Today is the last day for the 2019-2020 school year and I officially begin my summer break. Usually I stay in “teacher mode” and work on lesson plans and revise units while it’s all fresh in my mind. I do this until June 30th and then allow myself to take July off and slowly ease back into school mode around the middle of August.
That’s the plan, anyway. This year the usual has changed. I am ready to embrace summer break without any hesitation, and will not give school much thought until August rolls around.
This year beginning mid-March business as usual changed. We scrambled to create distance learning curriculum and adjusted and adjusted some more as we rode out the school year. Who would have thought two months could feel like a lifetime.
School officially ended May 29th for our school district. Graduation took place in the school parking lot with families in cars and grads socially distanced. There was a reduction in pomp due to our circumstances. The ceremony ended minutes prior to a spring rain storm. How fitting.
I spent Sunday posting my grades from home and Monday will be spent wrapping up my classroom for the summer. I usually celebrate the end of the school year with reflective euphoria. I dwell on victories and successes of teaching and tuck away the ritual of student farewells.
I haven’t seen the majority of my students since March 18th and briefly said good-bye to a handful of seniors who ventured into my classroom. Sans hugs, I wished them a masked farewell.
This has been a weird end to a school year that started out with such promise. I look forward to looking backward on the 2019-2020 school year. Right now I am numb, weary, and a bit heartsick at not only how the school ended but how our nation is troubled by the pandemic and violent protests.
I usually spend part of my summer break traveling and visiting friends and family. That won’t be happening. This saddens me greatly.
I am blessed to live in a small town, a tourist town. And yet, that brings its own set of concerns as the outside will permeate our little bubble dome of safe haven and possibly bring infection to our fair city.
With all the closures, hard times, and scary events clouding my daily life, I do have something to look forward to: the good news is the library is opening up a day after my birthday. Best present ever!
Any other teachers, parents, or students have reflections on the end of the school year?
What good news do you have that brings some sunshine to your cloudy days?
February briefly held the promise of winter ending and spring arriving. I even had grass in the backyard. Lilac buds. I felt victorious.
Twelve inches of snow later, winter is rebooted. Pardon me while I emit a primal yawp. *YErrrgggh*
My go to option for dealing with this surfeit of snow is to make frequent dashes to the library. Much more fulfilling than dark chocolate. Well, a book lasts longer.
Once again, a fair mix of TBR, recommends, reviews, and discoveries.
First love sometimes feels like it will be the only love. Ever. Rainbow Rowell describes the intensity of that special love through the wondrous tale of Eleanor and Park, two misfits who are perfect fits for each other.
The teaser beginning serves to entice readers to continue reading because there are hints of a tragedy brewing, and as the plot heats up, along with Park and Eleanor’s relationship, a person just has to know how it will all turn out. That makes this a gotta-read -it-in-one-sitting book.
And that’s good writing.
Would have been a fiver, yet the cruelty seemed too much at times for believability.
Reminiscent of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, without the profanity and drama.
I remember the drop under the desk drills in elementary schools. We shivered, crouched like little frogs, not understanding the why of it. As we grew older we felt that nudging threat of the Cold War. Pat Frank’s post apocalyptic novel tentatively answers that concern.
Published in 1959, Frank’s novel prepared readers what happens to civilization after the bomb, in this case, the bombs have dropped. The author’s varied background as government consultant and journalist provides a verisimilitude that is more than believable, it is at times dismaying, yet mostly inspiring. He provides a clear-sighted hopefulness that the human race will continue even when faced with having to start over.
Even though the story takes place in the fifties, it rings too close to the present to be dismissed as being anachronistic. Alas, Babylon is a guidebook to keep on the shelf.
Major Pettigrew, full of old English practicalities at the spry age of 68, contends with several inconveniences as he contemplates his remaining days. One irritant is dealing with the village’s gossipy ladies as his friendship with the attractive widow Mrs Ali changes course. For all their supposed openness the people in his life, including his son Roger, can’t fathom how the major could possibly be interested in this foreign shop keeper.
An endearing character, Major Pettigrew is full of wry quips and commentary as he deals with breaking from expectations and unexpectedly finds love. For those who loved A Man Called Ove, make room for another lovable git.
Hollywood portrays CIA agents as full of action, intense swagger, and having a dedicated skill set. CIA agent Michele Rigby Assad provides a truer portrait in her memoir, Breaking Cover. Her frank, engaging story emphasizes how much time is spent gathering reliable intel and creating a trustworthy network. Car chases and fiery shootouts aren’t mentioned, although trying to survive searing desert heat and daily bombings lend a gritty authenticity. Assad outlines the process of becoming an agent as well as highlights some of her tours in the Middle East. While her tours might not be the stuff of Hollywood, she relates plenty of intense episodes of needing to be the best of her abilities. The fact that she and her husband both worked as agents and are dedicated Christians heightened the overall interest of her time spent in counterterrorism.
The second half of her book brings in the subtitle: My Life in the CIA and What It Taught Me about What’s Worth Fighting For. Having left the CIA, Michele and her Egyptian immigrant husband Joseph became international security consultants. The larger part of this section involves their work with relocating displaced Iraqi Christians (featured as an ABC 20/20 special). Assad’s passion and faith especially comes through as she fought to find a safe refuge for a people under persecution.
Overall, the memoir comes across as genuine and inspiring, and while it’s understandable there might have been restrictions on how much detail she could divulge of her CIA experience, it would have added more to her memoir to have further experiences about being married agents, definitely a unique perspective.
Disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What titles are keeping you warm this winter?
When I get down to one book in hand and one waiting to be read, a rising sense of dismay bordering on idgety panic ensues.
I could live without chocolate before I could live with nothing to read.
So I did what any ink-blooded Book Booster does–I began scouring my resources and filling up my books- to-read shelf. First stop: the library.
I rarely buy books. If I do, they are gifts. This means I have achieved Frequent Flyer status at my local library. Can’t beat the convenience or the price: five minutes down the street and a twenty item limit. Did I mention they have an amazing free books shelf? Plus, they have the nicest inter-library loan dept. The library often buys my requests–I am spoiled, I know.
I also review for two separate publishers, and I can review two books at a time per site.
My panic mode at having nothing to read over the long weekend before school starts (my leisure reading diminishes considerably after Labor Day) became one of stress when EVERYTHING came in at once. I went from bare shelf to overwhelmed in a matter of moments.
Three holds appeared within two days of each other, with two being ILLs needing to be read almost immediately (honestly–why loan it out if a person barely has time to read the book?) and one book bearing that annoying little bookmark “Read Me First!” I can practically feel the anticipatory drumming of fingers of the next patron. Three books I have to read now, as in right now, presents an oxymoronic perspective to the idea of leisurely reading over the holiday.
Oh, two review books arrived and they need to be read and reviews duly noted before the month is out.
I also have three books which I had picked up at the library a couple of weeks ago, which means their due date is approaching. Renew or return? Oh, how I dislike that question.
Well, I have plenty to read at the moment. I will have to hold off on my longings for the new titles promos that keep popping up in my email.
Does anyone else go through this famine/feast cycle? I’m hoping I’m not alone in this…
My idea of vacation is a quiet condo equipped with a comfy couch and a sunlit balcony–and being within walking distance of a library.
Fortunately, I got all that at a great price–free! Yup, I’m staying at my mom’s place for a couple of weeks while she is traveling. Perfect set up. It’s my old neighborhood, just down from my high school and I’m here for about two weeks.
No yard to tend. No tv to distract. No tempting pantry beckoning me. So no weeding, channel zoning, or needless snacking. Just reading. And yeah, I’m here to focus on my writing too.
Upon unpacking I immediately trotted next door to the library, the one I grew up with from fifth grade through part of college, and scoured the shelves and ordered books not readily available. I’m thinking they would come in a bit at a time, kind of staggered in their return to the shelves.
They all popped in within two days and I am reading, reading, reading.
Life should be so complicated, right?
I am now at 53% towards my reading challenge of 101 books. Ooh, I do so like having a batch of books at my fingertips. *sigh*
So far I’ve read:
As well as having thumbed through a couple of fun books:
How is your summer reading going?
September heralds in fall and school. Being a librarian at heart with a day job as an English teacher, I have a soft spot for poems about books, especially those about libraries. This one hits the spot quite nicely.
This summer was an odd one. In my part of the world June is usually a bit drippy around the edges until after July 4th. Summer decided to rev up early and we suffered through high nineties through most of the season, which caused a set of horrendous fires in the surrounding states.
We usually coast into a gentle fall, with chilly nights and warmer days, allowing the ability to sneak in sandals and linen skirts a couple of more weeks. Not so this September. We are nightly lighting chill breakers in the stove and I forlornly have folded away my summer stock of tank tops and capris.
As a farewell to summer, as fall officially begins this week, I have included an August poem.
When the progeny were young enough to tote to the grocery store I used to dread the inevitable trial of the checkstand gauntlet: the Last Chance Rack. You know, the racks of candy, toys, geegaws, magazines that all whimper at worn out consumers to be taken home. Their whimpering frequency is especially tuned to children’s ears. “Pluheeze, Mom?” I did have a stock phrase for surviving the ordeal which consisted of “Sorry, I don’t have money for (fill in the blank) today.” No arguing with that. And very true–I tended to stick to the budget because I had to back then. Actually, I still should as an empty nester. Never mind that.
The Last Chance Rack I refer to today does not promote cavities or wasteful spending. This is a positively good rack in that it promotes reading. This is the LCR of the library. Our library has prominently planted two double-sided racks near the checkout area. They probably meant it as a way to display new titles as a greeting for patrons. On the flip side, the racks serve another purpose, one I think of more significance. While patrons await their turn to check out their basket of literary goodies they find themselves next to the LCR and can’t help but browse titles. I usually end up taking home an extra yummy or two. Who can resist? The books are especially trained to Book Booster frequency.
This last week I went in for my one hold–akin to going in for that one quart of milk. I came out with two extra books. No complaints about the extra calories needed to read my found treasures. Thought I would share my finds:
As a Book Booster it’s difficult to pass up a book about making books. Like any conniseur, I appreciate the art and skill that goes into making something I so regularly consume. The books contained within this palm-sized tome focus on the artisans and their craft. Flipping through the pages and savoring the renderings of featured artists inspire me to try my hand at making my own book or two. There are handy directions included. Sounds like Christmas presents to me…
Another LCR item practically jumped into my arms as I passed the rack. This little goodie knew a Bardinator was in hailing distance. I need to subscribe to the NYT bestseller list. I always hear of these amazing books waaay after they’ve been out and then feel so silly when I find them and gush about them. No wonder I get those looks of–“That was so yesterday’s book.” or “You are just now hearing about that one?” I’m so glad the Book Booster Brigrade is disbanded. I might be in violation of section 31-A (best seller awareness).
Ready for this companion to the NYT bestseller? (just roll your eyes if you are already oh-so-aware of it):
Without slavering too much about how it’s so absolutely genius to mash-up Shakespeare with Star Wars, I will say Ian Doescher manages to pull off the feat of presenting *the best episode* of the Star Wars trilogy in iambic pentameter with dextrous aplomb. Not that I’m an expert at iambic pentameter, but I do appreciate how tough it is to write it. I teach it as the “heartbeat” meter and the students understand that. Shakespeare understood that writing his works in a meter close to the essence of being alive meant his words would be as easy to remember as breathing. Doescher gets that concept too, and understands the devotion of Stars Wars fans. Bringing Shakespeare into our century in a new and absolutely true and original way always gets a round of applause from me. What I really appreciated about Doescher’s mirthful approach is how he skillfully inserted references to the Bard’s other works. Here is my unabashed shopping list of “Where’s Willy?” finds:
The book trailer is as delightful as the book:
Anyone else have a library with a tempting Last Chance Rack? Don’t resist the Force of a good book that needs to go home with you…