Skip to content

Welcome to our February 2019 issue!

February 7, 2019

In this issue, we cover the Spelling Bee results, interviews with some of your favorite school staff, reviews of some of our favorite books, and more! Our next issue will be published in April – see you then!

Students Compete in Spelling Bee

February 7, 2019

Spelling Bee illustration by Mahiya

By Opal G. & Nico L.
Illustration by Mahiya N.-B.

On January 11, all third graders gathered in the Ottertorium to watch the third grade spelling bee. Later in the day the fourth and fifth grade would compete, too.

Mason V. Roshan D., and Noah B. won the third grade spelling bee. Olivia V., Chasis R., and Sophia B. won for fourth grade, and Quin F., Cameron J., and Makena M. won for fifth grade.

After lunch, the winners competed. The official winner in the end was Mason V. He won on the word eclampsia.

Rob Makes Recess Fun

February 7, 2019

By Annabel L.

Once or twice a week Rob, one of our playground supervisors, hosts a dance battle. A dance battle is when two students compete against each other to find out who is the best dancer.

Rob has a lot of other fun activities. For example, on hot days he will bring his water gun and spray people with water. Once he brought his pet snake to school. And we can always count on Rob to blast his music.

All these fun activities have made him very popular among the students. Rob makes recess lots of fun.

How Well Do You Know Ms. Irene?

February 7, 2019

Ms. Irene illustration by Alexis

By Leila M.
Illustration by Alexis T.

Our fabulous school secretary Ms. Irene has worked at Montclair for 18 years. She found out about the job when her kids went to Montclair 32 years ago.

Her favorite part of being a secretary is that every day is different.

How does she spend her summers when school is out? “I like to garden, take walks, and read,” she said. She likes to read young adult fiction and Harry Potter.

An Interview with Ms. Hammond

February 7, 2019

Ms. Hammond illustration by Marin

By Marin N. & Catherine N.
Illustration by Marin N.

Did you know that Ms. Hammond has been a librarian at Montclair for 23 years? Well, we got to interview her which is really cool since she is one of the best storytellers.

First, we wanted to find out where Ms. Hammond grew up. “I was born in Vermont and lived for the first seven years of my life in a stone house on a hill in the countryside. I think that’s where I get my appreciation of nature and beauty and my ability to spend time with myself, too.” This makes sense to us because she also said that she is happiest “lying on the beach with a good book.”

Ms. Hammond talked about who inspired her to read books: “I’d say my parents,” she said. “My parents were deep into books and we had a lot of books at home. On Christmas morning my parents would leave us a book at the foot of our bed, so when we woke up that was our first present. And then, of course, we wouldn’t be bothering them right away.” Ms. Hammond’s parents were really smart!

When we asked Ms. Hammond what she would be if she couldn’t be a librarian, she answered, “I think I’d like to be a full-time painter because I do paint, as well.” This fits in with the fact that Ms. Hammond said that what would make her the most sad is not being able to be creative.

Of course, we had to ask Ms. Hammond what her favorite book was but that’s a tough question for a librarian who has so many favorites to choose from. Some of her favorite genres include magical realism, fantasy, humor, and epic fiction. Ms. Hammond also loves a good detective story.

Thank you to Ms. Hammond for talking to Otter Tales. Montclair Elementary School is lucky to have such a cool librarian!

Book Review: Wishtree is a One-of-a-Kind Book

February 7, 2019

Wishtree illustration by Gaby

By Isaac R.
Illustration by Gaby A.

There are many great books you can read throughout the world, but in my opinion there is no other like the one and only Wishtree, written by Katherine Applegate. After you read about why I think so, you are sure to agree.

In the wonderful book Wishtree, a red oak tree talks about everyday like from his or her perspective. In the days that follow, a new family moves to the neighborhood and is faced with a problem that is often a problem in our world: discrimination.

The new family has a young girl who fell in love with the tree and this bond helps create a loving, non-discriminating neighborhood that supports different people and stands up against hate. Will the bond be able to save the tree from its worst fate? You will only know if you read the book.

I think there are many great books you can read in the world, but there is no other book like Wishtree.

Book Review: Book Scavenger Leads to Real-Life Book Searches

February 7, 2019

By Allegra B.

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman is a book that will grab almost anyone. If you like puzzles, codes, ciphers, and mysteries, or if you are just looking for a good book, this book is good for you. Throughout the book there are several ciphers you can solve that lead to more ciphers in the book.

In the book, Emily, her friend James, and her brother Matthew race around San Francisco solving clues and mysteries trying to get to the end before the “others” get there. I would recommend this to everyone with a five star rating. This book never gets boring and I could not wait until I could read it again. I also enjoyed trying to solve the clues even if some of them could not be solved without reading on.

Another amazing part of this book is there is a website where you can hide and find books just like in Book Scavenger. All you have to do is get a tracking badge, put it on your book, add a clue, and hide it. Then you can try to find other books in your area. Go to the link below to try this out:

If you do not want to make a clue, try out Book Crossing ( – it is basically the same but without the clues. (I recommend the Book Scavenger website more, even if you do not like codes.)

Guess the President

February 7, 2019

By Mahiya B.

For Presidents’ Day, we have a special version of our Guess the Teacher feature for you! Do you know which president:

  • Was president during World War II
  • Served four terms as president
  • Was a fifth-cousin to Theodore Roosevelt

Look for the answer with the Guess the Teacher answer by the office!

Guess the Teacher

February 7, 2019

Guess the Teacher illustration by Lily

By Kara, Lily & Neeki
Illustration by Lily A.

  • This teacher’s college degree was in anthropology.
  • This teacher has two brothers.
  • This teacher has two cats that hate each other.
  • This teacher likes to hike.

Can you guess who this teacher is? Look for the answer on the bulletin board by the office.

Recipe: DIY Stir-Fry

February 7, 2019

Stir Fry illustration by Angelo

By Annabella V. & Gaby A.
Illustration by Angelo V.

4 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup bell peppers, chopped
1/4 cup carrots, chopped
2 eggs, scrambled and chopped
1/4 cup tofu, diced

1. Fry rice in pan.
2. Add vegetables with rice.
3. Cook until vegetables are soft.
4. Add in eggs.
5. Cook tofu then add in.

Stir-Fry Sauce:
4 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
1/2 t Sriracha
1 T chopped green onions
1 clove of garlic, minced

1. Mix together oil and soy sauce.
2. Add Sriracha (optional).
3. Add garlic and onions.
4. Sauce stir-fy and eat.

Serves 4