forms.  The Fault in Our Stars was sad and lovely , poignant enough to stand out in recent YA fiction. But then so was Roz Chast's graphic memoir Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? and there humor helps soften the blow while allowing grief its due. 

Favorite reading snack/beverage?

I'm a chai tea and gingersnap kinda guy.

What’s next on your TBR list?

Groaning shelves of  TBR loom over me as I struggle to keep up a with read/write/share habit for school  and audiences. Tonight  Ed Piskor's HipHop Family Tree towers from the top of the pile in anticipation of his appearance in Seattle Short Run Comix and Arts Festival Nov 15th at Washington Hall.

Teachers, librarians, reading coaches, principals, custodians, lunch ladies, anyone with school connections: Please play along! Email me here and I'll get you the questions so you, too, can be featured on Teacher Tuesday. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Packing my bags again

This afternoon, I'm off to Bellingham, Washington, to participate in an amazing event called Compass to Campus. Essentially, the program brings 900 at risk 5th graders onto the Western Washington University campus, arranges for them to attend "classes" and get paired up with college student mentors -- each 5th grader will have a mentor until he/she graduates from high school! 

I'm especially honored because many of those 5th graders have read either Duke or Dash and I will get to share the story behind those stories with them. How fun is that?

Then I zoom home from Bellingham, pack my bag and jet off to Tennessee. My BFF Mary Nethery and I will be speaking at a school on Thursday and then attending the Tennessee School Library Association conference, where we will accept the Volunteer State Book Award for Nubs (which now has 13 state young reader award medals!).

I am one lucky dog.