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Sunday Book Review: “10 Lucky Things,” “Odd Girl Out” and “Blue Willow”

July 20th, 2008

Dear Internets,

I’m a little excited about starting my new job. I’ve been collecting books, recipes and ideas for a few months now, and it’s paying off. I have some ideas for weekly themes tentatively sketched out for the first three months of school, all the way through a unit on food and family around Thanksgiving (thus, the recipes). (Edited to say — I’m covered through holidays now and into January, woo-hoo!) I’ll talk with the teachers about their lesson plans and units they’ll be teaching, too, so we can see how we can dovetail things. It’s a kindergarten through 8th grade school, so I’m planning for three groups of students: K-2, 3-5, 6-8. Themes will be broad: back to school, autumn, animals, friends, nature, etc.

Will the big kids want to do story time? Ha. So for them I’m coming up with book circles, and questions (What did you read this summer? Did you participate in the library’s Summer Reading Program? Did you see any movies based on books? Which was better: the movie or the book?). I’ll also have some suggested readings for them, built around a weekly theme. (In my old library I would set out my “Book Picks of the Week” for a starting place.) We’ll also be talking about Internet safety and technology, and I’m hoping a librarian from our local branch of the county library will come by to talk with them about getting library cards!

Any librarians out there? What do you think? Ideas? All suggestions welcomed, thank you. Send me an e-mail or leave it in comments. (Edited to say — Thank you for the e-mails — I feel a little more prepared now.)

Wacky Girl is helping and it’s the moment we’ve been waiting for our whole lives. For the little kids we’ve come up with “Click, Clack, Moo,” “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” and the Ramona books.

Third- to fifth-graders, I am told, like goofy poems, like Shel Silverstein’s, and like the Goosebumps books. (I am not fond of Goosebumps, so she agreed to A-Z Mysteries. And the Magic Treehouse series.)

Big kids? They like the vampires, Harry Potter and anything scary, I have heard. Hmm. I came up with Roald Dahl, Sharon Creech and Sharon Draper. “The Palace of Laughter” and “The Book of Story Beginnings.” I’ve started compiling lists of “favorites,” broke down into fiction, non-fiction, by groupings of grade levels, etc. Fun. Now all I need is some bookmarks. And some students.

What am I reading? Oh, I hoped you would ask! “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls” is an amazing read. I don’t care if you don’t have girl-children — read it anyway. Were you bullied as a child? Were you the bully? The book explains so much about the dilemmas we’re facing in our society today — for women and men both.

“Blue Willow,” written by Doris Gates and originally published in 1940, remains a solid classic today. I love this book. I have my old copy and it is in impeccable condition because I treasured it that much. “To Nancy, from Mom, Christmas, 1973.” I was eight years old, just two years younger than Janey Larkin, the heroine of the book.

“Janey Larkin paused on the top step of the shack and looked down at her shadow. Just now it was a very short shadow even for a ten-year-old girl who wasn’t nearly as tall as she should be. The squatty dark blotch running out from under Janey’s feet didn’t reach to the edge of the cracked boards. It was noon and the sun hung white and fierce almost directly overhead. It beat down upon Janey, the shack, and all the wide flat country stretching away for miles and miles in every direction.”

Now, what would you do if you were Effie Maloney? She’s trying to dream up “10 Lucky Things That Have Happened to Me Since I Nearly Got Hit By Lightning.” One of her best friends has decided to transfer to another school, her father is in jail, her mother’s ex-boyfriend (or is he?) is staying with them… and he’s a priest (or is he? He can’t decide). And she wants to throw a slumber party. Great characters, richly written by Mary Hershey, great story, and both my daughter and I are enjoying the book. (Effie also stars in “My Big Sister is So Bossy She Says You Can’t Read This Book.”)

Reviewed today:

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