The News

Library Fall 2014

Thank you so much for all the helpful comments on my Veggie Boy post! I haven’t had a chance to reply to them, but I will. I was out of the house yesterday and will be the rest of the week because…I’m the new 4th grade aide at the boys’s school! :)

It’s only a part-time position because I told them that while I would love to help in any way I can, I didn’t want that help to jeopardize the existence of the library. They looked at me like a was a little crazy because, like most schools in our area, there is no budget for a library.

“You do realize that if you kept the library open we wouldn’t be able to pay you, right?”

“Yes, but it’s important enough to me that I’ll do it for free.”

This may sound ridiculous to some, especially since we could use the money, but I don’t care. I have faith that this is what I am supposed to do. God provides us with what we need, and I need the library and those kids more than the small increase in money a full time aide paycheck would provide. The library has brought me joy and purpose. It’s an incredible feeling to touch the life of a child in a positive, long-lasting way. It’s jump-for-joy exciting to see a child fall in love with reading. As a school parent, it has been inspiring to see the power of a school in action. We, the school community, have come together to build something great. I have received so much money in donations to buy books. People trust me with their money! I’ve had parents empty their toy rooms of games and puzzles for the kids to play with during library. They have purged their home libraries of books their kids no longer read or have outgrown. They have donated decorations, bought Christmas trees, volunteered their time to help…it’s been amazing and heartwarming. The never ending supply of books for me to read hasn’t been a bad thing, either. (Except for Flora & Ulysses. There’s a handful of hours I’ll never get back.)

I’m expected to aide in a classroom with a teacher I love, then they want me to sit in a room full of books and kids and talk about what to read. Life is good.

Veggie Boy

Veggie Boy 2

I walked a few days last week, but I spent the majority of the time wrapping books, decorating the library, and painting the 4th grade classroom. Since I can sum up a week like that in one sentence (see above), I thought I’d talk about kids and how they can inspire action.

Immediately after bringing home Buttercup, Nico stopped eating chicken. Shortly after that he stopped eating beef, and not long after it was pork. Now we when go to restaurants he says, “I don’t eat cows or birds or pigs.” He eats veggie burritos or tacos at Mexican restaurants, burgers or sandwiches without the meat at casual dining spots, tofu stir-fries at Chinese restaurants (we’ve only been once because Mikey and the Mister don’t like Chinese food), and his favorite pizza is pineapple and onion.

People think it’s cute, but they think it’s just the whim of a 7 year old boy. Even I wondered about the strength of his dedication when we went to my mother in-law’s house. But he turned down her pot roast, which he loves, and when we asked him if he wanted gravy (true test) he said no because “gravy is made from cows.” He looked at us like we were dimwitted for not putting together the beef gravy = cow-thing.

Nico will occasionally eat fish. Dairy is a no-go unless it is an accent and even in tacos and burritos he asks for no cheese/sour cream.

Mikey says he doesn’t have what it takes to be a vegetarian.

Cooking to appease both boys has been challenging. Already I’m getting well-meaning advice from family and friends. Don’t let him eat soy. Don’t let him eat too many carbs. Were is he getting his protein? He’s going to get anemic. You’ll stunt his growth. The comments all come from a place of concern and love, so I don’t take offense.

The Mister isn’t a problem. He eats whatever I make and has already cut down the amount of meat he eats. He says Nico inspires him. The pediatrician said that I should not discourage Nico and that he wished all his patients were budding vegetarians. I have the support of Nico’s dad and his pediatrician, and that’s enough for me.

Nico says it’s important to him that I do this too, and of course I will. It’s not like he’s asking me to join him in his den of ill repute! That said, I do need some advice. We don’t know any vegetarian families. We definitely don’t know any vegan families. I’m not afraid of being different or trying something new. I consider this an exciting adventure and am up for the challenge. I’m hoping someone here has a vegetarian/vegan family that can lead the way and give me tips.

Happy, Happy

Goodbye

After 10 days of searching, I found a rescue organization licensed by California Fish and Game willing to take and rehabilitate Snickers. Up until Wednesday, everyone I contacted said the bird would be euthanized. Snickers was a pigeon, not a California Condor. Pigeons don’t rate when it comes to allocating resources. I understand. But understanding the reasons why doesn’t mean I have to accept them.

I was in the baby bird formula section of PetSmart, of all places, reading a popular online discussion board on pigeon care. I had searched the board for rescue organizations the day I found Snickers, without luck. Lots and lots of UK organizations, but nothing local to me. In one thread I read something about medicine and how you could buy it at bird feed stores. On a whim I decided to google “bird feed stores” and one came up in my area–I’ve actually been there for wild bird seed for our feeders outside! There, near the bottom of the site, was a link that said, “Have you rescued a wild bird?”

Yes! Yes I have!

I called the number listed for a rescue organization 20 minutes from my house–one I didn’t find in the previous 10 days of googling. I spoke at length with the woman and ensured she would not put Snickers down unless it was absolutely necessary. We agreed I should come over and show her Snickers and when I asked her if 11:15 was a good time she said, “That should work because I feed the squirrels at 11:00.”

That’s when I knew she was my people.

I pulled up 15 minutes early and waited at the gate. At 11:15 she walked out with a sparrow flying alongside her. I kid you not.

She confirmed what I already knew about Snickers: I found him when he was days old, putting him at about 2 weeks when I turned him in. Everyone (rescue organizations, vets, friends) kept asking me if I was sure he was a nestling, if maybe I didn’t pick up a bird that was just testing out its wings. The woman at the wildlife rescue organization is the only person who trusted my judgment over the phone when I said I had a very, very young bird on my hands that needed rehabilitation and release.

I’m positive Snickers is going to be happy in his new temporary home. There are many other birds there, as well as squirrels, raccoons, and opossums. He’ll get to grow in a very large pen for birds, and because he is so young, the woman is going to supplement his formula with wet dog food. What a relief he is in the hands of an expert!

Before I left I gave her a $20 donation and took one last look at Snickers’s horribly ugly-adorable yellow fuzzy head.

Since then, I’ve gone to check on Snickers several times before I remember he’s at his new for-now home. I catch myself checking the clock every few hours to see if it’s time for a bottle. Ah, well. Maybe my happy-happy is the tiniest bit bittersweet.

Newbery Challenge | Dear Mr. Henshaw (1984)

Newbery Challenge | Dear Mr. Henshaw (1984)Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
Published by Harper Collins on 2009-10-06
Genres: Classics, Family, Friendship, General, Marriage & Divorce, Newbery Gold Winner, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 176
Goodreads
Amazon five-stars
Beverly Cleary's Newbery Medal-winning book explores the thoughts and emotions of a sixth-grade boy, Leigh Botts, in letter form as he writes to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw. After his parents separate, Leigh Botts moves to a new town with his mother. Struggling to make friends and deal with his anger toward his absent father, Leigh loses himself in a class assignment in which he must write to his favorite author. When Mr. Henshaw responds, the two form an unexpected friendship that will change Leigh's life forever. Supports the Common Core State Standards

Wrapping

This is my life right now. I’m wrapping books for the library with protective covers. I’ve done 100+ so far since Tuesday but, as you can see, I have a long way to go. There may be radio silence around here as I spend the next two weeks wrapping, organizing, and decorating the library for the school year. I’m taking pictures because I’m calling it a William Morris Project.

It’s very hard to sit on your duff for hours at a time wrapping books. I like a monotonous task as much as the next obsessive thinker, but even I need a break from monotony and hours of Netflix crime shows. When I need a mental break I read a Newbery. God knows I have enough of them at my feet!

I wasn’t going to post today, but I just finished Dear Mr. Henshaw and I’m so excited I had to tell someone. What an amazing book! Epistolary novels are some of my favorites! I had no idea Dear Mr. Henshaw was an epistolary novel! Exclamation points!

This is why I’m reading Newbery winners and this is why I’m trying to read more elementary/middle school books. I tried to get the kids to read this book last year, but because I didn’t know what it was about I couldn’t sell it very well. I’m not a salesperson. If I don’t like something or can’t tell you much about it, I won’t push it on you.

Now that I I’ve read Dear Mr. Henshaw, you can bet I’ll be encouraging the kids to give it a try. It’s an excellent book.

Newbery Challenge | The Whipping Boy (1987)

Newbery Challenge | The Whipping Boy (1987)The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
Published by Harper Collins on 2003-04-15 (reprint)
Genres: Action & Adventure, Friendship, General, Humorous Stories, Newbery Gold Winner, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 96
Goodreads
AmazonBarnes & Noble four-stars
A Prince and a Pauper Jemmy, once a poor boy living on the streets, now lives in a castle. As the whipping boy, he bears the punishment when Prince Brat misbehaves, for it is forbidden to spank, thrash, or whack the heir to the throne. The two boys have nothing in common and even less reason to like one another. But when they find themselves taken hostage after running away, they are left with no choice but to trust each other.

I don’t know why I bother reading the Goodreads reviews for young adult/early elementary literature. I keep going back hoping to read something that won’t make me huff and roll my eyes and curse humanity. I’m like the person who is allergic to peanuts and applies for a job at the Skippy plant. I should really know better and yet there I am, huffing and rolling and cursing.

Here is the most important thing you should know about The Whipping Boy: IT’S A CHILDREN’S BOOK. The grade level equivalent for this book is 4.0, so 4th grade. The Lexile Measure® is 570L, the DRA is 40, and the Guided Reading Level is R. This a book for the average 4th grader.

Got that, People of Goodreads?


As a piece of young adult fiction, The Whipping boy earned a Newberry Award. I’m not sure why.

You’re not sure about a lot of things, Jessica. You’re not sure what young adult means. I can tell you it doesn’t mean “books for 3rd and 4th graders.” You’re also not sure how to spell Newbery or what it awards. The Newbery (one ‘r’) celebrates children’s literature, not young adult literature. You’re thinking of the Michael L. Printz award.


This book is simple, but entertaining. It’s a quick, easy read. I remember reading it at some point during elementary school and enjoying it then. Reading it lately, though, it seems that it might hold more interest for kids than adults.

I can’t imagine why a children’s book would hold more interest for kids than adults. I’m stunned and once I wake up from my stupor I will view life through a new lens.


Yes, it’s entertaining. But the Newbery? This is such a doggone short book that I’m surprised it even made it onto the discussion table in the first place.

+10 points for spelling Newbery right
-05 points for using the word doggone
-95 points for assuming the Newbery has a page requirement

Final Score: -90


After reading “The Hunger Games,” this book seemed incredibly simple…

Please stop thinking.

This is a terrible book that I was forced to read in fifth grade. I was put into a group of other kids who were also made to read this miserable piece of fiction against our will, and it was so bad, that I was able to persuade my teacher to put me in another group. I thought it’d be better, but everyone else in that group were way ahead of me and understood a lot of it. It was called “The Westing Game” and it was by some guy who doesn’t know how to write, and it would take me forever to catch up to the other kids. I never did, so I was put back in the Whipping Boy’s group again, but the kids in that one had already finished it.

Snort. OK, so this guy actually made me laugh.

Please, understand this is a book for children. I would give this book, which I very much enjoyed, to 3rd and 4th graders. I will encourage my reluctant readers in 5th and 6th grade to give it a try. It’s a great read aloud book, too, because it is so short. I plan on reading it to Nico and Mikey, who have not read the Hunger Games, thankyouverymuch.

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.