Celebrate: Five Star Things About Week

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With school not in session, time is more relaxed. Thanks to Ruth Ayres for providing a space for us to celebrate our lives.

1. Christmas Eve with family. Listening to my oldest grandgirl discover the differences between the book Coraline and the movie, Coraline. I gave her the book for Christmas.
2. Quiet Christmas with just husband and pooches.
3. Time to read.
4. Being able to prepare soup and brownies to take to friends whose Christmas was shattered by the untimely death of their daughter.
5. The Poetry CYBILS finalists have been decided. I can’t wait until Wednesday, January 1, 2014 for them to be announced. The poetry nominees were abundant in goodness and quality this year.

Poetry Friday: Poetry Pairing

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Thank you Mary Lee for hosting the final Poetry Friday of the year.

It’s almost time to reveal the CYBILS poetry finalists so stay tuned on Wednesday, January 1, 2014 for the big announcement.

It’s Poetry Pairing Day this Friday. I have a poem from Poems to Learn by Heart, edited by Caroline Kennedy. It can be paired with Carole Boston Weatherford’s Birmingham, 1963.

Ballad of Birmingham
BY DUDLEY RANDALL
(On the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963)

“Mother dear, may I go downtown
Instead of out to play,
And march the streets of Birmingham
In a Freedom March today?”

“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For the dogs are fierce and wild,
And clubs and hoses, guns and jails
Aren’t good for a little child.”

“But, mother, I won’t be alone.
Other children will go with me,
And march the streets of Birmingham
To make our country free.”
The rest may be read HERE.

Such powerful images in both books.

Happy Poetry.
Happy Friday.
MsMac

Celebrate: Five Star Things About the Week

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First morning of winter break. Grand girl is still asleep as is my husband and the two dogs. Before I make the sugar cookie dough, time to celebrate the week.

1. Read Week. Third through fifth grade students choose tables and peruse the book boxes, find a couple of books, and read for library time. It’s a time to sample something they might not try. They have the option of taking it with them. One boy was disgruntled with the choices so I handed him Greg Pincus’ The 14 Fibs of Greg K. He loved it and took it with him.

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2. Fifth grade Colonial Trades Project. Each fifth grade researches a Colonial trade. They write about the trade and create a model. The library becomes a museum of sorts to display them for other classes.

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3. Meeting with a group of Russian and Ukrainian parents plus the ELL teacher. They are a group called Natural Leaders which is an outreach to engage parent involvement. They have chosen the library as a focus as many of the Russian language books are too difficult. They wrote a grant to the PTA for books and it was approved!

4. Speaking of grant approvals…I received a grant to beef up my series collection and a grant to bring author, Susan Blackaby to Silver Star for three days in February.

5. Christmas break is here. My tree is finally up. Yesterday, a first grader brought me a gift to “Mrs. Library.” I didn’t want open the package because I loved the label. Santa dropped off a gift card so I am going to purchase a couple books for the library.

Head over to Ruth Ayres for more celebrations.

Poetry Friday: The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. and Fog

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This has been reading week in the library.  Once a month students in graders third through fifth spend the time reading and trying out new books.

This week, I got to read Greg Pincus’ book, The 14 Fibs of Gregory K.  Have you read it?  You should!  I could relate to the main character Greg who dislikes math yet loves poetry.  The themes of friendship, perseverance, and learning to stand up for what you believe in is woven into the book so naturally plus it is funny!

A fourth grade boy wasn’t happy with the choice of books in book boxes so I passed the book to  him to read today.  He checked it out after class.

I will be suggesting it for read aloud when school returns from winter break.

The book inspired me to write a fib about the fog which until yesterday was a fixture in the Pacific Northwest sky.

Fog
shroud
hovers.
Quiet
lingers in the mist.
He quivers, lighting one candle.

You can find out more about Greg HERE. Poetry Friday is at Buffy’s Blog. Thanks, Buffy!

Happy Friday! Winter break begins!

MsMac

Celebrate: Five Star Things About the Week

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1. A no school day due the freezing fog and ice; a day to take a moment from our busy schedule.
2. Book talking the reader choice awards, Young Readers Choice Award and the SasquatchAward to fourth and fifth graders. The public librarian and I have done this program for the last six years.

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3. This comment from a fourth grader, “When are you going to read to us, MsMac.”
4. Tying ribbons on bells with my husband in memory of my friend’s service. We used the bells to give Shirley wings.
5. Shirley’s service. She was so loved. The tributes were beautiful and it was so great to connect with former students.

Takes to Ruth Ayres for providing a place to celebrate each week

Interview Wednesday: Meet Anastasia Suen

Anastasia Suen visiting today. She is currently on the CYBILS Round One Poetry Panel and is quite busy so I’m glad she took time from her schedule to be interviewed.

Your Reading Life
MsMac: What books are on your night stand?
AS: The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine and you are here by Thich Nhat Hanh. I also have a stack of books for my Booktalking blog, (including this year’s CYBILS poetry nominations).
MsMac: What is your favorite reading spot?
AS: An old couch in my studio. (From there I can see all of the great books waiting for me!)

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Your Writing Life
MsMac: What does a day of work look like for you?
AS: I write in the morning and I teach in the afternoon. (I’ll be teaching the Naturally Creative Workshop again in January as well as the three kidlit writing workshops I offer year round: picture books, young nonfiction and children’s novels.) I always have a dozen or so projects in the works at one time, so no two days are alike.
MsMac: What is your favorite time of day to write?
AS: First thing in the morning is the best time to write. I write in longhand before I work on the computer, so my thoughts are free to go in any direction.
MsMac: Writing the first draft or revising? Which is your favorite?
AS: I like first drafts because that is what the big decisions are made. I need to take all of the research and thinking I’ve done and make it into something new. (Synthesis!) I find that very satisfying.
I also like to revise because I keep coming up with new ideas as I write. I love it when that happens.
MsMac: What does your writing space look like?
AS: I have my old couch, a wall of bookshelves and four tables of varying sizes with stacks and piles of files from different projects. There are two filing cabinets in the room (and stacks of file boxes in the closet). I also have several whiteboards that I use to plan my books.
Here is the character board for The New Girl (2013)

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MsMac: What are your current projects?
AS: In addition to writing my own books, I also work as a freelance book editor and write two magazine columns. Focus on STEM is my Booklist column and Grow with STEM is the LibrarySparks column I write with science writer Shirley Duke.
So I am writing (and editing) a dozen different projects right now: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I also have my own poetry blog, Poet! Poet! (I post a new haiku each Friday.)
MsMac: What might readers find you doing when you’re not writing?
AS: Most of my work day involves sitting, so I like to take breaks and stretch, do yoga, or lift weights. I also read, listen to music or watch TV while I train on the elliptical, walk, or jog. (I watch mysteries and singing contests on TV. La, la, la!)
MsMac: How has writing poetry informed you as a person?
AS: I have been writing poetry since I was in elementary school. My mother played the radio all day when I was child, so we always had music in the background. A song expresses emotions and tells stories with concise vivid language. In my view, poetry is spoken music. It is a song with the human voice as its only instrument.
MsMac: Why is poetry important?
AS: Poetry is important because it focuses on one story or one emotion at a time. It doesn’t rattle on and on going here and there and everywhere. Instead, it concentrates on one thing and looks at it deeply.
Poetry slows us down and asks us to think, to see the world in a new way. It gives us the gift of being present in this moment. This is especially true with haiku, and that is why I like it so much. It is a challenge to say something with so few words. You have to make every word, every syllable, count.

Just for Fun
MsMac: Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
AS: Dark.
MsMac: Coffee or tea?
AS: Tea.
MsMac: Dance: funky chicken or the tango?
AS: Funky chicken.
Favorite Quote:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

Please return Friday for an original haiku by Anastasia.

Happy Reading.
MsMac

Celebrate: Five Star Things About the Week

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1. The week did not start well. My friend and former colleague died of brain cancer. But the response from the online community of writers with poems made the list especially this ONE.

2. Preschool Read and Play continues to grow and we have consistency with families who attend. We now have bells and shakers for music. This week the local public librarian presented the program.

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3. My friend, Barbara, came to spend the day with me. We student taught together. I had no license so she was my driver to school. She stepped in to read when I had to help a student.

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4. Our School Showcase on Tuesday evening. We gave away over 500 pieces of pizza! Some many families came to hear the band, orchestra, choir, and to see what was happening in the classrooms.
5. The annual present exchange at my friend, Carol’s home. Carol is a retired teacher librarian. We have known each other for over 28 years. She gathers the people from all parts of her life for an evening. There’s food, drinks, and holiday adornments which we all must wear. This year we shared stories from Christmas past. My favorite was the woman who was raised in Hong Kong and what she would do in Christmas Day with her Catholic dad. How they would go to service, then out to the villages to see friends, and finally to a bakery. Her mother, a Buddhist, stayed home.

20131207-080628.jpgMy friend, Carol.

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More celebrations can be found at Ruth Ayres. What are you celebrating?

Poetry Friday: In Blackwater Woods

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One of the best things about this online community of writers and readers is that when life hands you curves, people will send you poetry. That happened this week after announcing the passing of my friend and former co-worker who had brain cancer. She was 65 years young and only had been retired since 2010. This is one of the poems I received from Janet Fagal.

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go

– Mary Oliver

I have read this over and over this week, thinking of Oliver’s rules to live in this world., especially the letting go.
Poetry Friday is at Robyn Hood Black<strong.
Happy Poetry
Happy Friday.
MsMac