Friday, February 17, 2012

Quote of the Week: On the necessity of writing every day - By Vta Sackville-West

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.”    Vita Sackville-West 

I'm taking this to heart right now.
One of my favourite books (and one of the best short series made for TV starring the brilliant Dame Wendy Hiller) is Sackville-West's  "All Passion Spent." I do not have my own copy of this book and order it from the library each time - for fear they will one day remove it. Ordering books keeps them alive in the library system!

We visited Sackville-West's garden at Sussinghurst when we were in England. Magnificent!

I have always had real flowers somewhere in my home - picked from my own small garden or from anywhere I can find a pretty bunch of them for sale in the winter. So I agree with Vita Sackville-West when she says:

"A flowerless room is a soulless room, to my way of thinking; but
even one solitary little vase of a living flower may redeem it."
Vita Sackville-West

Vita's Desk, Sissinghurst Tower

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Here are two readers' emails sent to me recently that I thought were wonderful. Thanks to Khushi and Christopher! (These will be posted with the books referred to as well.)

"I'm 12 years old and i just finished reading your book called Winter Shadows and I have to say, i loved it! It's probably something you hear all the time...but anyway, I loved the way you sculpted the book, I loved the way you showed Beatrice's cluelessness to her love towards Duncan, it was so sweet but, i didn't like Robert he's to uptight, no fun, my idea of fun is kinda weird but, it's fun for me to curl under the covers with a good book and the fireplace crackling, hearing the soft rain touching my window......well anyhow I nearly cried when Cass was always fighting with Jean and never forgiving herself for not being there when her Mother died, it's, like this weird feeling inside me, very few books can do that to me. I'm sort of a writer myself but my books aren't really all the spectacular.....i do hope you read this email, even if you skimmed, thanks for listening!

A very big fan,
Khushi  -- "

 Hello Ms. Buffie,

Once again, I've read and explored your novel, Who is Frances Rain? and
once again I've uncovered yet another layer I did not know existed...

I've taught your novel to my grade sevens for over ten years now and I
never tire of it. Sometimes I read it aloud - while they follow along
with their copy - and sometimes I get the students to read it. I've
always felt that the plot was perfect for this age group and more
importantly the many themes of change, acceptance, and growing up, to
mention just a few... For that reason alone, it deserves a hallowed place
in my classroom.

Each time I've read the book I've been intrigued by its many teaching
possibilities. Early in our use of the book, it was always a great
springboard for important discussions about divorce, sibling rivalry and
the beauty and importance of grandparents. I also use it for exploring
journal writing and point of view. Sometimes students will journal write
about things going on in their world and sometimes write from Lizzie's
point of view at critical points in the novel.

As I read the novel aloud, I often pause to celebrate how real all of your
characters are, including your minor ones. I take the time to let the
kids enjoy your description of Harvey, which is so so colorful. And then
when Lizzie and Alex go to pick him up at his shack, the description of it
is so appropriate and really a description of him, which is really the
case in the real world. We actually take the time to create a visual
representation of it.

One day, as I was reading, all of the figurative language suddenly
appeared to me. I don't know why it took so long, but it did. It made me
rethink my way of teaching. This may seem like a trivial point at first,
but I used to teach my literary terms / devices by genre and figurative
language was included in my poetry terms. And then I thought... How
limiting, to call similes, metaphors, and personification poetry terms.
It was indirectly telling my students that these terms only have a place
in poems.

Thanks to you, I now explore these terms with my students as literary
terms and encourage my students to use figurative language in all forms of

Your first novel? Wow! Who is Frances Rain? is the work of a true master

From a grade 7 teacher, Christopher ---  from Newfoundland

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My daughter made these gorgeous sugar cookies with candy windows for her daughter's school class. What could be sweeter than