Sign of a good book…


I sat on the bathroom floor sobbing.  I should have been in the shower, but I needed to finish the book.  Down to the last two pages and the silent tears turned into audible sobs.

That is a good book – You don’t agree with the characters’ choices, but you still love them.  You still want them to be happy.

You have seen the movie.  You know how it ends.  And yet…you are still sobbing on the bathroom floor.

Sign of a good book.


Thank you, Jenny Lawson!

I listened to the Furiously Happy audio book read by the author, Jenny Lawson.

I laughed. I cried. I realized that I may be crazy – but I am not alone.

I laughed out loud at the absurdity of her train of thought. (In part, because it isn’t far from what happens in my head.)

I mumbled, “What the…” to myself more than a few times.

Then, all of a sudden, chapter thirty hits me. And I’m bawling in the car, driving down the expressway.

Yes.  That’s exactly it.  THAT is how I feel.  It’s not just me.

This is how it feels – this is what I have never been able to put into words – will never be able to put into words even in my head. 

I’m not sure that I ever truly understood.

And then I heard her words echo through my car.  I heard her explain to her readers what my life feels like some days.

Tears fell.

But, instead of sadness, I felt relief.

So, thank you Jenny Lawson.  Thank you!



Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo


Kate DiCamillo is definitely one of my favorite authors.  More than one of her books are regular read alouds in my third grade classroom.  This book is no less special…matbe my favorite yet.

Although the book is a novel, with words seperated into chapters, there are pictures and comics interspersed.   This only adds to the experience

There are many funny, laugh out loud, parts.  (See giant donut line above.) The book is about a squirrel with superpowers he received from being vacuumed up, after all.  However, my favorite aspect of this story is the parent-child relationship.   Her parents aren’t together anymore -and spoiler…they aren’t at the end either.  But the main character,  Flora, learns that she is the most important person to each of her parents.  They may have mad mistakes, said things they didn’t mean, but she is still their #1.  And thanks to her superhero squirrel, she realizes it.

THIS is a message kids need to hear! 

where she went

thSometimes sequels stink.  Actually, if we are being honest, most times sequels stink.  A lot of stories aren’t meant to be continued, except in the minds of the readers.  But, Mia and Adam’s wasn’t done with if i stay.  It needed to be shared.  The pain, the struggle, doesn’t end just because you decide to stay.

Gayle Forman does a beautiful job of sharing their sequel, or “duet” with the readers.  From Adam’s point of view this time, each chapter begins with lyrics from one of his songs.  Time moves from past to present seamlessly.  Tears didn’t stop flowing from my eyes for the entire second half of the book.  And, unlike many books, with characters I have become attached to, the ending is enough.  I am content.  I still have that sad, empty feeling that comes with finishing a book/series. However, I am content.   I can not explain it like Adam…

Standing here, in this quiet house where I can hear the birds chirping out back, I think I’m kind of getting the concept of closure.  It’s no big dramatic before-after.  It’s more like that melancholy feeling you get at the end of a really good vacation.  Something special is ending, and you’re sad, but you can’t be that sad because, hey, it was good while it lasted, and there’ll be other vacations, other good times.  But they won’t be with Mia […]”

National Bully Prevention Month

WeirdSeries     October is National Bully Prevention Month and because of all of the bullying that has been happening in our class this year we have spent quite a bit of time on this topic.  After reading about this series on a blog and then discovering them at the library, I thought that maybe this would help us get through to them.

Each book is written from a different point of view about the same situation.  Weird! is the girl who is getting bullied.  Tough! is the bully.  And Dare! is the girl who stands by and doesn’t act.  Three of us (my co-teacher, a student, and myself)  each took a book.  We read a page or two from each book in a rotation, so all three were happening at the same time.  I think that these are great books regardless of how you choose to read them, this is just the way we decided to share them.

After finishing all three books, we asked the students to consider which character they most identified with.  What kind of person are you?  The bully?  The bullied?  The bystander?  Then, discuss with their table groups what they can do to prevent bullying depending what type of person they identify with most.  Surprisingly, they were very honest about themselves.  The bullies admit to being bullies, the “weird” children were quick to admit who they were and the bystanders knew that they let it happen and can “dare” to stop bullying.

The conversations that filled our room today were honest and respectful.  Hopefully we will see a difference in the way students treat each other now that they have heard what it is like from the other sides of bullying.

Some questions…and one piece of advice


Dear Mr. Sparks,

     Why do you always kill off one of your characters?  That isn’t exactly what I needed this morning, but I should have known better.  I have been listening to The Best of Me for the past few days.  At first I saw a lot of similarities to The Notebook: star crossed teen love, pretentious parents, letting go to come back together later in life.  Eventually I stopped thinking of the similarities, but why does death of a character need to be in every book.  But, I guess the better question is, why do I keep reading your books when I know it will end with me crying?!

                                                                                                                         A fan


Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 9.39.16 PMDear,

     How did you know that I am short?  When JennieB was taken, you gave me “shortJennieB” as an alternative.  How did you know?




Dear Self,

Why did you not wake up to your alarm this morning?  I know that you set your alarm, but it wasn’t set this morning when you woke up, LATE.   Did you turn it off in your sleep?  Whatever happened…DON’T let it happen again!!!



Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 8.13.39 PM

Dear New Teachers,

     I know that this job we love is difficult.  There will be days that you feel completely inadequate, ready to break down and walk out.  We all have them and I can’t say that these days stop with experience.  (They don’t.)   But, I promise, there will also be days that you will break through walls and help turn on light bulbs.  There will be days that you get emails from former students that make every day they made your head ache worth it.   Work hard, don’t forget you always have room to learn, and most importantly, please don’t give up.  These kids need us and you can do it.

                                                                                                              A Sixth Year Teacher


“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

– Martin Luther King Junior





Five for Friday


1.  I love school supplies!  I know, I’m nerdy!  I get excited to see them up in the aisles and walk through them multiple times.  However, my son’s supply list generally results in a little stress.  There is always something that requires trips to 3-4 stores even though I shop in July!  This year it is the elusive plastic ORANGE folder with prongs.  I will find you plastic orange folder with prongs!

2.  Speaking of school supplies, it drives me nuts when kids draw all over the class erasers, especially the giant ones I buy.  So this year Bob the Eraser will be standing guard…



3.  My son and I started listening to Tuesdays at the Castle in the car this week.  We were really enjoying it, but we didn’t finish it before we had to return it to the library.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t renew it.  Luckily there was a copy of the book in print available, but now the British accent will only be in our heads.  😦    (The lady reading the story had a British accent!  How fun!)

The characters are the prince and princesses living in a magical castle.  Every Tuesday the castle changes, a tower here, an extra room there.  How awesome!  Right now the king, queen, and oldest son are missing.  The remaining siblings are working with the Castle to find their family and keep their kingdom safe.  I can’t wait to find out what happens!



4.  Exactly two weeks from today will be our opening Institute Day for the school year.  I have mixed emotions.  While I can’t wait to start teaching again and applying everything that has been filling my brain all summer, I am going to miss spending all day with my son.

5.  Finally, my birthday is coming up next week.  28.  That is way close to the big three zero.  I know that I am still young and have so much ahead of me, but I keep thinking of that Tim McGraw song, My Next Thirty Years.  When that came out I think I was in middle school and I remember thinking, “Gosh, that is really old.”  Now I know better, but it is still hard to believe I am this old!  It’s freaking me out a little.

Road Trip Reading

In our family, a road trip doesn’t mean a lull in reading.   My brother is reading the first Harry Potter and my son is reading the Lego Movie junior novel. I have finished multiple books including Sure Signs of Crazy. 


I won this book with Two Writing Teachers March SOL Challenge, but I haven’t had time to read it until now.  It was a great YA read.  The narrator is going through all of the normal chaos of growing up with the added concern that she may be crazy like her mother.  The book takes you through the summer leading up to her seventh grade year with an entertaining and relatable voice – perfect for middle school girls.

When I saw this book in the gift shop I had to get it.

It is a collection of stories and we have been reading it around the campfire and  in the tent before going to bed.  As my brother says, “These stories aren’t scary, they are just interesting.” He is disappointed, but this means no nightmares for my eight year old!  The stories contain historical facts of Yellowstone that relate to ghosts or spirits.  Perfect family read for our trip! 

I also found two books that I HAVE to buy for our classroom library.



The Teacher’s Funeral

A Teacher's Funeral

No, you aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but we all do it sometimes.  I was looking for a book for my son and this title caught my eye.  I’m a teacher.  How could a teacher’s funeral be a comedy?  I read the first paragraph and decided to check it out.

Here’s the first paragraph:

If your teacher has to die, August isn’t a bad time of year for it.  You know August.  The corn is earring.  The tomatoes are ripening on the vine.  The clover’s in full bloom.  There’s a little less evening now, and that’s a warning.  You want to live every day twice over because you’ll be back in the jailhouse of school before the end of the month.

It isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was a fun read.  Because it took place in the early 1900s, it took a few chapters to get my brain into the time period.  If you enjoy historical fiction children’s books and have strong feelings about school (positive or negative) this book might interest you.  However, what interests me is the books that you have read as a result of the cover.  What book did you pick up solely because of the cover?

A Snicker of Magic



I love love love this book!  Although the main character’s father left her, she realizes that she doesn’t need him to be happy.  Felicity realizes that the family that she does have is special and they love her with their whole beings.   The message is strong and the writing is beautiful! The writing is so strong, that I feel like the best way to share this book is to quote some of Natalie Lloyd’s passages.

Felicity collects words – it is her snicker of magic.  She sees words all over, words that no one else can see

In all my years of word collecting, I’ve learned this to be a tried and true fact:  I can very often tell how much a person loves another person by the      way they say their name.  I think that’s one of the best feelings in the world, when you know your name is safe in another person’s mouth.  When you know they’ll never shout it out like a cuss word, but say it or whisper it like a once-upon-a-time.  (p.86)

Although Felicity collects words and can put them together into poems, she gets tongue tied in front of people.  Her new friend has convinced her to participate in a duel reading her poetry, but she is doubtful of her own abilities.

“Don’t matter, anyway, if you do or if you don’t.  Stories aren’t peaceful things.  Stories don’t care how shy you are.  They don’t care how insecure you are, either.  Stories find their own way out eventually.  All you gotta do is turn ’em loose.”

I think this book would be perfect for fourth, fifth, sixth grade girls who love the idea of magic.  Although the characters and message are realistic, there is an element of magic on every page.

We might never look like a normal family, but I didn’t mind.  Normal was never one of my favorite words anyway.  I glanced up at the painted faces of all the people I’d come to know and want to know.  Home isn’t just a house or a city or a place; home is what happens when you’re brave enough to love people. (p.302)