Saturday, April 17, 2010

Frances O'Roark Dowell-Visit and Books

On the last day before Spring Break, my school hosted well-known and loved author Frances O'Roark Dowell. She talked to our students about the writing process, what inspires her and also about her latest book, Falling In. She was great! She's down-to earth, funny and knew how to speak to the students. The teachers were thrilled to listen to her writing process anecdotes and when she left, most of them were surprised to learn that she was not a teacher. "She's like us. She is SO a teacher!". Now, if you live among teachers, you know that is a very high compliment!
I recalled the first Dowell book I read, Chicken Boy. A book cover that haunted years ago when I read it for the first time. When I was at the book store, the cover just grabbed my attention. You see a boy craddling a chicken, with sad eyes, that seem "to follow you". For some reason it's a cover that I never forgot. And it also has a story that grabs you. So, during Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon, my goal was to read and even reread some of her books.

My favorite is still Chicken Boy. The main character, Tobin McCauley is a character that just wins you over. The story flows so smoothly, you can see the story right in front of you. You will remember your Middle School days and friendships you made. The kind of friends that even if you stop seeing each other for awhile when you meet again, it's like you talked the day before. The grandmother and his best friend Henry are awesome, dimensional characters. Also, I enjoyed the music references with Al Jackson. I don't listen to country music so googled him and listened and saw several of his video on Youtube.
I also read: Phineas L. MacGuire...erupts! and Phineas L. MacGuire...gets slimed! The character made me think a lot about my son, Diego, asking questions and loving Science facts. I feel it's like The Magic School Bus in that it maked Science fun and interesting for children. Children a lot about Science, without even realizing it. It's great! We need more stories and characters like Phineas. A character that is intelligent, out-of-the-box and still COOL.  My only complaint is with the illustrations. I don't know why every time someone writes about a smart kid, the kid has to wear glasses! Why? I think we should break that stereotype.At the end of both books, kids can read instructions on diffrent experiments. I love those! They are easy to follow and do because the materials are things you find in any household.
I was not able to finish Falling In, so what I will do, since it's her latest book is write my thoughts on a separate post -very soon- and also raffle an autographed book...So, keep reading!

Monday, April 12, 2010


The results of Kiki's Bookcation's First GO INDIE! mini-challenge are the following bloggers:

FIRST PLACE : Melissa from One Librarian's Book Reviews. Melissa wants her gift card from King's English, an indie store in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was happy when I  realized that she wanted it from this store because although I have never been there nor do I know Melissa, I met Betsy Burton, founder/owner of the bookstore, a few years back at the Miami Book Fair. She was a part of a panel with Rock Star Librarian, Nancy Pearl. Betsy came to promote her book about the store's history . I have it signed!
SECOND PLACE is Kanaye from Kanaye Speaks. The blogger will receive an email with available titles/authors and will pick 2 books from that list.
THIRD PLACE is Heidikind from Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Books. She will receive an email with a list of books and pick one as well.
Congrats to all the winners! And a BIG thank you to all the readers who stopped by and participated. I am honored in that you took the time to come...And, please keep supporting our INDIE stores...As you can see by the comments, they are indispensable in ALL our communities... It doesn't matter where you live, what they DO MATTERS TO US ALL!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


The winners have been drawn and the list was sent to the staff over at Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. As soon as they announce the winners in the wrap-up, I will post the winner list on the blog and I will also notify them by email. Thanks soooo much for participating! Now, I'm off to get some coffee and sleep, even if it's jsut a little...

Dewey's Read-a-Thon-Last hour

I am exhausted! I read/cheered and blogged for a total of 22 hours...A lot better than last time. I read more and even cheered more. Although the computer was ultra slow, I sat most of the time at the office/library and read while waiting for the computer to move from one blog to the other. Here's my wrap-up:
1. Which hour was most daunting for you? After 2 am, I got super tired...I tried to be up because my mini-challenge finished at 4 am, but I just couldn't fight it and wanted to give everyone the chance of posting.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I used
advice from other blogs and they were right! Short stories, young adult are best.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I think that the mini-challenges are great, awesome and think, at least I could have joined in more if I knew of some beforehand. For example the ones that ask you to do more, and you have to take pictures or video, etc., that I knew about them at the beginning of the day or a day before the event. That way I can least start thinking about it. The thing is that when it's posted, it's either read or post...I don't know just an idea.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? Awesome organizers...Great in the way the cheerleading teams were divided. GO TEAM KEATS!
5. How many books did you read? 3 books and about a 2 chapters of a fourth.
6. What were the names of the books you read? All titles by Frances O'Roark Dowell: Chicken Boy, Phineas L. MacGuire...erupts!, Phineas L. MacGuire...gets slimed and I started her latest one, Falling In.
7. Which book did you enjoy most? Chicken Boy!!!! This was my second time reading it...LOVE IT!!! Love the cover and love the main character, Tobin McCauley.
8. Which did you enjoy least? Not applicable! Each one was different.
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? I was a cheeleader so I'd like to know how can I improve. I went to all the blogs taht were listed for Team Keats and really enjoyed my time reading and posting...
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? YES!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Hello Readers! First of all CONGRATS! Because if you are still up and reading, I know you must be tired I know I am, so thanks for sticking around...This is my first mini-challenge ever and it is titles GO INDIE! I totally support my independent book store, Books and Books, in Coral Gables, Florida. Why? There are always author events during the year, they always support our schools, our students, our teachers...I always have Debra Linn recommending to me or our book club great reads...
Thanks to them, South Florida is a much richer, "sunnier" place... And to top that,  all with a great cup of capuccino, cafe con leche or a Misha cupcake too! (They also serve great food.)
As part of this challenge I want you to name your favorite independent store and why. All posts will be entered in a raffle. First place will be a $15 gift certificate to the INDIE shop of the winner's choice; Second place (2 books) and Third prize (1 book) that winners can pick from a selection I have; some of them are autographed and some are ARC's. GOOD LUCK! ¡BUENA SUERTE!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon-Update

I  am so tired by now that I forgot in what hour I should be in...Here's the latest...Oh! And by the way I will be hosting a mini-challenge, GO INDIE! at 11 pm...So stay tuned

1. What are you reading right now? Phineas L. MacGuire...gets slimmed!
2. How many books have you read so far? 2 and a half...
3. Total number of pages:  409 pages...I know, I am a SLOW reader...
4. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I hope to finish one more Frances O'Roark Dowell book. All, these will be applied to my OWL, Goodreads and Support Your Public Library Challenges. I will also host a mini-challenge, my first, starting at 11 pm.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? I tried to ignore them as much as possible.
6. Are you getting tired yet? Yes, I am....
7. Food/snacks: Chester's Flaming Hot Fries...

Dewey's Read-a-Thon-The Lost Entwife Challenge

Lydia at The Lost Entwife blog has an awesome challenge during this hour where she's asking us to name a book and who would we cast for a part, as well as why would we pick that person. Love it!
I read quite recently, Shanghai Girls by Lisa See and would love to see the book made into a movie. I would pick Sandra Oh to play one of the main characters, either Pearl or May. Although, I think she's more of a May. I thought about her because I think she's an awesome and multifacetic actress. I have seen her in Sideways, Under the Tuscan Sun, Grey's Anatomy and no role is small, anything she does, she shines..

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon-Update-Hour 11

Thanks to al the wonderful organizers at Deweys' Read-a-Thon. You guys ROCK! And my answers...
1. What are you reading right now? Phineas L. MacGuire

2. How many books have you read so far? and a half...
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I hope to finish two more, completing my Frances O'Roark Dowell books. All, these will be applied to my OWL, Goodreads and Support Your Public Library Challenges.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Yes! I  didn't go to a family function.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? It was hard but many people knew I was into this, so they respected my time, for example, husband, kids and family.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? All the people from all over the world who share a common passion...BOOKS! It doesn't cease to amaze me.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I think it's great like this.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I need a better computer. I'd love to have a laptop so next time I can go outside and comment while I read...
9. Are you getting tired yet? No, not yet. The coffee is kicking in and if I get tired, I'll just have some Cuban coffee...That will be the solution!
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Have templates and just go with the flow. Reading is a solitary activity, most of the time, and a Read-a-Thon like this is an opportunity to connect with others. Take it!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon-Update-Hour 10

I have been reading a bit more. My computer has been ultr slow, even more than me when I read, so I am bit behind on my posts. I have found that I am a slower reader than I thought. Even more so, when I fall in love with the characters all over again. I had read Chicken Boy years ago and now read it once again. I fell in love with Tobin McCauley all over again...
Currently reading: Phineas L. MacGuire...erupts! by Frances Dowell
Books finished: Chicken Boy by Frances Dowell
Pages read: 220 pages
Mini-challenges completed: 2
Other participants I’ve visited: About 5
Snacks/Food: My son and husband brought a Mexican pizza from Taco Bell and now I'm sipping on some Starbucks coffee.

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon-Update-Hour 7

I had to stop for awhile -mother and housewife duties- but am back on track...I have kept visiting incredible blogs and leaving comments. I was never a cheerleader but I love it! I have been so happy all day, it's great to know that there are so many people out there who share your passion.
Currently reading: Chicken Boy by Frances Dowell
Books finished:  0
Pages read: 124 pages
Mini-challenges completed: 1
Other participants I’ve visited: About 12
Snacks/Food: One Starbucks brownie and 1 soy chai tea latte (with a giftcard, boy it's expensive!)

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon-Update-Hour 3

Well, I am doing it again! Just like on my last marathon, my first, I get really caught reading blogs and leaving comments. I forget to read my own book and keep reading all those wonderful blogs; the ones I usually follow plus the ones I am discovering. I have read 9 chapters from Chicken Boy, entered a mini-challenge, read blogs and left cheers and comments on many. I am going to have to take an hour off, I am after all a mom! not just a reader and then continue...Love this day!!!

Dewey's Read-a-Thon-Intro Meme

I know I should have done this before but it's like last time, I love the cheerleading so much, I get so caught reading all those fabulous blogs, that I lose track of everything...So, better late than never, right?
Answers to the first meme..
Where are you reading from today? I am between my library-office chair and the couch, with brief coffee stops in the kitchen.
3 facts about me …
1. I had gastric bypass surgery 9 months ago, so I can't snack like I used to, so I am rading more!
2. My mother sent her Yorkie for two weeks to my house, like this was boarding school, and Figaro has been here for the last 4 months...and counting.
3. Love NPR..I can't think of one day in the week that I do not listen to it!
How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? I have 9 books...But maybe I will change...I should 10, right? A nice, even number...LOL
Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? Not really. Read as much as I can...And cheer as much as I can too!
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time? This is my second time and this time I read other blogs that made book recommendations, like reading YA genre or Middle School books, and I am taking that advice.

Dewey's Read-a-Thon-Miss Remmer's Review Mini-Challenge

A BIG thanks for Miss Remmer's Review for hosting this challenge! Beside being next to my pile of TBR books, I am next to my little yorkie Figaro who is confused because I am not paying him attention and I usually do; I have my colorful throw "Bookwoman" that I bought a few months after I got married 15 years ago. I love it because the artist is Kiki, and Kiki is also my nickname. I am reading Chicken Boy while i move from my library-office, where I have my computer, to the couch and vice-versa...Also, I have NPR in the background, I just have to! I need my Saturday dosage of NPR as much as I need my Dunkin' Donuts coffee served in my Dean and Deluca mug I bought in Georgetown. Inside I am full of happiness, knowing that so many people around the world are doing the same thing am...reading and loving every minute of it!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon is almost HERE!

I've been up for an hour and am getting ready to start! I'm so excited. This looks like it will be a "Bokkie" weekend for me. Last night I had my book club meeting to discuss The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow, which I'll talk very soon about and then attended the book release of Between Friends by  Kristy Kiernan. Today I will be hosting a mini challenge at 11 pm, cheerlead and read for most of today...I have all my books piled up and don't think that I will change, well maybe I will...
1. Chicken Boy, Phinesas L. MacGuire...gets slimed! and Phineas L. Maguire...erupts!- I read Chicken Boy many years ago and want to read it again...and the just released Falling In..All by Frances O'Roark Dowell.
2. The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary by Candace Fleming
3. Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Jonathan Bean
4. The Missing: Book 1-Hound by Margaret Peterson Haddix
5. Cubanita by Gaby Triana (She's a Miami native, fellow teacher and I want to re-read it!)
6. My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath
I am having my first Dunkin' Donuts coffee, more coffee on the way and our Yorkie, Figarito as well as my big throw "Bookwoman" will keep me comfy while I read. I will try to post every two hours.
Happy Reading everyone..

Monday, April 5, 2010

Creative Bookmarks by Sarah's Art Journal

In one of my last entries, we celebrated Bookmark Day hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. In that entry I talked about my unexpected bookmark collection. I forgot to include all the bookmarks my sister has made throughout the years. Sometimes, I tend to give them away since I always think she will replace them and then I realize I don't have any! It was not until later, after I posted, that I realized I had not included the bookmarks Sarah from Sarah's Art Journal has made not only for my personal use but for school events, book club meetings, nonprofit organizations, friends, etc., and just because...She really doesn't have to have a specific reason...And not only because I forgot but also because I think she deserves a solo entry, I want to share with you her unique and inspiring artwork. Everytime I ask her (too many to count!), since we teachers always need something for our students, to design posters or bookmarks, I know we can count with her! The last one she made is for the seven school challenge Battle of the Books that will be held in G.W. Carver Elementary on May 15th 2010. For our last book club meeting she made the one you see here. Her inspiration is author/illustratoer Eric Carle, and her art style or medium is collage. You can also see a bit of illustrator Mary Engelbreit (who she also loves!) and likes to use famous quotes in her artwork.
I wanted to share this with you because I support her in her artistic journey.  These bookmarks are not only the utilitarian use of a bookmark but they mean so much more. These are the bookmarks that mark her journey as an artist. Each one she makes is a confirmation of  her validity as an artist, of getting closer to "making something of herself", like this quote reads. She's also a  consumate reader and  makes them with a passion only book readers like you and I feel...A love for books and the written language that only Book Lovers understand!

The Art of Reading- Home and Away

As I grow as a reader, the more I want to enjoy and learn from different genres of literature. I find it so liberating when you can read just for the pleasure of it, not having to think about exams, grades...or even what other people think.  I have been wanting to get more out my reading and was thinking about taking a college class, but money is tight, so I was looking for other options. Then a few months ago I received the catalog The Great Courses from The Teaching Company and  was amazed at the variety of courses they offer in CD and DVD formats. Immediately, the course titled The Art of Reading caught my attention. This course is a 24 lecture/30 minute course by Professor Timothy Spurgin from Lawrence University. I just started last week and already can tell that by the time I finish, my reading life will have changed. The great thing is that it's like going to a college class, without having to drive, find parking, etc., and then you can do it at your own pace, no exams, either. And a lot cheaper! If you are looking to go further in your reading, I highly recommend it. Some of the themes that are covered are dialogue, adaptation, scenes and summaries, patterns, chapters, as well as many others.
Sarah, from Sarah's Art Journal,  brought to my attention the Reader's Retreat organized by Squam Art Workshops in New Hampshire. I wish I could go! The website says that it's not a bookclub and that it's for people "who honestly believe there simply aren't enough hours in the day to spend nuzzled between the pages of a good book." The picture above shot by photographer Thea Coughlin, has made an impact on me. I wish I had a place like that or could go! Don't you want to go, too?? The retreat takes place from Wednesday, September 1-Sunday, September 5, 2010. It looks like a great opportunity and even though I am not planning on attending, well, things can change...I may win the Lotto over the summer and be able to go...You never know!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thoughts on How to Save Your Own Life-15 Lessons on Finding Hope in Unexpected Places

I came across this book at the Coral Gables Public Library while my daughter was auditioning at the Coral Gables Youth Center. The author came to Books and Books in Coral Gables not long ago but I was not able to go. I confess that I did not read this author's first book, How Starbucks Saved my Life but also have wanted to read it. Since I was not able to get the first book, I decided just to dive into the second. As I read the book, I couldn't help but wanting or dreaming about my favourite coffee at Starbucks since the references to the store are common. By the way, my favourite is Soy Chai Tea Latte. Did I enjoy the book or would I recommend it? Well, let's say that this book, I believe is not to be read all at once. I think it's the kind of book that is better read in sips, like "hot coffee". The author wants to share the lessons he has learned the hard way; how by losing everything he had, he was able to find the life that was meant for him. The best way is to read the lessons -chapters-, little by little, so you have time in between to think and analyze how it applies to your own life. I agree with the author about how rewarding it is to serve others. It made me think about that quote from Rumi that states: "Be a lamp, a lifeboat or a ladder". I believe we are here to learn from others and to help athem as well. This book is full of lessons to that effect. On the other hand, the book is quite simplistic. It did move me, aup to a point, and you can relate to the author in some ways but then in some many other ways, it really did not speak to me. Perhaps, because I am not part of that privileged class he talks so much about, although my family knows what it is like to lose everything and have to start all over. If you want a light, warm and inspiring read, then this is your book.