I've been trying to read more children's lit and I'm so glad I read this one.
The story follows Heidi, a 12 year old girl growing up in unusual circumI've been trying to read more children's lit and I'm so glad I read this one.
The story follows Heidi, a 12 year old girl growing up in unusual circumstances. She lives with her mother, an adult with a severe mental disability, and her 'neighbor' Bernie, an agoraphobic woman who cares for both of them. Heidi sets out on an adventure to discover her mother's real name (Her mother calls herself So B. It) and any other information about her family. Along the way, she meets people and discovers things about herself. When she finally arrives on the East Coast, she is able to learn who her mother and father were and how she landed in Reno, NV as a tiny baby.
I loved this story and think it's a great read for upper elementary kids-- and their families. Plenty of topics to discuss throughout the book! Supposedly this is going to be made into a movie but I haven't heard anything about that recently.... ...more
In fact, I'm not sure where to begin my review. While I was reading, I read as a mother, I read as a teacher/ school counselor,I. Loved. This. Book.
In fact, I'm not sure where to begin my review. While I was reading, I read as a mother, I read as a teacher/ school counselor, and I read as a child. Regardless of who you are and where you are in life, this is a touching story about struggle and self and perceptions and love and kindness. (And many many more things)
August is a fifth grade boy, about to go to school for the first time. Up until now, he has been homeschooled by his mother. There is reluctance in sending him to school, as August has a severe facial abnormality called Mandibulofacial Dysostosis (or Treacher Collins Syndrome). From the time he was very young, he has been stared at/ gawked at/ ignored by other people. He has undergone numerous surgeries from the time he was an infant-- but still his face looks far from "normal".
When he enters middle school, he is not surprised to receive strange looks and field rude comments and questions. Other students whisper about him and avoid him entirely. But he is also unexpectedly befriended by a girl in his class, who forms a genuine friendship with him. The book follows Auggie, his peers, and his family members throughout the school year-- as things change for all of them.
Palacio writes from several character's viewpoints and does so extremely well. I think we can all relate to August and his peers on some level. Had I read this as a child, I hope I would have been inspired to act as those kind peers in this story. As a school counselor, I want to share this with my teachers and students-- and discuss the impact we have on each other as a school family. And as a mother, this book is now at the top of my read-aloud-to-my-children-someday list. The themes of friendship, belonging, trust, diversity, kindness, family, and ultimately unconditional love are woven throughout this beautiful story. I highly recommend.
I'm trying to read a few more children's books this year and wanted to start with a book by Sarah Weeks because I met her last spring. I think this boI'm trying to read a few more children's books this year and wanted to start with a book by Sarah Weeks because I met her last spring. I think this book is written for about a fourth or fifth grade level-- and I can see it appealing to both boys and girls. ...more
I'm not sure this can really be classified as a mystery... as there is absolutely no suspense or wonder at all in this book. I checked this book out fI'm not sure this can really be classified as a mystery... as there is absolutely no suspense or wonder at all in this book. I checked this book out from the library simply because I always like to read a holiday book at the end of December. I remember enjoying Mary Higgins Clark when I was a kid--- and now I'm thinking maybe there's a reason for that. ...more
Cami Walker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in her 30's. The disease left her to deal with debilitating flare-ups and chronic pain. After seekinCami Walker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in her 30's. The disease left her to deal with debilitating flare-ups and chronic pain. After seeking help from several alternative medicines, she receives advice from a medicine woman who instructs her to give 29 gifts in 29 days. The gifts do not need to be materialistic, but rather, must be given with significant intention.
At first, I couldn't help but think, "that's not really a gift! that's something you should do anyway!". But as I read more of the book, I realized that when the things you do for others come from a place of "gifting" rather than "obligation", it leaves you with a very different sense of reason. The book also talks about becoming gracious receivers and how our country is not very good at this. She explains that as we give, we become better at receiving-- which in turn, helps other people feel good as well. I love the quote, "A closed fist cannot receive." As I read more of the book, I became convinced that I should also try the 29 day giving challenge someday soon. Perhaps a goal for the new year?
"I now view giving and receiving as an exchange of energy-- a universal transaction that each one of us takes part in over and over, moment to moment. I am also seeing that each exchange, whether I am on the giving or the receiving end, is a divine experience... During these moments I am offering or accepting a gift, the part of me that is true spirit is connecting with the true spirit of another individual, and we are both in that instatn connected to the divine force that created everything out of nothing.."
"I've learned that opening myself up to receive freely is just as energizing and fulfilling"
I've wanted to read this book for awhile now, and finally got around to checking it out. I really loved the way that Claire Bidwell Smith writes-- it'I've wanted to read this book for awhile now, and finally got around to checking it out. I really loved the way that Claire Bidwell Smith writes-- it's almost like poetry and while some reviews criticize her style, I really found it intriguing. It seemed to help set the mood of the book.
Bidwell Smith writes about losing both parents at an early age-- and her struggles to find herself in the midst of that turmoil. I can't imagine having gone through her experience-- her writing is both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.
While many parts of the book struck a chord with me, perhaps the most significant was when she was writing about not being anybody's "most important person". Without a spouse, sibling, or parent, she felt very alone in the world and seemed to crave that sense of belonging. ...more
p. 23 "When the demon starts to slither my way and say bad shit about me I turn around and say, "Hey Cool it. Amy is my friend. Don't talk about her l p. 23 "When the demon starts to slither my way and say bad shit about me I turn around and say, "Hey Cool it. Amy is my friend. Don't talk about her like that". Sticking up for ourselves in the sam way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works. ...more
Although it took me forever to read this book, I ended up really enjoying it. The book is written by Cheryl Strayed, who decided to hike the Pacific CAlthough it took me forever to read this book, I ended up really enjoying it. The book is written by Cheryl Strayed, who decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Oregon. On her journey, she encounters wild animals, inclement weather, and few other people. At the beginning, I thought some of the details of her trail experience were a bit dull, but as the book moved forward and she wrote about her childhood and family, I began to enjoy the book more. As the book shows, her time spent on the trail helped her heal wounds from the past, and move forward into the person she wanted to become. I also loved the book discussion questions included at the back of the book-- so much material to think about. Perfect for a book discussion among friends with a good bottle of wine.
"Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren't a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was."
"When I tossed the peach pit, I saw that I was surrounded by hundreds of azaleas in a dozen shades of pink and pale orange, a few of their petals blowing off in the breeze. They seemed to be a gift to me, like the peach, and Kyle sining "Red River Valley". As difficult and maddening as the trail could be, there was hardly a day that passed that didn't offer up some form of what was called trail magic in the PCT vernacular--the unexpected and sweet happenings that stand out in stark relief to the challenges of the trail."
"I felt fierce and humble and gathered up inside, like I was safe in this world too."
"...I ordered another glass of wine and sat listening to the music, watching people, feeling a profound happiness to simply be in a room among others on a summer evening with music playing."
"...To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life--like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be." ...more
This book was recommended to me by my principal as something that would remind me how much of a difference one person can make in the life of a child.This book was recommended to me by my principal as something that would remind me how much of a difference one person can make in the life of a child. Laura Schroff tells the story of her unlikely meeting with young Maurice, an panhandler on the streets of NYC. Rather than giving Maurice money, she takes him to McDonald's for lunch and ends up meeting him once a week for the next few years. Over the course of their meetings, they learn about each other and the different lives they lead. Maurice, who has been surrounded by poverty and drug abuse from the time he was a baby knows nothing other than harsh street life. At eleven years old, he had a "survivor's" mentality-- knowing that he might not live to the age of twenty-- thus, he had never even thought about what he would want to be when he grew up.
Schroff continued to introduce Maurice to things he had never known. She took him to her sister's house in the suburbs, where Maurice saw a loving, middle-class family interact with each other for the very first time. And while he could hardly believe the amount of space one family used for a house (he had been sharing a one bedroom hotel-like room with twelve people from the time he could remember), he was mostly impressed with the dining room table-- and awed by the fact that the family sat around it and just visited with each other on a regular basis.
Although Maurice struck me as an extreme case (he had never been taught to blow his nose, had never been given a Christmas present, he had watched numerous relatives shoot drugs in front of him, had watched his mother sell herself for money, etc.) the relationship between Maurice and Laura could take place in any city across this country. I don't think any child can have too many mentors in their life, and this book reminded me of how easily that can be achieved. Maurice credits Laura with changing the course of his life. All six of his uncles had been or are currently serving time in prison, some are dying from years of heavy drug abuse. Both of Maurice's parents died of HIV/AIDS and his grandmother (with whom he also lived) also wore out her body with heavy drug use (though she never used in front of her grandchildren). The cards were stacked against him, and he really knew of no other options than what he saw in his family. Laura showed him life on the outside and he decided that was the kind of life he would have someday.
While I really enjoyed the book, I was sometimes a little annoyed with the author's own accounts of her difficult childhood and family issues. They never seemed to flow with the book and I think she could have mentioned a situation in passing to get her point across rather than devoting entire chapters to her own childhood. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book. If you work with kids and teens, this is a quick read to remember how much of an impact we all can have on someone else's life. ...more
I think taking a few years off from Stephanie Plum made me enjoy this one more. Of course, it's all still the same-- same characters with same zany siI think taking a few years off from Stephanie Plum made me enjoy this one more. Of course, it's all still the same-- same characters with same zany situations. Same Stephanie with no movement or direction in her life, always bouncing between the same two men. It was a nice book to listen to in the car when I didn't need to pay attention at all-- afterall, I'd heard it all before, just in a slightly different way. ...more
Although this book was written in the 50's, many parts are still relevant today. I especially related to feeling pulled in many directions as a wife,Although this book was written in the 50's, many parts are still relevant today. I especially related to feeling pulled in many directions as a wife, mother, sister, friend, etc. I tend to become easily irritated with my generation for constantly being "too busy" to do anything for ourselves. So many of my peers make the activities of their children a priority but forget to schedule in time for themselves. This book speaks of the importance in taking care of ourselves-- and how crucial it is to being there for others.
Favorite passages: Multiplicity does not bring grace, it destroys the soul. How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives. How do we remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel? (on the beach) Here I live in a bare sea-shell of a cottage To ask how little, not how much, can I get along with-- to say, is it necessary? We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen. Even if family, friends, and movies should fail, there is still the radio or tv to fill up the void. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others. Traditionally, we are taught, and instinctively we long, to give where it is needed-- and immediately. No longer fed by a feeling of indespensability or purposefulness, we are hungry, and not knowing what we are hungry for, we fill up the void with endless distractions, always at hand-- unnecessary errands, compulsive duties, social niceties. Every person, especially every woman, should be alone sometime during the year, some part of each week, and each day. If women were convinced that a day off or an hour of solitude was a reasonable ambition, they would find a way of attaining it. As it is, they feel so unjustified in their demand that they rarely make the attempt. The world does not understand the need to be alone. Anything else would be accepted as a better excuse-- business appointment, trip to the hairdresser, a social engagement, or a shopping expedition. But if one says: I cannot come because that is my hour to be alone, one is considered rude, egotistical or strange. What matters is that one be for a time inwardly attentive-- quiet time alone, contemplation, prayer, music, a centering line of thought or reading, of study or work. Physical or intellectual or artistic, any creative life proceeding from oneself. It need not be an enormous project or great work. You will remind me that unless I keep the island-quality intact somewhere within me, I will have little to give to my husband, my children, my friends or the world at large. Husband and wife can and should go off on vacations alone and also on vacations alone together. For there is no one-and-only, there are just one-and-only moments (marriage) The web is fashioned of love; many kinds of love. Romantic love first, then a slow-growing devotion and, playing through these, a constantly rippling companionship. The morning swim has the nature of a blessing to me, a baptism, a rebirth to the beauty and wonder of the world. Morning is for mental work. Afternoon is for physical tasks, the out-of-door jobs. But evening is for sharing, for communication. One cannot dance well unless one is completely in time with the music, not leaning back to the last step or pressing forward to the next one, but poised directly on the present step as it comes. Yeats once said that the supreme experience of life was "to share profound thought and then to touch" but it takes both. The "veritable life" of our emotions and our relationship is also intermittent. When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. Yet it is what we pretend to do. We have so little faith in the bb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. Perhaps the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living; simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid, each cycle of a relationship is valid. Here on the island I find I can sit with a friend without talking, sharing the day's last sliver of pale green light on the horizon, or the whorls in a small white shell or the dark scar left in a dazzling night sky by a shooting star. ...more