Need to Talk to Your Child About Chores? Use Julia’s House for Lost Creatures

Lost Creatures

When we started reading Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke, I had no idea I would use it to discuss ML’s need to step it up on her chores.  After Julia hangs a sign at her house stating “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures,” a variety of characters arrive… a kitty, a troll, gnomes, a mermaid, a dragon, a ghost and a host of others.  Chaos ensues.

Eventually, Julia has enough.  She yells at the creatures, runs to her workshop and places a “Do Not Disturb” sign on her door.  After a bit she returns with a new sign, “Julia’s House Chore Chart.”  We giggled at the appropriateness of the assignments.  Dragon – make toast.  Ghost- polish and dust.

One of the most creative story lines I’ve seen in years.

Last Night’s Hit – Cats Got Talent


Last night, we plowed through some picture books.  Cats Got Talent by Ron Barrett received two thumbs up from ML.  I read the story and ML sang the “MEE-YOWLS.”  We both enjoyed the quirky illustrations.  An added bonus.  ML learned two new words… despicable and tumultuous.  And here’s four words to describe the book… a boisterous, rollicking adventure.

Red Hats

Very Little RedRed Knit Cap Girl

Women of a “certain age” embrace red hats.  So does children’s literature.  Recently, we read two stellar books featuring girls with red on their heads.

Usually, ML won’t read picture books to me.  I’m the designated reader.  However, ML and her friends are going through a baby talk stage; so it wasn’t hard to convince ML to read Very Little Red Riding Hood by Heapy & Heap aloud.  In this rendition, Red is a toddler who outsmarts the wolf the way all young children outsmart their elders… by tiring him out.

ML and I enjoyed the first two Red Knit Cap Girl books by Naoko Stoop this summer.  When I realized a new title was being published in September, I decided to wait to introduce you to to this adorable character.  I’m glad I waited.  The third book, Red Knit Cap Girl and the Reading Tree, is our favorite.  Two things we love in one title… reading and trees.  In this book, Red Knit Cap Girl, White Bunny, Squirrel, Bear, Hedgehog, Birds, Beaver, Deer, Turtle and other animals of the forest contribute their skills to build this “Woodland Library.”  Just like the real world… libraries are built by communities.

The illustrations in the Red Knit Cap Girl books are created using acrylic, ink and pencil on plywood.  The grain of the wood adds a surprise element and depth to the illustrations.  I’ve acquired a piece of plywood.  We’re trying this art technique next weekend.

What are your favorite books featuring red hatted characters?


Colors Versus Shapes – Earns Gold Star

Colors vs Shapes

A little over a year ago, I highlighted 123 Versus ABC by Mike Boldt stating… “I don’t want to spoil the ending but . . . what would happen if colors joined the fray?”

I often email authors and illustrators my posts about their books.  Many respond.  Here’s what Mike Boldt had to say.  “And just because you liked the ending, I’ll share this top secret piece of not-even-approved-yet part of what may-or-may-not be for a sequel book about Colors and their rivals that rhyme with apes.”

Thankfully, the sequel referred to in the message was published. Colors Versus Shapes earned a gold star from ML and myself.  This book ends with a fabulous last page too.

Currently, ML tries to determine how the illustrations are created for each book we read. The pictures in this book were created digitally using Corel Paint.  I tried to explain digital design; but my knowledge is limited.  Thankfully, Mike Boldt gives a demo on one of his blog posts… Swamp.



Dress Like a Book Character Day – A Change in Plans


Earlier this month I wrote about ML’s plans for her school’s Dress Like a Book Character Day

“ML knows who she wants to be; and even has the costume idea.  Thankfully, we can create it with items we have at home… pink clothes, pink chenille stick, pink felt and a headband.  Any guesses?”

Today is the big day.  Last night, I asked ML to collect the supplies needed for her costume.  Then asked, “Do you need me to wash some pink clothes?” She yelled, “I don’t need pink clothes anymore.  I’m not going to be Mercy Watson.  Where’s the felt? Where are my reading glasses?”

ML created her costume using  green pants, a green shirt, red felt, tacky glue and glasses.  Any guesses on who her character is?  Hint:  I blogged about this character last week.

“Guess what Ms. Baker’s giving me for my birthday?”


That’s what ML asked me last Friday.  My guesses were wrong.  In a lilting voice she said, “A test.”  I was surprised at her excitement.  Ms. Baker is ML’s math teacher.  A few weeks ago, ML was weepy and anxious after her first math test.  I fully expected bemoaning with the next one.  Then, I remembered they are studying geometry.  My little artist loves shapes.  These past few weeks she’s enjoyed identifying rhombuses, quadrilaterals, parallelograms, calculating the perimeter and creating shape people.

From time to time, I read as many books by an author or illustrator as I can get my hands on. Marla Frazee’s new book, The Farmer and The Clown arrived for me Saturday.  A delightful reminder to explore more of her work.  I read all the books on the shelf.  Then, requested the rest.  I highlighted her book Boot and Shoe on my dad’s 70th birthday.

I realized Stars by Mary Lyn Ray and Marla Frazee is the perfect book to highlight on ML’s birthday.  It’s about many of the things ML loves… shapes, imaginative play, the night sky, dressing up, strawberries, pumpkins, fairies, snowflakes, dandelions and fireworks.

I highlighted her book Boot and Shoe on my dad’s 70th birthday.  My brother’s birthday is the next one in the family.  Wonder what Marla Frazee book I’ll highlight then?  Hint… as a young child, he insisted his name was Farmer Brown.


ML said, “Will you walk me to my classroom so I can show you the book I like?”

Geronimo StiltonRoom on Broom


Recently, ML told me about a series with mice in it she liked from her classroom library.  My first thought was the classic mouse series from my childhood featuring Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary.  It wasn’t and I was stumped.  Stupid is the only word to describe how I felt when ML showed me, It’s Halloween You ‘Fraidy Mouse, a Geronimo Stilton book.  He’s the main character in the most popular mouse series in publication these days.  I’m most likely to find his books on the cart of books just returned to the library, not the bookshelves.

Tomorrow is ML’s birthday.  On the way to work, I ran into Target thinking surely they will have a Geronimo Stilton book.  They didn’t.  I work until 9 pm tonight, so I can’t get to a bookstore.  ML’s schedule is such I don’t see her on Thursdays.  I couldn’t bear to not see her on her birthday; so her dad’s going to drop her at the house in the morning. I will take her to school; so I can give her a “birthday card.”  Actually, I bought her the book Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.  It’s hard to believe; but a paperback book costs about the same as a fancy card.

The Scholastic Book Fair begins Friday at ML’s school.  I feel certain she will have a chance to buy a Geronimo Stilton book because Scholastic Books publishes the series.  To be on the safe side, I checked out one of the three books from the recently returned bookcart.  As usual, I didn’t find any on the shelf.  The Mystery in Venice will be waiting for ML Friday night after her school’s Fall Festival.