Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Boys (and Girls!) in the Boat

Congratulations to the US Women's Rowing team which took gold in the coxed eight rowing event.  I never realized what a grueling sport rowing was until I read The Boys in the Boat.  Now, PBS is airing a special about the 1936 Olympic team featured in the book.  You can watch it here.
Below is what I wrote about this New York Times bestseller when I first read it:

The Boys in the Boat

I finally finished reading The Boys in the Boat.  It took me so long that I felt like I was in the boat with them!
Honestly, I wasn't crazy about this book to begin with, but who wants to quit on a book about perseverance?  So, I stuck with it and in the end, I'm glad.  It is truly amazing that these boys with the odds stacked so far against them could achieve greatness, or to paraphrase the book, touch the divine.  It also gave me a whole new appreciation for the sport of rowing.  Even though I have a niece and a nephew who row crew, and even though a regatta is truly a thing of beauty, I just never knew all of the pain that went into making something so difficult  look so graceful and effortless.  I also loved the references to other sports figures of the time, like Joe Louis and Seabiscuit.
If you are interested in sports history, or just a classic tale of humility, teamwork and determination you might give this book a try.

Happy reading,

Happy reading,

Monday, August 8, 2016

Here's to Us

Elin Hilderbrand's  latest book, Here's to Us, is a quick, easy beach read that will not only make you want to visit Nantucket, it will make you hungry.  Her descriptions of the idyllic beach community are matched only by her descriptions of the smells, tastes, and textures of the food.  Fortunately, the book contains recipes for the dishes that held the most significance in this story of three woman gathered to spread the ashes of the man they all once married.  If you like the movie, The Other Woman, you will like this story of the unlikeliest of friends.

Happy beach reading,

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Truly Madly Guilty

Today is the day!  Liane Moriarty's new book, Truly Madly Guilty is finally available for download or purchase.  Click here to read what I've posted about her other books.

Happy reading,

Monday, July 25, 2016

American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers

Let me start by saying how I am going to end, or rather, how I am not going to end.  I am not going to end with my predictable closing, "Happy Reading."  That is because, American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Teenagers, by Nancy Jo Sales is anything but happy reading.  It is, at times, disturbing.
A close friend who is a wonderful mom and a social worker with a Master's degree from Columbia University, gave me the book and warned me about its contents.  After reading it, I told her it was the scariest parenting book I've ever read.  How did we go from parenting books about toilet training and bed time routines to this?  Scariest of all, is the thought that although this book was published this year, given the speed with which social media evolves, there are definitely new ways that young people are being exploited, cyberbullied, and in extreme cases, endangered, that parents don't even know about.  
The book covers the teen years 13-19, but also addresses issues 'tweens face.  It even cites a 2014 study at UCLA in which sixth-graders who went just five days without looking at a smart phone were significantly better at interpreting emotions and body language in face-to-face communication than sixth-graders in the same school who continued to use smart phones.  (pp 135-136)  While the studies cited in this book are interesting, the really gripping part of the book is the stories shared by teens from all over the country.  Remarkably, they are almost always stories of the same experience across geographic regions and socioeconomic differences.  A young girl in the south Bronx who feared leaving her grandma's apartment because people were passed out in the hallway with needles in their arms, describes nearly the same online experiences as girls in Boca Raton, FL and The Hamptons, New York.
This is an eye-opening read for any parent or any professional who works with young people.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Leaving Time

I just finished Leaving Time, by Jodi Picoult.  What a suspenseful mystery filled with foreshadowing and plot twists that I should have seen coming.  It's a quick read read with chapters from different characters' points of view, as well as beautiful descriptions of elephant behavior in the wild and in sanctuaries.  (As if I wasn't emotional enough reading dog books)  Here is a link to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, mentioned in the book.  Enjoy the videos of the elephants living peacefully, but definitely read the book.

Happy reading,

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Jennifer Aniston

Here is an interesting opinion on The Huffington Post by Jennifer Aniston.  No wonder she is America's favorite friend.

Happy reading,

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Shining Sea

Loved Shining Sea, by Mimi Cross.  I was so excited when it was released, but now that summer is in full swing, I just want to reread it.  If you like the Twilight series and love the beach and the sea, this is a perfect summer read.  Mimi's writing will draw you in like a siren's song.

Happy reading,

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Greek Gods

The July issue of National Geographic has a piece on lesser-known deities and cults in ancient Greece.  If you teach social studies or are planning on teaching any of the Percy Jackson novels next year, you might want to check it  out.

Happy reading,

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th!
For those of us who can only dream of getting Hamilton tickets, the New York Public Library has a Hamilton Exhibitand here is a video of a number from the show:

Happy reading,

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Little Paris Bookshop

I would have loved The Little Paris Bookshop even if Nina George hadn't crafted such a beautiful work.  That is because the book was a gift from one of my  children who picked it out knowing it was exactly the kind of sentimental story a sentimental mom would love.  It is about a bookseller who prescribes the right book for the right reader to help them overcome whatever difficulties they are facing in life.  More than a book about bibliotherapy, it is about friendship and love.  Ms. George's descriptions of the French countryside are enhanced by the inclusion of recipes at the back of the book. (Each recipe features the flavors of Provence.)
If you are looking for an enchanting summer read, try The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George.

Happy  reading,

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May the Fourth Be With You

Happy Star Wars Day!  Libraries and bookstores hold special Star Wars themed events on May 4th.  Check out the events in your area to interest a young Star Wars fan in reading.

Happy reading,

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Sleep Revolution, by Arianna Huffington

I ordered Arianna Huffington's new book, The Sleep Revolution because I, like all moms, am interested in anything that protects the health and well-being of my children.  I was surprised however, by all of the data on how important sleep is at all stages of life, and that all of us could probably use a little (or a lot of) improvement in that area.
Sleep enhances performance in all aspects of life, no matter the age group.  Particularly surprising were the statistics on sleep and sports.  The book cites a study involving the Stanford basketball team. When these elite athletes increased their sleep average to eight and a half hours, their "sprint times were .7 seconds faster, free-throw shooting went up by 9 percent and three-point shooting increased by 9.2 percent." According to the book, "LeBron James swears by twelve hours a day when practicing."  No wonder Fitbits include sleep trackers!
You would think that a book on sleep would be a sleep aid in itself, but it wasn't. It was pretty interesting.  If you have a loved one you are trying to help sleep better, or if you want to improve your own sleep, try some of the tips in this book.

Happy reading (and sleeping),

Friday, April 29, 2016

Arbor Day Books

Happy Arbor Day!

For some light-hearted reading, why not share Pie in the Sky, by Lois Ehlert with your children or students.  In this celebration of nature's seasons, a father explains that the tree is a pie tree.  The child witnesses all stages of the tree's development through to the harvest when the family makes pie.

For some deeper discussion about relationships, why not revisit the classic, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.  Is this book a parable about the joys of giving?  Is it about a parent-child relationship?  Does it exemplify an emotionally abusive relationship in which one partner is doing all of the giving, making all of the effort, and the other partner is doing all of the taking?  You decide.  And for some Friday music, here is the Plain White T's allusion to The Giving Tree:

Happy reading,

Thursday, April 28, 2016

More About Shining Sea

Here is  more info about Mimi's new book, Shining Sea, available next month:

A Novel
By Mimi Cross  

Falling in love shouldn’t feel like drowning.

 **Grammy award–winning artist Rosanne Cash has described Cross’s writing and singing as “Fusing delicacy and power, heart and gut. Inspiring, evocative, and refreshing.” **
Mimi Cross, an award-winning and celebrated singer-songwriter, mesmerized us with her raw and heart-wrenching YA debut Before Goodbye which The Toronto Star called “a book to set your heart aflutter.” She delivers another enthralling and edgy novel—this time with a fantasy bent. SHINING SEA (Skyscape, May 24, 2016) is a gripping, thoughtful, and enchanting story about a young woman confronting the harsh realities of both love and tragedy for the first time.

Seventeen-year-old Arion Rush has always played the obedient sidekick to her older sister’s flashy femme fatale—until a mysterious boating accident leaves Lilah a silent, traumatized stranger. As her sister awaits medical treatment with their mother, Arion and their father head to his hometown in Maine to prepare a new life for them all. Surrounded by the vast Atlantic, songwriting is Arion’s only solace, her solid ground.

Unexpectedly, Arion blossoms in the tiny coastal town. Friends flock to her, and Logan Delaine, a volatile heartthrob, seems downright smitten. But it’s Bo Summers—a solitary surfer, as alluring as he is aloof—that Arion can’t shake. Meanwhile, Lilah’s worsening condition, a string of local fatalities, and Arion’s own recent brushes with death seem ominously linked…to Bo’s otherworldly family. As Arion’s feelings for Bo intensify and his affections turn possessive, she must make a choice. How will Arion learn to listen to her own voice when Bo’s siren song won’t stop ringing in her ears?

Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Maggie Stiefvater, SHINING SEA weaves Cross’s musical magic into yet another haunting and powerful story. Arion’s world is an ethereal soundtrack of first love and the stormy drama that sometimes unexpectedly comes along with it.

SHINING SEA by Mimi Cross * On-Sale Date: May 24, 2016

Price: $9.99 paperback, $5.99 eBook * Skyscape

Monday, April 25, 2016

New Book - Shining Sea

I met Mimi Cross at a writing conference and she, another writer and I formed our own little writing group, encouraging each other and offering revision suggestions.  It thrills me to share that her new book, Shining Sea will be released next month.  You can order it on Amazon.

Happy reading,

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day and National Poetry Month, here is a little Shel Silverstein to share with your children or students:

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout 
Would not take the garbage out! 
She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans, 
Candy the yams and spice the hams, 
And though her daddy would scream and shout, 
She simply would not take the garbage out. 
And so it piled up to the ceilings: 
Coffee grounds, potato peelings, 
Brown bananas, rotten peas, 
Chunks of sour cottage cheese. 
It filled the can, it covered the floor, 
It cracked the window and blocked the door 
With bacon rinds and chicken bones, 
Drippy ends of ice cream cones, 
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel, 
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal, 
Pizza crusts and withered greens, 
Soggy beans and tangerines, 
Crusts of black burned buttered toast, 
Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . . 
The garbage rolled on down the hall, 
It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . . 
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs, 
Globs of gooey bubble gum, 
Cellophane from green baloney, 
Rubbery blubbery macaroni, 
Peanut butter, caked and dry, 
Curdled milk and crusts of pie, 
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard, 
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard, 
Cold french fries and rancid meat, 
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat. 
At last the garbage reached so high 
That it finally touched the sky. 
And all the neighbors moved away, 
And none of her friends would come to play. 
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said, 
"OK, I'll take the garbage out!" 
But then, of course, it was too late. . . 
The garbage reached across the state, 
From New York to the Golden Gate. 
And there, in the garbage she did hate, 
Poor Sarah met an awful fate, 
That I cannot now relate 
Because the hour is much too late. 
But children, remember Sarah Stout 
And always take the garbage out!

Happy Earth Day reading,

Monday, April 11, 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lesson More Important than Testing

With the first week of state testing behind us, here is the real lesson I hope my students learn:

Happy reading,

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Everything is Copy

I'm really enjoying the HBO documentary, Everything is Copy.  If you have read this blog before, you know that I am a huge fan of Nora Ephron's writing, so it was great to glimpse the person behind the prose.
Here are some of my previous posts on Ms. Ephron:

June 27, 2012
Tonight, from 6:30-9:30 you can join an online discussion of Mark Harris's ballpark novel, Bang the Drum Slowly.  The novel is about a pitcher for the New York Mommoths (supposed to be the Yankees) and his ill teammate.  The discussion takes place at the City Room blog.
The city and the world lost a literary luminary last night when Nora Ephron died of pneumonia brought on by leukemia.  One of my favorite filmmakers and writers, Ms. Ephron was a master of the romantic comedy. When Harry Met Sally is still one of my all-time favorites.  Her movie, You've Got Mail,  is more love-letter to the city of New York than love story.  I want to stroll around Manhattan every time I watch it.  I loved her last two books, I Feel Bad About My Neck: and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, and I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections. 
To the feminists who criticized her for not writing strong enough women in her books and movies, I can only say that Ms. Ephron, herself, should have been a strong enough role model for you.  She was a White House intern at a time when that was something to be proud of, a journalist, and talented writer.  To Carl Bernstein, I can only say, "What were you thinking letting someone like that go?"
Happy reading,

June 28, 2012
Nora Ephron taught us the difference between high maintenance and low maintenance women, and gave us the classic line, "I'll have what she's having," but what she really did was articulate perfectly what so many of us were really thinking.  Her work resonates with female fans because many of her observations feel like someone verbalizing our inner thoughts much more eloquently than we could ever hope to verbalize them ourselves.  Watching her movies, reading her books, seeing her being interviewed felt like spending time with girlfriends.  She got women; she got the importance of female friendships; and she got what we were hoping for in a romantic relationship. 
Some of her most memorable lines are below:

        On Writing:
"I don't care who you are. When you sit down to write the first page of your screenplay, in your head you're also writing your Oscar acceptance speech."
                -I Remember Nothing

"If you were a college graduate (like me) who had worked on your college newspaper (like me) and you were a girl (like me), they hired you as a mail girl.  If you were a boy (unlike me) with exactly the same qualifications, they hired you as a reporter and sent you to a bureau somewhere in America.  This was unjust but it was 1962, so it was the way things were."                                                                                                                                               
  -I Remember Nothing

        On Relationships:
"Verbal ability is a highly overrated thing in a guy and it's our pathetic need for it that gets us into so much trouble."
       - Sleepless in Seattle

"You don't want to be in love.  You want to be in love in a movie."
              -Sleepless  in Seattle

"Well it was a million tiny little things that when you added them all up, they meant that we were supposed to be together...and I knew it.  I knew it the first time I touched her.  It was like coming home...only to no home I'd ever known...I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew.  It was like...magic."
  -Sleepless in Seattle

         On Aging:
"Oh how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six"
                                                                                                  -I Feel Bad About My Neck
        On Reading:
"When you read a book as a child it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does."
                                                                                          -You've Got Mail

"Reading is one of the main things I do.  Reading is everything.  Reading makes me feel I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person.  Reading makes me smarter" 
                                                -I Feel Bad About My Neck

Check back in tomorrow to see my favorite of all Nora Ephron quotes!
Happy reading,

June 29, 2012

Well, as promised, here it is - my favorite of all Nora Ephron quotes.  Enjoy!

Happy reading,

Friday, March 25, 2016

Truly, Madly, Guilty

I am so happy that Liane Moriarty's new book, Truly, Madly, Guilty is coming out this summer.  It will be like Christmas in July!
Here are some of my previous posts on her books:

Big Little Lies

This is a great "mom" mystery.  It's a great mystery, because it is so well written, that up until the end, you don't even know who is dead, let alone who the killer is.  It's a great "mom" book, because it opens with the homicide detectives arriving at a Parent Association event, and throughout the novel, you read  the viewpoints of various parents and school staffers as they explain events that led to the death.  Seemingly insignificant events, like cupcake wars between moms who think cupcakes at class birthday parties are a rite of childhood, and fit moms who think only nutritious foods should be served; dads arguing over standardized tests; kindergartners being excluded from playdates and birthday parties; moms competing to throw the best birthday parties; and Parent Association officers drunk with power.  Best of all, is the title, Big Little Lies, which begs the question, aren't all lies big lies?

Happy reading,

The Husband's Secret

Just finished reading The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty, author of What Alice Forgot.  A friend of mine preferred What Alice Forgot, and even quipped that "We could all use a little amnesia in our lives."  I loved both books, though.  What I loved most, is the connecting theme between the two of them that "falling in love" is an adolescent concept.  New love is cheap and easy, but loving somebody after you've raised a family together, hurt each other, pleased each other, bored each other, surprised each other, shared secrets, bills, and a bathroom, that is real love.

Happy reading,

What Alice Forgot

Ever ask yourself, "How did my life come to this?"  That is exactly what Alice must ask herself in What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty.  Alice is 29 years-old, madly in love with her husband, and expecting her first child, or so she thinks when she comes to after a head injury at the gym one Friday morning.  In reality, she is a 39 year-old mother of three going through a bitter divorce.  Her fall has caused her to forget the last decade of her life.  The book will cause you to question, is it the big, life-changing events that shape us, or the everyday little choices and actions that make us who we are?

Happy reading,

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Books 40-21 Revealed

Today, Scholastic revealed books 40-21 on their "100 best Read-Aloud Books" feature.  Click here to check out the list and see if you agree with the selections that the other contributors and I made.

Happy reading,

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My Book Picks on Scholastic Website

My friend and editor, Christina Vercelletto asked me to be a part of Scholastic's  "100 Best Read-Aloud Books."  Here are samples of books that I included.
Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Written by Doreen Rappaport | 3-5  6-9 | Biography  United States  Multiculturalism
In this biography, the information is easily digestible—it's done in picture-book style. The author uses a unique narrative technique, using some of his most famous quotes, to tell the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I was lucky enough to meet Doreen Rappaport,” says Brower-Cohen. “This book would be beautiful on its own, but it is even more so because it was written by an author who truly believes in its message and even went to McComb, Mississippi, to teach at a Freedom School in 1965.”

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning

Written by Lemony Snicket | Illustrated by Brett Helquist | 6-9  10-12 | Fiction  Mystery Gothic
The lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire will entice any fan of mystery as the children must solve the circumstances of their parents' deaths while evading their evil uncle. “The Bad Beginning, the first book in the series, implores readers NOT to read the book. The reverse psychology will draw reluctant readers in,” notes panel expert Christine Brower-Cohen

Click here to see the books the other contributors and I chose.  Do you agree with our choices?

Happy reading,

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Melissa Parkington's Beautiful, Beautiful Hair

Yesterday, a respected colleague asked me what my favorite read-aloud for teaching character traits was.  I didn't even have to think about it.  By far, my favorite read-aloud for teaching character traits is Melissa Parkington's Beautiful, Beautiful Hair, by Pat Brisson.  In this picture book, the protagonist dislikes being known only as the girl with the beautiful hair.  As she struggles to find some other identity, the reader discovers that Melissa's true beauty lies on the inside, and that she is most beautiful when she donates her hair.  I even gave a copy of this book to one of my nieces after she donated her hair to Locks of Love.

Happy reading,

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Blizzard Books - Reprise

As you snuggle up with your loved ones during winter storms, here is another look at Blizzard Books.  I realized that in the original posts,  I forgot to include the movie Cloud 9 as a winter pick for your 'tweens and teens.  Sorry.  Stay warm.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Blizzard Books

Here are pictures of the pre-blizzard snow this weekend, in Connecticut.

While we prepare for the real snow coming tonight and tomorrow, I thought I would revisit some of my previous blizzard posts:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Blizzard Books and Movies

As the East Coast braces for a blizzard, I was thinking about some of my favorite wintry tales for young people.  Of course, Snow Day comes to mind, as well as Little House in the Big Woods.  The Twistrose Key is a 2013 release about a frozen realm.  I just picked it up, so I don't know yet if it belongs in the same category as the first two.
Last February, as we braced for a blizzard, I wrote about my favorite winter movies.  I've reposted it below if you're looking to curl up with a dvd tonight.

February 8, 2013
A group of childhood friends and I get together every year for a  grown-ups only, no-kids Christmas dinner.  Two years ago, a heated debate broke out over the best movie of all time.  Today, as we brace for the impending blizzard, I was wondering, what are the best winter movies of all time?  Excluding Christmas movies, (it is February, after all) here are some of my top contenders:
Groundhog Day
The Shining
Dumb and Dumber  (just for the fun of it)
While You Were Sleeping
Beautiful Girls
Mystery, Alaska
and one you can watch  with the kiddies:
Big Miracle

YouTube Video

Happy blizzard reading and stay safe,

Monday, January 18, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I hope you had a chance to read Doreen Rappaport's beautiful book, Martin's Big Words this holiday.

Happy reading,

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Boys in the Boat

I finally finished reading The Boys in the Boat.  It took me so long that I felt like I was in the boat with them!
Honestly, I wasn't crazy about this book to begin with, but who wants to quit on a book about perseverance?  So, I stuck with it and in the end, I'm glad.  It is truly amazing that these boys with the odds stacked so far against them could achieve greatness, or to paraphrase the book, touch the divine.  It also gave me a whole new appreciation for the sport of rowing.  Even though I have a niece and a nephew who row crew, and even though a regatta is truly a thing of beauty, I just never knew all of the pain that went into making something so difficult  look so graceful and effortless.  I also loved the references to other sports figures of the time, like Joe Louis and Seabiscuit.
If you are interested in sports history, or just a classic tale of humility, teamwork and determination you might give this book a try.

Happy reading,