It’s All in the Bag

What does a rock, a feather, a mask, a rubber chicken and a bag have to do with one another?

bag poem

Poetry of course! I wanted the second graders to use their touch sense as the only method to describe an object hidden inside a bag. First I hid an object in the bag. Then volunteers came forward, covered their eyes with the mask, reached inside the bag and touched the object. Using one word, they had to describe what they felt, without using a word already used by a student previously. Squeak, hard, rubbery, soft, smooth, light, heavy. As fast as I could, I wrote down their words in a list.

After a few minutes we switched gears. This time, the students had to look at the list and see what the words had in common, to try to guess the hidden object in the bag.  How could something be both rough and smooth, hard and soft? The library got pretty loud with all the giggles and laughter as they realized that what they were describing was a rubber chicken! Yes, even rubber chickens and rocks deserve their own poems! Here are two of the poems written by our second graders. Poetry can be fun! A big thank you to Mrs. Daly for sharing her awesome mask, Mrs. Butler for the white feather,  and Mr. Haeck for donating his rubber chicken to us for our poetry lesson.

chicken poem

rock poem pic

A few years ago, I did a similar lesson called Paper Bag Poems. Another librarian, Mrs. Camp, in Klein, Texas saw the post and also had some poetry fun with her students. You can read about her Paperbag Poems on the Bobcat Library Blog.

What poems have you written lately? Leave a comment and let us know!


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A Book Review from Denmark

We have a special treat today! A few weeks ago three of our former students stopped by to visit with their parents. They were here on vacation and were visiting their former teachers and friends in the Seattle area.

PebbleGo Europe Kids Map Denmark is the country north of Germany.

All of three students love to read! Lucily for them, I had just come from the American Library Association mid-winter meeting with numerous Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) of books. ARCs are copies of books that people read and review and check for errors before they are officially published. Think of them as preview copies.

It’s always fun to have a new book that nobody else has yet, so all three students went home with some new books to read for the flight back to Denmark. Mathias not only read his book, he sent us a review for the blog too!

Here is Mathias’ review of House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini. It will be officially released on April 23, 2013.

Setting: The story first takes place in Sea Cliff, San Francisco, then later in a mysterious world of adventure.

Characters: The Walker family is composed of five members.

Mr. and Mrs. Walker, were recently in a lawsuit because Mr. Walker, who is a doctor, had cut an eye into the back of his patient. They were sued by the family of the man, and used almost all their money to defend themselves.

Brendan Walker, the middle child, a computer geek and a quite smart kid. He is also very much into Lacrosse and his quick thinking saves them on several occasions.

Cordelia Walker is the oldest and smartest kid of the family. She is an avid reader and helped solve many of the problems the family were to face.

Eleanor Walker is the youngest and appears to be the most dumb. However she does show quite an appeal for helping and a very smart and quick brain, despite being dyslexic. She is also very much into horses.

Plot: A family of five are searching for a new house. Their real estate lady finds a nice house on the edge of Sea Cliff, a place known for it’s beautiful houses. At first the family is a bit worried that the house may not be as nice as the real estate lady says (their price range for houses is rather low) however they were all proved wrong. When they arrived it was a beautiful three story house, full of amazing furniture and stunning features that made the house almost seem too good to be true. This was made true when they heard the price. Their jaws dropped and they immediately decided to buy the house.

Soon after they bought the house strange things started happening. Brendan and Eleanor were seeing strange figures and shadows day after day. Brendan even thought that the statue which stood in the back had come alive and talked to him.

The next day something strange happened. First the old lady who says she lived next door comes by. Her name is Dahlia Kristoff, the relative of Denver Kristoff who used to live in this house. Brendan goes crazy on her, thinking she was the woman who had turned into the statue. After the old lady leaves the kids start doing some digging. Cordelia find out that according to a picture upstairs, she’s a 105 years old and missing a hand. Not long after the doorbell rings again. Thinking that the pizza has arrived, Mr. Walker goes over to the door and opens it. Outside stands Mrs. Dahlia again, and as soon as Mr. Walker opens the door, she steps in. Immediately she transforms. She is now bald and only a skeleton of herself. Her right hand is missing, just like Cordelia thought and she looked downright scary, especially with the brand new pair of skeletal wings that had just erupted from her back. Mrs. Walker started calling the police, but for a gust of wind that snatched up the phone and cracked it on a pedestal on the other side of the room. Then weird things start to happen. Dahlia Kristoff starts flying up, and every item currently in the vicinity start flying up. They form a vortex of flying items just zooming around the room. The two parents are knocked out by flying objects, but somehow the kids manage to stay conscious. Dahlia starts shouting about her long lost father’s (Denver Kristoff) reincarnation and suddenly everything goes black.

My Thoughts: I think this book is amazing. With all of the mystery happening in only the first instance of the story, it provides a great lead into the book. The book itself is astonishing. The idea of having an entire story based on the fusion of three books is downright fascinating. The different characters in this book are amazingly unique, in such ways that even you can’t see the events they’re going to make happen before they do. The things that happen from every angle, like betrayal, love and unexpected friendship just makes this book one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Thank you Mathias for this awesome book review! I can’t wait to buy a copy for the library in April when it comes out!

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Books to Mumbai, India

Our books got to Mumbai, India!


In one of our recent posts, I mentioned that one of our parents volunteered to take some books to Mumbai, India while he was there on a business trip. You can read about the original post here. Now we have photos of his trip!

Josa’s dad visited the Handmaids of the Blessed Trinity Convent School which is located in the Andheri neighborhood near the Mumbai International Airport. This is a particularly crowded area of Mumbai, and most people do not have much money.

Two nuns, Sister Paulette, who used to work with Mother Teresa, and sister Eliza , run an orphanage and  school with teachers and volunteers.

Their mission is educate the children at their school in the hopes that when they are older, they educate themselves out of a life of poverty.

The children were very excited to visit with “Uncle Tarun” as they called him! They talked to him and the adults gave him a tour of the school. 

They also sang him a song while he was there. Here is a short video of the children at the school singing to “Uncle Tarun”.

Thank you “Uncle Tarun”!


Did you see any of the books you signed?

How does it make you feel to help with our program?

Do you have a comment you would like to share?


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Some Down Under Book Love


Look what came in the mail from Australia!

That’s right, two books and a wonderful note from Miss Y in Melbourne, Australia. She is a librarian at the St. Martin of Tours Primary School. We have been blogging buddies for over a year now, exchanging ideas for books back and forth.

These Andy Griffiths books are going to be BIG hits in our library. You can’t NOT laugh when you read them. They are just that funny! Look at this photo of him from his website. Does he look like a serious kind of guy? I haven’t had a chance to read the books yet, but here’s what it says on Andy’s website:

“Andy and Terry live in an incredible ever-expanding treehouse and create very silly books together. Andy writes the words and Terry draws the pictures… well, when they’re not too distracted by all the amazing things going in their incredible ever-expanding treehouse! Last year they opened a new school with a brand new library.”


I think these books sound like some crazy fun. If you are in 3-5th grade, this might be the just-right book for you. Stop by the library and put in your reservation. They will be available for check out early next week.

It’s been quite a week for connections. First a phone call from New Zealand and then a package from Australia. I love these reading connections! Miss Y’s students have been enjoying some Mo Willems books we sent her last year and now we have some Andy Griffiths books here! It’s a full circle of reading fun!

Here’s a photo of what the school looks like outside, courtesy of the magic of Google maps! I hope you will visit Miss Y’s LRC blog soon and leave her a comment.  I just watched a new book trailer she made about a new book in the Clementine Rose series for girls by Jacqueline Harvey. This is the author of the Alice Miranda books we already have in our library! Jacqueline visited Miss Y’s school last year. Here is the post about this visit. I sure hope if Jacqueline ever visits the Pacific Northwest on a book tour, she will stop by our library!


What do you think about our surprise package?

Have you ever read any Andy Griffiths books before?

Look at the title.What word do we spell differently?



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A 7,000 Mile Phone Call

“Raise your hand if you like talking on the phone.”

I imagine if I asked you that question in class, the majority of you would say yes. It seems like we are married to our phones these days. They go with us everywhere keeping us connected at all times.

Yet, I have a love/hate relationship with the phone. Sometimes I like talking on it and catching up with my friends and family. Other times, a phone call means a salesperson is on the other end trying to convince me to buy this or that.

So when the phone in the library rang yesterday afternoon and I didn’t recognize the number, I wasn’t too eager to answer. I had things to do, and being interrupted wasn’t on my list. I gingerly answered with a half-hearted, “Hello, This is Julie.”

On the other end was a woman quickly telling me her name was Grace. She had found my blog, and the Nerdybookclub and my love of books. She was going on about how she had noticed that I didn’t have a New Zealand connection and she wanted to fix that.

Stop. Wait. Hold on!

New Zealand?

Grace was calling me from New Zealand?! All of a sudden I switched into high gear.

 Isn’t that expensive? How do you do that? How did she find my number? How did she find out about our blog? Or the Nerdybookclub?

Why was she calling me?

The phone connection had a little static, and I’m not really used to hearing a New Zealand accent, so my brain was experiencing a little battle from the one side pushing non-stop questions and the other side processing the information I was hearing from Grace.

The answer soon became clear. She loves books, is a retired school teacher and had visited Seattle and Sammamish (where I live) in the recent past. We talked about her visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia and visiting Prince Edward Island where the book Anne of Green Gables was set.

Then she asked if I knew of Peter H. Reynolds. Peter is the author of The Dot and Ish, and most recently, Sky Color. “Yes, I know who he is!” I told her. I wanted to tell her about how we had just tweeted back and forth over the weekend after listening to a discussion about Sky Color, but her next story was too incredible to stop.

Years ago, she had virtually met Peter online. They had many conversations on the computer and Facebook. They became friends and had many commonalities with their families.Eventually she traveled to Massachusetts from New Zealand, staying with his family on vacation and visiting Cape Cod.

I don’t know Peter personally. But she does and she was telling me about it from 7,000 miles away! I wanted to say, “I’m from Massachusetts too. I grew up about a hour away from Peter in Townsend.” I wanted to tell her that I know his work, his drawings, his stories – his fabulous website 

We love The Dot! We celebrated International Dot Day. We all made  dots in September and started to make our mark on the world this year. We are all connected. But I didn’t have a chance to tell her and that’s okay, she’ll find out soon enough.

Soon after her Peter H. Reynolds story, our conversation ended. We talked for twenty minutes from Washington, USA to New Zealand. We made plans to stay connected. Then it was over.

Why did we connect in the first place?

Because we love books and reading.  All it took was a school blog and a woman with an ability to call from far, far away to bring us all together.

It’s a small, beautiful world and I’m sure glad I answered the phone!

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Pete’s Adventure in Australia

Last month Pete the Cat left on a trip to Australia!

He arrived safely and has been having heaps of fun! The word “heaps” is used in Australia when we say “lots”, such as lots of fun. Check him out in the Bird of Paradise plant in BB’s backyard!

BB has been writing about his adventures and I hope you will visit her blog to find out all the details.

Please leave her a comment and let her know you visited. Here is the direct link to her blog.


What do you think Pete should do while he is “down under”

What season is it in Australia now?

Do you think Bird of Paradise plants would grow in Seattle?


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Pete’s Off to Australia!

Pete the Cat  is a good friend of Mrs. Hembree. This weekend he came home with her so he wouldn’t be lonely sitting in the library all weekend.

On Saturday morning, Mrs. Hembree got up and walked into the dining room.

What did she see?

Pete the Cat was stuffing himself into a really big envelope!

“What are you doing Pete?” she asked. Pete started singing!

“Where are you traveling to Pete? I see there are some letters on the envelope. Does that say Australia?” Mrs. Hembree asked Pete.

“YES! Australia!” Pete exclaimed! “I’m going to Australia and I’m singing this song!”

“Pete, won’t you be scared? Australia is a long way from Seattle! It’s not even in North America!” said Mrs. Hembree.

“NO!” he shouted! “I won’t be scared! I’m going to see my friend and I’ll be singing my song!”

“Tell me Pete, how did you decide to go to Australia?  Do you know someone there?” asked Mrs. Hembree.

Pete said, “Do you know BB our Blogging Buddy? She asked me if I could come visit! So I decided since it started raining here, that I would visit her in Australia.

Did you know Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere? When it’s fall here, it’s sunny and warm there because it’s springtime! I’m going to have fun and I’m going to be singing my song!”

“Ok Pete. It sounds like you know what you want to do and who you want to see! Let’s go to the post office and get you on the road!” Mrs. Hembree said.

“Thanks Mrs. Hembree! Don’t forget! I’m going to see BB and I’ll be singing my song!” Pete waved goodbye and was gone in a flash. She could hear in the background faint sounds of his song…..


Oh no! Australia is a long way from here!

Do you think he will get lost?

Will he have fun?

Will he get back in time to go to Prague?

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!





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Thank you Near and Far


Congratulations and thank you everyone who made our annual bookfair a screaming success!

Also,  between sales at the fair and sales online, we are at 103% of our

 fundraising goal! That means that I will be book shopping in the upcoming weeks for

new books to add to our library.


This is the stack I already purchased from the fair. If there is a book you absolutely must check out, leave me a reserve copy slip and I will get it to you as quickly as I can.

Many, many thanks to our bookfair volunteers! Without their help, our fair would not have been such a great success! Here is our STAR CAST of volunteers!

Josa Chadha

Maya Lustgarten

Mrs. Lustgarten

Mrs. Bernard

Mrs. Luedicke

Mrs. Blackford

Mrs. Kenney

 Mr. Fornia’s kindergarten class also deserves a Super Special Shout-out! His class had the  most online sales  of any teacher at our school! Way to go Mr. Fornia’s class! Everyone is getting a SUPER STAR bookmark! Woo-hoo!

When I named this post Thank You Near and Far, it’s because of our blogging friends thousands of miles away from here. I want to give a terrific thank you to BB and her mom AA in Australia! On Friday when I got home from school, I found this in my mailbox!

Inside was this…..

I love my new Geelong Cats hat. This is an Australian “football” team. In the US, we call it “rugby” and in Australia, they call it football! Talk about confusing!

Somehow BB found out that I love jewelry too, because she sent this beautiful bracelet.

Somehow the words thank you don’t seem like enough for such a special package of gifts! The blogging friendship we have developed across the miles is dear to my heart. I hope someday we will meet in person! In the mean time, I have some new decorations in the library!

And, last, but not least is a present I received from Penny! We have been reading Pete the Cat books and singing his songs in kindergarten. One morning Penny walked into the library before school started with this picture.

“Do you know who this is?” she asked me.

  “It’s Pete the Cat and his SEVEN groovy buttons!” I replied.

Thank you Penny for taking the time to make this drawing! It’s hanging in a special spot on our library wall!


What books or series do we need to add to the library?

Tell me about a special package you got in the mail!

What should Pete the Cat do next?



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Everyone’s A Winner!

Reading in a cave!

Reading while horseback riding!

Reading with a dog!

Reading in a dentist chair!

These are just some of the inventive ways our students chose to read for our 2nd annual summer reading contest!


Ellie with Mt. Rainier in the background



Every contest needs a winner and judges! Our Australian blogging buddies AA, BB and BB’s cousin Kayla were our judges again this year! Woo-hoo! A big round of claps to these three people who spent a lot of time helping me decide categories and winners.


AA and BB in Australia. Not pictured, BB’s cousin.


They also said it’s hard to pick just one winner.

So….I decided everyone who participated won in a specific category. When you read, you are a winner for life!

Here is a movie with all our winners!

List of winners by category

Blogging Buddies

BB in Australia

Miriam with her Mom (Mrs. Yollis’ former student)

Miriam with friends (Mrs. Yollis’ former student)

Mrs. Krebs in Iowa

Dangerous Reading





Famous Landmarks






Quincy, Ramsey & Peyton




Just Chillin’






 Thank you everyone who sent in photos or made a comment during the summer!

I hope you had fun reading!


Have you ever been to any of the places featured in our movie?

What’s the craziest place you have read?

What is your reading goal for this year?

Leave us a comment and let us know!




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Kid Lit Movie Project Wins!

Hey upcoming 5th graders! Your book trailer project won second place!

 I hope you know how proud I am of all your hard work!

Since Monday evening, I have been at the Partners in Learning US Forum with 100 other educators from around the country. We have been showcasing the projects our students have done using technology. Mrs. Lustgarden and I talked a lot about what the poster should look like and then she put it together.

Everyone had a display booth to set up. Then on Tuesday we had three separate judging sessions. I had three judges come to ask me more in depth questions about our project. It was a lot like taking a test and believe me, I was pretty nervous!

On Wednesday, we learned about Windows 8, and took some classes to learn about some different tools we can use in our classrooms.

In the evening, we went to the Bell Harbor in Seattle for a reception and awards dinner. The weather was perfect and it was fun seeing all the teachers dressed up really fancy!

Before I knew it dinner was over and it was time for the anouncement of the awards. We had found out earlier in the day that the teachers who won would be traveling to Prague in the Czech Republic in late November to compete against teachers from around the world.

The first name that was announced was mine! I was so surprised and excited that I couldn’t even find the steps up to the podium. Our project won second place in Collaboration! I had my picture taken and sat back down at my table.

Eric Willams, a school superintendent in Virginia was one of my judges. Photo courtesy of Vicki A. Davis.

What I didn’t realize until I sat down was that I would be going to Prague! My friend leaned over and said, “You’re going to Prague!” I told her, “No I’m not, we got second place!” At that point she explained that the first and second place winners both go to the Global Forum. And then….I started crying! I couldn’t believe it and really, still can’t.

I can’t wait to see everyone when school starts so we can celebrate together! Let’s get really crazy and break the no popcorn in the library rule. Maybe we will have cake, I don’t know! We will figure out something fun to do!

In the meantime, enjoy your summer and Keep Reading! Jake and Makenzie sent in this photo of them reading at Independence Hall when they were on vacation.

What are you going to send me? We still have some great August weeks to read!


What is your favorite technology tool?

Have you ever been on a trip far from home?

Tell me about it! What do I need to bring?

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