Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth


something-beautiful1Something Beautiful (1998), written by Sharon Dennis Wyeth & illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet, was a wonderful story. The drawings are very nice. In fact, the little girl on the cover, the title character, actually looks like a little girl in my daughter’s class.

I bought this book because it reminds me of the children in my class. Their environment is not the most beautiful, safe, or encouraging place to be. When I saw this book, I knew that I had to buy it and share it with them.

I read this book in response to one of the Open Court stories that we were working on right before break called ” Food from the ‘Hood,” a 4th grade OCR story that detailed the story of the positive beginnings in the aftermath of the 1994 riots in South Central Los Angeles. It is the story of Crenshaw High’s student run business that inspired other schools to start their own business. They have a brand of salad dressing in the store aptly title “Food from the ‘Hood”.

The accompanying journal question, “Can I start a business that helps my neighborhood and make a profit? We discussed possible businesses and then they wrote in their journal. This post could get so long because we really did a lot with this book and the other stuff we were working with, so I will save that for another day and another post. So, as a lead in to this story and as an addendum to my student’s daily writing journal assignment, I asked the students if they could start a business that could help out their neighborhood, when one of my students said that the neighborhood was ugly and there was nothing they could do to clean it up. The students then started telling me about the neighborhood crack heads and the alley where cars race by so fast they can’t walk by without fear of being run over. It was at this point that I told them that I had a book for them since this story is much like their own. Some of them remembered it from last year, but there are some who weren’t in my class last year who really wanted to hear it. This little picture book speaks volumes about children living in horrible circumstances who make the best of their situation.

The title character focuses on a pretty little brown girl who thinks her neighborhood lacks something beautiful. She thinks that because the neighborhood is fraught with crime, homelessness and poverty. One thing, she discovers while hunting for something beautiful, is that there is beauty all around. After walking past the homeless woman sleeping on the street, and after running past the alley where her mother told her never to stop, she finds something beautiful in Miss Delphine’s fish sandwich, in the neighborhood children jumping rope and dancing, Mr. Lee’s fruit stand, old Mr. Sims’ beautiful smooth stone, and her little baby cousin Carl.

However, all of that hope is dashed when she goes back home, sits on her stoop and sees the word Die in bold red letters. Well, she decides to do something about it. But, can one little girl make a difference? Do you think she can? Read it and find out for yourself is she does.

So, as usual, this post has gotten way longer than I wanted it to be. So, I will end it here. Until next time people!

A Review Of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button


I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons last night. It was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life. The acting was splendid, and the make-up was absolutely wonderful.

***

Brad Pitt simply amazes me. He totally becomes whatever character he is playing. He is an amazing actor. I don’t think that I ever mentioned I saw him before in person when Phillise was a baby. My husband worked at a voice-over studio and he was there recording something.His Range was blocking the way as I was trying to get into the lot. Before I could get a chance to ask him to move, he held his hand up to tell me to wait and politely moved back. He was only blocking the way because he was listening to the pesky valet trying to hawk a script to him. Anyway, I waved a thank you, to which he nodded. I didn’t know who he was, but I thought that surely he was the best looking person I’d ever seen in my life. His skin was oh so beautiul. His clothes looked like they cost more than I make in a month (They probably did), and his features were simply chiseled. I am not kidding. He is so fiiiiiiiine. You just don’t see people this good looking walking the street everyday. You simply cannot tell that he is as good looking as he is on television. Television absolutely does not do him justice, at all. My husband knows that if I were ever going to leave him that it would be for Brad Pitt if he would have me. I know that as soon as I get that snowball out of Hell, he’ll leave Angelina Jolie and the kids for me. Anyway, enough about that fine specimen of a man and on to talking about the movie.

***

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was great. The casting was excellent. Brad Pitt should get a nod for Best Actor.Taraji Henson and Cate Blachett both did an excellent job. One, or both of them should definitely get a nod for Best Supporting Actress. The make-up artists should get a nod for Best Make-up. The movie was so well written, and the story was an original, refreshing break from the norm.
As for Taraji, she did an amazing job. You really believed that she could have possibly been his mother. No matter that she’s black and he’s white. You really believed that she was his mother.

Cate Blanchett put in an excellent performance as well. The chemistry between her and Brad Pitt was electric. All in all, the movie was phenomenal. Even though I will not give away the ending, I will say that the ending is a tearjerker. You can see it coming, but it’s still sad. I highly recommend this movie. It is well worth seeing. I give it *****/*****. You will too.

Book Snob No More!


Yes, dear readers. I have to admit that I am a former book snob. I used to be I am one of those people who look down my nose on great literature being made into movies. Nope. Upon second thought, I realized that I still do not like the thought of great books being made into movies. I still look down my nose at that particular practice.

Once I’ve read the book, I don’t want my version of things sullied by Hollywood’s version of things. I much prefer to read the book because when I’m reading the book, the characters are of your own creation. They are who I want them to be- not who Hollywood chooses for the role because of their box office star power.

The one thing that bothers me most about great books being made into movies is the creative license that’s taken. Once the new writer changes this or changes that to suit whatever “new” purpose they want to convey, they’ve gone and messed up the book to me. So, I guess I’m still a book snob in that respect.

However, one medium that is newly discovered and loved by me, that has been around forever, is books on tape. My husband has been trying to tell me to listen to books on tape forever, but I would not listen. I stubbornly refused to give up my reading (which I cherish with every fiber of my being). When I’m reading I am totally lost in that book. I felt that listening to it on tape somehow took away from the whole experience. However, I was wrong.

I changed my mind when I discovered Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key on tape. This was like a godsend as I tried reading the book to my students with no luck. Sometimes I would be lost and would forget my place. It certainly didn’t help that most of the students didn’t remember either. I would have to keep going back to sum up the story. So, I abandoned it and was very sad because I really wanted them to hear the story. That’s why I was so happy when I found it on tape.

“Perfect,”I thought. After they come in from Recess and Lunch, I will let them listen to it and we will discuss it. So, that is what we are doing right now and it is working out like a charm. Now, not only am I checking out books for my class, but Phillise and I are checking books on tape out left and right. I simply cannot get enough of them. It’s helping me be more productive. Right now, I am listening to “The Birminghams go to Alabama- 1963”. Plus I am reading a book given to me at the AEMP conference by Baruti K. Kafele, entitled “A Handbook for Teachers of African American Children. In addition to that, I am also reading an organizational book that I got from my sister-in-law on Christmas. Right now I am so productive.

I am thoroughly enjoying my vacation. One of the things I love most about vacations is that I get to read to my hearts content. I read books that I did not make time to read during the year. So, I have to go because, as it happens, this post has gotten way longer than I expected it to.

I have to say before I go though, that I guess I’m still a book snob in one way. Being a book snob is okay, but limiting. I am expanding my repetoire and ways of obtaining information. As always, I will continually seek new ways to be more efficient while being of service to my students and my own children.

But for now, let me go back to my reading and listening, with my snobby self! Until next time people.

Goodbye 2008! Hello 2009!


Well, I didn’t think that this day would ever get here. It’s finally here. December 31, 2008. I cannot believe how much I’ve grown and experienced this year. Last year at this time I was wishing for 2007 to end and 2008 to begin, in hope that the new year would be totally different from the previous one. This year I do not wish the same thing because I have grown so much in my way of thinking, in my teaching, in my parenting, on being a wife, on being a sister, and a friend.

I have changed in nearly every aspect of my life. And ya’ know what I owe it to? I owe it all to this incredibly “hard” past couple of years. Almost All that I am I owe to my hardships. I really can’t remember what I learned during the great times except shopping is great and finding more stores to shop at and more ways to spend money.

  • During my hard times I learned how to save money.
  • During my hard times I learned what was absolutely necessary and what wasn’t.
  • During my hard times I learned more about myself.
  • During my hard times I learned how to make a dolla’ holla.

I could go on and on with this list but hopefully you get the picture. So, I say it and mean it with all sincerity that I am not as enthusiastic as I thought I would be for this year to end because I have learned so much. I know more about teaching. I know more about marriage. Basically I know a little bit more (just a little bit) about the world. In essence, I know more about me.

Goodbye 2008. Thanks for all the hard times and great memories! Hello 2009!!! What do you have waiting for me??????

Getting Down To Business…


Now, that I’ve had a week’s downtime, I am ready to begin on the work that I have planned. I am going to make at least a month’s lesson plans in:

  1. ELD
  2. Math, and
  3. Open Court

Voyager is scripted so I don’t need to make any plans for that. I do, however, have to go to my work site and get my ELD T.E. and my Math T.E. to plan my lessons. I’ll do that as soon as I run a few errands tomorrow. I have a full day planned. So here’s to getting down to business and having a well organized classroom with readily available lesson plans.

**Update- I did one month’s ELD & Math, but not OCR.**