Friday, April 18, 2008

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

In a moment of weakness I broke down and read The Ruins after seeing all the advertising hype that went with the novel's movie. Big mistake! I did not enjoy it one bit.

So to satisfy my BAM challenge I need something that wouldn't take too long to read. And I wanted to cleans my mind. This month's theme is beauty which should be helpful, right?

Well as I was straightening a bookcase I notice a book I hadn't read since childhood. Hence my review is a repeat which I enjoyed reading this past week.

Beautiful Joe
by Margaret Marshall Saunders
Children's book

Beautiful Joe is a story that is based on true events. The book documents the cruelity and rescue of animals, most notably Joe. Joe is a dog who as a pup had his ears and tail axed off by his first master in a fit of anger.

Sad as this story is, the book is wonderful for it viewpoint which is told through the eyes of Beautiful Joe. And the stories of triumph over adversities makes this book a favorite of mine since my childhood.

Interestingly, I discovered that the book was a winner of a humane society writers contest in the 1800s. I can certainly see why.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I've Got a Human in My Mouth

Title: I Got a Human in My Throat
Author: Collaboration –
Genre: Non-fiction

This month for BAM I went with the literal interpretation of the theme, craft or hobby. My focus for the past two years has been on computer graphics and designs. In fact this past week, I met my requirements to complete an associative degree in science.

This book is one that I picked up some time ago, because it has such wonderful tips for photo manipulation. On the practical side Bob Schneider shows you how to restore old photographs, eliminating scratches and sharpening the images. Dorie Pugat shows you how to colorize black and white photographs. On the silly side the reader is shown how to put a human mouth on a frog. Or you can convert a beautiful woman into a wicked witch.

Each process is shown through detailed graphics and descriptions. A cd is included with the images for the reader to practice the process. The contributors for each process are manipulators from the website, If you are just slightly interested in computer graphics and manipulation this is a site for you. Contests are continually in progress with various levels of expertise, from beginners to advance. The results of these contests are wonders to behold.

This is a book that I will definitely keep as a reference.

Friday, February 15, 2008

February's Challenge

Alice Flagg, The Ghost of the Hermitage
by Nancy Rhyne

The BAM challenge for February dealt appropriately with the heart. My choice for the challenge was the novel, Alice Flagg. Alice Flagg is based on a ghost story of South Carolina. In essence, Alice Flagg was a young lady from a wealthy planter’s family, who fell in love with a lumberman. Separated from her lover, the fifteen year old girl died from a broken heart. On her body was discovered the gold ring her lover had given her. Enraged Alice’s brother threw the ring into the marsh to be washed away with the tide.

The story is rich with details that reflect the Southern society of the early 1800’s. Fascinating encounters with the Alice ghost - whether in her beloved home, the Hermitage, or in the cemetery – are described in the prologue and epilogue.

I chose this book out of curiosity. Ever seen I had seen Alice’s sad grave I had wanted to know more of her story. The sad burial plot is separated from the rest of the family and marked with a small stone plaque that simply says ‘Alice’. Worn by generations of visitors, there is a path around the grave as people seek to conjure the ghost who is said to be searching for her gold ring.

My Life in Dog Years
Gary Paulsen

This book was a wonderful read-aloud book! Consisting of 8 stories of 8 dogs that author has encountered or owned in his life. It might be more appropriate to say that the dogs chose Mr. Paulsen! The children and I laughed and cried throughout this book.

As usual Gary Paulsen does not disappoint. His stories are rich in details. The reader feels as if he/she is actually witnessing the interaction between the dogs and the man.

I had to include this book in the BAM challenge. What else is close to many of our hearts than our beloved pets?

Monday, January 21, 2008

A New Year - A New Challenge

As part of my New Year resolution I decided to begin to read again...FOR PLEASURE.

I joined this marvelous book challenge, BAM. The goal is to read a book a month that meets the criteria of a set theme. Then the reader shares the review, posting on a blog.

For January the theme was TIME.

I decided to read two books this month. One book was a youth fiction, since I am still teaching. The other book was hopefully an adult level. LOL

The two books read were The Winter Room and The Worst Hard Time.

Here are my reviews!

The Winter Room
Gary Paulsen

We all have favorite authors for different genres. For youth fiction, my favorite writer is Gary Paulsen. To me the man is a literary artist. He can provide a sensory experience for the reader through his words. Not only do you see what the character is experiencing, but what he is emotionally feeling, smelling, hearing and tasting. You ARE the character. No higher praise can I think of for a writer than this.

The Winter Room does not disappoint this reader. Indeed in the foreword it is interesting to find that the writer addresses the senses as they apply to the story. It is these senses that are closely observed throughout the story as time marches by. For indeed, time is a major theme in the story, as adults grow old and young boys grow into adults.

Time on a farm is cyclical and follows through the seasons: summer, spring, fall, and winter. The Winter Room is where the family passes time during the cold winter nights as two elderly men share stories from their past and the old country. Shown through the eyes of a young boy, Eldon, the reader shares the lives, emotions, and maturation of the character and his older brother, Wayne.

There is a bitter sweetness to this tale. The short book is reminiscence of Paul Gallico’s work. Easily it may be read in one sitting. However, The Winter Room is worthy of multiple readings for the subtle nuances and the value of life’s lessons the story projects. I highly recommend this book for those who truly want a rich sensory experience.

The Worst Hard Time
The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
Timothy Egan

The Worst Hard Time is a historical non-fiction. For those who enjoy history this book might be for you.

Outlining the causes of the Dust Bowl in the Great Plains of the 1930’s, Timothy Egan introduces us to the people who chose to stay within this ‘dying’ land. Through drought, dust storms, twisters and grasshoppers, the American farmers still dreamed of the life that they envisioned making from the land, never giving up.

The book is rich with ‘trivia.’ Growing up I remember my parents singing the song, “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You.” Worst Hard Time revealed that Woody Guthrie wrote this song on Black Sunday, when the dust storm was so dark people could not see inches in front of their faces. They literally thought it was the end of the world.

I enjoyed the facts and little known information that I garnered from this book. I was saddened from the way some of these farmers’ lives played out. However, sadly the book did not hold my interest the last five chapters except for the fact I wanted to find out about the individuals I started to care about.

Unfortunately, the book’s progression seemed disjointed. The storyline of the different people seemed broken and fragmented. Understandably, the author was following the timeline of the Dust Bowl. However, the flow of the story was what broke my interest.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Encyclopedia of Life

I enjoy listening to NPR as I drive home. Sometimes if I am early enough, I can listen to The World, but most often it is All Things Considered.

Today they discussed an internet project that is so exciting. The scientists want to include all known life.

Titled The Encyclopedia of Life, this site will be a wonderful resource. You can currently view some demo pages. Check out a new species of crab, the Yeti Crab!

Encyclopedia of Life

Monday, April 30, 2007

YouTube Move Over!

This is too cool! A form of YouTube for teachers! The site is TeacherTube. It has teacher made videos for instruction, sharing, and inspiration.

And I love it.

Check it out at

And for an added incentive.....

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy!

It's that time of year when things are hectic to the max!
Besides work as usual, I am busy learning the ins and outs of html and Dreamweaver.

I did want to share one thing. Our district is encouraging teachers to create webpages from MS Publisher. With my quest for a bookmark program, I came across several online bookmark sites. I decided to combine the two tasks and create a reference area for my colleagues.

If interested, the address is:

Hope someone can use this!