Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer of Nonfiction

Typically, I read grown up books in the summer and those designed for a younger audience the other three seasons. Very rarely will I choose nonfiction because I find it dry, fact focused, and ultimately boring. Perhaps, I developed this impression from textbook readings. In my experience (with a few exceptions) you want to get someone excited avoid textbooks. You get the idea, my boy's like nonfiction but not me.... until this summer. I have read several well written narrative nonfiction. I decided that if William C. Rempel decided to venture into the "textbook" arena, I would be hooked. How would he present the Battle of Blair Mountain? Who wouldn't want to read about the bombing of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government? Exactly!

"What did I read by Mr. Rempel?" you ask. I heard about his book At The Devil's Table: the untold story of the insider who brought down the Cali Cartel (publisher link) during a NPR episode ofThis American Life. The segment titled Hiding in Plain Sight (available in iTunes) included an interview of a man named Jorge who is currently in the Witness Protection Program. It took about 30 seconds of having the voices and story planted in my head and a quick trip to the library to be completely hooked. This captivating story shows how it can be shockingly simple to find trouble (of course) and the far reaching impact of your family and friends. The price for ourselves and our family can be quite steep with a wrong move. I wonder did Jorge have a choice even in the beginning? Did he ever have a fair chance? I'm still not sure and I've finished the book. 

One thing is certain, I'll look for more books and articles written by Bill Rempel. 

In the meantime, what's your favorite nonfiction?

Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed The Seas

     Authors: Molly Bang, Penny Chisholm
     Illustrator: Molly Bang
     Publisher: The Blue Sky Press, 2012

              Please excuse the quality of my photo. This book is amazing!! 

Ocean Sunlight explores interdependence in nature with a special focus on the ocean. It is 
my new favorite beach book just as summer is coming to an end.... I can't wait to share this book with my four year old nephew (Happy Birthday Zman!), and my fifth graders. Zman is going to love it because the pictures are bright, colorful, and offer a lot of ocean animal conversations. The text is simple enough that it will keep his attention now and at the same time complex enough to be a book we will pull out for years. This book is also perfect for students who must be able to differentiate phytoplankton and zooplankton, explain the food chain as it relates to the sun, explore animal adaptations, is curious, and the list could continue. But really, I expect that marine snow will be a most popular feature and the start of a gigglefest gross out. What nephew doesn't like to get away with a word on the "banned" list? What kid doesn't love for the teacher to say the word "poop"? 

Thank you Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm!! Sometimes these things are hard to explain/connect and now it will be a breeze to kickstart these discussions. The Notes About This Book pages are like the whip cream and cherry on top of the sundae. My favorite lines: "These notes are just a beginning... [we] challenge you to keep exploring"  (unp.)

Visit Molly Bang's (linked here) page for a book description and the back story of this collaboration. I also plan to investigate the previously published related titles. My Light by Molly Bang explores the suns connection to electricity. Living Sunlight by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm explores the role of the sun to land creatures. And did you notice the a Teacher's Guide free downloadable teacher's guide available on the webpage? Now, we just need one for Ocean Sunlight and to have these as ebooks. Meanwhile, I will share this interview by Horn Book's Lolly Robinson on July 5, 2012 (linked here) with readers while I wait. I can hardly contain my wishful thinking. Let the school year begin with a dive into this book!

Still Learning

So, I'm still learning how to create, organize, and write a blog. I'd like to have the things sorted and pages seemed to make the most sense. I'm not sure this will work because pages don't look or act like the Home page. So, while I'm learning you might want to check out the Kid Reads page which has the info. on my new favorite beach book. Unless of course, you are more interested in the nonfiction Grownup Reads from summer vacation.
Turns out the Pages are for static content. So, I'll be deleting those shortly and using the tags Kid Reads and Grownup Reads. I'm actually a little excited about this as it may lead to less management on my end. Less can definitely be more

Off to try and figure out this blogging thing.

Hope you are enjoying a Page Turner!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

In The Beginning

There are so many little buttons, gadgets, and what does this thing do to explore it is quite distracting. While it looks easy at first glance, that should have been my clue. With luck my head will bob slightly above water by the end of the week year and I'll be able to really start writing about what's on the shelf. So far, I've changed the background a gazillion times and the choices are fairly limited which is good. Here's my Exit Ticket for today. :) And you must be a teacher too if you know what an Exit Ticket is. If not, I'm fairly certain you will figure it out shortly.

Things I've Learned
1. It looks easy but not really for someone as totally clueless
2. Font choices are limited to 7 including Verdana (used here) and Trebuchet (which just sounds cool). I hope these are polite to use. I once taught in a school with a graphic arts teacher who knew typeface (font) histories etc. I discovered sadly Comic Sans is not considered polite/acceptable although I can't remember why exactly.
3. You can only highlight the text and not the text box background.
4. Text color choices are limited 64 (and not all of them are good).
5. I might overuse () and ..... Maybe I will break bad and switch to the m dash because an author friend once told me was perfectly acceptable to use. Just need to remember if it looks like ~ or -.
6. My natural writing voice or style is in the form of fragment sentences. My English teachers must be shuddering unless they are too busy worried about today's generation of texters.

Things I Want To Learn
1. Where is the spell check??? It would be so embarrassing to misspell something accidentally. Intentionally is ok when done for special effect. Right now it is copy and paste into Word and then repaste. Very old school.
2. I like the background and design where you can put pictures and customize the look of the page. Something to study on during the dreaded convocation. Of course, this will only happen if I have sufficiently recovered from the bus ride, mass crowd, loud music.. which is not likely but I digress.
3. What are all those Post settings for???? Permalink sounds like a permanent commitment.
4. All the things I need to know to be able to focus on writing about what's on or off the shelf.

I'm just going to stop the need to learn list now. Partly because my dogs said they need a cookie from the cookie jar and because the list could go on for a rather long time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time Library Girl created a blog even though cyberspace was dense, ever changing, and a little bit scary. And the adventures began or really the recording of adventures began~