April 2020 Thankful Thursday Week 5

April 2020 Thankful Thursday Week 5

Copy of Copy of THROWBACK THURSDAY

Hello and happy Thursday. I’m going to say something that we are all probably thinking but it has been a long week. And I know it’s technically not over but for me, this is almost like a Friday because, with this whole distance learning thing, I don’t teach on Fridays. That makes me a little happy if I’m being honest. It also makes me happy to look back and see how my life was two years ago. I’m not going to lie, it sometimes feels like way longer.

April 30th, 2018: An awesome workout session makes me happy 

It’s like the universe is telling me that I have to get over my laziness and go walk on the treadmill. I don’t remember this workout or why it was awesome, but I’m glad I thought that. I think by then I was going to the gym and I would go into those classes that are free for gym members. I discovered two classes that were similar but they varied in intensity, in which you basically learned a choreography but the steps were more like martial art moves than actual dancing. As I type, I’m trying to remember the name but nothing comes to my mind.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Thursday!

Love, Miss Camila

#BookReviewBlogChallenge Day 4

#BookReviewBlogChallenge Day 4

Hello and happy Wednesday. We’re halfway through the Book Review Blog Challenge and I can honestly say this has been one of the things that have kept me motivated and going because whoever said teaching remotely was easy was full of shit and I’d like to have a serious talk. 

On a happier note, for day four of the challenge the prompt was family or anything that reminds me of strong family ties. If there’s one thing to know about me is that my life basically revolves around my family and that they are at the center of my universe. Just yesterday, we got pretty exciting news about my sister who got accepted into her dream university for her master’s, so we all know I was a crying mess. I have a particular love for books about siblings and books that feature a grandparent-grandchild relationship, so my choice was a no-brainer. I selected Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. 

This is another book that I supposedly read when I was in sixth grade and I’m starting to think that my teacher was plain lazy and she chose books that had been adapted to movies because she knew that nobody was going to read them. There were parts, though, that I do remember having read. Like I said about Matilda by the same author, the plot in the book is simpler than the movie, but there are jokes and comments that children might not get, which I think the movie adaptation simply removes or changes. There is also old vocabulary that I am pretty sure could be considered slurs. I’m not going to mention examples, but beware and also understand that these books are old and that there were things that were acceptable then and unthinkable now. My final warning is towards the very apparent hatred that the author had towards fat people. I noticed it while reading Matilda and it was there in this book. Do I think we can consider Roald Dahl fatphobic? Call him what you think is appropriate to you, I think that he was trying to be funny in a time when it was more socially acceptable to make fun of fat people as it is now. I’m also fat, so I am more aware of these types of comments. 

I read this book between April 27th and April 28th, 2020 and gave it four stars. I think by now we all know what Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is about, right? There’s this wonderful yet mysterious candy factory and one day the owner, Mr. Willy Wonka, announces that five lucky children will get to visit it. He hid five Golden Tickets in chocolate bars and the kids who find them will be the ones going to the factory. Of course, that sounds amazing, but Charlie Buckett and his family have no hope since they are poor, but luck is on Charlie’s side because he finds the last Golden Ticket and the chance to meet Mr. Wonka and visit his factory. 

This is a middle-grade book, and I thought it would be super whimsical like the latest movie adaptation (I have yet to see the first one), but it was way more tame than I’d thought. What can I say? I expected a lot more. What my teacher heart didn’t anticipate were all the opportunities for conversation about issues like poverty, starvation, kindness, and greediness. I think this would be a great read for fifth, sixth, and seventh graders. 

Are you still on quarantine? What have you been doing lately? What’s keeping you emotionally stable? Let me know in the comments. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

 

 

 

#BookReviewBlogChallenge Day 3

#BookReviewBlogChallenge Day 3

Hello and happy Saturday. Someone mentioned today how the Book Review Blog Challenge had made them read books that had been sitting in their TBR for years and I totally know what they mean. I think that out of the nine books from the challenge, I’ve owned six for a year or longer and only was in my TBR for May. 

I also love that the prompts are related to different aspects of my life. Today’s prompt, for example, was Golden Classics or any book published before 1995. I immediately thought about Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and hoped with all my might that it would fit the prompt. It did since it was published in 1989. Like I said, this book is important to me for several reasons.

I first read this book when I was in sixth grade when a teacher told us we could pick what we wanted to read. My mom had bought it for me at a school event. I think besides telling us stories about our family and how they had been victims of the Holocaust, her way of teaching us about it was through literature. So, yes, I am Jewish, like Ellen, who is Annemarie’s, the main character’s best friend. And I do not have a necklace with a Star of David but I do have one with the Chai symbol, which means life. Fun fact about that first time I read this book: my teacher then selected it as required reading for the following years. 

Now, Yom HaShoah, or the Holocaust Remembrance Day, was earlier this week (April 20th to April 21st), and as a teacher and as a Jew, I feel like the best way to remember is reading the stories about other people who were victims of the atrocious events of the Holocaust. Even though Annemarie and Ellen might not have existed, many girls like them did, and their story is one that should live and be passed on among the generations. 

Now you know why this is an important book for me. I reread it between April 24th and April 25th, 2020, and gave it four stars. This story is set during World War II in Copenhagen, Denmark. Annemarie and her best friend Ellen live in the same building. Ellen is Jewish, Annemarie is not, but her family belongs to the Resistance. This is a very short book and it takes place in only a few days, but I swear you can’t breathe while you read it. 

Upon rereading, I realized that there was a lot that went over my head the first time I read this and I am glad that now I’m older, I’ve read more about the Holocaust and as a teacher, I can also understand what the best way to approach this book would be. This is a middle-grade book, but since it is hard-hitting, I think young readers should have guidance from an adult and the conversation on the history of World War II should be open. I am grateful that my mom was always very straightforward when sharing about how our own family suffered because of the war, which ultimately resulted in us being Colombian. 

I am putting together a novel study for this book and I will be working on it next week. What is a book that has marked you in special ways? Let me know in the comments below. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

DIY Mandala Box

DIY Mandala Box

 

Hello and happy Saturday. I think you’ll really like today’s post because it’s very simple and you’ll get to solve two issues that at least drove me crazy. For this, you’ll need a box and all the coloring pages you probably have floating around your house.

Let’s start with the box. You can use contact paper, but I was feeling creative, so I covered mine with thick masking tape and then just drew and colored patterns on it with Sharpies.

Now, when the box was ready, I worked on its contents. I had about six coloring books, which I’d started but hadn’t finished and which were driving me crazy. I took page by page out, and as you can see, I even cut along the outline of some. I put the coloring pages in the box and took it to school for my students.

Like I said, this solves two issues. For one, you’re not going to have coloring books or loose pages flying around, and also, you’re going to give your students another option of something to do in their free time. Tell them about the box and set some rules with them on how and when to use it.

Do you have coloring pages in your classroom? How do you work with them? Let me know in the comments.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

April 2020 Thankful Thursday Week 4

April 2020 Thankful Thursday Week 4

Copy of Copy of THROWBACK THURSDAY.png

Hello and happy Thursday. Are we really in the fourth week of April already? I feel like I sat down, blinked, and April is basically over. I’ve seen different people go through their childhood diaries and recording themselves reading them, but since I have no clue where that gem might be, let’s see what made the Camila of 2018 happy. 

April 23rd, 2018: starting a new paperback makes me happy 

I could look at Goodreads and tell you what specific book I was talking about, but I’m not going to do it because I’m not feeling 100% productive today. Besides, I think I was happier about the fact that it was a paperback than the book itself. What can I say? I like paperbacks. I like floppy ones, I like mass-market paperbacks (I know, I know), I love their smell and the fact that I think I can read a paperback faster than I do an ebook. There are tiny silly things that make us happy, and I think in the times we’re living, we must look for them.

What’s a seemingly unimportant thing that makes you happy? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Thursday!

Love, Miss Camila

 

#BookReviewBlogChallenge Day 2

#BookReviewBlogChallenge Day 2

Hello and happy Wednesday. Today I’m kind of in a weird mood because work has been especially challenging lately. Distance learning can either be a really awesome or a really crappy experience, and I’m living both sides with different grades. Thankfully, I have books and this challenge and I can escape that way, which is fitting since for the prompt for day 2: Travel/vacation, the main character ups and leaves her hometown to go to college across the country. I am talking about We Are Okay by Nina LaCour. 

I read this book between April 20th and April 21st 2020 and gave it four stars. Of course, the stakes were high because I haven’t met a Nina LaCour book I haven’t loved. This wasn’t the exception, obviously. If anything, We Are Okay is more hard-hitting than her other books, at least the ones I’ve read from her.

Marin, the main character, is staying in her dorm over winter break because she claims she has no home or family to go to. The way in which she describes everything made it pretty clear for me that suffered from depression, and I know that for me this would have been triggering a few years ago. I think for that reason, the first chapter is hard to get through. It personally reminded me of a kind of crappy time in my life, but once I was past that, I could appreciate the story for what it was and I stopped relating it to my own life story. 

We find out that a character called Mabel is going to visit Marin and she has conflicting feelings about this visit. Mabel is (was?) Marin’s best friend back home and Marin has been ignoring her texts since she decided to leave. This is a Nina LaCour book, so we know, even before learning about Mabel and Marin’s story that there had been something else going on between them. And, oh, my angsty heart. 

There are two timelines in this book and the alternate between the chapters. We get Marin in New York on winter break, and we get the events that led to Marin’s leaving so suddenly without telling anybody and basically shutting everyone from her life out. At one point those two timelines collide and then we only get the present, and honestly, it felt like I’d been reading this book for months and not for a couple of days because there was so much to unpack. 

Like Marin, I had conflicting feelings towards Mabel. There were times when I loved her and others when I wanted her to leave Marin alone and be gone from the book. This is something that has happened before with Nina LaCour books, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story in any way. If you’re into understated, quiet contemporary YA novels with hard-hitting elements that feature a queer relationship without it being the center of the plot (or a coming-out story), then you’ll love this.

I hope you’re having a great day and do let me know which book you’re reading/would read for this challenge. 

Happy reading! 

Love, Miss Camila  

 

 

 

It Was Neither Thrilling Nor Mysterious

It Was Neither Thrilling Nor Mysterious

Hello and happy Wednesday. Some of you might wonder why I keep reading mystery/thriller novels when most haven’t gotten more than three stars and the reason is, I really want to find what I like within that genre. Judging by today’s title, we know that All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda wasn’t it.

I read this book between April 7th and April 10th, 2020 and gave it two stars. I knew I was going to give it a bad rating since the very first page because it was consistently bad. The first problem I had was that it started in the middle of a scene, which I know is common for mystery/thrillers but in this case, we get stuff explained almost as an afterthought, or at least that’s how I felt. 

Nicolette, the main character, gets a call from her brother and because of it decides to go to her hometown. Now, the reason we are told that she’s going is to have her dad sign some papers to be able to sell the house where they all used to live. Oh, and by the way, the dad apparently has dementia. I did not like the fact that dementia was used as a plot device, and I knew the moment I read about it that it was going to be used as such because it makes the character unreliable, right? That was lazy, in my opinion. 

So we said that Nic goes back to her hometown, and she keeps saying she’ll stay only for a few days, but she literally packed the contents of her entire apartment in her car before leaving. I overpack whenever I go on a trip, but I’m not going to pack my nightstand if I’m planning to stay only for a few days somewhere. That was one of the several plotholes I found in this story, which generally shouldn’t occur but even less if you’re reading to find out how a mystery happened, or who did it, or how it was solved. 

I don’t like “easy” mysteries. I don’t like when the main character finds out key information within the first minutes of talking to someone, and that happened in this book. The secret item she needed in order to advance with her “investigation” was found by chance in a drawer…on her first try. Okay. Oh, I haven’t told you what the mystery is about, right? So, Nicolette’s best friend had disappeared ten years earlier, which is why she decided to leave her town, and now that she’s back, another girl has disappeared. See, I told you it was lazy. 

Do you have any recommendations for mysteries that are actually mysterious? Let me know in the comments below. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

#BookReviewBlogChallenge Day 1

#BookReviewBlogChallenge Day 1

Hello and happy Saturday. The first prompt for the Book Review Blog Challenge was Dreams and Ambitions, which is an awesome prompt because it is open to interpretation, right? 
I immediately thought about the self-improvement books I own because usually, they revolve around success and achieving your dreams and being the best person you could be. And in a way Girling Up by Mayim Bialik is that, although I would categorize it more as a “how-to” guide. You know the type. For some reason (I wonder), there are way more guides on how to be girls than on how to be boys or guys, and of course, that’s super problematic, but considering that Bialik has defied many stereotypes by being a Ph.D. in neuroscience as well as an actress, a divorced mom, and a Jew, I thought that her take would be different and I was interested in reading about it. 

I read this book between April 17th and April 18th, 2020 and gave it three stars. Here’s the deal: I really wanted to like this book, and even though I don’t dislike it, I cannot in good conscience recommend it, at least not as an empowering read or an initial approximation to feminism as I thought it would be. Maybe that was my mistake, you know? I thought this would be a cool introduction to feminism for tweens and teens, but it’s not that. 

First off, this book was not empowering but it was rather informative. Like I said, the author is a Ph.D. in neuroscience and you can tell. This is very fact-based, and she uses, for the most part, a very straightforward, no-nonsense, no-bullshit language when she explains certain concepts. The book is divided into six chapters, one about the female body, another one about ways to properly care for our body, one about love, and another one about coping with stress. Yes, I forgot the other two, but you get the point.

We all know that I have issues with books that are targeted specifically “for girls” because I think they are implicitly heteronormative and sadly, this was. I don’t think it was the author’s intention, but in describing the female anatomy, for example, it was clear that the book was intended for cisgender women. Yes, she discusses trans people, but she dedicates a paragraph to them and continues focusing on cis folk. I get it, though; it was probably neither her objective nor her place to be discussing transwomen since she is not trans herself, but that’s something to keep in mind. 

I know I’m all over the place with this review, but I’m just typing as things come to mind. Reading this entire book gave me the feeling that this could have been titled “Growing Up” and changed so that it could be gender-neutral, or in other words, targeted to people from all genders because the information, which, like I’ve said was very straight-forward and facts-based is applicable to every young person, not only young women. Also here I want to add that the graphics, illustrations, and snippets of information were great and that I appreciated the resources provided throughout the book, although I think they were mostly U.S-based. 

Like I said at the beginning, I would not recommend this as a feminist read, but I think it is a valuable source of information, not for tweens particularly but for teachers, parents, caregivers or other adults that have young people in their lives. I think that this book would be way more helpful if an adult read it first and used its contents as a basis for conversation and reflection. I say this also considering that, since the book relies so heavily on science, it disregards the commentary that the social and cultural sciences must provide, especially in the “biology vs. culture” debate that is everpresent when talking about gender and sex. 

I would like to give you an update on Matilda since I hadn’t read it in my last post. It took me two days and a few hours to read it because I had work stuff, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot, I think, is way simpler than what the movie makes it out to be, but the language and the jokes in the book are way more “grown-up” than what I was expecting, especially since Matilda is only five and a half years old. I gave it four stars and I have all the questions for my book study written down by hand, so next week I’ll be working on the product to put in my TpT store. If you have a kid in your life who wants to read this book, I’d say fourth to sixth graders would enjoy and understand it the most. 

I hope you have a great afternoon and that you’re having fun participating in this challenge or at least following me on this journey. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

 

 

Organizing My Supplies Closet

Organizing My Supplies Closet

Hello and happy Saturday. Every few months I’ll tackle the task of removing every item in my supplies closet at home and reorganizing said closet. I’ll get rid of stuff I’ve been hoarding, as well as the growing piles of things I tell myself I’ll deal with later.

This is the “before.” I think it was at its worst moment, with things everywhere and not a logic behind where I put them. Look at the space close to the floor, it’s a mess, too.

 

 

 

I didn’t get rid of a ton of stuff, I just decided to be smarter about where I put it. All the arts and crafts supplies I had on the top shelf (that didn’t need to be there), were placed in a cardboard box in the bottom shelf, and the teaching materials I won’t be needing at the moment were moved to the plastic box where my pencil cases with pens and markers used to be.

Since I reorganized,  I have found a box to store the pencil cases, so they are no longer on display. The other things you see on the top shelf are supplies I use on a regular basis. The wrapping and contact paper that used to be on the bottom shelf is in the closet on the left, standing against a corner.

How often do you organize your work supplies and what system do you use? Let me know in the comments.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

NetGalley Reads: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

NetGalley Reads: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

Hello and happy Friday. I was invited by Algonquin to participate in a blog tour in celebration of the re-release of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami. I would like to thank the publisher, the author, and NetGalley for the opportunity. 

I read this book between March 26th and March 27th and gave it four stars. It is just under two hundred pages and the writing style is very simple and to the point, which is what I like. The book is divided into “Before” and “After” and it tells the individual stories of three Moroccans who decide to illegally migrate to Spain. The book actually starts in the “During,” which I thought was really shocking and also a great hook for readers, who get to see how they got to make the decision they made and also the consequences of it. 

I was not very familiar with how immigrants in North Africa made it to Europe. I’d seen news about the tragedies that happen in those boats and rafts and how many people drown, but reading a book about it is completely different. The process itself of the trip is not really explained much; like I said, it is the first chapter of the book, but the rest focuses on the time before and after the trip.

The characters’ stories focus on different aspects, like Islam, sexism and the lack of opportunities for women, unemployment and the search for a better life abroad. I would compare the narrative style to Orange Is the New Black, in which you get a glimpse of the characters’ lives leading up to their imprisonment and after they are released. Every story is unique because each of the characters is going through unique circumstances and though they all made the choice of illegally migrating to Spain, their reasons are different and so is the aftermath of the trip.

This is an important book for many reasons and I think it will resonate with many people. I do want to say, however, that the last chapter or story or whatever you want to call it has several fatphobic comments. Basically, there’s this secondary character who doesn’t even talk much, but whenever she is described, some reference is done to her weight. For example, we are told that hair sticks to the back of her neck because it is sweaty, or that after a walk uphill she’s wheezing. I’m sure had the character not been described as fat, these details wouldn’t have been mentioned. 

Have you read any books set in a country other than the U.S? Tell me about them in the comments below. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila