Cakeway to the West day 9

Hubby and I took kiddo to Faust Park in Chesterfield to play on the playground and sneak in another cake.  The Butterfly House is at Faust Park and there is a gorgeous cake there.


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Cakeway to the West day 8

Summer break had arrived and kiddo was determined to visit the Saint Louis Science center even though we had just done it over Spring Break, ah well it’s free, fun, and we’d missed the cake when we went last time so off we went.  On the way we made a slight detour on Clayton Road to Sweetology do it yourself cake shop to get a picture of the cake there.

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Off we headed to Forest Park expecting to park on one of the side streets and walk we were thrilled to find a parking space on the Planetarium side of the Science Center, to St. Louisans my age and older the original Science Center.  As we approached the entrance I was shocked to see a cake.  I knew there was one on the other side of the highway (yep the SC spans a highway, highway 40 to be precise, with a great walkover bridge.  We stopped to take pics but I’ll come back to those.  We wandered through checking out the space oriented displays, I remain fascinated and could probably stand for hours looking at the Mercury and Gemini space capsules on display.  When we made it to the entrance to the “new” Science Center we found the cake I knew was there.   I wanted to feature this one first as it is more general science related, while there are hints of displays that you will find in the SC it’s nothing compared to the Planetarium side cake.

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Yep that would be kiddo in the background taking his own shots of the cakes, he’s as big a photo nut as I am lol.  Now to show you the Planetarium cake, in bits and pieces that is. First the “windows” that you will find to look down onto Highway 40 as you cross over the bridge, there’s the circle one like this as well as a square and triangle.


This is probably one of the most constructed exhibits in the whole place, build the Arch, I know we’ve done it almost every time we’ve gone, though we did skip it this time because it was busy.


Next a familiar site for any St. Louisan the Planetarium with it’s yearly holiday bow.  Apparently this was first done as a fraternity prank but has since become tradition.


As I already mentioned the Mercury and Gemini capsules inside the Planetarium it should come as no surprise that there is a NASA rocket on the top of the cake, falling into a gravity well, enter the glass doors right behind the cake and you’ll find a gravity well too. 🙂


Finally the whole cake.  I think this may be my favorite one yet.


Cakeway to the West day 7

Hubby joined kiddo and I this time as we headed off to visit the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park.   Another of our favorite places to visit, World Bird is home to many birds, some injured and unable to fly anymore.  It is also home to many a birdcage built by a boy scout as his Eagle Scout project.  The Sanctuary itself is free to visit but for a $5 donation you can take a tour of their hospital.  There are often special events there as well.

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The Outsiders

One of my fave YA books, heck one of my all time fave books period!

What Will She Read Next?

9780142407332_p0_v2_s260x420The Outsiders is by far one of my all time favorite books to read with students, note I didn’t say teach, this is a discussion book.  One of the first things I tell my students is a bit about the author S.E. Hinton.  She was 15 when began she writing this book, it was semi-biographical based on the groups/cliques of her hometown.  She says she got the letter that it was going to be published on the day of her high school graduation, she was 18.  I love to point out her age it’s a great example of you can do and achieve anything you want and age does not necessarily make a difference.

Ponyboy Curtis, the main character and narrator, grew up in the wrong side of the tracks in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  He’s a Greaser, so named for the hair grease they use.  Most everyone in his neighborhood is…

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Cakeway to the West day 6

So kiddo wanted to head out to play at a new park on the way we stopped off to see two other cakes.  The first is at Barretts Elementary School in the Parkway School District.  The really cool thing to me about this cake is that it was created/decorated by the students of the school


Next we headed around the corner a block or two, really they are this close together, to the Museum of Transportation.  This has long been a favorite summer destination for us.  The Museum is filled with train, some planes, and a whole building full of classic cars including a new room dedicated to cars made by St. Louis car companies.  The cake here didn’t seem quite finished as it had some sketchings on it.  To be honest when I first saw it I thought someone had scribbled on the cake on closer inspection I realized those were sketches that were probably meant to be there.  Maybe they are simply supposed to be sketches.  We’ll find out later this year when we make our annual trek to actually visit the museum.




Who am I as a reader? part 2

Back today to finish answering those me as a reader questions.  There are four more and here they are.

What do you think of the different book formats: paper, electronic, audio?

Paper is by far my preferred format for books, I just love turning the pages, the scent of a brand new book, the satisfaction of seeing a stack of completed books on my nightstand, and the anticipation of a stack of books to read.  I do enjoy the convenience of e-books though I only have an iPod Touch, I might like them more if I had a bigger e-reader.  It’s nice though to always have book with me I can take out and read without having to think about packing one because my Pod is always with me.  The biggest problem I have is that I’ll be right in the middle of a book and the battery will die and I won’t be somewhere where I can charge it.  Audio books, as a reader not for me, as a teacher I love them!  I’ve never gotten into audiobooks because I find that the person reading often emphasizes things differently than I do and it takes me out of the story.  As a teacher I’ve found that audio books can be really helpful for struggling readers. I used to teach middle school communication arts.  We would read a novel as a class, with students reading on their own.  Lower level readers struggled with completing these assignments, but when given the opportunity to listen to an audio version of the book and follow along in their paper copy their comprehension increased and they could stay on task and complete their assigned reading.  Also I noticed that there was an increase in their own reading fluency.
What genres do you read?  Are there any you won’t read?

You know I don’t think there are any genres I won’t read.  There are some I haven’t really read like Westerns but I am open to them.  I learned my lesson about cutting out genres in high school.  At the ripe old age of 16 I was sure I would never read a fantasy book.  The guy I was dating at the time was reading a series by R. A. Salvatore.  I think I made a face when he showed me the book, he asked why and I, very ignorantly said I was not interested in books with dwarves and elves and stuff like that!  Oh boy, was I dumb!  He tried to change my mind but I wouldn’t listen.  He left the book in my car accidentally and as I had nothing else to read at home, which was really odd for me, I picked it up.  Yeah I picked it up and couldn’t put it down; he had practically beg me to give it back.  The Crystal Shard was my gateway into the fantasy genre and I have never looked back and since then I have also stayed open to the possibility that any book could be a great book.  (I should also note this book became my introduction to bookstore reward clubs lol, when I went off to college I had trouble not spending money as so many kids do, my biggest problem though was books and not textbooks as we could rent them from the school.  It was the day I went into the bookstore at the mall and came across this series by Salvatore.  I think I bought 9 or 10 books that day Thank Heaven for the rewards club it paid off with that first purchase alone 🙂 )

What are your favorite books/least favorite books?

Favorite books, well that’s a hard one I love so many books.  I could make a really long list, type for an hour and still not list them all.  Least favorite well there is only one that comes to mind and before I tell you what it is I’m going to get behind my Mythbusters style blast shield.  Ok now that I’m safe I can tell you I do not like the book Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  I remember loving this book when I read it in high school.  It is a classic and very popular however I reread it several years ago and just could not finish it.  There were times when I wanted to reach into the book, haul Holden out and smack him!  If I didn’t respect books so much I would have thrown this one across the room. I’m not sure if it was because I was reading it as an adult or if it was because I was teaching pre-teen and teenagers that did it but all of a sudden I was identifying with the teachers and parents and not Holden.  I kinda wish I’d left the book on the shelf because the reread resulted in losing the joy of the story I remembered.  Fortunately other books I read and enjoyed in high school that I have reread have not left me feeling the same.  I mentioned the Twilight series in the young adult vampire post on What Will She Read Next.  I also have to say I love Harry Potter but I really wanted to take an editing pen to Goblet of Fire it was just too wordy, Tolkein levels of description and I do love Tolkein but not that style in a kids/young adult book.


Who are your favorite authors/ least favorite authors?

Favorite authors is a list nearly as long as books but for this I’ll give it a shot: Adult fiction authors – Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, Susan Wiggs, Emily March, Dorothea Benton Frank, Laurell K Hamilton, Orson Scott Card, JRR Tolkein, Betty Hechtman, Jenn McKinlay and many more.  Children’s/Young Adult authors: J.K. Rowling, Lois Lowry, S.E. Hinton, Lloyd Alexander, Madeline L’Engle, Beverly Cleary, Eric Carle, David Shannon and many more.  As for least favorite only one name comes to mind: Stephenie Meyer.  I respect that she has written books that became popular and that I can use those books as a gateway to get my students reading better books but the quality of her writing makes me cringe!  I want to yell at her “Show me how the characters are feeling don’t just tell me”.  Don’t just say someone is angry show me: Her hands fisted up, knuckles turning white, jaw clenched and brow furrowed as she spat out… ok you get the idea now if only she did!

Ok so that’s it for my reading profile.  How about you?  How would you answer these four questions?

Who am I as a reader? part 1

So since I posted my thoughts on What is Reading?  I’ve been thinking I should tell more about who I am as a reader.  It definitely impacts how I teach, I tend to look to books often no matter the subject I’m teaching.  I remember back during my last field experience before student teaching using the book The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins to introduce division.  Even in teaching technology I often use books and there are some great ones out there, but that’s a topic for another day I think, back to the topic at hand.  I came up with some questions that I have asked students in the past as I try to help them find books and answered them.  Here are a few.


What is the first book you remember reading? or What is your best reading memory?

I know that I started reading young, I’m one of the lucky kids that picked up reading really quickly.  The first book I can remember reading is On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The teacher assigned each kid in our reading group a different Little House book to read and then share with the group, thus began my fascination with Little House and Mrs. Wilder.  I also distinctly remember reading my first Danielle Steel novel, I was in sixth grade, yeah probably a bit young for it but my aunt gave it to me and my mom approved so…  Palomino was and still is a great read.


Where do you get books?

I get books mostly from the library.  I love the fact that I can put them on hold, though I have many times reached the maximum limit for holds on my account, often with new books.  As soon as I see the new title in a series I’ve been reading I head to the library site to put it on hold.  I do occasionally buy books.  For myself I buy used books, I save the money to buy new books for my son, though he gets used ones too.  Our favorite place to buy used books is V-Stock, not just books they have CDs, DVDs, video games, toys, comics, and more.  We also spend a lot of money yearly with Scholastic through book orders, the book fairs, and the warehouse sales.  If you’ve never been to a Scholastic warehouse sale and have one near you, GO you won’t regret it.  I do get e-books sometimes though I guess I should say iBooks as the only e-reader I have is my iPod.  I have purchased four, other than that every book I have on my Pod comes from the “top free” chart, but I have found some really great books there, one that led me to a whole series in paperback at my local library.  I wrote a post for What Will She Read Next on back in February on the Kowalski Clan.


What draws you to a book?  Why do you pick the books you pick?

Often I’m drawn to books by an author I’ve read before.  It may be a topic I’m interested in, I recently saw the book The President’s Club at the library and while I didn’t check it out as I had a large stack already to read it went on my to read list because the White House, it’s residents, and employees have recently become a topic I’m very interested in.  My mom suggests books, my friends suggest books, before e-readers became so popular my mom, aunt, grandmother and I would pass books around with each of us writing our name on the inside cover so we knew who had read it.  I watch to see what books are suggested at the library as well and now my son also checks that display.  When it comes to looking for children’s, juvenile, or young adult fiction I also check the yearly award nominee lists.  Here in Missouri the Missouri Association of School Librarians or MASL each year nominates books for various awards based on age group: Show-Me Readers for grades 1-3, Mark Twain for grades 4-6, Truman for grades 6-8, and Gateway for high schoolers.  I have come across some great books on those lists and some not so great books but it’s always worth checking out.

So what are your answers to these questions?  I’d especially love to know how others pick books and where you get your books.