Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Secret Ingredient

I just finished reading The Secret Ingredient, by Laura Schaefer.  I loved all of the recipes and food references in this sequel to The Teashop Girls, but I feel adults will love this book more than the middle graders and young adults for whom it was intended.  While I personally love visiting farmers' markets, I'm not sure how many young adults truly appreciate the importance of using the freshest, locally-grown ingredients in their cooking.  Also, sometimes the protagonist's voice felt a little too grown up for me.  I've worked with middle-graders for years, and I've never once heard any of them discuss someone's "pleasant demeanor," as does the eighth-grade protagonist of this book.  Still, if you love cooking, tea and organic foods, and are looking for a quick read without any violence or inappropriate language, this may be the book for you.  There are even a few references to fashion models and actresses being too thin and unhealthy looking, a point that can't be stressed enough with youth who are bombarded with images of superficial beauty ideals. 

Happy reading,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Writer's Retreat

Here is a week-long retreat for writers.  Hone your craft in the Poconos under the tutelage of some of the most accomplished professionals in children's publishing.

Happy reading and writing,

Monday, March 24, 2014


I saw Divergent this weekend and loved it, as did many of my students who also saw the movie.  One of my students, an avid reader who loved the books, didn't like the movie.  We had a quick discussion about it in class.  A more interesting discussion however, would be which faction would you choose if you were a character in the book?  Abnegation? Amity? Candor? Dauntless? Erudite?

Happy reading and choosing,

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bringing the Back Office Up to Speed - An Inspiring Story!

Looking for a true story of  hard work, integrity and success?  Look no further than the current issue of Hispanic Executive.  Of course, I'm a little partial because the current issue features family friend, Gus Diaz.  Kudos!

Happy reading,

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Middle School Vocabulary Lessons

Here is a great article on vocabulary strategies used in a sixth-grade classroom.  I'm sure you'll feel validated to see many of the practices you are already using in your own classroom discussed by the author, Katie Doherty.  Quite possibly, you'll also find a new spin to revive something you are already doing.

Happy reading,

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Teashop Girls

 Over the past few years, I've had some students choose The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer as their independent reading book.  I've always been impressed with the vocabulary as students read aloud to me and discuss the book during our weekly conferences.  With words like "blissful," "Zenlike," "amidst," "precariously," 'deranged," and "luxuriantly"  appearing in the first chapter, I figured I should give the book a try.  Besides, how could a book which touts the obvious superiority of tea over coffee, be bad?
After reading it, I think it is a fine choice for independent reading.  I'm not sure it is literary enough for a classroom text, as I don't see enough opportunities for the deep analysis called for by the Common Core, but there are definite teachable moments.  Aside from the challenging vocabulary in context, there are also epigraphs at the start of each chapter.  These epigraphs offer opportunities to discuss primary sources and what they reveal about the time period, as well as the chance to make connections between the epigraph and the central idea of the chapter.  There are also delightful recipes and tea-service tips, as well as copies of vintage ads for tea.
So... curl up with some scones and your favorite brew, and enjoy!

Happy reading,

Saturday, March 1, 2014

T.V. Debut!

Watch the lovely and talented, Jillian Lawton at 9:00 p.m. tonight  in Deadly Sins, on Investigation Discovery/Discovery ID.  The channel varies depending on your cable provider, but if you miss it tonight, you can catch it Sunday at 2 p.m.

Happy reading and viewing,