Friday, February 27, 2009

There is something you need to know before opening this book: It is a parody. Parody: (noun) meaning a ridiculous imitation. It is meant to be funny. So laugh. A lot. Even if you don’t get it.

Lois Lowry (yes, the one and the same Lois Lowry of The Giver and Number the Stars fame) weaves a hysterical story about the four Willoughby children who desperately want to be “old-fashioned”. Their parents, the loathsome Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby, aren’t exactly the doting parents who only want the best for their children. In fact, they are quite the opposite.

Their father, an impatient and irascible man, went to work at a bank each day, carrying a briefcase and an umbrella even if it was not raining. Their mother, who was indolent and ill-tempered, did not go to work. Wearing a pearl necklace, she grudgingly prepared the meals. Once she read a book but found it distasteful because it contained adjectives. Occasionally she glanced at a magazine. The Willoughby parents frequently forgot that they had children and became quite irritable when they were reminded of it.

(I LOVE that line about the adjectives. It makes me giggle every time I read it.)

The Willoughby children consist of the eldest, Tim, who is quite bossy and selfish, the two twins, Barnaby and Barnaby (nicknamed A and B), and timid Jane, who dreams of a name with more than one syllable. For some unknown reason, they are quite determined to become “old-fashioned” children. What is an old fashioned child, you ask? You know, a wise, worthy and winsome (meaning charming and innocent) orphan like Mary Lennox, Heidi, Pollyanna, or Raggedy Dick. (You may be interested to know that 99% of my fourth graders had never even heard of the before-mentioned characters. If this is the case with you, please turn off the computer/Wii/PSP and get thee to a library without delay. You have some major catching up to do on your childhood.)

After finding a baby on their doorstep, Mrs. Willoughby demands the children to dispose of it immediately, wherein they find the perfect place to dump it; the run down mansion inhabited by Commander Melanoff, a candy making tycoon who lost his wife and son in an unfortunate skiing accident in Switzerland. The Willoughbys leave the baby on the doorstep and return home to find their parents have planned a jaunt around the world and are leaving them in the care of a nanny. The nanny turns out to be quite delightful and a wonderful cook, although nothing like Mary Poppins. (Contrary to our favorite umbrella-toting nanny, the Willoughby nanny believes sugar is diabetes-waiting-to-happen and strictly forbids it.) Through an interesting and coincidental chain of events, the Willoughbys end up back on the doorstep of the Melanoff mansion and are taken in as orphans, along with the doorstep baby. A few more surprises and many more laughs ensue, but I won’t spoil it for you.

I recommend reading this book with your parents—they might just get a bigger kick out of than you do—and they can explain all of the references about old fashioned characters you have so appallingly missed out on.

P.S. Check out the glossary in the back. It is full of wondrously wicked words that will impress all of your friends.
Recipe to Read By: Nanny's Ginger Cookies
Although she doesn't actually make them in the book, this treat is what brings Commander Melanoff and the Willoughby children together . I just figured since she makes everything else, ginger cookies MUST be in her repertoire (meaning a supply of skills a person has).
Ingredients
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up, still firm
6 tablespoons butter flavored (or regular) shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Yikes, I omitted this! Whoever heard of pepper in a cookie?)
1/3 cup sparkly sugar (for rolling)
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready two or three large cookie sheets lined with parchment or Silpats.Using an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Beat in shortening, then add sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. Continue beating for another minute. Beat in egg, vanilla and molasses.In a separate bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, soda, salt and remaining spices. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until mixed.Shape dough into 12 evenly sized balls (a little bigger than golf balls). Roll the balls in sparkly sugar. Place 3 inches apart on cookie sheets and bake one sheet at a time on center rack of oven for 13-15 minutes. Cookies should appear cracked on top but still slightly soft.Makes 12 big cookies.
How to eat these the "old-fashioned" way: After you get home from school, change into your play clothes immediately and proceed to the kitchen, where you will pour yourself a tall glass of milk and eat them at the table with a napkin. Tell your mom all about your day at school while she bustles around the kitchen in her apron getting tonight's roast and potatoes started. You may only eat two cookies, though, because you do not want to spoil your dinner.
*Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart, who reminds me of Nanny in her no-nonsense, practical, motherly way.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ruby Holler



I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but this cover just looks inviting, doesn't it?


As soon as I picked up Ruby Holler it began to whisper softly to me, "Come inside, dear reader, and make yourself at home at my incredibly cozy, charming little cottage and enjoy some sizzling bacon and piping hot pancakes with fresh butter. Don't you want to frolic in the shade of my secluded yard, climb these ginormous maple trees and just escape life in general?" "Yes, yes I do!" I found myself yelling to no one in particular. "I adore pancakes and sizzling bacon and frolicking in shady yards! I must read you right now!" And so my journey to Ruby Holler began.

Florida and Dallas (a.k.a. The Trouble Twins) have lived at the Boxton Creek Home for Children since they arrived on the doorstep as babies. The ramshackle (meaning run-down) orphanage is run by Mr. and Mrs. Trepid, the nastiest, most horrendous excuse for childcare providers ever known.

They were middle-aged, cranky and tired, and growing stiff and cold as winter-bound trees. They believed in rules, and their rules were posted on doorways and in hallways and above each child's bed. There were general rules and kitchen rules, bathroom rules and stairway rules, basement rules and outside rules, upstairs rules and downstairs rules, clothing rules, washing rules, cleaning rules, rules upon rules upon rules.

To top it off, Florida and Dallas were confined to the absolute rear of the house, where they slept in two tiny cubicles huddles side by side, ate mush for every meal, and were constantly screamed at. Sounds like a great place to grow up, huh? (This would be a great time to go hug your mom and tell her "thanks" for not leaving you orphaned in Boxton Creek with putrid people like the Trepids. It's okay if she looks confused--just go with it.)

As with all orphan-themed novels, when things couldn't begin to get any worse, they start to look up, albeit slowly. By some twist of fate, the twins are invited by Sairy and Tiller, a sweet, older couple who live in Ruby Holler, to accompany them on their last great adventures. Ruby Holler turns out to be everything the cover suggests and more. The children swing from the great trees, play in the crystal clear stream, eat their fill of delicious homemade food, and constantly wonder when this crazy couple is going to show their true colors by locking them in a basement, calling them thieves, or making them sleep in a snake pit, as families in the past had done.
After many days spent working on the boat and preparing for the trips, the foursome part ways in a trial (meaning practice) run before the actual expeditions. Through many obstacles ("compass? what compass?") a near-death experience (boating without knowing how to swim), and having all of their gear stolen by thieving teenagers, the group comes to two conclusions:
1.) Florida and Dallas have seen their last days with the putrid Trepids and 2.) Maybe leaving the Holler wasn't such a good idea after all.

*Recipe to Read By: Florida, Dallas, Sairy, and Tiller's Mission Accomplished Cake
This cake should be eaten after any huge challenge that has been accomplished despite many obstacles. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, pulling an "A" on a social studies test even though you fell asleep halfway through, surviving a night in a haunted cemetary with a full moon, leaving the dentist a happy camper, successfully hiding your brussel sprouts under your shirt without your sister telling on you, etc.

Directions
Start with a big red bowl.
Dump in some chocolate syrup.
Drizzle in some honey.
Drop in a handful of pecans.
Add more chocolate syrup.
Toss in a handful of chopped red cherries.
Open a jar of peanuts and dump those in.
Go ahead and empty the rest of the jar of chocolate syrup into the bowl.
Find a bag of cookies, smash them up, and dump the whole bag in as well.
Pound the dough with a wooden spoon.
Eat raw. And whatever you do--DO NOT let your mother see you making (or eating) this!

This recipe comes straight out of pages 291-292 and has not yet been tested by my taste kitchen staff (this includes my husband and crazy Kendall, the lab). Please let me know how it turns out and what kind of cookies you use. I'm thinking left-over Girl Scout cookies would be exceptionally tasty...or Mint Milanos perhaps? Nutter Butters? Oreos???

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Presidents' Day Adventure


Here's another title to add to your Official List of Top 10 Favorite Historical Fiction Novels:
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg.
(Sidebar: Please DO NOT tell me you don't have a list. You know how I feel about Historical Fiction lists, people! Also, it's okay by me if you want to bump out Number the Stars from the Top 10. It makes me weepy, too. I won't tell your teacher.)

With it being Lincoln's birthday and all I was feeling especially patriotic and America-loving and thought a trip back in time to the Civil War would be especially historical. I even donned my American flag earrings (and I swore I would NEVER be one of those teachers who accessorized by the season!) and a red and blue sweater. With my Fourth of July mix playing in the back ground and a giant hot dog at the ready, I was ready for reading.

As soon as I cracked open the book and began reading, The Stars and Stripes Forever was immediately drowned out and my hot dog long forgotten. Rodman Philbrick, whom you may recognize as the author of Freak the Mighty, weaves an enormously engaging tale of Homer Figg, adventure bound farm boy from Maine and fib-teller extraordinaire. Homer sets out on wild journey across America to find his brother, Harold, who was illegally sold to the Union army by their despicable guardian (despicable meaning foul, awful, or worthy of being despised). His journey begins with an escape from the little town of Pine Swamp, Maine and an encounter with two of dirtiest slave catchers in the North, Smelt and Stink, and a kindly Quaker named Jebediah Brewster who not only hides runaway slaves in his basement but funds Homer's journey across the country. Stink and Smelt are not the only sleazeballs Homer will come across in his journey to find the Union soldiers. After traveling by train to Portland, Homer then sails to New York aboard a steamship for the very first time and is taken advantage of by two professional thieves who swindle his money and leave him for broke. As the journey continues, Homer is featured as a headlining attraction while traveling with a Medicine Show, whose leader is arrested for being a spy for the Confederate Rebels. (This is called treason). Just when you think the edge of your seat can't get any tinier, Homer finds himself smack-dab in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg, dodging bullets and bayonets, all the while keeping up the search for his beloved older brother. I won't give away the ending, but I will tell you that after finishing the book I bit into my cold, shriveled hot dog wishing I had paid closer attention in my 10th grade U.S. History class.
Recipe to Read By: MARY TODD LINCOLN CAKE
The marriage of Mary Todd to Abraham Lincoln is best expressed by the words Lincoln had engraved inside Mary's wedding band, "Love is Eternal." Mary expressed her feelings in less dramatic, but lasting and tasteful terms. She baked him her favorite white cake.
This is her recipe. (If you really want to annoy your mom, tell her you want to be 100%AUTHENTIC and cook it over hot coals without any electric devices--just like in Lincoln's day.)
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (churned by hand)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 1/3 cups milk (fresh from the cow)
1 cup finely chopped almonds
6 egg whites - stiffly beaten (collected from the hens out back)

Directions
Cream sugar, butter and vanilla.
Sift together cake flour and baking powder three times.
Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.
Stir in almonds. Gently fold in the egg whites.
Pour into two greased and floured 9 x 11/2-inch round baking pans.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Note: Although far more complicated, this is tastier than a cold hot dog any day.
*Recipe courtesy of the Southtown Star
More Lincoln Food Facts:
It is said that his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln had a hard time getting him to remember to eat at all. When she did discover things that he truly enjoyed, she made sure that they were available whenever he wanted them. For the most part, his food tastes were simple. He loved fresh fruit, particularly apples. One of his favorite meals was simply fresh fruit and nuts, cheese and crackers.
Thank you to Esme of http://planetesme.blogspot.com/ for the fabulous recommendation!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Popcorn Alert!






Although the movie version almost NEVER compares to the book, here are a couple of childhood favorites to get excited about:

Judi and Ron Barrett's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Release Date: Friday, September 18, 2009
Plot:A scientist trying to solve world hunger encounters a problem of global proportions, as food begins to fall from the sky.

Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are
Release Date: Friday, October 16, 2009
Plot: An adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's story, where Max, a disobedient little boy sent to bed without his supper, creates his own world--a forest inhabited by ferocious wild creatures that crown Max as their ruler.


Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox
Release Date: Friday, November 6, 2009
Plot: Angry farmers, tired of sharing their chickens with a sly fox, look to get rid of their opponent and his family.

Information courtesy of Internet Movie Database (IMDb)


Recipe to Read By: Caramel Corn
Pull these books off your shelf, blow off the dust, and munch away on this scrumptious snack while rereading the classics. Be careful--sticky fingers equals sticky pages!

Ingredients:
1 large package microwave popcorn (10-12 cups)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 Tbsp. brown sugar

Preparation:
Prepare popcorn according to package directions. Pour into a serving bowl.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in corn syrup and brown sugar.
When the sugar is dissolved, and the mixture turns a caramel color, remove from heat and pour over poppped popcorn. Toss to coat well.
Begin counting the days until the movie release date. 109, 108, 107...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Winter Room


Let's establish an important fact from the start: I despise the cold. Loathe the cold. Abhor the cold. Disdain the cold. Okay, you get it; the cold and I do not share a mutual understanding. As soon as the thermostat dips below 70 you will find me wearing flannel, drinking hot chocolate, and flat-out refusing to step outdoors. Yes, I'm well aware of the names you are calling me right now (sissy, pansy, weirdo, etc.) but I don't care. I'm a cold wimp and I'm proud of it.

Now, you're probably wondering why, if I'm so prone to red noses and frozen snot, that I would choose to read a book with the word "winter" in the title. Here's my answer: I like the idea of winter. Snuggling up with a warm blanket, smoke rising in the chimney, sleigh rides through a fresh coat of snow, big pots of steaming hot soup, that sort of thing. I just don't like winter itself. Does that make sense? Bah. Didn't think so.

Gary Paulson's The Winter Room isn't just about winter, although the winter plays more than a supporting role. It's about spring, summer, and fall, too, and how each season is both celebrated and scorned by a Minnesota farming family. Although the exact date was not printed, Paulson writes about a time in the past where families churned their own butter, plowed their fields with a team of horses, and did not rely on electricity for light or warmth. The story is narrated by eleven-year-old Eldon, who lives with his mother, father, brother, and two great-uncles, and depicts the daily routine of his family's life on the farm. Beginning in the spring, Eldon describes in great detail his malodorous chores (piling manure and milking cows, ugh) and farm activities with his brother, Wayne. One particular amusing scene comes to mind when Wayne (having read his fair share of Black Ranger Westerns) attempts to jump from the hayloft and land on one of the horses.

I'm not sure how he figured the drop from the hayloft to Stacker. I
know that when Jed did it in the book he jumped out of the window and landed
perfectly in the saddle and rode away just as clean and as nice as you could
hope for and not a rustler knew he was leaving.
It didn't work out that way for
Wayne...

The book gracefully transitions from spring to summer to fall and finally to it's namesake: winter. Winter on the farm brings layers of snow and a new set of chores, but the early night fall leads to a family gathering in the winter room where Uncle David tells stories about the "old country." Each of the four sections of the book are so beautifully written that I frequently lost all recognition of my location and surroundings. While reading the "Winter," I happily floated away to a warm spot in front of a roasting fire, sitting next to Wayne, and leaning in listening eagerly to every word of Uncle David's stories. My reverie was unfortunately dashed as soon as my cell phone rang, bringing me quickly back to the modern comforts of my Florida living room where it was a balmy 79 degrees outside.
The writing is that good. In fact, it's so good that I may give winter a second chance.
But only until November rolls around again...
*Disclaimer: This book is not recommended for the squeamish type. If you are a vegetarian, cry when passing roadkill, or still get teary-eyed after reading Stone Fox for the bazillionth time, then this book may not be for you.
Recipe to Read By: Baked Apples
When the thermostat reads something unbearably cold (read: 75 degrees or below) pull out the last of the fall apples and bake something so simple and delicious that you'll forget your nose is running.
INGREDIENTS
4 apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Scoop out the core from top of the apple, leaving a well. (Ask a parent to help you with this--it's not as easy as it looks!)
Do not cut all the way through. Stuff each apple with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon butter. Place in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until sugar begins to caramelize and apples are tender.
Try adding raisins, unwrapped caramels, or chocolate chips--the variations are endless!
(Hint for the lazy: You can always throw your apple in the microwave to cook, but you won't get that I'm-surviving-a-blistery-cold-winter-without-modern-conveniences feel. But it's your call.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Al Capone Does My Shirts


"I want to be here like I want poison oak on my private parts."

How could you not want to keep reading after a line like that?

Friday, January 4, 1935
Today I moved to a twelve acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. Alcatraz sits smack in the middle of the bay--so close to the city of San Francisco, I can hear them call the score on the baseball game on Marina Green. Okay, not that close. But still.


Before beginning this book, not one of my 20 fourth graders had even heard of Alcatraz Island (Alca-what?? Is that a video game?) and thought Al Capone was the short Italian dude who delivered pizza from Dino's. However, not ten pages into this book the questions began rolling:

How many people did you have to kill to be sent to Alcatraz? How many people did Al Capone kill? Did anyone ever escape from Alcatraz? Where's San Francisco anyway--is that near the Everglades? Don't be so daft. They can't have an island in the Everglades. I think it's near my Gram's condo in Ft. Myers. Did the convicts really do the laundry? Can we take a field trip there? PLEASE, MRS. SCHREIBER????

Obsession is the word. We couldn't get enough of it. Set in 1935 amidst the Great Depression, Prohibition, and baseball fever is a historical fiction novel so well written that it very well could be true. (We in room 463 like to think that it is.) Moose Flanagan's family has just moved to the island of Alcatraz, leaving behind his friends, his neighborhood, and his favorite pastime: baseball. You can guess that he's not overjoyed at the prospect of finding a new home on a rocky island inhabited by the most notorious criminals in the nation. (Notorious means to be famous for doing something bad).

Moose's father works as an electrician and prison guard and his mother teaches piano lessons. While his parents are working, Moose is responsible for taking care of his sister, Natalie, who is autistic (although it wasn't known as autism back in those days). It doesn't take long for Moose to join the small group of children who also live on the island, namely the Warden's daughter Piper, a feisty beauty with trouble on the brain. Piper uses her elitist influence to persuade the other kids to join in her schemes; the most memorable of which was charging the school children money to have their clothes laundered by Al Capone. Although the plan backfires in the worst way, it doesn't stop Piper from her continuous plotting to get up close and personal with the convicts (or "cons" as they are called by the islanders). Readers will get caught up in Moose's personal struggle between doing the right thing and doing what his heart desires. The ending will leave you wishing for a time machine to jump back into the 30's and experience life as it was more than 70 years ago. (We are working on making that happen, but don't hold your breath.)

*If you ask any of my students what their #1 favorite line in the entire book was their answer will undoubtedly be the same. Moose, fed up with Piper's antics, tells her to "go stick her head in the crapper." Warning to all teachers of fourth graders: Fits of giggles, high-pitched squeals of the word "crapper," and all-around hysteria ensue after muttering that one phrase. Just a heads-up.

Recipe to Read By: Natalie's Lemon Cake
According to Moose, this recipe works wonders for bribing your sister to do what you want.
Glad my brother never knew about this--I would do ANYTHING for a moist slice of this too-tart- yet-supersweet lemony goodness.

Ingredients
1 pkg. lemon Jello
4 eggs
3/4 c. water
1 pkg. yellow cake mix (or lemon-flavored if you really want a citrusy sensation)
3/4 c. oil
2 lemons
2 c. confectioners' sugar
1 well greased 9x13" cake pan


Directions
Mix first 3 ingredients and beat 2 minutes.
Add next 2 ingredients and beat another minute.
Pour into greased cake pan.
Put into preheated oven (325 degrees if glass pan, 350 degrees if metal pan.)
Allow 40-45 minutes to rise and brown; should spring back when poked with your finger.
Mix juice from 2 lemons with confectioners' sugar, pouring slowly to avoid lumps.
Prick cake while hot all over with fork (this is the best part!), then pour lemon-sugar mix all over warm cake.
Call your sister in your most syrupy sweet voice and be prepared to get whatever you want from her.

*Recipe courtesy of http://www.cooks.com/

This book has won the following prestigious awards:
Newbery Honor Book
ALA Notable Book
Parent’s Choice Silver Medal
School Library Journal Best Books of the Year

If your love of the book grows into a boundless obsession (trust us--we've been there), here are some websites to satisfy your thirst for anything Alcatraz:
The History of Alcatraz: http://www.alcatrazhistory.com/
Al Capone History Files: http://www.chicagohs.org/history/capone.html
Alcatraz Escape Attempts: http://www.sfgenealogy.com/sf/history/aindex.htm

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sahara Special





Do you have a secret self that no one knows about? Is there a part of you that you keep hidden from even your family? Hmmm. Well that's okay, I don't either. But wouldn't it be exciting if you did? Sahara has a secret. A big secret.
I read at home, and write, too, but whatever I write, I make sure I'm by myself and then, when I'm done writing, I rip it out of my notebook. Ihide it in my binder behind section 940 in the public library, where all the books about Somewhere Else are located. This very paper, for instance, will someday be an archaeological find. Someday, someone will reach behind section 940 and find the dusty works of me, Sahara Jones, Secret Writer, and that person's life will be made more exciting, just by reading my Heart-Wrenching Life Story and Amazing Adventures. Someday, people will see I am a writer.


Sahara Jones is repeating fifth grade. After her dad left two years ago, she stopped doing her classwork and began writing a series of letters. Dear Daddy, when are you coming home? Why didn't you take me with you? All of the letters are now in her "official file," which only teachers can see. After spending a year being pulled out for "Special Needs," Sahara's mom decides that enough is enough and that Sahara should be in the classroom, whether she fails or not. (Thanks, mom!) Enter Miss Poitier (or Miss Pointy). With her long, flowing skirts, purple lipstick, and unconvential teaching methods, Sahara is immediately enthralled by her new teacher. Miss Pointy issues each student a journal and instructs them to write as much or as little as they like.

Although she writes her secret library pages in profusion, she is reluctant to write in her classroom journal. Her first journal entry declares herself a writer, in which Miss Pointy pointedly (ha) replies with, "a writer writes." There are a number of other memorable "Pointy-isms" that found me scribbling furiously in my Nightstand Notes* so that I would remember to say them to my own class. (Note to my class: You may have begun to wonder why I have suddenly donned purple eyeliner, tell long, drawn-out stories with seemingly no point, and hand out copious amounts of glittery stickers; it's because I'm emulating my new teacher-idol, Miss Pointy.)
The story is told through Sahara's eyes, and those who read the book will admire her honest insight to the world and tickle-your-funnybone dialogue. With the help of Miss Pointy and some unlikely classmates, Sahara finds the courage to overcome her fears and throw her "official file" to the wind.

*Nightstand Notes are just a simple notebook that I keep next to my bed for jotting down thoughts, reflections, or anything else I want to remember while I'm reading. I have about 10 books on my nightstand at this moment, so the NN help to keep my thoughts organized.

Miss Pointy's Schedule:

Puzzling, 9:10-10:40
Time Travel and World Exploring or Mad Science, alternate days, 10:40-11:30
Read Aloud, after lunch
Read Together after Read Aloud
Read Alone after Read Together
Art of Language, end of the day
I know, it makes your own school day seem pretty dreary, huh?

Recipe to Read By: No-Bake Chocolate Cookies
This cookie recipe has all of the characteristics of Miss Pointy: it's sweet, sloppy-looking,
no-nonsense, and a little nutty.

Ingredients:
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
3 cups quick cooking oats

Directions:
1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, cocoa, milk and margarine. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, peanut butter and oats.
2. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Allow cookies to cool for at least 1 hour.
(I only make it about 10 minutes, but I recommend following the directions.)
Store in an airtight container.

Hint: Bring some to your teacher and score some major brownie (ahem, cookie) points.

*Recipe courtesy of http://www.allrecipes.com/

Kudos to Esme Raji Codell:
I can't tell you how much inspiration I've gained as a teacher from this author. I recommend Esme's fabulous book, How to Get Your Child to Love Reading, to parents and teachers alike, as well as her equally exceptional children's literature website, Planet Esme, and Book-A-Day Blog.