Thursday, March 26, 2015

We The Children - #SOLC 26

When the kid graduated from 5th grade they sang We The Children by Parachute Express. It is a weird song meant to make parents feel sentimental. As we listened to it on our drive home, a few lines really stood out for me:

Every act of kindness has a way of being passed along
we are all a deep reflection of the lessons we've been shown
we the children are golden
and we the children are light
we dance on the top of the mountain
we shine like stars in the night...

And for reasons known only to my neurologist, I started thinking about all the librarians I know. How they are out there shining like stars in the night. How they define what it means to be a school librarian - which has no definition because school librarian work to reflect what their schools need. So your school librarian may not do the things that his or her school librarian does. And that's ok. We are all reflections of the lessons we've been shown. Whether that's a lesson from my friend Sherry and your librarian is out there moving and shaking and post-it noting window displays, or playing guitar like my friend Andy, or maybe your librarian is hosting a podcast like Matthew, or giving you the lowdown like Kurt, or is your librarian showing you the hidden gems of picture book design like Travis? Do you have the kind of librarian that has made all the books easily accessible and gone Dewey-free like Shannon? Maybe your school librarian also teaches English classes like Megan? Is your librarian doing Maker Mondays like Stacey? Providing an advisory resource like Jen? 

Some of my librarian friends head committees and some travel around helping other teachers and librarians. They are book experts,, technology experts, student experts. 

And these things I mention are only a very small fraction of what they do every day. EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

They are the children. They are the light. They are the librarians.

Last of the Sandwalkers by Jay Hosler- Blog Tour

Hosler, Jay. Last of the Sandwalkers. First Second Books (Macmillan), April 2015. 320pg. $16.99. 9781626720244.

Affiliate Links: Amazon | Indiebound

Genre: Science Fiction, Graphic Novel
Cover Appeal: Bug on a skeleton? All the middle school kids will want this!

(from the publisher) Nestled in the grass under the big palm tree by the edge of the desert there is an entire civilization—a civilization of beetles. In this bug's paradise, beetles write books, run restaurants, and even do scientific research. One such scientist is Lucy, who leads a team of researchers out into the desert. Their mission is to discover something about the greater world...but what lies in wait for them is going to change everything Lucy thought she knew.

Beetles are not the only living creatures in the world.

Character Name: Bugs
Species: Atemeles pubicollis
Length: 4 - 5 mm
Color: golden brown.
Habitat: ant colonies
Superpower: Olfactory deception

No one likes a freeloader, but you have to admire the evolutionary adaptations of the rove beetle Atemeles pubicollis. This small beetle has cracked the top secret communication codes of various ant species and uses the information to infiltrate their nests.

Ants communicate with each other using odors. Their eyes aren’t so hot, but they have great sniffers, capable of detecting the difference between family and foes. At least, most of the time they can. The problem with relying on a highly specific code for communication is that if someone else cracks the code, they can really take advantage of the system. Over evolutionary time, Atemeles has evolved the ability to mimic not one, but two of the chemical cues used by certain ants. It can release odors from its appeasement gland to calm guard ants. Most ants are pretty aggressive, so the beetle’s appeasement gland makes it possible for it to approach the colony. Once it has made nice with the guard, it releases another odor that smells just like a baby ant. Since the ant can’t see very well, it trusts its sense of smell and carries the beetle into the colony. Once in, Atemeles can much away on baby ants and enjoy the full protection of the colony.

In addition to being a master of olfactory disguise, Atemeles and other rove beetles are pretty good at origami. Kinda, sorta. Most beetles have long wing covers (called elytra) that extend the length of their bodies and cover their abdomens. A rove beetle has very short elytra. This makes if possible to have a much more maneuverable abdomen (good for waving deceptive odors in the face of ants), but it means you have less space to pack your wings. To that end, rove beetles have become quite good at folding their long wings under their little elytra. You can watch the process in slow motion in these videos (provided as supplementary material for an article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

In Last of the Sandwalkers, our beetle heroes learn the hard way that even though the beetle Atemeles smells fishy to them, ants have a hard time sniffing out the truth.

About the Author
Jay Hosler is a biology professor at Juniata College, and a cartoonist. He enjoys telling stories about science and the natural world, and his first graphic novel (Clan Apis) won a Xeric Award and was selected for YALSA's 2002 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. His latest book, Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth, was a 2011 Junior Library Guild selection, a nominee for YALSA's 2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and has been included in the Texas Library Association's Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List. He lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and his two little nerdlings.


Tuesday, March 24
Seven Impossible Things
Wednesday, March 25
Great Kid Books
Thursday, March 26
The Brain Lair
Friday, March 27
Supernatural Snark
Monday, March 30
The Book Rat
Tuesday, March 31
Miss Print
Wednesday, April 1
Mr. Schu Reads
Thursday, April 2
Geek Dad
Friday, April 3
Monday, April 6
Librarian’s Quest
Tuesday, April 7
SLJ Scope Notes
Wednesday, April 8
Alice Marvels
Thursday, April 9
The Roarbots
Friday, April 10
Sharp Read

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Always Remember - #SOLC 25

Always Remember by Train

Every single time this song come on, I remember my mom. And it feels like someone is reaching inside my chest and squeezing my heart. I miss her so much. It's hard to believe that she's gone. I wish I had spent more time with her. Every.Single.Time.I.Hear.It. You would think I would remove it from my iTunes.

I don't because I loved her. I want to remember her. I still love her. And I will always remember.

"Always Remember"

Always remember I'm by your side
Such a shame that you had to go
So much more that I'd like to know
So many things you forgot to show me how to do

When times are hard I forget you're gone
I go to call you before it dawns on me
That you won't be there now
But I still have these words that you gave me

Always remember I'm by your side
Always remember I'm by your side

I got two kids of my own now
They grow up so fast
And how I wish you did not miss that part of who I am
But I keep doing all that I can do
And I will smile when they ask about you
And I will sing to them every day
With the voice and the words that you used to say
Will change the world one day

Always remember I'm by your side
Always remember I'm by your side

And while they grow up you will show up
In things they do and say
Like a reflection to a connection
Of who they'll be one day
They will learn to get their wings
And fly through the changes life will bring
So on
And it will go on
And you will go on

And they will sing with the voice that you gave them
Always remember I'm by your side
Always remember I'm by your side
I'm by your side
I'm by your side

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I Woke Up Like This - #SOLC 24

The kid and I spent two days in Mall of America. If you know anything about me, you know I don't like shopping - it involves people and interacting with them.


We had an awesome time! Hanging out with this almost grown-up, chit-chatting, and discussing the people. It's hard to believe she's nearly done with her first year of college.

Of course, this means that I will need to grow-up soon.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Look at me now - #SOLC 23

Last week the kid and I were taking a road trip to the Mall of America, about an 8hr drive for us.  She was driving and blasting her hardcore rap and reminiscing about how she used to listen to the clean version of these songs.

I immediately started to cry.

Not really. But I did remember how much time we spent in the car as I would chauffeur her to school. Pre-car for her, of course. We talked about a lot of things and listened to all types of music. We negotiated the radio - sometimes using bribery or trickery. Or at least I did.

But despite her penchant for rap music and her love of problem novels, she has grown into a well-rounded young lady. Or maybe due to it.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

You Feel Me? - #SOLC 12

One thing I'm loving about independent schools is the belief in professional development. Today I attended the winter meeting at Roycemore, a PK-12 school in Evanston, Il. Our division heads and our tech person also attended. We drove in together (about 2.5 hrs) and had some great conversations including a fun stop at Starbucks. After a general session, the meeting broke into affinity groups. I had the opportunity to meet with other independent school librarians.

We started with a session with Veronda Pictchford from RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System) who described their partnership with Baker and Taylor and other library groups to create a fantastic, affordable ebook program (eRead Illinois) that's responsive to its members' needs. I was completely jealous. If your school is in Illinois and you are looking for an inexpensive way to bring ebooks to your school, check them out. I'm jealous!

We also talked about collaboration, design thinking, and makerspaces. Is anyone out there using design thinking? If so, how?

Usually meetings are a waste of time but this one really had me thinking!

I'm participating in Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge for the month of March!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

All I Want for My Birthday - #SOLC 10

Today is my 48th birthday. I am in disbelief. How did this happen? I'm joking. I know it is because I was granted another year. A chance to look back and then decide my way forward. I have been, and still am being, blessed. I am at my fourth school. Each move was into a job that was not on my radar. Each place brought a unique set of colleagues and parents into my life. It has been awesome. I hope it continues to be so! For at least 48 more years!

I'm participating in Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge for the month of March!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Financial Aid - #SOLC 9

Not much to say. It's a lot of paperwork. Even as a continuing student (daughter, not me). It is a lot. I love that my daughter goes to Yale. And that they have a generous financial aid program. But, man. This is a lot of time and paperwork.

No way around, but through.

I'm participating in Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge for the month of March!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ebooks and Audiobooks - #SOLC 8

I love audiobooks. I also love ebooks - especially for the convenience of carrying my library around with me. I have a 25-30 min drive each way daily and every other month I have to drive 3 hours each way for a board meeting.

I've listened to audiobooks that have been so good, I don't want to get out of the car. But also some that have been not so great. My favorites are the Harry Potter series read by Jim Dale but I also can't hear him read anything else! I listened to all of the 39 Clues series but didn't find them as fascinating when I tried to read them. The Help was another favorite.

I have all the Rick Riordan books as ebooks as well as The Queen's Thief and The Seven Realms series.  I'm a huge fan of fantasy books and they are so long - Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson clocks in at 1,088 pages! Try lugging that around!

One other good thing about audiobooks and ebooks? I don't have to find a spot for them on my completely double-filled 8 bookshelves!

I'm participating in Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge for the month of March!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Night at the Library - #SOLC 7

Our school had its annual auction fundraiser last night at it was a blast! This was my first one and  I was nervous because I don't like doing things or hanging out with a bunch of people...(mostly joking). And I was going to have to be charming, because parents!

But it was so fun. I had great table buddies. My work husband stopped by to make sure I was ok and probably to make sure I showed up! It was amazing to see the beautiful pieces the students contributed to be auctioned off. I was sadly outbid on a coffee basket! Many teachers contributed their time and mine, along with my assistant, is a 6 hour evening in the library doing a sort of mix between night at the museum and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's library. I was afraid no one would bid on it and was pleasantly surprised when more than one person wanted it. 

Must stay open to new things!

I'm participating in Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge for the month of March!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What's Your Winner's Curse? Winner's Crime Blog Tour - March 5, 2015

Rutkoski, Marie. The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, 1). MacTeen Books (Macmillan Children's Publishing), 2014. 384 pgs. $9.99. 978-1-25005-697-9.

Affiliate Links: (Amazon | Indiebound)

As part of the celebration for the release of Winner's Crime (Amazon | Indiebound) the second book in Marie Rutkoski's Winner's Trilogy, bloggers
around the globe are answering the question: What's Your Winner's Curse?
The Winner's Curse is an economic term that means you've gotten what you wanted -- 
but at too high a price!

Blog Tour Schedule
The weekend of February 20th I was scheduled to take the day off and drive to New Haven (12 hours away) and visit my daughter in college. Her tap dance company was putting on a show, The Tapper Games, so it was a chance to see her in action as well as see her beautiful face in person!  At the last minute, I decided it would be better to fly, since there were winter weather warnings across the Eastern and Midwestern US.  I left early to drive to Chicago, normally a 2 hour drive, but not early enough. I ended up in Chicago 10 minutes too late to board my plane since I need to check a bag!! I only needed to check a bag because I had a huge suitcase full of snacks for the kid! There were no ohter flights to New Haven on that Friday!!! The airline could get me to Philadelphia but I was on my own after that. I decided to go, in the hopes that other flights would be delayed and I would magically be able to make my trip. No such luck. I ended up renting a car to drive to New Haven from Philadelphia, normally a 3 hour drive that took 5 hours!!! And it cost me an extra $400. I ended up getting to New Haven so late we just stayed in the hotel! I could have just gotten a room or stayed with a friend in Chicago untl the next day! Also, my flight back was delayed by 3 hours!! I did enjoy the tap show though!

Learn more about The Winner's Trilogy!

Play the Bite and Sting Card Game from the book!

Find Marie Rutkoski on Twitter!

You can win either a copy of The Winner's Curse or a copy of The Winner's Crime.  Entries accepted March 5, 2015 until March 11, 2015, 11:59pm. US Only please. One entry per household.

Using the above affiliate links will bring a small measure of support to The Brain Lair and I thank you in advance.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

World Read Aloud Day - #SOL15 4

Today (the first Wednesday in March) was officially World Read Aloud Day created by LitWorld. As part of the celebration, educators connect their students with other educators all around the world and read books out loud! This was my first year participating and my 4th Graders and I were lucky enough to partner with +Carrie Davies and her 2nd Grade students.

We read We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) with Carrie reading the part of Gerald as I read Piggie. We followed that up with a reading of A Big Guy Took My Ball! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) This time my Parent Assistant joined us as the Whale. It was a great time.

Afterwards, my students wanted to know if we could find a 4th Grade class to Skype with - so if you know of anyone - let me know! They then spent our last few minutes reading a variety of Piggie and Gerald books to each other! It was awesome!

Special thanks to George Phillip for getting everything set up for us and letting us use his room!

I'm participating in Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge for the month of March!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

This is NOT the Body I Was Looking For - #SOL15 3

Over the past few years I've owned several Fitbits.  Currently, I'm sporting a FitBit One.  Sadly, I've spent more time researching fancy pedometers than I have actually using it to work out. And somehow I'm surprised that my clothes are tighter. I mean, not working out, eating whatever, and getting older is not the recipe for svelteness. But every week, I'm shocked. I step on the scale and I wonder what the h-e-double hockey sticks??!! Whose body is this??!!

I'm participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge. Each day in March, try to post a little slice of your day, your life, your thoughts. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Getting it together - #SOL15 2

It's already March. I haven't finalized my One Word (I thought about faith). I haven't started my bullet journal (I did buy a journal). I haven't done a Whole30 (I do have the book). For the first time, in a very long time, I am feeling behind in every area of my life. Usually there is one thing that I'm rocking in, and that's usually work, but not this year. New job. I haven't even followed my weekly blogging plan! ARGH!

How do you step off the treadmill? How do you catch up to yourself?

I'm hoping that taking the time each evening to sit and look back at my day will help me find my track again.


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