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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nothing to Give? Hold On, There is The Gift of Nothing.

There is beauty here, I thought to myself.
After reading an article tweeted/posted by Kristan Hoffman (love her blog!)made me instantly think of a book.

A picture book, of course.
No surprise there.

First, take a moment to read about Santa's list and its steady decline...

Read it? Good. Now there is so much here that makes you wanna bury your face in a Kleenex box, this I know. There is more however that touches the soul.

And I can't help to think what a beautiful message there is in this for all of us.
A gift really.

Speaking of gifts... have YOU read, The Gift Of Nothing?
Go to

Perhaps this book can help us attempt to answer those tough questions that arise in the article...
perhaps this very kid's book can help old and young remember the true gift of giving and receiving...perhaps.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Going Nowhere? Just Imagine.

The universe conspires.  I've been contemplating. Over contemplating, in fact, the concept of a picture book that has been brewing in my heart ever since I was a kid. It involves shoes, and big shoes, to say the least.  

Moreover, the heart of this story is something of far greater importance and it was just this morning that I was gifted with a reminder. Today on Facebook Pam Allyn, founder of Lit World posted a photo and critical question. She asked, “ What must we do to protect the imaginative life of every child?”

Her answer, “Everything.”
Thank you, Pam.  I needed that and the character of my story needed me to hear that.
My question today?
What will you do to protect your imaginative life?
The answer I hope you’ll say?...


I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them. ~Pablo Picasso
Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
-Carl Sagan

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Should WE be Writing You Ask? ...Write On! And On!

An article titled, Should We Be Writing? appeared in today's Huffington Post

I have to answer a resounding, YES!  H-Yes!  I've been itching to write  myself and update my blog ever since last week.  So this article pushed me to get back on my blog.

I had an assignment for my UCLA children's picture book class, in which I needed to write a letter to anyone and get something off my chest.  This letter not only proved to be a cathartic exercise in forgiveness but, more importantly,  it allowed me to get some blood (no pun intended) on the page and well...find a "voice" outside my own (perhaps a future character's voice).

I chose to write to Harold. Harold you know who you are and you know what you did and yeah, I am so over it now.  Thankfully the letter really gave me a fabulous way to look back and well, sew some seeds.  I do thank you Harold for giving me an opportunity to face a challenge and I do mean what I say in my letter.

Here it goes...hope it inspires you to get pen to paper and find some of your own voices.
That means you too, Harold.

Dear Harold,
I was nine or ten years old and barely 4 feet tall.  I wore my hair in braided pigtails and I remember how my brown freckles seemed to pop out after just a few minutes in the sun. That’s what most kids noticed and teased me forever about. 
I also remember that you towered over me and seemed as tall as the blackberry tree we were standing under. God how I loved that tree- it was the best thing on our block and my feelings about it were forever changed- stained now, thanks to you.
I remember how thick blood streamed from my nose and I swear I saw white light shooting up into my brain. I remember how you swore you’d hit me and you did Harold. Why? I kept thinking after I lay in shock frozen on the ground.  My skinny legs seemed to have nothing left in them after you punched me dead-on in the nose.
I was so very afraid… all kinds of afraid. Afraid you had broken my nose. Afraid to get up. Afraid to lay there  any longer, vulnerable underneath your heckles. What had I done to you?
 I remember you were calling me names.  I think I must have defended myself that day. That was a big day for me.  I had never stood up for myself before then. I didn’t deserve your taunts and I must have told you so.
I finally managed to get up and I think my mom came looking for me or I went inside and she freaked. I trembled. Immediately she grabbed me and marched me with her right over to your back door. 
She knocked with all her might and I wished she would stop. 
I wanted to run but I had nothing in me. I was broken.
My mom was pissed. She told your mom exactly why.
Your mom didn’t seem too interested.  I remember her face.
She had creamy skin like coffee and milk, big freckles too.
She stood there, arms crossed and stone-faced and listened but I could tell she didn’t want to hear what my mom was saying, she glanced at me hard, once or twice and I felt a nasty pang.  I think that was the way she looked at you. 
She called you to the door and I think you looked at me as if you meant to kill me. 
You denied punching me.
I don’t remember what else was said after that.
Finally your mom closed the door and we walked away.
My mom huffed and puffed all the way home and I remember staring at the cold concrete walkway. 

You lived in the rear one-bedroom apartment right by the alley. 
You had no sunshine in your apartment, I think.

I remember walking back home so very glad it was over. 
I remember being able to finally exhale.

There was something else though, something that stuck with me…
You see, I was glad my mom had never looked at me the way your mom looked at you.

I felt sorry for you Harold, I still do.
My mom was my hero that day.
I hope you had a hero, at least once anyway.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Giggles R Us

Saw this today.
There's something beautiful about acknowledging joy.
Happiness attracts more of the same; good people, wonderful experiences,
and well...more happiness.

Children laugh all the time and sometimes for no reason at all.
I have some students who laugh non-stop.  A giggle disease, I say.
They emit a high-vibration wave of pure joy and...

They haven't missed a day of school.

Day 41 tomorrow.

Have you laughed today?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Collecting stories, light, and other things...


Today second-graders learned we would start writing poetry next week.
A small cheer rose from the group.

"Can we bring in shells and rocks and things, like we did in first grade and
put them on the tables?" inquired little Miss S.

My smile stretched.

"Hmm... like for inspiration?" I inquired.
"Yes!"  said the little girl in a bright tone.

And there you have it.  Homework tonight?
To go on a nature walk and find small things that
catch your eye.

What small thing caught your eye today?
My eyes smiled today when I caught the light in someone's eyes sparkle.

Time to go for a walk.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Boys and Books...Let Them Eat Cake!

Today Pam Allyn, author of Best Books for Boys from Scholastic and Your Child's Writing Life (Penguin), led a webinar on Facebook.  She addressed questions about boys, books, and other struggles related to helping our boys read.

The best part for me was when Pam said, " One of the boys I work with said to me that he wishes teachers would allow for more choice in reading in school and offer more than (his words) "the kind of books teachers like that have medals on them"! 

I smiled widely.
"Thank god!" I thought. 
If we listened to kids more, perhaps as teachers and parents we'd struggle less.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

Are you listening?
I am.  Off to by more books.  No medals either.

You can follow Pam on Twitter ...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Proclamation

Jon Scieszka posted this on Facebook tonight.

It sums up everything I feel about kids books and writing them.

Read and believe.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Birthday Blues

"Piz, piz" were his very first words.  Picasso was asking for a pencil (lapiz).  From the time he was a baby little Pablo knew he needed to sketch, paint and create.  Today, October 25th, is Picasso's birthday and today second graders in my class celebrated Picasso's "blues".

Day of the Dead blue altar boxes along with sculptures born from  recycled paper items infused an air of creative focus and celebratory buzz.

Giant bulls, guitars, violins, pianos, drums, flutes and prism-faced sculptures now adorn our classroom. The children created an entire orchestra and said they now need a conductor.

The birthday blues never felt so good.
I'd say the kids did a great job filling his birthday shoes.

I imagined Picasso wearing blue suede shoes.

Picasso would have approved.