Summer Scenes

Although sometimes SUMMER is a time to slow down and take a look at the wonders close by

it can also be a time for new adventures

like listening to animated author BRUCE COVILLE discuss plot at the SCBWI CONFERENCE in LA,

or building the TALLEST tower in the world
or experiencing a brand new TASTE.

Ever since I can remember, SUMMER has been a special time for me–colorful BEGINNINGS…
new PATHS explored… 

new BOOKS read…

and fond FAREWELLS.

I hope YOU have found WONDER and EXCITEMENT this summer, especially in the pages of a SPECIAL BOOK — or two or ten. 
Here’s to more SUNNY DAYS and lots more GREAT SUMMER READS!

Summer Puzzle

Wow! This summer is zipping by. We’ve had special family celebrations, a bit of travel, some company, and lots of big summer projects. I’ll bet you’ve been up to fun stuff as well.

One of the great books I’ve read this summer is Jody Feldman’s THE SEVENTH LEVEL. The main character in the book, Travis, has to solve some tricky puzzles to reach the seventh level. I did pretty well as I tried to solve all of Travis’s puzzles along with him.

I’ve become hooked on the JUMBLES puzzles in our newspaper each day. The JUMBLES are mixed up letters in a word–much like the puzzles in each of my PET GRAMMAR PARADE books. But in the JUMBLES puzzles, you not only need to unscramble the letters. You must also use the circled letters to create the answer to a question.

Do you want to try one?

OK–1. Unscramble the letters in each of the four words below.
2. Use the circled letters from each of the four unscrambled words to form the answer to this riddle:

When all the numbers from ONE to TEN had a race, Number SEVEN won. In the race she was __ __ __ __ __ __
__ __ __.

Keep The Kids Reading This Summer with Graphic Novels

Too often students lose academic ground during the summer when they fail to keep their minds in motion as well as their bodies. Here is a list of fun graphic novels that will not only keep them reading, but this group of books will educate them as well. BOOKLIST ONLINE provides a wide variety of books and topics to choose from. Even the most reluctant reader should be able to find a title to enjoy among these math and science selections.

The featured books are suitable for K-8th grade students. Examples include:

HOWTOONS: THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS! by Saul Griffith and Joost Bonsen–a book chock full of young inventors creations (5-8th).

ZIG AND WIKI IN SOMETHING ATE MY HOMEWORK by Nadja Spiegelman–an alien encounters some earth animals (K-2nd).

BABYMOUSE: DRAGONSLAYER by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm–geometry and arithmetic come in the form of a dragon that Babymouse attempts to conquer(4-6).

Find the Perfect Book Match for Your Summer Reading

I’m so excited to tell you about this great opportunity–just a click away. How many times during the summer when your mom or dad suggests you do some reading, you say, “But I don’t have any good books.”???

When you follow this link to Lexile’s Find a Book, you’ll be able to enter your grade and what type of books interest you. Presto! Find a Book will zap out a list of titles for you to check out faster than you can slurp down an ice cream cone on a 90-degree summer day.
Pick out a few titles which sound too good to miss. Go online to your local library. See if they have the books. Put holds on them and plan a trip to the library. In no time at all, you can be relaxing with the best of summer reads.
Not so much into reading…no worries. You can indicate what your reading level is when you enter your info into the Find a Book database. A long list of just-right books–for your interests and  correct reading level–will magically appear.
Yeah, but why bother reading during the summer. It’s vacation from school time.
So true, but a professor of education at Harvard University, James Kim, did a study. He found that students who don’t read over the summer can fall behind in their reading levels by as much as two months. That means you’ll have lost ground during the summer. You’ll start next school year just trying to catch up to where you left off the year before. That doesn’t sound like fun.
But, according to the professor, if you read at least 8 interesting books at your reading level during the summer, you won’t fall behind. In fact, you’ll probably increase your reading level.
Awesome! Wouldn’t that be a cool surprise for your new teacher as well as your parents.
Public libraries usually have great summer reading programs. You may be able to earn prizes reading this summer and beat the summer slide–loosing ground on your reading skills. 
So this summer, do your sliding into home plate–not down hill on your reading.
Libraries are truly COOL places to hang out in this summer. Check one out.
Let me know how you do with your reading and what’s the best book you read this summer. 

Spanish Summer Language Fun

May is speeding by. Soon summer will be here and school vacation. 

What a perfect time to relax in the shade and read some new stories.
Or try a new language.
Look at the photo of Holly my dog enjoying Cinco de Mayo earlier this month.
What fun it would be to write a story about Holly dancing the day away! You could include some Spanish words into your story.
Do you know the Spanish word for dog?

The dog danced the day away = Baila el perro el dia fuera.

The sentence is arranged a little differently in Spanish with “danced” (baila) coming in front of “the dog” (el perro).
Can you find the words for “the day”?
Right! el dia
And that means fuera is the word for “away.”
Try this free online English to Spanish translation site.
Type in a word or a sentence. The translator will transform your sentence for you.
Can you translate this sentence yourself?
El perro es blanco.

You already know what el perro means from above.
Change the “e” to an “i” in es and you’ll have the translation for this word.
And your final clue: blanco is the Spanish word for the color of Holly’s fur.
Hasta la vista!

Baseball Books & a Birthday

Happy Birthday wishes are in order today for my son, Dan!!! He’s shown at the left with his father on his wedding day, two and a half years ago. From the very first, he loved sports–baseball, basketball, soccer…

So as a salute to Dan (who played a valiant Little League catcher) and in the spirit of the summer season, I’ll highlight a few baseball books today.

The Littlest Leaguer by Syd Hoff. Harper Collins, 2008.
An EZ reader in which the main character shows that determination overcomes obstacles.

Hello, Fredbird! by Ozzie Smith. Mascot Books, 2006. (I put this one in for Dan.)
St. Louis Cardinals’ mascot, Fredbird, shares his fun at the ballgame.

Swindle by Gordon Korman. Scholastic, 2008. When a boy is cheated out of a rare Babe Ruth baseball card, he leads an unlikely team of friends to right his wrong.

The Aurora County All-Stars by Deborah Wiles. Harcourt, 2007. When 12-year-old House (a pitcher with a broken elbow) somehow manages to overcome his animosity toward pesky visitor, Frances, he helps combine forces for both an exciting baseball game and a winning performance for Aurora County’s 200th Anniversary pageant.

Edward’s Eyes by Patricia MacLachlin. Atheneum, 2007. A bittersweet story of a family’s loss and legacy woven around the game of baseball.

Summerland by Michael Chabon. Hyperion, 2002. In this first novel for younger readers by the Pultizer Prize winning author, Mr. Chabon offers a rich fantasy story for older readers which weaves mythological elements into the ultimate contest of baseball.

I just had to include SUMMERLAND because I read it shortly after I’d finished the first draft of my fantasy baseball novel for middle grade readers (THE SLIGHTLY TANGLED TALES OF JIM-BO BAXTER.) I couldn’t believe that someone else had thought of combining the two worlds (although Mr. Chabon’s fantasy world is on a much more elevated level than mine.) Still I felt honored that I’d shared a bit of writing inspiration with such a great writer–and I recently had the opportunity to met Mr. Chabon and listen to his thoughts on writing. What a wonderful experience! And while my TALES has earned a regional award from SCBWI, it has yet to find a publishing home.

So hats off to my amazing son, Dan, on his birthday! And may his favorite baseball team, the CARDINALS, have another World Series winning season.

And three cheers for great summer reads!


Children’s Choice Book Awards
Children’s Book Council on May 13 announced this year’s winners.

2008 Summer Reading Olympics
Reading Is Fundamental provides a fun list of athletic titles sure to please even the picky readers on your list.

Ezra Jack Keats Award 2008
This award was established in 1985 to recognize new authors & illustrators in the children’s arena for picture books for children 9 & under. For past winners, click on the link above.

What Books Kids Are Reading (May 5, 2008)
The following list is provided by Renaissance Learning and based on information from their Accelerated Reader program used in schools throughout the United States. For a complete list of favorite titles per grade, click on the link above.

1-Green Eggs & Ham
2-If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
3-Charlotte’s Web
4-Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing
5-Bridge to Terabithia
7&8-The Outsiders