Wednesday, September 27, 2017

September Meeting: Fact vs. Fiction

Bookshop is back! A big bookish welcome to our six returning members and our four new members! I'm super excited to read and discuss and create with you this year.

Since we didn't read a book prior to our first meeting, we spent much of the meeting chatting, eating, and getting (re)acquainted. To do so, we played Two Truths and A Lie where everyone said three things about themselves and the group could ask two questions before guessing which one wasn't true. Even though some members of the group have known each other for a long time, we all learned some pretty cool things (our "facts" are below with the lies italicized).

1. I love Taylor Swift.
2. I've never been to the Grand Canyon.
3. I like hugging people to death.

1. I'm allergic to marshmallows.
2. I'm allergic to peanut butter.
3. My mom is allergic to cats.

1. I've been in the Nutcracker for 4 years; this will be my 5th year.
2. I've been to Greece.
3. My hamster is semi-famous.

1. I went to see the total eclipse this summer.
2. I went to LA this summer.
3. I drank a cactus in the Grand Canyon.

1. I have a cool nickname.
2. Delaware is my favorite state.
3. I've been to Mexico City.

1. I played varsity basketball in college.
2. I've written three Curious George books.
3. I taught English in France for a year.

1. My family has two summer houses.
2. I live on Flint Street.
3. I eat tostadas 5 out of 7 days a week.

1. I have two dogs.
2. My sister is 16.
3. I've been to India.

1. I have blue eyes.
2. I'm British.
3. I like skateboarding.

1. I have a dog.
2. I'm from China.
3. My favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla.

1. I like peanuts.
2. I don't like music.
3. I like pistachios.

After that little icebreaker, we broke into groups of two to play Snap Judgment, which went along with our theme of discerning fact from fiction. I read out a statement and each pair had 3 minutes to use the internet to try to verify it. Some of the statements were easier than others, and we talked about which news sites online are credible (i.e. which aren't (i.e.

All in all, a fun, high-energy first meeting of the year! Our next meeting will be Monday, October 30, from 5:30-7:00pm. We are reading Ghost by Jason Reynolds, a book about a middle school boy who's running out of chances until he joins an elite track team and discovers that maybe he can turn his life around by running toward something instead of always running away. During our meeting, we will be using a really cool online website to design our own track shoes. See you next month!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June Meeting: Food Art

For our last meeting of the school year, we made book-inspired food art depicting scenes from one of the two book choices for this month, Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai and Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. Five of the six attendees chose to read Shooting Kabul and one chose to read Roller Girl so before we started our food activity, we shared brief summaries of each book, had a quick discussion about each, and watched a few clips of roller derby action since none of us could quite picture what a roller derby bout looked like.

After that, we got right to the fun stuff, using graham crackers, mini marshmallows, pretzel sticks, vanilla frosting, chocolate frosting, sprinkles, and M&Ms to create scenes from the books. Pictures of the process and the finished products are below.

The Process

Shooting Kabul Food Art

Mantu, Fadi's sister's favorite food

 The truck pulling away without Mariam

 Fadi's camera

Roller Girl Food Art

Roller derby rink #1

Roller derby rink #2

Roller derby rink #3

Bookshop will be taking a hiatus in July and August, but we'll be back in the fall! Don't forget to visit the us, reading blog over the summer to be a part of the Cambridge upper school reading community. You'll be entered to win awesome prizes every time you write a review of the great books you're reading!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May Meeting: Scribble Maps

We had a pretty small group at our May meeting, but all three Bookshoppers had positive things to say about our monthly book, The Wolf Keepers by Elise Broach. Most of them hadn't heard of John Muir and hadn't been to Yosemite National Park, so it was fun to learn a little bit about that part of the country. There was some disagreement on whether it would be "awesome" or "smelly" or live in a zoo, but everyone was in agreement that they would have kept Tyler and the mystery of the wolves a secret from their parents, just like Lizzie did. Hmmmmm...

Since there was such a cool map of Yosemite on the endpapers of the book, I thought we would do a little playing around with maps using the free online tool, Scribble Maps. This tool allows you to use Google Maps to search anywhere in the world, and then customize that location with your own icons, text, and pictures to the map to make it your own. Predictably, we went down a bit of a rabbit hole with this activity and instead of customizing maps, most Bookshoppers started looking up their houses and other random places they'd been to or want to visit. This led to finding places NONE of us would want to visit, which led to searching for the biggest and smallest cities/towns in the country. The coveted title of Smallest Town in America belongs to Buford, Wyoming with a population of 1. According to Scribble Maps, there really isn't much of anything there.

In any event, we were having too much fun exploring virtually to do much creation with Scribble Maps, but below are two simple examples (one created by a Bookshopper and one created by me).

Our last meeting of the 2016-2017 school year will be Monday, June 5th, from 5:30-7:00 at the Main Library. We had a tie when voting for the June book, so Bookshop participants have a choice between reading Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson or Shooting Kabul N. H. Senzai. Or both!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Meeting: LittleBits Robots

The Bookshoppers had high expectations for The Flinkwater Factor, and they appeared to agree that the actual book didn't quite meet them, which is too bad since it turns out that it's a series! The second book, The Forgetting Machine, just came out this past fall. The group consensus seemed to be that the book was "fine", but everyone wanted more details about the robots and less talk about kissing... On a positive note, none of us had guessed the big twist toward the end, and we all got to watch Carson read the last few chapters as it was revealed to him.

After pizza, catching up, and a brief chat about our favorite parts of the book, we turned our attention to creating our own robot creations using LittleBits and a bunch of other random materials (recycled boxes, cups, latex gloves, pipe cleaners, etc.). Everyone got right to work, a few with very specific ideas in mind of what they wanted their machines to be able to do and a few just exploring what's possible with LittleBits pieces. There are pictures below of the finished robots, but to really get a sense of the creative genius we tapped into on Monday night, watch the videos showcasing each robot and its abilities!

Stefan's Hand Spa


Gabriel's Destroyer and Isaac's Turtle Take 1


Carson's Robot


Avery's Hand Shaker No. 1


Christopher's Automatic Dieting Machine


Our next meeting will be Monday, May 1st, from 5:30-7:00 at the Main Library. We will be discussing The Wolf Keepers by Elise Broach.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March Meeting: Paper Telephone and FlockDraw

There was lots of energy and silliness at our March meeting as we discussed The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, not surprising for a book whose highlight for many Bookshoppers seemed to be the farting dragon...

After talking a little bit about what was based on fact and what was based on fiction, we set about getting our creative juices flowing with a short paper-based activity. Since the book we read was "illuminated" with drawings in the style of medieval texts, I thought it would be fun to try our hand at illuminating our own short stories collaboratively through the game, Paper Telephone. Most Bookshoppers had heard of this activity before: it involves each participant writing down a short descriptive sentence and then passing it to the left for the next person to illustrate. That person then folds over the sentence so the next person they pass to can only see the image. This continues, alternating between writing and drawing, until the paper has returned to the person who started the story. Our results were confusing and, at times, vaguely disturbing, but mostly hilarious. They are displayed below.

After sharing our illuminated stories, we transitioned to a similar activity using the free online tool, FlockDraw, which allows you to draw together on the same canvas from different computers. The drawing tools are very simple, but the Bookshoppers had a blast jumping back and forth between each other's online canvases writing messages to each other, sabotaging each other's drawings, and otherwise wreaking good-natured havoc. Unfortunately, the temptation to erase everything every few minutes was too great, so there are no finished pieces to share, but we might need to revisit this tool for a future project because it was a big hit!

Our next meeting will be Monday, April 3, from 5:30-7:00 at the Main Library. We will be discussing The Flinkwater Factor by Pete Hautman.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February Meeting: Stupeflix Book Trailers

Everyone seemed to enjoy reading Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass. The characters were interesting and funny, and the mystery discovered inside the box at the end was both surprising and satisfying. A couple Bookshoppers even joked that they want to start collecting rocks like Jeremy's dad had.

After giving Carson, our new member, a brief summary of the book and watching the author's book trailer, Emily's Stupeflix book trailer, AND the trailer for the 2011 movie adaptation, we were ready to explore the free online video creator, Stupeflix. We've used Animoto to make book trailers in the past, but the search function within Stupeflix made it a little bit easier to restrict our videos to include only images with the correct Creative Commons license for reuse.

We used the book as a jumping off point for some very interesting book trailers that may or may not have taken creative liberties with certain plot points and characters... Consider yourself warned. Enjoy!







Our next meeting will be on Monday, March 6, from 5:30-7:00 at the Main Library. We will be reading and discussing The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January Meeting: Pixton Comics

Although the group didn't love this month's book, Secret Hero Society: Study Hall of Justice, we did have a lot of fun creating our own semi-superhero-inspired comic strips using the awesome online tool, Pixton. There were a few little bugs, mostly related to the browsers we were using, but all in all, the free version of the website allows for so much freedom to really make the comics your own. You can change the characters' facial expressions, body position, and clothing and skin colors. You can zoom in and out with the backgrounds and even flip them upside-down! You can add props and fun sound effects. Check out some of our creative Pixton comics below. Click on an individual comic to view it full-screen.

Our next meeting will be on Monday, February 6th, and we will be discussing Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, by Wendy Mass. We will be using Stupeflix to create book trailers. Copies of the book can be picked up at the Children's Room desk. See you next month!