teacher gift idea

If you’re flailing around desperately trying to think of a teacher gift, my advice is ALWAYS the same: a gift card. One from Amazon will let them buy books or, if needed, class supplies for next year (or a whole host of other things). One from Tim Horton’s is also, in my experience, always welcome.

BUT. If you have a little more time and you’re buying for a grade-school teacher, Last Day Blues is a fantastic book. I just loaned my copy to my son’s teacher, actually, and it’s being passed around all the other teachers in his primary school. Children also like it, too, so it’s a good end-of-year read-aloud (although my oldest is just turning seven, and he wasn’t hugely interested in it. By about third grade they start to get why the ending is funny.)

last day blues

There’s a beginning-of-school-year book that kind of goes with this one, and both my children found THAT one hilarious. Go figure. Maybe Last Day Blues is just a little more melancholy? Anyway, First Day Jitters is another excellent picture book.

first day jitters

If you search online, by the way, you can find a tonne of downloadable worksheets and activities based on those books. That might be part of the reason why teachers like them, actually. I imagine that comes in particularly handy at the end of the year, when most of the real work has been done but you need SOMETHING to keep the class busy while you assess individual students.

Obviously I’m not giving either of them to my son’s teacher this year, because if I were I wouldn’t be ruining the surprise by lending them to her. I let him choose, and he went with a copy of Mo Willem’s latest (and last) Elephant and Piggie book, The Thank You Book. (And a gift card. Teachers love gift cards.)

thank you book



books: beginning of June

How is it June already? It felt like we’d never get here, and now I have just under three weeks before my children finish school. I have 15,000 words to write in that time. (I mean, I can do some writing over the summer, thanks in part to day camp. But realistically, I have to finish my current project before then.

By the end of the month my days will have much, much more reading time. I’m looking forward to that.

In the meantime, a couple of things I’ve finished recently:

Title: Rage of Aquarius (Zodiac Chillers #1) rage of aquarius

Author: Carol Ellis

Back Cover: THEIR DARE CHILLED BECKY TO THE BONE…But she did the deed–and plunged to her death. Now her Aquarius birthday is swiftly approaching. One by one, her friends receive messages foretelling their doom…And one by one, they begin to die. Is Becky killing her friends–from the other side? Or are they being sent to join her?

Comments: This is less complete crazysauce than Twisted Taurus was, and more standard “this could be a Point Horror” fare. There’s an actual body count, though by about the third death I was LOLing. Sorry. It’s just the “falling from the top floor of the mall” (the first death, not counting Becky’s) was so perfectly mid-90s, and I never quite recovered. The story was still gripping enough that I had to finish, though. Sometimes a whole bunch of cliched teen deaths are just what you need, you know?

mercilessTitle: The Merciless

Author: Danielle Vega

Amazon Description: Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls…unless she wants to be next.

Comments: This really feels more like vintage YA horror from the late 80s/early 90s than it does like a current book. That’s not a criticism, but if you go into it expecting resolution or character development you’ll be disappointed; this is firmly in the realm of “horrifying revelation” rather than resolution.