Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Reading @ Collins Middle School 2009

Collins Middle School will soon introduce its new website. In the meantime, information about the Summer Reading Program, including the letter of explanation to students, parents and guardians, reading list, graphic organizer and other supporting materials, is available by following the link above.

The CMS Library will be open to Collins students who wish to borrow summer reading books from July 7 through August 27, on Tuesdays from 9:00am to noon, and on Thursdays from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Best wishes for a relaxing summer vacation, full of fun and great reading!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Massachusetts Children's Book Award 2009-2010: Nominated Titles

Looking for something fun to read? You'll find great choices among these books, nominated for the 2009-2010 Massachusetts Children's Book Award. Happy reading!

The Castle Corona, by Sharon Creech
Two orphaned peasant children discover a mysterious pouch, the contents of which lead them to the majestic Castle Corona, where their lives may be transformed forever.

Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis
In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, which is a haven for slaves fleeing the American south, uses his wits and skills to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family's freedom.

The Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies
Evan and his younger sister, Jesse, react very differently to the news that they will be in the same class for fourth grade and as the end of summer approaches, they battle it out through lemonade stands, each trying to be the first to earn 100 dollars. Includes mathematical calculations and tips for running a successful lemonade stand.

The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd
When Ted and Kat's cousin Salim disappears from the London Eye ferris wheel, the two siblings must work together--Ted with his brain that is "wired differently" and impatient Kat--to try to solve the mystery of what happened to Salim.

Goldwhiskers, by Heather Vogel Frederick (Spy Mice, #3)
During a London vacation, Oz Levinson must deal with the bullying Priscilla Winterbottom, while mouse spy Glory Goldenleaf tracks the whereabouts of a valuable jewel, missing orphaned mouselings, and two evil ministers of rats.

Barack Obama: Our 44th President, by Beatrice Gormley

Found, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (The Missing, Book 1)
When thirteen-year-olds Jonah and Chip, who are both adopted, learn they were discovered on a plane that appeared out of nowhere, full of babies with no adults on board, they realize that they have uncovered a mystery involving time travel and two opposing forces, each trying to repair the fabric of time.

Horns and Wrinkles, by Joseph Helgerson
Along a magic-saturated stretch of the Mississippi River near Blue Wing, Minnesota, twelve-year-old Claire and her bullying cousin Duke are drawn into an adventure involving Bodacious Deepthink the Great Rock Troll, a helpful fairy, and a group of trolls searching for their fathers.

Billy the Fish, by Charlie James
After eating Dad's experimental fish food, Ned's little brother turns into a cod and finds himself sharing an aquarium tank with Kylie the killer whale.

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, by Lynne Jonell
When Emmy discovers that she and her formerly loving parents are being drugged by their evil nanny with rodent potions that can change people in frightening ways, she and some new friends must try everything possible to return things to normal.

Weedflower, by Cynthia Kadohata
After twelve-year-old Sumiko and her Japanese-American family are relocated from their flower farm in southern California to an internment camp on a Mojave Indian reservation in Arizona, she helps her family and neighbors, becomes friends with a local Indian boy, and tries to hold on to her dream of owning a flower shop.

The Green Glass Sea, by Ellen Klages
In 1943, eleven-year-old Dewey Kerrigan lives with her scientist father in Los Alamos, New Mexico, as he works on a top secret government program, and befriends an aspiring artist who is a misfit just like her.

Swindle, by Gordon Korman
After unscrupulous collector S. Wendell Palamino cons him out of a valuable baseball card, sixth-grader Griffin Bing puts together a band of misfits to break into Palomino's heavily guarded store and steal the card back, planning to use the money to finance his father's failing invention, the SmartPick fruit picker.

Rules, by Cynthia Lord
Frustrated at life with an autistic brother, twelve-year-old Catherine longs for a normal existence but her world is further complicated by a friendship with a young paraplegic.

The Big Field, by Mike Lupica
When fourteen-year-old baseball player Hutch feels threatened by the arrival of a new teammate named Darryl, he tries to work through his insecurities about both Darryl and his remote and silent father, who was once a great ballplayer, too.

Abby Takes a Stand, by Pat McKissack
Gee recalls for her grandchildren what happened in 1960 in Nashville, Tennessee, when she, aged ten, passed out flyers while her cousin and other adults held sit-ins at restaurants and lunch counters to protest segregation.

Out of Patience, by Brian Meehl
Twelve-year-old Jake Waters cannot wait to escape the small town of Patience, Kansas, until the arrival of a cursed toilet plunger causes him reevaluate his feelings toward his family and its history.

How to Steal a Dog, by Barbara O'Connor
Living in the family car in their small North Carolina town after their father leaves them virtually penniless, Georgina, desperate to improve their situation and unwilling to accept her overworked mother's calls for patience, persuades her younger brother to help her in an elaborate scheme to get money by stealing a dog and then claiming the reward that the owners are bound to offer.

Bread and Roses, Too, by Katherine Paterson
Jake and Rosa, two children, form an unlikely friendship as they try to survive and understand the 1912 Bread and Roses strike of mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem, by Jack Prelutsky

Simon Bloom, the Gravity Keeper, by Michael Reisman
Nerdy sixth-grader Simon Bloom finds a book that enables him to control the laws of physics, but when two thugs come after him, he needs the formulas in the book to save himself.

Paint the Wind, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
After her overprotective grandmother has a stroke, Maya, an orphan, leaves her extremely restricted life in California to stay with her mother's family on a remote Wyoming ranch, where she discovers a love of horses and encounters a wild mare that her mother once rode.

My Haunted House, by Angie Sage (Araminta Spookie, 1)
Araminta enlists the help of several ghosts in an attempt to stop her Aunt Tabby from selling Spook House.

Listen!, by Stephanie Tolan
During her solitary convalescence from a crippling accident, twelve-year-old Charley finds a wild dog, and the arduous process of training him leads her to explore her feelings about her mother's death two years earlier.

Feathers, by Jacqueline Woodson
When a new, white student nicknamed "The Jesus Boy" joins her sixth grade class in the winter of 1971, Frannie's growing friendship with him makes her start to see some things in a new light.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

District IMC Staff Meeting - February 25, 2009

During today's session, we'll:

* have an opportunity to address any questions about the Destiny system's catalog, circulation and/or back office modules that may have emerged since we last met. Please bring along any questions or problems you may have encountered in your use of any of the features of the Destiny system, so that we can share strategies, solutions, etc. Also, please feel free to bring along a few items you'd like to catalog - I've reserved the computer lab for our use during Wednesday's meeting;

* preview the District Library Resources web site, and discuss ways in which this fledgling resource can better meet the needs of IMC staff members trying to assist students and teachers with their information and recreational reading needs;

* review ways in which we can stay informed about reading programs, award-winning books for elementary, middle and high school readers, and recent newspaper and magazine articles about books, authors, school libraries, and other topics relating to literacy;

* further explore the many terrific NMRLS and NOBLE full-text magazine and journal collections, newspapers, encyclopedias, primary documents collections, and other research databases available to the Salem Public Schools research community;

* check out Twitter-com, one of the many social networking sites (others include del.ic.ious and goodreads) available to students and teachers today;

* share book fair experiences, challenges, and successes; and

* discuss any other issues of interest or concern.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Looking for a Good Book? Trying to Keep Track of What You’ve Already Read? Let a Social Networking Site for Readers Help!

Wondering what your friends and colleagues are reading? Tired of trying to remember the title of that book your aunt recommended when she visited during the holidays? Let a social networking site for readers, like goodreads, Shelfari, BookRabbit, BiblioPhil, or LibraryThing help you find great books to read, keep in touch with reading pals, and more!

A reader's site will allow you to rate books, write reviews, and maintain a record of books you’ve already read, keep track of those books you want to read, exchange book suggestions with friends, join a virtual book discussion group (or form your own :-), answer challenging trivia questions, and more. You can even “place” books on virtual bookshelves organized by any subjects you wish to assign, from standards like “favorite recipes” and “whodunits”, to others more elaborate - “Grab a Kleenex before you read this one – you’ll need it!”.

Visit the sites below to learn more or to become a member. (Also, please visit my own goodreads bookshelf, where you will find books I have read and rated. This small and selected collection of titles is a work in progress, so feel free to visit from time to time!)

Check out these swell sites for bibliophiles:









Tuesday, December 16, 2008

District IMC Staff Meeting - December 17, 2008

Welcome to today's meeting, facilitated by Joanne O'Keefe, Collins Middle School Library Media Specialist ( During our session today, we'll:

1. review the basic features of the Destiny System, including the catalog, circulation and reporting features;

2. have an opportunity to review the many terrific NMRLS and NOBLE full-text magazine and journal article collections, newspapers, encyclopedias, primary documents collections, and other research databases available to the Salem Public Schools research community;

NMRLS databases and collections include:
- eLibrary - eLibrary features information gathered from books, magazines and newspapers. Also included are photos, maps, and TV and radio transcripts
- Grolier Online - Grolier Online features two terrific resources:
* Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (designed for students in middle school and up, and including 36,000 entries); and
* New Book of Knowledge (intended for students in grade 3 and up, as well as for new English language learners, and including 9,000 articles)
- ¡Informe! - this collection offers users full text and images from popular Hispanic magazines, as well as full-text pamphlets about health care and many other topics
- Massachusetts Newsstand - this resource includes the full text of the Boston Globe (1980-present) and the Boston Herald (1991-present)
- InfoTrac Thomson Gale Group's InfoTrac database collection includes:
- Biography Resource Center - This resource features biographical information about people from throughout history, around the world, and all disciplines and subject areas
- Academic OneFile - Academic OneFile features peer-reviewed, full-text articles from more than 3,000 highly regarded journals and reference information sources. Subject coverage includes the arts, literature, medicine, the physical sciences, social sciences, technology, and more. (This is a great resource for teachers who are enrolled in graduate programs.)
- Junior Edition - This collection is designed for students in middle school, and includes more than 330 full-text magazines, newspapers and reference books with information about the arts, current events, government, health, history, people, popular culture, science, sports, and more
- Student Edition - This database, designed for high school students, includes more than 1,100 full-text periodical titles, as well as access to indexed newspapers, podcasts, and reference books
- Kids InfoBits - Kids InfoBits is designed for beginning researchers (students in kindergarten through grade 5) and features a user-friendly and developmentally appropriate visually graphic search interface. The collection includes curriculum-related and age appropriate full-text content from elementary reference sources and magazines, about the arts, current events, geography, government, health, history, people, science, sports, and more

3. learn about's Follett-Talk discussion group, and have an opportunity to subscribe to this free and helpful resource. Through Follett-Talk, described by Follett as a "customer helping customer forum", Follett product users may submit questions, comments, and suggestions to this online discussion group, and receive feedback from other Follett customers. Through Follett-Talk, we can take advantage of the expertise of other Destiny users, and, in in time, contribute helpful information to assist our library colleagues.

To subscribe to Follett-Talk:

* go to Follett-Talk

* complete and submit the online form (PLEASE NOTE: You will need to enter your Follett Customer Number.)

4. check out and, and learn about the ways in which these nifty web-based resources can help you in your library; and

5. discuss any other issues of interest or concern.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Massachusetts Children's Book Award 2008-2009: Nominated Titles

Looking for something fun to read? You'll find great choices among these books, nominated for the 2008-2009 Massachusetts Children's Book Award. Happy reading!

Whales on Stilts, by M. T. Anderson
Racing against the clock, shy middle-school student Lily and her best friends, Katie and Jasper, must foil the plot of her father's conniving boss to conquer the world using an army of whales.

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, by Betty Birney
Eben McAllister searches his small town to see if he can find anything comparable to the real Seven Wonders of the World.

Shakespeare's Secret, by Elise Broach
Named after a character in a Shakespeare play, misfit sixth-grader Hero becomes interested in exploring this unusual connection because of a valuable diamond supposedly hidden in her new house, an intriguing neighbor, and the unexpected attention of the most popular boy in school.

Free Baseball, by Sue Corbett
Angry with his mother for having too little time for him, eleven-year-old Felix takes advantage of an opportunity to become bat boy for a minor league baseball team, hoping to someday be like his father, a famous Cuban outfielder. Includes glossaries of baseball terms and Spanish words and phrases.

Chicken Boy, by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Since the death of his mother, Tobin's family and school life has been in disarray, but after he starts raising chickens with his seventh-grade classmate, Henry, everything starts to fall into place.

The Sacrifice, by Kathleen Benner Duble
Two sisters, aged ten and twelve, are accused of witchcraft in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1692 and await trial in a miserable prison while their mother desperately searches for some way to obtain their freedom.

Swordbird, by Nancy Yi Fan
Warring factions of blue jays and cardinals call on Swordbird, the heroic bird of peace, to rescue them from the evil machinations of Turnatt, the tyrant hawk lord who plans to enslave them.

Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini, by Sid Fleischman
A biography of the magician, ghost chaser, aviator, and king of escape artists whose amazing feats are remembered long after his death in 1926. Profiling his early years, personal life, and great accomplishments in show business, the story of the famous magician, Harry Houdini, comes to life through a review of his greatest tricks and most amazing feats, complete with index, photos, and author's notes.

I, Coriander, by Sally Gardner
In 17th century London, Coriander, a girl who has inherited magic from her mother, must find a way to use this magic in order to save both herself and an inhabitant of the fairy world where her mother was born.

The Homework Machine, by Dan Gutman
Four fifth-grade students--a geek, a class clown, a teacher's pet, and a slacker--as well as their teacher and mothers, each relate events surrounding a computer programmed to complete homework assignments.

Double Identity, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Thirteen-year-old Bethany's parents have always been overprotective, but when they suddenly drop out of sight with no explanation, leaving her with an aunt she never knew existed, Bethany uncovers shocking secrets that make her question everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Martin Bridge: Ready for Take Off!, by Jessica Scott Kerrin
Meet Martin Bridge-a most special and ordinary boy whose well-meant plans sometimes go awry. In three illustrated stories, Martin encounters two bus drivers with very different ways of relating, makes a tough decision about a friend's pet and takes on an extremely competitive model rocket project that almost costs him a friendship. The daily rhythms, struggles and triumphs of childhood-at home, at school and with friends-are evoked with warmth, understanding, honesty and humor.

Regarding the Trees: A Splintered Saga Rooted in Secrets, by Kate Klise
n this story told primarily through letters, Principal Russ wants the middle school trees to be trimmed before his administrative evaluation, but the project is interrupted by a town gender war, dueling chefs, student tree protests, and a surprise wedding.

The Year of the Dog: a Novel, by Grace Lin
Frustrated at her seeming lack of talent for anything, a young Taiwanese American girl sets out to apply the lessons of the Chinese Year of the Dog, those of making best friends and finding oneself, to her own life.

Drita, My Homegirl, by Jenny Lombard
When ten-year-old Drita and her family, refugees from Kosovo, move to New York, Drita is teased about not speaking English well, but after a popular student named Maxine is forced to learn about Kosovo as a punishment for teasing Drita, the two girls soon bond.

Gossamer, by Lois Lowry
While learning to bestow dreams, a young dream giver tries to save an eight-year-old boy from the effects of both his abusive past and the nightmares inflicted on him by the frightening Sinisteeds.

Punished!, by David Lubar
Logan and his friend Benedict are playing tag in the library. Logan gets caught when he runs into a mysterious man. When Logan doesn't apologize sincerely, the mysterious gentleman punishes him by causing him to speak in puns. Only finding seven examples each of oxymorons, anagrams and palindromes within the time limits will return Logan to normal.

Miracle on 49th Street, by Mike Lupica
After her mother's death, twelve-year-old Molly learns that her father is a basketball star for the Boston Celtics.

All of the Above: a Novel, by Shelley Pearsall
Five urban middle school students, their teacher, and other community members relate how a school project to build the world's largest tetrahedron affects the lives of everyone involved.

Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker
While sorting through difficulties in her friendship with her neighbor Margaret, eight-year-old Clementine gains several unique hairstyles while also helping her father in his efforts to banish pigeons from the front of their apartment building.

Rickshaw Girl, by Mitali Perkins
n her Bangladesh village, ten-year-old Naimi excels at painting designs called alpanas, but to help her impoverished family financially she would have to be a boy--or disguise herself as one.

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart
After passing a series of mind-bending tests, four children are selected for a secret mission that requires them to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules.

H.I.V.E.: Higher-Institute-of-Villainous-Education, by Mark Walden
Swept away to a hidden academy for training budding evil geniuses, Otto, a brilliant orphan, Wing, a sensitive warrior, Laura, a shy computer specialist, and Shelby, an infamous jewel thief, plot to beat the odds and escape the prison known as H.I.V.E.

Each Little Bird That Sings, by Deborah Wiles
Comfort Snowberger is well acquainted with death since her family runs the funeral parlor in their small southern town, but even so the ten-year-old is unprepared for the series of heart-wrenching events that begins on the first day of Easter vacation with the sudden death of her beloved great-uncle Edisto.
(You may also want to visit the author's blog, One Pomegranate.)

Counting on Grace, by Elizabeth Winthrop
It's 1910 in Pownal, Vermont. At 12, Grace and her best friend Arthur must go to work in the mill, helping their mothers work the looms. Together Grace and Arthur write a secret letter to the Child Labor Board about underage children working in the mill. A few weeks later, Lewis Hine, a famous reformer arrives undercover to gather evidence. Grace meets him and appears in some of his photographs, changing her life forever.

Monday, March 31, 2008

"Poetry: the best words in the best order." -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets established National Poetry Month, to be celebrated during April. Join the celebration by learning about a poet, or by finding a poem that inspires or motivates you. To get started, visit the links below.

American Literature: Poetry
Read this informative article to learn about the origins, development and different forms of American poetry, from the 1600s to the present.

The Academy of American Poets: Find a Poet
Search the Academy's growing database (it currently includes more than 500 poets) for biographies, photos, and other information.

The Academy of American Poets: Find a Poem
Search the Academy's companion database of poems (1,200 and growing) by keyword for poem text, or browse lists of titles and/or first lines.

Representative Poetry Online: Poet Index
This terrific resource, created by RPO Editors in the Department of English at the University of Toronto Press, displays poets alphabetically and chronologically (by birth day). The Poem Index allows a user to search for a poem by title, first line, or last line.

Poets' Corner
Find the full text of poems by such fine poets as Stephen Vincent Benét, Lewis Carroll, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Edward Lear, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and many more, as well as author, title and subject indexes.

Poetry Archives (from
This collection is searchable, by author, title and first line of each poem included in the database. Other features include nice lists of "Top Classical Poems" and "Top Classical Authors".

Ralph Fletcher: Tips for Young Writers
This terrific writer, author of Flying Solo, Spider Boy, and A Writing Kind of Day: Poems for Young Adults, among many other books, offers students great suggestions for getting started with, revising, and publishing their own writing.

Children's Poetry (from Story It: Language Art Resources for children and their teachers)

Poetry Out Loud: Poems to Make, Watch & Hear

National Poetry Month, from infoplease
This site is loaded with links to useful information about poets and their poetry, as well as "Poetry Hangman", "Name the Poet Quiz", and more.

Slam Poetry
Poetry? A competitive event? Learn more about this form of performance poetry, in which the delivery is as important as the quality of the poetry itself.

Background on Slam Poetry
Read about the history of the Poetry Slam as a competitive performance event, and learn the rules, too, by reading this brief article, and checking out some of the links available at this site.

Biography Resource Center
This outstanding database features biographical information about more than 275,000 people from throughout history, around the world, and all disciplines and subject areas. More than 400,000 biographies are included from 90 highly regarded Gale Group publications. (Please note: To access this database, you will need to use your public library barcode.)


Luis Alberto Ambroggio Watch Ambroggio and others read their poetry in this webcast, from a program featured as part of the Library of Congress celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.


Poetry of Lewis Carroll, from

Emily Dickinson: from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This detailed biography features information about the life and writings of the reclusive poet, as well as links to other resources.

Modern American Poetry: Emily Dickinson's Life

Emily Dickinson: The Complete Poems

T.S. ELIOT T. S. Eliot

Modern American Poetry: T. S. Eliot's Life and Career

The Academy of American Poets: Robert Frost

KRISTINE O'CONNELL GEORGE: writer, poet, tadpole rancher...
Visit this site to read (and hear!) many of the author's wonderful poems. Students will also find links to sites that will allow them to write and publish their own poems.

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes: from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This detailed biography provides information about the poet's life, career, and political views, as well as a nice list of links to other resources.

Edward Lear

Selected Poetry of Edward Lear (1812-1888)

Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

The Sidewalk of Life: Portia Nelson
This site features a discussion of each of the "chapters" in Nelson's There's a Hole in My Sidewalk: an Autobiography in Five Short Chapters.

Obituaries: Portia Nelson
Scroll down and find a brief obituary about this versatile artist.


Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

Biography of Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath: Biography and Much More


Carl Sandburg: from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carl Sandburg Home

Selected Poetry of Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Dr. Seuss: Seussville

The Literature Network: William Shakespeare
Visitors to this site will find a biography of Shakespeare, and links to the full text of his tragedies, histories, comedies, and selected poetry.

Shakespeare of Stratford

"Search Oxford Shakespeare"

Shel Silverstein


William Carlos Williams: from
This site offers a collection of biographies, a timeline of the works of this writer/physician, and an extensive list of links to other informative resources.

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
This page, part of Modern American Poetry's comprehensive site, offers readers a detailed Williams biography, as well as the full text of many of his poems.


April is National Poetry Month!, from ReadWriteThink (International Reading Association/National Council of Teachers of English)

Teach Now! National Poetry Month

Education World: Poetry Month

Modern American Poetry

Poetry Forms and Terminology

Glossary of Poetic Terms