Check It Out

Books and life in a school library

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Changing Locations

You can find “Check It Out”  here now.

Off to New Jersey

Last year, my aunt’s friend encouraged us to have a two generation photography show at the Church House Art Gallery in the First Reformed Church, Pompton Plains, NJ.  Over tea and talk, my aunt and I decided to include a third generation, niece/great niece, Marcelle.  There are thirty photos on display.

Here it is that  day which I board a plane bound for the “Garden State.”  What it not known by my aunt is that Marcelle is arriving with me.  A weekend of “Rush MacCulloch” women.

It is possible that my computer won’t be out much. My aunt does not have Internet.  I have not gotten Internet service for my Blackberry.  I may be the only person in the world like that.

Journal  I have.  I will keep notes for posts when I return.

On another note, the beginning of the school year has been challenging.  Later start time means later get home time.  I am still adjusting.  Do you know how many posts I have written in my head?  It didn’t help that in September there were two deaths in our family and news of  family/ex-family that have terminal illnesses.  Brings you up short, makes you think about what is important.

Have a wonderful fall weekend.  Nominate those wonderfu, wonderful book.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: Emily Bronte

I discovered a great Emily Bronte poem in my newly acquired book, A Year Full of Poems by Oxford. Found the book in Canada at a used book store.  It was in great condition.  Wonderful compendium for poems each month.


Fall, leaves, fall: die, flowers away
Lengthen night and day
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

–Emily Bronte

While I am not looking for drearier days, I do love the changing seasons. Kelly at Crossover is in charge of Poetry Friday today.  Thanks, Kelly.

My bookclub meets this Sunday. We are discussing the Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Society.

Happy Friday.  Happy Reading.

Non-Fiction Monday: Nic Bishop Butterflies and Moths

It’s getting time to think about those Cybils’ nominations for this year.  Nominations open next month for a limited time. 

Last year, Nic Bishop Frogswon in the  Nonfiction Picture Book category for the CYBILS. This is no surprise as his photos are luscious, intriguing and readers are left wondering how he  captured that shot.  If you go to his website, he explains the how to in detail and tells about some of his trickery.

So I will not be surprised if Nic Bishop Butterflies and Mothsis nominated.  This book is once again fabulously photographed.  His facts such as there are 1790,000 moths and butterflies species in the world, one  butterfly has a wingspan of almost a foot, and identifying the difference between moths and butterflies will fascinate the youngest readers. The photos support the text and I know my students will be pouring over this book for hours. I mean did you know the luna moth is mouthless?

BTW, it is not too late to become a CYBILS panelist or judge.  Please email cybils09 (at) gmail (dot) com and include the following:

  • subject line sez “cybils 09 judge”
  • include your name, blog name and URL
  • let us know your 1st and 2nd choice genres
  • would you prefer round 1 or round 2 judging?

You might want to read more about being a panelist or judge here.  I am heading up the Nonfiction Picture Book category so I will be looking for passionate bloggers about nonfiction.

Have you signed up for Kidlit Con 09?  It will be fabulous! Hosted by the fabulous Mother Reader in Washington, D.C.  I am not able to attend (sniff!)  But it’s shaping up to be a great event.  Visit here to sign-up.

Finally Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting Non-fiction Monday.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: News and Final Reflection on Reichhold’s Book

Writing and Enjoying Haikuby Jane Reichhold is a book chock full of goodness for anyone wanting to delve into this poetry form.  The remaining two chapters (only four in the book) are “Enjoying Haiku with Other” and “Using Your Haiku Skills in Related Poetry Forms”.

Chapter three covers attending poetry readings, getting work into magazines, and other ways to publish your work. 

Probably one of the coolest things I read and will share with not only my poetry kids but drama kids is four things you want your audience able to do:
1. hear
2. think
3. react or feel
4. understand
The reading of poems or saying lines in a manner that the audience gets it is one of the biggest challenges at elementary school.

 One great idea about organizing your haiku is to consider organizing by season and then by the categories or attributes of the seasons such as celestial, terrestrial, and livelihood.  Other ways is to do so alphabetically or chronologically.

Reichhold has several suggestions about creating little haiku books to give as gives.  One of my favorites was to recycle envelopes incorporating the envelope writing and stamps in the design of the book.  She suggests that when putting together a book to organize the poetry seasonally beginning with spring.

I found her section on teaching haiku in the schools to be very helpful and am excited to work my young writers:

-encourage students to use their senses and create images from them
-get them to think outside and beyond themselves (a big challenge)
-suggest that the try using 6-8 words to begin.
-provide first ors second lines and have the students come up with the original third line to start.
-display the haiku.

Reichhold writes about getting published and talks about finding on-line publishing.

This is my news.  My poem “Nirvana” was published on-line at Four and Twenty: A Short Form Poetry Journal.  Click on the shirts, p. 22.   Another poem, “Tatted Stories” will be featured on Sept 1.Both poems began as haiku.
I highly recommend Writng and Enjoying Haiku.  In fact, I may buy a second copy to have at school so I don’t have to carry mine back and forth. So glad I took the time with the book this summer.

Am back to school and next week will share a school-related poem.  More poetry goodness can be found at The Boy Reader.  He is featuring a book I adore, The City I Love  by Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: Book Study with Jane Reichhold

This is the ongoing book study I am doing with Jane Riechhold’s book, Writing and Enjoying Haiku.

Reichhold’s follows the twenty-four haiku techniques with a way to “actually get a haiku written.” I tried it this week with a previously written haiku. She suggests selecting a someone else’s, perhaps a style you like or a technique you admire and through this process you will revise it. I decided I had plenty of haiku for trying this idea.

The Process:

Take unlined paper and turn sideways: wider than tall

Left edge at the top, write the first line of the haiku, do the same in the middle of the paper for the second line and then at the bottom write the third line.

Work each line and come up with as many variations of the information by substituting nouns and verbs, relevant or not, Reichhold says” Let your inner self play with the words.” Do this for the first two lines.

Next look at the third line of the original haiku. Does is fit with what you have written? Do you have a better ending?

Get a clean sheet of paper and now write your own haiku from the sets of three lines. Try all combinations.

Reichhold goes on to state “listening to your inner self is the most vital thing you can do” and to save and review in the days and months to follow.

foamy ocean waves
lace pattern on wet sand
crab scuttles alone

This haiku originally appeared in May 2007. Here is how I have revised it.

Foamy ocean waves

wave foam
ocean foam
lace foam
foamy ocean crochet
ocean crochet

Lace pattern on wet sand

wet sand lace
sand lace
foam lace on sand
foam crochet

Crab scuttles alone

Solitary crab scuttles
hermit crab scuttles
ebb tide remnant
crab scampers

Revision 1:

ocean crochet
solitary crab scuttles
ebb tide remnant

Revision 2:

solitary crab scuttles
over foamy crochet
ebb tide remnant

This chapter ends with two extensive checklists for revision, over 84 suggestions! And it is followed by Bashp’s motto: Learn the rules, and then forget them.” But first learn the rules.”

Next week I will features ways to preserve your haiku, getting it published, and implications for teaching haiku in school.

Andi is hosting Poetry Friday at a wrung sponge. Find out what others are doing.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: Summer Book Study for One

I am spending the summer with the book Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold.   Reichhold’s written about twenty-four techniques to improve your haiku.  This week features the following techniques:

Using a Metaphor
Using a Simile
Using the Sketch or Shiki’s Shasei
Using Double Entendre for Double Meanings
Using Puns
Using Wordplays

Some interesting pieces of information were discovered in these techniques.  I was particularly fascinated by “Shiki’s Shasei.”  Shiki, a Japanese poet made it his mission to “depict a thing just as it is.”  He was not fond of the many common techniques used and he pointed overuse of the techniques by poets.  He loved simplicity, the telling it as he saw it. 

I read this as my husband I were traveling through the Columbia River Gorger early Thursday morning.  I decided to try the “sketch”:

early morning
sun on wide river

After reading this section, I think the key to writing haiku is to mix the techniques up and do not overuse any particular one.  In the end Shiki was guilty of what he accused others.

Good news:  I was informed today that two of my poems will be published in the August short form poetry journal, Four and Twenty.  One poem will be a “Featured Poem of the Week” and another will be in their monthly journal.

Poetry Friday is at Sylvia Vardell at Poetry For Children.

Happy Reading.


Non-Fiction Monday: Yellow Star

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy is a rare blend of poetry and memoir.  Roy has retold the story of aunt Sylvia, one of 12 children who survived the Lodz ghetto during World War II.  The story is broken up into five parts with a factual overview of each section. Then, Roy  brilliantly tells her aunt’s story in poetic free verse.  The book includes a timeline at the end.

Aunt Sylvia did not share her story with many for almost 50 years. Thankfully, she agreed to taped phone interviews which Roy used as the basis for the story.  She creates a strong first person character in  Sylvia as we see the invasion of Poland by the Germans through her eyes. 

Sylvia is just four at the story’s beginning. She is among the 270,000 Jews rounded up and put into the ghetto with barbed wire. At ten, Russians liberate the ghetto’s 800 survivors of which 12 are children.  She has seen it all the brutality, the need to hide in the cemetery with her father, and not allowed to be outside for four years, hiding in the cellar with other children.

In the final push to get all the Jewish people on the trains  to concentration camps, it is indeed a miracle that the children and their families survived the Lodz ghetto.

I have always been fascinated with the period of history.  It has been about two month’s but I keep coming back to a scene in which her father had her hide in the cemetery as he did not believe the Germans when they said would keep everyone safe.  This book is on the reader’s choice list for my state. I am looking forward to sharing it with my staff and students.  I am thankful that Jennifer Roy decided to honor here aunt by writing her story.  She almost didn’t, having avoided talking about the Holocaust for years.

Title: Yellow Star
Author: Jennifer Roy
Date Published: April 15, 2006Pages: 242 pages
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish ISBN-10: 076145277X
ISBN-13: 978-0761452775
Source of Book: Listened to audio book from public library.

Nonfiction Monday is rounded up at Wrapped in Foil today.

Who’s Reading What Wednesday and Interview with Jennifer Holm

 I have two stories in the realm of “Who’s Reading What Wednesday”.  This past weekend, I spend the afternoon/evening with my granddaughters.  I listened to the parallel play involving two characters, “Grody and Cookie”.  What I finally realized was that The one granddaughter was using her love of Grody’s Golden Rules by Nicole Rubel to drive the story line.  It was delightful to witness.

Second story:  The fifth grade girl  devouring  The Sisters Grimm series came to school Monday, proudly displaying the latest release, the seventh one.  That girl has been on the count down for the book and patiently waiting for the public library call.  Yesterday she arrived at school with a sad look,  “I finished. There are no more.”  You could just see how she was living the book.

Today’s interview is no other than Jennifer Holm, co-creator of Babymouse.  She donated a signed copy of Babymouse: The Musical and a chance to have your name in story for the Bridget Zinn Auction.

How long have you been writing/ illustrating?

A: I’ve been writing since my early twenties (eek!). Will be 41 in June!


When you aren’t illustrating/writing, what might we find you doing?

A: Chasing my kids around; collapsed in exhaustion from chasing my kids around.


Who influenced you as a writer/illustrator?

A: Lloyd Alexander, Bill Watterson, Hal Foster.


What is your current project?



What books are on your nightstand?

A: The Little Orphan Annie cartoon strips.



Where do you find inspiration?

A: History, my perceived childhood traumas.



What was your favorite book as a child? As a teen?  As an adult? Any particular genre stand out?

A: Prince Valiant cartoon strips.


Favorite time of the day to work?

A: 10-3 (that’s when the kids are at school/daycare)


Chocolate:  white, dark, or milk?

A: Neither; I’m allergic.


Coffee or tea or —?

A: Coffee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Dance: Funky chicken or the tango?

A: Waltz?

Thanks, Jennifer for sharing a bit about yourself.  Did you know that besides Babymouse, Jennifer has had two Newbery Honor books?  Our Only May Amelia (2000) and Penny From Heaven (2007).  Both are terrific reads and in one of my favorite genres, historical and period fiction.

If you want a signed copy of Babymouse the Musical and a chance to have your name in a future book, bid on it here.

Interview with Andromeda Jazmon AKA “Cloudscome”

On her blog, Andi states that “cloudscome” is from a favorite haiku.  Andi graciously donated a handcrafted quilt for Bridget’s auction.  I enjoy reading Andi’s haiku.  For example, this one from April 11 (unfortunately I have maxed out the image capacity so you will have to visit her blog to see the fabulous forsythia photo):

evening light
lingers on the forsythia -
not finished dancing

-Andromeda Jazmon
Her photography blog inspires me (mine is desperately behind).  I recently interviewed her as part of learning about the auction donors.

When did you begin blogging? What is the focus of your blog?
I started blogging in 2005, jumping off discussion boards around adoption. I found it such a powerful way to connect and share our stories. I have been blogging about books at A Wrung Sponge since 2006. I like to post poetry, especially haiku, and photographs. I’ve been participating in the “365 Project” for about three years, striving to take and post beautiful photos on a daily basis. My photo blog is

When you aren’t blogging, what might we find you doing?
When I’m not blogging I am working in the library, teaching computer classes, playing with my kids, walking in the woods, in the garden, taking photographs, cooking, quilting, reading or sleeping.

How did you get involved with Kidlitosphere? I can’t quite remember the first kidlit blog I started reading, but it might have been Jen Robinson or Kelly Harold . I saw Jo(e) posting Friday Poetry at, found other bloggers doing poetry, and got totally sucked in to that. I’ve participated with poetry almost every Friday since early 2006.

What books are on your nightstand? Ijust finished Zetta Elliot’s A Wish After Midnight, and started Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Next up is The Boat by Nam Le and then A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal. I’m also in the middle of New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton.
Where do you find inspiration? Reading thoughtful, beautiful, compelling books with a variety of ethnicities represented across cultures makes me happy and makes me want to share my thoughts with others through blogging. Reading clever, funny, brilliant blogs makes me really glad to be part of the kidlitosphere. Friday Poetry, 15 Words or Less Poetry Challenges and the Monday Poetry Stretch inspire me to write poetry and try new forms. Gratitude to God for the grace, love and life that surround us continually inspires me to strive to be the best person I can be. All things beautiful inspire me to reflect and express joy; especially my sons and all the children I’ve known.
What was your favorite book as a child? As a teen? As an adult? Any particular genre stand out? As a child I loved Winnie the Pooh, the Little House books, Edward Eager, the Hobbit and the Narnia books, all of which were read to me over and over by my parents. As a teen I loved everything by Ray Bradbury, Madeline L’Engle, Scott O’Dell, and Robert Heinlein. As an adult I enjoy realistic fiction, historical fiction and Young Adult fantasy. My main genre are science fiction and fantasy, with some realistic fiction. I have tried to focus on writers of color in the past twenty years because I find a variety of cultures and viewpoints to be stimulating and enriching. I think my early years and education (as an English Major) to be far too Waspish.
Favorite time of the day to work?  Early morning, before anyone else is awake.

Chocolate: white, dark, or milk? Dark.

Coffee or tea or —? Coffee in the morning, tea the rest of the day – oolong, green or herbal. Iced suntea no sugar in summer.

Dance: Funky chicken or the tango? Definitely funky… as in 1970s Soul Train…

 I am looking forward to the day I get to purchase her book of poetry.  If you want to bid on the baby quilt, visit here

Poetry Friday is hosted by Kelly Polark at Kelly Polark  Have a great weekend.

Happy Reading.