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Feliz Navidad! A Christmas Tree for Book Lovers!

This Christmas tree made from books is in the Biblioteca Gertrudis Bocanegra, a public library in Pátzcuaro, Michoacan, México. The library is located in Plaza Chica, officially known as Plaza Bocanegra. The library occupies a 16th-century the building that was a San Agustin church. It was built in 1574 and converted into a library in 1936. The mural in the background was created by Juan O’Gorman. It depicts Michoacán’s history beginning with the pre-Hispanic era and ending with the 1910 revolution. I visited this library when I lived in Pátzcuaro, and the mural is incredible. The building is located on a plaza with numerous small shops (tiendas) and a very large outdoor market (mercado). The plaza is always bustling with pedestrians, autos, taxis and public transportation vans (combis).

Thanks to Rick M. of Michoacán who granted permission to display his photograph.

Below is a picture of the exterior of the building.

Credit for this photo belongs to Wiper México, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Read a Book, Help a Cowboy: Support the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund with Shanna Hatfield #RABHAC #JCCF #rodeoromance @ShannaHatfield

Ever wonder what happens to a rodeo cowboy who is injured? It’s not like he has a boss and goes on disability for a work related injury. Author Shanna Hatfield did some research and discovered that Justin Boots in partnership with some professional rodeo associations created a fund to help. This post gives you a way to help while reading! What could be better? Between October 1 until December 24, she will donate 10% of her sales to the fund. If you are a social media fan, you can read this post to learn more about a special online event, but it is not necessary to participate in that. My thanks to Carla at for sharing the word!


I have enjoyed the Braxton Campus Mystery Series by James J. Cudney. The first book in the series, Academic Curveball is now free and available for a variety of e-readers/platforms. The post, available through this link, also includes an excerpt so you can sample it right now. Enjoy!

The Trouble with Reading (Part II)—Reading to Learn

I recently had some eye-opening experiences regarding reading that I want to share. I love to read, have a reading specialist credential, and am a retired educator of 34 years. I also love to learn, and I did just that this week in reading two different books. I gained a new appreciation of the struggles some readers have with reading. If you want to read Part I of The Trouble with Reading which deals with dyslexia, click here.

The other book I read that was a learning experience was a printed copy of a nonfiction book I purchased to read with my book club. It is a well-researched book that focuses on a part of my country’s history. Reading it was a great reminder of the differences in reading a fiction and a nonfiction work. “Work” is an appropriate word here, because of the extensive research effort of the author and the extra time and focus the reader needs to devote to reading the book. There are so many historical figures that play into the book along with settings of note. It is hard, but important, to keep track of them all. It is a very good and well written book and appropriate for book club discussion. I had to schedule reading it into my day so that I finished it by the time of our meeting. In other words, reading it was a chore; to do it justice, I took extensive notes and found the process tiring. Also, it did not focus on a subject that is my primary strength which makes the book intrinsically less interesting and more difficult to read. I brought less background knowledge to the table.

The book was not entertaining, but I am glad I read it. Although nonfiction varies widely, in general it is not my favorite genre. As all teachers should know, I was reminded that nonfiction, which is the foundation of most subject area texts, requires a different set of reading skills and those should be explicitly taught after students master the general reading process. Early elementary focuses on “learning to read” and grades above that should focus on “reading to learn.” Some middle and high school teachers believe that students leave elementary school with the skills they need for content area reading. This knowledge, however, is developmental; what is needed to process a middle grade text is not sufficient for comprehension of a high school text. Unfortunately, many students do not leave elementary school reading on grade level, making the gap even larger. To some degree, all teachers must be reading teachers.

The Trouble with Reading (Part I)–Learning to Read

I recently had some eye-opening experiences regarding reading that I want to share. I love to read, have a reading specialist credential, and am a retired educator of 34 years. I also love to learn, and I did just that this week in reading two different books. I gained a new appreciation of the struggles some readers have with reading.

Although we often think of dyslexia as letter reversals, it is actually a problem that is much wider than that one symptom. Dyslexia is an impaired ability to read and is not correlated with IQ. It can manifest itself in many ways. I don’t have dyslexia, but an Advance Reader Copy I read this week made me feel like I do. Anytime certain pairs of letters should have been present on the page, they were omitted. Here are some examples of the defective text along with what should have appeared on the page.

stu ed-full (stuffed full)
e fat one (The fat one)
on re (on fire)
e notes owed (The notes flowed)
“at’s a rst.” (“That’s a first.”)
BUT MY FAVORITE was a character named “Cli.” It seemed like an unusual name; about half way through the book, I started laughing at myself. I applied the missing letter pattern and discovered that the character is probably named “Cliff.”

The missing letters were: th, ff, fl, fi. Spacing was not always consistent with missing letters. Without context and my understanding of the importance of context, I would have been totally lost. Being able to pick up the pattern was also important. As it was, I had to make myself finish reading the book for the purpose of reviewing, but the experience was less than enjoyable and quite tiring. I put myself in the place of readers who have reading difficulties—letter reversals, words moving across the page, etc. I have renewed sympathy for their struggle. Professionally there are still arguments over causes and remedies, but being given more time to process text and learning coping strategies are helpful to many readers. Those who find reading “natural” and easy can remind themselves that we all have strengths and be thankful that reading is so accessible for them while being supportive and understanding of those for whom reading is a fight for meaning.

Let me assure you that Advance Reader Copies rarely have that many problems and that reviewers are warned that these ebooks have not always undergone the final editing process when they are presented to reviewers. The published book should be and usually is free from errors.

Check back in tomorrow for my reflections on a different type of difficulty I experienced with the other book.

Sleigh Bell Tower – Murder at the Campus Holiday Gala (Braxton Campus Mystery #8) by James J. Cudney

James J. Cudney has just revealed the cover for his latest installment in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series and it is Christmas themed! I’ll show the cover which is so cute, but you really need to go to his post and read an except from the book. The passage quotes Nana D, the main character’s sassy grandmother, who is my favorite character.

Free Kindle book–Academic Curveball by James J. Cudney

I have included a link to author Cudney’s blog post about the first book in his 7 book cozy mystery series. The Braxton Campus Mystery Series is one I have enjoyed and reviewed before. Now he is offering a free download of the first book in the series. This is a great way to try out the series. I think you will like it and want more!

James J. Cudney’s books on sale!!! Cozy mysteries and a thriller.

I have enjoyed all the cozy mysteries in Cudney’s Braxton Campus Mystery Series and want to share information about the great prices available for a limited time for different books in the series. To see his blog post about this sale and his works, follow this link. (There is also a thriller on sale, but I have not read it.)


Top Ten Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Blogging friend, retired teacher/librarian, and book reviewer Carla has chosen out some of her favorite quotes from children’s books to share. I love them all. There is such wisdom in children’s literature. I challenge all education administrators to apply the quote from The Phantom Tollbooth in all of their dealings teachers and students. We do, in fact, learn from our mistakes!

Carla Loves To Read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a new theme is suggested for bloggers to participate in. This week’s prompt is Top Ten Opening Lines. I do not have any idea or memory of opening lines except for Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Instead, after reading Carol’s list at The Reading Ladies, I went with Favourite Book Quotes, specifically Favourite Children’s Book Quotes. I had a real hard time limiting this to ten, but here is what I ended up with.

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Sprichst du Deutsch? Do you speak German?

Academic Curveball – Es trifft einen immer anders, als man denkt: Auf Deutsch (German Edition)

If you speak German, this is a great chance to get a start on this cozy mystery series translated into German. 5/15/20-5/19/20 for only $.99. I can’t vouch for the translator as I had to look up how to say “Do You Speak German?” but I can attest to the fun and mystery factors in Academic Curveball which has also been translated into Spanish.

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The German translation of the debut book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Academic Curveball, is available as a .99 Kindle download from 5/15 thru 5/19. This book won a Best Fiction award and was the #1 downloaded Kindle book in the highest possible category in February 2019 during the initial promotion. There are now 6 books available in the series, so why not start reading them by getting this one for FREE!

Download Kindle German Translation for .99 via Amazon

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