Book Barn Annual Sale!!

Today was the first day of the Book Barn annual sale, so of COURSE I had to go. And I may go back next weekend if I’m feeling up to it to see what else I can find.

The Book Barn is an amazing used bookstore in Niantic, CT, that covers three locations. They have thousands and thousands books, quite a few cats, two goats, and some turtles as well. Pretty much anything you could want is there! Most books are priced between $1.00 for mass market paperbacks to $4.00 for hardcovers. Some are priced slightly higer depending on the condition, rarity, and value. (They do have some special edition books and rare books as well.)

Jess joined me in my excursion today. I was on a mission to get books for my classroom and for the school library. I would say the mission was a success! Five of my students had gone as well and I met up with them in the teen section and got to chat with the parents of one student. And while we did, said student loaded books into my bag. HAHA!!

I had a list of books with me to find, but I only found THREE of them! But they are pretty new, so I’m not surprised. I also found three children’s books in Japanese, one of which is the Ugly Duckling! I was so excited to discover that! 「みにくいあひるのこ」

A lot of the memoirs I was looking for were there, though, so I have a lot to read. It’s very exciting. Did I mention all the books during this sale are 30% off?! YOU MUST GO!

One of the cats, as I was petting it, got up and put his paws on my shoulder to get a better scratching. It was so cute. I really love going there. It’s well worth the hour drive to go down. And for those that live farther, make a day of it! Niantic is a beautiful little town with the best bookstore in Connecticut! And if it’s a really nice day you can head to the beach to relax in the sun!

Book Review: IraqiGirl by “Hadiya”

One particular student of mine has taken an interest in books about girls in other countries and requested I find more after she read I Am Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced, the memoir of a young girl from Yemen who was married off at the age of 10 and was the first child bride to win a divorce in the country. The book was a fantastic look at the lives of girls in this country, and really made her appreciate her life in America. So I went on the search for another book that would interest her – and other students – just as much.

I found IraqiGirl {Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq} and before giving it to my student, I had to first read it to make sure the material is suitable for her grade level.

I am pleased to announce that it is, and it is an excellent look at the lives of Iraqi girls during the Iraq War and US occupation. I say girls because readers do not get to see the perspective of a boy, but instead readers get to see Hadiya (a pseudonym) write in her blog.

The entries serve many purposes. First, she is fifteen when the book starts and while her English is good, it is not perfect. There are errors in it, and she seems younger than fifteen. Her entries are short and express her fear at what happens around her and often include pictures. Second, the posts show her changing feelings about her countries leader, the Americans, and the situation around her that she feels at time is hopeless, and other times full of hope. She can be – and admits to it – pessimistic. But can anyone really blame her for what she experiences? She is just writing her life as she sees it. And who can call it a life when every day she hears bombs going off around her and has to worry about that while taking exams in school?

The blog records her progress in the English language, and with her views of the world. She is conflicted when her relatives die but she is utterly in love with her niece, Aya. It is clear that her grandfather was a brilliant man, and she adored him.

From Hadiya I learned a lot about the occupation in Iraq. Before reading this I had seen only what was shown on my television and gave no thought – I’m ashamed to say – to the civilians who wanted to live their life peacefully. Hadiya is a devout Muslim who takes her religion seriously and it is her faith that often gets her through difficult patches. I loved her poetry. While at times it was serious and heartbreaking, it was insightful for a girl her age.

And though it may seem small, I admire her writing the blog in English though she was not fluent. She did not care if peope made fun of her – as she says at the end – and by the end of her book we see that she is very talented with words. Perhaps it was the years of expressing herself in English that helped her. It has inspired me to write more in Japanese and not worry about mistakes I make. Perhaps someone will help me with my Japanese as well. I’m not perfect. I do not claim to be fluent. Maybe writing only in Japanese in another blog will improve my grasp of the language like it did for Hadiya.

If you’re interested in reading more of the blog, you can find it here: http://iraqigirl.blogspot.com/

Hadiya still updates, though infrequently. You can purchase the book here.

(And for those who may be concerned about the “accuracy” of the facts as some people seem to be in reviews, she is writing her blog posts as a child. She is writing as she knows things to be. She admits that people are liars and that she cannot trust everyone, but what she writes is from the heart. She does not have the ability check and see if all the information she gets is true because of her age.)

 

It’s Official!

I have an official release date for Andy Squared! It’s so exciting, because it’s like finding out when my child is going to be born. In fact, it’s exactly eight months from today!

September 18, 2012 will be when Andy Squared is available in bookstores and on the Bold Strokes Books website.

Blogging at the BSB Blog

On January 12th I was honored to post my first blog at the Bold Strokes Books author blog. It was such a great experience! Though I don’t have a book out yet, it was fun to see what readers and other authors thought about the blog. I chose to share my entry about bullying because it’s such an important topic for me.

I’ve been hard at work editing this three-day weekend. I had a breakthrough today and I think it’s going well. Tomorrow I have some more work to do, but it’s late, a  new episode of Finding Bigfoot is on, and I have a 1939 edition of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens to read.

I haven’t read this book since my freshman year in high school, which was quite awhile ago. I challenged a friend to a read off, because she’s tried reading it since then but failed. So we’ll go through this journey together! If you’re wondering why this book of all the Dickens I could choose to read, it’s because lately I’ve thought a lot about Ms. Havisham. Why? Beats me! She just popped into my mind one day and won’t let go. Report on how my view of the novel has changed since that first reading will be up when I finish.

Speaking out against bullying

I am writing this post as a teacher.

I am also writing this post as the victim of bullying.

Once again my television is telling me that another teenager has taken her life because she was bullied. It doesn’t matter whether she is a lesbian or not. What matters is how senseless this tragedy is, and how preventable it can be. According to the news, as she lay in critical condition in the hospital, the bullying continued on her Facebook page. How can people be so cruel?

I’ve heard some adults say that “bullying is a right of passage” or that “kids will be kids.” But it’s wrong. No matter what way it is looked at, making another person feel inferior for ANY reason – be it their sexuality, gender, religion, ethnic background, clothing, hair color, whatever – is wrong. So very, very wrong.

My bullying started when I was in the eighth grade. In homeroom, every single morning, one of the guys who sat next to me spit on me. I don’t know what I did. It could have been my glasses. Maybe even my jeans (my family didn’t have much, and I wore KMart or Caldor’s brand clothing instead of Abercrombie, which was cult-like at the time). Could it have been my hair? I wondered if maybe I even smelled bad, though they never said that. I don’t remember one of my bullies’ names. And I don’t even remember the name of the teacher who watched, day by day, as this happened, and not once said a single word. My mother now asks me why I never told her. My response? “Because the teacher didn’t stop it, so I figured no one would help.”

I’ve told this story to my students, and I remind them whenever a bullying issue comes up. I will not tolerate any form of bullying in my classroom. I cannot stand by and watch one of my students being harassed by another student because I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to be made to feel inferior. And no one has the right to do that to another person. I truly feel my students pain when they tell me how they feel when it happens.

I’m proud to say I’ve seen changes. But it’s not enough. More adults need to take this stand as well. If you see kids harassing another kid who is visibly upset, please, step in and help them. Be the responsible person and get help for them. If someone you know is being bullied or you fear they might be, talk to them. Do something about it.

Kids look to adults for guidance. They look to us as role models. Maybe if we really push and take a stand against bullying, they will finally realize that it’s wrong and has serious, harmful side effects.

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

I thought I would do a little reflection post on what 2011 was like for me, and what I hope 2012 will be. There are a lot of things both good and bad, and I’ll try not to focus on the bad. :)

(None of this is in order because all things are relative to the situation and that point in time.)

Goodbye 2011

  • Andy Squared was picked up for publication by Bold Strokes Books after multiple agent rejections.
  • I was in an amazing relationship for almost half a year, but after that time he decided I was not the one for him, even though I felt he was the one for me. It’s like that Adam Lambert song, “Sleepwalker.”
  • I started teaching seventh grade along with my eighth grade students. Fun times!
  • I picked up the new, fun hobby of letterboxing. It’s been a while since I’ve gone out, but hey! It’s colder.
  • I read 105 books!
  • I lost my job at Borders when they closed ): but I worked there for a wonderful 6 years.
  • I made some new friends, lost some old ones, but in the end I’d say it’s fairly balanced.

Hello 2012

  • Andy Squared will be published by Bold Strokes Books under their Soliloquy YA line!
  • I get to work with an amazing editor and talk to awesome authors.
  • I will be moving to a new school at the end of the year because my school is closing. Where I’ll be going, though, I have no idea.
  • I hope to move out of my parents house and find my own home, be it an apartment, condo, or house.
  • Did I mention Andy Squared will be published?

What are you looking forward to in 2012? What are you happy to say goodbye to from 2011? Let’s all stay safe, happy and healthy this new year! I’m starting it off cleaning out my old junk and organizing myself.