Heat Wave

June 30, 2014

It’s hot.

In Indiana, the heat index is fairly normal in the 80’s. The humidity has been above 50%, tolerable but definitely moist when pulling weeds this morning. But these temperatures are nothing in comparison to a day in Lumberville.

In Heat Wave by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, the towns people are doing everything possible to keep cool. I connected Patricia Polacco’s books with this book when the people sleep outside. No air conditioning available during this time period. (I am so thankful for ours right now.) Children will understand this book. It’s an everyday happening – activities you do in the summer when it is hot.

Sun sizzled. Hair frizzled. It was a sweltering day in Lumberville….”

Set in a day of the week text structure, Eileen focuses on each individual activity – cooking in the basement, hair cut, splashing in the wash tub. Finally, the people sleep outside near the river, on the fire escape, or on the roof. Each had the same dream – rain.

This book reminds me of Come on Rain by Karen Hesse.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Heat Wave:

  • Transitions
  • Snapshot – one moment in time
  • Proper names with title clauses – Mike Morello, the mailman,
  • Varied sentences

Eileen and her husband, Jerry, share about their writing lives in this 5:30 minute YouTube video.





Opportunity {Celebrations}

June 28, 2014

Join in Celebrating the little and big in your life at Ruth Ayres Writes.



Linda, Kim, and Elsie are wonderful!

This week was the beginning of my summer at home, scheduling as I pleased. My heart is filled with joy and renewed by seeing so many friends at AllWrite!!! Memories make me smile. I also love connecting with them on Facebook and feeling a part of their lives through the distance. I love blogging about books and receiving comments. I love reading other life moments and being connected.

I celebrate my friend, Bethany. We met for coffee and shared about our teaching lives. Her classroom blog captures to creative spirit she resonates with them.


I celebrate shopping. My daughter and I spent yesterday with my cousin and her daughter. We laughed and shared and laughed some more. Of course we made purchases too. I love a sale!!


I celebrate memories of my classroom. Phase one of our new school has begun. Two sections of our school have been torn down to allow for the new construction to begin. In the photo below, my door is still open to the very last minute.


My door stands open until the end.

I celebrate a dream come true! During my presentation at AllWrite!!!, I was unaware Brenda Power from Choice Literacy was in the audience. Afterwards, she invited me to spend the day at a writing retreat. I accepted with a huge hug and smile. Monday, I practiced BIC- bottom in chair – and after six hours of drafting, rereading, revising, conferring, rereading, revising, conferring, an article was birthed. The accomplishment of nurturing an article into being was awesome! Thanks to my writing group who gave feedback during the day. (Notice I had their picture up during my writing time.) Thanks to Brenda for the opportunity and conferring with me. Thanks to Christy and Deb for their smiles of affirmation. Thanks to Ruth for believing I could do it. Thanks to Franki and Shari for providing feedback during group share. Now, on to more writing!!

The desk I wrote at during the retreat. Loved it!!

The desk I wrote at during the retreat. Loved it!!


Hee-Haw-Dini and the Great Zambini

June 26, 2014

Harry Houdini was known for near-death escapes. The sibling authors’ grandmother shared stories of meeting Houdini. She gave them their first magic book too.

Reading the book jacket, I learned more. Kim Kennedy and Doug Kennedy had a family donkey on the farm, who was known to take items from a person’s back pocket and then hiding behind a tree. These memories triggered the idea for the book.

Knowing these idea snippets, the introduction correlates. The illustration shows a donkey and mouse sitting under a tree talking. I believe in letting kids know how ideas come to life. An every day happening, such as a pet, living on a farm, created a story. The kids could be like Kim and Doug.

The story begins with the two friends practicing magic tricks day after day, persevering through disbelief from the other animals. A “one-day” story highlights the magic in a dream, the prize from persistence.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Hee-Haw-Dini and the Great Zambini:

  • Power of 3 – words in a series; scenes in three
  • Other Verbs for Said – honked, squeaked, grunted
  • Community Building – believing in a dream, persevering
  • Made up Words – “unlock-o-maneuver”
  • Story from memories

Curious Critters

June 25, 2014

Tammy Shultz and I present our top book picks of the year. I always have a difficult time narrowing my choices; there are many books to choose from. We do not necessarily choose the newest books (Donalyn Miller keeps me updated). We choose books that have appealed to our kids this past year. Curious Critter is a book I loved. It’s funny and the kids react to the creatures talking to them. I had it on my slide show when I reviewed last year’s books; I realized Tammy had shared it as her book last year. Makes sense. Great book!

Curious Critters is a nonfiction text with voice! I was drawn to the captivating descriptions and features of the creatures. David FitzSimmons illustrated the photographs on a white background, emphasizing the details of the critters. A website features the critters. Click here to see what’s new.

His second book, Curious Critters Vol. 2, is available. When you click on the title, the link will allow you to preview a few pages. Fascinating!

View the YouTube video (1:20 second) book trailer. Your students will be intrigued!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Curious Critters:

  • Point of View – the critter talks to the reader
  • Voice – The goldfish says, “Let’s play a game: I’ll flip my fins and swim around in this aquarium, and you throw in some food. Sound good? Great?”
  • Humor –
  • Allitoration – decorating daisies
  • Transitions – one creature will connect to the next


All Write!!! 2014 {Celebrations}

June 21, 2014

Wednesday evening began with the BONS meeting on the fly during our dinner. (We were secretly drafting and revising an opening for our dear friend Ruth.) I loved seeing everyone and the room was full of chatter, bringing delight to my ears.



Thursday, I also presented, Finding Craft in the Books You Love. My heart pounded and I became overwhelmed by the gracious audience. With standing room only and my colleagues, friends in the audience, my delight in books overflowed.

Loved it all. More on this later.

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