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Pt 1: ALA, ARC’s, Bloggers, and paying

  • Posted on June 30, 2012 at 10:18 AM

There have been some wonderful, wacky, angry, disgusted, and thoughtful posts on blogs, youtube and twitter about the recent ALA Conference related to bloggers and ARC’s.

Kelly J at Stacked has a post with many comments about arcs and the bloggers receiving them. I found the post to be about far more than the arc’s.

Lizzy Burns picked up on this and blogged at SLJ. See my comment way below in red.

Many people may have seen me at ALA conferences with bags of books slung over my shoulders. After reading the posts mentioned below, I went back to examine my stacks and my own behavior. Guess what? I don’t feel bad after all.

I picked up 38 books at ALA this year. Of those, 19 (half) have notes in them I wrote after talking to the publishers so I would remember why I needed this title and how I intended to blog about it. Ten more were publisher suggestions based on their having read my reviews in the past and hoping that I would give the title a chance. Six titles were Young Adult titles I intend to blog about and give particular readers (I already have them in mind) and the last three were adult titles that interested me and that I may or may not blog about.

So if that’s all I picked up, why so many bags? Publisher catalogs, posters, event publicity packets, business cards, posters for my library and sometimes duplicate posters received with permission to put in teachers’ classrooms for a title I intend to use school-wide. Plus all my committee work is in those bags with folders and hundreds of pages.

I carry lists of subjects I’m looking for and speak with certain publishers asking them if they have any titles out now or in the works to meet these needs. This conference I spoke with several nonfiction publishers asking them to create titles about engineers to meet our STEM needs including acoustical engineers, packaging engineers, etc. I have asked for mathematical titles for years. They are producing them. I’ve asked for wider varieties of biographies and they are being published.

Many times I approach a publisher and ask them “Which titles are you most excited about this year?” I want the publishers there to answer this question. At the same time, I watch attendees (not judging or knowing what kind they are) take ARC’s and anything not tied down with a note saying the price or DO NOT TAKE. I am happy publishers bring enough people to help in the booth. I’ve also learned most of the “big-wigs” (from the mouths of the other staff) attend Friday night and Saturday. If I want to see and chat with them, I must come early in the conference to ask my questions.

Since I usually am in committee meetings, council, etc., I don’t have more than 3 planned hours total during the conference to visit the exhibit hall. I plan vendors. I write down questions. I rush early and I do frantically pick up titles during that time. Later in the conference on Monday if my committee finished early, I rush back to the exhibit hall. Usually the rush is down and I can pick up the publisher’s catalogs and start highlighting things I want to look for or to go back and consider viewing in the future. At that time I dart around booths and look for publishing trends so when I do presentations I can share these. I also purchase many books the last day for specific needs or treats for teachers.

Before I went to ALA, I was in a workshop bemoaning that I didn’t have time to cut or color out the grey. Two sweet teachers on staff surprised me and we cut & colored during our lunch break in the sink of the art room at school. Talk about a gift of service. Taking eight inches off my hair made it much cooler and helped me feel better. I bought Loreen Leedy’s beautiful new book Symmetry which I had heard about at the ALSC Nonfiction Blast for the art teacher, and I bought jellyfish books for the kindergarten ELL teacher who helped.

Here is a comment I posted on Liz Burn’s blog (with some typos fixed):

I notice some publishers actually flinching at the word blogger. While I was looking at the broader range of titles displayed behind the front tables, I saw some people rush up to grab ARC’s and announce “I’m a blogger so I need this.” It made me not too quick to do the same at booths. For some booths, I would point to titles on their back displays that I had recently blogged about and I asked them if they had read the post. If not, I left the web address, took their business card, and mentioned that I’d be happy to notify them in the future of reviews. Perhaps this is where I’m weakest as a blogger in going back to the emails. So, I decided to hire my son’s girlfriend to help me type in my blogging database (as soon as she moves here from North Carolina). I work hard to keep track of ARC’s and books received because I want to be accountable. I also donate my ARC’s to students and to other teachers to read who are looking for new titles to purchase for classroom sets in libraries. I send titles up to the high schools for disbursement and give many as prizes. I also give presentations and may give away an ARC there with the reminder that it is not to be put in the library collection, but if they like it they could order the finished product. At ALA the local people who attend exhibits are important for the exhibitors and it also tells the organization which areas are popular. One trend I saw is exhibitors and vendors providing free exhibit passes in the week before conference. Hopefully when they come for the first time, they’ll see great programs and want to attend the full conference. Perhaps we could do a vendor/exhibitor program on the stage just for those bloggers in the future and let them know how important membership and full attendance is.

Some changes I will be making immediately to my own behavior:

  • Add those ARC’s the first week I come back from conference to my blogging database.
  • Include the publicists or publishers email address so I can send them the link immediately when I blog.
  • Remember to immediately send them that notice.
  • Re-activate my google blogging calendar where I schedule which books I intend to systematically read, blog specifically about topics and books, and blog about before release.
  • Put a release date in my blogging database so I can periodically sort and have them pop up. I read so many books but then set them aside because some publishers don’t want the reviews out more than a month before release. Need to note those.
  • Never run out of business cards again. My new cards have my two (3,4) identities on them. One side lists my school with the STEM Magnet focus. The other side lists my blog with my writing, reading, and presenting focus.
  • Leave space on the card for notes. Example, wants books on boys pressured by girls, requests ARC of sequel to Ashfall, needs catalog, wants posters.
  • Prepare beforehand the links to reviews so when I am there in person I don’t blank out which book I reviewed. I did this with Flux books when I suddenly couldn’t remember the name Ripper. Loved that book. Sophisticated good YA title I intend read on the plane out there, but stood in the booth like an idiot unable to recall the name. I stayed and looked at every title in their catalog until I found it so I could redeem myself. Note to self: publish review today.
  • Stop trying to do it alone. During the school year a wonderful parent, Shela Crisler, helped me type titles into the database so we could keep track of how many books I donated to the school after reading them, presenting them, and blogging about them. Some blog posts haven’t been released yet due to my change over to my own domain name. Last year I personally gave my school 700plus books. The district budget paid for 70 books. If I didn’t have help, I couldn’t read and accomplish this. Plus having Shela help drew my attention to titles I might have missed like Embrace. (Shela, I have the ARC for the sequel Entice to share with you)

I need the ARC’s and the review copies to try to help others obtain good books. Do I need them more than others? Nope and if a publisher doesn’t offer to hand me the book, I’m not going to be offended. They have priorities and limited budgets. My responsibility is to hurry up and get reviews out there so that I can become a higher priority and valuable contributor to the librarian/blogger/publisher triad. I also am not ashamed to just ask for a book to be sent if they find an extra copy. If they say no, it’s not personal and I can get over it.

Will you make any changes in your behavior in the exhibit hall at conference?

June Carnival of Literature

  • Posted on June 28, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Forget running away to join the carnival, I ran off to enjoy the American Library Association’s Annual conference held this year in beautiful sunny California. I was privileged to hear the 12 authors speak at the ALSC Nonfiction Blast and couldn’t wait to help out hosting this for Anastasia Suen after her hard work of organizing the Nonfiction Blast. After their talk, the authors staged a formal more serious photo,  but I preferred this one I caught when they let their guard down.

This month on the carnival we have posts from bloggers who didn’t run away but are still celebrating life in our Carnival of Children’s Literature including:


  • Jeanne at True Tales & A Cherry On Top asks “Who doesn’t love pandas? Mrs. Harkness and the Panda tells the captivating story of the American adventurer who introduced the world to Pandas.” I, too, loved this book and wrote about it during National Women’s History Month. Illustrator Melissa Sweet was autographing during ALA, but I was busy in Council so missed out on my chance to tell her how much I loved Mrs. Harkness and the Panda. Fortunately I did find Julie Cummins’ book Women Explorers to add to my must read list.
  • Tara at A Teaching Life chimes in: “I’ve reviewed two non-fiction books and one fiction title I plan to use in my classroom.” I found far more on her blog and marvel at her participation level. 
  • Jeanette at SpeakWell, ReadWell writes this month about how “A rat, a pigmy goat and a darling puppy helped my students review a new book by Sue Fliess. Take a look and see them in action!” I took my pet rat before to read to preschoolers so I loved seeing her pictures. My favorite had to be the goat reading along.
  • Lisa at Shelf Employed shares “A review of George Bellows: Painter with a Punch!” The name George Bellows rang no bells for me, but when I saw the illustrations of boxing, I recalled those paintings and reproductions I’d seen of the Ashcan School of painting. Sounds like an excellent addition to middle school biography and art collections.
  • Lisa at Shelf Employed also shares from the ALSC blog “a post to encourage communication between school and public librarians.” I need to go back and share about the success of Nashville Public Library’s collaboration with Metropolitan-Nashville Public Schools called “Limitless Libraries”.  Be sure to leave your comments.
  • Shirley at Simply Science writes about The Science of Soldiers. She says “This book presents the wide range of technology used by today’s military to aid the soldiers as they perform their jobs.” Sounds like a perfect book for our STEM Magnet Middle School Cluster. I love the integration of technology, science and the military from Shirley’s description.
  • Diane at Practically Paradise (Hey, that’s me) praised Space Exploration: An Illustrated Timeline  While at ALA, I visited the NASA booth to gather more materials for teaching my teachers and students that space exploration is alive and well at NASA. We were able to discuss the recent Chinese space craft docking at the International Space Station with a female Chinese astronaut aboard, too.


Early Literacy


  • Erik at Kid Book Ratings states “This is the first book I have reviewed in quite a while that has earned my highest rating…”  I was intrigued to read about The Donut Chef and hope you will, too. Some of my teacher colleagues recently confessed to wanting to quit teaching and open donut and cupcake shops, so I know they’ll appreciate this. 
  • Nichole at Just Children’s Books celebrates the app announcement that  “Reading Rainbow was relaunched and I was there to hear about it direct from LeVar Burton! Fun stuff!”  I’m envious. 


Book Projects


  • Carmela Martino and her co-blogger April Halprin Wayland at share a terrific interview with poet David Harrison featuring a giveaway of his book COWBOYS.
  • Anastasia at Booktalking interviews Kristy Dempsey. She shares “In this interview, author Kristy Dempsey shares the story behind her new picture book Surfer Chick. Illustrated by Henry Cole, this rhyming picture book is a fun read for the hot, hot summer!”
  • Corine at interviews Tarie Sabido “to give readers a glimpse of Filipino kidlit and ya lit.” I learned so much about Filipino bloggers and have added traveling to the  Filipino Reader Conference this August 18 to my “wishlist of places to go when I win the lottery. “

Calendar for ALA in process

  • Posted on June 16, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Here is a bare bones draft schedule for ALA. I have so much free time this conference to visit the exhibits compared to the 3-year’s serving on ALA Executive Board. Yet, I still don’t have all my social invitations gathered together <sigh>

Opening General Session featuring Rebecca MacKinnon Friday, 06/22/2012 – 04:00pm – 05:15pm
Anaheim Convention Center – Ballroom A-E

ALA Council Orientation for New and Reelected Councilors Saturday, 06/23/2012 – 08:00am – 10:30am

Awards Committee Meeting (ALA) Saturday, 06/23/2012 – 10:30am – 12:00pm

Nonfiction Book Blast: Booktalks and Activities for Your Library Saturday, 06/23/2012 – 01:30pm – 03:30pm

ALA Council / Executive Board / Membership Information Session (ALA) Saturday, 06/23/2012 – 03:30pm – 05:00pm

ALA Membership Meeting Saturday, 06/23/2012 – 05:00pm – 06:00pm

Networking Party and Awards Reception (ASCLA / COSLA) Saturday, 06/23/2012 – 05:30pm – 07:30pm

ALA Council I Sunday, 06/24/2012 – 09:00am – 12:00pm

ALA-APA Council Sunday, 06/24/2012 – 12:00pm – 12:30pm

Planning & Budget Assembly (ALA) drop in view Sunday, 06/24/2012 – 01:00pm – 02:30pm

ALA Awards Presentation Sunday, 06/24/2012 – 03:30pm – 04:00pm Anaheim Convention Center – Ballroom CDE

ALA President’s Program and Awards Presentation – Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer Sunday, 06/24/2012 – 03:30pm – 05:30pm

ALA Awards / President’s Reception Sunday, 06/24/2012 – 05:30pm – 07:00pm  closed event

ALA Council Forum I Sunday, 06/24/2012 – 08:30pm – 10:00pm

All Committee Meeting (AASL) Monday, 06/25/2012 – 08:00am – 10:00am MEET WITH my Committee for Distinguished Service

Youth Council Caucus Monday, 06/25/2012 – 08:00am – 10:00am

ALA Council II Monday, 06/25/2012 – 09:00am – 12:30pm Anaheim Marriott – Platinum 1-6

Awards Green Room (AASL) Monday, 06/25/2012 – 10:30am – 12:00pm

Awards Committee Meeting (ALA) Monday, 06/25/2012 – 01:30pm – 03:30pm

ALA Council Forum II Monday, 06/25/2012 – 08:30pm – 10:00pm

ALA Council III Tuesday, 06/26/2012 – 07:45am – 09:15am

Space Exploration, an illustrated timeline

  • Posted on June 16, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Being a very diverse learner who needs to see the big picture and enjoys assembling pieces to construct new knowledge, I appreciate publishers and authors who try new ways to communicate. Hence my review today of Patricia Wooster’s book An Illustrated Timeline of Space Exploration, illustrated by Eldon Doty and published by Picture Window Books (a Capstone imprint), 2012. ISBN: 9781404866607. 

I admit that I am crazy about this title and the way it’s presented. I would be one irritating librarian to anyone unwilling to learn as I share new books hourly with people – even complete strangers. Whenever “bigwigs” show up in school and I notice people deferring to them, I usually find an interesting book and approach them to look. They don’t scare me and I’ll use every opportunity I get to convey why printed books are vital to elementary and middle schools. I showed this to a STEM leader in our district.

Have you ever just sat and read timelines? Why not? Perhaps you have never had anyone relate the timeline to how you learn, how information is organized, or how we construct knowledge. Timelines can be difficult for teachers to relate to their students. Once they have students create a timeline of their life, most classes lose interest and move on. Not with this title. An Illustrated Timeline of Space Exploration will keep them asking questions and at the end, seeking more titles in this format.

The entire book is a timeline from Early Space discoveries in 2773 BC to current events. The first double-page spread takes you through moments in time for 2773 BC, AD 1543, 1608, 1687, 1781, 1846, 1929, and 1930. There are some big gaps on this page alone, but if I remember to focus on the word exploration it is a little easier to understand why this page is minimized. There is also a significant gap between the end of that page 1930 and the Soviet Union’s launching of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. It takes someone to share with readers that other events were happening at this time, but the authors chose not to focus on them.

The illustrations are appealing to my graphic novel readers. There are a myriad of details throughout that will keep the students reading and re-reading. I found myself stumbling on the first few pages and had to actually place my finger on the timeline to follow the links of information to keep myself in order. This is an excellent skill for students to acquire in reading intricate scientific and historical information as they get holder and here is a safe way to practice.

Some of the topics addressed include: Early Discoveries, The Space Age, The Space Race, Testing the Skies, Walking on the Moon, Another Station in Space, Reaching Farther into Space, Living in Space, A Telescope in Space, Space Records, Touring Space, Private Space Flight, The Future of Space Exploration and Building your own timeline.

Perhaps one of the greatest strengths is how the illustrations and text will inspire students to ask questions and do research.

I do have a criticism to share that I have heard from some of the scientists involved. Some ask where is the rest of the information that is so vital such as the star charts of ancient nations, and the contributions of Wernher Von Braun and the V2 rockets. Another asked why we used BC and AD on the first page instead of the B.C.E. and C.E.

According to the Marshall Space Flight Center in nearby Huntsville, Alabama’s biography page for Werner Von Braun.

Wernher Von Braun is well known as the leader of what has been called the “rocket team” which developed the V–2 ballistic missile for the Nazis during World War II…. The brainchild of von Braun’s rocket team operating at a secret laboratory at Peenemünde on the Baltic coast, the V–2 rocket was the immediate antecedent of those used in space exploration programs in the United States and the Soviet Union.”

As for the BC and AD distinction, there are always controversies as you can see in this blog from the Free Republic (no endorsement intended) “Educators and historians say schools from North America to Australia have been changing the terms Before Christ to Before Common Era and anno Domini (Latin for “year of the Lord”) to Common Era. In short, they’re referred to as B.C.E. and C.E.” Even Wikipedia addresses the controversy

I found that neither of those points deterred me from gaining a tremendous amount of knowledge from this title. In many schools in the United States during the 70’s and 80’s space exploration was taught as a race against the Soviet Union which we “won” because we landed a man on the moon first. When you read An Illustrated Timeline of Space Exploration, the focus is on world-wide space exploration so you are exposed to a more realistic depiction of space exploration with events from Russia (the former Soviet Union), China, and the business community.

When I showed someone this title, she asked me if NASA wasn’t really closing down all the space programs. SHOCK!!!! What?! How could I let anyone in my school think this? I must contact the NASA booth at the American Library Association conference and gather as much material and links as possible to correct this error in perspective.  Just because the Space Shuttle program ended, does not mean the end of space exploration.

Today I saw the headline news from CNN that China sent the first female astronaut into space – People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force fighter pilot Liu Yang.  Perhaps you have not been following the Chinese aspirations to ” conduct a manned mission to the moon”. In addition to the People’s Republic of China the European Union, Japan, and India have also planned future manned space missions to the Moon (and in the EU’s case to Mars) during this century. Manned space travel is ongoing.

Other Links that I like and which help understand our space program is alive and functioning include:

NASA’s Education Materials Finder will help teachers locate resources that can be used in the classroom. My favorite link it helped me find was What’s next for NASA? The U.S.

NASA’s People and technology page (intended for K-4)

NASA’s topical index page with exciting links guaranteed to keep students clicking, learning, and shouting out to their friends “Look at this!”

Fortunately this book is part of the FactHound site so students can access NASA and spacekids links like From the spacekids site I learned this and wondered who else is missing:

“In 1989, Helen Sharman entered a competition to become the first British astronaut in space. After 18 months of intensive training, Helen was part of a Russian mission to the MIR space station. “

The need to convey exploration and innovation as part of a continuum is one reason why I will purchase all the titles in this series:

  • An Illustrated Timeline of Inventions and Inventors,
  • An Illustrated Timeline of Transportation
  • An Illustrated Timeline of U.S. States
  • An Illustrated Timeline of Space Exploration
  • An Illustrated Timeline of U.S. Presidents
  • An Illustrated Timeline of Dinosaurs

Those of you who know me may have been forced to sit and watch the DVD’s of Apollo 13 with all of the background information, narratives, commentaries, etc. I wanted to be an astronaut growing up and remember watching hours of space documentaries – until I realized with my horrible ears and bad eyesight that I was never getting close. If I’d lived closer to Huntsville, AL, then I would have realized I could have been a valued scientist supporting the work and part of the team. With my work at a STEM school, perhaps I will be able to motivate others and open their career paths to broader avenues.

It is important for our future to provide continuums of learning, timelines of history, and the links for our students to understand their importance. Books like An Illustrated Timeline of Space Exploration help us set the path for learning.

What else do I need now? I need biographies. Here are some names of people that we should be reading more of their research and work in the field of space exploration:

  • Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
  • Robert Goddard
  • Hermann Oberth
  • Reinhold Tiling
  • Wernher von Braun
  • Kerim Kerimov
  • Sergey Korolyov
  • Valentin Glushko
  • Vasily Mishin
  • Robert (Bob) Gilruth
  • Christopher C. Kraft, Jr.
  • Maxime Faget

Did you know that “Initially the race for space was often led by Sergei Korolyov, whose legacy includes both the R7 and Soyuz—which remain in service to this day. Korolev was the mastermind behind the first satellite, first man (and first woman) in orbit and first spacewalk. Until his death his identity was a closely guarded state secret; not even his mother knew that he was responsible for creating the Russian space program.” If that isn’t enough of a hook for some author to start writing, I don’t know what you need. I’m waiting. Start writing.

Please answer these quick questions to tell me what you’d like to read about next.

  • Posted on June 11, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Adult Reads – Forged in Fire

  • Posted on June 9, 2012 at 2:52 PM

I had a friend say she teaches elementary level, but sometimes she likes to put on her big-girl panties and read for just herself.   Since I know that feeling I have decided to “allow” myself to review, talk about, gush, or pan some of the hundreds of adult titles I read every year. Let’s start with one of the hottest self-published books out this year by Trish McCallan called Forged in Fire

This book caught my eye on my birthday in January with a free opportunity to download it on my Kindle.  I kept running across the title and telling myself to get around-to-it and do it. Today I opened the book and I couldn’t put it down til I was finished. I meandered the house overfilling the coffee and burning my toaster patries while I read with my left hand and tried to function with my right. The dogs made it outside and I like warm pastries, so no harm done. The bruise on my knee from banging into the doorway while walking and reading WILL heal eventually. But I’m going to continue to suffer until late this 2012 when the sequel comes out.

Military men are so sexy. Add one that’s psychic and looking for his soulmate — then you’ve got a secret weapon. Beth dreams of a terrorist attack on an airplane then rushes to the airport to prevent it. Instead of laughing at her, Zane and his equally hot Navy Seal brothers take her seriously and leap into action.

This mystery adventure novel keeps the reader involved and guessing what’s going to happen next. While the heroine begins timidly, she “puts on her big-girl panties” and because an active part of the solution, not just a fainting diva victim. Other women portrayed also show courage and the ability to take action. The military aspects and conspiracy theories are intriguing. The romance sizzles. And, the secondary characters are fleshed out enough for the reader to care about them and want to read more

The only flaw I could mention is how diabolically the author has us hooked so when the book ends suddenly with plenty of cliff-hangers, we want to jump off and find the sequel. I visited the author’s facebook page, blog, and website to find out more. I even found myself chastising the author to stop blogging and get back to writing the next books in this series.

As soon as I was finished reading, I followed the author’s advice and shared my kindle addiction with the fabulous Debbie W. – my reading partner, Kindle-lender, and a great P.E. teacher, too. When will you get your copy? The series will include:

  • Forged in Fire to be re-released by Montlake Publishing on July 1st of 2012.
  • Forged in Ice to be released December 1st of 2012
  • Forged in Fury to be released July 1st of 2013
  • Forged in Betrayal to be released December 1st of 2013

Because of the steamy sex scene, I’m not including this in my YA reviews, but did think I should mention it was hot. Did I say anything about the room getting a little warm? Mm Mm Mm. Fun reading and the cover isn’t too romantic looking to alert anyone reading near me. Our secret will stay between just you and me.

Bill Page is a man after my own heart

  • Posted on June 9, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Sandra Southerland, the amazing Library Media Specialist at J. E. Moss Elementary School, sent me a link to an article about teaching at-risk kids. I clicked the link thinking that I would find typical strategies. Instead, I discovered Bill Page and his outlook on teaching. I found Bill’s emphasis on empathy and compassion refreshing. The article is called “Confessions and Concessions of a Compassionate Teacher” and is featured on gazette. Vol 9 No 6. June 2012

The beginning states the “article is intended to help teachers use their time between now and the start of the 2012-2013 school year to reflect, ponder, and prepare for a great new, better year for them and their students.”

One of the most important characteristics of an exceptional teacher is reflection. Bill Page’s article stands as a model for reflecting on teaching.

Bill lays out some of his personal educational beliefs. The entire article is a must-read, but I’ll list just a few of his beliefs:

  • Student-Teacher Relationship Is the Key

He states “1. I believe that the teacher-student relationship and students realizing their responsibility for their own learning are the crucial elements.”

He discusses the quandary teachers face choosing “Aloof and Professional Vs. Honest and Empathetic.” As most of you can guess, I always choose honest and empathetic. This has earned me some scorn from people who want the library to be a silent place with few people to disturb the slumber of the books. My faculty has been doing quite a bit of professional development lately including the use of MORNING MEETINGS! Those morning meetings will help establish this relationship.

The list of ways to help establish a strong relationship and enable effective learning is impressive. I will be asking Bill Page for permission to put this in bookmark format and hand to my teachers at the beginning of school.

  • Self-Reflection and Self Critique

Bill Page writes “2. I believe that I used my authority to change my teaching and the class conditions rather than change kids; kids can change themselves.”

Again, this helps teachers model what we constantly say. You can only be responsible for your own response, your own reaction, and your own choice how you deal with things. Teach students honestly and demonstrate that failure is part of learning. One of the most successful classes I ever had was when I paused in the middle of “instructing” and led a class discussion on why this wasn’t working and what we could change in the lesson so they could grasp the concepts better. Students had excellent ideas and I’m glad I listened. They had further buy-in for future lessons because I was able to change to meet their needs, not try to force 30 students to change themselves to learn.

  • The Changing Role of Teachers

Bill notes: “3. I believe school learning occurs in the interaction between teachers and students, students and students, as well as between students and media/materials. The teacher’s function is to present, mediate, facilitate, and encourage the interaction.”

  •  Change Requires Each Educator to Change Him/Herself

Specifically Bill pointed out “4. Teachers realized that involvement, independent learning, communities of learners, collaborative and cooperative learning, problem approach, and authentic, project, and thematic learning results in extraordinary learning.”

Finally Bill concludes “5. I believe that major discipline problems in the classroom arise out of attempts by teachers to control the students instead of controlling the learning environment in which the teacher, in control of him/herself, is a part.”

Bill Page’s book, At-Risk Students; Feeling Their Pain is available through his web site, or through

I am very excited about this article and hope to interview Bill Page soon to ask more. Be sure to check out the article ” “Confessions and Concessions of a Compassionate Teacher” 

Review: The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

  • Posted on June 4, 2012 at 10:14 AM

The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, May, 2012. ISBN13: 9780316185486 295 pages.

After a series of natural disasters, the modern world is destroyed and society reverts to a previous time in technology with steam and carriages, limited petrol for just a few wealthy hoarders, and desperate searches for safe soil to plant green things. During disasters some people cling to the past and try to protect their bubble of normalcy. Some people adapt and seek to help others. Then, there are the villains – people like Cornelius Holister who reminded me much of Hitler. These villains trick others and provide tempting offers for a future by destroying the old and hiding their diabolical schemes to seize power.

When princess Eliza’s father is killed, her older sister Mary and little brother Jamie try to escape with Eliza. When they are captured, Eliza must escape and find a way to come back and save Mary and Jamie. While the villain believes he is a modern Robin Hood, we soon discover his plans for the future. Eliza must gain new strength to rescue her family, lead her people to saving themselves, and defeat the villain.

Sometimes you just need to read a little fast-moving dystopian fiction with a kick-butt princess as the heroine. The Last Princess was a fun read, perfect for students who don’t need a great deal of character development or every loose strand interwoven back into the story. Let me point out the bad first before I rave about why I liked it. Flaws:

  • moves too quickly
  • events left undeveloped and unexplained (cannibals, Seventeen Days, Jasper the horse’s fate)
  • setting hovers between future 2090 England and a historical feel
  • shallow romance
  • characters not fully developed

Now, on to the good stuff. The Last Princess was an excellent fantasy read for middle-schoolers and young adults. I loved the tenuous feeling that these characters were possible since there were references to Princess Diana and Princess Kate. Those of us who love the royal family despite all their flaws will lap up the historical details of the Tudors and the House of Windsor. Royal princesses named Mary and Elizabeth (Eliza) and commoners named Polly are familiar to those of us who grew up on the classics. Some of the early scenes remind me of recent movies of the Queen and her semi-sheltered life.

I liked how the author Galaxy Craze made me think and put together pieces of the puzzle in the beginning to grasp what was happening and the timeframe. I was so hooked by the first five chapters that I couldn’t set the book down. I needed answers. I needed hope and I felt I was part of the heroine Eliza as she transformed and became stronger. While the beginning pages showed us a glimpse of protected royalty that were vaguely aware of the poverty and starvation around them, it was the description of Eliza’s saving a baby blue jay that enabled me to see her drawing strength to grow and meet these challenges:

Then one day he looked at me and opened his wings. I could see that his courage had grown inside him, and he lifted off, flying for the first time around the palace grounds. I opened my eyes to see the flaming torches of the Tudor Army running across the gardens, searching the grounds. Thinking about Blue and the first time he flew, I felt a wave of strength rise up within me, pulling me up, bringing me once again to my feet. I stood up in the night, without anger or fear, but with the knowledge that I, Eliza Windsor, had a light within me that could not be so easily extinguished. When I was younger, I might have thought it was a guardian angel, or God, who saved me. But now I knew that I would save myself. 

Eliza realizes she must save herself. As the story progresses, she faces the mistakes of the past and finds a path between vengeance and justice. While a romance begins, the author doesn’t focus on this as it would be a distraction to our heroine’s actions, plus I like keeping the novel accessible to middle school this way. The author leaves us wanting the sequel. I enjoyed the writing and the constant action. Eliza faces many difficulties, yet has tiny moments where her good heart and generous spirit are allowed to show. She does not become power-hungry. Her focus is on saving her family and restoring her sister to the throne to lead the people. She does not covet the throne. She makes hard choices and overcomes the loss of those dearest to her.

Let’s talk about the setting. The places listed here will be easy for students to locate and learn more about. Knowing that the author Galaxy Craze was born in England before moving to the U.S. to become an actress, we can see how she has incorporated places of importance. We read about the Tower of London, Balmoral Castle, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Paddington Station and Buckingham Palace.  One place of importance was the Steel Tower – a maximum prison set in London. I had to go check to see if such a structure existed. Instead I found references to the Steel Tower being built for the London Olympics this summer. Actually called the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower, this is not the structure mentioned in The Last Princess.  It was such a strange structure that I did have to include a [picture  though.

Throughout the Last Princess, Eliza visits places that currently exist, but have changed due to the disaster. In many ways, the places remain, but the method people survive has changed which gives this novel a historical feel much more than a futuristic feel.

Overall, I had a wonderful experience reading this quick-moving novel and cannot wait to read the sequel. If you read the reviews on GoodReads, you’ll see many people with mixed emotions. I can understand their reactions, but I simply enjoyed this title and thought it was a good summer reading kick-off. I hope you enjoy it too.

The Last Princess was reviewed as an ARC from the publisher.