Non-Fiction Monday: The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan has been on my TBR list for a while.  Yesterday, hanging out at the local big bookstore in Simi, CA, I discovered the Young Readers Edition which I bought.

Pollan has been in the news quite a bit lately. The focus of food that is nutritious and healthy is a big concern at school where the cafeteria seems to serve an abundance of processed food.  This year, students were fortunate to have a nutritionist teach lesson on healthy and fun food and snacks.  It’s part of a program with the local university.

So the Young Readers Edition of The Omnivore’s Dilemma will be a welcomed title in the collection, particularly for the fourth and fifth graders.  The text reads like an adventure story and has wonderful graphics.  The book is broken up into four sections:
Industrial Meal
Industrial Organic Meal
Local Sustainable Meal
Hunter-Gatherer Meal

After reading the The Industrial Meal, readers might give a second thought to stopping at a fast food place.  The use of corn in food is thoroughly explained. Pages 68-69, have a detailed flow chart about items made from corn.

Young readers should come away with a more informed view of where their food comes from.  Pollan ends with a section on voting with your fork, tips on eating and a Q&A with Pollan.

Extensive source are listed as well as an index.

Non-fiction Monday is hosted by Book Blather.  Hop on over and discover other great nonfiction books.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: Jabberwocky

Callooh! Callay! Summer is here and I am on vacation.  I have decided to memorize Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” this summer.  I need a challenge.  So today I am going to start memorizing “Jabberwocky”  which I fully intend to recite to the grandgirls.  It is such a fun poem to learn.  I am not one to memroize either so it will be flexing my brain muscles a bit.


Lewis Carroll

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

Do you want to join me? What poem will you memorize?  The Art of Irreverence is hosting Poetry Friday today. 

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: Any Haiku Poets Out There?

Haiku is probably my most favorite form of poetry to write. I like its spare form and the challenge of putting images together with few words.  Last summer, I used Writing and Enjoying Haiku:A Hands-on Guide by Jane Reichhold as a personal book study. In January, I joined the Haiku Society of America in an effort to study the form further and to connect with other haiku poets. 

Besides the ability to participate in the member’s anthology, there is a journal, frog Pond, published three times a year. I just submitted five haiku for the anthology.  It’s theme this year is “biodiversity”.  All entries must include name a specific species (plant or animal) in the haiku.  It gave me an opportunity to revise previous work.  At this time, I cannot post here as I want the revised work to remain until I find out which one  (or ones) are accepted. 

Work must also be unpublished including the Internet when submitting to Frog Pond, their journal, published three times a year.  Visit their website to see examples.  It’s intriguing for me (and a challenge) to break away from the traditional 5-7-5, three-line form.  Here is how the HSA defines haiku:


Definition:  A haiku is a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition.

Notes:  Most haiku in English consist of three unrhymed lines of seventeen or fewer syllables, with the middle line longest, though today’s poets use a variety of line lengths and arrangements. In Japanese a typical haiku has seventeen “sounds” (on) arranged five, seven, and five. (Some translators of Japanese poetry have noted that about twelve syllables in English approximates the duration of seventeen Japanese on.) Traditional Japanese haiku include a “season word” (kigo), a word or phrase that helps identify the season of the experience recorded in the poem, and a “cutting word” (kireji), a sort of spoken punctuation that marks a pause or gives emphasis to one part of the poem. In English, season words are sometimes omitted, but the original focus on experience captured in clear images continues. The most common technique is juxtaposing two images or ideas (Japanese rensô). Punctuation, space, a line-break, or a grammatical break may substitute for a cutting word. Most haiku have no titles, and metaphors and similes are commonly avoided. (Haiku do sometimes have brief prefatory notes, usually specifying the setting or similar facts; metaphors and similes in the simple sense of these terms do sometimes occur, but not frequently. A discussion of what might be called “deep metaphor” or symbolism in haiku is beyond the range of a definition. Various kinds of “pseudohaiku” have also arisen in recent years; see the Notes to “senryu”, below, for a brief discussion.)”

I am still puzzling over the one and two lined haiku that appear in the journal.  I have much to learn.

So if you are looking to further your skills in writing haiku, I encourage you  to visit the Haiku Society of America website.  My goal is to write one a day this summer.  What are your writing goals for summer?

jellyfish clouds
float above us
white egret flaps wings

CYBILS Announcment:  Please hop over to the CYBILS website and read about the need for funds to present the CYBILS winner’s with a very nice award pen. You can either donate directly or go to Cafe Press for some great CYBILS bling.

Poetry Friday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  I am up early and on the road to my 40th high school reunion.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: “Morning Glory”

So today is the last Friday of the school year.  We are out on Tuesday.  I opened Fuel by Naomi Shihab Nye for inspiration and found “Morning Glory”  which seemed fitting for the end of the year. 

Here’s a snippet.

The faces of the teachers
know we have failed and failed
yet they focus beyond, on the windowsill
the names of distant galaxies
and trees.
We have come in dragging.

If someone would give us
a needle and thread, or send us
on a mission to collect something
at a store, we could walk for twenty years
sorting it out. How do we open,
when we are so full?…

But the teachers don’t give up.
They rise, dress, appear before us
crisp and hopeful. They have a plan.
If cranes can fly 1,000 miles
or that hummingbird return from Mexico
 to find, curled on its crooked fence, a new vine,
surely. We may dip into the sweet
Together, if we hover long enough.
—Naomi Shihab Nye (from Fuel, 1998 Boa Editions, Ltd.)

These images seem perfect for the last days of school but I was dismayed to find the following.

When searching for an online version of the whole poem I found an article how it had been used for a standardized state test. You can read it here.   Are you kidding me that favorite poets’ work ends up in statewide tests? Do the poets get paid to release materials for tests? Do they give permission?  What do they think of have their work reduced to multiple choice?

I have an orignial poem based on the heat or lack there of in the Pacific Northwest at Deowriter. Poetry Friday is hosted by Kelly Polark.  Thanks, Kelly.

Happy Reading.


48 Hour Reading Challenge: The Finish Line

Done. Completed.  Better than last year. 

Last year  I was traveling. I forgot to say I was in on the challenge nor did I sign out.  But this year I did.  Last year I read 4 of the 6 books planned.  Last year I read a total of  559 pages.  I didn’t blog or tweet last year while reading. 

Hours of reading: 15
Hours of blogging/tweeting, etc: 2
Books read: 6 plus a smidge
Pages: 923
Charity donation: $25.00
Charity: Fanconi Anemia Research Fund ( in remembrance to my friend’s son who lost his life to this terrible disease and in hopes they find a cure for her other son graduating from college this month).

Definitely improved from last year.

Thoughts about this weekend’s book selection:

I finished with Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School by Ruth McNally Barshaw and got to page 29 of  The Magic Half by Annie Barrows.  Ellie McDoodle is a very fun book that anybody who loved Diary of a Wimpy Kid with probably love this (especially the girl readers).  It is a combo of cartoon like illustrations and text featuring a girl who has moved and is adapting to her new school.  It is very humorous.

Just started The Magic Half, a story about a girl stuck in the middle of two sets of twins.  I just reached the part where she travels back into time.  Again, another story about moving, getting used to new surroundings and wanting to fit in. 

It’s interesting that the Sasquatch nominees for this year are heavy into girl MC.   I like reading these books this time of year so that I have a good idea in how to promote them in September.  Of the books listed below, I think only four will have great appeal to boys: Found, Knucklehead ( a memoir), Leepike Ridge (which I may start to read tonight) and Simon bloom, the Gravity Keeper.  The Lemonade War might appeal to boys with the brother-sister rivalry.  But the list seems to lack a wow factor for all readers.  I just know there were great books written in 2007-2008 that should have made this list.

Title Author
The Magic Half Barrows, Annie
Ellie McDoodle, New Kid in School Barshaw, Ruth McNally
The Lemonade War Davies, Jacqueline
Diamond Willow Frost, Helen
The Truth about Horses, Friends, & My Life as a Coward Gibson, Sarah
Found Haddix, Margaret Peterson
A Friendship for Today McKissack, Patricia
Simon Bloom, the Gravity Keeper Reisman, Michael
Knucklehead Sciezka, Jon
First Light Stead, Rebecca
Leepike Ridge Wilson, N.D.
42 Miles Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn

 A big thank you to Mother Reader for once again organizing this event. It really is fun.  Now I am off to figure out a nonfiction book for Nonfiction Monday and to read some more.  I hope next year I break the 1000 page mark.  Congrats to other finishers.

Happy Reading.


48HBC: Check-in Sunday Afternoon

Well, I have finished Diamond Willow by Helen Frost and 42 Miles by Traci Vaughn Zimmer.  Both written in poetry form; Diamond Willow has diamond shaped poems and  Zimmer’s book is free verse.  Both about adolescent girls but the characters live very different lives. 

Diamond Willow takes place in the interior of Alaska.  Besides the story of a girl and her dog, the character’s part-Athabascan heritage is interspersed through out the story through the use of her animal ancestors telling the story (there are prose vignettes).  It is a wonderful story that I couldn’t put down.

42 Miles takes place in Ohio.  Told in free verse, readers come to understand the two lives that JoEllen leads as she spends the week in the city with her mom and weekends in the country with her dad.  I think it would be fun to read these two books together for a book study.

Back to reading.  Next up is Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School by Ruth McNally Barshaw.

Happy Reading.


48HRC: Saturday

For the first time in weeks, the sun made an appearance to awake the northwest from its rain drenched slumber. 

So I was able to do the planned weeding ( helped by the fact that my husband had sprayed the weeks  the last time there was sun).  I thinned and moved some crocosmia from the side to the front yard.  It has bloomed where its been planted and I am hoping it will like the new location as well.  Was also able to get the perennial purchased in April into the ground, finally!

In order to get to out of dodge on June 17, I have to put in seven hours outside of school to make-up and extra day.  So off to school I went (throughly wishing I had a book on tape in th car, grrr).  At school I listened to Karen Hesse’s The Music of Dolphins as I worked on grading the fifth grade tech projects. It is haunting.  I kept  thinking about Karena in Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Attended the bargaining meeting and while we are not done bargaining, the sections for the library media specialists remain. We are teaching. Now I have to figure  out how to keep the hour block at 5th grade and hopefully add fourth grade.

So after a nap, dinner, and DQ (Dairy Queen) for dessert, I returned to reading. The books I am reading this weekend are from the Washington State Reader’s Choice Award, The Sasquatch Award.  Getting the books read now gives me time to think about how to promote them and which ones teachers should read aloud.

  Finished The Lemonade War by Jaqueline Davies.  I liked it and  think kids will relate to the story.  Sibling rivalry, competition, and boys vs girls, what’s not to like?

Read and finished A Friendship for Today by Patricia McKissack.  This is one for teachers to read aloud.  In the end, McKissack reveals it is based on her childhood.  I think that it might be a good one for a book study as well.  I don’t know that my students will gobble it up when given the choice.

So today, other than church and a bit of groceries shopping, I am reading, reading, reading until 7 PM.  I should be able to get 8 hours in and hopefully get through the remaining 7 books I selected for the weekend.

Happy Reading.


48 Hour Reading Challenge: Notes So Far

My time is from 7 PM Friday to 7 PM Sunday.   Of course the weather has decided to bless us with sun so I have to do some gardening before the weeds completely take over, have to spend three hours at work (book on tape to save the day), and attend a bargaining general membership meeting.

Hoped to have two books read last night. Eyes kept slamming shut (evidenced by my poor spelling on the Facebook and Twitter update).  I am almost done with The Lemonade War.

Poetry Friday: Student Poems on My Desk



Above from Colton, 3rd grade. 

Camrin, 4th grader, dropped these by desk:

sun blazes through the
kingdom  tall rocky mountains
people come and go


mountains some big some
small trees glare off the water
relaxation grows.

The Cazzy Files is the place where lots of poetry links can be found.

Happy Reading.


Thoughtful Thursday: Getting Ready for the 48 HR. Reading Challenge

The time is here. Time to set aside all other activities to read, read, read.  Are you planning to join Mother Reader’s 48 Hour Reading Challenge?  It’s this weekend ,June 4-6, 2010.  This is from her blog:

Read and blog for any 48-hour period within the Friday-to-Monday-morning window. Start no sooner than 7:00 a.m. on Friday the fourth and end no later than 7:00 a.m. Monday the sixth. So, go from 7:00 p.m. Friday to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday… or maybe 7:00 a.m. Saturday to 7:00 a.m. Monday works better for you. But the 48 hours do need to be in a row.

I am reading  7 PM Friday to 7 PM Sunday. Of course, there are some gaps such at from 11 AM-3 PM Saturday when I need to work at school in order to leave a day early for my 40th high school reunion.  But this is my weekend to read the Reader Choice nominations for the coming year:

Title Author
The Magic Half Barrows, Annie
Ellie McDoodle, New Kid in School Barshaw, Ruth McNally
The Lemonade War Davies, Jacqueline
Diamond Willow Frost, Helen
The Truth about Horses, Friends, & My Life as a Coward Gibson, Sarah
A Friendship for Today McKissack, Patricia
First Light Stead, Rebecca
Leepike Ridge Wilson, N.D.
42 Miles Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn

If I get through these books, I am sure to find others on my TBR pile.  Are you participating?  What will you be reading?

Happy Reading.