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My rating: <a href="">5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Well Ms Jack and her Pop Contemp Lit students----I FINALLY read this book!!! And yes, I agree everyone (who loves YA lit)should read read this book.  Charlie is one of those teens who asks many, many questions.  He has thoughts and feelings on almost everything and his letters to this anonymous person really speak about his confusion, yet his hyper-awareness, and his awkwardness.  At first I thought he might have (as my sister calls it - an ism)a personality quirk but he is just trying to find his place after the suicide of one of his good friends. I felt sorry for Charlie as he makes friends in high school;he seemed to remember never having family touch him, complement him, or tell him they loved him. His family wasn't dysfunctional in any way, so I am thinking that as he got older, he appreciated through his friends--that there was meanigful conversation, hugs, kisses, etc. and he doesn't remember it as a child??? Does he block it out (because of Aunt Helen) and as he matures, he figures things out.  I particulary enjoyed his music, TV, book, and movie references thoughout.  His friends Sam and Patrick, beloved teacher, and jock Penn State brother and snarky senior sister were perfect foils and in the end, perfect brother and sister to Charlie.  A must read, the reluctant readers will like the compactness of the book, the readers will gobble up all the drama - promiscuity, homosexuality, abuse, drinking and drugs, it has all the elements teens (boys and girls) will enjoy and see how Charlie finds his place in the world.
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Learning Commons

I oversee five school libraries, grades K-8. Pending approval in a town referendum, we will be building a new school for grades 3-5. I am proposing a Learning Commons in the new school. The superintendent, principal, and architect are all excited about the prospect. I met with the architect yesterday. He has been doing research about Learning Commons and is finding a lot of information about college level and high school level Learning Commons, but very little about elementary level Learning Commons. He has asked me to do some research as well. Can anyone point me to anything at all, whether it be online or print resources that I can share with the architect? I did purchase the two books by David Loertscher about creating a Learning Commons.


Thank you for any help you can give me.


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4 of 5 starsA heart-wrenching tale of a young man, Zach, who is an alcoholic and finds himself at a rehab facility where he must remember in order to heal.  Zach is an 18 year old who has so many skeletons in his closet and he doesn’t really talk too much but you know he has a mother (with depression problems) and a father (who drinks too much) and a brother who is so psychopathic, he is holding the family emotionally hostage. His childhood as he “remembers” it is so dysfunctional that he drinks in order to cope and  keep up a façade as a fun guy.  Zach almost dies of alcohol poisoning which lands him in a hospital (none of this he remembers) and now at the rehab facility, we are introduced to his therapist, Adam, and Sharkey, a larger than life guy with many demons, and Rafael, a 50 year old man, who has alcohol issues, and it is through these relationships and Zach’s stream of consciousness that we learn about all the “monsters” that are torturing these fragile individuals.  It is a tough read, more sad and haunting than I felt comfortable with at times and I thought of putting it down but I was also compelled to read about Zach’s journey. I know this journey is torturous and fraught with self-doubt, loneliness, anger, and helplessness. But it is a journey that many must make and hopefully they will be better, happier, more filled with life.">View
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Breaking Night: A Memoir by Liz Murray

Liz Murray's memoir is so amazing because of the horrors she endured on a daily basis, yet still loved her drug addled parents who would live paycheck to paycheck to buy drugs.  And since Liz was six when this change in her life became apparent, Liz would do whatever she could to keep her parents' attention -- like be a lookout, or as her mom waited in line for her check, Liz would help her get through the wait time by asking questions and providing nonstop encouragement to her mother.  There were times when her mother was hospitalized and her father would take over but still continue with the drugs.  As a result of this dysfunction, at a very early age, Liz began to skip school; one time she was even taken to a girls home until she stopped her truancy.  Liz's descriptions of their fetid apartment, her lice infested head, her filthy clothes and constant hunger are even more jarring because she loves her parents and then begins to hate them when she is taken away and her mother continually lets her down.  Luckily Liz has many friends who become she extended family and she spends time with these friends for food and lodging.  She never talks to them about her life, but she seeks and gains acceptance with these friends who are still part of her life today.  As much as you feel so sorry for her, Liz is indomitable in spirit and keeps grabbing onto what life will give her---sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. Through her rich, descriptive language, New York is a vibrant city with many adventures that Liz and her friends grab--night or day.  Her resourcefulness knew no bounds and she was smart enough to realize before it was too late, that she needed to do something with her life.  Just like Jennifer Storm's Blackout Girl and Walls, Glass Castle, Liz Murray is to be applauded for what she becomes and how she gives back to her community.
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