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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Miss Alaineus on Stage

This afternoon six third graders delighted their peers, their principal, their librarians (public and school), and parents with an adaptation of Debra Frasier's Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster. Scene changes between the classroom, Sage's bedroom, the grocery store, and the museum were signaled by the lights on and off. The periphery sentences from the book (Mrs. Page's extra credit assignment for her class in which they could write 26 sentences using at least three words from each alphabet letter in the corresponding sentence) were periodically read aloud by the actors and then displayed on a chart. They even created their own Vocabulary Parade costumes to wear for the play's/book's last scene. Their reading teacher's version of the script worked wonderfully.

The most incredible thing was perhaps the presence of author and illustrator Debra Frasier in the audience. She carefully listened to this version of her story and frequently photographed the scenes. Afterward, she commented on their amazing props, their organization, the improvised bed (two chairs) used by Sage when she was sick, the cell phone (different from the corded phone used in the book), and the connection between the book and a time when her own daughter figured out there was not a person named Miss Alaineus.

Interaction with vocabulary and text is powerful for readers, and the six weeks theses readers spent learning lines, pronouncing words new to them, and practicing for the performance solidified an obvious confidence in them. Being able to perform for the book's author was something they will always remember.

Each of the actors was glad to have a photograph taken with Debra and receive a signed copy of the book!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Doughnuts

Thanks to David, I spent time this afternoon viewing "The Doughnuts" on YouTube. Each of the three segments follows the story line well, and the characters look like I expected. With the knowledge that Robert McCloskey would be one of the doughnut-eaters. I looked carefully for the icon I remember from the 1964 Weston Woods interview with him. I think I spotted him!

Students will love watching these clips and reliving the words from Homer Price. I appreciate the connections and opportunities gained from sharing thoughts in this blog.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Look to the Stars

Sometimes I marvel at my good fortune in friends. When a thoughtful friend brings me a book like Mary Lyn Ray's Stars, I feel even more fortunate, especially since it will not be officially released until October. My connection to the book goes back to the latest issue of The Horn Book, the cover of which features Marla Frazee's artwork of three children sitting within a tree trunk (think Muir Woods National Monument). One is reading, two are listening, and a basket of treats sits in the middle of them. All around and on the tree are tiny green stars.

In Stars, the reader gets advice. "If you ever lose your star, you can draw another. Or you can find one. There are places. Moss where you might see fairies is made of green stars." Those words are paired with that starry green illustration, and it looks even more lovely on a full page than on a magazine cover. Some advice takes me back to my childhood: "Pin a star on your shirt and you can be sheriff. Put a star on a stick and you've made a wand." The ponytailed character demonstrating this advice is wearing red cowgirl boots, just like I wished I could have.

I love the embossed stars on the cover. I love thinking about stars gathered in a basket. I love the contrasts between starry days and not-so-shiny days. I love the images of stars as strawberry or pumpkin blossoms or dandelion fluff. Most of all I love the last pages where people are huddled together on the horizon, watching stars and fireworks.

Put this book on your list of ones to get for someone you love. I feel loved just holding it.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Book Talk Around the Table

Heard around my table yesterday:
  • Have you read (insert countless titles here)?
  • How can we convince administrators and parents of the importance of school librarians?
  • What is the best title for a library media specialist/school librarian/teacher librarian?
  • What if we included a "did you know?" fact about the influence of school librarins each week on the Children's Literature Network website?
  • Imagine how schools would look if inquiry learning were the model for instruction.
  • What topic would interest you most if you were involved in an inquiry experience?
  • How do books like (insert titles here) even get published?
  • Do you think there was a possible reason why the glaring error David pointed out in Robert McCloskey's "The Case of the Sensational Scent" in Homer Price was included?
  • Why do books get published with questionable content for younger and younger readers?
  • Did you read the article in (insert title here) about literacy
It felt good to spend a few hours with others in various positions of the literacy community, talking about important issues and seeking ways to positively impact young people's love of books and information.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Complementary Books

My teaching partner loved Okay for Now as much as me. We were amazed by the compassion and persistence shown by our fellow (though fictional) librarian, Mr. Powell. We did not want the book to end. We wanted to keep it and read it again (which I did...and then bought my own copy). And she chose the perfect book as one of my birthday gifts. It is The National Audubon Society Baby Elephant Folio: Audubon's Birds of America. In its 1 and 7/16" of binding, the hundreds of images lie in full color! What a convenient way to look at the Audubon images (presented in Okay for Now in black and white)! I love it - and the dark chocolate cupcakes baked by her husband, the Peanuts Moleskine (which we now know how to pronounce correctly), the two Carol's Cookies, and the very cool Williams Sonoma sponges (that look like cream wafer cookies in their dehydrated state). Whenever I give Okay for Now, I will definitely give this complementary book as well.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fan Club

A mystery package arrived at my house today from the Extended Shelf Life Fan Club. It was the first I had heard about the group, and in my anticipation, I broke one of my own rules and not only opened the mailing envelope but also the package inside it wrapped in "Happy Birthday" paper. I never open a gift prior to my actual birthday.

Imagine my elation when I discovered The Story of May, that out-of-print picture book I have longed to have for many years. I have held it in my hands, read it, had my youngest take a photo of it in my hands, looked through it, and reread it. As I journey through the story and illustrations, I remember the many things I love about this book: little May's guidance from her mother, April, and Aunt June, the way she loves to welcome the birds and sprinkle flower blossoms, Uncle July's direction of insect and bird songs, the eventual meeting of her father, December (who has cocoa for her), and the personified kite who is her cousin March. Many of the things I love and value in life are in this book: hospitality, service, appreciation of nature, beauty of nature, and the change of seasons. The smile on my face makes my cheeks rise and hour after opening it!

My husband has already confirmed it was not him who sent the gift. The boys were as surprised as I was! They looked at the postmark to discover the sender. No such luck. I am grateful, dear Fan Club, for this most cherished book in "the loveliest month of all." Thank you.

The character months in the story "stay where they belong. And because the earth is round and always turning, we visit each of the months every year, year after year, the way one does with family, or dear old friends."


Monday, May 23, 2011

Baby Shower Books

On Saturday I read books to a sweet baby at a shower for her soon-to-be cousin. We read Guess How Much I Love You and a sturdy board book called Bedtime. She was most intrigued, however, with the book we used as the guest book: Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox. Each baby was interesting, and her fingers almost perfectly matched those painted by Helen Oxenbury. Her favorite books, according to her dad, are the ones I hoped she would love: Here Are My Hands, Each Peach Pear Plum (which everyone else at the shower began to recite), and My Heart is Like a Zoo.

Book people think alike, of course, so when I told my friend Kim I was going to a shower, she did not ask, "What are you giving the mom and baby?" She asked, "What books did you get for them?" This new baby received Here Are My Hands, Each Peach Pear Plum, The Quiet Book, On the Day You Were Born Photo Journal (signed by Debra), Move!, and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?. When I got home, an envelope containing signed book plates for Denise Fleming's Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy and Shout! were waiting. Now I have two books ready for when the infant arrives in a month.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Word of the Week Books

Yesterday I started the day with the reflection of spring trees on the west side of Snail Lake. My school day was filled with more readings of Robert McCloskey's books and completing the words and books on my word of the week book list.

Each Monday morning, the principal shares the word of the week with students via morning announcements and reads aloud the passage from the book from which it was taken. When selecting those words and books, I include picture books, chapter books, nonfiction books, and poetry books. I match books and themes to the seasons and holidays.

Next year's words range from principal in Sharon Creech's A Fine, Fine School to gust in Douglas Florian's poem "What I Hate About Autumn" in Autumnblings to gloat in Linda Ashman's To the Beach. I love choosing the books and thinking through how children and teachers might use these words. I love the consideration (from Margie Palatini's Gorgonzola: A Very Stinkysaurus) given to them by my principal throughout the week as he uses them in sentences and challenges kids to do the same.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Back to 1943

While the first graders have enjoyed One Morning in Maine this week (reaching up to wiggle any potential loose teeth when Sal wiggles hers), children in the other grades have loved stories from Robert McCloskey's Homer Price. First published in 1943, it contains six stories about Homer and his experiences in the town of Centerburg, each of which can be enjoyed on its own.

Since my childhood, I have been enamored with "The Doughnuts." Homer's Uncle Ulysses runs an "up and coming lunch room" and loves all the time-saving devices he can buy: automatic toasters, automatic coffee makers, automatic dish washers, and of course, the automatic doughnut maker. When Homer is left to supervise the lunch room, a kind, rich lady arrives and mixes up a batch of doughnuts using her favorite receipt. The batch is a bit too big, however, and thousands, instead of dozens, of doughnuts are cooked. To make matters worse - and more interesting - the lady's diamond bracelet is lost, presumably cooked in the doughnuts!

It has been 36 years since my teacher first read "The Doughnuts" aloud, and I am pleased to note the story still holds readers' attention and generates the same reactions I remember. That double-page spread with the illustration of piles and piles of doughnuts drew reactions ranging from "I wish I could have a doughnut" to "How could he draw all of that?" They loved the idea of Mr. Gabby, the sandwich advertiser, walking around between signs to sell the doughnuts at a 1943 prices of two for five cents. They loved how there were more doughnuts than there were people in Centerburg!

I love reading aloud something old to a new crowd. As they left the story steps, many asked, "Is this still in print?" Yes, I told them. "Good. I want to find it at the public library this summer!"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Noticing Nature

Katherine Hannigan interacted with fourth graders this morning. Masterfully, she wove her history into her writing process and illustrated how sometimes the things she writes have no connection to what she knows (like the characters of Ida B. or Delly Pattison). Other times, experiences and observations from real life blend into her stories seamlessly. Her own garden, for example, has apple trees, just as Ida B. possessed. She has seen the deer drink from the lake (while floating in her kayak) and heard the carp splash, just as Delly and Clarice did in True (...Sort of).

Without a keen sense of observation, attention to detail, and interest in natural things, so much of life is missed. Students were mesmerized by Katherine's discovery of a baby fly catcher, found on a walk and nursed to maturity. She described calling to it, "Bird!" The bird would respond with its song. Soon, the enchanted children were softly calling "Bird!" along with her as the story progressed. Their connection to it was as intense as if they had been with her in the woods.

Tonight my youngest son rushed in from watering plants, telling me there was something I would love to photograph for my blog. A tiny frog, looking almost like a rock, perched atop the spigot.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Morning in the Library

The magic of Robert McCloskey's One Morning in Maine enchanted first and second graders this morning. They loved Sal's secret wish for a chocolate ice cream cone, seeing her slip on the rock by the seal (and still laughing), and imagining loons, clams, fish hawks, gulls, and seals losing teeth and making wishes.

Most of all though, they loved thinking of the differences between Sal's life and theirs. And when I asked if they could think of another book featuring Sal, eager hands raised to announce Blueberries for Sal.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Twilight in the Library

Reluctantly, my three sons joined me in our library this evening to begin Okay for Now. I prefaced the reading with a few reminders of how Holling Hoodhood's father treated him. I confessed that after the first six pages, I almost did not want to read another page of the book.

After reading those six pages aloud to them, I stopped and looked at their somber faces, imagining a father as cruel and sarcastic as Mr. Swieteck. They listened intently as they pictured The Dump, Doug Swieteck's new house in Marysville, New York, as they pictured the marble steps of the public library. When Doug discovered "The Arctic Tern, Plate CCL" in the library's upstairs loft, we looked back again to the reproduction of Audubon's work.

The magic of reading aloud is never lost, even to high school and college students, thank goodness. As I read in the twilight, they were drawn in to the story, just as I was. We will spend evenings in the next weeks together in our library and in Marysville.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

They Think of Everything

Anne Ylvisaker read from and signed copies of The Luck of the Buttons this afternoon at The Red Balloon Bookshop. The celebratory cake displayed the book cover image and was covered with real buttons and buttons in icing along its edges. On the table where Anne signed books, there was a pot of artificial grass in which a tombstone similar to the one that inspired her main character's name (Tugs Button, not Thos. Britton). In her introduction of Anne, co-owner Carol talked about the blue Brownie camera she had as a girl. In every way, the staff thought of all the best things to make it a special day for Anne.

And it extended to me as well. Waiting for me at the desk were the copies of Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt and Libraries of Minnesota (more on that tomorrow) I had requested. Another staff person handed me a list of potential storytellers for upcoming Family Reading Nights. One more person said I could send an email message to get their contact information. The co-owner shared her stories of the Julie Andrews visit on Thursday night. A manager filled out the personalization slips for my copies of Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships. How I love going to a bookshop where they think of everything.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Not Revising?

As students discussed Gloria Rand's revisions to A Pen Pal for Max this week, they were interested in the changes her editor suggested and how those were incorporated into the final manuscript. From name and word adjustments to four title changes to ideas about how to make the story better for young readers, students' curiosity was piqued.

One person raised an important question. Have there been any books when the editor suggested no changes? There was silence as the children and I contemplated that. What about that bull book you read to us last year? asked that same person. Do you mean The Story of Ferdinand? Yes, that's the one. That book could not have needed any revisions!

I love the insights children give. Their perspectives give me such insights!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pen Pals

As a young girl, I craved a pen pal from a faraway place. I wrote letters, of course, and received answers from cousins, aunts, and friends. I responded promptly in hopes of getting another envelope in the mail.

This week I am reading A Pen Pal for Max by Gloria Rand to the upper grades. They are so engrossed in the idea that a young boy could gain a pen pal from another country! As Gloria has entrusted me with all the correspondence and drafts from the book, they love listening to the ways the text changed in the various revisions. When I finished with one class today, we talked about how children do not have pen pals as often as when I was young. One enthusiastic girl expounded the benefits of pen pals for her classmates, saying how much better it was to get mail than email. You can even get pictures drawn by the other person, she told us! Letter writing might carry over to the summer months for these readers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Singing on the Story Steps

First and second graders listened to Linda Ashman's To the Beach today on the story steps. There were groans as each family member's forgotten item was retrieved from the house and extra groans when they turned around due to a storm. They especially loved Nadine Bernard Westcott's artwork. Most amazing was the aerial view of the family vehicle with all the gear piled atop it!

I brought many of the illustrator's other books to the story steps with me, and they were gone in a snap: The Eensy-Weensy Spider, There Once Was a Man Named Michael Finnegan, The Lady With the Alligator Purse, and Peanut Butter and Jelly (my sons' favorite when they were young). The most popular book though was Miss Mary Mack. When I held it up, children started spontaneously singing. They left the story steps in tune:

Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons,
All down her back, back, back.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What To Do?

I spent today doing things I especially love: reading and quilting. The quilt has been evolving for a year now...an experiment of patterns and green fabric combinations. The borders are finally attached, the backing is sewn together, and quilting designs are moving through my mind.

The reading has not been as pleasurable as usual, and I am always uncertain about what to do when this happens. Our state has a youth reading award, and each year twelve books are nominated to receive it. Some I have read, and some are titles we never ordered. So, I began reading two of those "new" to me today...and was disappointed. One has a narrator who is seven but sounds like she is seventeen. The other has a interesting plot, but the characters do and say some inappropriate things (which makes me think of movies with added curse words for which there seems to be no purpose other than shock value).

Each fall I do a book talk about these nominees for the fifth graders and encourage them to read all twelve. To vote, they only need to read three, but we talk about what a better understanding of the voting process a reader gets when all have been read. So, now I struggle with how to promote books I do not feel are all that great.

To remind myself of what good books feel like, I started rereading The Wednesday Wars for the fifth time! As one of my favorite book characters (Isola Pribby in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) said, "Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Have You Read? #16

It was about this time two years ago that I met Bob Raczka. He came to town to present a workshop (entitled ARTiculate) with four other authors/illustrators and me at the International Reading Association convention. Every one of his books is in our library collection, and many are in my home library. The latest is incredible!

Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word came out this year, and it has me thinking constantly. Bob's introduction tells of his love for playing with words. He discovered single-word poems and was hooked. The idea sounds simple enough. Take a single word, form words from the letters in that word, and create a poem with them. The poems in Bob's book are about lemonade, bleachers, moonlight, breakfast, friends, chocolate, and so many more interesting words. On one side of the page, the letters/words are arranged in an interesting design. On the other side, the poem is written more as we would usually read one. Take the poem "constellation" as an example.

constellation

a
silent
lion
tells
an
ancient
tale

Now, wherever I walk or run, whenever I have some free moments, I am thinking of single-word poems. Many words seems like they will work well (perhaps just because they are about something I like), but then I get stuck with the word possibilities. Blueberries. Autumn. Photograph. None worked as I had hoped. Sitting at my table tonight, I composed this:

tablecloth

clothe
the
table
to
eat

Start thinking. It is truly engaging for the mind! Kids will love this.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bread and Jam and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last night my seven-year-old neighbor came over with her friend (who happens to go to my school). I invited them to come inside and asked if they'd like cookies. Oh, yes, they told me, giggling. Is there anything you'd like to show your friend in my house? I asked my young neighbor girl. The library, she told me. We took the plate of cookies and two napkins to the library and sat down on the rug.

Look! Two for me, and two for you, said her friend. They immediately started munching. We were sitting by the H-L shelf of picture books, and I reached for Russell Hoban's Bread and Jam for Frances, another of my all-time favorites. What are they? asked her friend about Frances and her family. Badgers, of course, I told them. Badgers can talk? she asked. Most certainly they can in books.

Chocolate chips melted on the corners of their mouths as I read (and sang, when Frances sings about her food). They were incredulous at the lunch spread laid out by Frances's friend Albert: a cream cheese-cucumber-and-tomato sandwich, a bunch of grapes, a tangerine, a pickle, a hard-boiled egg with its own cardboard salt shaker, a bottle of milk, and a custard cup with a napkin underneath to look like a tablecloth.

Each time Frances got bread and jam instead of the family's meal, the two girls giggled. Soon, they were singing with me (and somehow, we managed to sing the same tune to songs without music!), culminating with soft voices when Frances whisper-sings: "What I am/Is tired of jam." We finished the rest of the book as a three-person chorus, their voices full of perfect expression, chocolate smudges on their faces.

When we walked back to my neighbor's house, her friend excitedly told her mom, "I was at my library teacher's house!"

Friday, May 6, 2011

I Wonder

I wonder what schools would be like if all teachers guided children through the inquiry learning experience. Would they be places where students could seek answers to their questions and share it in the best ways they know? Would teachers and students learn together about topics like the wondering fourth graders at my school have have done with their teacher and me? Would teachers be amazed at students' abilities to find information and share it with their classmates?

Pride bubbled from me and their classmates this week as students shared what they learned. They gave each other high-fives after completed presentations. They displayed incredible vocal abilities when reading comic strips about black holes and World War I. They composed lyrics to familiar tunes to share information (e.g. "Eye of the Panda" to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger").

What amazed their classroom teacher and our principal the most was that we did not need to structure lessons differently for anyone in the class. Inquiry learning differentiates easily by allowing students to choose what they want to know and what sources will help them.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Approaching Summer

Amidst reading aloud Holly Keller's Farfallina and Marcel today, my teaching partner and I worked on summer reading lists. Just the other day, a fourth grader asked me if theirs was finished yet. Not quite, I told her. Why? Well, I just love to read the lists, she answered. With an older brother and younger sister, she was glad their house would have three lists.

We are nearing the end of each list. The fifth grade list had room for one more title, so I added the title I like to include every year on their: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg (which, by the way, will have an incredible release in the fall with fourteen authors' versions of the stories, including Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg). The fourth grade needs a few more nonfiction titles, one of which will be David Aguilar's Super Stars. Poetry and nonfiction need to be added to the third grade list. Second grade needs a few more early chapter books; we added Marion Dane Bauer's The Golden Ghost as one of those. For first graders, we need to add more nonfiction also. The kindergarten list is almost done; they love Eric Kimmel's Anansi stories, so we added Anansi and the Magic Stick.

If we complete them tomorrow, we can step away for a few days before proof-reading. And in a few weeks, we will pass them to children and post them on our website, ready for the approaching summer.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Especially for You

Jerry Pinkney signed copies of his 2010 Caldecott Medal book The Lion and the Mouse at this afternoon's Naomi C. Chase Lecture in Children's Literature.

Listening to him speak about the building blocks of his life and career gave me many things to share with students when I also share one of his books. He sketched between selling newspapers at age 12 in Philadelphia. "My private space was the size of the sketchbook," he said of growing up as one of six kids in a five-room house. He listened to stories told by his family and neighbors who migrated from the south to their neighborhood. Going to the barbershop for a haircut meant listening to men share stories, language, and Uncle Remus stories. What he needs and what feeds him are the 3,000+ books in his personal library collection. John Henry was the story he would have wanted to do if ever given a choice by his editor.

It is always a gift to spend an hour in the company of others who love children's literature as much as I do and especially nice to hear about the important things that shape the literature I love to share.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

In the Middle of It

I love being in a valley, in the middle of two peaks. I really love being in the middle of a good book...where I am tonight.

Last evening my son brought home Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt from the library. Immediately, I set down My Spiritual Journey by the Dalai Lama and started to read. After five pages, I was not sure I wanted to continue. I have looked forward to reading this book for weeks. But the beginning was so harsh.

Fast forward a few hundred pages. I will most certainly stay awake until I finish tonight. It is that good.

Tomorrow I plan to be at the end of it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Offerings

It feels more like November 1st than May Day here, but the rhubarb leaves have not noticed, thank goodness! Seeing their leaves uncurl and the pinkish stalks soar toward the light is always a sign of spring - and a reminder of strawberry rhubarb pie and rhubarb bread.

A few new books have been relocated from my "to read" pile and shared with other readers: Katherine Hannigan's True...Sort Of (released on April 26th) and Sheila O'Connor's Sparrow Road (to be released May 12th).

In Delly (Delaware) Pattison, a tiny girl with a raspy voice who finds trouble and fun times easily, Katherine Hannigan has created a friend anyone would be glad to have. Even though Officer Verena Tibbetts knows her well (for skipping school and eating chocolate doughnuts, for instance), Delly also loves making up words (mysturiosity, surpresent, holiDelly, refreezerated) and words to represent swear words (shikes, chizzle, bawlgrammit). When her anticipated surpresent arrives in town, Delly is determined to know this new person named Ferris Boyd (along with her sometimes annoying little brother RB) even though the oddities that surround her. Meanwhile, Brud Kinney plays basketball every weekend with a phenomenal new kid, unaware that he is really she - Ferris Boyd. As their lives become intertwined, Delly learns to tell the truth (sort of) and appreciate the struggles each person has in life. The difficulties in Ferris Boyd's life come to light through Delly's persistence, and despite the sadness, there is hope for positive change for all involved. I look forward to welcoming Katherine to our school in a few weeks to talk about the book with fourth graders.

Raine O'Rourke is definitely not looking for trouble, but she finds herself one summer at Sparrow Road, an old mansion that houses artists during the summer months. Raine's mother accepted a position as the cook at Sparrow Road and suddenly, the two depart their familiar Milwaukee home for this strange place where talking is not allowed (except on Sundays) and where there is no newspaper, no TV, no radio, and no music at anytime. Why has her mother come here? Raine wonders. More importantly, how do people get through days without any speaking? On a tour from Diego, one of the friendly artists-in-residence, Raine discovers the attic and learns the place was once a home for orphans. She begins to write questions to and answers from an orphan named Lyman Chase, and their relationship in words and imaginings help her to deal with the real reason she has been relocated to this place: to meet the father she never knew. Sheila O'Connor has created a place I can see in my mind and surrounded Raine with loving people (like Diego, the vibrant Josie, sweet Lillian, and her own Grandpa Mac) who guide her to accept the person she comes to know as her dad.