Happy Earth Day – Recycle Your Books

21 Apr


One nice thing about a small house… you can’t keep everything.  This includes books we’ve purchased.  Yes, even though I go to the library almost everyday, we still buy books.  I think it’s important for ML to see me valuing books enough to spend money on them.  Also, I take her to the book store every time she is invited to a birthday party.  I love watching her pick out the perfect book for that particular friend.

In the past, we’ve donated books to the library book sale, shared them with friends and put them in baskets around the house to keep a little longer.  Recently, I learned about a local non-profit called Books Are Magic.  From now on,  when we need space on our bookshelves, the children’s books go to this organization.  ML’s school did a Books Are Magic book drive a few weeks ago.  ML gave at least fifty books to the organization.

Books Are Magic is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to building home libraries and fostering a lifelong love of reading. We partner with public schools to give 12 books to each child the school identifies as needing books at home before the end of the school year. Research at the University of Tennessee demonstrated that having a twelve-book library over the summer months reduced the summer loss in learning in at-risk students. We are committed to allowing children to choose half of the books themselves, and their teachers make other selections for them.  (Straight from the Books Are Magic website.)

Obviously, I am a big proponent of using the library.  However, I see firsthand the transportation challenges, long work hours and other issues which keep some families from visiting the library.  I confess… I don’t take ML to the public library often enough.  I bring home all the new picture books for us to read.  Then, she checks out her chapter books from school.  The older she gets the more important it is for me to take her to the library so she can choose her own books.  My summer goal is taking ML to the local library each week.

I want to support a local organization which looked at the research, and decided to do something in the community.  The average cost for a paperback chapter book is around $6.00.  T.  The average cost for me to go out to lunch is more than $6.00.  I’m taking my lunch twelve more days this year.  Then, I can buy some books from Books Are Magic’s Wish List.  We’ll still donate books from ML’s bookshelf; but I want to buy some from the wish list.  The organizers have enough experience to see where there are holes in the collection and know what books are already donated.  I trust their judgement.

Here’s a few books from their wish list.  I’d be surprised if every person with a young elementary school child who reads this blog doesn’t have at least one Magic Tree House book and one National Geographic Reader at their house.  Call me when you’re ready to clean out.  I’ll pick them up and send them on their way to a new home.



Gotta Love the Easter Bunny – Books, Chocolate and Jelly Bellies

20 Apr

A pretty cool Easter Bunny visits our house.  Below is a picture of the goods.  ML’s been reading me Knock, Knock Jokes all day.



We’ve tried to make it a tradition to visit my brother’s family at Easter.  This year, we couldn’t make it.  We are fortunate to  have great friends here.  One stopped by this morning with a special present for ML.  A handmade purse using the same fabric as my living room pillows.  And a big chocolate bunny.  As you will see in the picture below, ML is honest and polite.  Luckily, the gift giver will laugh as much as I did when she receives the thank you.  Here’s what it says, “Thank you for the purs and chokclet.  Next time please get Milk Chocklet.”


Looking forward to sharing what we think of the new books.  In the meantime, we’re off to Easter dinner and an egg hunt with her cousin at her Great Aunt’s house.




Summer Camp… What does ML Think?

17 Apr

Camp TimberwoodCookingCampDisasterIvyBean Make Rules

Below is the transcript of last nights phone conversation with ML.

Me: I signed you up for 4 weeks of Y Camp today.

ML: No fair!

Me: – (guilty working mom thoughts bubbling up)

ML: Only 4 weeks at Camp Skyline. Why can’t I go more?

In college, I worked as a Camp Counselor for two summers.  Then, I was the Program Director for the 9 & 10 year old girls for two summers.  I saw firsthand the wonderful opportunity camp is for girls to develop independence and experience new things.  Recently ML asked to go to sleep-away camp.  I’m fully supportive of this idea.  So it’s time for me to start saving pennies.  Sleep-away camp isn’t cheap.  It won’t be an every summer thing for ML.  However, I will try my best to get her there a few summers.

Hail, Hail Camp Timberwood by Ellen Conford was one of my favorite books during my late elementary school years.  I don’t recall the plot.  I only remember I loved it.  Here’s the plot summary from Goodreads. . .  For thirteen-year-old Melanie Kessler, going to overnight camp was no way to spend a summer vacation. Right from the start, Melanie knew there was going to be trouble. Getting stuck with the six-year-old Tadpoles in the beginners’ swim class was downright embarrassing. So was her horse’s decision to take a trot in the lake–with Melanie aboard!

Now, to top things off, Melanie finds herself falling in love with Steve, the cutest boy in camp.  Of course, she’s not the only girl to feel this way.  Can she keep her archrival, Erica Stone, from breaking things up between her and Steve before they even get started?  This just might turn out to be Melanie’s best summer ever!

A few years ago, I bought a copy at a used book store.  When ML is older, I’ll share it with her.  In the meantime, I’ll encourage her to read two early chapter books about camp.

Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew:  Cooking Camp Disaster by Carolyn Keene and illustrated by Macky PamintuanNancy and her friends are excited to spend part of their summer at a cooking camp, but when the recipes start making kids sick, they must find out who is sabotaging the food.

Ivy + Bean Make the Rules by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie BlackallSeven-year-old Bean is too young to go to the camp her sister Nancy is attending, so she and her best friend Ivy decide to create their own camp.


ML is Branching Out – Ivy + Bean

9 Apr


Every time we visit the library I ask, “Why don’t you try an Ivy + Bean book?”  ML responds, “No.”  I admit I haven’t read any of the books, but lots of girls ML’s age ask for them.  I’ve held off reading them. . . hoping ML would eventually be interested.  Then, we could read them together.  Well, that moment has arrived.  Last night she showed me a book.  “Look!  I checked out an Ivy + Bean book, and I already read 5 chapters.”  With that speed reading, I may not have chance for us to read them aloud.  There are 10 books in this series by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.  ML’s starting with book 4 Ivy+ Bean Take Care of the Babysitter.  Like most series for this age, I don’t think it matters the order you read them.

ML still reads the Rainbow Magic books.  She’s saving her  money to buy the Rainbow Magic Earth Fairies Series from the latest Scholastic book order flyer.  I asked, “Do you want to donate them to the school library when you are finished?”  She said, “That’s what I was thinking.”  She’s paying $7 and is very proud of it.  I’m covering the rest.  I love it my daughter wants to spend her money on books.  Then, share them with others.

We continue to read picture books and marvel over the illustrations.  Last night, she was still awake when I arrived home from the board meeting for Postpartum Education and Support.  A cause which, as a survivor of a postpartum mood disorder, is near and dear to me.  ML informed me she couldn’t sleep because she wanted me to read her a book.  She picked A Gift For Mama by Linda Ravin Lodding and illustrated by Alison Jay from my 8 Great New Picture Books post.  She loved it.  I shared about my time in Vienna showing her places in the book I visited.  She didn’t realize European cities include buildings from a long time ago and modern days.


The Gruffalo’s Child

8 Apr


A few weeks ago I did a post called The Gruffalo about an international bestseller picture book.  In response to the post I learned about the sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child.  Sequels can be hit or miss, so I didn’t know what to expect.

The Gruffalo’s Child written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated  by Axel Scheffler is as funny and clever as the first Gruffalo book.  ML loved it and I did too.

Read the books in order for a perfect read-aloud experience with your child.

Herman and Rosie

4 Apr


Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon is a gentle book about loneliness, finding your true self, and finding a soul mate.  ML enjoyed the story, but the creative illustrations set in New York City were her favorite part.  I enjoyed the illustrations, but the detailed story of overcoming obstacles was my favorite part.  A perfect book for children and adults.

A crocodile named Herman works in a tall office building on the fifty-first floor in a small cubicle selling things.  He enjoys playing the oboe.   Rosie, a deer, works in an upscale restaurant during the day and sings at a local night club. They both enjoy films about the ocean.  Unbeknownst to them, they are crossing paths all over New York City…  outside the cafe, on the subway, in the park, and  at the library.

Walking past Schwarzmann’s Jazz Academy, Herman hears Rosie singing.  This inpires him to create a “jazzy little number.” Herman plays the tune on his oboe from the roof of his building.  It catches Rosie’s attention.  After numerous missed connections and depressing times in each of their lives, they meet.  Rosie leaps from her balcony, climbs a rain gutter, and jumps from one building to another to find the person playing the tune she can’t get out of her mind.

A funky new jazz band is formed.  The name is based on their other shared interest… the ocean.  If you know the name of a famous oceanographer, you can easily guess the name of the band.

8 Great New Picture Books

3 Apr

The Noro virus took over our life a few weeks ago.  Luckily, I request all picture books my library system buys.  I wasn’t at work to peruse the new books when they arrived at the library; but they were waiting on me when I returned.  I haven’t shared the books with ML yet.  She’s hanging out with her dad for spring break.  Friday night, we’ll have a picture book marathon.



Oliver’s Tree by Kit Chase – As a tree climber, ML will love this book.  My coworker said, “Something about this book makes me think of Winnie the Pooh.”  It’s true.   The illustrations remind me of  E. H. Shepard’s gentle illustrations in the Pooh books by A. A. Milne.


Matilda’s Cat by Emily Gravett – This book has the funniest facial expressions I’ve ever seen on a cat.  ML is going to laugh through the entire book, especially the page where the cat is served a banana at Matilda’s tea party.  I’m bringing home Dogs by Emily Gravett too.  Then, ML can truly appreciate all the humor in this book.


Where’s Mommy? by Beverly Donofrio and illustrated by Barbara McClintock -A companion to a book ML enjoyed…  Mary and The Mouse, The Mouse and Mary.  The detailed illustrations comparing the little girl’s day to the little mouse’s day enchant.  ML will love the creative use of everyday things the mice use to furnish their home.  This is a book I’d love to receive for Mother’s Day.



The Good-Pie Party by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton  – Moving is hard.  No-one likes to say good-bye.  Thankfully, our move was only 3 miles.  ML doesn’t go to school with her friends from our old neighborhood, but we haven’t lost touch.  They are a part of her book club.  The water-color illustrations remind me of our wonderful neighbors from ML’s first five years.  On a very hard day in my life, they joined me for a “When Life Throws You Lemons – Make Lemonade And Lemon Pie Party.”  Pie makes everything easier.


Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle and illustrated by G. Brian Karas –  This book shows the beginning of the storm, the mad dash for the subway and the emergence from below to a rainbow in the sky.  Had it arrived earlier this spring, it would have made the Onomatopoeia Part 2 post.   G. Brian Karas uses collages of photographs, gouache and pencils seamlessly integrating the feel of a subway station and the playfulness of the story.


A Gift for Mama  by Linda Ravin Lodding and illustrated by Alison Jay – A lovely story set in Vienna, Austria showing those who give receive what they need.  The crackled illustrations provide an old-world feel to this book set in 1894.


When the Wind Blew by Alison Jackson and illustrated by Doris Barrette – This book arrived days after my Nursery Rhymes post.  The whimsical, upside-down, fly-about illustrations complement the story.


Splat! Starring the Vole Brothers by Roslyn Schwartz – A story filled with one syllable words and sounds.  There’s a Flap, Flap, Flap before the Splat!  Guess what happens?  All children will laugh at this scatalogical tale.  The banana peel at the end adds a twist.

Most libraries have a feature allowing you to request books.  This allows you to get on a list for books when they are checked out.  If they are checked in at another location in your library system, you can have it sent to the branch you frequent.  It keeps you from driving all over.


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