No, it’s not back in print—as I wrote that subject title I suddenly realized I might be setting some of you up for disappointment. But I hope you’ll find this almost as good a surprise. This time of year, I get a lot of email from readers looking for copies of Hanna’s Christmas, which has been out of print for, I don’t know, a decade at least. Sometimes the letters sound pretty frustrated: as the holidays approach, used copies of the book jump to astronomical rates in the resale market. I don’t have any available for sale myself—I didn’t even hold on to enough copies for my own children. (I didn’t have quite as many kids when I wrote the book.)
But a couple of days ago, I got a lovely email from a teacher who said her class really wanted to hear the story, and would I consider reading it aloud in a video. Would you believe that has never occurred to me? It was a great idea, and that’s what I’ve done. I made a short video intro below and then comes a second video with the reading of the book. I hope you’ll enjoy it!
A peek at the new “Cat Spanish” app from Memrise. We’ve only just begun playing with it. Will report back later when we’ve worked with it for a while (mainly Rose; she’s the one learning Spanish), but it’s safe to say it’s a hit so far. Conversational phrases with amusing kitty photos: you have us at hello.
This is a quick-and-dirty list of homeschooling how-to and reference books I’d love to see in libraries. I’ll prettify it later. Throwing it up hastily now during #ReadAdv (the Reader’s Advisory Twitter Chat) and will probably add to it during the discussion.
From Liz Burns re the #ReadAdv Twitter chat for librarians and interested parties:
Our next chat takes place on Thursday, December 5 at 8 P.M. EST.
Sophie and Kelly and I were tossing around possible topics for our next chat, and homeschooling came up. Seems like librarians are always asking about and wondering about working with homeschoolers. What can they do? What should they do? What works?
So I said, oh, we should have guests. And I had a short dream list of possibilities: the two people who, in talking about homeschooling, makes me want to have kids just so I can homeschool them.
They are, of course, Melissa Wiley and Quinn Cummings. And both these terrific women said YES. So Melissa Wiley (@melissawiley on Twitter) and Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) will be joining us on December 5.
Got anything you’d like me to share with librarians who are wondering how best to serve homeschoolers? Wish lists, etc? Send me your questions and I’ll share them this evening, 8pm EST, 5pm here on the West Coast. Follow #ReadAdv to see the discussion unfold.
So I was too busy enjoying the company of my home-too-briefly college girl and my beloved pal Kristen and her hubby and my goddaughter and the rest of my rowdy, riotous gang to REMEMBER TO TAKE ANY PICTURES (*smoke comes out of ears*)—but it seems Scott was clicking away during the frantic final moments of our feast preparation. (Who am I kidding. I was in the kitchen: all moments were frantic.) These just made me laugh and laugh. Which is exactly how I spent the holiday.
This last one is ridiculous but Scott made me include it because he likes how I go tharn. Which, too, is a fair representation of my state of mind while cooking: train rushing toward me and I’m frozen in my tracks. Help! Hrududu ain’t got nothin’ on gravy about to scorch.
I’ve been blogging about Monarch butterflies practically from the moment this blog began. I’ve been growing milkweed, the only host plant for monarch caterpillars, in our yard for over a decade—first in Crozet, Virginia, and then here in San Diego after our move seven years ago. When you leave a comment on this blog, if you don’t happen to have a WordPress avatar set up, the default avatar is a picture of milkweed from my garden. I made a very dopey video, once, showing some of our butterfly plants, and was lucky enough to catch a Monarch in the act of laying an egg on the underside of a leaf. We’ve been a family wrapped up in bees and butterflies for a very long time.
We had a fair number of caterpillars last year, enough to eat our five plants to the ground. But this year may be different.
This year, the giant Monarch migration that takes place in the mountains of Mexico has been, well, not exactly giant.
…for the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn’t come, at least not on the Day of the Dead. They began to straggle in a week later than usual, in record-low numbers. Last year’s low of 60 million now seems great compared with the fewer than three million that have shown up so far this year. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse.
The reasons aren’t a mystery:
A big part of it is the way the United States farms. As the price of corn has soared in recent years, driven by federal subsidies for biofuels, farmers have expanded their fields. That has meant plowing every scrap of earth that can grow a corn plant, including millions of acres of land once reserved in a federal program for conservation purposes.
Another major cause is farming with Roundup, a herbicide that kills virtually all plants except crops that are genetically modified to survive it.
As a result, millions of acres of native plants, especially milkweed, an important source of nectar for many species, and vital for monarch butterfly larvae, have been wiped out. One study showed that Iowa has lost almost 60 percent of its milkweed, and another found 90 percent was gone. “The agricultural landscape has been sterilized,” said Dr. Brower.
This article touches, too, on the dire plight of the honeybee, about which I’ve had much to say on this blog over the years.
I don’t often feel helpless. But with this, I do. What can I do beyond the small acts I’ve been doing? Planting milkweed, singing the joys of bee-and-butterfly gardening, avoiding pesticides and herbicides even though that means I have a weedy garden. Keep on singing, I guess?