Rack up Those Reading Minutes!

Have you been to the library lately?

la foto-6b

check out Ulises and Pakal are at our local library earning more minutes toward their summer reading goals for the KCLS summer reading program. They have already read 500 minutes and earned their halfway prize. Now they are on their way to earning the finisher prize! Every year the KCLS offers a free summer reading incentive program. It’s easy to participate.  Just stop by your local branch of the KCLS library and pick up worksheet. Not in town?  Download a reading log or sign up online and track your minutes virtually. Go here and sign up now! Just remember, the deadline to submit your minutes is August 31st! Thanks for sending in your photo Ulises and Pakal!


I have also been reading this summer.  If you like Pirates of the Caribbean or wild adventure stories, especially ones with kids, pirates, blood, stumps and gore, then you will want to read Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey. Josa gave me this copy with high recommendations. I agree with him. This story of Egg, a 13 year old boy who lives on Deadweather, a pirate infested island with his Dad and siblings will take you on a fun, read-in-the-summer entertaining romp of a story! (You can read it in Australia in the winter too, but since it’s summer here, it seemed an appropriate description.) The sequel New Lands is already published, so once you finish one, get the next one and read it too. Then tell me about it, but not too much. I want to find out what happens to Egg, Millicent and Guts and the rest of the crew when they leave Port Scratch.  I tweeted yesterday that I really enjoyed the story and today I noticed this on the author’s  Twitterfeed:

deadweather snipGeoff has his own website http://geoffrodkey.com/ which I highly recommend you visit. Look for yourself, especially the letters to his son at summer camp. The underwear issue is particularly good.


I fell in love this summer with Rebel McKenzie. Rebel is an aspiring paleontologist and wanted more than anything to go to the Ice Age Kids’ Dig and Safari summer camp. Instead of digging up prehistoric bones, she has to dig deep into her bucket of patience and discover ways to keep her nephew Rudy occupied while she babysits all summer. Things get really crazy when Rebel decides to enter into the Miss Frog Level Volunteer Fire Department Beauty Pageant. I love Rebel’s free-thinking ideas and love of science. She knows how to speak her mind, although not always with the best manners. But that’s why I love her!


Most readers who know me also know I love a good mystery! I think I was born a mystery reader because all my best childhood reading memories involve a mystery story. I also love to travel. That’s why this series about our national parks is so awesome. You can travel to one of our parks and enjoy a great mystery all at the same time! This book takes place at the Grand Canyon, and brought back great memories of my recent trip there.


If you are a baseball fan, then Shoeless Joe and Me should go on your reading list. This is one of the Dan Gutman baseball card time-travel adventure series books. Go back in time and learn more about why Shoeless Joe, one of baseball’s greatest outfielders was banned from baseball. Was he given a raw deal? Check it out and find out!


When I was a kid, I loved going to “sleep-away camp”. The food, camping, swimming, games and dirt was the highlight of my summer. However, Eleanor hates camp! She hates the bugs, the dirt and especially the lake when she finds out she has to be in the “baby” swim group. Will she change her mind about camp, or get out of dodge and back home where things are normal? The book is the sequel to Pickle Juice on a Cookie, but you don’t have to read one before the other.

JH Paperboy

Do you remember Darth Vadar – specifically the voice of Darth Vadar? Here is a link to a video some of his best quotes. The man behind the voice is James Earl Jones and what you may not know is that he barely spoke for eight years. His stuttering problem was so severe that he chose not to talk, rather than deal with the hardships of stuttering. The book Paperboy is set in Memphis in 1959, and 11 year old  Victor, has a similar problem to James Earl Jones.

“The reason I hate talking to people who don’t know me is because when they first see me I look like every other kid. Two eyes. Two arms. Two legs. Crew-cut hair. Nothing special. But when I open my mouth I turn into something else. Most people don’t take the time to understand what’s wrong with me and probably just figure I’m not right in the head” (page 5)

Once I started Paperboy, I couldn’t put it down. Paperboy is about stuttering. It’s also about facing problems head-on as a kid and dealing with reality. Reality is when you take on your best friend’s paper route, talking to strangers and working through the hardships of not being able to communicate what you really want to say, when you want to say it. If you have ever  struggled with stuttering, or know someone who has, then this book will have even deeper meaning for you. Like James Earl Jones, the author Vince Vawter suffered through a stuttering problem in his childhood years. This book is partly his story, and partly the story of a boy you won’t soon forget.


I went  hiking today with Reese and Mrs. Adair. I brought along Secret Zoo just in case I had a chance to read a couple pages. It seemed like the perfect book to have on a hike in the Pacific Northwest, home of the infamous Sasquatch! A whole bunch of angry, nasty Sasquatches is who the scouts find when they ventured into the Secret Zoo after Megan. This is book one of a fantasy/adventure series. Except for the huge pawprints Reese made in the river mud, thankfully we didn’t see any signs of Sasquatch.



What have you been reading this summer?

Leave me a comment and let me know!

Send me those photos too!

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Along the Bayou Teche

Do you know what a bayou is?


Our latest summer reading photo comes from Morgan who is reading along the Bayou Teche in Southern Louisiana. A bayou is a French/English word that means a very slow moving river. Bayous are commonly found in the Mississippi River region of the southeast.

photo courtesy of adventuredrop.com

photo courtesy of adventuredrop.com

Remember the story of the Three Little Pigs? The story that Morgan is reading is a Cajun version of this story.


Cajun is an ethnic group of people from southern Louisiana. They are very well known for their own dialect, accent, music and food! Here is a video of a librarian from Gulf Shores Elementary School reading The Three Little Cajun Pigs by Mike Artell.

Thanks Morgan for sharing your photo! Keep Reading!

Mrs. Hembree


 Have you ever eaten any Cajun food?

Have you ever visited the Bayou area of Louisiana?

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Happy Vacation Reading

Do you recognize this reader?


Hannah recently visited Lake Chelan in eastern Washington and did some awesome vacation reading! She is reading one of the Cupcake Diaries books, a popular series about the friendship of some girls. These books are available in paperback and now in eBook version too. If you want to know more, visit the Cupcake Diary website. Thanks for sharing your photo Hannah! What will you read next?

Being on vacation is the perfect time to get some reading done! I did the same thing while I was on vacation with Mr. Hembree on our southwest vacation. Dog even checked out the mystery books in the Zion National Park bookstore! I bought a copy of Over the Edge for our new library. It will be available in the mystery section.






In the photo above, I am holding Skinny-Bones by Barbara Park. Skinny-Bones was written in 1982 and is still a very funny book to read! Alex is a 6th grader who is just not the best baseball player in the world. He does have a great sense of humor though, and uses it to help him get out of a lot of sticky situations! You might recognize that very famous author name too! Do you remember what other books she has written?

Have you been reading too this summer? Send me a photo and I will get it published on the blog. Just have your parents send it to:


Keep Reading!

Mrs. Hembree

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Southwest Adventures with Dog

Do you like to travel? Dog sure does!

go dog go

This summer Dog joined Mr. Hembree and myself on a trip around the canyons of the southwest. We all had a great time – especially dog! Here’s a story about his trip.

If you would like to read more about our trip, you can find that post here.


Were you surprised by the terrain of the southwest?

Have you ever visited these places?

Do these places remind you of sights you have seen elsewhere?

Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Guest Reader Photos

What have you been reading this summer?

Submissions are coming in for our super summer reading fun program! Some are from students nearby and some are from blogging buddies in California. Check out who is having some reading fun this summer!

Here is Miriam in Hawaii reading on a paddleboard. Miriam loves to read and has her own blog called Miriam’s Magical Moments. We both know Mrs. Yollis because Miriam used to be in her class. She is reading the fantasy/adventure story Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.

Hembree1 MiriamPM

Next is Sarah, also on vacation in Hawaii! I hope she doesn’t fall down and get that book wet. She took Annie’s Promise by Sonia Levitin to read on her  trip. Sarah says: “It is about a 13 year old girl, named Annie, and the adventures she had at a summer camp during World War II. I really like this story and your readers will have to read the book to find out what Annie promised.”  It sounds like a great book, Sarah!
Hembree2 Sarahpm

The 4th of July always means a healthy dose of red, white and blue! Here’s Josa reading Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes with his patriotic buddy!


Next is Josa with a pirate bear fully outfitted with a hat, scarf and eye patch! Where do these kinds of pirate bears live?



Sheadyn is going to be a director some day! He directed both photo shoots of him reading with some 4-legged friends while vacationing in Sitka, Alaska! I wonder if his friends enjoy Big Nate too?



Thanks to Miriam, Sarah, Josa and Sheadyn for sending in photos to celebrate reading! Remember you can join in the fun too! Take a photo of you reading some place fun. Then have your parents email the photo to:


It’s easy and you will have a great time showing others how reading can be a blast in the summer!

Keep Reading!
Mrs. Hembree

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Facing Your Fears


What scares you?



I just came back from an extended road trip to the Utah, Arizona and Nevada with my husband. The contrast between the green and mountains of Washington versus reds and canyons of the southwest amazed us both.


We hiked on trails in Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon National Parks. This experience also forced me to daily confront one of my biggest fears- heights. Get me on the third rung of a ladder or five feet from the edge of a cliff or bridge and I become a terrified mess. I freeze, unable to move forward or backward, fearing that either move will mean the worst will happen to me. I don’t know why I’m such a scaredy cat. Maybe it’s from decades of reading adventure stories!

High Trail

However, on this trip, if I wanted to see anything besides the parking lot, I was going to have to take a risk and confront my fears head on. Instead of reading an adventure story, I had to be in the plot myself. Plus, in the back of my mind I had a videotape playing of all the times I’ve asked others to try something new. I needed to walk the talk.


The trails of Zion warmed me up. We didn’t tackle anything too dangerous and I could work through my fears at a comfortable level. At Bryce Canyon seeing the best views meant hiking down from the top edge of the canyon at 8,000 feet into the hoodoos on steep, twisting trails.


Then we drove to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. I’d been to the south side many years ago and I was secretly dreading this visit. I could hardly get to the edge on my first visit years ago. What was going to happen on this trip?


We started following where the other tourists were going. When I looked to see where they were going my first words were, “Oh no, I’m NOT going there.” Fortunately for me, my husband wasn’t listening to my fears and buying into them. He kept walking and pretending he couldn’t hear me. The choice was mine. Not wanting to be left behind, I followed him. I wasn’t winning any races, but taking each slow step kept me moving forward. Before long, I was at the viewpoint – the place I said I couldn’t go to.


The feelings of empowerment overwhelmed me. I persisted and achieved what I didn’t believe I was capable of accomplishing. I was also feeling exactly like my students after they took risks on assignments. I DID it! Was I terrified? Not really. Apprehensive for sure, but I had worked through the terror that is usually overwhelming.

The next day we visited the lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona where we had to climb up and down steep ladders to move through the slot canyon. Again, my motivation and experience eased the process.


During the majority of the trip we were internet free. Most places didn’t have any internet connection or it was so slow, it was like dial up days. I just took the opportunity to live some days “un-connected.”  However, I couldn’t resist peeking onto my Facebook account when I discovered my phone could connect at one hotel. Flipping through the updates, I saw this Facebook post, and found out I won the 2013 school librarian Educator Voice Honoree Award!

FB ed voice

Learning about the award at a time when I was confronting my deepest fear and learning the depths of what I could accomplish physically and mentally beyond my comfort zone was especially sweet. This award isn’t about being the best of something. As the website says, “The goal of the Educator’s Voice is to surface great work being done by educators who are way off the radar screen.” The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  You can read more about the Bammy Awards here and the Educator Voice Awards here

Thank you to the students, parents, colleagues,  and friends who voted for me. I especially would like to thank Pauline Roberts, a colleague in Detroit, Michigan.  Your support and belief that it’s okay to push the limits of what a school librarian can do in the classroom keeps me motivated and laughing! Thanks also go to Nancy L, who wasn’t able to log her vote online, but instead wrote me the most beautiful  and personal note a teacher could receive. To my wonderful family on both coasts, especially Joe who is my loudest cheerleader, and Tara who has now started her own PNW Runner Blog, thank you for always being there for me. I love you all!

I also want to share this award with my circle of librarian and teacher friends near and far. You teach me something new everyday. These connections with each other help me remember that facing our fears isn’t about failure. It’s about pushing our limits and finding success in the unknown.


What are you afraid of? How have you moved past your fears?

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Rock on Dog!

Greetings from Hurricane, Utah!

Today we visited Zion National Park. It’s incredibly hot here. Driving from Las Vegas, Nevada to here yesterday we watched the thermometer rise to 120F! Today it’s 113F outside.
Anyway, we had fun hiking on the trails in Zion. Dog entertained lots of the visitors because he rode in Mr. Hembree’s backpack.


I don’t have my regular computer with me, so I will update pictures when I get back home.Have you ever toured any of the Southwest national parks? Do you like hiking? Where would you like to go? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Utah’s Gone to the Dogs

Look out Utah!

This afternoon the Hembree’s will be in your state on a little driving vacation to some of the national parks in the area. Last year we traveled to California with Pete the Cat. Soon after he moved to Australia and become a permanent Aussie!

pete goldenc

The year before, Pigeon went with me to Massachusetts to visit my family. Here is a link to that post and a movie I made about our trip.

pigeon bb

So, who is coming along this year? It was a big decision because I had lots of fun choices in the library. When I was thinking about the possibilities, I realized we hadn’t traveled with a dog yet. How can that be? The owner of two dogs hadn’t traveled with a doggie friend on vacation? That’s when I made my decision. The dog from my favorite book when I was a little girl would be our guest! I hope he can handle the heat because it’s going to be pretty hot!

 go dog go

So, look for some upcoming posts about our trip! We will be going to Zion National Park, Bryce National Park and the Grand Canyon. We are also going to a place called Antelope Canyon. Do you know where that is?

Why is it named antelope canyon? What state will we be in at Antelope Canyon? Leave me a comment and let me know what you find out! And don’t forget to keep reading! I have books with me too!

Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree


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Inside and Outside Reading

Our first super summer student reading photos are in! Let the fun begin!




Reading happens whether you are inside or outside! Thanks for being the first readers to send in our photos! I try to post at least once a week if I can. Remember, you can participate too! Adults can send me the photo to:


I just came back from San Antonio, Texas at a technology convention. I started a book on my eReader on the plane and then did lots of reading while I was at the convention. Mostly what I read was our schedule book. Each day there were numerous classes to choose from for each hour of the day. I had to scan the schedule and then figure out which session seemed the most interesting. While I was walking in the convention hall, I saw this statue and had to have my picture taken.


I also met the author of one of our favorite library books. He wrote The Dot, Ish and lots of other titles. We celebrated International Dot Day with thousands of other readers in September.


Do you know who this is? Leave me your guess in a comment.

Happy Reading, Mrs. Hembree

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For the Younger Readers


What have you been reading so far this summer?


Reese was doing some newspaper reading this morning. Apparently he didn’t like what he read, so now we have a shredded mess all over the living room floor! Nice! Well it’s Saturday and I have been doing some reading since school let out.After reading Destiny Rewritten, I decided to move to some new chapter books that younger readers would enjoy.


You can’t go wrong with any of Lunch Lady graphic novel series. This time a terrible technology villain invades the school and steals everyone’s gizmos and gadgets. Yikes! Will the Lunch Lady solve the dilemma?


Jennifer S. Holland has a new non-fiction series perfect for kids just starting to read chapter books. If you like animals, you will love these short stories about the friendships between some pretty unlikely animals.


Magic Tree House fans will like book #49 Stallion by Starlight. This time Merlin the Magician wants Jack and Annie to find the secret of greatness. What makes a person great? To find the answer they travel back in time to ancient Macedonia to meet Alexander the Great and his famed horse Bucephalus.

book 5


Newbery winning author Patricia MacLachlan’s new book is perfect for dog lovers. Zoe’s mother rescues Great Pyrenees dogs. “Pyrs”, as they are called for short, are large, yet gentle 140-150 pound, white fur dogs. When Phillip moves in next door, he becomes friends with one of the rescue puppies. Will the puppy help him speak again?


Any girl who loves the Fancy Nancy books by Jane O’Connor will adore her newest chapter book series. A little bit fancy, a little bit Nancy Drew, and a little bit mysterious fun, these books will entertain transitional picture book to chapter book readers.


Mystery fans will love the funny new mystery series by the author of the Lunch Lady series. The author Jarrett J. Krosocaka will be our featured guest author next year, so make sure you keep up with all of his latest books!


I hope these books will give you some ideas for the upcoming weeks! Tomorrow I’ll be traveling to San Antonio, Texas to attend the ISTE technology conference! I’ll be going to classes and finding out all sorts of different ideas to use in our library lessons in the fall!

Keep Reading! Mrs. Hembree


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