Tag Archives: A Handful of Stars

4 Reasons to Start Blogging Again


I’m joining Ruth Ayres for Celebration Saturday. To see all of today’s posts head over to Ruth Ayres Writes.

It’s been a while since I’ve been on my own blog to post. I’ve been thinking for weeks (actually months), Maybe I’ll jump into Slice of Life Tuesday this week, or Poetry Friday might be a good day to start posting again. What I’m Reading Monday is an easy place to pick back up. But no. Summer, and all that extra time, came and went.

Here I am, a long time later, finally re-entering the world of blogging, because I have too much to celebrate, and no excuses for putting it off another minute.  So, with no further procrastination:

#1 Makerspaces

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Students are loving the new makerspaces added to the media center this year. Currently, we have three: arts and crafts, Legos, and STEM problem solving kits. I’ve divided all of my 2nd and 3rd grade classes into three or four groups, so each week a different group gets makerspace passes. I’d love to hear how other media centers are incorporating makerspaces into their daily schedule.

#2 One School, One Book


I read Cynthia Lord’s A Handful of Stars in January, and I knew that it had to be the one book that all of our elementary students got to hear this school year.  The story of Lily and Salma is resonating with our students, staff, and community members who have joined together to explore Lord’s themes of friendship, acceptance, and bravery.  More than 250 students ordered their own copies, and we’re looking forward to an author visit later this fall!


#3 Read Aloud

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I had the opportunity to talk about read aloud with Pre-K – 5th grade teachers this past week. After hearing Steven Layne speak at ILA15 and reading his newest book In Defense of Read Aloud, I knew that his research and message would support the great read aloud work that teachers are already doing, as well as inspire a renewed dedication and intentionality about one of our most honored practices.  I’m excited that at least fifteen teachers already signed up for my first PD book club of the year using Layne’s text.

#Just Keep Reading

During the last fifteen minutes of each library period, students move about to borrow books, read online, or work at the makerspaces.  I love the conversations I get to have with students in this time.  As I was sitting with J this week, he asked me to read to him from the Minecraft Handbook while he built a game-inspired castle with Legos.  I tried to tempt with him with several new picture books I thought were perfect for him (and which I deemed a far better use of read aloud time), but he was insistent. So, I began on page one, reading aloud what seemed to me a foreign language, monotonous verbiage about game pieces and combat moves. After a few minutes, he appeared to be engrossed in his building, and my voice kind of drifted off, stopping, as I looked around to see what everyone else was doing.

“JUST KEEP READING!” he shouted after moment.

And so I did.

And it was perfect.



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A Handful of Stars Book Vine


I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to read Cynthia Lord’s upcoming book A Handful of Stars this weekend. Due out in May from Scholastic, this book encompasses everything we’ve come to know and love about Cynthia Lord. In this simply told story, she weaves themes of acceptance, friendship, and bravery into a novel that also celebrates the beauty of nature and the richness that animal companions bring to our lives.

A Handful of Stars is about an unlikely bond that forms between a small town girl, Lily, and a migrant worker named Salma, who moves with the passing of each growing season.  The girls discover that they have more in common than anyone would think. Drawing them even closer is the shared determination to save Lily’s dog, Lucky, from going completely blind.

Cynthia was kind enough to tell me a little about her new book and share some photos she took that inspired the story’s setting, the blueberry fields of Maine.  She finished three sentences for me. Her words are in blue.


I first started thinking about this story when….I did my first school visit in Washington County, Maine. It’s a beautiful corner of Maine, with miles of wild blueberry barrens.  The first time I saw those barrens was in the autumn when the leaves turn bright red. It’s a stunning and unexpected sight–like a scarlet ocean.


I also saw a line of blue cabins for the migrant workers and their families who rake those blueberries every summer.

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 My writing process for this book was . . . new for me. I’d never sold a novel to my publisher with a proposal. Authors often describe themselves as “plungers” who dive in and discover a story as they write or “plotters” who plan it out first and then write it. I suspect most writers are a combination of both. I had mostly “plunged” through my first three books, but a proposal means creating a whole book in outline first. When I began, I wondered if that would take the fun out of writing for me, but it didn’t. I really liked having a plan. It saved me a lot of detours and dead ends, and it let me discover a different side of myself as a writer.

I hope that readers of A Handful of Stars will… have their hearts touched by the characters, discover some new truths about bravery, allow themselves to think and care about difficult things like prejudice and migrant farm families, AND crave some homemade blueberry pie.


From Cynthia’s desk.

The only bad news is that this book isn’t due out until May! If you are a Cynthia Lord fan like I am, then that might be too long to wait.  So, I’d love to share this book now as part of a book vine project, connecting readers. I was involved in my first book vine for Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s new title A Fish in a Tree due out next month.   I’m stealing the idea (that’s completely encouraged among teachers) from Melissa Guerrette, and I hope that you’ll join me in enjoying this wonderful new book.

This is how it works:

1. Just complete the form below with your information if you’d like to be a part of our vine.

2. I will mail the book to the first person on the list.  I’ll send you an email letting you know it’s on the way. Be sure to confirm via email that you have received the book.

3. Please read the book as soon as you can. When finished, you will mail it to the next reader. I will email you the address that you need.  If you participate in the vine, I ask that when you receive the book, it moves to the top of your reading list. I want as many people to enjoy the book as much as possible.  I’m estimating that people will hold onto the book for about a week each, so please keep that in mind.

4.  Finally… tweet about, rave about it on Goodreads, update your Facebook status, and please blog about it. If you don’t have your own blog, you can post your review on my blog.  Although the primary purpose of the book vine is to connect with other readers, we want to share and celebrate the title so other readers know about it as well.

Please sign your name in the front cover of the book with the date that you finished it. Also, feel free to jot some notations as you read: parts that inspire you, lines you love, or teachable sections.

I can’t wait to share this story! I know you will love it as much as I do.

Please visit Cynthia Lord’s website for a look at all of her books.

Book Vine Blog Posts:

Darla: At the Heart of Literacy

Susan: The Book Is in Your Court

Happy Reading!


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