I guess this doesn’t exactly qualify as a drink

But it CAN be enjoyed while reading. Thanks to Sherry @LibraryFanatic for turning me on to refrigerator oatmeal.


I’m enjoying the blueberry version above.

Have a look at the recipes yourself:

Sherry and @UhOhMeagan proclaimed this the Official Breakfast of the Nerdy Book Club. (?)

Feeling Naturey

After reading the Styling Librarian’s post today, I was feeling naturey. How could I not?

This beautiful one-minute video from the World Wildlife Federation is genius. It masterfully shows the “similarities” between humans and animals. Ivan, Stella, and Ruby immediately come to mind.

I was also reminded of a little video preview I shot of a nature book that is coming out soon. I saw it on Kim’s ARC table at Monkey See, Monkey Do and “grabbed” it to play. Fascinating.


Here is the IndieBound description:

Once before, we introduced a brand-new idea with a challenge: You won’t believe your eyes. The book was “Gallop ,” the technology was Scanimation(R), and the result was a bestseller. Now we’re back with another dazzling idea, and this time for the whole family: The book is “Safari,” it uses never-before-seen Photicular technology, and the result is breathtaking. “Safari “is a magical journey. Readers, as if on safari, encounter eight wild animals that come alive. Using an innovative lenticular-based technology, precision sliding lenses, and original four-color video imagery, each image is like a 3-D movie on the page, delivering a rich, fluid, immersive visual experience. The cheetah bounds. The gazelle leaps. The African elephant snaps its ears. The gorilla munches the leaves off a branch. It’s mesmerizing, as visually immediate as a National Geographic or Animal Planet special.Accompanying the images is” Safari,” the guide: It begins with an evocative journal of a safari along the Mara River in Kenya and interweaves the history of safaris. Then for each animal there is a lively, informative essay and an at-a-glance list of important facts. It’s the romance of being on safari–and the almost visceral thrill of seeing the animals in motion– in a book unlike any other.

And for a brief sneak peak, click here:


Happy nature day.

8.27 It’s a Summer Monday! What are you reading?


Visit Teach Mentor Texts for Jen & Kellee’s “original”.



“Thanks to Marissa Meyer, Cinderella is getting the cyborg treatment. Fairy tales are becoming all the rage, with the TV shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm spinning them through a modern filter. The 26-year-old Meyer’s debut novel Cinder, though, combines a classic folk tale with hints of The Terminator and Star Wars in the first book of The Lunar Chronicles young- adult series due out Jan. 3.”   –

“Cinderella is a cyborg in this futuristic take on the fairy tale, the first book in Ms. Meyer’s planned ‘Lunar Chronicles’ series.” –Wall Street Journal, in a round-up called “After Harry Potter: The Search for the Magic Formula”

“First in the Lunar Chronicles series, this futuristic twist on Cinderella retains just enough of the original that readers will enjoy spotting the subtle similarities. But debut author Meyer’s brilliance is in sending the story into an entirely new, utterly thrilling dimension.” –STARRED, Publishers Weekly “Meyer creates here a feminist fairytale for modern teens.” –Shelf Awareness 

Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Winter 2012 Kids’ Next List
“The story of Cinderella turned on its head and given a futuristic twist, Cinder is exciting, entertaining, and engaging. A plague is sweeping across Earth and there is no cure, the people of the Moon want to conquer Earth, and the annual Ball is coming in New Beijing. Suddenly, Cinder finds herself embroiled in all three events and she may hold the key to the future survival of Earth. This is the first volume of a planned quartet. I can’t wait for the next book!”
— Ellen Richmond, Children’s Book Cellar, Waterville, ME


Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Marissa Meyer on Cinder, writing, and leading men

Which of your characters is most like you?   I wish I could say that I’m clever and mechanically-minded like Cinder, but no—I can’t fix anything. I’m much more like Cress, who makes a brief cameo in Cinder and then takes a more starring role in the third book. She’s a romantic and a daydreamer and maybe a little on the naïve side—things that could be said about me too—although she does find courage when it’s needed most. I think we’d all like to believe we’d have that same inner strength if we ever needed it.

Where do you write?  I have a home office that I’ve decorated with vintage fairy tale treasures that I’ve collected (my favorite is a Cinderella cookie jar from the forties) and NaNoWriMo posters, but sometimes writing there starts to feel too much like work. On those days I’ll write in bed or take my laptop out for coffee or lunch.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which character from Cinder would you want with you?   Cinder, definitely! She has an internet connection in her brain, complete with the ability to send and receive comms (which are similar to e-mails). We’d just have enough time to enjoy some fresh coconut before we were rescued.

The next book in the Lunar Chronicles is called Scarlet, and is about Little Red Riding Hood. What is appealing to you most about this character as you work on the book?   Scarlet is awesome—she’s very independent, a bit temperamental, and has an outspokenness that tends to get her in trouble sometimes. She was raised by her grandmother, an ex-military pilot who now owns a small farm in southern France, who not only taught Scarlet how to fly a spaceship and shoot a gun, but also to have a healthy respect and appreciation for nature. I guess that’s a lot of things that appeal to me about her, but she’s been a really fun character to write! (The two leading men in Scarlet, Wolf and Captain Thorne, aren’t half bad either.)


My Comment:  Is this a retelling of Cinderella? Well, yeah. There’s a character named Cinder… a ball… evil stepmom… stepsisters (not both evil)… and that’s where the similarities end. And that’s OK with me. I thought this book was quite entertaining and  clever. The futuristic society–highly technological–and life on Earth in New Beijing after World War IV is well-imagined and clever. This kept me reading, curious to know how Meyer was going to wrap up all the loose ends.

Which, of course, they weren’t, because the story continues into the next book.

I’ll leave you to wonder if the Prince would truly be out and about wandering the sick streets trying to get his droid fixed; and how likely is it that Cinder, the bionic mechanic, would catch his eye.  Trivialities, I suppose.

I’ll be anxious to read the next installment when it comes out.


Well, since it’s back to work next week, I’m going to be focusing my reading on curriculum and planning for reading and writing workshop with books like—
Hello, nervous insomnia.

“Summer Vacation is for READING” postcards

As the end of summer draws nigh, a few more of the “Summer Vacation is for READING” postcards have trickled in.



You may remember that I made and gave these out to my students at the end of the year so we could keep in touch. I was hoping for more, but I’m thankful for the cards I received.

And… Here they are:


Stephanie, above, is an incoming student who picked up the postcard at the WOOKIEE PARTY. I’m excited about having this voracious reader in my class. I also happen to know she is reading Divergent.

Featured covers:


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Great reading, Susan! Did you know this was the first in a series? I didn’t. Keep it up! (And thanks for the sweet note.)

Featured covers:


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Ethan, I’m particularly interested to know how you liked Leviathan. And have you followed up with the next two? And do you know the term Steampunk?

Featured covers:


8.20 It’s a Summer Monday! What are you reading???


Visit Teach Mentor Texts for Jen & Kellee’s “original”.



By Roddy Doyle (Harry N. Abrams, Hardcover, 9781419701689, 192pp.) Publication Date: May 2012

Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Summer 2012 Kids’ Next List
“One day as 12-year-old Mary walks home from school, she meets a mysterious woman who seems to appear out of nowhere. The woman looks young, but seems old, and her name is Tansey, which, as it happens, is the name of Mary’s long-dead great-grandmother. Tansey says she has a message for Mary’s granny. And so, impossibly, four generations of women embark on a midnight road trip to revisit the farm that made them who they are. Doyle’s delightful story is charming, witty, and poignant, a surprisingly fresh generational tale that mothers and daughters will want to share!”
— Megan Graves, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Mary O’Hara is a sharp and cheeky 12-year-old Dublin schoolgirl who is bravely facing the fact that her beloved Granny is dying. But Granny can’t let go of life, and when a mysterious young woman turns up in Mary’s street with a message for her Granny, Mary gets pulled into an unlikely adventure. The woman is the ghost of Granny’s own mother, who has come to help her daughter say good-bye to her loved ones and guide her safely out of this world. She needs the help of Mary and her mother, Scarlett, who embark on a road trip to the past. Four generations of women travel on a midnight car journey. One of them is dead, one of them is dying, one of them is driving, and one of them is just starting out.

My Comment:Very clever, multigenerational “ghost” story. Ghost is in quotes because it’s not the scary-type ghost–it’s a warm, friendly, family ghost. I enjoyed the dialogue, especially since it was Irish and used interesting phrases.



(See? Even on vacation.)


In other news… #WONDERschools sign up is off to a good start. Grab the button from the sidebar –>; and make sure you fill out the form if you are going to be reading Wonder this year. Check it out at


The FORTUNE WOOKIEE and HAN FOLDO talk about their Book Birthday

On August 8th, David Etkin and Brent Peterson hosted a book birthday party at Sweet Home Middle School in Amherst, NY.  They were celebrating the birthday of the third book in the Origami Yoda series, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee by Tom Angleberger.  Fortunately for them, the Fortune Wookiee himself and Han Foldo were on hand to witness the event. They were nice enough to describe what happened.

Brent and David also sneak a photo op with Mr. A.

A couple videos of the fun….
Here is a HUGE slideshow of the WOOKIEE Birthday Party. We didn’t want to leave anyone out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We would like to thank everyone involved in helping to make this book birthday party a success.  First and foremost, thank you to Tom Angleberger, Mr. @OrigamiYoda himself. We know you were busy with the release and the book store visits. It was awesome that you fit us in. Thank you to Kim Krug (@monkeysread / for your help with books as well as at our party.  Amy Williams @AmyW13 for your help with all the set up, Michelle Doroiala @shelbydoro and Suzanne Rizzo for manning stations, Larry Leaven (asst. superintendent at Sweet Home CSD) for supplying a free copy of Fortune Wookiee for any student who came, Marty Pizur my principal for his support, Don Feldman for his help with our Skype session, the Sweet Home MS custodial staff for set up, and everyone who came to help make the event a success.

Join #WONDERschools

Since this posted I have made an “official” #WONDERschools site. Visit it now!

If you are planning on reading Wonder this year, you’re not the only one.


Many teachers across the country and world are using Wonder as a springboard for discussions about acceptance and bullying. The addition of the chooseKIND campaign offers even more reason to read Wonder.


Besides, Wonder is flat out a great book–one that keeps spreading by word of mouth.

Deb Tyo (@chocolateair) and some other Twitter folks thought it would be cool to gather all the Wonder-reading teachers and schools under the hashtag #WONDERschools so we could share ideas and resources and hopefully connect teachers, students, and classrooms.

We would like to take this a step further by compiling contact information for these teachers so you may contact one another easily through email, atwitter, Skype, Google +, etc. Please fill out the form below if you are planning on reading Wonder at any time this year. I will post the spreadsheet of collected information shortly. We are looking forward to uniting behind #WONDERschools.

{We would appreciate you posting this form in your blog. Just Direct Message me at @DavidAEtkin and I will send you the code. It would also be helpful if we retweeted one another’s posting of this form. Thank you so much.}

8.13 It’s a Summer Monday! What are YOU reading?

[Check out the home of “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading”: Teach Mentor Texts — and the spin-off:Sharpreads]

DESCRIPTION courtesy of IndieBound
With Dwight attending Tippett Academy this semester, the kids of McQuarrie Middle School are on their own—no Origami Yoda to give advice and help them navigate the treacherous waters of middle school. Then Sara gets a gift she says is from Dwight—a paper fortune-teller in the form of Chewbacca. It’s a Fortune Wookiee, and it seems to give advice that’s just as good as Yoda’s—even if, in the hands of the girls, it seems too preoccupied with romance. In the meantime, Dwight is fitting in a little too well at Tippett. Has the unimaginable happened? Has Dwight become normal? It’s up to his old friends at McQuarrie to remind their kooky friend that it’s in his weirdness that his greatness lies.

With his proven knack for humorously exploring the intrigues, fads, and dramas of middle school, Tom Angleberger has crafted a worthy follow-up to his breakout bestsellers The Strange Case of Origami Yoda andDarth Paper Strikes Back.

My comment:The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee lived up to expectations.Tommy collects another case file, and the stories are a hoot. I think Angleberger’s extra illustrations and doodles on the pages are even funnier this time. I literally LOL–okay, maybe GOL (guffawed out loud). Nice job, Mr. A.

Angleberger is clearly poking fun at the educational system as McQuarrie Middle undertakes some big changes in their core curriculum: “FUNTIME! Time to Focus on the FUN-damentals!” Yup–so long art, chorus, band, etc. (See my comment below on The Art of Miss Chew.)

One of the best parts? The last page says, “The end this is?” “Way NO!” So now we can start imagining the fourth book int he Origami Yoda series. Ummmm…C3P(aper)O?


My comment: I’ve gotten a ball stuck in a tree before. The only way to get it down when it is unclimbable is to throw another ball at it. Well, Floyd gets his kite stuck in the tree. And the shoe he throws at the kite. And the cat he throws at the shoe. And the ladder. And the can of paint. And…. Well, you’ll have to read to see the other crazy things Floyd gets stuck in the tree. I like this book for the hilarity, fun artwork, and written text.

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My comment: I’ll never pass up a Polacco book. I like this one much better than last week’s. It’s another autobiographical story about her struggle to balance reading and her newfound artistic ability. There are a couple teachers who go to bat for her when the Powers threaten to take away her art so she can concentrate on her reading and testing. It reminds me that I need to be the teacher to go to stand up for what is best for my students.

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My comment: Last week I read 11 Experiments that Failed. This is the “prequel”. Same trouble-making, inquisitive little girl who tries all kinds of things–such as stapling her brother’s hair to his pillow, walking backward all the way to school, and washing her hands in the dog’s bowl before dinner.

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My comment: I’ve seen this cute book mentioned quite a bit. It reminds me a little bit of the classic Are You my Mother? combined with I Want My Hat Back. I dig the bookstore and library posters that are available for download. (Thanks, @trkravtin)



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My comment: Caldecott worthy? Perhaps. It was a fun read.

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My comment: When a slave mother has to walk 12 miles from her plantation to visit her son who has been located to a different plantation, he asks her how she makes the walk shorter. “Every mile is special, Frederick. Each mile is for something different.” And so she goes on to tell him what each mile is for. The first mile is for forgetting. The second mile is for remembering. The third for listening…the fifth for wondering about God…the sixth for praying…the ninth for dancing…the twelfth mile is for…”

We find out in the Afterword who that young Frederick really was.

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My comment: This compilation of stories was strange–not what I expected. Two fantasies, followed by a realistic story in which the main character willingly engages in a fantasy to make her life more interesting. I liked the third story in this GN best.

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BOOK birthdays, BOOK postcards, and BOOKstores

Today is a big day.

Today 45 incoming and outgoing 6th graders are celebrating the release of Tom Angleberger’s The Secret of the Fortune Wookie.  Mr. Peterson (who assisted in the planning), the rest of the 6th grade ELA teachers, our reading teachers, Kim Krug from Monkey See, Monkey Do bookstore, and more will be there.

We have a lot of cool things planned, the most important of which is a Skype session with Mr. Angleberger himself.

I will take a gazillion pictures and post on this in the near future.

In other news…

I received another Summer Vacation is for READING postcard the other day–this time from Mr. Baczkiewicz who teaches science across the hall from me.

I love when Mr. B pops into my room when he sees me showing a book trailer or talking about spelling or listening to my music too loudly. He handed him a postcard, and sure enough he mailed it back to me AND emailed a summer reading picture to

Thanks, Mr. B.


We had some PD at school this week with our “regular crew” that came from NYC and is associated with the Reader’s and Writer’s College at Columbia U. They were kind enough to let me shuffle them off to Monkey See, Monkey Do bookstore (“MY” bookstore). I couldn’t help capturing the experience with photos:

Thanks, Donna, for encouraging your colleagues to come along–though I’m guessing it didn’t take too much arm twisting.