Library Love

Posted July 17, 2014 by cathyso3
Categories: Libraries

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Home away from home!

The Story of Our House

Posted July 10, 2014 by cathyso3
Categories: Life

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We’re building a house. It’s stressful – especially when it’s in a state halfway across the country. We have chosen a lot, made decisions about flooring, light fixtures, paint, doorknobs, etc., and have revised and tweaked our house plans many times. We’re downsizing, but you’d never know it from the cost of things. Two movies come to mind as my husband and I go through this rollercoaster experience – “The Money Pit,” starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long and a classic old movie, “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House,” starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. We could be the main characters in either of these movies!

When I take a step back and look at our current lives, I see similarities between writing and building a house. A story and a house should have a solid structure. Standout characters and an interesting setting are a must. In the story of our house, we have standout characters (Us!) and a beautiful New England setting.

In a spellbinding story, the plot includes a problem that has roadblocks and conflicts which are overcome or resolved at the end. Building a new home has its share of problems and roadblocks. Start date postponed several times (Just dig the hole!), windows in the wrong places (Oops!), and cost overruns (Yikes!) are just a few of the things that can cause conflict and tension.

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A Hole Is To Dig

In a mesmerizing story, there’s a climax just before the problem is solved and the roadblocks are removed. If all of these elements are well done, readers are left begging for more.

My husband and I are nowhere near the climax or conclusion of our building story. Like a good book, we’d like things to move along at a good pace. Then we’d like to deviate from the other elements of a satisfying story. We don’t want any more roadblocks, tension, or conflicts I’d rather leave those for a good book!

Building a house or building a story involves creativity, hard work, attention to detail, and revising. Whatever you choose to do, give it your best and go for it!

Celebrate Our Country!

Posted July 3, 2014 by cathyso3
Categories: Special Days

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“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.”

— Benjamin Franklin

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Happy Fourth of July!

A Time to Read

Posted June 26, 2014 by cathyso3
Categories: Life

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The school year is over. Yay! That was the cry heard from both teachers and students at the sound of the last bell.

Ahh, summer! For me, it’s a time to do things I don’t always find time to do when school is in session. The first thing on my list is to read, read, read, and read some more. Right now I’m reading a middle-grade novel by Kathryn Erskine, THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF MIKE. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. There are lots of quirky characters that jump off the page. I like quirky!

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Now please excuse me while this quirky blogger continues reading!

Let’s Talk Birds

Posted June 19, 2014 by cathyso3
Categories: Picture Books

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At four o’clock each morning, birds convene outside our bedroom window and hold a tweet fest. I don’t know what they’re chirping about, but they have a lot to say at that hour. Maybe they’re planning their day. Maybe they’re gossiping about the events of the previous evening. Whatever they’re doing, it’s disturbing my beauty rest!

I enjoy watching our fine feathered friends in the bird bath during the day. Some very lovely birds come to our exclusive spa. The way they interact with other birds is very enlightening. But why, oh why, do they have to be so noisy in the morning?

If you’re a bird-lover, here are a few books to tweet about, and they won’t wake you up in the morning.

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Birds, written by Kevin Henkes and illustrated by his wife, Laura Dronzek, is a very simple story. Using birds as the subject, the story and illustrations combine color and size concepts. The narrative includes elements of imagination and surprise, and it has a very satisfying ending. Dronzek’s illustrations are bright and colorful and will delight young children.

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Feathers, a book written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Lisa McCue, is poetry in flight. Spinelli cleverly introduces readers to a fascinating variety of birds by using different poetic forms. Back matter includes more information about each bird. McCue’s brightly colored illustrations are done in watercolor and acrylic. The birds are shown in their habitats and many pages include borders. This is a perfect book for young bird-lovers.

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How to Heal a Broken Wing, written and illustrated by Bob Graham, is a sweet story of a little boy who rescues a bird with a broken wing. The text is spare, but the message is powerful. With time and hope, the family works together to help heal the bird’s wing. The illustrations, which are subdued at the beginning of the story, are done in pen, watercolor, and chalk. As the story progresses and the bird’s wing heals, the illustrations become more vibrant. This book lends itself to discussions of kindness and caring.

Can you think of any other bird books to share?

Miss Spelling

Posted June 12, 2014 by cathyso3
Categories: Uncategorized

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In my past two blog posts, I was made aware that I had two misspelled words. Mistakes! Arrgh! Embarrassing!

In one post, the word, trees, was spelled t-r-e-s-s. Spell check recognized tress as a word – just not the correct word. In another post, the word, drama, was spelled d-r-a-m. Dram is also a word. (Maybe I need to add a wee dram to my coffee to wake me up in the morning!)

Let it be known, I meticulously review each post before I publish it. I read and reread it, I spell check it. I reread it again, but there are times when things pass under the radar of my abilities to post a mistake-free blog.

Therefore, I’ve decided I need another pair of eyes to see what I don’t see. My husband has graciously agreed to read my blog posts before I publish them. This is a miracle in itself because he has not shown a great amount of interest in my writing. Now he will realize what a creative person I am! Stay tuned in to this blog to see how things go.

The Tree Lady

Posted June 5, 2014 by cathyso3
Categories: Nonfiction Picture Books

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The warm weather is finally here. It’s enjoyable to feel the warmth of the sun, but sometimes the shade of a tree is as equally enjoyable. Trees are important to our environment for many reasons. One woman was well-aware of this. The Tree Lady written by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry tells the story of Kate Sessions, a tree-loving woman who changed the landscape of San Diego.

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The story begins in the 1860s – a time when girls were supposed to be learning how to run a household. Kate was different. She loved the outdoors. In school, Kate was interested in anything to do with science. In particular, Kate loved trees. She was fascinated by how tall they grew, how their branches stretched outward, and how they provided homes for animals. Kate graduated from college with a degree in science and accepted a teaching job in San Diego – a dry, desert town. The first thing Kate noticed was the lack of trees. After two years of teaching, Kate decided to become a gardener. Her mission was to find a variety of trees that would withstand the sunshine and dry soil of San Diego. Soon trees from Kate’s nursery were planted along streets, around schools, in parks, and in people’s yards. When it was announced the Panama-California Exposition was going to be held in City Park in San Diego, Kate felt the park needed more trees – thousands more! With the help of friends and volunteers, there were tree-planting parties. By the time the exposition opened, there were millions of trees and plants growing in what is now called Balboa Park. Thanks to Kate Sessions and her passion for trees and plants, San Diego is the beautiful city it is today.

Hopkins pays a lovely tribute to Kate Sessions, and the charming illustrations by Jill McElmurry add to the allure of the book. This non-fiction picture book is a wonderful treat to share with children. It shows what can be accomplished when you believe in yourself and have a passion for something.


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