Book Review – Substitute by Nicholson Baker

Going to School With a Thousand Kids
by Nicholson Baker

This book review is a long time coming… I enjoyed the book, what I read of it. I did read most of it but couldn’t be bothered to read the last chapters. The format of each chapter, a day in the life of substitute teaching, was the same: get an assignment, id card and start the day substituting and tell every conversation that was had with all the students. The stories were entertaining. I did find myself laughing at some and just shaking my head at others. Kids will be kids and sometimes they say the darnedest things. It was interesting to see how school age kids have stayed the same and changed from when I was in school. But there wasn’t anything more to the book than 28 chapters/days of the same thing.

I would read some of the chapters again or as part of another book, but there wasn’t any sort of reason or thread to tie each chapter together. Something that explained Barker’s thoughts or why he was writing this.

*I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Book Review – Service Tales by Ace Collins

Service Tales – More Stories of Man’s Best Hero by Ace Collins

I loved this book! As the title says, this is a collection of true short stories about service dogs and the humans they help. I have always loved dogs* and especially service dogs. I know first hand how smart dogs are (except for this one beagle we had…) and what comfort they can bring when you need it most. Then to have a dog trained to help you in a specific way so that you can have a full life just makes my heart warm and fuzzy. In most of these stories, the service dogs ended up learning so much more than what they were taught and more than anyone ever could have expected. I cried and laughed with the stories. This was an all around heart-warming book. I recommend it to anyone who wants an uplifting and quick read.

*And cats, but this book isn’t about service cats.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review – I Wish My Teacher Knew by Kyle Schwartz

I love to read. And I love the idea of reading books that haven’t yet made it to the (virtual) shelves at bookstores. So, a few months ago I signed up at Netgalley where it is possible to browse through the list of books they have and see if any of them catch your attention. Then you send a request saying you’d like to read that book*. If your request is accepted, you can download the book to whatever device you’d like and read away. The only catch is that you need to write a(n honest) review of the book after you have read it. In my opinion, a review is a minor task to do in return for getting to read a new book. I need to work on my review writing skills. Practice makes perfect better right?


The most recent book I read was I Wish My Teacher Knew by Kyle Schwartz. I’m not a teacher, but I really liked this book. I Wish My Teacher Knew is a book about how you, as an educator (in any role, I don’t believe you have to be a teacher only), can show your students that you care about them and that they matter. It had some thought-provoking ideas on how you can get kids engaged in your classroom. Not just with learning, but also when new students arrive and current ones leave, how to involve your students’ family and getting the students excited about something, anything are some examples. The explanations, studies and stories Kyle gives for each chapter/section were interesting and made me think about how most of these can be easily implemented in ones own classroom.

I definitely recommend this book to others, especially if you are a teacher or work with kids/students in a learning environment.

*There are sometimes restrictions on who can read a book, such as your physical location or you’re just not the type they are looking for.

Book it: What we’re reading

This post has been days in the writing… I’ve just been too tired in the evenings to think coherently enough to put words in sentences.

Paxlet has started to take more of a “look at and sort of read” interst in books. He’s always loved books, to chew on, turn pages (roughly), etc. and more recently to stand on. In addition to his rough baby-handling of books, recently he has actually started looking at the pictures and pointing to things in the books and babbled about what he is seeing. These are some of the books that Paxlet has been paying more attention to lately.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Yes, it is in Chinese. I bought this book just over 2 years ago when I was in Shanghai. It cost about 4 euro; I just couldn’t pass it up. The story is very easy to tell, so there isn’t much that needs remembering. But just in case, I have the words typed and printed.
Paxlet really likes the pages where the caterpillar has eaten through foods. He sticks his fingers to the holes.


Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons by Dugald Steer

Paxlet has pulled this out several times. He seems to like the many pictures and colors. I know I like it. 🙂 This book will definitely be even more fun when he is older and we can talk about all that is going on in this book.

Not only do I love dragons, but we are both dragons in the Chinese zodiac!


Kuka sieltä kurkistaa? Kotieläimiä (Who am I? Farm animals)

This has been fun to look at while teaching Paxlet what different animals say. He keeps coming back to the pig and rooster a lot.

Where’s the pig’s nose?

Pigs “oink” in English and go “röh” in Finnish. But really they just make snorting sounds.


What have you been reading?

Banned Book Week (Sept 30-Oct 6)

I can’t remember how I came across this tid bit of info that this week, September 30 – October 6, is Banned Book Week, but I somehow did. And as I checked out a list of banned and/or challenged books, I realized I’ve read a few of the books on the list, but not nearly enough of them! I need to read more banned books.

I even own a few of them:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey*
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

But the book that I always think of when I think of banned books is the children’s book Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman originally written in 1899. I have had this book ever since I was little and have always loved it! It took me years to understand, even if I don’t fully agree, why this book would be banned. I always just saw it as a story of a little boy who saved himself from being eaten by vain tigers. And when the tigers let their vanity get the best of themselves and turn into butter, the little boy and his dad took the fresh butter home to mom, who made lots of pancakes with fresh butter for them to eat. Ok so that is an over simplified version of the story, but to me, it was all very innocent.

Do you read banned and or challenged books?

*My little claim to fame is that I got to meet Ken Kesey a couple of years before he died when he was in town for the opening night of his play in my hometown.