Stacey Loscalzo

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Jul 08

Turning 12

by Stacey


carolineDear Caroline,

Twelve years ago today, you were born and I became a mother.

babyWhen you looked like this, I believed that the whole parenting thing would be a piece of cake once I was getting enough sleep. It turned out that while sleep is helpful, it does not give you all the wisdom you need to parent.

Watching you navigate the new world of middle school this year showed me what it really means to be a mom. I need to be there to listen and guide but also to let go. I’ve always loved you but this year, I really came to understand just how much I admire the person you are growing to become.

This year, you were the pure embodiment of a tween. You loved and hated. You were brave and fearful. You were creative and stuck. You took risks and hid. You tried so, so hard and wanted to quit. You experienced all of this with us and on your own. I feel like I watched you grow up right in front of me. You are a different girl than the one I knew at this same time last year.

I find it harder and harder to write these letters each year as you become more and more private. There were times when  you didn’t even know I was writing to you in this space. And then there were times when you knew but were happy with anything I said. Now you have become more private as you take just another step to being the amazing grown up I know you will be. So for this space, this is all for now.

Just know how much I love you and how proud I am of the year you just had. Happy Birthday baby girl and here’s to an amazing year to come.

Love you,



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Jul 06

Right Now

by Stacey

I write these Right Now posts every so often and after taking a long blog break, it seemed like just the right time to write another. That and the fact that Rudri of Being Rudri wrote a similar post last week and I was inspired. Thanks Rudri for the motivation to get back to writing!

Right Now I Am…

Traveling to… Or more aptly from. We just returned from Nantucket, our most happy place. We travel there with dear college friends and we had, as usual, the most wonderful time.

I think the highlight of the trip was our boat ride to a deserted island covered in seals.




Reading… I read The Luckiest Girl Alive while we were gone and I was that annoying person on the beach who kept saying, “What!?” “No?!” “Are you kidding me!?” The book was slow to start but it certainly made up for that about half way through. After I finished I couldn’t figure out what to read next and my friend Mindy suggested I go old-school to Stephen King’s IT. I have never read his older work and all I can say is wow. I always knew King was an amazing story teller but his work really is remarkable.



Watching… I watch Netflix to keep me on the treadmill for longer than three minutes. Top of the Lake was a featured show that I had never heard of but decided to try. It is a mystery that is definitely keeping my attention.

topListening to… Podcasts. I just discovered the New York Public Library’s podcasts with some of my favorite authors like Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett.

Eating… Summer is my favorite food season. Last night we had the first corn of the summer and it was perfect. We’ve also been having a lot of watermelon and tomatoes and mozzarella.

Drinking… Ice coffee. I am still trying to cut back on sugar which is putting a bit of a damper on my ice coffee obsession. Ice coffee really is one of my favorite things to drink but I don’t like it very much at all without an obscene amount of sugar. And yes- I have tried putting agave in it and no, it’s not the same.

Ok.. how about you? What’s happening in your world’s  Right Now?

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Jun 24

Judy Blume

by Stacey

judyTales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was the first book that made me laugh out loud.

Are You There God It’s Me Margaret was the first book that I closed if anyone was reading over my shoulder.

Fudge is one of the first books that I remember loving as a child myself and as a mother reading aloud to the girls.

The Pain and the Great One is one of the first chapter books that Caroline read to herself.

And I could go on.

And last night, I was lucky enough to be in the same room as Judy Blume. The crowd was so big that I did not stay for the signing so I did not get the chance to meet her but I felt like I did. She is as great a speaker as she is an author. As she stood in front of a huge crowd, I felt like we were sharing a cup of coffee.

She started her presentation by saying, “You know, I’m a Jersey girl.” and then launching in to many fascinating stories behind her current book, In the Unlikely Event, which I have not yet had the chance to read. I feel like I will have much more to write after I’ve read so I won’t write too much more for now except for one super inspiring tidbit.

When asked the generic but inevitable question, “What advice would you give young writers?”, Judy Blume said the following:

“First, read, read, read and read.”

And then know that,

“Determination is as important as talent. Cry  in the closet if you need to and then say, ‘Look what I am doing now.'”

Pretty good advice for us all I would say.

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Jun 16

Picture Book Favorites: June Edition

by Stacey

It’s time for my monthly re-cap of our favorite new picture books. Enjoy and please do let me know what pictures you and your family are loving these days!


Naptime by Iris De Mouy is a sweet tale of many animals who give many great excuses for why they will not take a nap. It turns out that a sweet little girl has a super clever idea that makes them change their minds.


All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom written by Angela Johnson & illustrated by E.B. Lewis tells the story of the day the slaves were freed. Katherine sensed right away that this would be a serious book and at first she asked me stop reading. The gorgeous language and picture drew her in though and fortunately, we read all the way through. This is a simple book that told a big story .


Brother Hugo and the Bear written by Katy Beebe & illustrated by S.D. Schindler. Who knew that small children would enjoy a book about monks but somehow this one is very appealing. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that there is also a book eating bear in the story.


The Potato King by Chrisoph Niemann was a slightly strange story about Frederick the Great who helps the potato become a food we all love. While I’m not sure that I am any better for knowing this story, it is an interesting look into history and the illustrations, made with potato prints of course, were fun.


Blue on Blue written by Dianne White & illustrated by Beth Krommes is a rain storm told between the covers of a book. Simple text and gorgeous illustrations make this a book to read again and again.


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Jun 15

Quick Lit: June 2015

by Stacey

This is the first time ever that I will be listing only one completely read book for my Quick Lit post this month. It has been so incredibly busy in my world and apparently my reading is a great example of this. I have started and stopped quite a few books but my attention wavers so quickly that I move on before I have finished.

I began Stephen King’s 11/22/63, Mary Norris’ Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen and Heather Cock’s and Jessica Morgan’s The Royal We. These all seem to be good books that I will get back to as soon as I can focus.

But for now, my one book of the month is:


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Crossover is this year’s Newbery winer and I now know it is well deserved. Crossover is a free verse story of two basketball loving brothers. I am always amazed when an entire story is told in poetry. The depth of character development is really incredible. These are boys that I will remember for a long time.


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Jun 10

Filling My Summer Reading Baskets

by Stacey

kreadingThis Book Is Too Old for You really got me thinking. The author writes of her daughter who read but wasn’t necessarily a reader. Casale writes, “Real readers, I believe with every fiber of my being, read not to learn but just to read.”

I am a reader. I have at least one book going at all times and have to start a new book the second I turn a last page. The girls are similar but I see their passion ebb and flow. Caroline for example is in a serious re-reading phase. I’ve written before that Caroline reads comfort books in the way that a lot of people eat comfort food. When she is stressed or tired she goes right back to The Babysitters Club series and reads books she has read dozens of times before. Katherine is starting and stopping a lot of books, unable to find a groove.

When I read This Book is Too Old for You, I began to wonder if the girls are ready to take a leap. I have long thought that Caroline might be ready to read more adult books. She has dabbled in a few adult memoirs like Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Wait Till Next Year so maybe it’s time to find others. School Library Journal hosts a blog called Adult Books 4 Teens that I plan to explore. Katherine is a little bit trickier. I can’t quite put my finger on what will take her to the next step. I think she needs to find a series that she will love but I also wonder if she needs a new genre. She has been focused on realistic fiction for a long time now and maybe she needs to move on.

The girls have a week and two days until the end of school. That gives me a week and two days to fill baskets with summer reading and I’d love your help.

Please send along suggestions of adult books that are tween-friendly and early middle grade books that are not realistic fiction. I can’t wait to see your suggestions!

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May 26

Keeping the Practice Alive

by Stacey

pinkI am laughing at the irony. Next weekend, I will attend my first ever blogging conference and I have blogged less this month than just about ever before. I had grand plans of launching e-courses, designing in person seminars and creating summer reading lists all before leaving for Blog U next Friday. Instead, I am barely posting once a week.

The spring is always busy for us and this year seems to be no exception. Between Writers Circle classes and planning, volunteering, soccer practices and dance recitals and 20th college reunions, each week has felt busier than the one before it. Each week, I feel like I am going to catch up from the week before and then the wheels start spinning again and suddenly the week has passed.

So, I am writing here just to keep the practice alive, if barely.

More to come soon.

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May 18

Quick Lit: May 2015 Edition

by Stacey

Today I am joining Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit for a super short run down of the books I have read since last month.


The Fall: A Father’s Memoir in 424 Steps by Diogo Mainardi. This was going to be my next review for Great New Books until something else jumped ahead of it in line. That is not to say thought that this book is any less great just that something else caught my attention. The Fall tells the story of a father’s journey toward acceptance of his son’s cerebal palsy. The book is part memoir but also a lesson on art history, architecture, Abbot and Costello and Alfred Hitchcock. I know this sounds a bit strange but I promise it is a book worth reading.


The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I have been reading a lot of middle grade fiction lately in preparation for the Read Like a Writer Book Club that I will be teaching this summer. I am planning on picking books in various genres and allowing my students to chose which books they are going to read. So far, this title is at the top of my historical fiction list.


The Night Gardner by Jonathan Auxier. I am not a big fan of fantasy. In fact, until last week, I had’t really loved a middle grade fantasy novel since Harry Potter. I now have a new favorite. The Night Gardner is definitely the best fantasy that I have read since Harry and quite frankly one of my favorite reads of the year so far. This is a great book for tweens who aren’t afraid of getting a bit scared and also a perfect read for grown ups looking to get back in the reading groove.


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May 11

Middle Grade Family Book Club

by Stacey

The other day, I woke up to my favorite kind of e-mail. A friend wrote the following:

“Hey Stacey!
I always think of you as the “book guru” – do you have any novel
recommendations for me as well as for my daughter ? Maybe some books we can both read?? Any recommendations are much appreciated :)”

Of course, I love this person. How can you not love the person who calls you the ‘book guru’ but I digress. I was so excited to put a list together for this fifth grader that I got started right away. I brainstormed a bit on my own and then went to Caroline to gather her ideas. Caroline is a year older than the daughter of my friend so it was fun for her to think back to what she loved a year ago. It was also really interesting for her to think about books that had been read alouds in her fifth grade classroom and to decide if they would still be great for independent reading.

Here is our combined effort:


The Giver by Lois Lowry. This was the first book that came to mind. Caroline read it last summer and I re-read it at the same time. We had tons and tons to talk about. That said, there are some pretty mature themes in the book and Caroline got freaked out for a bit. If you haven’t read it yet, you should definitely read it first to decide. I’m only even suggesting it because it led to such great conversations.


Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. Tuck is the first book that I remember reading that was worthy of discussion. I’m pretty sure that Caroline had exactly the same experience when she read this book in fourth grade. I’ve re-read it twice in the past few years, once when Caroline read it and then again when Caroline and I were lucky enough to see Natalie Babbit speak this winter. This is a book rich in conversation possibilities.


Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. This is a beautiful story of a girl who struggles terribly in school. Fish in a Tree leads to lots of great conversations about what it means to feel different and we all know that every kid feels different at one time or another.


Rain Reign by Ann Martin. I have not read Rain Reign yet but Caroline promises it is very much worth talking about and not just because it is written by the author of her most loved Baby Sitter’s Club series.


Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Simply because no list of this kind can exclude this remarkable book. If you haven’t read this book as a family, stop what you are doing and go read Wonder immediately.


The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. I read Ivan on my own and it was one of the read alouds that Caroline most remembers from fifth grade. We didn’t discuss it too much on our own but I am quite sure there would be lots and lots of material.


The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. I can’t believe I’m writing this but I actually have not read this one. Caroline loved it as a read aloud at school and I love Kate DiCamillo so I am pretty positive this would be a great family read.


Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Out of My Mind tells the story of a little girl in search of a voice to communicate all of her thoughts. Reading and discussing this book was a great way for our family to gain a greater understanding of individuals with disabilities.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these or any other middle grade reads that could lead to great family conversations. Thanks for sharing!

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