One Stinkin’ Morning

Posted April 4, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Life

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In my little corner of the world, yesterday was National Manure Spreading Day. It all began on my usual ride to school – a ride on back roads and byways. In my eight years of traveling those roads, I’ve seen my fair share of farm equipment, but never have I seen so many malodorous manure spreaders in one twenty-minute ride to school. The farmers’ buzz words of the day must have been “It’s time to spread the muck!”

The contents of the first manure spreader attacked my nose before I spied it spewing cow poop over a frosty field. Gag me! My next encounter came when another giant machine of awful smells pulled in front of my car. I impatiently followed, going fifteen miles an hour. As I waited for it to make a left turn, a commercial came on the radio advertising – of all things – manure spreaders! NEVER, NEVER have I heard that commercial before on my favorite radio station. As I continued on my way, another manure spreader passed me going in the opposite direction. Before I reached school, I drove around yet another spreader on the side of the road. I was stuck in a cow poop time warp!

It was not a good start to my morning. Four sightings! It was a stinkin’ ride to school!

But out of cow poop came the droppings of a good idea. I chose the perfect book for the Book-of-the-Day in the library. It’s not about a manure spreader, but it has some of the same properties as the spreader.

I Stink! by Kate and Jim McMullan

Spring Break

Posted March 28, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Avatar Thursday

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I’m taking a reading break!


Come back next week!


Posted March 21, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Writing

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I’m a writer. My mind is always on the go. It’s popping ideas about a current project or a future one. I’m constantly scribbling on paper, napkins, my hand – whatever is available at the time an idea knocks on my brain.

It so happens the middle of the night is a very popular time for ideas to creep into my subconscious and zap me into consciousness.

Inspiration came the other night. Being careful not to wake the adorable sleeping giant beside me, I quietly reached for the pen and notebook I keep under my side of the bed. In the dark, I wrote down my ideas. I made a distinct point of writing legibly. Too often, I’ve hurriedly scribbled my ideas on paper only to find I’m unable to decipher my writing the next morning. Satisfied that I had all my thoughts neatly written down, I rolled over and went to sleep.

Morning arrived. It was going to be a good day for writing. I just knew it. I took my notebook to my computer. I sat down to read my overnight inspiration. Read what?

The page was empty. I flipped through the notebook forwards and backwards – nothing! My words had disappeared. Did I dream my inspiration? Did someone sneak into the bedroom and steal my words of wisdom? Was it ghostwritten, using invisible words? Maybe that’s how H.G. Wells was inspired to write The Invisible Man!

Upon further investigation, I found the pen was inkless, and I was left wordless and idealess. Back to the writing board.

Women’s History Month

Posted March 14, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Women In History Month

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No dream is unattainable if you believe in yourself.

March is Women’s  History Month. This year’s theme is Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Throughout history there have been women who have accomplished amazing things that have often gone unnoticed in a world dominated by men. Women’s History Month calls attention to these achievements and it strives to make women, young and old, realize possibilities.

There are many books that pay homage to those spirited women who have helped shape our history. Below I have included some I’ve used in our school library, and I’ve also listed past and current posts and links that provide a myriad of books and information on famous women in history.

I encourage you to pick and choose from these books that will inspire young women and men to dream impossible dreams and make every effort to realize those dreams.


Marian Anderson A Great Singer written by Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick McKissack, Jr.

Phillis Wheatley Colonial American Poet  written by Laura Purdie Salas

Mary McLeod Bethune A Great Teacher written by Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick McKissack, Jr.

Elizabeth Blackwell written by Jan Mader

Jane Addams A Life of Cooperation  written by Ann-Marie Kishel


Helen’s Big World The Life of Helen Keller written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tarvares

Minty A Story of Young Harriet Tubman written by Alan Schroeder and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

She Sang Promise The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader written by J.G. Annino and illustrated by Lisa Desimini

Wilma Unlimited written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by David Diaz

Me …Jane written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell


Different Like Coco written and illustrated by Elizabeth Matthews

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto written Susan Goldman Rubin and illustrated by Bill Farnsworth

Vinnie and Abraham written by Dawn Fitzgerald and illustrated by Catherine Stock


Recommended Books for Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month: Outstanding Picture Books for Children on Women’s
Suffrage (Part 1)

Women’s History Month: Outstanding Picture Books for Children on Women’s
Suffrage (Part 2)

Women’s History Month: Outstanding Picture Books for Children on Women’s
Suffrage (Part 3)

Women’s History Month: Outstanding Picture Books for Children on Women’s
Suffrage (Part 4)

Non-Fiction Monday/Women’s History Month: Outstanding Picture Books for Children
on Women’s Suffrage (Part 5)

5 Great Children’s Books for Women’s History Month

Beautiful Minds: Teaching about Women in the Sciences through Picture Books

Aviator, Nurse, Soldier, Spy–Reflections on Women’s History Month

Toddler in Peril Becomes a Leader of Her Tribe

Picture Books About Women’s History

Books About Women: Women’s History for Kids

Celebrating Women in Picture Books


Posted March 7, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Special Days

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Last week our school planned several events to celebrate Read Across America. There was the Dr. Seuss Trivia Contest, Dr. Seuss book readings, Dr. Seuss activities, a guest appearance by Truly Remarkable Loon, and an all school read-in on Friday morning with a surprise ending prepared by the teachers.


Bulletin boards, posters, images of the Cat in the Hat, and the red fish and blue fish were lurking around the school.

On Wednesday, I was up at 4:30 AM – bleary-eyed – so I could be at school to let our guest speaker in to set up for his program. And then the phone rang. Alas, snow and slippery roads delayed school for two hours and, in turn, canceled our speaker. Oh, pshaw!

On Friday, the tech teacher and I were in the gym, getting ready for the all school read-in and teacher surprise. Note:  Our school is old. Things don’t always work like they’re supposed to work. Yes, we had a few technical difficulties. The minutes ticked away as we rushed to get everything up and running for the 8:15 read-in.

I gave my welcome speech, using the microphone. I found out afterward it was not working. Yes, I’m a dork. Someone could have said something, but there was no time to despair. We had the entire student body contained in one place. It was time to begin the read-in. And then … silence! Every single child had a book in hand. It was a reading miracle!


Before we knew it, it was time for the teachers’ pièce de résistance. A YouTube music video appeared on the big screen, the speakers were turned up, and the teachers slowly danced and sang their way around the students and up to the stage. Expressions were priceless as we performed our unique version of “Gotta Keep Reading.  



Despite some glitches during the week, the Read Across American Celebration was a hit – especially the teacher surprise! The kids were up and dancing with us. As one Pre-K student said, “That was the best time ever!”


That’s what reading can do for you!

Math Curse

Posted February 28, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Picture Books

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Gas prices are skyrocketing. Food prices are creeping up. The economic outlook remains questionable. In this time of uncertainty, what should we do?

My advice is simple. Check your receipts. Every penny counts!

Case in point:  My husband and I ventured out to the grocery store after finding our cupboards were bare. We picked up the staples of life – milk, bread, fruit, and vegetables. I thought we did a pretty good job following our grocery list, but when I saw our total bill, I choked. We needed a grocery reality check.

On the way to the car, I went through the grocery receipt line-by-line. And there it was. Right before my eyes was the total for the four avocados we had purchased – $24.50. Math curses! I bought the avocados because they were two for a dollar. Something was amiss. On closer inspection, I discovered we were not charged for four avocados. We were charged for forty-nine avocados! Holy guacamole! That’s enough green stuff to last from now until St. Patrick’s Day! An immediate trip back to the service desk brought our grocery bill down to a more reasonable total.

Word to the wise. Check your math. Check your receipts. Check your bills. Check your checks. Check. Check. Check.

Don’t let math be a curse. Below are some books you and your kids can count on!

Kids + Parents + Math Books = 3x the fun!


Math Curse written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith

The Grapes of Math written by Gregory Tang and illustrated by Harry Briggs

Math Potatoes written by Gregory Tang and illustrated by Harry Briggs

How Much Is A Million? written by David M. Schwartz and illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Michael Slack

Math-terpieces written by Greg Tang and illustrated by Greg Paprocki

Apple Fractions written Jerry Pallotta and illustrated by Rob Bolster

Addition in the Forest written by Jennifer Rozines Roy and Gregory Roy

Ten Apples Up On Top! written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss


Black History Month

Posted February 21, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Poetry

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I couldn’t let Black History Month pass by without mentioning a wonderful book written by award-winning poet, Arnold Adoff with paintings by the very talented R. Gregory Christie.

Roots and Blues A Celebration is a book filled with poems that speak of the difficult journey of African American slaves and how the joys and sorrows in their lives were intertwined with the rhythm and music of the world around them.


Adoff’s word choice and placement of words create rhythmic patterns that flow off the page and sing to the reader. With his unique style, Adoff introduces the history and culture of the blues to readers. References to such music greats as Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, W.C. Handy, Ma Rainey, and others are made. Interspersed throughout the book are paintings by R. Gregory Christie, a Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winner, that capture the suffering and joy of African American life.

This is a book to be savored.

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