On Loss, Grief, Cats, and Picture Books

posted by Gina

Stella Cat turned 16 in August.  We brought her home from the pound when I was just a few months out of college, so small she slept in her food dish.  She’s seen me through love, loss, divorce, uncertainty, joy, and a cross-country move.  She is the love of my life.  She is not doing very well this week.

The vet is cautiously optimistic, but I know that even if she comes home this time, I’m facing the reality of losing her in the fairly near future.

Stella Cat, studiously ignoring the paparazzi.

In many ways, for many of us, these loves are more personal, more profound, than any other relationships we have.  For those without a pet, there are no words to explain this strangely deep and meaningful connection.  The logical triviality of it (“it’s just a pet!”) doesn’t measure up to this kind of grief.    Continue reading “On Loss, Grief, Cats, and Picture Books”

Book Recommendation: Frindle


posted by Gina

Author: Andrew Clements

Age Range: 5th and 6th Grade
This book is also an excellent choice for your high-level-reading 2nd/3rd Grader (or as a read-aloud for the same) and – dare I say it – can be appreciated and enjoyed well into middle school.  I read this book every time I need to feel really good about the world.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, School Story

Let’s Talk About This, Shall We?

I freaking love words.  During that long-ago year I blundered my way through teaching Kindergarten (we will not speak of this again), my favorite activity was teaching the kiddos a huge, impressive word, then hearing about their parents’ reactions when they used it casually in conversation.  (Nothing more hilarious than a 5 year old saying, “You know, Ms. Gina, I think a jacket would be superfluous today.”)

I keep lists of fun words, favorite words, other people’s favorite words (did you know that all Irish bartenders in New York will claim a swear word as their favorite? And that more people will choose ‘plethora’ than any other word?  It’s true).

This book is about words, a teacher who loves the dictionary, and a kid who wants to know why.  “Why do we call a pen a pen?” he asks, and, upon hearing the intriguing answer that, Latin roots aside, we just collectively agree that “pen” means what it does, decides to test this theory.   Continue reading “Book Recommendation: Frindle”

Mummifying Chickens

A chicken mummy anointed, adorned, and nestled in its sarcophagus.     ©2012 Beret Olsen

posted by Gina

Age Range: 7 and up

Ancient Egypt is a topic that rarely fails to capture the imagination, whether a 2nd grader’s or a high school student’s.  The mythology is both beautiful and harsh, with enough romance and bloodthirst to satisfy young people across the interest spectrum.

In terms of an easy yet spectacular home project, nothing is more fabulous than a homemade mummy, whether the project comes at the end of a unit of study or opens the door to further reading and research.    Continue reading “Mummifying Chickens”