Saturday, May 23, 2015

Picture Book Biographies: Three Athletes Who Pursued Their Passion

This spring I've had so many great picture books come to me that it has been nearly impossible to look at all of them. I'm slowly working my way through them and taking note of how I can use them with my students.  These three picture book biographies are the latest I've had the chance to read.

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeborah is an intriguing and inspiring story. Emmanuel was born in Ghana, West Africa, a child who was healthy except for a leg that was crippled.

Although his mother was told he would be worthless, she didn't believe it.  She didn't allow any disability to stand in her son's way and instilled in him a belief in himself.

Things were not easy for Emmanuel as he made his way in the world, eventually giving people with disabilities a voice in West Africa as he embarked on a four hundred mile bike ride.

Emmanuel's story kept my students' interest and they marveled at his ability to ride a bike with just one leg.  They also noted how different the United States treats people with disabilities than Yeborah's Ghana.

Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully share the story of a time when baseball was the national pasttime.  Lizzie was an amazing baseball player. She loved the sport.  However, as a girl in the early 1900s, she was discouraged from playing by her mother who didn't see any future in it for her.

Lizzie didn't give up.  She pursued her passion and found a place for herself doing what she loved.  Lizzie Murphy became the first female to play professional ball.  

Despite the fact that baseball doesn't receive as much attention as it once did, this was still a book my students (and my second grade daughter) enjoyed a lot.

Pedro Martinez is a name I have heard for years, yet I knew nothing about him except that he was an amazing baseball player.  Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares tells Pedro's story along with his older brother, Ramon's.  The two boys grew up poor in the Dominican Republic. Ramon's baseball skill eventually landed him in the major leagues in the United States, something Pedro also strove for.  

Despite the fact that he was small for a pitcher the Dodgers decided to give him a chance.  And Pedro never looked back.  His work ethic helped him achieve his dream.  

Pedro's success on the baseball field also allowed him to help his family and community and give back to his people. I loved this look at the Martinez brothers.

All three biographies are recent addition to my school library collection.  My students have been big biography readers this year so I'm happy to add a few more stories to the collection and broadening their knowledge of little known people who made contributions to the world.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Five

It's hard to believe that it's Friday once again....and Memorial Day Weekend!  I can't wait for the extra day off, even though we are down to just 4 days of school until summer vacation.  Amazing.  I've enjoyed looking around online for a few things this week.  Although I've gone to work, I've had to mostly direct other people how to do my job since I'm essentially down to one hand right now.  And that means I'm online a lot, doing a bunch of nothing.  

 I'm still planning on buying  a pair of white shorts for the summer and this shirt would be great with it.

Gap Muscle Tank
I'm not sure I would buy this color of muscle T, but there are a variety of colors in this style.  This would be perfect for summer - with jean shorts, to exercise, whatever.  And they're on sale right now.

Sahalie Dress - I get the Sahalie catalog frequently, but I have never ordered from them.  I might have to change that. I love this dress.  It comes in a beautiful blue as well as a few other colors and is only $39.

My mom and  I have an annoying habit of liking the same clothes- and sometimes buying the same thing without knowing it.  It's always a little bit humorous (and perhaps embarrassing) when we show up somewhere with the same item on.  The other night when I stopped by and was looking at her Pendleton catalog she quickly showed me this anorak.  And since my mom has such good taste (wink, wink), it's making my Friday Five.

Someday I'm going to get myself a nice beach towel.  The ones we bought from Target years ago are fine, but no longer soft.  Vera Bradley has some beautiful beach towels right now.  I'm thinking of getting one for me for the summer since I will need mine to just sit by the side of the pool and read books.  What do you think?

I've heard the Memorial Day sales are fantastic, but I'm trying to keep myself from looking too much since in my case looking leads to buying.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Summer Secrets

Already this week I have reviewed two fantastic beach books for this upcoming summer.  However, Jane Green's novels are also the perfect book to take to the beach with you.  Her latest book, Summer Secrets, will be out just in time for readers to pack it to take along with them to enjoy over the summer months.

Moving between 1998 and 2014, we see Cat, a sometimes recovering alcoholic - and sometimes drinking alcoholic- navigate dating, work, marriage and motherhood, never quite getting her disease under control.

When she finally meets her biological father, her alcoholism becomes a bit easier to explain as he struggles with the same demons.  However, even though the two have that in common, her father isn't able to allow Cat to stay with him after what she does to her half-sister Julia whom she has just met.

Banished from Nantucket where Cat met her father, Julia, and Julia's older sister (another half-sister) Ellie, Cat spirals out of control.  

Green's novel didn't provide any new insight into alcoholism and follows the formula of her other novels, but despite the fact that the story was a bit predictable, I enjoyed Summer Secrets, which should be a big beach read over the summer months.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

This week's pick: Days of Awe by Lauren Fox
Due out: August 4, 2015

The celebrated author of Friends Like Us now gives us a raw, achingly funny novel about a woman who, after the death of her best friend, must face the crisis in her marriage, the fury of her almost-teenage daughter, and the possibility that she might open her cantankerous heart to someone new.

Only a year ago Isabel Moore was married, the object of adoration of her ten-year-old daughter, and thought she knew everything about her wild, extravagant, beloved best friend, Josie. But in that one short year: her husband moved out and rented his own apartment; her daughter grew into a moody insomniac; and Josie--impulsive, funny, secretive Josie--was killed behind the wheel in a single-car accident. As Isabel tries to make sense of this shattering loss and unravel the months leading up to Josie's death, she comes to understand the shifts, large and small, that can upend a friendship and an entire life. Heartbreaking and wryly funny, Days of Awe is a masterly exploration of marriage, motherhood, and the often surprising shape of new love.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Two on Tuesday: Beach Reads for the Summer

It's getting to be the time of year I enjoy most for the reading I can get done.  Many of my summer afternoons are spent at the swimming pool watching as my daughters have fun in the water.  So, I'm always on the lookout for books that would be great to pack along for these afternoons.  Two new books I read this past week are recommendations I'll be passing along to others these next few months.

Karen White's novel The Sound of Glass was sent to me for review and I owe her publisher an extra thanks. This is my first experience with White's writing and I now have White's other titles to enjoy as well.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Sound of Glass. 

 Set in the South, Merritt and Loralee alternate narrating chapters of this novel that brings many secrets to light.

When Merritt's husband dies she finds herself starting over in his grandmother's house that she had inherited.  Joining her are her step-mother, Loralee and half-brother Owen who she has never met.  Although Merritt is surprised by their arrival, and not very happy about it, she allows them to temporarily move in with her.  And as if these unplanned houseguests weren't enough for Merritt to contend with, she is also learning about her dead husband's family and the secrets they kept.

The story is full of secrets and surprises along with friendship and a glimpse of history.  I loved this novel more than I ever thought I would and I have plenty of people I will be recommending this to.


Mary Kay Andrews' latest book Beach Town got me through my day on Thursday as I rested and recovered from my smashed finger.  Andrews doesn't ever disappoint me, and her newest novel is a perfect book to tuck along in your beach bag.

Greer has finally found the perfect location for a movie shoot she is in charge of.  The small Florida town looks like it has seen better days, and is the type of location where the town's mayor also owns nearly all the town's businesses.  And that man, Eb Thibadeaux, seems to be in direct opposition to everything that Greer wants and needs to make her movie a success.

The longer Greer stays in this small town, the more she finds to like about it- and even though she and Eb should be sworn enemies, she is attracted to him.

There is drama with the making of the movie that adds to Greer's stress, and the reappearance of her father who she hasn't seen in a few decades that round out this story.

I always enjoy Andrews' novels, and am thankful she continues to publish at a regular rate, although this story was over far too soon and I am once again left waiting to see what she will next create.

As beach weather approaches and Memorial Day is right around the corner, both these books are ones that should be hits this summer season.

Monday, May 18, 2015

9 1/2 Narrow: My Life in Shoes

Patricia Morrisroe can trace many events in her life back to the shoes she was wearing during that time.    

I, too, love a good pair of shoes.  I can still remember my pair of powder blue terry cloth tennis shoes I had in first grade.  So, it's not surprising that 9 1/2 Narrow: My Life in Shoes would be a memoir I could relate to.

At each rite of passage Morrisroe shares, she shares the type of shoe worn as well.  As a Catholic school girl in brogues and eventually a bride in Manolos, the life event is shared along with interesting information and tidbits about the shoes and their history.

Morrisroe is a little older than me, which left me out of the loop a time or two as the types of shoes she wears aren't necessarily ones I could remember. However, her book is about more than shoes.  Her life experiences are ones that women everywhere can relate to.  Growing up, leaving home, getting married, and assisting aging parents are all life events that Morrisroe covers.

This was a fun memoir and although shoes might be at its center, there's much more to it than the pair of shoes that catches your eye. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Salon

This week has been interesting to say the least.  My finger injury on Thursday morning is the highlight, but I've been having cell phone problems as well.  And early this past week I was notified by my credit card company that my number had been used for a purchase that I didn't make, so I am now without a credit card.  Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but I have had a few things I need to register for online and simply cannot do it right now.  

I missed work on Thursday and Friday because of the pain I was in and the pain meds I was on.  I slept a lot and read a lot.  

However, yesterday was a full day.  Middle Sister had a soccer game in Decorah, a beautiful college town.  My brother-in-law attended Luther College in Decorah, so I have been to the town before and enjoyed some of the things people come there to do.  Yesterday our trip was short but we still made it to the trout hatchery and Mabe's for pizza (which I had none of since I am plugging away on the Whole 30).  

The Eagle's nest.  There is one adult eagle in the nest in this picture.  Our view from the ground wasn't nearly as good as this one, but it was fun to see in person.

We ended our evening with a movie:

I hadn't seen the first Pitch Perfect movie, so I know there were a few things I missed in this one because of that, but I still really liked it.

So now today I have a lot of cleaning to do that is taking a much longer time than I want.  I have school stuff to think about.  I might try and ride the Airdyne bike which seems like it might be the one form of exercise that won't make my finger throb.  

I mentioned The Whole30 before.  It is going fine.  I wish I could drink a water with a flavor, but can't.  I haven't cooked the last part of the week which has really restricted my food choices.  I am hoping I can get a few things whipped up for the week and that will help a lot.  I have eaten a lot of scrambled eggs and ground beef with mashed avocado.  Although fruit is on the list of approved foods it isn't supposed to be eaten all the time. I will admit to eating it on Thursday and Friday when I felt like I needed some sugar in my system.  

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Five

This week's Friday Five post is taking me a little longer to get together.  You see this is what happened to me yesterday:

I went to my early morning exercise class and managed to smash my finger between two weights. I'll save you from the gory details, but the end result is that I ripped my fingernail out of the nail bed, needed stitches, and smashed the top of my finger.  It hurts to say the least.  I spent yesterday in a Vicodin haze and will be resting at home again today. Who would think one finger would pretty much leave me down and out?  

So, this Friday Five thing is challenging my patience.  Typing is hard.  And not horribly accurate.  

 These cute pants from Old Navy are perfect for the summer.  Cropped, they would go with the large amount of navy tops I own.  However, my principal owns them and wears them to school.  I like them even more now that I have seen them in person but I'm not sure we need to match.

I'm borrowing another one of my Friday Five items from The Big Mama blog that I love.  I am in desperate need of sunglasses. I haven't ever had a good pair or worn them consistently, but think at this point in my life I am sick of squinting at things.

This shirt from the Gap caught my eye.  It also comes in navy, but I am trying to branch out.  

And I have needed a new swim cover up for a while.  The one I have is old and washed off.  I love the new ones Athleta carries right now, like this Kimssa Tunic.

While I was on the couch yesterday I heard this song by the Zac Brown band twice.  I'm liking it a lot and will add it to my running play list.  It just makes me happy.

So...that's the Friday Five for this week.  Enjoy!  What's caught your eye this week?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Regret Nothing

Jen Lancaster first came on my radar with her memoir Bitter is the New Black.  I have read most - but not all - of her books, and can always be guaranteed a good laugh.

I Regret Nothing is another memoir by Lancaster, this one embracing her forty-plus age range she finds herself in, looking forward to life's second act and thinking of it as an opportunity.

Jen takes a trip to Savannah with her girlfriends, teaches herself how to refinish old furniture, travels to Rome, and even gets her first ultrasound as she approaches perimenopause.  And every single story is funny.

Growing up in the same decade as Lancaster (for the record, I am younger!), I understand her references to the icons of our past, something that might be lost in translation with older and younger generations, but which makes me feel like Jen and I are good friends.

The ending of I Regret  Nothing especially appealed to me as Jen tries to lose weight and embark on a healthier lifestyle.  As I am attempting to work on that myself, Lancaster's own quest allowed me to connect with her and realize that we are constantly learning and changing, and that even though this may be Lancaster's "second act" there is a lot to enjoy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week's selection:  After the Storm by Linda Castillo
Due out: July

Product Information taken from Amazon:

In this electrifying thriller by New York Times bestseller Linda Castillo, Kate Burkholder must uncover a family's long-hidden past to solve a brutal murder

When a tornado tears through Painters Mill and unearths human remains, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder finds herself tasked with the responsibility of identifying the bones-and notifying the family. Evidence quickly emerges that the death was no accident and Kate finds herself plunged into a thirty year old case that takes her deep into the Amish community to which she once belonged.
Meanwhile, turmoil of an emotional and personal nature strikes at the very heart of Kate's budding relationship with state agent John Tomasetti. A reality that strains their fragile new love to the breaking point and threatens the refuge they've built for themselves-and their future.
Under siege from an unknown assailant-and her own personal demons-Kate digs deep into the case only to discover proof of an unimaginable atrocity, a plethora of family secrets and the lengths to which people will go to protect their own.