This meme, hosted by The Purple Booker which was suggested to me by Sarah at Brainfluff, tells the reader to choose a few lines at random and use them as a “tease” to get others to read the book.  I am going to randomly open Carzy Lady by Leslie Conly, a Newberry Award winner for kids from 6th grade through early high school:

” The little things we did [to the “Crazy Lady”/alcoholic in the neighborhood]…was to agitate her so she”d put on a show…[as she and her retarded son came out,] we’d jump up and shout, ‘Hey Maxine!”  Sometimes Bobby would say, ‘Hey, your majesty.’ But it really didn’t matter what it was: anything we said would make her pop her cork.”

When I came to this page in the book, page seventeen, I thought it would be another sappy “life-lesson- bearing” young adult story.  Was I wrong! The character changes in the book were anything but stereotypical, platitudes, and the ending was realistic, not your “Be-good-and-everything-will-turn-out-well”, kiddie-lit ending.  I may review this fine book on Saturday Morning for Kids this week.



Literacy and Me

This post introduces a budding author, Maria, who is in Ms. Villarreal’s morning language arts bloc, a first grade bi-lingual class. She is an engaging young lady who does well in both reading and writing. She is a help to her parents and teachers alike. She has been very kind to me when I volunteer in her class.

Here is Maria’s story:

“El sábado yo jugué con mis mynecas a que una mynca era la mama y la otra ques la hermin mayar y la hermana Chiqueta y me diverti mucho jugando mis munecas.”


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A–Z Reading Challenge Update​


In the last update, I posted, I mentioned beginning Reading with Patrick, a book given me by Debbie Nance of Readerbuzz. I have not quite finished it but have finished The Sunken Cathedral, for the letter “S.” I just finished posting a review of Cathedral on an “accidental blog” I discovered on https://literacyletters317703915.wordpress.com

I have already taken down a book from my TBR shelf for the letter “T,” This Noble Land” subtited, “My Vision for America” by James Mitchner. It was published in 1996, as Mitchner was approaching his ninetieth birthday.  I have no idea how I acquired this paperback, nor have I ever heard of it. Either my friend Deb Nance of Readerbuzz passed it along to me, or my friend, Susan gave it to me in one of the many cartons of books she gave me to “have first dibs on, but to see they get…

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ATTENTION! Accidental Blog: LOL

Because of a failure of techie skills in knowing where to “send”/”move things and of reblogging, I have discovered that an old blog I created to teach students how to set up a blog, has not only reappeared but is up and running with posts never seen on my other blogs. WOW!

To access it or check it out, go to https://literacyletters317703915.wordpress.com

Crazy, huh?


THE SUNKEN CATHEDRAL by Kate Walbert: A Review

This 2015 novel’s colorful cover displayed at the Alvin Library attracted me and “forced” me to check it out. I knew the Impressionistic cover depicted the sunken cathedral of the title, and it “looked like” music. Although I had never heard of Debussy’s score, “The Sunken Cathedral” (described as the composer’s ” musical version of Impressionism”), I was moved by just looking at the cover.

All this from just the cover and title! According to the blurbs on the back, Walbert’s story follows a group of characters, “as they negotiate one of Manhatten’s swiftly changing neighborhoods.”  The New York Times calls it, “a stunningly beautiful, profoundly wise novel,” and describes Walbert as “a wickedly smart, gorgeous writer.”  It opens with a strange prelude, written in italics. Flood waters swirl and drown all things, engulfing the city.  We do not know what city it is until later.

We meet in the first chapter, two elderly friends, Matie and Simone. Both had immigrated from Europe after surviving WWII. They are finishing dinner together and hurrying out so as not to be late for their art lesson. Sid Morris, once an artist, now a washed-up art instructor, who has students meet in his shabby apartment, is their teacher. The conversation between the six students, each with his or her backstory, explained in long,  narrative “footnotes,” more “side-stories” than anything else, round out the characters of each student.  The interplay between the instructor and the students laps over into the students’ private lives as well.

Marie, much younger than the two friends, appears soon. She is their landlady, who has issues of her own, in which they quickly become involved. This interesting device allows the author to create a sub-plot which keeps the reader involved in the plot and beginning to care for each character.

Cathedral,  the author’s peek into twenty-first-century life, is as well written as it is conceived and designed. It is a splendid novel in every aspect and one you certainly will enjoy as much as did I.


Kids who are in high school or junior high love graphic novels. Some are too violent, some too sexy, some too horror-prone to be healthy reading for adolescents. However, today’s selection for junior high and high school kids, a graphic novel by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe, sends important messages which are expressed in the dedications by each:

“To India, Milo, and anyone who’s ever sought to stand out in a crowd–A.H.”

“For my fellow cartoonists out there, who inspire me to draw–P.H.”

And the title? There is none. A single peanut–lifelike, stands against an indescribable shade of blue. At the bottom are the author’s names–nothing else. The drawing throughout the novel is “special” (and inspiring) to young readers who are budding cartoonists or constant doodlers. The writing is straight-forward, and authentically represents the dialog of teens.

The protagonist and narrator, a freshman in high school who is changing schools, decides to fake a peanut allergy to stand out as “the new girl” because she feels she is not special enough or different enough to “fit in” or find a circle of friends. She is conflicted, like most teens, between conforming and standing out. True to the formula of many teen novels, she tells a lie and then bears the repercussions and consequences when the lie is “found out.” The author’s scenes where the girl almost confesses the lie, then does not, create anxiety and concern in the reader. One turns the pages rapidly to find out what is going to happen next.

And the ending? So many possible outcomes are expected by readers, but the reality is a surprise! Although an adult, I enjoyed this graphic novel greatly and admired the talents of both Halliday and Hoppe; my mind often shouted, “Yay!” as I shifted into the thinking/reading styles of my former eighth and ninth graders. I highly recommend this book for all ages.



Chapter One, “La Vie Moderne”    20 July 1880

“He rode the awkward steam-cycle along the ridge to catch glimpses of the domes and spires of Paris to the east, then turned west and careened headlong down the long steep hill toward the village of Bougival and the Seine. With his right elbow cast in plaster, he could barely reach the handlebar, but he had to get to the river. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Now.  Idleness had been itching him worse than the maddening tickle under the cast.  Only painting would be absorbing enough to relieve them both. Steam hissed out of the engine, but it built up inside of him.”

This is our first glimpse of Auguste Renoir, wobbling and sliding down an embankment on a steam-cycle, presented by historical novelist, Susan Vreeland. How Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party came to be, changed the school if Impressionism, epitomized by Renoir. This hefty 434-page novel was selected by our Third Tuesday Book Club only because one of our two male members mentioned he had read all of his friend’s historical novels when he knew her years ago in California. None of us had ever heard of her. My understanding of historical novels is that they are about real people, about real events, set in real places, then the author imagines what these people think, say, and do. A good historical novel, for me, cannot include too many facts or be too researched. Looking at the painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party, even a novice art critic/appreciator can tell the difficulties presented in painting it: Many people, light issues, representing movement, and showing France, La Vie Moderne.  Reading this book is not a mental action, but an experience. Vreeland shares the passion of the artist, the drive to paint and create, and the lighthearted conversation and enjoyment of the moment and the age–all captured by slashing, hurried brush strokes over several sessions. Vreeland captures the Jois de Vie of the moment and of the times.

I enjoyed this book so much that I am going to make reading all of Susan Vreeland’s books a goal to finish by New Year’s Day, 2021. I think there are seven, and all are about artists and paintings. At our club meeting last Tuesday, the assignment was to read any Susan Vreeland.  I heard about three of them besides Luncheon, and immediately thought, I’ve got to read that one!