On the blog:
- Five things I always enjoy about NCTE
Normally I would have written a daily learning post to share what I was learning and wondering each day at NCTE, but my hotel didn’t have free WiFi, and I discovered that I am intermittently frugal. I didn’t mind paying $2.50 for a bag of M&Ms (that I haven’t even eaten yet!), but I really balked at $10 for 24 hours of WiFi. In my defense, I don’t expect M&Ms to be free, but I do expect hotel WiFi to be free.
It was unexpectedly kind of wonderful not to have WiFi. I read. I wrote. I did yoga. I went to bed early. I hope to share some of my notes and thinking later in the week.
The Sweet Life in Paris is another great suggestion from the Modern Mrs. Darcy’s podcast, What To Read Next, my go-to for recommendations of books for grown-ups. It’s a collection of essays about the joys and challenges of living in Paris, written by pastry chef David Lebovitz, each essay ending with one or two recipes. There are plenty of charms to a life in Paris, but Lebovitz also has plenty of complaints, and that’s really what I enjoyed about the book. I know I’m in a minority here, but Paris makes me cranky, and and I enjoyed Lebovitz’s complaints about the city. Lebovitz belongs to the wry, sardonic school of travel writing, and he’s often quite funny–I laughed out loud a few times. He’s nothing like David Sedaris, and yet something about his voice and wit did remind me a bit of Sedaris.
Dean Shareski’s Embracing a Culture of Joy is a book I found waiting on my Kindle when I began my travels last week. It’s a quick read and I took quite a few notes on different ways to cultivate a culture of joy in my classroom. Many of the practices Shareski considers especially joy-giving are things many of us already do in our classrooms: play, inquiry, wonder projects, gratitude. But there is power in thinking about them together as a whole and giving a more powerful name to them than what we normally call them–engagement.
To Night Owl From Dogfish will be published in February, and it’s a middle-grade novel you want to have on your radar. It’s told entirely through emails and letters exchanged between two very unlikely friends. Bett and Avery meet on the Interwebs when one girl discovers that their dads are secretly dating and have a secret plan to introduce the girls by sending them to summer camp together. They are determined not to fall for the plan and never, ever to be friends. But you can guess what happens to that resolution. I thought I knew where the story was going, but Sloan and Wolitzer have many twisty, turny plot developments to keep those emails and letters flying. There’s a large cast of characters, and the adults are as important to this story as the kids, which I always appreciate. The adults aren’t perfect, but they’re all trying. It’s a fun, quick-paced story that has good things to say about friendship and family. (I also love that cover!)
Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor was just announced as a 2019 Orbus Pictus Recommended Book. (See the winner, honor books, and other recommended books here.) It’s an entertaining and heartfelt picture book biography of Joan Proctor, an early twentieth-century herpetologist, curator of reptiles at the British Museum, and designer of the reptile building at the London Zoo. The author and illustrator capture Proctor’s enthusiasm for reptiles and convey quite a bit of information with style and wit. Strong writing, whimsical illustrations.
I have no idea how I missed A Horse Named Steve when it came out last year. So funny! I couldn’t help but fall in love with the self-absorbed and totally misguided Steve, who knows he’s very fine but wishes to be exceptional. Excuse me, EXCEPTIONAL. Which he believes he is after he finds a golden horn and ties it to his head. The scene where the horn apparently goes missing is some fine slapstick, and the scene where all the other animals begin tying items to their heads to imitate Steve had me laughing out loud in the publisher’s booth.