Monday, March 31, 2014

It's our birthday! 
The year of celebration begins today at 12 noon.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Four Tissue Heartbreaking Story

 Buddy, by M. H. Herlong, was my St. Patrick's Day snow read.  I had to encourage Merl to get off of my lap twice so I could get more tissues.  This is a powerful story about love, loss, friendship, family, disaster, pain, recovery and so much more.  In 2005 the mighty Hurricane Katrina nearly wiped out the city of "brotherly love."  It wasn't just the initial hit of the storm, but the decay of the infrastructure that lead to the evacuation of approximately 1.5 million people from their homes.  Nearly 2,000 people died in Louisiana as result of the storm, and scores more were killed  in  neighboring states.  Many others were still missing weeks after the waters receded..
Less than a decade later, M.H. Herlong writes a punch-in-your gut story about a boy, Lil'T and  a three-legged dog, Buddy.  Lil'T's ' Buddy.   Needless to say it is a story of lost and found.  Nothing in this book is easy.  Even Lil'T's chance meeting with the dog is painful.   The stray dog is struck by the car Lil'T's dad is driving to church.  The congregation rallies to pay for the dog's medical expenses, and in turn, it is because of Buddy that a congregant is helped by Lil'T.  
Lil'T and his family are poor before the hurricane and  totally wiped out after the disaster.  But they have each other, their faith, and their unwavering determination to persevere.  That resolve is what keeps Lil'T working to get Buddy back, long, long after the levees broke.  
Be forewarned.  It's not exactly a happy ending, but the right ending.  Buddy was the perfect snow read to devour with Merl on my lap, Nigel by my feet and Charlotte being Charlotte -- getting into trouble.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Happy Snowy St. Patrick's Day to all.  Wear your green pjs in the house and pet your dog and cuddle your cat.  Three days until the first day of spring and there is a fresh, thick blanket of snow on the ground.  Again!  How many snow days this year?  Will students be in school in July?  Charlotte ran out onto the screened-in porch last night.  She loves watching the huge flakes take hold of the screen and cover  all of the brown.  She even likes to scurry in the dusting that makes it through the screen, onto the porch.  But, she doesn't do that for long. Just a  few minutes and she's back inside, on a chair, under the heat vent.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Snow Day Read -- Cover-to-Cover

The two best things about snow days are being home with Nigel, Merl, and Charlotte, and having a good book to read cover-to-cover.   That's what I did Monday, I read Joan Bauer's heartfelt and heartbreaking novel for middle readers, Almost Home.  The dog, Shush,  an important supporting character, is a constant reminder of the power of the human-animal bond.
Good Reads succinctly encapsulates the book, When twelve-year-old Sugar's grandfather dies and her gambling father takes off yet again, Sugar and her mother lose their home in Missouri. They head to Chicago for a fresh start, only to discover that fresh starts aren't so easy to come by for the homeless. Nevertheless, Sugar's mother has taught her to be grateful no matter what, so Sugar does her best. With the help of a rescue dog, Shush; a foster family; a supportive teacher; a love of poetry; and her own grace and good humor, Sugar comes to understand that while she can't control the hand life deals her, she can control how she responds.
It's a good summary, but it doesn't highlight the heart, truths, and emotional roller-coaster that makes Almost Home an ideal snow-day read.   Sugar Mae Cole, the narrator/protagonist acquaints readers with her dead grandfather, King Cole, through his writings -- he left behind an autobiography complete with all sorts of King Cole-isms, email exchanges with her beloved 6th grade teacher Mr. B, and her own poetry,including a poem about her father that was written in response to the prompt, write a stirring paragraph on one way you have seen persuasion misused.... Sugar's poem begins -
There are people in our lives we cannot trust
One of those people in my life is my father.
That poem sets the stage for a sequence of events that spins Sugar's life out of control.   There are many folks who are rooting for Sugar Mae Cole.  But, all of the support, including that from Shush, the little dog who was formerly kicked when he barked and spooked by just about everything, does not offer what is most important to a 12-year-old -- stability.  As the pieces start coming together, Reba, Sugar's mother, tells her, "You go out there, Miss sugar, and show'em what it means to be sweet."   In spite of all that life tosses her way, Sugar is filled with sweetness.  But, she is  also got a tenacious pre-teen who, in the words of Mr. B, is Exceedingly Courageous and Insightful.
I sat in my rocking chair Monday, looked over at Merl snoozing in the sunshine, wrapped my fleece blanket around me and  enjoyed Almost Home -- a nice snow day treat.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Neighboring Students Adopt WARL

Capital City Public Charter School (CCPCS) students care about animals.   And, they want their school community to know that their neighbor, the Washington Animal Rescue League, could  use their help.  Ms. Gillig, Ms. Korinek and Ms. Downer's 5th grade classes have spent the semester learning about why animals end up in shelters .  The students want to make the animals' stay as comfortable as possible, so they are  making toys for the animals and collecting items for the shelter.  Signs are posted throughout the school announcing the collection and Ms. Gillig's class is experimenting with various braids to create the best tug toys ever.  
There is just one problem  -- kids don't go to school much these days.   Another snow day!   And, by looking out the window, I'm guessing that this is going to be another very, very short week.  Ms. Korinek and Ms. Downer's students had a big day planned for today -- they were scheduled to tour the League at lunch time.  We will have to reschedule their visit.  And although the shelter, like schools, is closed today, the very dedicated WARL animal care staff is busy caring for the cats and dogs.
Thank you CCPCS kids and teachers for raising awareness.  And thank you amazing coworkers for being THERE for the animals!!  I bet there are a number of WARL volunteers helping out, too.   Our volunteers are the BEST!!!!