Book Club Babes: Let’s Talk Books

Personally, I love to discuss books, analyze books, and write about books.  For many years, I was a book hoarder refusing to share my love of reading by passing a book along for fear of never seeing said book again.  This unreturned phenomena happened many times to me, by the way, before I decided to put an end to the lending process.  Instead, I chose to alphabetize my books, color-code my books, and stack them in piles by my bed instead of deal with the frustration.

Then, one day I decided not to lend the books, but give them away by stuffing them into friends’ mailboxes or hanging them on their doors, and this felt good. . . right.  I was sharing my love of reading and decluttering my house at the same time.  The likelihood of my rereading a book is slim to none due to the vast assortment of reading materials out there, and I want to read them all.  In truth, I reread books now simply because I have forgotten I have read them at all (until about halfway in) or if a character named Ranger or Morelli is involved. 

So, this morning, my eldest daughter talked books with me, and I was like a kiddo in the candy store.  Scout’s honor, I did not prompt the discussion.  Instead, she admitted to starting Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab (our third book club selection courtesy of Book Club Babe Colleen) last night after we told her for the third time to return to bed.  Sneaky!  She told me her book club buddy, Ava, had been reading it, so my squirt guesstimated Ava was nearly finished with the book (as she is a voracious reader).  

I asked my daughter, “When did you discuss Nick and Tesla with Ava?”  

She responded, “When I was at her house for the slumber party . . ..”  

I took a brief intermission, ran to my room, popped another Benicar due to my excitement, and then returned to our literacy . . . yes, literacy discussion.  

She continued with, “It’s weird how their names are Nick and Tesla, but are referred to as ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ in the book.”  

She then loaded Nick and Tesla into her backpack with “I’m going to take this to school,” and off she went.

When this same reader returned from school, she took off her backpack and told me she found “older” was mispelled in Nick and Tesla.  

I asked how it was spelled, and she said, “E-l-d-e-r”  (13).

Aha!  I explained the meaning of “elder,” but then asked where she found the word in the book.  She went right to the page as she had asked her teacher for a post-it note (what I use to mark passages in my book).  Happy Mother’s Day to me.  We reread the passage together, and I explained how “elder” was, in fact, the correct spelling in this particular sentence.  Learning vocabulary through context . . . an English teacher’s dream.

Furthermore, she said, “There was a funny line in the book, ‘IF YOU’RE SELLING GIRL SCOUT COOKIES, I’M NOT HOME'” (14).  We giggled together as we are both registered Girl Scouts (adult and child) and have sold and eaten our fair share of cookies.

She then continued the conversation by telling me how another book club buddy, Emma “. . . talks about book club all the time.”  

I asked, “When?”  

She said, “When we’re at recess, and she uses Bink and Gollie to answer questions.”  

I asked, “How does she use Bink and Gollie to answer questions?”  

My squirt thought about it for a minute before responding, “Like she’ll say, ‘I read this book Bink and Gollie, and one girl wanted a pancake, and the other wanted her to take her sock off, so the one girl shared the pancake, and the other girl took her sock off.'”

“Cool!” I said trying to mask my near hyperventilation.

The conversation ended with, “Emma said she started Ivy and Bean and is reading Chewy and Chica.”  

Feigning an eye itch, I wiped a tear from the corner of my eye.

Book Club Babes Inaugural Outing

My oldest daughter loves to read, but it can be difficult transitioning from picture books to chapter books.  As a second-grader, she has taken the leap, but misses the beautifully illustrated pictures.  So, when my own (highly talented) recommender of books, Sarah B. told me her daughter Miss Ava stays up until 11 p.m. at night sneaking reads under the covers due to the series, Origami Yoda,  I was more than sold.  Since her daughter had completed the series, we were allowed to borrow Fortune Wookie for a trial run.  Not only do the drawings in the margins ease the transition from picture books, but the origami “how to” directions for the various characters beyond a doubt “sealed the deal” for my lover of crafts daughter.

Sarah B. then discovered a workshop offered at the Edwardsville Public Library which covered the Origami Yoda series.  Yeah, Baby!  Sarah B. convinced the librarian to register our second-grade girls as the program was intended for third-fifth graders only.  I then forwarded the message to my Book Club Babes (Second Grade Book Club Members) and had one taker, Miss Emma.  Excitement ensued as well as more deliberate reading as the day of the workshop approached.  Yes!  A literacy advocate’s dream . . .

Waiting for the Doors to Open to the Origami Yoda Workshop

Arriving at the library early, we waited patiently for the doors to the workshop room to open with Miss Ava’s little brother Mr. Jakey.  Upon opening of the doors, not one of the three girls bothered to look back.  So, I settled in a corner chair and read while intermittently peeking in through the window at their progress.

Origami Yoda Workshop

After a while small groups exited the room at staggered starts pursuing their mission of a scavenger hunt.  Fortunate enough to view this from my chair in the corner, I could witness their excitement and collaborative learning firsthand.

Uncovering Clues on the Scavenger Hunt

After an hour of focused learning disguised as fun, they all pleaded starvation.  So, we took the short walk from the Edwardsville Public Library to Dewey’s Pizzeria.  Hastily ordering, they wanted to watch the pizza makers behind the window.  Thus, I had a leisurely dinner by myself as they took quick bites and then returned to the viewing window where they snapped some photos with my phone.

  

Utterly  thrilled by the sneak peek reading at the library of chapter one of Princess Labelmaker, we skipped dessert in search of the newly released book of the Origami Yoda series at Books-A-Million.  An added bonus came as we were loading ourselves into the car.  Parked next to us was a woman reading, so I was able to snap her picture for my book blog.  Score!  

These second-graders’ love of reading is certainly contagious, “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is” (Yoda, Attack of the Clones), so I am definitely looking forward to our next Book Club Babes outing.

STARS with Dogs, Daisies, and Brownies

A dear friend and Brownie mother, Sarah K., told me about a program offered at The Glen Carbon Centennial Library where children are given the opportunity to read aloud to therapy dogs, Socrates and Shoto.  Taking this idea and running with it, my co-leader Sarah B. and I offered it as a field trip option for both our Daisy and Brownie troops, 48 and 611 respectively. 

Although occurring at 6 p.m. on a school night (my squirts who have a love of sleep like their momma are snoozing by 7:30 p.m. most nights), the response in numbers from both troops was ideal.

Magi Henderson, the Youth Services Director extraordinaire, had books set out from which the readers could choose or readers were allowed to roam the shelves and select a book (or books) of their own choosing.

 
Due to the large number of participants, Shoto and Socrates were placed in separate areas so that the children could gravitate between the two.


At 6:30, Fun Patches were distributed and our circle hug was completed.  This allowed some Daisies and Brownies to stay until the departure of the dogs at 7 p.m. while others could peruse the library or be on their way.


If your squirt or your troop is interested in reading to Shoto and Socrates, check the calendar and register (cost is FREE)- next visit is October 14, 2013.

The Same Birthday Book Club

     Ever wanted to promote the love of reading within your own family and needed a book with the ability to garner the interest of three generations?  Carol Galusha’s The Same Birthday is the novel that meets this criteria. 
     An educator for more than twenty years, Ms. Galusha implements components that draw the young adult reader into the novel such as active-voice sentences which are direct, yet chock-full of details, brief chapters overflowing with discussion material, and themes in which a young adult can relate.  Students will be pleased with the 120 pages when the novel is distributed in class, yet mesmerised by the journey in which the three protagonists take them.
     Interestingly enough, this journey is full of complexities which engage the adult reader also.  Thus, not only an ideal choice for the secondary classroom complete with lesson plans provided by the author, but also a work with the ability to bring multi-generational readers together.  Yes, Grandma, Mom, and Daughter, for example.
     In the case of book club, what brings people together better than food?  In this case, the food acts as a symbol for the lives of each of the three main characters.  To represent Janine, appetizers should be available such as those mentioned on page 23 in The Same Birthday:  pigs in a blanket, vegetables, and chips with elaborate dips.  In the case of Mary Anne, earthy potato soup and rustic ham sandwiches express her backstory.  Without a doubt, the essentials for making a mouthwatering pizza pie will not only coax the adolescent reader to book club, but also create a starting point for discussing the life of Molly.  Looking for the ideal gift for the tween, adult, and seasoned person in your life?  Look no further  . . . you cannot go wrong with the gift of reading.


Carol Galusha

Learn More about YA Author Stacey Darlington

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .Mary Queen of Scots, starring Vanessa Redgrave springs to mind. I saw it as a child was was deeply affected by her execution and the way she accepted it so elegantly. I usually don’t watch sad movies.

Describe your first kiss…
My “best friend” stole a kiss from me when I was eight while we were playing cowboys and Indians…I punched him out! haha

Your favorite children’s book, and why
. . .I will always love Where The Wild Things Are. I have an affinity towards monsters and the misunderstood….later I was all about Nancy Drew and Alfred Hitchcock.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
Literacy for young people. I found such an escape in reading when I was a child. It’s a blessing to be able to enter a fantasy world away from a sometimes turbulent household. I also do volunteer work at children’s homes…my mother was an orphan.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
Noelle Page…Forever Amber

Explain the worst job that you’ve held…
Working at KFC when I was 16, had to clean the oil and mop the floors. I still found a way to enjoy it, though.

A quote that motivates you . . .
To the victor go the spoils

The title of the one song you would take with you to that deserted island. . . Cheeseburgers in Paradise

Three Wishes
   1. That my book series catches on and becomes successful
   2. To make enough money to help the hungry and homeless in a BIG way
   3. That the people on this planet would stop hating and battling and become spiritual and peaceful

Favorite game you played as a child . . .
A card game I invented with my best friend to practice our ESP. We would take turns hiding a penny beneath one of the fifty two cards we had arranged in a circle. We would move our hand over the cards and select the one that hid the penny. We both got it on the first try every time. I also liked Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. I have always been drawn to the occult and supernatural.

Stacey Darlington

Cultivating Radiance Book Club

     Whew!  Having just turned the final page of Tamara Gerlach’s Cultivating Radiance, I can honestly say you cannot estimate the time it takes to read a book simply by the number of its pages.  At first glance, I thought 180+ pages would be an engaging weekend read.  However, a weekend read stretched to a two-week self-discovery adventure.  Yet, since the theme of the novel, “cultivating radiance,” is actually an on-going process, I know that I will revisit, reread, and review as needed.
     Cultivating Radiance is divided into short chapters which end in homework assignments comprised of a Discovery Question, an Activity, directed Gratitude work, and a Mantra for memorization.
     Each chapter is sprinkled with anecdotes, biographical contributions as well as Ms. Gerlach’s honest recollections as proof of the author’s authentic requests of her audience.
     For book club, this is an ideal choice for weekly study groups, an on-line book club, or a monthly book club that checks in with one another on a weekly basis.  Some homework assignments may be completed together such as attempting meditation (think The Center in Glen Carbon, IL), cooking healthy with local ingredients from a farmer’s market (think Fournie Farms in Collinsville, IL), or participating in your first 5K (think A Signature Hollywood Salon’s Annual Running with Scissors).  Perhaps, your book club members will register as a group for a Women’s Retreat (I’m in!).   Whatever tickles your fancy, attempt an activity which lies beyond your norm in order to experience Cultivating Radiance.

Tamara Gerlach

Tatty Ratty "Baby" Book Club

     By being participants in the 2011 International Postcard Exchange, our United Kingdom pen pals, Sam, Rebekah, Jeremy, George, and Daniel recommended the picture book Tatty Ratty by Helen Cooper to us.  So, we immediately placed our order online and anxiously awaited an e-mail from our local library, Glen Carbon Centennial Library, stating our book was in.
     The image of a bunny eating a doughnut while taking a ride in the evening sky piqued our interest.  What follows is an imaginative tale of the whereabouts of a lost bunny enhanced by the reference of familiar characters from other children’s storybooks.  Thus, not only is a new tale being told, but the backstories of other famous literary figures are introduced within Tatty Ratty.  As a parent, I found the story useful as parenting advice if ever in the unfortunate predicament of a child missing a favorite toy.  As a teacher, I appreciated the introduction of allusions in this literary work.
     As a means of experiencing Tatty Ratty, the squirts dug into their own collection of stuffed animals and found their own “Tatty Ratty.”  Opting to create an adventure exclusive to our Tatty Ratty, we took turns placing Tatty Ratty in various circumstances throughout the house and then using our imaginations to explain how she arrived at each location.

Tatty Ratty taking a joy ride on the Plasma Car.

Working off some of that porridge on the treadmill.

Cleaning up after a full day’s worth of adventure.

Fresh from our Farm to Table field trips, we made a trip to the local produce stand, Norma’s Produce and Greenhouses, and selected items which a bunny would most likely enjoy.  Returning home with our bounty in tow, the squirts cleaned their (few) selected vegetables and (numerous) fruits and prepared them with minimal assistance (“I can do it!” was heard often during preparation) into a child-friendly salad.



Helen Cooper

Molly’s Magic Pencil: The Blue Genie

     Peter Davies’ second book, The Blue Genie,  in the Molly’s Magic Pencil series is an ideal picture book to use for dramatization.  With only four prominent characters in the story, our family of four had no problem in dealing with lack of participation.  Having short jumpers the squirts consider “genie” outfits, I figured the two girls would be taking turns playing the Blue Genie.  Instead, they both chose to play the protagonist’s part, Molly.
      So, we dug in closets for red (okay, hot pink) outfits to mimic Molly’s red jumper.  Then, backpacks were filled with paper and the crucial Magic Pencil.  By default, the hub played Blue Genie since he was wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans, and I was inevitably Mrs. Jones, the tearful geriatric lady (I’m being typecast already, yet still a month away from 40) whose cat, Tiddles (played by our stuffed black cat), is stranded high on a tree limb.

Tiddles stranded in the tree.

     Since each squirt wanted the spotlight to herself, we rehearsed the scene several times (more than I had planned) in our backyard (luckily, the neighbors already know we’re nutty) each time alternating the actress who portrayed Molly.                           

Take 1:  Molly #1 searching in her backpack for the Magic Pencil.

                                                                               

Take 1:  Molly #1 drawing a teapot.
Take 21:  Molly #2 searching in her backpack for the Magic Pencil.
Take 21:  Molly #2 drawing a teapot.
The Blue Genie saves Tiddles.

      When every blank space on the paper had been filled with a drawing of a teapot,  we brought the dramatization to a close by singing the first verse of, “I’m a Little Teapot.”  Bedtime was accomplished only with a sincere promise, “Yes, we will act out The Blue Genie again tomorrow.”


Peter Davies

Reading Camp Rocks- Week 2

     My oldest squirt and her buddy attended Week 2 of Reading Camp offered through Saint Louis University.  We barely were able to finish the homework in time for class due to the fact my squirt was attending camp during the evenings and sleeping late throughout the mornings, and, to be honest, she felt it was “boring,” a new term she had learned and embraced wholeheartedly from some of the older girls at camp.  Anywho- workbook pages were completed, CDs were listened to, and a dramatization of a picture book completed.  Mistakenly, I had her watch with me a video intended for parents, to be fair, which was “boring.”  I loaded her into the van with her final words, “I am never going to Reading Camp again,” escaping the sliding door.  While buckling my seat belt, I assured her that one week was already down with only four more to go.  Really only three more to attend if she considered “today” as a completed Reading Camp day.  Besides, Miss Rebecca (the young, energetic teacher) would miss her . . . .
     Arriving at the high school and following last week’s route through the building, we discovered that our class was to meet in another room due to ACT testing being offered concurrently.  Thus, with both squirts leading the way by following the arrows, we made our way to the new classroom.  We decided potty breaks were needed, so all four of us hustled down towards the bathrooms so as not to miss the beginning of class.  Again, my inner immaturity (since being in a high school setting) eventually found its way out when I wet a paper towel and threw it into my friend’s stall (hey- at least I didn’t throw it up on the ceiling).  Stifling giggles, I listened closely for her reaction, but heard nothing.  When she opened her door and exited her bathroom cubby,  a mere, “Did you do that?”  She had figured her son had performed the act in question.  I suppose being out of high school for twenty plus years along with motherhood does and should mellow or mature most of us (or at least make us better examples for the youth of today . . . as my daughter watched my actions with wide-eyed amazement).
     Class started promptly on time, and questions were asked of the 4 and 5 year-old students.  Excited hands were raised, and before we knew it, it was story time with Eric Carle’s A House for Hermit Crab.

Each student was given a copy to “read along” with the teacher.  After the reading, Miss Rebecca discussed the story with the students and then wrote a short story of her own on the board and drew a house to her liking- red with green stripes.  Students then were asked to narrate his/her original story to his/her parent with the parent writing the story verbatim- taking no grammatical liberties.

  Rhyming and phonetic work ensued before class ended with a reading of Audrey Wood’s big book,  King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, an entertaining read with beautiful illustrations where each page takes on a color scheme of its own.

Class was dismissed for the week, and we plan to have our student squirts take part in a homework session together to promote the “fun” of reading and working together.  Of course, today is Tuesday, class is Saturday, and we have yet to crack the books.  Aaaaaaah . . . the humanity!!!!!

Learn More about Author Tamara Gerlach

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
P.S. I Love You

Describe your first kiss.
It was at our ranch. My neighbor’s cousin was visiting from Utah, he was super cute, and a “real” cowboy…so I let him kiss me. At first it was a little weird, but I liked it, so now I try to do it as much as possible.

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .
There’s a hair in my dirt, by Gary Larson. My kids loved the story, it made us laugh, and we got to talk about nature, and cause and effect.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
I support quite a few, because there are so many people doing such wonderful work in the world, but one is close to my heart, PINCC- Prevention International No Cervical Cancer. Over 300,000 women needlessly die every year because of a lack of education and treatment. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in December 2009. Fortunately, I got the treatment I needed, and I wish that for all the women of the world.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
Joy in Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman. She is the essence of ease and flow, carefree and completely dedicated at the same time.

Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
Honestly, I have loved all of the jobs I have ever had. One day, when I was a teen working at Kentucky Fried Chicken, a big box showed up with a chicken suit in it. I was the first to volunteer to put it on and go out on the street to dance, wave at cars, and do one-handed gymnastics moves (I had to hold the head on with the other hand). So, I’ve been a dancing chicken…and I have no complaints.

A quote that motivates you . . .
“You can love other people only to the degree that you’ve come to love and accept yourself”   ~Shakti Gawain

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .
Granny by Dave Matthews
Three Wishes
   1. That all people realize their own magnificence, freedom, and connection to  everyone and everything. Then, take care of each other and ourselves accordingly.
   2. That no one is hungry for food or love.
   3. That we practice Forgiveness, Compassion, and Love to wash away all of the fear and delusion in the world.
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
I loved to go out into the hills with friends, or even by myself, and play “explorer.” We’d pretend that we were lost in the wilderness and had to find a “new world,” build camp, and live off of the land. It has served me well since I travel all over the world and feel comfortable in any environment because I know I can figure it out. On a trip deep into the Amazon, Ron and I stayed with an Achuar tribe and spent our days (and some nights) traipsing through the forest. When it came time to leave, I didn’t want to; I just wanted to keep playing “explorer.”
I still play my favorite game daily by exploring my heart and mind.