Will “Get the Scoop on Animal Poop!” Win the North Carolina Junior Book Award?

Scoop on Animal Poop

Recently, I set a goal to read all the nominees for the North Carolina Children’s Book Award… both the Picture Book and Junior Book Award.  I’ve read all the nominees for the Picture Book Award; and I’m not able to predict which book I think will win this category.

However, I just finished Get the Scoop on Animal Poop by Dawn Cusick.  Even without reading the other choices, I think it will win by a long shot.  The cover actually shows a longer title… Get the Scoop on Animal Poop!  From Lions to Tapeworms: 251 Cool Facts about Scat, Frass, Dung and More! along with the backside of a cow who has just pooped and gotten it’s legs.  I’m sure you are thinking gross.  However, ML and I can attest to the scientific accuracy of this photo.  We’ve seen this multiple times watching the cows on her grandfather’s farm.

Reading my comments above, some may consider this book distasteful, vulgar and objectionable. It’s not.  It’s a well written scientific account, where color photographs abound, about a subject children relish.  Although, I don’t suggest reading it right after eating.

A couple of quotes:

“Jellyfish have incomplete digestive systems, which means their waste comes out of the same place their food goes in.” p. 14

“To trick their prey, predators such as wolves, jackals and lions roll in the dung of a plant-eater before they go hunting.” p. 19

“The amount of splatter a bird’s feces creates is a matter of simple physics.” p. 29

“To mark their territories, hippos spin their tails around and around, when they poop, spraying their feces in all directions!” p.58

The most important thing I learned, I am probably not allergic to dust mites and cockroaches per se.  It appears their frass is the true reason I give myself allergy shots and have special covers for my mattress.  Next time I see a cockroach, I won’t scream unless I see it’s frass.

I must add this book to my previous Poop, Scat, Do-Do post.  Probably need to do a post on vomit.  Dawn Cusick just released a book called Get the Scoop on Animal Puke this week.

Nancy Knows by Cybele Young

Nancy Knows

ML and I savored Nancy Knows by Cybele Young.  A story about an elephant named Nancy whose trying to remember something important; but her mind is flighty.  It wanders all over the place… thinking of clothes, things from long ago, places to go and so much more.

The illustrations are amazing!  A sketch of Nancy is drawn on each page using graphite pencil.  Inside the outline, tiny sculptures made with Japanese papers abound.  Not just one or two tiny sculptures per page.  Numerous intricate sculptures.  I’m guessing over five hundred different ones throughout the book.

Our favorites include… the tricycle, the high heeled shoes, the hammock, the hot air balloons, the pacifier, the old fashioned camera, the guitar, the apples, the whisk, the snowflakes, the basketball hoop, the scooter and more.

Finally, Nancy remembers the important thing she’s forgotten.  She thinks of trees, a tire swing, balls, a bucket, a shovel.  Can you guess where she is supposed to be?


Gravity – An Amazing Book


Sometimes nonfiction books explain scientific terms in a boring way; not Gravity by Jason Chin. In 32 pages, and less than 70 words, Chin uses everyday objects from childhood to explain this concept.  Don’t just read the words.  Pay attention to the illustrations.  View the obvious.  Discover the inconspicuous. Only then, will you understand the magic of this book.

There are two pages at the end with more words.  (I did not include this in the word count mentioned above.) I consider it an afterword… “More About Gravity.” It was late so we didn’t read it. Whether you read it or not, make sure to turn to the very last page in the book.  Notice the illustration.  I guarantee you’ll chuckle.

A quote from the book jacket “As in his previous books, Redwoods, Coral Reefs, and Island, Jason Chin has taken a complex subject and made it understandable to young readers in this unusual, innovative and very beautiful book.”

I’m off work today; but Monday I’m checking out his other books.

Slumber Party: My Friend is Crazy

I’m a little upset with my friend.  My “go to” excuse for not having a slumber party with over three kids at our was our house is too small.  Not going to work now.  My friend’s place is the same size.

The first slumber party I remember attending was at Laura’s house.  Sometime that night, her mom threatened to pop us with a wooden spoon if weren’t quiet.  The next morning we watched Saturday morning cartoons.  If I remember correctly, it was the premiere of the Smurfs, September 12, 1981.  (Thank you Wikipedia for confirming this.) Laura’s birthday was in September; so I’m sure my memory is correct.

Can’t write a post without recommending some books.  Second graders still love being read picture books; and are proud of their ability to read chapter books.  I’ve included both.


What! Cried Granny:  An Almost Bedtime Story by Kate Lum and pictures by Adrian Johnson – This my favorite story to read to kids about a sleepover for two reasons.  One… it’s funny.  Two… it’s at his grandmother’s house.  For many children, spending the night with grandparents is their first sleepover experience.  “When her grandson Patrick arrives for his first sleepover, Granny’s resourceful efforts to provide him with a bed, pillow, and other necessities result in a sleepless night for both of them.”

Froggys Sleepover

Froggy’s Sleepover by Jonathan London and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz – The story line and illustrations in Froggy books are always funny and a delight to share with a group.  The stuff he packs for the sleepover are quite noisy.  The sleeping bag “sloofs” and the pillow “poofs.”  “Froggy is excited about his first sleepover, but a series of events sends Froggy and Max back and forth between their houses, until it seems they will never fall asleep.”  They finally fall asleep at 9 a.m.  Hoping this isn’t my friend’s reality.

Rabbit Robot

Rabbit & Robot:  The Sleepover by Cece Bell – Rabbit is looking forward to Robot coming over for a sleepover.  He’s written out a plan for the evening.  1. Make pizza.  2. Watch TV.  3. Play Go Fish.  4. Go go bed.  However, things do not go as planned.  A clever story deserving of the Theodor Seuss Giesel Honor it received.

Marigold Lake

The Critter Club:  Liz at Marigold Lake by Callie Barkley and illustrated by Marsha Riti – This is a perfect series for the birthday girl and friends.  They are animal crazy!  The Critter Club is made up of “Four best friends who band together to form a rescue shelter to save lost and lonely animals in their town. Amy, Ellie, Liz, and Marion each have different personalities and interests, but they all have one thing in common: a serious love of animals.” In book seven, “Liz is excited her three best friends are visiting her family’s cabin at Marigold Lake, but something seems to go wrong with every activity she plans.”


I can’t forget to mention Sleepover With Beatrice and Bear by Monica Carnesi.  I featured it a few posts ago.  Another great sleepover picture book.


We Met Jon Scieszka

Stinky Cheesefrank einsteinBattle BunnyTrue Story Pigs

In 1991, my good friend from college introduced me to Jon Scieszka books.  She was taking a Children’s Literature course for her degree in Early Childhood Education.  I’ve followed his career for over twenty years.  I consider him the father of the “Fractured Fairy Tale” subgenre.  I’m sure others penned these types of tales before him; but his book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs was the first I read.

Several months ago, I learned he was visiting our local bookstore on August 25th to promote his new book.  I hesitated for a second… 7 pm after the first day of school.  Might make our day extra crazy.  Sanity returned.  I thought, “Who cares?  Jon Scieszka doesn’t visit a bookstore half a mile from your house everyday.”

ML’s book club read The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales for their second meeting.  I drove four girls from the club to the event.  With the windows rolled down, they were singing at the top of their lungs some pop song out the window to the high school guys playing basketball at our local park.  I love second grade girls.  Free as can be, not worrying about what others think.

That’s what I love about Jon Scieszka too.  He didn’t follow the conventions of children’s literature in the nineties.  All you have to do is read The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.  This book includes the words stupid and ugly.  Various fonts and different sized text are used.  Common these days; but rare last century.

I love the timelessness of his books.  I am confident his new series will continue this trend. Frank Einstein and The Anti Matter Motor is the first book.  Five more books to come. “Frank Einstein loves figuring out how the world works by creating household contraptions that are part science, part imagination, and definitely unusual.”  The series  “takes readers from Matter to Energy to Humans to Life to Earth and on through the Universe – from the smallest objects (atoms) to the largest (the cosmos).” (Quotes from Frank Einstein’s website.)

When we meet authors or illustrators, I always purchase a book to be autographed.  ML chose Battle Bunny.  I stood in line while she and her friends perused the children’s books.  Each girl begged me to buy them a Rescue Princess book.  I said, “I’m not buying any more books tonight.”  In unison, they begged, “Please, please, please.”  I told ML, “You’re welcome to use your money to buy the book and share it with your friends.”  She did.  I asked Jon Scieszka if he could “Battle Bunny” it.  Not sure what this means, check out mybirthdaybunny.com.  I know I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover; but I am princessed and fairied out.  Want to “Battle Bunny” a book, print up a copy of Birthday Bunny, get out your pen, and go to it.

He has so many other great books for kids, especially boys.  I featured his Time Warp Trio on the Series Fiction for Elementary School Boys post. I can’t wait to read some of his Guys Read books.  I discovered them a few days before the event.

Finally, here’s proof we met him.  After, I told him about ML’s book club reading The Stinky Cheese Man, he started calling them “The Stinky Cheese Club.”











How We Spent Our Labor Day Weekend


Last week, I featured How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague. Today, I share How We Spent Our Labor Day Weekend.

We had a Lice-A-Palooza. A term I learned from David Shannon’s book Bugs In My Hair! I’ve already shared a post on the book. You can read about my first lice experience as a mom here.  I held a minor role. My friend diagnosed, called someone to treat ML, bagged up stuffed animals, and washed multitudes of loads of laundry.

I learned a lot this weekend.

Perspective: Even in my annoyance, I’m thankful and thinking of the mother and grandmother of the young man I featured in the post In Memory of a Courageous Athlete. They who would give anything to be combing lice out of Keaton’s hair.

No Shame Here: While in the shower rinsing out the olive oil with Dawn, ML was singing a new version of some pop song “You can tell everybody.  You can tell everybody.  I have lice.  I have lice.  I have Liiiiiiice!” Confused about the olive oil and Dawn? Part of a natural treatment my friend shared.

Mother/Daughter Bonding: Even at the craziest times, it can happen. Last night, we rubbed Cetaphil all over our scalps and hair. Then, put on shower caps and went to sleep. ML wouldn’t let me take a picture; but I’m pretty certain we’ll remember it for a long time.

I Have Supercool Friends: Lice discovered Saturday morning. Of course we had a friend sleepover with ML Friday night. I called the mom to let her know I thought ML had lice. I wasn’t sure. We decided the damage was done and she let her daughter stay the rest of the morning. Her husband is a very talented lice spotter. When he picked Louise up he confirmed my suspicion. I said, “You should start a lice discovery business.” ML informed me, “Louise’s dad already had a job.” But the next time, ML is scratching her head, we’re showing up at their house with $5 and chopsticks.

Facebook Keeps You Sane: At least in this instance, when you can’t leave the house because your washing machine and dryer are going nonstop. The advice and support I received was immeasurable.

One Special Day: A Story For Big Brothers & Sisters

One Special Day

I’m often asked for stories about a new sibling arriving. Tonight, we read One Special Day: A Story For Big Brothers & Sisters written by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Jessica Meserve. Spencer is a wild and crazy boy. “Strong as a bear. Loud as an elephant. Messy as a pig.” And more! One special day Spencer is quiet. He’s waiting to meet the new addition to his family; so he can gently hold the baby.

ML asked, “Is it a brother or sister?” At first, she thought brother.  Then, I closed the book.  She looked at the cover; and decided it was a sister. Read the book and you’ll see why.  It’s my new go to book about the arrival of a sibling.

Last year, I presented a storytime where I read some rollicking books about babies.  The preschoolers loved it. After the books I discovered for the StrollerThon post and this new book, I’m performing another Baby themed storytime this winter. One Special Day is a perfect storytime read. Each page is a guessing game. For example, one page states “He was fast-” When you turn the page, there is an illustration of a horse created with digital oil pastel.  Not sure how this art technique works; but the result captivated us.

Addendum:  I contact authors and illustrators when I feature their books.  Often I learn really cool things.  Like what their working on now.  Lola Schaeffer shared about how sometimes a book idea comes and you have to drop everything.  Here’s what she wrote.

“I can admit to you that One Special Day came to me in one swift gust of words. I was preparing lunch and had to throw everything back into the refrigerator and run up to the computer to type it.  Sometimes our strongest work comes that way. We writers call that a “gift” book. It’s a gift that the universe channels through us.  It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s heaven.”