Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sharing: Same Sun Here

This book was so special to me! Growing up and raising my own family in Eastern Kentucky, it is incredibly refreshing and encouraging to read a work that paints us as many of us are; multifaceted, empowered, passionate, and something much more than "hillbillies looking for handouts." Silas House never fails to make me feel validated each and every time I read anything he writes. This book is no different.

This is an epistolary novel, showcasing letters written between two twelve year olds that become pen-pals: River, from the Appalachian foothills of Eastern Kentucky, and Meena, an Indian immigrant living in New York City. They almost immediately make a pact to be their "own true selves" with one another, even when it's uncomfortable. In doing so, they learn so much about one another's cultures, about the wider world around them, and about how we are all not-so-different after all.
Both Meena and River are living without their fathers due to economic hardship, both have grandmothers that they idolize, and both are adolescents, just trying to figure out what's going on inside and how that impacts the way they view the world.

This book touches on so much that resonated deeply with me: the state of the precious Appalachian mountains and the plight of those that live near MTR sites, condemning racism and homophobia, having a curious mind and an open heart when learning about new cultures, and learning about the importance of non-violent civil disobedience. This book highlights the fact that sometimes it is the small, brave acts that make the biggest impact.

I can't say enough good things. Once again, Silas House has lovingly painted an accurate portrait of living in Appalachia, and Neela Vaswani has interwoven a surprisingly parallel experience as an immigrant in New York City.

This book is great for ages 9 and up, and there are so many different issues at play here it could be easily integrated into the classroom to teach letter writing, respect for other cultures and religions, mountain top removal, active citizenship, the importance of libraries.... I could go on and on :-)

Personally, here in Eastern Kentucky, my own students will love this, because it is respectfully, meticulously them.

This book will be available from Candlewick Press in February 2012.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How Can We Improve Middle Schools?

Interesting article this morning in the Washington Post about the "mess" that is middle school.

What do you think?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sharing: Bigger Than a Breadbox

I feel intimated by trying to write down my thoughts about Bigger Than a Breadbox. After reading Penny Dreadful earlier this year, I became an official fan of Laurel Snyder. So, when I heard about Bigger Than a Breadbox, I knew it would be a must-read. And indeed, as the release date got closer and I read reviews posted by friends, this book quickly became one of my most anticipated MG fall releases. The kind folks at Random House were nice enough to send me an ARC, and my husband can tell you how crazy excited I was when it arrived!

All of that major digression now having been covered, I have to say that this book is matched only by Breadcrumbs and Wonderstruck in books that I have read this year.

We meet Rebecca just as her mom and dad's relationship is falling apart, and as that happens, we see her struggle with that very difficult in-between place of feeling grown-up, yet still very dependent on the people around her. She is very much 12; one minute she feels old enough to take off on her own, and another she feels very slighted and hurt because no one has come to tuck her in. Combine this internal confusion with all of the confusion going on around her, and that leaves you with - quite understandably - a very confused young girl.

Her determination to fix what is wrong in her life is exacerbated by discovering a magic breadbox in her grandmother's attic. While wishing for something that reminded her of Baltimore, she discovers that the breadbox will grant any wish, as long as what Rebecca wished for can fit inside. She thinks that this will solve all of her problems, but adding magic into the jumbled mix that her life has become makes things happen that Rebecca never would have dreamed.

I love the very subtle use of magic in this otherwise heartbreakingly realistic book. It's a seamless blend that doesn't feel forced, and is crucial to the story. The story takes place in both Baltimore and Atlanta, and you get a sense that you are getting a taste of the best and the most weird of each city. It made me want to visit both places. And it made me grateful that I get the opportunity to work with kids at this very odd stage of their lives, where they sometimes feel adult and invincible, but also sometimes, still just want to be tucked in at night. Bigger Than a Breadbox is, without a doubt, one of the best Middle Grade titles of the year.

Who Should Read It?
This book is ideal for any middle grader. The uncertainty that Rebecca deals with internally will be all too familiar to them, and will go a long way in helping them understand that it's not just them. It will also be wonderful for a child dealing with upheaval at home, especially the separation or divorce of their parents. This book seems to hit, spot on, the vast mix of emotions and depth of pain and desperation that can come from watching everything you've known unravel around you.

To show just how much of a chord it is striking, here is a fantastic book trailer for Bigger Than a Breadbox, created by a 12-year-old fan:

Bigger Than a Breadbox will be available for purchase on September 27, 2011.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sharing: The Death of Yorik Mortwell

The Death of Yorik Mortwell was brought back to me from ALA by a librarian friend of mine. I've been interested since I saw the cover, and knew that I would have to save it for a time that was a bit closer to Halloween, and that I did. I finished the book this weekend, again on a road trip, and it is a great middle grades read.

I gave the book a test run a couple of weeks ago when I let a young man in the 8th grade borrow it to read after he had finished his work in class. He was enthralled by the first chapter, and that gave me even more incentive to read it quickly.

The book is vaguely steampunk-esque, with repeated mentions of a flying carriage when the rest of the book has a distinctly Victorian sensibility. Yorik Mortwell is a 12 year old servant to the Family, who lives alone in a shack with his sister, Susan. Yorik and Susan were orphaned when their father died, but they were allowed to continue living and working on the estate.
One afternoon, while out in the woods with his sister, Yorik has a disagreement with Thomas, the spoiled son of Lord Ravenby. Thomas, his eyes filled with an empty hate, kills Yorik. And here the real story begins.

We are nearly immediately taken into a behind-the-scenes alternate reality, where glowing hounds, living topiaries, and powerful Princesses are the norm, and Yorik has become a ghost. In his new form, he is finding new abilities as well as new limitations. He is also finding whispers of a new evil that he never knew existed, but he recognizes it as the same dead emptiness that filled Thomas' eyes before he killed him.

As Yorik struggles to figure out how to defeat this new evil, he learns the world around him is much more complex and intricate than he ever realized, and he plays a much larger part than he ever dreamed in determining whether or not that world will continue as it is.

Who should read it?
Most middle grade students will be in the mood for a good ghost story this time of year, and this story could fit the bill. The beginning is engaging, but the middle slows down quite a bit followed by a rather abrupt and anti-climactic ending. I would give this book to students who were looking for a quick, slightly spooky read.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My School Year So Far...

This August marked the beginning of my "in the classroom" experience! I am in the practicum phase of my MAT program, which is essentially my student teaching. Fortunately, I will be with my mentor teacher and my students for the entire duration of the school year! I am really excited to be able to see the growth, change and fluctuation that occurs over the course of two semesters.

As far as details go, I am at my county's middle school for first and second periods each day, for 8th grade Language Arts. So far, I have helped students construct Veteran's Day essays, created and led an activity on verbals, and observed very carefully. Regardless of what I am doing, the more I am there, the more confident I feel that I have finally meandered my way down the path I was supposed to be on.
I love being in the classroom, even if it is just for observation. I love the heady air of possibility and potential that hangs over everything each morning. Even when the kids come in sleepy or grumpy or homework-less, I'm sure that I smile like a big goon every time I see them, simply because they are living, breathing, walking, talking potential and I feel honored to have a part of shaping that potential.

As I watch my mentor teacher, take my classes, and begin to develop my own concrete ideas of what I want my classroom to look and act like, I have become a devoted convert to the reading/writing workshop method of Language Arts instruction. The atmosphere of collaboration and respectfulness are exactly what I hope to offer the students who will be in my classroom. In case you're interested (and because I always love book lists!) the two books that have led to this complete conversion are:

The Book Whisperer, by Donalyn Miller
In the Middle, by Nancie Atwell

If any of you have other reading suggestions for me, please let me know! Or if you would like to share details about what works in your classroom, I would love to read and learn from them.

In addition to student teaching, I'm also working as a Graduate Assistant in the education department at my university, and that has been wonderful as well. I'm assisting with research (which is one my most favorite things, as if I weren't nerdy enough) and I'm also taking a great English class. My plate is heaping, but great and I hope that everyone reading this has a great plate as well :-)

Happy Weekend!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sharing: Wonderstruck

My family and I took a short road trip to visit our Indiana family today, and I brought Wonderstruck along to read in the car. Wonderstruck is the newest work by Brian Selznick, author of the Caldecott medal-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I was so engrossed in this book that it pained me to leave it in the car when we arrived. I was drawn in from the first page, which is a striking sketch of two wolves running in a forest. From that point on, the book tells two parallel stories, one through text and one through the lovely sketches. As the story progresses, you begin to see overlaps and seeming coincidences, until eventually the two stories become one. 

In the text, we are following Ben, a young man who has recently lost his mother. We meet Ben as he shares a fitful night of sleep in a room with his cousin, Robby. Ben has moved in with his aunt and uncle after his mother died. As he tries to ignore Robby's radio so that he can go to sleep, he turns his good ear to the pillow to drown out the sound, and we learn that he is deaf in one ear. As the story progresses, Ben loses his hearing entirely. This adds an extra sense of urgency to the ensuing journey that we take with him. In dark hallways and dusty rooms, Ben begins to find out that all of the small intricacies that he thought made him odd actually explained parts of himself that he had not previously known existed and he finds answers to questions he never knew he had.

This book was just as incredible as I had suspected it would be, and all throughout, I just wanted to give Ben a hug. I can't possibly do this book justice. Brian Selznick creates a lovely, urgent, melancholy world within the confines of the things that I personally hold so dear - books, ephemera, history, and family.

Who should read it?
The better question is 'who shouldn't?' I plan on passing this on to a former professor of mine after I share it with my 7 year old son. The story is aching and universal.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick will be available for sale on September 13th, 2011.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sharing: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

This post has been months in coming, but I devoured this book in much less time than that; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is magical.

The book was written by Catherynne Valente  and was released on May 10, 2011. I was sold as soon as I saw Neil Gaiman's endorsement on the front cover. "A glorious balancing act between modernism the Victorian fairy tale, done with heart and wisdom," he says. And he was not wrong.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is most decidedly for fans of fantasy who can lose themselves in the other worlds that lie within the pages of a good book. The book begins with a girl called September who is whisked away from her lonely household and taken on a magical journey to Fairyland. Fairyland is a place rich in sights, smells, sounds and adventure, all of which are described with a deliberate and fantastical detail that lends itself to exploration.The characters are like no others I have ever encountered; for example, one of the story's main protagonists is a Wyverary,  which is a dragon who happens to also be part library. As in, his mother was a Wyvern (a dragon) and his father was a library. Surprises abound in this book, whether it be from the characters' choices, the interesting creatures and people that September encounters, or the rich sensory experience that is found in the deliberate and engaging writing style. This book would be beautiful to hear read aloud.

Who should read it?
I would happily recommend this book to any middle grader who enjoys extremely imaginative fantasy titles.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Post

Coming soon, I promise, promise, promise.

But this is not the new post. No, this is just a tribute.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stay Golden

Happy Birthday to S.E. Hinton!

S.E. Hinton is the author of what some consider to be the first Young Adult novel, The Outsiders, which she wrote when she was 16 years old.

The book is a masterpiece wrapped up in a tear-jerking tale of friendship, belonging and still yet being misunderstood. It still resonates with teens and adults alike, with its consistently relevant themes of the love, loss, and pain that come with being young.

Say Happy Birthday to S.E. Hinton by reading the incredible book,

or show your Outsiders love with this awesome shirt from the ever-cool Out of Print Clothing store.

Or, if you feel like watching some cutie patooties, check out the now iconic, Francis Ford Coppola directed movie adaptation, starring pretty much everyone in Hollywood.

However you choose to celebrate, stay golden!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I'm so thrilled to be able to write this post. I requested an ARC of Breadcrumbs and Walden Pond Press - being the kind souls that they are - sent me one! This was one of my most anticipated middle grade reads for the fall, and in reading it, I have only been justified in being so excited about this book. This is one of the best middle grade books I've read in some time. I love it!

Breadcrumbs is the latest book from Anne Ursu, who most of you will already be familiar with if you are interested in middle grade reads. She's the author of the Cronus Chronicles series, and has - I think - truly outdone herself with this book.

Hazel and Jack are next door neighbors, long-time best friends and brand-new school mates. They go on grand imaginary adventures together, and understand one another quite like no one else. As changes in their home lives send both of them into states of uncertainty about themselves, Hazel clings to Jack, who is her constant and her anchor, while Jack pulls away. But what is it that is pulling him away? Could he really turn his back on his best friend? Or is this the result of the kind of magic they have both so ardently believed existed?

We follow Hazel on a journey as she navigates a cold, brutal world where endings aren't always happy and people aren't often what they seem. On this journey, she learns more about herself and her best friend than she could imagine.

If you don't typically read middle grade fiction, this is a perfect introduction. It's a wonderful mix of fairy tale, fantasy and the harsh realities of being in that strange place between growing up and the magical realm that we can create in our mind as a child.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu will be available for purchase on September 27th, 2011 from Walden Pond Press.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July on My Blog

Last month, I wasn't able to post much at all, because I was immersed in Dante and Burckhardt's take on the Italian Renaissance.
This month, I will be posting primarily course-related content, because I'm taking an EdTech course (yay!), where much of our writing assignments are in the form of blog posts. This means I likely won't get back to regular content at all until August, but I do have some wonderful books to share at that time.
I've still got one picture book that I want to share, as well as all three books in the Penderwicks series. So, stay tuned for some incredibly deep thoughts on technology related issues (ha!) or tune me out until I can return to regular programming. Either way, enjoy your summer and feel free to share your thoughts!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Girl Who Had a Giveaway on a Blog of Her Own Making

UPDATE: The winner is ClayOnWords!! Congratulations :-D 

I am pleased to break my Renaissance-saturated blogging sabbatical to announce that I am having my very first giveaway!!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairy Land in a Ship of Her Own Making is a new book (with a fantastic title, might I add) from author Catherynne M. Valente. I will let PR people who are much more articulate than myself tell you a bit about this new fantasy title:

"Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn?t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful."

The giveaway has ended! Tomorrow, I will use to select my winner and contact you via email as well as announcing it on my blog, Twitter, etc. Huzzah!

I will be reviewing the book here soon, so even if you don't win, make sure to keep checking back and see if you think it sounds like a keeper. Assuming you care what I think, that is :-)

Future winner, just so you know, the book will be shipping directly from Macmillian, so if they take a long time, please don't shower me with Hater-aid! The book can shipped to US and Canadian addresses only.

If you'd like, spend some time learning more about the book, the author, and enjoy the book trailer below. I look forward to reading your comments!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I am....

Still Here!

Will be back in July when I can read something other than primary sources from the Renaissance...

In the meantime, here is a link to the presentation I did today for Morehead State University's School Librarian Symposium. SOO much fun!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Me ... Jane

For my next couple of posts, I am deviating from my norm of covering only middle grades books. I have been reading some incredible picture books with my sons lately, and there are two that I just have to share! The first is, quite obviously, Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell.

First in my list of reasons that you should literally go buy this book right now and treasure it forever, is that it is simply beautiful to look at. The illustrations are muted in earthy, but vibrant colors. The cover and pages are a wonderful matte. If this book isn't in the running for a Caldecott, I will be very surprised.

Secondly, this book is completely inspirational. It clearly chronicles how Jane held on to her childhood dreams and aspirations to grow up and accomplish exactly what she had planned. As an adult, reading this tugged on the heart strings, because it is so childlike, simplistic and lovely.

In reading it to my 7 year old I saw just how encouraging it could be, because he was just so excited that she actually grew up and did just what she had intended to do at 10 years old. From his perspective, it makes his dreams of being a space scientist all the more plausible.

This lovely picture book is a wonderful introduction and tribute to Jane Goodall, her quietly powerful life, and her incredible work.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sharing: They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group

        It has taken me weeks to finish this book. This was entirely due to how busy I was with school, because the book was fascinating and intense. The history of the Ku Klux Klan is detailed with chilling accuracy in They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group. 
image via

Beginning with the origins of this terrorist group in the days that followed the end of the Civil War as evidenced by Robert E. Lee's surrender to Ulysses S. Grant, and chronicling them with painful accuracy to all the way to the Civil Rights Movement, Susan Campbell Bartoletti again gives evidence as to why she deserves her previous Newbery Honor and Sibert Medal. 

Even as someone who has studied history, there were many facts presented by Bartoletti that were new to me, and even familiar ones were brought to life in new and startling ways. The stories of William Luke, Cornelius McBride, and Jim Williams are told with depth, accuracy and a subtle sense of just how brave they were to take a stand against these terrorists. defines a terrorist as :

a person who terrorizes  or frightens others. It is apparent that Bartoletti was exceedingly accurate in calling the KKK exactly what they are - a homegrown terrorist organization. 

Bartoletti glosses over nothing and gives the reader a glimpse of the very real horror that was experienced during the height of the KKK. The eerie photograph on the cover is of a real Klan hood that was stolen after this picture is taken. The inclusion of documents and personal accounts adds a somber and startling reality to what might otherwise seem like a nightmarish work of fiction.

This book is an absolute must-read for American history students, teachers, or even those who are casually interested. It would also be of great benefit in classrooms with struggling readers who may not typically gravitate toward non-fiction. The book is summed up with succinctness and a subtle sense of victory by including a Civil Rights Timeline that concludes with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, the United States' first African-American president.

Friday, April 22, 2011

On Earth Day: THE GIVER

One of Lois Lowry's classics has stubbornly positioned itself in the back of my mind for years. There are so many phrases and the mental images those phrases created that will come to mind at, seemingly, the most random of times. All day today - on Earth Day - I have been thinking of THE GIVER.

via Google Images

There are so many haunting moments from that book - when Jonas realizes exactly what weighs the Giver down so heavily, when he feels pain for the first time, and sees the brutal realities of life, when he realizes the atrocities his father mercilessly commits, and when he realizes the baby he has grown to love, Gabriel, will meet the same fate. But one seemingly subtle, but equally haunting moment has been on my mind the most today - when Jonas starts to see in color.

The beauty of the world around us is something that we definitely take for granted until we are given the opportunity to see it through the eyes of someone for whom it is all new - in this case, a very special 11 year old who previously had only seen in black and white. The first glimpse of color he sees - a glimmer of red from an apple - changes him forever.

Celebrate Earth Day today by appreciating the beauty all around, and maybe by doing something to keep it green.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day!

I LOVE National Poetry Month, yet this day is one that I knew nothing about until I joined Twitter and connected with my ever-brilliant group of librarians, teachers, and children's lit experts.

Poem In Your Pocket Day is a day where you, quite simply, carry a poem in your pocket all day. I think it would be fun to randomly pull the poem out and read it to people, say standing in grocery line or sitting in a waiting room! I also think since the poem is, in fact, in your pocket, it should be rather short.

That brings me to my Poem In Your Pocket Day offering, courtesy of one of my heroes, Dorothy Parker:

A Very Short Song

Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad-
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.

Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.

A breath of fresh air and just the right size to fit into your pocket :-)

However, if you don't have your own favorite poem to put into your pocket, here are some great resources to help you find one:

image via Amazon

You can actually tear the pages of poetry from this book to store in your pocket! Perfect for those days when you just need a poem in your pocket.

image via Amazon

This is a great introductory book of poetry for those middle schoolers that really need something that is going to resonate and be relevant.

image via Google

And, as always, Teen Ink is a great place to get inspiration and get your teens published.

Enjoy Poem in Your Pocket Day, and the rest of National Poetry Month, by finding a new favorite poem today!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Horton Halfpott

First of all, how great is that name?
The upcoming release of Horton Halfpott: Or, the Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; Or, the Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset by Tom Angleberger on May 1 is one of my most anticipated of the year!
If Tom's name sounds familiar that's probably because you read his successful debut, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda! After reading Origami Yoda, I would have definitely picked up his next book, simply because I loved his debut work so much. However, Horton Halfpott sounds wonderful in its own right.

The premise seems to be a parody of English mysteries, made extra silly for his middle grade audiences (and overgrown kids like me). To quote Amazon:

Tom Angleberger's latest, loopiest middle-grade novel begins when M'Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset (it's never been loosened before!), thereby setting off a chain of events in which all the strict rules of Smugwick Manor are abandoned. When, as a result of "the Loosening," the precious family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump (quite literally a lump), goes missing, the Luggertucks look for someone to blame. Is it Horton Halfpott, the good-natured but lowly kitchen boy who can't tell a lie? Or one of the many colorful cast members in this silly romp of a mystery.

I am very much looking forward to meeting Horton on May 1!

In the meantime, take a look at the book's blog @

(Here's a little preview for my fellow map nerds!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary is one of those universal names in children's literature - everyone knows and loves at least one of her books. Today, she turns 95, and I think she deserves as many birthday shout-outs as possible. Two of my favorite childrens lit experts are featuring her on their excellent blogs:

Anita Silvey @ her wonderful Children's Book-A-Day Almanac

John Schu @ Watch.Connect.Read. 
I even get a shout out here, so thanks for that, John!

And as most of you know, one of Cleary's most popular books, Beezus and Ramona, was recently made into a hit movie, starring Selena Gomez as Beezus.

So, a huge thank you to the birthday girl for all the wonderful stories and characters she has shared!  Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Monday, April 11, 2011

In Geek News....

YAY! I adore Harry Potter anything. The books are my all-time favorites, and it seems as though I've passed my obsession on to my oldest son. LEGO Harry Potter exists in various ways in our home - we have the DS and XBox 360 version of the game, several LEGO sets, a poster, and soon a book!

Big Questions and Lots of Coffee

     Sooo, it has been well over a month since I have posted. Almost two actually, and I'm not entirely happy about that. However, this blog kind of has to go to the back-burner when school gets crazy. And crazy it has been. But this semester, I am learning SO much about adolescence and adolescents. So much so that I feel like it's making me a better parent and most definitely a better educator.
     One thing my Adolescent Development class has been discussing repeatedly is how we can apply what we are learning to our own experiences. In other words, what could be impacting the autonomy and achievement of the adolescents in Eastern Kentucky? Personally, I find that the same answer keeps popping up repeatedly - poverty. If students aren't sure where they will sleep that night, if they will have food to eat, or who will be taking care of them, how can we expect them to "perform" well? If their parents are pill-addled and they are consistently exposed to that cultural underbelly and all of its instability, how can we expect them to focus on anything? Children are not made to compartmentalize, and they certainly don't owe the school system a good performance on state tests, particularly when we are failing them so spectacularly. The children in this region not only have to deal with poverty, but also with a culture that doesn't greatly value educational achievement, and negative stereotypes from people outside Eastern Kentucky. 
     I think the possibility of a stereotype threat for students in Eastern Kentucky is a very real one. Students rarely hear anything positive about the people of this region from anyone who lives outside of it. It seems that mainstream, outside knowledge of Appalachia consists of prescription drug abuse, coal mining, and inaccurate stereotypes of blissfully ignorant and/or feuding hill-folk. They are also told that their schools are not performing as they should, which leads them to the logical assumption that they aren’t performing as they should. Without realizing all of the external factors that are beyond their control, students have the potential to internalize all of this and assume that the stereotypes and negativity are true; that this is simply who and what they are. If they are continually told by society as a whole that they are ignorant because of where they live, and then told by their teachers, administrators, etc, that they aren’t performing  as they should in school, what are they expected to assume about themselves? So, if they assume they have no chance to rise above, then they may being to wonder why should they try.
   Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy  - “...students’ beliefs about their abilities influence the academic activities they participate in (both in and out of school), which influences their achievement, which further shapes their beliefs (Simpkins, Davis- Keans, & Eccles, 2006).” (Steinburg 410)
   As an educator and a parent living in this region, it is imperative to realize that poverty seems to be the underpinning of all that is wrong here - the drug problems, the high drop-out rate, and the lack of educational achievement. The question is what do we do about it, right?  

That's a very big question for 8:30 on Monday morning, especially when I've only had one cup of coffee. 

Steinberg, Laurence D. Adolescence. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2008.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sharing: THE GREAT WALL OF LUCY WU - Story Siren 2011

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu is the debut work of writer, Wendy Won-Long Shang. A novel ideal for young middle graders, this book deals with it all - crushes, bullying, and parents just not understanding. And yep, that was a Fresh Prince reference.

Lucy Wu is planning on having her best year ever as sixth grade finds her leaping to the top of the elementary school food chain, playing on the basketball team, and getting her own room when her know-it-all, perfect sister, Regina, moves out to go to college. Just as the stars are perfectly aligning, Lucy gets some big news that will change her entire year - and not necessarily for the better.

This book will ring true to many as Lucy is, at times, almost painfully self-centered, but still wants to do the right thing. I love the bravery that Lucy showed when finally facing the trio of Amazon bullies at her school, and the depth of character she displays as the book draws to a close.

Your middle graders will find themselves rooting for and relating to Lucy as she traverses the rocky path that bring family, friends, and a social life together. I really enjoyed and am glad I read THE GREAT WALL OF LUCY WU.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February Frenzy

School is kicking my arse. I really love my classes - I'm learning SO, SO much, which is, you know, kind of the point of graduate school. I'm just pulled in 80 billion directions, so recreational reading and this blog are the last on a long list of priorities.
I've been trying to read 'The Great Wall of Lucy Wu' for literally weeks now, but have yet to find time to crack it open. My reading has been strictly limited to texts for school, and even then I struggle to keep up.
I'm looking forward to spring, to a new month, and to being able to study with the windows open.

I hope everyone else is not having so frenzied a February!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sharing: PENNY DREADFUL by Laurel Snyder

First of all, I should say that I don't like calling these "reviews", for many reasons. First and foremost being that I am no expert - I read these books for fun, and simply want to share what I think about them, but I have no idea what to call that. Maybe I should call it "sharing"? Oy. 
image via
Anyway, PENNY DREADFUL! What a wonderful book!
Penelope Gray is a poor little rich girl in the beginning of this middle grades work. She has everything that most people dream of and aspire to - a mansion, chauffeur, chef, even a loving, if distant, family. However, she feels something is lacking on a deeper level, and makes a wish for an everything change, like the ones she reads about in books. However, Penelope soon finds out that everything changes truly do change everything.
The Grays pack up their mansion and move to a strange place in the mountains of Tennessee. There they meet a wonderful group of odd neighbors, and Penelope decides that she may just be a Penny instead. Penny discovers what it means to have a life, a family, and a community, but her discoveries don't come without their share of hardships and confusion.
PENNY DREADFUL is a fabulous read for anyone, target audience included! Laurel Snyder pulls off a sense of the deep understanding of the internal uncertainty that can come with being an adolescent. She also exhibits a refreshing ability to make the quirks of her characters feel commonplace and not-so-different - including an avid animal lover who collects roadkill so she can give them a proper burial. This book is full of people I wish I had known when I was a child, Penny included.

PENNY DREADFUL is highly recommended!

Monday, February 7, 2011


Last night it dawned on me:

I've been thinking a lot about how burnt out I was becoming, and how it sometimes it felt as though I were a lifetime away from my end career goals. I've been so completely focused on becoming a school librarian that I am missing what is going on right in front of me. I have been reading every article I come across on school librarians, I pour over every issue of School Library Journal, and I have been researching certification programs methodically. I had been trying my hardest to read a ton of books so as to keep up with school librarians that I follow on Twitter, and I could never quite make it.
Then it hit me: that is a very integral part of their job. Their JOB. Of course I can't keep up - I'm in graduate school! I'm working! I am a mother of two young sons, I am happily married and enjoy being with my family! My plate is full enough without trying to obsessively prepare myself to be a school librarian, and keep up with people who are already in the field.
I am a teacher-in-training. I am becoming very schooled in adolescent development, and the more I learn about this age group, the more thankful I am that I chose to get certified to work with them. I have plenty to learn and plenty to do before I reach my ultimate career goals, and in the meantime, I need to appreciate the meantime. So, I am regrouping and refocusing. I am appreciating my life and my work where it is now. I am focusing on the age group that I love, and in whatever capacity it is that I am working with them, whether as a teacher or a librarian, I want to be fully prepared to understand and help them as best I can. My school librarian training can wait for library school. Right now and always, I am a middle grades educator, and I'm proud of that.

So, all of that being said, I'm changing the name and focus of my blog. This is going to be a place for reviewing books for Middle Grades, sharing great resources, posts on issues that impact adolescents, and posts dealing with adolescent development.

Hopefully I will have more time to blog now!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Days

I haven't updated in 12 days! To my credit, it has been a crazy 12 days - classes started back, which meant my job started back; we have had tons of snow, and therefore tons of snow days. Snow days are great, but this is starting to cut into cancelling Spring Break, which will mess up my son's theater school class.

In the mean time I have had a blast with my kiddos (though one just got over being sick), read some great books and am learning a ton already this semester. The most interesting thing, by far, that I've been learning about is adolescence itself, and whether the turmoil that tweens and teens go through is truly biological in nature, or if it is a societal construct. Fascinating, and lots to think about!

EduCon begins today and I wish I could be there! However, today is my day off, so I will happily follow the tweets while curled up on my couch.

Here's hoping for more frequent (and better) blogging!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


FLIRT CLUB is a middle grades level book, dealing with a snapshot of time in the lives of two best friends, Annie Myers (Bean) and Izzy Mercer-Crow (Cisco). The book is written in an epistolary style; all of the story comes from notes stuffed into lockers, meeting minutes, and diary entries.

Izzy and Annie are shy, average middle school students who create the Flirt Club after deciding that they should try and come out of their shells a bit. In doing so, their social circle expands, they find hidden talents, and experience a bit of romance (and drama!) along the way.

This book is perfectly suited to the age group for which it is intended. The school climate and social groups are stereotypical, but will ring true for readers. The friendship between the girls is touching and sincere, and will likely be something that is envied. The characters are really entertaining, and I found myself laughing aloud a couple of times.

I would absolutely recommend this book to a student who wanted a light, fun read!

(image via

Thursday, January 13, 2011

So It Begins...

Okay, so it's not beginning right this minute, but my second semester of graduate school begins next Tuesday. I'm earning my certification in Middle Grades Language Arts and Social Studies. This will qualify me to teach LA and SS in 5th - 9th grade classrooms.

I am thankful to be certain of what I want to do with my life. I'm thankful for the people that I get to share my life with. And I'm thankful that my biggest complaint tonight is that I am a lazy, Netflix-addicted dork who doesn't want to give up her winter break just yet.

Monday, January 10, 2011

ALA Youth Media Awards 2011

Oh, how I wish I could have been there!!

I was lucky enough to snag a space at the webcast, though, and it was thrilling even via the interwebs. There were so many amazing titles that I have heard of here and there and some that I had on my 'To Read' list, but there were tons that I hadn't even heard of and I can't wait to check them out! I was particularly excited about George Ella Lyons' win. I included her in a presentation that I did in my undergrad work on Appalachian Women Writers, and I have a soft spot for her. Go Kentucky literary types!!
Courtesy of the PRNewswire, below is a list of winners and some info on each award:

Winners and Honorees of the ALA Youth Media Awards 2011 
John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature
"Moon over Manifest," written by Clare Vanderpool, is the 2011 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Four Newbery Honor Books also were named: "Turtle in Paradise," by Jennifer L. Holm and published by Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc.; "Heart of a Samurai," written by Margi Preus and published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS; "Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night," written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; and "One Crazy Summer," by Rita Williams-Garcia and published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children
"A Sick Day for Amos McGee," illustrated by Erin E. Stead, is the 2011 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was written by Philip C. Stead, and is a Neal Porter Book, published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing.
Two Caldecott Honor Books also were named: "Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave," illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.; and "Interrupting Chicken," written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein and published by Candlewick Press.
Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults
"Ship Breaker," written by Paolo Bacigalupi, is the 2011 Printz Award winner. The book is published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Four Printz Honor Books also were named: "Stolen," by Lucy Christopher and published by Chicken House, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.; "Please Ignore Vera Dietz," by A.S. King and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc.; "Revolver," by Marcus Sedgwick and published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of the Macmillan Children's Publishing Group; and "Nothing," by Janne Teller and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.
Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults
"One Crazy Summer," written by Rita Williams-Garcia is the 2011 King Author Book winner. The book is published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Three King Author Honor Books were selected: "Lockdown," by Walter Dean Myers and published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; "Ninth Ward," by Jewell Parker Rhodes and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.; and "Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty," written by G. Neri, illustrated by Randy DuBurke and published by Lee & Low Books Inc.
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award recognizing an African American illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults
"Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave," illustrated by Bryan Collier, is the 2011 King Illustrator Book winner. The book was written by Laban Carrick Hill and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. One King Illustrator Honor Book was selected: "Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix," illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, written by Gary Golio and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent (Author) Award
"Zora and Me," written by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon, is the 2011 Steptoe author winner. The book is published by Candlewick Press.
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent (Illustrator) Award
"Seeds of Change," illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler, is the 2011 Steptoe illustrator winner. The book is written by Jen Cullerton Johnson and published by Lee & Low Books Inc.
Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Practitioner Award for Lifetime Achievement
Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith is the winner of the 2011 Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Practitioner Award for Lifetime achievement. The award pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children's author Virginia Hamilton's contributions through her literature and advocacy for children and youth.
Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience
"The Pirate of Kindergarten," written by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Lynne Avril and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, wins the award for children ages 0 to 10.
"After Ever After," written by Jordan Sonnenblick and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., is the winner of the middle-school (ages 11-13).
The teen (ages 13-18) award winner is "Five Flavors of Dumb," written by Antony John and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences
"The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel," by Alden Bell, published by Holt Paperbacks, a division of Henry Holt and Company, LLC
"The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel," by Aimee Bender, published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.
"The House of Tomorrow," by Peter Bognanni, published by Amy Einhorn Books, an imprint of G.P. Putnam's Sons, a division of the Penguin Group
"Room: A Novel," by Emma Donoghue, published by Little, Brown and Company a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
"The Vanishing of Katharina Linden: A Novel," by Helen Grant, published by Delacorte, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
"The Radleys," by Matt Haig, published by Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
"The Lock Artist," by Steve Hamilton, published by Thomas Dunne Books for Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press
"Girl in Translation," by Jean Kwok, published by Riverhead Books, an imprint of the Penguin Group
"Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard," by Liz Murray, published by Hyperion
"The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To," by DC Pierson, published by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children's video
Paul R. Gagne and Melissa Reilly Ellard of Weston Woods, producers of "The Curious Garden," are the Carnegie Medal winners. The video is based on the book of the same name, written and illustrated by Peter Brown, and is narrated by Katherine Kellgren, with music by David Mansfield.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. The 2011 winner is Tomie dePaola, author and illustrator of over 200 books, including: "26 Fairmont Avenue" (Putnam, 1999), "The Legend of the Poinsettia" (Putnam, 1994), "Oliver Button Is a Sissy" (Harcourt, 1979) and "Strega Nona" (Prentice-Hall, 1975).
Margaret A. Edwards Award honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.
Sir Terry Pratchett is the 2011 Edwards Award winner. His books include: "The amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents," "The Wee Free Men," and "A Hat Full of Sky" published by HarperCollins Children's Books; and "The Color of Magic," "Guards! Guards!," "Equal Rites," "Going Postal," "Small Gods," and "Mort" all published by HarperCollins Publishers.
May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site
Peter Sis will deliver the 2012 lecture. Born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1949, Sis attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. He has lived in the United States since 1982. Sis was awarded the 2008 Robert F. Sibert Medal and has illustrated three Caldecott Honor books.  Sis' work is admired throughout the world, and in 2003 he was named MacArthur Fellow, an honor bestowed by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children's book translated from a language other than English and subsequently published in the United States
"A Time of Miracles" is the 2011 Batchelder Award winner. Originally published in French in 2009 as "Le Temps des Miracles," the book was written by Anne-Laure Bondoux, translated by Y. Maudet, and published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Two Batchelder Honor Books also were selected: "Departure Time," published by Namelos, written by Truus Matti and translated by Nancy Forest-Flier; and "Nothing," published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, written by Janne Teller and translated by Martin Aitken.
Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States
"The True Meaning of Smekday," produced by Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio Publishing Group, is the 2011 Odyssey Award winner. The book is written by Adam Rex and narrated by Bahni Turpin.
Four Odyssey Honor Recordings also were selected: "Alchemy and Meggy Swann," produced by Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group, written by Karen Cushman and narrated by Katherine Kellgren; "The Knife of Never Letting Go," produced by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, an imprint of Brilliance Audio, written by Patrick Ness and narrated by Nick Podehl; "Revolution," produced by Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group, written by Jennifer Donnelly and narrated by Emily Janice Card and Emma Bering; and "will grayson, will grayson," produced by Brilliance Audio, written by John Green and David Levithan, and narrated by MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl.
Pura Belpre (Author) Award honoring a Latino writer whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience
"The Dreamer," written by Pam Munoz Ryan, is the 2011 Belpre Author Award winner. The book is illustrated by Peter Sís and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.
Three Belpre Author Honor Books were named: "Ole! Flamenco," written and illustrated by George Ancona and published by Lee & Low Books Inc.; "The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba," written by Margarita Engle and published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC;  and "90 Miles to Havana," written by Enrique Flores-Galbis and published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing.
Pura Belpre (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino illustrator whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience
"Grandma's Gift," illustrated and written by Eric Velasquez, is the 2011 Belpre Illustrator Award winner.  The book is published by Walker Publishing Company, Inc., a division of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.
Three Belpre Illustrator Honor Books for illustration were selected: "Fiesta Babies," illustrated by Amy Cordova, written by Carmen Tafolla and published by Tricycle Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.; "Me, Frida," illustrated by David Diaz, written by Amy Novesky and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS; "Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin," illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.
Robert F. Sibert Medal for most distinguished informational book for children
"Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot," written by Sy Montgomery, is the 2011 Sibert Award winner. The book features photographs by Nic Bishop and is published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Two Sibert Honor Book were named: "Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring," written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca, a Neal Porter Book, published by Flash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing; "Lafayette and the American Revolution," written by Russell Freedman and published by Holiday House.
Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award
"Almost Perfect," written by Brian Katcher, published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc. is the winner of the 2011 Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award. The award is given annually to English-language children's and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience.
Four honor books were selected: "will grayson, will grayson," written by John Green and David Levithan and published by Dutton Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.; "Love Drugged," written by James Klise and published by Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.; "Freaks and Revelations," written by Davida Willis Hurwin and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.; and "The Boy in the Dress," written by David Walliams, illustrated by Quentin Blake and published by Penguin Young Readers Group.
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book
"Bink and Gollie," written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile is the 2011 Seuss Award winner. The book is published by Candlewick Press.
Two Geisel Honor Books were named: "Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!" written and illustrated by Grace Lin and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.; and "We Are in a Book!" written and illustrated by Mo Willems and published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group.
William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens
"The Freak Observer," written by Blythe Woolston is the 2011 Morris Award winner. The book is published by Carolrhoda Lab, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.
Four other books were finalists for the award: "Hush," by Eishes Chayil and published by Walker Publishing Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.; "Guardian of the Dead," by Karen Healey and published by Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group; "Hold Me Closer, Necromancer," by Lish McBride and published by Henry Holt; and "Crossing the Tracks," by Barbara Stuber and published by Margaret McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults during a November 1October 31 publishing year.
"Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing," written by Ann Angel, is the 2011 Excellence winner. The book is published by Amulet/Abrams.
Four other books were finalists for the award: "They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group," by Susan Campbell Bartoletti and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; "Spies of Mississippi:  The True Story of the Spy Network that Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement," by Rick Bowers and published by National Geographic Society; "The Dark Game: True Spy Stories," by Paul Janeczko and published by Candlewick Press; and "Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates," by Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw and published by Charlesbridge.

Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, ALA awards guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth.  Selected by judging committees of librarians and other children's and young adult experts, the awards encourage original and creative work.  For more information on the ALA youth media awards and notables, please visit the ALA website at

SOURCE American Library Association

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What I Learned During My Observations Last Semester

This post may seem like nothing more than common sense to most (I hope so, anyway). However, it seems that some educators have completely forgotten that these are human beings that they are working with every day - not annoyances or interruptions.
I have learned that the students need to be respected as people. They should not be talked down to or ignored simply because they are “beneath” instructors and administrators in the hierarchy of school authority. They are young, but they are people and deserve the same consideration and thoughtfulness that we would be expected to extend to colleagues and peers. In one observation, I witnessed a student get walked away from – mid sentence - because another adult came into the room and need to speak with the instructor. It was obviously not an emergency, or even anything remotely pressing, but the instructor, without a word, turned her back on her student as he was speaking to acknowledge the visitor and carry on a subsequent conversation with her. The ensuing look on his face taught me more than anything else I have learned this semester – he turned bright red and immediately began glancing around to see who had seen him get repudiated. When he met my gaze, I smiled in what I hope was a way acknowledging that he had, indeed, been treated unfairly. He slunk back to his seat with his eyes on his shoes.
  I have learned to be myself with my students. I want to be honest, open and supportive. And most importantly, as stated above, I want to be respectful. I never want to make a student feel unnecessarily embarrassed or belittled, whether it is by ignoring them or being too critical or not offering them the praise and validation that they deserve. All I can hope for is that I will, in fact, get what I give.