Monthly Archives: May 2010

Seventh-Graders Remember Their Favorite Books of the School Year!

Here is my 2nd installment of, “Why I Will Remember This Book.”  Today I’m featuring what seventh-graders chose as their most remembered book of this past school year. As with my previous post I’ve added some of the student’s thoughts on the book and why it made an influence on them. While I was compiling the list I quickly saw newer titles but many timeless classics were included.  Pass these titles onto a young person in your life!

Thank you to Mr. Giertz our 7th grade Language/Literature teacher and to all of the 7th graders who shared their thoughts about the books they chose!

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1), by Lemony Snicket – submitted by – Alex P.: “I will remember this book because I can put myself in their position and imagine how bad it would feel to lose your parents in a fire.”

Band of Brothers, by Stephen Ambrose – submitted by – Chris T.

Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl – submitted by – Samantha G.: “I can relate to the tough times the main character went through like losing someone close to me.  The love in this book was amazing and powerful.”

Beauty, by Robin McKinley – submitted by Paige F.

Before I Die, by Jenny Downham – submitted by – Kassidy T.

Bras and Broomsticks (Magic in Mahattan, Book 1), by Sarah Mylnowski – submitted by – Brittany E.: “I will remember this book because it was about a teen witch.  I was also hooked in this book and I couldn’t stop reading! I think one of the important images was when Miri and her mom were telling Rachel (Miri’s older sister) that she was a witch.”

The Burning Bridge (Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 2), by John Flanagan – submitted by – Kenny H.: “It is a very good series and it was a very suspenseful book!”

Cirque du Freak, Book 10: The Lake of Souls, by Darren Shan – submitted by – Ethan M.: “I will remember this book because it shows an entirely different side of Cirque du Freak.  In the beginning, there were vampires but in this, there were dragons, different animals, and freaky creatures.  This book took Cirque du Freak to a new level.”

The Contender, by Robert Lipsyte – submitted by – Zach R.: “I will remember this book is about boxing.  I love sports and boxing is one of my favorites. Boxing is about stamina and strength and that is also another reason why I will remember this book.”

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Book 1, by Jeff Kinney – submitted by – Kyle C.: “The reason why I will remember this book is because it is the funniest book I’ve ever read and it is really interesting!” Also submitted by – Thomas C.

Diary of Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, by Jeff Kinney – submitted by – Joe M.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules, by Jeff Kinney – submitted by – Grant H.

Dogsong, by Gary Paulsen – submitted by – Collin A.

Each Little Bird That Sings, by Debra Wiles – submitted by – Kassidy M.: “I will remember this book because it touched me.  It was about a girl learning to deal with death and her emotions. It was heart-breaking, heart-warming, and inspiring. I feel I connected with the characters and put myself in their shoes.  It really changed me.”

Gimme a Call, by Sarah Mylnowski – submitted by – Mali S.: “It was a very great book about a girl who made mistakes and wanted to fix them.  Then she accidently dropped her phone in a mall fountain.  Once she picket it up she called herself from the past!”

The Giver, by Lois Lowry – submitted by – Tyler O.

Gone (Gone, #1), by Michael Grant – submitted by – Jacob F.: “I will remember this book because it is a fast paced thrilling book that got better and better and I couldn’t put it down!”

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen – submitted by – Dayton C.

Heartbeat, by Sharon Creech – submitted by – Savannah G.

Holes, by Louis Sacher – submitted by – Kendal C. and Nate A.

I Heart You. You Haunt Me, by Lisa Schroeder – submitted by – Morgan M.: “I will remember this book because of all the suspense, all of the drama, and how everything that occurred affected the next thing that happened.”

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You, by Ally Carter – submitted by – Alyssa N.

If I Stay, by Gayle Forman – submitted by – Shailee B.

Julie’s Wolf Pack, by Jean Craighead George – submitted by – Morgan A.

The Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks – submitted by – Kate Lynn S. : “The basic love story twisted and turned in every which way.  The ending was the shocker.  This book showed two people who love each other enough to get through anything.  This was a real tear jerker.”

Magyk (Septimus Heap, Book 1), by Angie Sage and Mark Zug – submitted by – Reilly s.

Marley and Me, by John Grogan – submitted by – Jessica S.

Nothing But the Truth, by Avi – submitted by – Jonny W.

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck – submitted by – Jake G.: “I will remember this book because it is possibly the best book I have ever read. Another reason I will remember this book is because it is one of the saddest books I’ve ever read.”

On the Devil’s Court, by Carl Deuker – submitted by – Jimmy K.

The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton – submitted by – Estefany G., Avery S., Kyle C., and  Aaron P.

Paper Towns, by John Green – submitted by – Lana L.: “It was the first book to make me cry.”

The Thing About Georgie, by Lisa Graff – submitted by – Clara R.

Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt – submitted by Nick C.

The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane – submitted by – Brandon G.: “I will remember this book because it is a chilling reminder that warfare is not so celebrated and romantic.  I also liked it because it wasn’t written in this century.”

Weasel, by Cynthia DeFelice – submitted by – James B.: “I can remember this story because of the great imagery and suspicion created throughout.  The great adventure and excitement really makes a book look good to this day. It is immensely powerful to, the way you can look at a book and if you like it. This book gives you great detail about every incident and every member of the family.  If you read this book you could understand this truly is an outstanding novel.”

Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls – submitted by – Kale W.: “I will remember this book because I love dogs and I think it is great that he had such a great relationship with them.” Also submitted by – Aaron V.: “I will remember this book because it is sentimental.  It has a good feeling.  It was written to hook the reader.”

Wherever Nina Lies, by Lynn Weingarten – submitted by – Lauren B.: “I will remember this book because it had a really good plot and climax.  There was a twist in it and I wasn’t expecting it!”

The Wrath of Mulgrath (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 5), by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi – submitted by – Ashley G.



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Reflections From 8th Graders: “Why I Will Remember This Book.”

As an end of the year writing prompt, I asked the teachers in grades 4-8 to have their students choose their favorite book they read this past school.  It was my hope to share this with you who have children and are looking for some good books to share with them.  Books can make a lasting impression on us. Just as posed the question to many adults for my National Book Week blog, they all came up with a title which impacted their life. Since our 8th graders will be leaving us shortly, I thought I’d share their favorite book read during this past school year first.  Throughout my post I’ve shared some of the student responses as to why they liked the book.  Thank you to Mr. Novario and his 8th grade students!  

Good luck in high school and all you strive to accomplish throughout your lives!

Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko – submitted by Aaron P.

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank – submitted by – Erik W. and Zach B.

Ark Angel (Alex Rider, #6), by Anthony Horowitz – submitted by – Trevin S. “This book was one of the best books that I read this year because it was action packed and it kept my attention!”

Band of Brothers, by Stephen Ambrose – submitted by – Nathan M.

Before I Die, by Jenny Downham – submitted by – Lexi: “This book is all time favorite book!  There’s a lot of drama, conflicts, and situations that are relative to other people’s lives.  It makes me wonder what I would do if I had cancer and someone told me I had such amount of time to live. I LOVE this book!”

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne – submitted by: Brenden F.  “While I was reading the book I felt like I was in the book and that I was there during that time.  This is the first time I felt I was really in a book.”

Bad Girls Don’t Die, by Katie Alender – submitted by – Katie L.: “I will remember this book because I am really interested in horror and mystery type things.  This book was really pretty creepy and I just got into it!”

Brian’s Hunt, by Gary Paulsen – submitted by – Nate S.

Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger – submitted by – Emily A. “It is a good young adult book about growing up and being a teenager.  Holden Caulfield is a very memorable character.”

Chasing Brooklyn, by Lisa Schroeder – submitted by – Leah B.

The Compound, by S.A. Bodeen – submitted by – Kyle O.

Dragon Slippers, by Jessica Day George – submitted by – Jason W.

Flush, by Carl Hiaasen – submitted by – Austin A.

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls – submitted by – Savannah B.: “It was such a depressing and memorable book.  I’ll also remember it because I hope I never have to experience it.”

The Giver, by Lois Lowry – submitted by Dillon J.

How to Say Goodbye in Robot, by Natalie Standiford – submitted by – Brooke L.: “I will remember it because in the book Jonah has a twin brother he’s never met and he never gave up trying to find him.  I will never give up trying to work towards something.”

Heather Wells Mystery Series, by Meg Cabot – submitted by – Melissa S.: “The series was a really realistic romance, murder mystery and I really couldn’t stop reading it.  It was kind of a girl book, yet it was very great!”

I Heart You, You Haunt Me – by Lisa Schroeder – submitted by – Janet C.: “I’ll remember it because this book is about people dying and haunting his girlfriend.  Something like that I won’t forget because it’s hard to.”   Also submitted by – Shawna B.   Also submitted by – Starrleann S.: “I will remember this book because she lost her boyfriend and he was still with her even when he died.  He stayed with her because she felt guilty for him dying and he didn’t want her to feel that way.  Also she was trying to move on but couldn’t because Jackson was haunting her.  She wanted him to move on to the different life…it made me cry.”

If I Stay, by Gayle Forman – submitted by – Emilie L.: “It was the book I read on the Kindle and it was a good book with a good message.  It was a book that actually made me want to keep reading it.”

Impulse, by Ellen Hopkins – submitted by – Laini K.: “I will always remember the book, Impulse, because I believe that almost half of the teenagers in the world can relate to conflicts and problems that went on in this story such as having parents who are sick of you, who don’t listen to you, or sometimes ignore you which leads to causing harm to your to yourself whether it’s physical or emotional pain.  I’m not saying everyone goes through this, but even if it’s not as severe as what happens in, Impulse, we all have our ups and downs.”   Also submitted by – Brittney D.: “I will remember the book, Impulse, because it was different than any other book.  There were tons of surprises that I didn’t suspect.  I also liked the characters.  It was a very intense book but also really good.”

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 5), by Rick Riordan – submitted by – Ben B. and Daniel N.

The Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks –submitted by – Rachel T.: “The Last Song was very moving.  Ronnie was rebellious, which is something I can’t imagine ever being.  The love story you would imagine it being between is two teenagers, but it really is between a father and his daughter.  It makes it more loving when the father is dying and the daughter hasn’t spoken to him much in three years because of false information she believed.  I bawled.”

Lisa’s War, by Carol Matas – submitted by – Robert A.

The Lonely Hearts Club, by Elizabeth Eulberg – submitted by – Anna B.: “It was a very fun book to read!  I really got into it and couldn’t put it down.  The characters in the book were going through the same situations I am.  Also, the plot was out of the ordinary and interesting to read.”

Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Water Payton, by Walter Payton – submitted by – Bobby M.

Night, by Elie Wiesel – submitted by – Jacob C. & Dean B.

Numbers, by Rachel Ward – submitted by – Courtney B.

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck – submitted by – Jacquelyn N.: “It was a heartwarming story about two men and their journey of finding and keeping jobs on ranches during a time near the Great Depression. This book was also adventurous.  The part of the book that I will remember most is the very end because it was very surprising. (We are not to give away the ending of books!)

Playing With the Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, a World at War, and a Field of Broken Dreams, by Gary W. Moore – submitted by – Luke S.

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Siege of Macindaw: Book 6, by John Flanagan – submitted by – Ethan T.

Remembering the Good Times, by Richard Peck – submitted by – Ana M.

Shift, by Jennifer Bradbury – submitted by – T.J.D.

Someone Named Eva, by Joan M. Wolf – submitted by – Nick H.

Slam, by Nick Hornby – submitted by – Angel A.

Snatched (Bloodwater Series), by Pete Hautman – submitted by -Mickey J. “The reason why I will remember this book is because it had a great and action filled entrance and exposition.  Another reason why I like it is because it was a really suspenseful book and I never wanted to put it down.  It was so good and well written.  I am really into action, adventure, and mystery books and this book really was all of them.  I really enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend it to anyone and I’ll read it many more times.”

That Was Then, This is Now, by S.E. Hinton – submitted by – Sarah R., Alex B., & Tommy L.

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher – submitted by Danielle M.

Traegonia: The Sunbow Prophecy, by K.S. Krueger – submitted by – Tia M.

Watch You Bleed:  The Saga of Guns and Roses, by Stephen Davis – submitted by – Kyle B.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones – submitted by – Rylee A.

Willow Run, by Patricia Reilly Giff – submitted by – Starlee R.: “I liked the book because the girl and her family move so far away from their grandpa and leave their homes for the war effort.  They do all this waiting for the main character, Meggie Dillon’s brother, Eddie, to return home from the war.”

White Fang, by Jack London – submitted by – Lucas A.: “This book had adventure, action, and lessons learned throughout the entire book.  There was never a dull moment in the book.” Also submitted by – Alex C.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks – Submitted by – Tyler W. & Evan F.

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“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” Robert F. Kennedy

Happy Friday Everyone!

Here’s another edition of “Parker’s Picks.”

I was perusing my extensive record of books I’ve read and contemplating what to share with you today.  Numerous titles began to garner my attention.  I thought why not share several of my much loved non-fiction books.  I’ve learned a great deal from each of these factual titles.  We learn so much from history and real life experiences.  To this day I still remember a college history professor’s (I took four of his history classes!)  remark for past occurrences, “historical events were due to multiple factors of causation.”  Whenever I see him I remind him of his ever famous quote!  Thanks Mr. Schott for sharing your love of history with all of your students! As I reflected on each of these books I’m featuring today, there were many factors that determined the historical outcomes. Each is particularly unique and exceptional.

Come Back: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through Hell and Back – by Claire Fontaine and Mia Fontaine

It’s every parent’s frightening thought – to discover their child has been secretly living another life – taking drugs.  It is the true story of the daughter, Mia Fontaine.  What is the horrendous secret she hides from through drugs? It’s Mia’s and Claire’s journey – Mia as a runaway gets kidnapped by her own mother and is sent to the Morava Academy – in the Czech Republic.  The academy is a place where teens are supervised and reprogrammed to “come back” to their families.  I loved how the story was told by both Claire and Mia.  My book club chose this and we all agreed it was one of the best memoirs we had ever read.

Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America – by Erik Larson

I love when a factual book reads like a fiction book!   Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime in 2004, Devil in the White City was like that for me.  It was coined, “White City” because of the structures which made up the Exposition. There are two alternating historical events and two men involved with each which took place in Chicago circa 1893. One being the evolving plans and preparations for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair under the direction of Daniel H. Burnham and the other is the notorious serial killer and impersonating a doctor, H. H. Holmes. Larson does an excellent job intertwining their two stories and the impact they made during that time period. I learned a great deal about the city of Chicago during this era, the politicians and the famous people. Holmes was a calculating killer who picked his victims wisely. Holmes built a place called the World’s Fair Hotel for people to stay, preferably young single woman.  I devoured this account like I would a suspenseful crime novel! 

Evil Summer: Babe Leopold, Dickie Loeb, and the Kidnap-Murder of Bobby Frank – by John Theodore

Several years ago I saw a movie based on this true story.  When I discovered Evil Summer, I had to read it.  The crime took place in Chicago in 1924.  Bobby Frank was kidnapped, killed with a blow to his head, and his body was burned with acid.  His body was found near the Illinois-Indiana border.  Two University of Chicago students, Leopold and Loeb, were tried for kidnapping and murder.  It was one of the biggest trials to hit Chicago at that time.  This is a wonderful account of the trial and what led two young college men to think they could get away with the perfect crime.

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil – by Deborah Rodriguez

I originally heard about this book while listening to WGN Radio – 720 AM – one day on my way home from work.  The advantages of a long commute!  This is Rodriguez’s first hand account of her experiences in Afghanistan as she tries to help the women in Kabul to establish a beauty school.  It is not as easy as you think as you read her account.  Her journey through this culture is purely told.  It’s the story of her own limitations, errors, and innocence with a culture so very dissimilar from her own.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – by Bill Bryson

This is another favorite funny memoir of mine!  Bill Bryson recounts his boyhood growing up in Des Moines, Iowa during the late 1950’s and into the early 1960’s.  I took pleasure in reading his stories of his family, friends, the times, and his funny take on life itself. Growing up as a child during those years and also being from the Midwest, I could genuinely connect to his life story.  This is a must read for all baby boomers!

Manhunt:  The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer – by James L. Swanson

This is possibly one of the best books I read a couple of summers ago! I had just finished, Team of Rivals, which I’m also reviewing today.  It was the obvious choice to pick up and read. I thought, Manhunt, read like a fictional thriller!  Manhunt follows the story of the plan to assassinate President Lincoln, Vice-President Johnson, and Secretary of State Seward – all in the same evening.  Lincoln’s death was the conspirators’ only successful killing.  The book follows the search for John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators through the 12 days following Lincoln’s death.  This is truly a superb narrative and very well researched work.  Since Manhunt was published, James Swanson has now written an easier version for younger readers entitled, Chasing Lincoln’s Killer.  The students have checked it out numerous times throughout the school year.  It would make a nice choice for you and your child to share over the summer.

Reading Lolita in Tehran – by Azar Nafisi

This was one of my book clubs selections a few years ago.  What if you lived in a country which prevented you from reading?! Unfortunately, that was the case for teacher, Azar Nafisi and many like her. This is the true account of life during the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nafisi secretly gathers even of her most devoted and faithful students.  Collectively they read forbidden Western classics.  Their own lives are revealed as they read these novels.  This was an excellent book club choice because of the discussion it generated.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln – by Doris Kearns Goodwin

I read this very informative work in 2009 to celebrate the bicentennial birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Goodwin is an expert historian.  It is a truly phenomenal book!  The phrase, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” was truly accomplished by Lincoln as he joins William Seward, Salmon Chase, and Edward Bates to his cabinet once he is elected to his first term in office.  Lincoln and “his team of rivals” worked together to keep the Union strong.  In my opinion it’s one of the most accurate and well researched accounts of Lincoln’s increased strength, his presidency, and also his family life.  In the end you’ll completely comprehend Stanton’s famous quote about Abraham Lincoln, “he belongs to the ages.”

Thunderstruck – by Erik Larson

I picked this up because I really took pleasure in reading Larson’s, Devil in the White City!  Once again, Larson uses the winning formula he utilized in his previous book.  Thunderstruck is a suspenseful book which connects Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the wireless telegraph, with Hawley Crippen.  Crippen is a doctor in turn-of-the-century London who murders his first wife.  Hawley and his lover escape on an ocean liner bound for Quebec.  The authorities enlist Marconi and his wireless to capture the runaway fugitives.  Definitely a page turning true account and one you will find difficult to put down.

The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story – by Diane Ackerman

My interest in World War II and the Nazi occupation led me to this interesting memoir.  This book is on several reading lists for young adults as well as adults.  Jan Zabinski is the director of the Warsaw Zoo and along with his wife, Antonina, they create a safe haven for over 300 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.  This is indeed an astounding story of courage.  The tragedies and atrocities Antonina shares continue to illustrate the immoral and wickedness of Hitler’s plan.

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“As soon go kindle fire with snow, as seek to quench the fire of love with words.” William Shakespeare

I wonder what William Shakespeare would think today of the Amazon Kindle ?!  The love of words and kindle used in the same sentence by Shakespeare hundreds of years ago. – amazing! The Amazon Kindle has sparked an interest and a new way for book lovers to read.

It was my interest in technology and as a librarian, my fondness and devotion for reading, which led me down this path to discover the Kindle! 

This past year at my school, Seneca Grade School, I helped to implement a Kindle pilot program in the 7th and 8th grade Language/Literature classrooms.  It has received many positive responses from students, teachers, administrators, and the board of education.  Recently, Lauren Barack, a freelance writer for School Library Journal, interviewed me.  The article is now available to read in the May 2010 School Library Journal!  It can be found in the TechKnowledge section.  The name of the article is, “Librarian Brings Kindles into the Classroom.”

I have heard from many school librarians all over the United States since the article has been published. I’m happy that I’m able to help them to pursue their own Kindle programs.  There are many different digital readers but I like using the Kindle and the features it offers.  A few features are the ability to change the font size, the text to speech feature, the dictionary feature, and highlighting and note taking features.  Will DeLamater, the founder of Edukindle and Edukindle.ning, recently wrote a study entitled, “How Larger Font Size Impacts Reading and the Implications for Educational Use of Digital Text Readers.” I especially like the ability to have an ebook at my finger tips in less than 60 seconds!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have!

“The instruction we find in books is like fire.  We fetch it from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others and it becomes the property of all.” Voltaire


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“Mother, Madre, Maman, Mutter, Moeder, Okaasan, Matka, & Mama”

Mother all over the world is pronounced and spelled in many ways, but they all mean the same.  There will be countless and various ways each and every one of us will celebrate Mother’s Day. Whether you will be together to honor your mother, or if you’re separated by miles, or remembering her in spirit, it will be your desire to make Mother’s Day special no matter what.

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on why my own Mother is so special to me. I am so fortunate to still have my Mother.  She is a friend, confidant, sounding board – in her words, “not that I’d interfere”- and a strong role model for me. I must give her credit for suggesting to me to become a librarian. She instilled my love for reading at a very young age. I still remember her reading from many books, but especially when she would get out the Childcraft volume of poetry!  I knew there were many poems she would be reading. My favorite was, Antonio, by Laura E. Fields.  To this day I can recite it by heart.  Thank you Mom for all you have done for me and how you prepared me for life’s bumps in the road. I admire you and reflecting back at my youth, I am in awe of what you accomplished.  Thank you and I love you!  The quote below brings you to mind!

“You may have tangible wealth untold;

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be –

I had a mother who read to me.”  ~Strickland Gillilan (Thanks, Laurel)

There are many books for all ages which the central theme has to do with mothers. I posed the question, which mother came to mind in fiction and many said, Marmie, from Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. My husband said Mother Goose and her nursery rhymes is one in particular most children are first introduced to. The following books are ones that readily came to mind to me. I’ve mentioned titles for all ages. You might discover Young Adult books tend to view mothers who have problems and how the teen copes with their mother’s flaw. Many you have probably read but hopefully you’ll discover an incredible new read!

Children’s Books:

Are You My Mother? (Beginner Books)    Are You My Mother by, P.D. Eastman

 Brave Irene (Sunburst Books)   Brave Irene, by William Steig

Llama Llama Mad at Mama  
Llama Llama Mad At Mama, by Anna Dewdney

Love You Forever  Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch

Mars Needs Moms!    Mars Needs Moms, by Berkeley Breathed

Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present    Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present, by Charlotte Zolotow

My Mama Says There Aren't Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Demons, Monsters, Fiend (My Mama Says There Arent Any CL)    My Mama Says There Aren’t Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Demons, Monsters, Fiend, by Judith Viorst

Middle Grades:

Betty Doll    Betty Doll, by Patricia Polacco

Journey   Journey, by Patricia MacLachlan

The Mother-Daughter Book Club (The Mother-Daughter Book Club, #1)    Mother-Daughter Book Club, by Heather Vogel Frederick

Ramona and Her Mother (Ramona Quimby (Paperback))   Ramona and her Mother, by Beverly Cleary

 So B. It    So B. It, by Sarah Weeks

Young Adult:

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

 My Mother the Cheerleader   My Mother the Cheerleader, by Robert Sharenow

This Lullaby   This Lullaby, by Sarah Dessen


Away: A Novel    Away, by Amy Bloom

Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back   Come Back: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through Hell and Back, by Claire Fontaine, Mia Fontaine

 The Diary  The Diary , by Eileen Goudge

 Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood  Divine Secrets of the Ya -Ya sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells

 The Heretic's Daughter  The Heretic’s Daughter, by Kathleen Kent

One True Thing: A Novel    One True Thing, by Anna Quindlen

 Saving Ceecee Honeycutt  Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, by Beth Hoffman

The Story Sisters    The Story Sisters, by Alice Hoffman

 Those Who Save Us    Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum

 The Three Weissmanns of Westport  The  Three Weissmanns of Westport, by Cathleen Schine 

Happy Reading & Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

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“TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six. Open your child’s imagination. Open a book.” ~Author Unknown

Summer vacation is quickly approaching for school age kids. Many will have local park activities to attend, summer camps, vacations, and various other leisurely interests to pursue. Hopefully another of their summer pastimes will be reading.  As a parent myself with three grown daughters, summer was a time to explore new adventures through books.  I took them to the public library for summer reading programs, encouraged them to raid our own family library, and to joyfully go to a book store to buy their very own books of choice.  Many book stores offer summer programs for students.  In particular, yesterday, I received information on Borders’ 2010 Summer Reading Program: “Double- Dog Dare” I’d like to share with you today.  At the site there is also a letter from the author of the, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series, Jeff Kinney.

Happy “Summer” Reading!

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Best Book Club Ever: Unfinished Desires, by Gail Godwin

Our April book club selection was Unfinished Desires by Gail Godwin.

Unfinished Desires: A Novel

Our book club unanimously agreed “Patience and Faith” was the essence of Unfinished Desires.

In Unfinished Desires, a beloved author delivers a gorgeous new novel in which thwarted desires are passed on for generations–and captures the rare moment when a soul breaks free. (Goodreads)

All of my book club friends except one were brought up Catholics. We each attended a Catholic grade school. Three of us went to same school! We found it very easy to discuss this book possibly because of our Catholic upbringing.  One of the messages found in Unfinished Desires such as prayers and meditation illustrates how God protects us and cares for us.  The significance of inner calm to trust the world through prayers and meditation was of great importance.  The message of “God’s will” was so well done in the book.  “What did you love most? What have you left undone?” This quote was a key idea which we discussed. It was very thought provoking for all of us. We felt each and every one of us could answer it differently.

Keep a score card to all of the characters and their stories! Mother Suzanne Ravenel recounts the history behind Mount St. Gabriel’s and her years as a student there.  During the early 1950’s, now head mistress, Mother Ravenel, also relives one pivotal night, trying to reconcile the past and the present. It is the fall of 1951 at Mount St. Gabriel’s, an all-girls school tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina. Tildy Stratton, the undisputed queen bee of her class, befriends Chloe Starnes, a new student recently orphaned by the untimely and mysterious death of her mother. Their friendship fills a void for both of the girls but also sets in motion a chain of events that will profoundly affect the course of many lives, including the girls’ young teacher and the school’s matriarch, Mother Suzanne Ravenel. She reaches back even further to her own senior year at the school, where the roots of a tragedy are buried. The last half of the book fills in the gaps that you wonder about in the first part of the story. There is much foreshadowing in the book! The crux of the story was we all make our own judgments’.

We thought Tildy, to compensate for her trouble with reading; she had to say, “I’m smart,” by manipulating other girls. Some girls are just natural born leaders which Tildy was.  This led our discussion towards looking back at our own high school days. We talked about “those who shall remain nameless,” the girls who were leaders in good ways and those girls who were leaders in bad ways. Unfinished Desires nailed the adolescent angst on the head!  There is one part in the book with Tildy and Chloe. Chloe is drawing a portrait for the bulletin board of the entire class. Chloe drew all of the girls as she saw them – the importance of each one of them.  Tildy just pointed out the flaws of each and every girl to Chloe.  Tildy explained some of the girls were “the backdrop” meaning they were very important girls.  We all agreed Tildy was exactly like her mother, Cornelia!

Another quote we discussed in depth was: “Scrape the cauldron for more evil snacks” which meant to us, go as low as you could go and find the dirt on others.

All I could picture in my head each time Mother Ravenal spoke was Rosalind Russell when she played, in the movie, The Trouble with Angels, also starring Haley Mills! A couple others thought Mother Ravenal reminded them of Meryl Streep.

 Mother Ravenal’s wise saying at the end of every “Moral Guidance for Modern Girls” lecture: “Remember, girls: you are a work in progress!”   Aren’t we all?!

Consider, Unfinished Desires, by Gail Godwin next for your book club!

Happy Reading!

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