Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Harry Potter & the world of publishing

I couldn't help being intrigued by this sentence: "Every new Harry Potter book changed the rules of American publishing."

You too? Read the original or this summary. Doesn't it make you wonder what might come next?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer vacation reading list!

I hope everyone is enjoying summer vacation so far. With luck we'll even end up with a bit of sunshine before long! 

Here are a few suggested books for all ages. You can also find this list - and ones for previous years - on my Sharepoint and OWS teacher sites.

Please view my profile on GoodReads and posts on this blog for even more book recommendations! On the blog, look at the labels menu on the left for categories such as “reading lists” and “awards.”

Happy summer reading! I can't wait to see you all in September!

Picture books for all ages

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham – A sweet and inspirational story about a small boy who is the only one to notice the little pigeon with the broken wing.

The Pink Refrigerator by Tim Egan – Dodsworth’s routine life is greatly enriched by the mysterious notes he finds on the pink refrigerator in the junkyard.

The Secret Box by Barbara Lehman – There is endless mystery in this wordless picture book about different generations of children finding adventure thanks to the directions in a secret box.

Ten Birds by Cybèle Young – How did the birds cross the river? Each of the ten has a different grand idea! Which bird are you most like?

When You Were Small by Sara O’Leary – A charming and humorous take on all the stories parents tell their children about “when they were small…”

Chapter books


Junonia by Kevin Henkes – Realistic fiction about a summer vacation on an idyllic Florida island that grows ever more frustrating and disappointing – until Alice figures out that changes don’t always have to be for the worse. A quiet, thoughtful read.

Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher – Fans of Roald Dahl’s Matilda will enjoy seeing young Madeleine’s triumph over her nasty uncle, Monsieur Lard, who tries to steal the secret recipe for Paris’s finest paté…

Ordinary Jack by Helen Cresswell – Jack and his dog Zero know what it’s like to be the only “ordinary” members of the family. It seems as if everyone else is brilliant at something – but now Jack has a madcap plan of his own!

Elementary/middle school

Guys Read: Funny Business edited by Jon Scieszka – There’s something for everyone – boys and girls – in this hilarious compilation of short stories by some of the wittiest authors around. Eoin Colfer, Jack Gantos and Mac Barnett, oh my!

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis – My favorite book of the year so far! Set during the Great Depression, this is a story filled with humor and hope.

Sita’s Ramayana by Samhita Arni – A beautiful graphic novel adaptation of the ancient Hindu epic poem told from the point of view of Queen Sita. This gripping story, full of twists and turns, is an exciting read whether the legend is new to you or a familiar favorite.

The Various by Steve Augarde – This is an unusual and atmospheric fairy story about the strange, wild creatures that live in a small and threatened patch of forest on Midge’s uncle’s farm.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani – Sonia is Jewish on her mother’s side and Indian on her father’s. But more than anything now she’s confused as she tries to navigate her way through a new school where nothing at all feels familiar.

Middle/high school

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol – The heroine of this graphic novel finds her already too challenging life unexpectedly complicated by the arrival of an otherworldly “friend” she can’t shake loose.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley – Fans of Banksy and other street artists will enjoy this story from Australia about friends on a nocturnal romp that leads to long-kept secrets being uncovered.

The Shattering by Karen Healey – Another import from the southern hemisphere, this New Zealand novel mixes fantasy with mystery as a group of teens try to unravel the truth behind a rash of recent suicides.


All in the Family, Oh My Gods!, She’s All That and What a Beast! (Mythlopedia series) by various authors – Greek mythology fans shouldn’t miss these funny books. And anyone who isn’t yet a fan will surely be after picking these up!

Cats to the Rescue: True Tales of Heroic Felines by Marilyn Singer – Forget Lassie and Rin Tin Tin! These stories of brave cats who saved their owners’ lives, went to war and inspired great writers will have you purring for more!

The Story of Salt by Mark Kurlansky – You probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about salt, yet it’s played an important role in human history for centuries! From its role in science to technology – and, of course, food – the author leads the reader on an entertaining tour of the unexpectedly fascinating world of salt.

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson – Firsthand accounts by witnesses of all ages, including a 9-year-old boy, as well as photographs and documents, bring the terrible tragedy to life for middle and high school students.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Free audiobook downloads!

This summer audiobook publishers and AudioFile Magazine are getting together to support teen readers by offering FREE audiobook downloads, including current popular teen titles and classics that are frequently on schools' required reading lists. There will be two books available each week for 10 weeks. Check them out!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Six-word memoirs by our 4th graders

Once again our students surpassed my wildest expectations. I decided to see what would happen if I challenged our 4th graders to write six-word memoirs. I shared a few examples from SMITH Magazine's compilation I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure. Then I set them loose.

They wrote some amazing lines full of humor and courageous honesty. Here are just a few. Check out the six-word memoir teen site, where young people can submit their own contributions and browse other people's. Also, check out this opportunity to see your work published!

Sister flushed homework down the toilet.
Making ninja stars for my protection.
Crazy monkey brothers make me laugh.
My mom got double the trouble.
Am I the sea god’s daughter?
Always remember what happened to Sneetches.
Libraries: everything that I always wanted.
Beware! Mood swings possible from me.
I am more active in nature.
My pencil is a magic wand.
Life is easy, but I’m not.
I ran through life without stopping.
I hate but love my sis.
I never got to go ballistic.
Technology is a bad human miracle.
Pets normally comfort where humans can’t.
My heart loves every living thing.
Sometimes you shouldn’t have started dreaming.
I sing terribly, but I rock.
How to make your room disco.
Let me watch more Doctor Who!
Feeding a zoo. Cats, dogs, family.
I love being a weird girl.
I read, thus I can fly.
Not a people whisperer, but an animal.
Dark thoughts in my head; scared.
Learning warms me like a blanket.
I don’t believe in fairy tales.
Hamster bungee diving, I’m in trouble.
Bend the rules, don’t break them.
What ifs sadly mean no sleep.
Lessons are learned the hard way.
Always judge books by their middle.
Sorry, mom, I have gone wild.
I’m in touch with other mammals.
Brother used homework as torture device.
Life goal? Don’t have one yet.
Fast forward. That is my speed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Our book fair starts this weekend!

Our annual book fair at the downtown Bellevue branch of University Book Store will take place beginning this Friday, June 8th through Sunday, June 10th during normal store hours (see below).

The school library gets 25% of the sales as store credit. Combined with our 20% educators’ discount, this adds up to a lot of books! Just mention that you're with OWS when you purchase books, gifts, art supplies, stationery and more. Vouchers with maps will be sent home with K-4  students this week and electronic copies will be sent to middle school families. The flyers are also available on my Sharepoint page and teacher website.

At 10:30am on Saturday
Ms. Arends will lead the OWS recorders group in a concert at the store. And don’t miss the inspiring biography reports our 2nd graders that will be on display for the duration of the book fair!

Thank you for helping to support your school library!

Questions? Contact Ms. Simeon at library at ows dot org
University Book Store has free underground parking and is conveniently located near Bellevue Square mall!

990 102nd Ave NE, Bellevue
425.462.4500 ~
Hours: Friday 9am–7pm, Saturday 10am–6pm, Sunday 12pm–5pm

Monday, June 4, 2012


Today our local KCLS Teen Services Librarian will stop by the Vista Assembly to talk about Read.Film.Win, the library's annual summer video book review contest for teens! Anyone entering or in middle school, junior high or high school is eligible to participate. Check out the video montage of last year's winners and start thinking about what you can do...

Remember, Ms. Gifford has open hours in the computer lab that you can use to start working on your video. And if you need inspiration, come by the library anytime. Unfortunately checking out is over for this school year, but you can browse the collection and chat with me about your idea.