I have no time to blog today, but I am so heartened by the news that the state Superintendent of Education Tom Burnham has changed his mind about a pursuing a policy I opposed in the strongest possible terms.
Read about it here.
Here’s a link to the column I wrote to oppose the policy.
Later this week I head to Philadelphia for the National Council of Teacher of Mathematics annual conference. Beth West and I will present a workshop and I’ll sign copies of Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature.
The Chastain Science Quiz Bowl A Team placed second Saturday in the Department of Energy’s Middle School Science Quiz Bowl Tournament at the Mississippi School for Math and Science. The Chastain B team lost only one match all day — and that was to the Chastain A team in the round before the quarter finals. It was beautiful to watch these students handle a variety of science questions with verve and aplomb.
You can probably tell I am one proud mama. My two younger boys, N and D (pictured in the middle), are on the A team.
I had a wonderful time on Thursday at the Mississippi Library Association annual conference in Vicksburg.
I was honored Thursday night by the Mississippi Library Association. For Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator, I won the 2010 Youth Award. I am pictured here with Chris Myers Asch, the recipient of the 2010 Nonfiction Award, and Lynn Shurden (between me and Asch), chair of the Authors Awards Committee. The other two women pictured are also members of the awards committee, (from left) Ann ?, and Donna Fite. Deborah Johnson won the 2010 Fiction Award for her book, The Air Between Us. She was signing books and not available for the photograph.
This is the first time the MLA has given a Youth Award and I was delighted to be the first recipient. During the award speech and also during a session earlier in the day, I gave a short preview of my newest project, which unlike Wolfsnail and Growing Patterns, comes out of my childhood. It was fun to see Gloria Liggans, my school librarian from 4th through 9th grades, and many other librarian friends I have made since I started writing books for children.
The story included everything a story must, including ever-more-difficult obstacles. She shared photographs from Gee’s Bend in the 1930s, photographs of quilts made by Gee’s Bend Quilters, and a Ludelphia doll that was made for her by a school librarian.
Irene’s next novel is a contemporary one, titled Don’t Feed the Boy, which is forthcoming from Roaring Brook Press.
It was nice to have Irene join Richard and me at the awards dinner.
We cooked a bit of a celebratory dinner the next night, using a brand new cooking pot called a tagine. We made a lamb tagine (the meal is named after the cooking pot), masala dosas, and a spinach salad. I am no good at food photography, but these will give you an idea of what we ate and how we made it.
Two friends and I are knitting two socks at a time on two sets of circular needles. The above photo shows Jennifer working on the first full row.
This is how mine look. (I had to start over after somehow getting things all cattywompus.)
These are Julie’s after no false starts and a long afternoon at the pool. Isn’t she cruising?
I’ll keep you posted on progress.
Reading aloud even makes statewide standardized test days more bearable. I volunteered to be a proctor during this week’s tests at my sons’ middle school. (Well, I was nudged into it by my middle child.) I was assigned to a 7th grade classroom with Mrs. Whitley, a reading teacher.
The first time I served as a proctor, a few years ago, I felt as miserable as the kids as we sat in a room with nothing to do and waited for everything to be in place for the testing to begin. In short order, I was casting around for anything to read. I grabbed the novel the social studies teacher was teaching and started reading — out loud. The kids looked at me like I had lost my mind, but they asked if I would continue after the tests had been completed and were on the way back to the test administrator.
Ever since, whenever I am talked into proctoring, I make sure I have a suitable book. Last year, for a class of 8th graders, I read from Walter Dean Myers’ book Fallen Angels. This year, I grabbed Ten Mile River by Paul Griffin. I reviewed the book here last year.
I always have to believe enough in what I am doing to bully through some of the initial reactions. Is this woman crazy? Is she really reading those words? Did she just say ‘yo’? Yo? I proctored two days and they asked me to make sure I brought the book back the next day. Several asked whether it was available at the school library. I told them how they could get it through the public library across the street, that they should pursue it through inter-library loan if it wasn’t in the collection.
Maybe they will and maybe they won’t, but I know they enjoyed spending time with Ray, Jose, Trini, and Yolie. It made it much more fun for me, too. (I’m still trying to figure out how to improve the experience of walking the floor for two and a half hours while they test.) Charlie Chaplin slow motion, maybe?
Read about how I got the idea to write a picture book featuring Fibonacci Numbers in nature at today’s stop on the virtual book tour: Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s blog. An author and illustrator, Elizabeth has a lot of cool stuff on her website so poke around a little after you check out the post.
1. Launch Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature, putting to use all the things I’ve learned since Wolfsnail debuted nearly two years ago. This time we’ll have a book trailer, a blog tour, sunflower seeds, and a presentation at a national conference.
2. Meet twice a month with my critique partner to make progress on items 3 and 4 below.
3. Write and photograph nonfiction picture book number 3. Subject is chosen and living (happily, I think) in a container on my living room bookshelf. It’s lots of fun to watch and to photograph.
4. Write first picture book that I won’t be illustrating with photographs. This story is near and dear to me. I think I am ready to commit it to the page.
5. Write regularly on my memoir. I started writing this for an online course through Gotham Writers’ Workshop. It was an excellent introduction to memoir and I am very happy I took the class. Now, I’m going to write, write, write.
Of course, I’ll also be mothering, teaching (2nd graders and 5th graders in separate photography and writing projects), gardening, exercising, cooking, fellowshipping, blogging, and (hope springs eternal) de-cluttering.
What are your writing goals? Does it help to make them public? I’d love to know.
Update: How’s this for coincidence? Within the hour of posting, I received an email rejection of a piece I had submitted to the online magazine Brevity. I had been encouraged to submit by Kyle Minor, who taught my memoir writing class in the fall. I gave the memoir snippet (about 450 words) to my Dad for Christmas; I asked Richard to typeset it and paired it with a black and white photograph of Richard’s. I am glad Kyle encouraged me to submit the piece. I learned about an interesting online magazine and I gained the confidence to keep writing. Eventually, this snippet will take its place in a larger work.
I posted bits and pieces of this quilt while it was in progress, here and here. Now, I am happy to be able to post the finished quilt. My parents and I gave it to my sister, Jessica, for Christmas. Mom and Dad had it machine quilted at Bernina Sewing, Etc. “Not White” is the first in a series I have planned. Each will use the same color scheme but have a different pattern. I posted the second picture so you could get an idea of the size of the quilt — basically it fits nicely on the top of a queen-sized (no hang-over) and is meant to be a throw quilt on her living room couch.