Book reviewer extraordinaire!

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The Land of 10,000 Madonnas

by Kate Hattemer

Alfred A. Knopf, New York


Jessee is chronically ill and his last wish is for his girlfriend, best friend, and three of his cousins (who are also his best friends) to embark on a quest, of sorts. None are too happy about it but out of love for their friend they agree.

After the first couple of chapters:

So far, I like Cal. She seems to be a bright, caring friend, even if she is Jesse’s cousin. Previous reviews weren’t so great but it is starting out well. Two kids with an awesome friendship, one kid’s very ill.


The concept of the book, the story, was great; however, I did not always enjoy the execution. I think middle and high school students would enjoy the book of tragedy, love, and friendship. The ending was a little ethereal and left be pretty empty. My strong readers who are looking for deep emotion in what they read would be disappointed.


Jessee – the glue that bonds the others

Cal – best friend and cousin since birth

Lillian – girlfriend, hard-ass, and the author makes sure we all know she is black, not from a privileged background, typical angry black woman profile left me ambivalent

Matt – best friend, not great character development until later in the book and it was typical jock-ish

Ben – OCD, nearly Autistic-syndrome-like, reminded me of a teenage Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory TV show, older than Jesse

Trevor – Jesse’s older cousin and Cal’s big brother, no real character development in relation to Jesse, his connection seems to be to Cal and as her brother, comic relief

Parents in the book all seem inept and, although caring, let their kids go unchaperoned. Cal, Lillian, and Matt have all just graduated from High School and Ben and Trevor are college seniors. Ben is the only really mature character in the bunch and yet I felt he was socially immature.

Very unrealistic.


NANOWRIMO has come and gone

Yep, another year has gone by (nearly) and the National Novel Writers Month with it. I signed up and then did a crazy thing, I created a classroom in the Young Writers Program. I have nine students sign up but only four were consistently coming to after school writing sessions. That was okay as long as they were writing and keeping up on the YWP NANOWRIMO site, which many did.

What I learned doing this?

1. I cannot write while helping the kids.

2. My kids are very creative writers even if not the best writers.

3. Grammar means nothing when draft writing.

4. I won’t meet three days in a row because I am exhausted by the end of the week.

5. I will teach a class next time (we met for 2 hours so 1st hour class, 2nd hour free writing).

6. This was fun!

7. I got closer to students which was important as this is my first year here.

and finally,

8. I will do it again.



My other blog … that I forgot I had.

We are encouraged to blog. Our state uses our publications (blogs included) as a means of providing professional recertification credit. I am not sure they would appreciate my WordPress blog but I think the edublog site would be okay!

Dr. Seuss’ Birthday and Read Across America

**I did this on my phone last year and never was published, so here it is.

It is that time of year again and we are not ready. Nope, not one bit. We just ended a round of bad weather and missed an entire week of school. I have book fair to plan because I stupidly said, “Yeah, it is a great idea to run book fair during RAA and Parent Teacher Conference night … during the time we normally have snow days.


Yes, that was a huge sigh. I did that and now I have to live with it. My biggest problem is with getting volunteers. You see, my students will be psyched up to attend, their parents will be so-so about it and I have no volunteers. This is a regular book fair so it may not be as busy as last year. Did I tell you that it is not a BOGO? I did not know they only do BOGO book fairs after April 1st. I will get grief for this from the parents.

Oh well, c’est la vie. We live and we learn.

New Gig

This has been a crazy summer but I have a new gig at the end of it all. I have left my position of the last six years as an elementary school librarian and made the jump to the high school level.

On the outside I am cool and collected but on the inside I am a bit scared. What do I do? Plan. Planning makes me calmer. Planning helps me put things in order and makes me feel in control. So I am planning!

One cool thing that has happened with this new change is I actually get a co-librarian with whom to work! I am so excited as I have never worked with another librarian and it is a man, even cooler. We can work together to make changes and bring our lovely library into the 21st century!!

I am reading a book on how to convert our traditional, albeit new, library into a real learning commons. So exciting to make changes. Wish me luck, give me tips, include me in your prayers. It is all good!

Sunday Reflections: Goals for my Readers

Good place to find books for rising 5th graders

If you haven’t been to yet, head on over. You can find reviews and lists of reading materials

Here is a great list for 5th grade readers.

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