The Meaning of Maggie

Maggie is going to be the President of the United States!


Well, that’s what she thinks she’s going to do when she grows up. Right now she’s eleven, in middle school, and the defender of the Science Fair blue ribbon. She loves the library and the smell of old books.  She carries encyclopedias to school and puts them in her locker. It’s not a surprise that she has a 4.0 grade point average. Yet, she has a problem. Her dad.

Mysteriously Dad is no longer working, and spends his days in a wheelchair because his legs go to sleep a lot. Nobody will tell her what’s going on. Not her mom or her sisters, and especially not Dad. The solution is to figure out what it will take to fix him and make it all better.

Will she be successful? Read, the intermediate novel The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern to find out. Check out the book trailer for this quirky, realistic fiction/historical fiction novel.

Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree

Print Friendly

Happy Birthday America!


It’s the 4th of July and I am sending you holidays wishes from America’s Oldest Seaport in Gloucester, Massachusetts! My daughter and I are here visiting our family. My cousin is a lobster fisherman, so I have included some photos of his boat, plus others from Rockport, including The Motif, the most photographed and painted fishing shack in America.

I hope you enjoy the 4th and happy reading!

Have you ever photographed a famous building or eaten lobster? Let a comment and let us know!

Print Friendly

Off to the East Coast


Happy Summer! I hope you are reading lots and lots! My daughter Tara and I visited the library the other day and borrowed an audiobook for our trip back East. We will be doing quite a bit of driving around the area, so having a book to listen to makes the driving so much easier! Plus, library audio books are free!

go dog go

I’m also traveling light this year. Usually I take a stuffed animal, like Go, Dog, Go, who visited the Utah/Arizona area last year, or Pigeon who traveled with me to Massachusetts a few years ago. This year with a smaller suitcase, I had to make some serious traveling companion decisions. Who goes and who stays? I decide to bring a bookmark this year.


This giraffe bookmark was given to me by Josa, who has been very involved with our Books to Africa program. Every time I look at it, I think about the amazing connections our students have with our partners in Ghana, Lesotho, and South Africa. These children and teachers have made such an impact on me, that I thought they needed to join me on my trip. So, giraffe bookmark, will be traveling with us here and there, as a way to bring our Books to Africa friends along on our trip!

Where are you photos? Don’t forget to send me photos of you reading this summer! Spread the word! Send them to:

summer read email pic

Have a great and safe 4th of July!

Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree

Print Friendly

The Red Thread Sisters

What would you do to help a friend?

reese and book

Friendship and family are the themes of Red Thread Sisters by Carol Antionette Peacock. Wen, an eleven year old girl who has spent the majority of her life in a Chinese orphanage, is suddenly adopted by her forever family and moves to Boston, Massachusetts. Wen is bewildered by her conflicting feelings of joy over being adopted, and sadness that she must leave her best friend, Shu Ling. Wen and Shu Ling  have been the only family either of them have ever known, and it’s heart wrenching to leave her behind. Wen promises to find Shu Ling her own forever family so she too can move to America. Of course, that’s not an easy task.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Carol Peacock bases some of the background of the story on her own experiences adopting her two girls from China. If you would like to learn more, please read this interview with Carol Peacock. I thoroughly enjoyed this realistic fiction book, especially this ancient Chinese legend, included in the beginning of the book, and woven throughout the story.

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.

The legend really made me stop and think about the people who have become important parts of my life. They are my red threads. Who is your red thread? Leave a comment and let me know. In the meantime, please send enjoy the book trailer. Red Thread Sisters is one of the 2015 Battle of the Books selections.






Print Friendly

Happy Canada Day!

Canada day

Thanks Josa for this great Canada Day photo. Thanks to you, I learned on the website that “Canada Day celebrates the birthday of Canada. On July 1, 1867 Canada became a new federation with its own constitution by signing the Constitution Act – formerly known as the British North America Act.Canada Day is a national statutory holiday celebrated in all provinces and territories and it is a day off for most businesses. There is, of course, a lot more to Canada Day but the purpose of this page is only to give you a date and a brief history.”

I hope you are enjoying Canada Day! What is that interesting building behind you?

Keep Reading!

Mrs. Hembree

Print Friendly

Climb to the Top

Have you ever thought about climbing to the top of Mt. Everest?


Four teenagers.  The tallest, meanest mountain.    Bad weather. 

 And one snitch.

This is the story of Everest: The Contest (book 1), The Climb (book 2), and The Summit (book 3) and if you answered yes or no to my question, then Gordon Korman’s trilogy, is the series for you! If you are a climber, you will not be able to put down these books, about 4 teen climbers, one of whom is only thirteen, who train and climb Mt. Everest. If you are like me, then you will love reading about someone else doing the climbing and call it good. I admire the tenacity and strength of people to climb to the top of mountains, I’m just not in your club.

This series is a quick summer read for intermediate readers. Each book is only about 150 pages and the action will keep you on the edge of your seat. Caution! You may not want to put the book down to come to dinner. If you get in trouble, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree

Print Friendly

What dog is in Sovenga?

Where is Dogzilla?


I think the book Dogzilla is in Sovenga, South Africa! Yes, the hilarious book by Dav Pilkey was one of the books we sent to Mrs. Phuti Ragophala at Pula Madibogo Primary School, in the Limpopo Province.


One of the boys read the book Dogzilla to me on Skype last night. Dav Pilkey, who wrote Dogzilla, is also the author of the Captain Underpants series. His books have been making children laugh for years!


 Last evening at 11:15 pm, I skyped with Phuti, two of her teachers, Mohlake and Molepo, plus a classroom of students! They were so excited about the boxes of books we sent that they wanted to talk to us live on Skype. Here is are some photos from their classroom during our Skype visit.




Four or five of the students read portions of one of their favorite books. Just being able to read aloud on Skype was a huge motivation to practice reading for these children. We are calling this project “TechnoReading!”

106_4787 Phuti

In South Africa, the teachers call their students by a different term.They call the children learners. I like that word better than students. It just seems to say what we all do – we LEARN! I hope to Skype again this summer and then once school starts we will arrange for a call and a time when our students can participate. We will have to write a sing a song for our friends. They sent me a video on Facebook, but unfortunately I can’t figure out how to download it and post it on the blog. If we get the technology worked out, I will post it here.

The teachers have already asked for more books! I was sad to say that we have to wait until we raise more money for postage in the fall. Now I can’t wait for school to start again. Look at all the books on this cart that are waiting for new homes.



Even Jett, Mrs.Daly’s dog helped out when she came up to the library to add to our book donation cart. Are you wondering where this school is located and where some of these books will go in the fall? Here is the general area where the school is located in South Africa.

south africa

In case you were wondering also, how I could know someone 10,000 miles away from our school, I have the answer. Mrs. Ragophala and I met in March at the Microsoft Global Forum in Barcelona, Spain. We started talking about our projects, and she was very interested to hear that we send books to schools in South Africa. Before you know it, we added another school to our Books to Africa project!


She was selected to attend for her project “Planting seeds” Changing lives! This project is about the different stages on how food is produced, technological tools that were used to enhance teaching and learning & how the lesson impacted learners and community members. She has been teaching for 27 years at Pula Madibogo Primary School, of which nine years being a principal.

106_4785 Phuti

I hope you are as motivated to read as the students at Pula Madibogo Primary School. Who has already read 5 books this summer? Let me a comment and let me know!

Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree


Print Friendly

Look Alex Reads too!

How many books have you read so far?


It looks like Alex is  participating with summer reading fun. Look at him enjoying the fabulous Bulldog yearbook from 2009-2010! Today marks one week since school let out for summer vacation. What books have you read so far? I hope by now you have read at least ONE book to keep your reading skills sharp. I am reading Odd Weird and Little by Patrick Jennings. He is the author of Guinea Dog, Guinea Dog 2, My Homework Ate My Homework, Invasion of the Dognappers, and Lucky Cup. He’s also a local author, but local I mean he lives somewhere  in western Washington State! Who knows, he might be your neighbor. If you look on his website, you can find out the answer if you READ carefully!


Anyway, Odd Weird and Little is a funny  book about bullying. Yes, usually books about bullying are serious because bullying is a serious topic. Yet, Patrick Jennings knows how to take a subject like bullying, twist some humor into it and create a book that readers will love and learn from. Woodrow and his classmates are surprised by the new kid who comes into their class. He is small, like really small, wears a full suit, strange old-fashioned glasses over his HUGE eyes, carries a suitcase, comes from Quebec, Canada, and allegedly only speaks French. I have a idea who Toulouse, really is, but need to wait until I get further into the book, to confirm my hunch.  Do you have an idea from my description so far?

I hope you will leave a comment and let me know. Even better, go to your local library and check it out yourself, read it and then leave me a comment about what you think of the book! Here’s a link to a blog post where the author explains how he got the idea for Odd Weird and Little. You can also visit Patrick Jennings virtually on his website (check with a parent first) To leave a comment, just click on the bubble at the top of this post, fill in the required information and type your reply. Push send! Easy, peezy!

Don’t forget to send me your Super Summer Reading pictures! Mrs. Adei in Ghana, told me that she thinks she has some students who will want to participate too! Remember, we are trying to excitement about reading span every continent this summer! Send them to:

summer read email picHappy Reading! Mrs. Hembree 

Print Friendly

Reading at Marina Park

Do you like monster books?

sheadyn 14

Check out Sheadyn, enjoying the sunshine and a cool book at Marina Park in Kirkland! He’s reading one of the Case Files 13 monster books by J. Scott Savage. They are a spooky/horror intermediate book series. You can find out more about the series here. If you like his books, contact the author and let him know! Authors always love hearing from their fans! J. Scott Savage can be contacted at jscottsavage dot com.

Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree

Print Friendly

Read Because You Can!

Can you think of a great reason to read?


Mrs. Adei at our partner school in Akosombo, Ghana recently had a Read a Book a Week launch for the primary students. Her students created posters advertising why reading is awesome and important.


We have been sending books to Mrs. Adei’s school in Akosombo, Ghana  as part of our books to Africa program for the past two years. We met at the Microsoft Global Forum in Prague, where we were both representing our schools and countries.

S & J IMG_0525

It has been an incredibly rewarding partnership for all of the children involved. Our students have learned that their actions matter by raising money, signing books and getting them in the shipping boxes, while Mrs. Adei’s students love having new books to add to their classrooms and library at school. We can learn from each other and expand our reading horizons.

You may have noticed that this blog post was published on the Bulldog Reader Blog and not on the Books to Africa blog. I have decided that it’s time to merge the two blogs into one in order. You can still read older stories on the Books to Africa blog about our partnership for the past two years with schools in Ghana, Lesotho, and South Africa. There is also a link to the blog at the top of this page.

I am hoping Mrs. Adei will be able to share so photos of her students reading this summer so we can include them for our Super Summer Reading posts. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we could get reading photos from every friends on continent in the world this summer? Whether you are near or far, send our photos  to:

summer read email pic

Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree

Print Friendly