Tuesday, December 17, 2019

I Love New York

🎵I love New York in ______. How about you?🎵

Yeah, I pretty much love the city pretty much any time and day of the year.

Born and raised in Queens (yes, Lucky Broken Girl's Ruth Behar and I both are graduates of PS 117 in Briarwood), I have lived outside of 11432 way longer than I lived there. Yet my love for the city constantly flows through my arteries like my past 50 years have all been spent just up from the Parsons Blvd station.

So could that be why I love Manhattan by Jennifer Thermes so much? Maybe. But by the looks of my Twitter feed, my fondness for this book is not unique.  And I follow librarians and educators from all over the country. Let's just say this book that has it all wrapped under one case, is appealing to anyone:

Obviously, the cartographer--Thermes is a map illustrator and it is evident in the perfect map on each page of this ever evolving island.

Historians--The book takes you on the historical journey of Manhattan from millions of years ago to today. You could do a scavenger hunt searching for facts on Hamilton, Edgar Allan Poe, geology...it's extensive.

Urban planners--Details about Wall Street, the grid, Central Park and so much more will delight these folks for sure.

Tourists--This is the ultimate guide to Manhattan. How fun would it be to have this book by your side while you are planning your trip.  Maybe pack the eBook version as it is oversized.  Not a complaint--Manhattan is a long skinny island and deserves this sized book--just not ideal for travel.

And of course, the artists and lovers of kidlit.  I fell for Jennifer Thermes with her Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail and am glad she moved off the mountain to my happy place.

Last minute gift idea-- give a pair of New York books, wrap Manhattan up with Elisha Cooper's RIVER which flow up to where I reside now.
Speaking of Elisha, he and I met for coffee overlooking the river (sort of) last Friday afternoon.  I was heading to the city the next day and he drew his own map for us.

Library? His idea. Walking through SoHo to West Village? Elisha. Murray's Cheese? Uh-huh. (Yes and the Roomano was quite yummy!) Bar Pisellino? Yep. (Best. Hot Chocolate. Ever.) So it was a great day.

The obligatory leap.

Had a couple of 13 year olds who wanted to walk up Fifth. Did that, too.

Got 6 minutes? Check out their video of our day (and maybe consider subscribing to their channel 😉)

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Get ready to LOL!

Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
By Jessica Kim

An aspiring comedian myself (no joke, a secret of apsiration of mine for sure!), I definitely want to read this one. Fifth grade Reading Ambassador, Jess, grabbed it when it came in a box of arcs and here's what she had to say about it:

Have you ever dreamed of being a stand up comedian? Have you ever done something your parents wouldn't allow you to do? Well, then you can relate to Yumi Chung. 
Yumi loves comedy and wants to figure out a way to do it without her parents figuring out. Her parents always brag about her sister's accomplishments because she goes to medical school but Yumi doesn't really have any accomplishments so her mom sometimes makes them up. Yumi also feels overruled by her parents like they tell her how she should wear her hair and that she can't do comedy.
Every morning in the summer, Yumi's parents pay for her to go to Hagwan, an educational program.  It ends at noon and Yumi is expected to go to the library afterward to study.  Instead, she sneaks into the HaHa Club, conveniently located across the street from the library. Yumi's favorite YouTuber also happens to be the counselor of the camp there so Yumi goes there every day instead of the library.
On top on everything else, a new steakhouse opens down the street from Chung's Steakhouse, the restaurant owned by Yumi's parents. Workers from Chung's quit because they would get paid more at the new restaurant.  Money starts getting tight for the Chung family and they can't pay the rent. Yumi has an idea to to save the day! How does she do it? Will Yumi's parents find out she's not going to the library? Will Yumi finally make her parents proud of her? You'll have to read this book to find out!
This book was really good! Yumi's jokes made me laugh and sometimes even giggle out loud. It even inspired me to learn some jokes and write my own. Put it on your TBR list for March 2020!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Hidden Figures

Now retired Mr. Reischer would offer an optional project to his fifth graders. "Immersions" were opportunities for kids to show off talents, traditions, hobbies and interests.  Dancers performed.  New foods tasted. Facts about sports shared. Shy kids donned their tap shoes.  Extroverts taught me more than I ever wanted to know about Star Trek.  Irish dancers impressed. And boy was that flan delicious.

Who really are our learners? Aspiring poets? The next Michael Phelps? An angel in the Nutcracker? Budding tennis star? We spend a lot of time getting to know our students while at school but what happens to them after 2:30 PM?

This year our building has implemented a new caring school community mental health curriculum.  Every morning, classrooms circle up and share. Word in the hallways is that this is helping all classes  connect with one another. It's like a mini-immersion every day and we all like that.

My 13 year old son, Zack, is one of these hidden figures.  Over a year ago, he and his best friend, John, started a YouTube channel, "Random Things with John and Zack." They vlog together and on their own.  Zack has written and performed a couple of original songs, both boys wrote and performed a skit called, "Homework is Meant for Home" and most recently, they recorded or received 200 "woahs" (watch the video to see what I'm talking about). Zack spent hours editing them into one video. I was impressed (how does he throw that woah to himself?) and I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom. But it got me thinking, how many of his teachers know what this studious student does in his spare time?

Can you identify the hidden figures in your school? What makes them tick? What gives them pleasure?  How do they fill the second half of their day? The next Spielberg could be in your midst; he may even be living in my house. 😎 Whoever and wherever they may be, let's all make sure to have fun seeking, showing and telling.


This post would not be complete without a link to "Random Things with John and Zack"  and a plea for you to subscribe. Maybe the 300 subscriber special is just around the corner!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Two Thumbs Up for The Promise of Change

The Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality
By Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy

Fifth grader Olivia whizzed through her first book for our Mock Newbery project.  She came in first thing Tuesday morning to tell me all about it and we made a date for lunch this afternoon to blog about it. If you ask Olivia, it's a winner.  Multiple stickers perhaps? Newbery? Sibert? CSK? Here are her thoughts:
This was a perfect book for me. It's a nonfiction story, mostly made of poems.  Since I like history (so much that when I'm older I want to be an archaeologist), I loved this book. 
The year is 1956 in Clinton, Tennessee.  High school student Jo Ann and her fellow African American family and friends were separated from the whites.  The whites had better schools, better homes, better places to drink water and relax. It seemed they had a better life in their hands. Jo Ann had a dream to go to the whites-only Clinton High School. But it was all white.  Since she lived in the south, obviously she couldn't go. Then one day, Jo Ann, her best friend, Gail-Ann and ten other African Americans had a chance to go to Clinton High School.  But it didn't go well.  People had signs at the entrance and threatened them.
This might have scared or stopped some people from going to the school, but not Jo Ann. She wouldn't let this stuff get under her skin. Each day she came back to the school and the crowd of people with the signs got bigger and bigger.  Some of the African Americans left to go some place else, but not Jo Ann. Some of them just couldn't take the violence. At this point, I got emotional. I felt bad for all the kids who dreamed of getting a good education but couldn't. I also felt guilty. Even though I didn't do it, I still feel horrible that it happened. 
I recommend this book because I couldn't put it down for so many reasons! It was interesting to me and lots of books just aren't.  All the books I enjoy bring feelings to my head or mind and this one did. The lessons are so important in this book, too.  Just because someone is different from you doesn't mean that you can hurt their feelings.  Because we are all human and we're not all perfect.

***FIVE STARS!*** 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Big Break

Time for another book review!
This one by fifth grade Reading Ambassador, Will.

The Big Break by Mark Tatulli
Due out March 2020

Last year my cousins and I went camping. We left the adults at the campsite by the fire and went exploring. First we crossed a tilted bridge. Then we took a grown in path into the woods. We saw some geckos and salamanders.  After we finished the path, we popped out into the other end of our campground. It was an adventure.
Russ and Andrew, the two main characters of The Big Break, also like adventures. In this graphic novel, they like to go monster hunting after school. They are searching for the Jersey Devil. But as the hunt goes on and they can't find it, Russ gets angry at Andrew. Russ starts to think monsters aren't real and this whole thing is stupid. Will the boys find the monster and become friends again?
I thought this was a great book because in real life it's normal to get angry at your friends. It's worth it to work through the aggravation of disagreements.  I read this book in two days and it was hard to put down. I would read it every morning and night. I would rate this book five stars!  

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A review of NORMAL:

One Kids's Extraordinary Journey

By Magdalena & Nathaniel Newman

Review by Emma

Fifth grade Reading Ambassador, Emma, came in this morning to give me this review of NORMAL.  It comes out in January. Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Kids, we received an advanced copy and Emma was the first one to read it.  Here are her thoughts in her words.  Looks like we should all purchase it for our libraries.
This is a true story.
Nathaniel wasn't what you called "normal." He was born with Treacher Collins, a deformity where bones aren't where they should be and where they should be but aren't there. The surgeries he had to have were so expensive that his family almost had no money for groceries. Before the age of 16, he had 67 surgeries.
Nathaniel had a passion for swimming but he couldn't swim because he had a tracheostomy, a whole in his throat, so if he got water in him, he would choke. He couldn't breathe through his mouth because he a bone behind his nose and his jaw was too small. He tongue would take up his whole entire mouth. 
Technically, Nathaniel was deaf. He had no ear on the outside of his face. This hurt his mom, Magdalena because she was a pianist. 
In kindergarten, Nathaniel's dad wrote a note to his class and the community saying that Nathaniel was different but the same.  His dad wrote that Nathaniel is still a kindergartener and has dreams to go after just like everyone else. Even though his dad did this ahead of time, Nathaniel still got bullied and asked why he looked so scary.  
Fast forward to when Nathaniel was 12. He had to have screws in his head to help get his skull form the proper way. This took four months. His mouth and eyes were sewn shut during this time. 
Now Nathaniel is 16 and during the filming of the movie, Wonder, the crew of 20/20 followed him around. Word got out to Christina Aguilera. Nathaniel visited her at her mansion and she sang, "Beautiful" to him.  The message they hoped others would receive is "No one is facially alike, but they are all beautiful."
Nathaniel and his mom were inspired to share their story--anything is possible even if you have a disorder.
I like how Nathaniel kept persevering.  He taught me to persevere because even though he was always sick he fought through the pain. He taught me to be thankful for the small things because not everyone is gifted with things like hearing and breathing. He also taught me that things don't always work out the way you want but keep pushing to achieve your goals and follow your dreams. 
I give this book 4 and half stars. I really couldn't put it down. I stayed up for like 2-3 hours reading the last hundred pages. I just wanted to know how Nathaniel dealt with the pain, the bullying and life. I would love to meet Nathaniel now. He seems like a really cool guy and he's a role model to me.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

For Your Listening Pleasure...

Do you have a half hour where you will be driving, folding laundry, cooking dinner, running?  Then, I've got something to fill your ears:

A few Sundays ago I ran a couple of miles (and, yes, I was listening to a book at the time) to be interviewed by Katie for her new podcast called, "Career Roulette." Cool.  How hard could it be?! Just talk about what I do, right?

Well! I was nervous!  I hope I sound coherent.  I hope I make you proud NYLA, AASL, ALA.  It's the least I can do for all you do for me. I hope you get what I do.

Lots of shout outs to folks I love and adore: my kids (of course!), Val who gave me the idea to become a librarian, Alicia my forever book recommender, my mom who taught me to love reading and who prefers eBooks over print any day, my teacher collaborators who I do everything with side by side, and a few of just some of the many authors and illustrators who have visited our school.

Maybe this podcast will convince someone to go back to grad school. Maybe? It's pretty awesome...

I love my job and am very thankful that my Career Roulette spinner landed on "school librarian."

Thanks, Katie for this fun opportunity to talk about all I do at CES!