How to succeed in middle and high school


Transitioning to middle and then to high school can be tough, with so many distractions and life changes not to mention all the work and time for friends and family.  Here are a few suggestions on how to succeed at school.

First of all, be organized. With family, friends, school work, extra-curricular activities and sometimes work, time can be tight. Find a way that works for you to keep track of everything you need to do. Knowing what you need to do and when you need to do it can reduce the stress of rushing to finish something you have to get done for tomorrow.

Second, be prepared. If you have a group meeting for a project or a presentation, or even a babysitting job ahead, get ready. You will feel less stressed if you have studied, read through the information you need, or in the case of a babysitting gig, have a “bag of tricks” ready to use to entertain the children. Think and plan ahead for your future. For example, do not leave scholarship applications to the last minute.

Third, always try your best. Things might get difficult but life is all about the challenges you face and how you deal with them. Everything will not come easily but if you try your best and continue to try you will get results.

Fourth, be curious and ask questions. Go beyond the classroom to look into what interests you. If you have to do a project, focus it so that you are working on a topic that interests you, because it is much easier to work hard and put in the necessary time to do well if you are learning about something that grabs your attention. Make sure you know the expectations and ask what you need to do in order to do well in your assignments.

Lastly, and maybe the most important after being organized, is asking for help when you need it. Family, friends, teachers, and employers are not mind readers and do not always know if you are struggling, so ask for what you need. If you try to hide that you don’t understand, you can get left behind and feel overwhealmed so check yourself for understanding and ask for clarification and help as soon as you feel you need it.

These tips are just the beginning and hopefully will get you thinking of ways you can focus on your goals and help you to become a successful student  during your time at GW Graham and in the future.





What I am reading right now.


I just finished reading the Winter Palace by Eva Stachnaik, a great  historical fiction novel with a strong female main character and spies lurking around every corner. Stachnaik provides a fascinating insight into the court of Catherine the Great. Definitely hard to put down as you will want to find out what happens to the characters both major and minor. How will Catherine become Empress?

New books in the library



Are you looking for a new series? Try Altered by Jennifer Rush. Anna’s father is keeping teenage boys locked in the basement. They have been genetically enhanced and he has been administering treatments. Anna must decide to help her father or help the boys. What will she decide to do? What will be the consequences for her actions.


If you liked The Selection series you will like the Glittering Court by Richelle Mead. This is the story of Adelaide a runaway Countess escaping an arranged marriage, who ends up training to be a countess in a faraway land called Adoria. It is a part adventure story, part princess story and part thriller with strong female characters.






I have started a small makerspace in our school library at G.W. Graham. It is a new thing for the students but they are catching on.

Students have created objects out of paper such as origami snappers and build creatures out of straws.

The google cardboard goggles have been a bit hit as well.

Book Chat – Graffiti Knight



Graffiti Knight – Karen Bass


The themes presented are coming of age/identity, teen sexuality, family struggles, power struggles, friendship, loyalty and dealing with societal constraints. The interactions of the characters are represented in three main archetypes; the wise old man, the hero, and the sacrificial redeemer. The text includes literary elements such as symbolism and foreshadowing.

This book is worth the reader’s time because it is about an important event in history from a youth perspective that does not focus on the idea that all Germans are Nazis and that they suffered after the war as well. Even youth today will connect with the themes of identity and the struggle against authority. Young adults will enjoy Wilm’s rebellious antics. The book received excellent reviews in both Kirkus reviews and the Quill and Quire. It has received many awards including the Canadian Library association Young Adult book of the year, the Canadian Authors Association Alberta Branch Exporting Alberta award for the best overall book published in 2013, and the R.Ross Annett award for Children’s Literature.

Pajama press, published Graffiti Knight in 2013.    Pajama press is a small Canadian press that strives to fulfill its mission which is “to produce high quality, award-winning books that are appealing to children, young adults, librarians, teachers and parents. Set in Leipzig, German 1947 two years after World War II, where The German people in Soviet controlled parts of Germany were forced to live under Soviet rules, which resulted in dire conditions. This story by Karen Bass, a Canadian author from Hyth Alberta, was based on discussions with a friend’s family member who had lived in Leipzig during this time. Bass has a strong presence in social media as she has blogs and websites that discuss the writing process as well as former interviews and book readings. The character, Wilm, came to her after these discussions. Although fiction, this book does contain certain factual events such as the stockpile of butter by the Soviets on the train, and the train of prisoners from Britain that was not allowed to stop in Leipzig.

The are many books similar in both theme and setting such as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Book Thief, Anne Frank, The Outsiders, The Boy who Dared and The Earth is Singing.

Book chat – Snow Apples


If you are looking for historical fiction set in Canada that deals with growing up and with family issues check out Snow Apples by Mary Razzell.

Razzell, Mary. (2006). Snow Apples. Toronto, Ontario: Groundwood Books. 209 p. ISBN 9780888997418- Pbk 9.95

Sixteen-year-old Sheila Brary finds life in a remote British Columbia outport, which she feels is a prison. Sheila is living in a household of brothers, a cheating father and her embittered mother. The mother-daughter relationship in this novel is both timeless and complex. Two strong, women are more alike than they care to admit. Sheila’s mum is broken down by the demands of a sexist age, while Sheila tries to break away from such a gloomy life. The work is a compelling story but the ending sometimes feels rushed. This faced paced, historical fiction and coming of age story deals with breaking free from the bonds of an over bearing parent. This work is suitable for readers from grade eight to grade twelve and beyond; however, it does cover some difficult topics such as teen sex and miscarriages. This novel is most suitable for older teens and adults. – Amazon