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Stacey Loscalzo

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Jan 13

Bookish Tuesday: Top 10 2014 Releases I Meant to Read But Didn’t Get To

by Stacey

This Tuesday, I am going to look at the Broke and Bookish Top 10 Tuesday through a middle grade lens. The topic is for the week is Top 10 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn’t Get To. When I think of all the genres that I read, interestingly, middle grade is the one that seems to get chosen last. I say interestingly because whenever I read a middle grade book I tend to love it (Hello, Fish in a Tree!) so I’m not so sure why this happens but it does.

So today will feature all the middle grade books that I have heard were wonderful. Many of them are in our house because I bought them for either myself or Caroline. Some of them Caroline has read; some not. Hopefully, we will both cross these titles off our To-Be-Read Lists in 2015.

Top 10 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn’t Get To

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The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill

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The Crossover by Kwaime Alexander

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Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

19156898The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

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Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

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Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

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The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

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I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

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Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

 

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Jan 12

Thoughts on Rebecca Solnit’s Diary

by Stacey

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Amanda at the beautiful The Habit of Being recently directed me to Rebecca Solnit’s piece ‘Diary’.

I began reading the essay on the computer and quickly realized I needed to print it out so I could read slowly, mark passages, take notes and add exclamation points. As I read Diary, I felt like the child who hasn’t learned to properly highlight yet. I was underlining and circling that a madwoman.

Solnit begins with “When I think about, say, 1995, or whenever the last moment was before most of us were on the internet and had mobile phones, it seems like a hundred years ago.” And does it ever. Rob and I talk often about how we were just out of college when everything changed. We are part of the last group of kids who had to go to the computer lab to write papers and rely on the phones in our dorm rooms to make plans.

So very much changed so very quickly.

Solnit first writes an ode to the handwritten letter and time at the movie theatre.

She writes lines such as “It was exciting to get a letter: the paper and handwriting told you something, as well as the words.” and “It used to be the case that when you were at a movie, you were 100 percent there, in the velvety darkness watching lives unfold in flickering light.”

And then there’s my favorite ode. The ode to the non-mobile phone. I remember sitting still for hours talking and talking and talking while doing nothing else. Our children will never know that feeling. Solnit writes, “On them people had long, deep conversations of a sort almost unknown today, now that phones are used while driving, while shopping, while walking in front of cars against the light.”

After this walk down memory lane, Solnit does address all the wonderful things that these new technologies have brought to us. She writes about voices without censorship and connections found that would otherwise be lost. Then though, she writes what I think is one of the big takeaways from this piece,

“I think of that lost world, the way we lived before these new networking technologies, as having two poles: solitude and communion. The new chatter puts us somewhere in-between, assuaging fears of being alone without risking real connection. It is a shallow between two deep zones, a safe spot between the dangers of contact with ourselves, with others.”

This is it isn’t? With all our time spent on social media, we are never quite alone but we are also rarely connected. I know when I am bored, I hop on to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and immediately feel like I am in a conversation. The dirty little secret though is that I am not. I am still alone.

And then there’s the constant distraction and the onslaught of constant information. Solnit writes, “There is so much information that our ability to focus on any piece of it is interrupted by other information, so that we bathe in information but hardly absorb or analyze it.”

Toward the end of the piece, Solnit talks to my generation specifically. She notes the older people who spend less time on social media and technology and the younger people who have grown up in this life and then she addressed me as she writes,

“But those of us in the middle feel a sense of loss. I think it is for a quality of time we no longer have, and that is hard to name and harder to imagine reclaiming. My time does not come in large, focused blocks, but in fragments and shards. The fault is my own, arguably, but it’s yours too- it’s the fault of everyone I know who rarely finds herself or himself with uninterrupted hours. We’re shattered. We’re breaking up.”

I read through to the end of the piece, voraciously waiting for Solnit to shine a bit of light at the end. I waited for her to write a 12 step plan out of the ‘connected yet disconnected’ distracted life we are living. Sadly, she did not. Perhaps, her plan is simply to encourage us to think about it and in this greater sense of awareness will come change. Maybe? I guess I will cross my fingers and see.

 

 

 

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Jan 10

Celebrate This Week: January 10, 2014

by Stacey

 

Discover. Play. Build.
Many of my favorite bloggers (hello to Katherine at Read, Write, Reflect, Kimberly at First in Maine and Colby at Sharpread) have participated in Ruth Ayers Celebrate This Week link up for awhile now. Each time I read one of their posts, I think that I really want to play along too and then I get attacked by perfectionism. I want to have just the right picture to go along with just the right celebration and when I don’t, I get stuck. I imagine this is so not the feeling that a gratitude post should bring up but there you have it!
I’ve decided that this is my week to jump on in and give it a try. Even if it’s not ‘perfect.’ So this week, I celebrate…
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Finding this quote in my notebook right as I was deciding whether or not to participate in this link up this week.
In case you can’t see it, it reads
“You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.”
-Jennifer J. Freeman
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Writing in this notebook more days than not. I remembered this goal mid week when I was getting frustrated that I hadn’t written every day as was my intent. A while back, I participated in a great writing group and our goal was always to write more days than not. This can start to feel pretty do-able.
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IMG_6116For purple sky that Katherine compared to hydrangeas. I never thought of it that way before but the winter dusk sky can take on a bit of hydrangea-ness which makes me love it all the more.
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Our current read aloud, Friendship According to Humphrey. We have read the Humphrey books before but when Katherine’s school choose The World According to Humphrey as their first all school read aloud, the books returned to our read aloud rotation. Humphrey really is a lovable rodent.
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 My current book, The Accident by Chris Pavone. It’s not going to be my favorite book of the year but it’s a fun read, perfect for the first week beck to a routine.
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Jan 08

Picture Books: Our Recent Picks

by Stacey

It seems like it’s been a bit since I’ve  posted about our latest picture book reads. Here are a few that we’ve enjoyed…

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Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds- A great reminder that there is no right way to be creative.

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Loula and the Sister Recipe by Anne Villeneuve- A little girls wishes for a sister and ends up with something just as wonderful.

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Hermelin: The Detective Mouse by Mini Grey- A clever tale of a mouse detective and the power of the written word. Also the illustrations are really cool.

20388087Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke- Beautiful illustrations help to tell the story of Julia and her home for wayward creatures.

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Don’t Play With Your Food by Bob Shea- There is a reason that Bob Shea is a super popular children’s writer. He is just a really fun guy. Don’t Play With Your Food reminds us all not to eat our friends.

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A Perfectly Messed Up Story by Patrick McDonnell- Louie is determined to tell a good story but someone keeps messing up his plan. Until he realizes that his story is pretty great, mess and all.

 

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Jan 06

Bookish Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’d Re-Read

by Stacey

I found Broke and the Bookish about a month ago and I have really enjoyed participating in their Bookish Tuesday link up. This week’s though was a tough one for me. The link up is Top Ten Most Anticipated Debut Novels of 2015. Frankly, I’m not all that in the know as far as books that are to come. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I haven’t really done all that much to increase the reach of this blog. If I had, I would have reached out to publishers for review copies of books and I might know what was coming up in the next few months. Perhaps, at this time next year, I will know what is coming up but for this year, I decided to choose a different Bookish Tuesday link-up.

Seeing as I am really not much of a re-reader at all, I thought it might be fun to tackle a list that is all about re-reading. Caroline is a huge re-reader and I always struggle to understand why. I operate under a ‘so many books, so little time’ philosophy so I always choose something new over something I have enjoyed before. That said, there are a lot of books that I call favorites and maybe it would do me a bit of good to re-visit one or two of them. So, if the mood truly strikes, here is my list of books I could consider re-reading.

Top Ten Books I’d Re-Read (If I Was a Re-Reader)

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The History of Love by Nicole Kraus. I read this book with my Richmond book club and I think about it often as my favorite book from that time of my life.

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Saran Foer. I think this is one of those books that means different things at different times. I read this when we first lived in NJ and I think now that I have spent more time in NYC, this book might be a different read.

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Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I read Gone with the Wind and watched Gone with Wind an awful lot when I was younger. I haven’t read or watched it in ages and I think it might be time.

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Little Women by Louise May Alcott. I loved this book when I was little. I loved the story and the size of the book. It was thick, thick, thick and I was pretty happy that I could read it. I actually chose Little Women as my favorite classic read at Great New Books a few weeks ago.

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A Separate Peace by John Knowles. This was one of my favorites in high school. I wonder what I would think about it now that I am way closer to being the mom of a high schooler than I am to being a high schooler.

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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. This was one of those books that I remember thinking about for a long time after I finished reading it. I would love to re-visit the wold that Golden creates in this story.

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I would like to re-read this book in the same way that I wanted to re-watch The Sixth Sense.

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The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. This book was such a page turner. I remember literally  not being able to put it down. I’m not sure I would love it as much the second time around but it would be fun to try.

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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. See A Separate Peace.

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Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. I read Harry Potter long before I had the girls. I have tried to read it aloud many times and believe it or not, neither of the girls loved it. I think it may just be time for me to re-read this one on my own.

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Jan 05

One Little Word 2015: Read

by Stacey

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The internet is abuzz with talk of words. Or rather, One Little Word. A word that will direct us for the year. A word that will remind us to live with intention and purpose. I have chosen a word in the past. Last year, for example, my word was shine. Each year, I have spent a lot of time thinking and writing about my word for about a month and then it totally slips my mind. When I think about it again, my word is surrounded by guilt that I have forgotten to focus on my word.

This year, I thought I would skip the whole process. Nothing to feel guilty about if I didn’t even try, right? Well, it turns out that everywhere I looked, there was talk of One Little Word projects and I missed mine. I decided though, that I wouldn’t push myself to choose a word before the first of the year. I would let my word find me.

Today, I read what Kimberly at Books First In Maine had to say about her word, write, and I had a breakthrough. My word could be READ. At first, this felt like a weird choice because I have always tried to pick a word that would change me a bit and push me a little to meet a goal. I already read a ton so maybe this wasn’t such a great choice?

Then I thought some more about one of my overarching goals for the year: to grow this blog space and my role as a literacy expert. For years, over a decade, in fact, I have written a blog. Many people have read my words but I have kept my reach relatively small. In the back of my mind though I have bigger plans. I wish for blog readers who consider me their go to for literacy information for people both big and small. I have plans to be this generation’s Jim Trelease (author of the Read Aloud Handbook). I would love to review books on the Today Show.

So… my word this year is READ. I am going to read a lot and write a lot about reading. I am going to talk about reading and think about reading. These things will be easy. The challenge lies with what I do with all my reading. I need to think and plan a bit more before I answer that question but the process has begun.

I’m excited to see where this leads me. I hope to come back with updates throughout the year. For now, I am off to READ.

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Dec 30

Bookish Tuesday: 2015 Reading Goals

by Stacey

GNB-reading-challenge-2015-copy-300x300In the past, I have never been a big public goal setter. Maybe because I have not been a big goal setter in general. I have always hesitated to declare New Year’s Resolution and won’t do so this year either but I think I am ready to go public with a few goals. I’m still shying away from from publicly declaring that I will get up every day at 6am, that I will stop over consuming sugar or that I will handwrite in a journal every day for at least five minutes although it’s possible that I am considering these goals.

What I am willing do is to go public with my reading goals. Reading is something that I make time for every single day so I think it is realistic that I can set and then meet my goals.

I have a few different types so here goes…

1. The Great New Books 2015 Reading Challenge

Our wonderful team at Great New Books has created a new page with our 2015 Reading Challenge. Please go check it out and add your goals to ours.

My Great New Books 2015 Reading Challenge is to read 52 books in 2015.

2. The Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

The folks at Book Riot have created an amazing list of challenges to push readers out of their comfort zone. There are 24 challenges included in the list. Examples include, read a book written by someone when they were under the age of 25, read a YA novel or read a book that is a retelling of a classic story. I haven’t narrowed down which challenges I will accept but I plan to tackle a few. I am guilty of reading an awful lot of realistic fiction set in the present day.

3. Broke and Bookish’s Bookish Tuesdays

It was just a few weeks ago that I discovered the Broke and the Bookish and I am hooked. Each Tuesday, the Broke and Bookish team host a Top 10 Book List link up. Their themes are really fun and have already pushed me to think about what I’ve read and what I hope to read. I plan continue participating with Top Ten Tuesdays this year spending time listing both adult and children’s books depending on the theme.

4. Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit

I began participating in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Twitterature link up around two years ago. It has become my way to list the books I’ve read every month. Recently Anne changed the title of the link up to Quick Lit which I just love. I plan to continue participating in 2015.

5. Goodreads

I have been on Goodreads for a long time and  I do a reasonably good job of keeping track of my adult books read. This year I would like to find a better way to organize the children’s books I read along with books that I want to read.

And there they are. My 2015 Reading Goals. I’ve gone public. Help keep me honest.

 

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Dec 29

Providence: A Photo Journal

by Stacey

We spent the weekend in Providence, celebrating Christmas with my mom. We stayed downtown and I spent time getting to know Providence again. Or really, I should say, getting to know Providence. It has changed so very much since I left for college. Providence is really an amazing city. I’m looking forward to going back soon!

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