Faculty Favorite: Ms. Zimmerman

This week’s Faculty Favorite goes to a true book lover, English teacher Ms. Zimmerman. She’s got FOUR favorite books she’d like to recommend!


First up is When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka. “A Japanese family is sent from their home to Utah during the Japanese internment era of World War II,” says Ms. Zimmerman. “It is about their struggles on the journey and the problems they face when they try to return home. It is written from several different family members’ perspectives, which makes the voices all the more real.”


Julie Otsuka’s commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any we have ever seen. With crystalline intensity and precision, Otsuka uses a single family to evoke the deracination-both physical and emotional-of a generation of Japanese Americans. In five chapters, each flawlessly executed from a different point of view-the mother receiving the order to evacuate; the daughter on the long train ride to the camp; the son in the desert encampment; the family’s return to their home; and the bitter release of the father after more than four years in captivity-she has created a small tour de force, a novel of unrelenting economy and suppressed emotion. Spare, intimate, arrestingly understated, When the Emperor Was Divine is a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and an unmistakably resonant lesson for our times. It heralds the arrival of a singularly gifted new novelist.


Next, is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, an award-winning best seller that is headed for the big screen.

Ms. Zimmerman sums up the plot like this: “A blind young French girl (Marie Laure) and a German orphan who is called to become a member of Hitler’s Youth (Werner) find that their paths collide during the German occupation of France in WWII,” says Ms. Zimmerman. Why is it one of her favorites? “Both, in a way, are fighting for physical and emotional survival–Doerr delivers with poignancy what a child’s perspective on the wartime experience might be–it’s so beautifully written, full of imagery and metaphor,” she says.


From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).


Also topping Ms. Zimmerman’s list of favorite reads is this parenting book: The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected Kids by Madeline Levine.

Says Zimmerman, “Wow–opened my eyes as a parent and a teacher to one of the many routes some kids may take to becoming fragile rather than resilient through the constant process of “rescue” that our culture can sometimes promote.”


“If you are rearing a sensitive child, one who is burdened by the world’s problems and unsure how to cope with it, or one who is sensitive to physical or emotional energy in the room, or one who feels things more intensely than most, this is a great self-help book,” says Zimmerman. “There is also one by the same author for highly sensitive adults. Helped me learn to help my own children as well as some of my students. The book reminds us that about 10% of the world’s population is “highly sensitive.” I learned something new by reading this book,” she adds.

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Lastly, Ms. Zimmerman recommends another parenting book: The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine N. Aron.

“If you are rearing a sensitive child, one who is burdened by the world’s problems and unsure how to cope with it, or one who is sensitive to physical or emotional energy in the room, or one who feels things more intensely than most, this is a great self-help book,” says Ms. Zimmerman. “There is also one by the same author for highly sensitive adults. Helped me learn to help my own children as well as some of my students. The book reminds us that about 10% of the world’s population is “highly sensitive.” I learned something new by reading this book,” she adds.


The bestselling author and psychologist whose books have topped 240,000 copies in print now addresses the trait of “high sensitivity” in children–and offers a breakthrough parenting guidebook for highly sensitive children and their caregivers.

With the publication of The Highly Sensitive Person, Elaine Aron became the first person to identify the inborn trait of “high sensitivity” and to show how it affects the lives of those who possess it. Up to 20 percent of the population is born highly sensitive, and now in The Highly Sensitive Child, Aron shifts her focus to highly sensitive children, who share the same characteristics as highly sensitive adults and thus face unique challenges as they grow up.

Rooted in Aron’s years of experience as a psychotherapist and her original research on child temperament, The Highly Sensitive Child shows how HSCs are born deeply reflective, sensitive to the subtle, and easily overwhelmed. These qualities can make for smart, conscientious, creative children, but with the wrong parenting or schooling, they can become unusually shy or timid, or begin acting out. Few parents and teachers understand where this behavior comes from–and as a result, HSCs are often mislabeled as overly inhibited, fearful, or “fussy,”or classified as “problem children” (and in some cases, misdiagnosed with disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder). But raised with proper understanding and care, HSCs are no more prone to these problems than nonsensitive children and can grow up to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults.

In this pioneering work, parents will find helpful self-tests and case studies to help them understand their HSC, along with thorough advice on:
• The challenges of raising an highly sensitive child

• The four keys to successfully parenting an HSC

• How to soothe highly sensitive infants

• Helping sensitive children survive in a not-so-sensitive world

• Making school and friendships enjoyable

With chapters addressing the needs of specific age groups, from newborns through teens, The Highly Sensitive Child delivers warmhearted, timely information for parents, teachers, and the sensitive children in their lives.

If you’d like to check out All the Light We Cannot See, please stop by the library and we’ll help you locate it. We’d like to send out a huge shout-out to Ms. Zimmerman for her wonderful contribution to our blog. Thanks!

Faculty Favorite: Mr. Mergl


Mr. Mergl’s got a perfectly succinct reason for his choice of  The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy as his Faculty Favorite: “The characters just came alive for me,” says Mr. Mergl.

This family saga was made into a major motion picture in 1991 and starred Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand. The story deals with the difficult topic of the psychological effects of abuse in childhood and adolescence, but it manages to entertain with lighter-side comic humor. Want to learn more? Read the synopsis below, or stop by the library to check out your copy today!


Synopsis from Goodreads.com:

PAT CONROY has created a huge, brash thunderstorm of a novel, stinging with honesty and resounding with drama. Spanning forty years, this is the story of turbulent Tom Wingo, his gifted and troubled twin sister Savannah, and their struggle to triumph over the dark and tragic legacy of the extraordinary family into which they were born.

Filled with the vanishing beauty of the South Carolina low country as well as the dusty glitter of New York City, The Prince of Tides is PAT CONROY at his very best.

And a big thanks to Mr. Mergl, for his contribution to our blog!

Faculty Favorite: Mr. Del Fava

img_3168If you’re a baseball lover, this book is a must-read. It’s also one of Mr. Del Fava’s favorite reads! What’s the book?  The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.

This book is a “great story that combines the passion of baseball with the struggles of life’s curve balls,” says Mr. Del Fava.

Another reader asks: “What else is this book about ‘besides’ Baseball? Life–friendships–all types of relationships –(male bonding at its best & at its worse) –love–power– appreciation for classic literature–wisdom –ethics–challenges–courage–fear–forgiveness–honor–leadership.”

Interested? Read the synopsis below and please, stop by the library to check out your copy today!

screenshot-2016-12-02-at-10-13-03-amSynopsis from Goodreads.com:

At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry’s gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners’ team captain and Henry’s best friend, realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert’s daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment—to oneself and to others.

And thank you, Mr. Del Fava, for your second contribution to our blog this year!

Lake Forest Students Inspire with their own TEDx Talks

All day Friday in the library, Lake Forest students got the opportunity to get up on a TEDx Talk stage to share experiences, stories and passions to inspire a captivated audience. The independently organized event was organized by the talented Educational Technologists, Mrs. Grigg, Mr. Holmer and Mr. Juliano.
Students, staff and families were treated to speeches and performances with subjects ranging from the importance of raising chickens -complete with real chicks to pet!- to stories of coping with personal challenges, to the connections between tap dance, math and music. Guest speakers from the community shared their research and experience with talks about inter-generational differences and how to end global poverty. Live bands and singer-songwriters also graced the stage to entertain and share original songs.
A testament to the talent and hard work of both staff and students here at Lake Forest, the TEDx Talks were an inspiration to  all involved.

Author Shane Burcaw visits LFHS!

We had an AMAZING time listening to @shaneburcaw today! Thank you again so much for coming to LFHS! #libraries #librariesofinstagram #lamn #authors #authorvisit

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Emmy award winning author of Laughing at my Nightmare Shane Burcaw came to share his experiences with Lake Forest students. His message of remaining positive in the face of challenges resonated as he shared his experiences living with spinal muscular atrophy. His disease is gradually taking away his strength, his voice and his ability to breathe. In spite of his daily challenges, he showed through humorous anecdotes from his life how he changed his outlook by laughing and remaining positive. From a young age he has not allowed his circumstances to stop him… like the time he tried to use his wheelchair and a very long rope to lift his brother pulley-style to a basketball hoop to make a slam dunk.

Mr. Burcaw also shared research about how choice can positively affect one’s emotions. Examples from his experiences illustrated the ways intentional activities- behavioral, cognitive and goal-oriented- can reframe one’s outlook. A mortifyingly embarrassing middle-school moment transforms into a lesson about asking for help: “Asking for help doesn’t make you any less of a person. It helps you reach your fullest potential.” Coming from Mr. Burcaw with his own extraordinary story of overcoming difficulty, with humor, our Lake Forest students got the real deal. His message and presence left the audience inspired, uplifted, reflective: “Despite all challenges I face, my life is … beautiful.”

Faculty Favorite: Ms. Gregory



If you’re a mystery lover, like Ms. Gregory, here’s a thriller (and her Faculty Favorite) to put at the top of your reading list: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.


“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s my favorite book but it’s one I’ve read recently that I enjoyed!” says Ms. Gregory.  “I love suspense books and films and things that make you think. This was a page turner and I was dying to know what happened. It is also by the same author as Gone Girl so if you enjoyed that book I would recommend this one! It kept me guessing the whole time and I was really surprised how everything ended up being resolved.”

Want to read more from this Chicago-based writer? Stop by the library to check out our copy today. And here’s the synopsis from Goodreads.com…

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

Here’s to Ms. Gregory for sharing this with us! Thank you!

Faculty Favorite: Mr. Holmer


Mr. Holmer’s favorite read happens to be one of the most highly circulated books here at LFHS Library. It’s also a classic story of teenage angst and has a cult-like following. Quotes from this book abound on the internet. What book is it?  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

“I can relate with the main character, Charlie, being an outcast in middle and high school,” says Mr. Holmer. “It isn’t just beautifully written though, it also explores many issues teens struggle with. The Perks of Being A Wallflower changed my life; a truly life-changing literary experience.”

Want to know more? Read our synopsis below from Goodreads.com. And be sure to stop by the library to check out our copy!

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Thank you Mr. Holmer, for your excellent contribution to our blog!