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!