Friday, June 25, 2010

Article about a Way to Become Happier . . . [And a Better Writer]

found at

Get Happy Quickly by Writing One of These

By RealAge

Want to feel a whole lot happier? Right now? Then grab a pen and a thank-you card, and share some gratitude with someone.
When a group of students wrote a series of one-page thank-you letters every 2 weeks for 6 weeks, measurements showed that their baseline happiness levels increased by 20 percent.
What Is Happiness?
Science says that happiness is 50 percent genetic, 10 percent circumstances, and 40 percent intentional activity (i.e., what you do). With so much happiness attributed to your own actions, it makes sense to do things that make you feel good. For the study, that meant the students expressed gratitude in writing, and their happiness increased with each letter. Every month, try writing a couple of thank-you notes to people who did something nice for you. 
The Gratitude Connection
Seeing the world through the rose-colored lenses of appreciation and thankfulness can help boost feelings of life satisfaction and overall well-being. And that is great for your health. Here are a few more ways to boost feel-good feelings:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life in the Pit

Life in the Pit  by Kristen Landon

About the Book:  Brittany plays the cello (very well) and is first chair in the pit orchestra for the high school play.  Her best friend Amanda is the star of the show and the star of the school (as far as guys and dating are concerned), while Brittany has never had a boyfriend.  Life (in the pit and out) gets much more complicated for Brittany when she and Amanda start receiving threatening notes around the same time that the male lead from the play starts paying attention (of the romantic-let's-kind) to Brittany.

 What Mr. Dorsey Thinks:  The book is not great literature, but I enjoyed reading it.  Its  combination of mystery, danger,  and romance make it a fun summer read. 

About the Author:  Landon lives here in Utah County, and I met her at a book store authors' event. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Bronze Pen

The Bronze Pen by Zilpha Keattley Snyder

     Snyder is the author of The Egypt Game, which is also on my reading list for this summer. Have you read The Egypt Game? 

 About the Book:

   This novel is a about a girl who loves to write, but is afraid to share her writing until she is given a strange (and maybe magical) bronze pen under very strange circumstances that involve a dark cave,  someone she can't quite see who may be an old woman, and a duck.    

What Ms. Dorsey Thinks:  

   I liked this almost-realistic-but-definitely-fantasy book, and the way the author explains how it feels to be someone who loves to write.  Audrey is a very likable character with some very hard things in her life.  The confusion I had with the book was that Audrey didn't seem old enough to be an eighth grader.  If you read the book, let me know what you think.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Happy Flag Day!

I hope you have a happy flag day.  Celebrate by thinking about how blessed we are to live in a country where we have so many freedoms.

Here is a link to a site about the History of Flag Day, and much more about our flag.

By the way,
I highly recommend watching the movie 1776 on or around  the 4th of July.  There is some swearing in it, but it is a delightful musical account of our founding fathers preparing the Declaration of Independence. 

Also, for today or the 4th, you could make a flag cake as we do every year.  Make a cake (we usually make white cake) in a 9 x 13" pan (or ask me for our recipe that is made in cookie sheets), frost it with a whipped topping, and decorate as a flag using blueberries and sliced strawberries. 

Summer Books -- Drift House

I'm enjoying this book about three children from New York City who after the September 11 terrorist attacks are sent by their parents to live with  an eccentric uncle in a very strange house located on the Bay of Eternity.

Summer Reading -- The Dragon's Pearl

See the link to Online Book Clubs through the American Fork City Library:  Teen Book Club.  
I think I'll enjoy this week's book.  Here's the introduction I got today (June 14, 2010). 

This week's book:
by Devin Jordan


For as long as he can remember, sixteen-year-old Marco
Polo has yearned for a life of adventure. He has always
been determined to follow in the footsteps of his father,
the famous explorer Niccolo Polo. But instead he is being
groomed for head accountant of the Polo family fortune.

When Niccolo Polo vanishes in Asia and is written off as
dead, Marco knows that this is his chance to prove
himself. Armed only with a handful of mysterious talismans
and the friendship of his family servant, Amelio, Marco
embarks upon a dangerous journey to rescue his father.

As Marco and his companions travel deeper into the Unknown
Lands, where magic still reigns, he begins to realize that
his mission is far more dangerous than he had thought; A
deadly enemy is tracking Marco. And as Marco hunts for
answers, he only uncovers new questions. What is the
secret of the mysterious blue pearl? And why are so many
willing to kill for it?

The thrilling untold early adventures of the famous
explorer Marco Polo sizzle with Asian mysticism, swash-
buckling swordfights, and the ultimate battle between good
and evil.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer Reads -- Stephenie Meyer

6/12/10  -- This is my Good Reads review:
  When we first read Eclipse,my teenage daughter and I agreed that we wished we knew more about Bree.  Thanks, Stephenie, for taking care of that.  Yes, Stephenie, in a way it was hard to read, knowing that "it doesn't end well for her," but the story satisfied many of those wonderings we'd experienced concerning Bree.
     Just as Riley started leading the "newborns" to battle against the Cullens I paused to reread that portion of  Eclipse.  Since it had been awhile since the last time I'd read it, I think the memory-refreshing  helped, and would recommend that strategy. 
     Now that I'm done, I'll let my daughter have the book and I'll be interested in what she has to say about it.  I must get her on goodreads.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Summer Books -- Patricia C. Wrede

Summer Books -- Patricia C. Wrede

I just finished reading Thirteenth Child by Wrede.  It was a fun read.  Imagine the United States in the 1800's with settlers braving the unknown  and known dangers of leaving civilization.  Now add magic as an everyday part of life, change the name of the nation to Columbia (as in "Columbia the Gem of the Ocean"), and add to the dangers our pioneers faced creatures such as mammoths and saber-toothed cats, and dragons and other magical creatures that threatened crops and livestock and human lives.  Go along with the main characters -- a girl who is a thirteenth child (thought by most of her relatives to be extremely unlucky), and her twin, the seventh son of a seventh son -- (thought to be the most powerful and lucky of magicians) as they move with their family to a town barely  inside the confines of civilization. 

I've read Patricia's Wredes Dealing with Dragons series, too, a while back, and enjoyed it very much. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Math Problems?

If math is a struggle for you, you might want to look for the books written by actress and mathematician Danica McKellar.  I don't especially like titles, but the concept is great.  Here's what McKellar herself says about her books.

I know, I know, I'm not a math teacher,  but I love fun books that really help kids learn what they need to learn anyway!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Look for the Really Good Books

"You eat canned tuna fish and you absorb protein. Then, if you're lucky, someone gives you Dover Sole and you experience nourishment. It's the same with books."
— Lois Lowry

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Genre That's New to Me

-- today's teens embracing 19th-century technologies

Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan and  soon Behemoth, coming out in October 2010

See also

How You Use Commas Makes a Difference! -- A Big Difference!

Use a comma to set off a name when you are talking to that person.  For example,

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Free AudioBooks

You might want to check out this site:

Summer Books -- Scott Westerfeld

     I'm reading Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, the author of The Uglies series.  This fantasy/adventure, based very loosely on real history, takes place on a variation of our world at the time of the beginning of World War I.  In this story, Darwin has discovered not only evolution, but has also discovered DNA and how to manipulate it to create fabricated beasts to take the place of polluting machinery.  England and some European countries have built their military as well as industrial might with these creatures. Germany and its allies have, on the other hand, rejected Darwin and focused on created advanced machinery, including huge walking machines of war. 

  The main characters are a girl masquerading as a boy so she can join the British military, and the young prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire whose parents have been murdered, and who must keep on the run to avoid the same fate. 

    I'm enjoying the story and the illustrations.  Here are some examples of the illustrations for this 428 page book.

Summer Books -- Jessica Day George

Here is another review by Ms. Staheli:

06/01 LuAnn Staheli gave 5 stars to: Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
bookshelves: middle-grade
status: Read in May, 2010

Despite the fact I wasn’t familiar with the fairytale used as a basis for Princess of the Midnight Ball, I loved that book and have already recommended it to many of my students. This time, youngest sister, Princess Poppy, is back in a tale of her own that is woven into the more familiar Cinderella story which made for a delightful read.

It is no wonder that Princess Poppy doesn’t want to dance with the many potential suitors she meets in the royal exchange program her father and some neighboring kings have devised, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t interested in the handsome prince who promises her friendship . . . and perhaps more. But when the penniless servant Eleanora enters the picture, Poppy must unravel where the other girl gets those fine gowns she wears when she is somehow invited to the ball.

Princess of Glass speaks to the romantic in us all, and I know it will be a favorite with my 7th grade girls next year as well.

Summer Books -- Richard Peck

This is a review on Goodreads from another teacher in Utah Valley.  Because I have enjoyed Richard Peck's other books about Grandma Dowdel so much (A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder), I very much want to read this one. 

06/01 LuAnn Staheli gave 5 stars to: A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
bookshelves: christmas, middle-grade
status: Read in May, 2010

Watch out readers—Grandma Dowdel is back, and her feisty spirit and creative way of dealing with trouble makers hasn’t gotten old, even though Grandma herself has.

In a story told through the eyes of 12-year-old Bob, the son of the new preacher and his family just moved to town, readers will enjoy yet another series of tales set in 1958 Southern Indiana.

Bob and his parents have plenty of trouble of their own, without adding Grandma Dowdel to the mix. Bob is harassed by a bunch of bullies; his older sister, Phyllis, is obsessed with Elvis, or anyone who might remind her of the King; and his younger sister, Ruth Ann, isn’t quite sure she still believes in Santa Claus, despite Grandma Dowdel’s efforts to offer proof to the contrary.

Like A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder, this story will make you laugh, it may make you cry, and it will definitely touch your heart. This one will be a great read aloud for teachers to share with their students and parents will want copies for their own children as well.