Stacey Loscalzo

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Apr 22

Picture Book Favorites: April Edition

by Stacey

I can’t believe that another month has passed.

Somehow it’s already time for our new favorites…

 

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The Bus Ride by Marianne Dubuc. This modern day take on Little Red Riding Hood is not to be missed. I’m pretty sure that each time I’ve looked at it, I notice a new charming detail.

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Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise written by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Jean Jullien. This book is laugh out loud funny. Turns out Hoot Owl is not such a master after all but it is awfully fun watching him figure that out.

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Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson & Sydney Smith. Shh… Don’t tell anyone but we don’t usually love wordless picture books around these parts. Truth be told, I have a hard time ‘reading’ them. At first Katherine put this book aside but we both picked it up again at separate times and I’m so glad we did. The story and the illustrations are equally engaging.

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Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle and Rafael Lopez. This lyrical picture book is inspired by the true story of a girl who fights Cuba’s traditional ban against female drum players. Richly colorful illustrations are the perfect accompaniment for the strong girl power represented in this story.

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By Mouse and Frog by Deborah Freedman. Mouse and Frog got a lot of attention before it’s publication and after reading it, I see why. It is the perfect story of the power of working together and of creativity. This may be my go to teacher gift this year.

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Home by Carson Ellis. This is another book that has gotten a lot of attention in the blogging world. Gorgeous illustrations and sparse words show us how different people live around the world.

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Apr 20

Quick Lit: April 2015

by Stacey

Over the past two weeks, life, full of all good but time consuming things, has taken priority of over this space here. Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit was last week, but I’m going to participate today with my latest reads.

Here goes…

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Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. I haven’t read a ‘self-help’ book in a long time. I tend to start them and abandon them so I stopped trying. Better Than Before was a book worth finishing. I learned a lot about myself and how and how not I should try to change my habits. This one is worth the read.

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We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach. I saw the cover of this book and decided to read it before I even read the flap. It really is just about the coolest cover I have ever seen. The story is about a group of teenagers in the month leading up to what many have predicted to be the apocalypse. A giant asteroid is headed toward earth and it is fascinating to see just how people behave.

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The Stranger by Harlan Coben. Harlan Coben lives in our town which made this book with multiple Ridgewood references all the more fun to read. The story was compelling and pretty easy to relate to- scarily enough!

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Wreckage by Emily Bleeker. I had heard good things about this book so I decided to read it as soon as we got home from vacation. It seemed like a good idea to read it as far away from the next time I’ll be on a plane as possible. In case you didn’t guess, the story is about a small plane that crashes on a small island and the relationships that develop between the survivors.

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Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey. Can you imagine if even the tiniest bit of light made your skin feel as if it were on fire? This memoir was a page turner and equally parts depressing and inspiring.

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. This recently released young adult novel has been called the new “Fault in our Stars.” I definitely did not like as much as that but it was a great read and an interesting opportunity to understand how it feels to be a gay teenager in today’s world.

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Apr 17

This Moment: April 17

by Stacey

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“I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.”

-Anne Lamott

 

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Apr 10

Happy Ninth Birthday Katherine

by Stacey

IMG_6388Katherine often asks to hear her birth story. When I tell it, I think her favorite part is that I went in for a regular doctor’s appointment, two weeks before her due date, and came home two days later with a baby. I think she likes the element of surprise.

Somehow, I feel equally surprised that my baby girl turns nine today. All the cliches fit in here nicely. Time flies. I remember that day like it was yesterday and on and on. There is just something about your youngest getting older. The girls recently informed me that one becomes a tween when they turn nine. Maybe that explains why I’m feeling so undone these days. Is it possible that both of my girls are now tweens? That they are both closer to being teenagers than they are to being toddlers?

Katherine has to remind me over and over again that she is no longer little. She wears the same size flip flops that I do. She asked for much more jewelry and clothes than she did toys this year. She amazes us constantly with her skills as a dancer and as a piano player. She is no longer just playing around with the things she loves. She is perfecting them. She participates in family conversations and is very often the wise, voice of reason. She makes us laugh and not in a silly way but in a really smart way. She loves to read and write and is becoming a 21st century learner, communicating with her teacher on line in a way that leaves me pretty much unneeded in the conversation. She is a great friend and is learning each day the values that she most respects in others and in herself.

There is a big part of me that misses the little girl that Katherine once was but there is an even bigger part of me that is excited to get to know this big girl because she is truly great.

Happy Birthday Katherine! I hope your day is as amazing as you are.

 

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Apr 08

New-to-Me Authors

by Stacey

There are thousands upon thousands of books published each year. Therefore, I don’t know why I am surprised every single time when I find amazing new authors but I am. Recently, I stumbled upon two authors that are just genius that I want more and more people to know about.

Carin Berger commented on my blog earlier this year and while her name was familiar to me, I realized that somehow we had never  read her books.

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Her latest title is Finding Spring which is something that took an awfully long time to do around these parts this year. Perhaps our lingering winter made Finding Spring especially sweet but I came to realize that all of Carin’s work is to be treasured. She uses cut paper collage that is so fun to examine closely. You see little snippets of writing scattered on scrap paper used to create amazing illustrations. The  stories in each of her books that we read including The Little Yellow Leaf, A Perfect Day and Forever Friends were great studies of both nature, the power of friendship and never feeling alone.

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Along with Carin, we also discovered Sebastian Meschenmoser. My amazing friend Jules of Seven Impossible Things is to thank for this new-to-me author. And no secret here- she is often the one to lead me in a great direction. Waiting for Winter is no longer a seasonally appropriate read but I encourage you to check it out none the less. The expressions on the faces of the animals in this tale are among the best I have seen. Somehow in what appears to be simple pencil sketches, you can read in to the minds and the imaginations of these creatures who are out to find the first snowfall. The second title we read was Mr. Squirrel and the Moon. In this tale, Mr. Squirrel’s imagination runs wild and it is awfully fun to pretend right along with him.

I hope you enjoy these new-to-me authors as much as I did.

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Apr 06

Let The Readers Choose

by Stacey

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This summer I am teaching a class through The Writers Circle called “A Reader’s Writing Club.” The goal of the class is to connect children as readers and writers and to help them learn from each other through discussion and from both art forms. A writer must read and a reader should write, or so I believe.

In planning this class, I have been reminded of a belief that I hold very strongly.

In order to raise readers, children must be given choices.

Many children who believe they are not readers have simply not been given the right books. Of course there are children who will not enjoy reading even when given choice and of course there are children for whom reading will always be difficult and therefore, not enjoyable. But that said, there are many non-readers who would be readers if they were presented with different titles.

Sara Kadjer, a professor and author posted the following on Facebook:

“I’m struggling a bit here and need some clarity from our community here.

Just had book fair with one of the boys and watched as kids wandered aimlessly, barely picking anything up. Knowing some of these kids, I asked them what was up (as my son wasn’t talking…). Apparently, they were each told a lexile band and/or AR level that a book must be in order to be appropriate for them. The offerings on the shelves were rich (books by Kate Messner, Rick Riordan, Tom Angleberger, Lisa McMann, Eliot Schrefer, amongst so many other smart, engaging writers). Hands were empty as each book was labelled with the corresponding numbers – and very few were “rigorous” enough. Overheard by two excited readers who were writing down a list of books – “we can read these in the summer when it is for fun.” 

Matt turned and asked me why more writers weren’t writing books at his level. I shared that no writer worth reading is considering lexile scores and AR levels of their work. (Right?) His response? “Then why do we follow them in school?”

Help…’

Ugh. Can  you imagine if you walked in to a book store filled with awesome choices and you were told that you could only pick the hard stuff? Just this past week, I read a young adult novel, We All Looked Up and a mystery, The Stranger.  I’m pretty sure that I could read harder books but I’m also pretty sure that while sitting poolside, these books were just right for me.

To me, the importance of giving children choice just couldn’t be clearer. There are certainly times in school when students should all read and discuss the same book. And there are times when teachers should assign books to address certain themes or encourage certain discussions. I believe, though, that  there are many, many more times when children should be given the choice to read what they want to read.

If you want to get on my soap box with me, I strongly encourage you to read the article, “Great Books That Inspire a Love of Reading in Kids-Recommended by Kids.” The article describes in detail the reading program at The Center for Teaching and Learning, a demonstration school in Maine founded by master teacher Nancie Atwell. Atwell writes,

“We know that students need time to read, at school and home, every day. We understand that when particular children love their particular books, reading is more likely to happen during the time set aside for it. And we have learned that the only sure-fire way to induce a love of books is to invite students to select their own.”

She goes on to say,

“Our students have demonstrated that opportunities to consider, select, and reconsider books make reading feel sensible and attractive to children right from the start-that they’ll read more books than we dreamed possible and more challenging books than we dreamed of assigning them.”

I truly believe that if every teacher and every parent embraced the beliefs held by the teachers at The Center for Teaching and Learning, we would live in a nation of readers.

I’d love for you to read the article and then come back and tell me what you think.

And while you are at it, check out the great book lists created by students at The Center for Teaching and Learning’s website

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Apr 04

April Love: Shadows

by Stacey

We traveled to Clearwater, Florida last week and the sunsets were truly spectacular.

And then I read the best quote ever about sunsets…

“There’s a sunrise and sunset every day, and you can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.” – Cheryl Strayed

Here are some of our sunsets for you to enjoy…

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Apr 02

April Love: My Favorite Flowers

by Stacey

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Today I’m continuing on with Susannah Conway’s April Love.

Today’s prompt: My Favorite Flowers

For a long time, my favorite flowers were tulips. Yellow especially. I was really disappointed when I realized that I would not be able to carry tulips in our wedding. Turns out when it is June in New England there just aren’t any tulips available as much as you would like them. I also am partial to blue hydrangeas. I love arriving in Nantucket to see hydrangeas around every corner and in front of nearly every house. When we put our house on the market a few years ago, I filled our house with hydrangeas and I think they brought us luck.

Right now though, daffodils are my hands down favorite. our Trader Joe’s started carrying daffodils a few weeks ago and I can’t get enough of them. When I buy them, they are small tight buds that look like them will come to nothing and in a day or two they are full, gorgeous flowers.

Despite all the robins that are playing on our front yard, spring is having a hard time settling this year.

For now, my store bought yellow daffodils sitting on my kitchen window sill are helping me believe that one day, spring will be here in earnest.

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