Category Archives: Travel



I will let tomorrow take care of tomorrow

and enjoy today while it lasts.Owen in WV - IMG_0828 Upside down

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom, by Margarita Engle – The Newbery Project


The Surrender Tree

The Surrender Tree sucked me in. I know, you’re wondering how a tree can suck anything. Well, I ask you, haven’t you ever put a dry plant into a pot of water and watched the water just disappear? Plants are like that. And so are great books.

One minute, I was opening to the first page and thinking Oh no, more poetry! and the next minute — or really about two hours later — I was putting the book down. I had finished it all in one sitting. Last night I picked it up to refresh my memory for this review, and if it hadn’t been for my husband saying “Uh, you know it’s a work day tomorrow, right?” I probably would have read the whole thing in one sitting again.

The poems are short, and they cover a long span of Cuban history, that, I have to admit, I knew virtually nothing about. You would think, living in Florida as I do, that we’d get a little bit of Cuban history here and there. Apparently, we don’t.

For instance, I had no idea that the first concentration camps (long before Hitler came up with his horrendous plans) were actually created in Cuba in 1896.  I didn’t know that the Spanish-American War, which barely registers at all in most Americans’ historical knowledge,  is called Le Disastre  in Spain. I didn’t know that some Cuban property owners freed their slaves voluntarily in 1868, and that this act of humanity (and rebellion), began a civil war that lasted for decades. I didn’t know that a peasant woman named Rosa Castellanos (known in Cuba as Rosa la Bayamesa) became famous for the folk hospitals she established in the countryside during all this strife.


Monument to Rosa la Bayamesa in Parque Bayamo

The Surrender Tree made me glad I took on the project to read all the Newberys because I know it’s just the type of book I would never have thought to read otherwise…but it would have been a shame to miss it. Yes, this book may be outside your comfort zone . The plot sort of wanders along, and the whole book is written in verse. You should try it anyway. You may learn something too.

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom, by Margarita Engle

Newbery Honor: 2009

A.R. Book Level: 6.1; Middle Grades

Other Awards:

The Surrender Tree, winner of Oh-So-Many Awards

The Surrender Tree, winner of Oh-So-Many Awards

  • Newbery Honor
  • Pura Belpré Award
  • Américas Award
  • Jane Addams Award
  • Claudia Lewis Poetry Award
  • Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor
  • ALA Best Books for Young Adults
  • ALA Notable Book
  • NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Book
  • Amelia Bloomer Book
  • Booklist Editor’s Choice
  • Kansas State Reading Circle
  • Michigan Great Lakes Great Books Award Master List
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Finalist – Once Upon a Word Children’s Book Award, Museum of Tolerance, Simon Wiesenthal Library
  • Bank Street College of Education Selection List of Reading Aloud With Children Twelve and Older

Back from Vacation


And thanks to this random guy who happened to be posing when I took the picture.

Haven’t you ever wondered about other people’s vacation pictures you are in? I wonder if I look better in their pictures than I do in my own?

I’d post a picture of my family, or the mountains, or the lake,  but, thanks to our continuing camera fail, the only other pictures we have are either on my parents’ camera or my husband’s phone.

Back at work again. So soon!


Back at work again. So soon!
Vacation can never last long enough.

At least this time we didn’t
ride “It’s a Small World” again.

Or I’d be hearing that song
in my head again, and again,
and again, and again, and again.

It's a Small World After All

Enjoy the earworm!

This post is part of Six Word Fridays. Today’s word is again.



I’ve been thinking again lately about how certain period in my life seem more vivid, or seem as if they lasted longer than they did. For instance, the four years I spent in college in New Hampshire seems like a lifetime — so full of memories, big decisions and experiences.

We are in upstate New York this weekend, finally taking a vacation. After a couple of unseasonably warm days, the weather has changed to a crisp fell day. The cool breezes and brilliant colors bring back days in college, walking to work, and taking in the beauty of the mountains, the trees and the crisp air. My memories of that time are so strong. The feelings of nostalgia brought by today’s weather hurts. I think in those moments twenty years ago, I felt so completelly alive, so in tune with the moment. It’s hard to re-capture that feeling, but it’s sorely missing in my life today.

Which begs the question – how can I live each day in its fullness?

On the way to Belize!


By the time this posts, we will be on the way to Belize! We’ll be working at Holy Cross Anglican School. Check back after the 19th for some pictures and the story of our trip.



It’s been hard to focus on even my first, simple resolutions as we’ve spent the last couple of days preparing for our upcoming trip to Belize. That, combined with an unexpected funeral yesterday, and I’m there hasn’t been time to think of much else. Just now, I’m getting ready to go pick up my anti-malaria meds and do a little swimsuit shoppng. Hopefully there will still be time for a run, at least, when I come back.