Top 7 Favorites of 2007 (In A, B, C Order)


        1.  L.A. Trip: Hanging with ZQ and Lady Tiamat

         2.  L.A. SCBWI Conference with ZQ and Laura

          3. Outdoor Ed. Chaperone for the Daughterling’s Class      
NYC Trip with the Daughterling

      5. Relaxing Holidays with the Family

     6. Sub Jobs: Art Teacher, Computer Teacher, Music Teacher, 2nd Grade, etc.

     7. Westminster SCBWI Summer Conference


Fiction Books:

1)      A Drowned Maiden’s Hair, by Laura Amy Schlitz

2)      Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling

3)      Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City, by Kirsten Miller

4)      Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

5)       Story of a Girl, by Sara Zarr

6)      Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

7)      ZQ’s WIP 

Non-Fiction Books:

1)      Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing Patterns of Intimate Relationships, by Harriet Lerner

2)      Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, by Bill McKibben

3)      Setting Limits in the Classroom, by Robert J. Mackenzie

4)      Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire, by Rafe Esquith

5)      Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality, by Jared Diamond


Movies or DVDs:

1)      C.R.A.Z.Y. – I loved this movie about a boy growing up in a family of 5 brothers in 1970’s Montreal – trying to come to terms with the fact that he’s gay without losing his father’s love. This movie is reminded me of every large family I know.  Really enjoyable!  (As a bonus you get to hear their cute garbled Quebecois French –my favorite kind of French– there are English subtitles too.)

2)      Departed

3)      Freedom Writers – I’m a sucker for “teacher-does-good” movies based on true stories.

4)      Idiocracy – Martin and I quote from this movie all the time. Snarky good fun.

5)      Little Miss Sunshine– I was probably the last person to see this. It lived up to the hype.

6)      Tsotsi– Sweet movie about a Cape Town gangster who steals a car without knowing a baby’s in it.

7)      Why We Fight


Music Groups:

1)      Fall Out Boy

2)      Heap, Imogen

3)      (The) Killers

4)      Martin, Charlotte

5)      M.I.A.

6)      Modest Mouse

7)      (The) National



1)      Computer Time: reading blogs, emailing, family websites, writer’s groups, etc.

2)      Dance Class

3)      Foreign Language Study (Spanish & French): flashcards, grammar, dubbed TV shows & movies

4)      Grocery Store Walks with my Backpack

5)      Hanging with the Kids in the Living Room

6)      Lunches w/ Martin

7)      Writing Time (Book Reading too)


TV Shows:

1)      Daily Show

2)      Dark Angel: season one & two on DVD with French or Spanish dubbing

3)      Dead Like Me: season one on DVD

4)      Friday Night Lights: 2nd half of season one, 1st half of season two

5)      Heroes: 2nd half of season one, 1st half of season two

6)      Pushing Daisies: 1st part of season one

7)      Supernatural: 2nd half of season two, 1st half of season three


Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale

Author: Holly Black

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2002

Pages: 320

For Ages: 13 and up

Rating: *** ½


16-year-old Kaye follows her rocker mother from gig to gig until her mom’s boyfriend pulls a knife on them.  They flee to her grandmother’s house on the New Jersey shore, where as a child Kaye hung out with her imaginary friends—the faeries. At least she told her best friend Janet and Janet’s gay brother Corny they were imaginary. Now Kaye finds herself doing brief bits of…magic?   She’s not so sure her childhood friends were imaginary.  When Kaye saves a mysterious knight named Roiben, her search for answers becomes dangerous and Kaye fears she’s risking the lives of everyone she knows. 


Tithe is an interesting mix of delinquent-finds-path-to-life story with a fresh vivid twist on faerie life and a splash of modern day Alice in Wonderland.

Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire

Author: Rafe Esquith

Publisher: Penguin Group, 2007

Pages: 244

Genre:  Non-fiction, Teaching

Rating: ****


Rafe Esquith has been uniquely teaching fifth graders in central Los Angeles for almost 25 years.  Each chapter details sound ideas for teaching one subject: math, reading, writing, problem solving, history, art, life skills, art, and music.  He also describes the classroom-based economy he uses, the instrumental music program he teaches at lunch, his afterschool movie club, his student movie rental service, class trips, and the annual Shakespeare- rock opera play his students perform.

Esquith’s musings about being a teacher and mentor, his assessments of his own mistakes, his struggles with school bureaucracy, and his thoughtful optimism about what teachers can do for their students were comforting to me. Esquith isn’t perfect; he’s a bit over involved and over invested in being liked by students. His crazy teaching hours – he’s in the classroom 12 hours a day, 6 days a week – aren’t really realistic for most teachers and he’s judgmental of teachers who don’t meet his high standards. Still, I found his teaching ideas specific and useful and his dedication and successes comforting.  Highly recommended for both beginning and experienced elementary and middle school teachers.

November 2007: In Brief

Temporary Good-bye to L.A. Friends- I’ve been told by ZQ and Tia that being supportive of the writer’s strike means I can’t watch any more online episodes. Currently this is the only way I’m able to get my TV so I’m effectively cut off from all my shows if I want to be supportive.  Sniff!  Since many of the L.A. livejournals I read discuss TV I think I’m going to take a break from them while the strike is on.  That way I can remain spoiler-free until I’m able to catch up in some writer-friendly way and still be supportive of my writer friends.  I sure hope the strike is short because I’ll miss all my L.A. friends!


1) Overnight chaperone at the daughterling’s Outdoor Education trip- They stayed at the same place I did for my own sixth grade outdoor ed.  Looks just the same, except now it seems smaller. 😉  Best part was telling her cabin my “Dr. P” bedtime stories.

2) Dinner with my dad, brother, and family

3) Thanksgiving Meal- Our second year at home with just the immediate family (plus my brother this year.)  Relaxing and low-key.  “Cal” made the apple pie, daughterling “Ruth” the pumpkin pie, Martin made the chicken or the “churkey,” — as we liked to call it– and I made the mashed potatoes and veggies.


Fiction Books Finished:

*** Clementine, by Sara Pennypecker


Non-Fiction Books Finished:

**** The Dance of Anger, by Harriet Lerner


Unfinished Books: (Seem to be reading lots of books all at once)

Dreams Underfoot, by Charles DeLint

A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray

Literacy in America, by Edward &Elaine Gordon


Movies Seen:

*** Singing in the Rain


Listened To Music By:

Tori Amos, Cat Power, Foo Fighters, The Pixies, P.J. Harvey, Spoon


Sub Jobs:

1 Sub Day Sampler – 2 hours in K, 1st, and 2nd grade classes

3 days – Art Teacher: Loved this gig!  I got to “read” the book Tuesday, by

David Wiesner—kind of like a kid friendly X-Files episode as a picture book. We discussed surrealism and afterwards listened to instrumental music from my music player while they made their own dreamlike-surreal pictures.

1 day – Ms. P’s 2nd grade class


TV Enjoyed:

**** Pushing Daisies- My current favorite show.  So clever, fresh, and fun.  Crave pie when I watch though. 

**** Supernatural- Last episode was dark and angsty – just the way I like them.

*** Chuck –  I was really starting to like this show. The season arc was building nicely, plus two episodes of Rachel Bilson, aka Summer Roberts. 

*** Dark Angel- Still an awfully fun way to practice French and Spanish. Thank goodness this is on DVD and not online.  At least I still have one show left.