Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Along with Susan Dee (left) and Diana Mullins (right) and lots of helping hands from parent volunteers. I took a group of students from Biddeford to the Maine Reading Round-Up to book talk the freshly pressed Maine Student Book Award Reading List.

The Maine Student Book Award is designed to expand literary horizons of students in grades 4-8 by encouraging them to read, evaluate, and enjoy a selection of new books and to choose a statewide favorite by written ballot each spring. In order to be eligible to vote, students must have read 3 books off from the list.
This year's winner, announced in April was Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle written by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery.

These kids worked so incredibly hard preparing for this conference. The list was published on March 12th which meant the kids had only 1 short month to select and read a book as well as prepare their presentation. They stayed after school, worked through lunch breaks and gave up study halls. They are true ROCK STARS and I am proud of each and every one of them. Care to take a look at the books they discussed? Check out the annotated list here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

As Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

I've been carrying this book around with me for sometime now and had yet to even read the book flap. Knowing it was by Jennifer Richard Jacobson was enough, I didn't actually need to know what the book was about. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to discover that Maine is the setting for this heartbreakingly wonderful new release.

Eleven year old Jack goes on a camping trip to Acadia National Park with his mother just before school is about to begin. When Jack exits his small tent the morning after their first night, his heart sinks when he discovers that his mom's tent, their gear and the rental car are all gone. Jack realizes almost immediately that his mom is "spinning", his term for her manic episodes, again.

With only a few dollars in his pocket and no gear, Jack finally decides to make his own way home to Boston. He is terrified of the authorities finding out and taking him away from his mother for good. In addition, he feels ashamed that he argued with her and feels responsible for setting her off. His fear and shame are evident, but the resourceful boy finds a way to get money, food and varied modes of transportation. It is clear that Jack has learned to be self-sufficient due to his mother's illness.

Obsessed with elephants from a young age, Jack uses his fascination with the animal as a way to cope with his dire circumstances. Jacobson effortlessly weaves interesting facts about elephants into the story.

This is a fast moving story that will please fans of "Waiting for Normal" by Leslie Connor.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Focus on the Future: Connecting Books and the 21st Century Reader

I recently had the pleasure of presenting at the Maine Association for School Librarians annual conference. The theme this year was Digital Citizenship which seemed like a natural fit for my co-presenter, Susan Dee and I. Susan and I have spent many hours integrating technology into our collaborative book groups which we run at the Biddeford Intermediate School. We put together a Live Binder for our presentation with lots of rationale for using technology in the classroom and library. Additionally you will find a host of resources and fun examples of ways in which we are using Twitter, blogs, word clouds, book trailers and more. Check out our Live Binder here and see how Biddeford kids are making meaningful connections with books!