Bella Lost and Found by Ryan O’Rourke


My dear friends Debbie and Dale moved to Oriental, NC with their cats Bella and Coby to be near their sailboat.  When Bella Lost and Found by Ryan O’Rourke arrived at the library, I couldn’t stop thinking about their invitation to visit.  It’s time we venture to the Pamlico Sound, where ML experienced her first sailing trip when she was a mere eight months old.

What’s this book about?  The dust jacket’s describes the plot perfectly.  “Bella is an indoor cat who lives inside a lighthouse.  She has always imagined having great adventures on the high seas.  But she has never gone outside until . . .  One day she finds an open door and ventures down to the sea.  Bella hops onto a sailboat and drifts away just like in her dreams.”  As for the illustrations, the front cover provides a small taste of the delightful pictures inside the book.

Rumor has it Debbie is volunteering at a local school.  A perfect fit for her as she performed storytimes for at least fifteen years.  Bella Lost and Found is an excellent book for her to read aloud.  Then, she can tell the group about her Bella.  I don’t think we’ll visit empty-handed.  Guess what we’ll bring?


Edward Gibbs’ I Spy Books

I Spy With My Little EyeI Spy Under the Sea

ML read three Edward Gibbs’ I Spy books the other night while I cooked dinner.  She yelled to me in the kitchen, “Mommy, what’s that fish with the long nose?”  Then, quickly said, “Nevermind… Swordfish.”  She guessed all the answers for each page of these books using the written and visual clues.

This week at the library we received I Spy With My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs in board book format.  Instead of paper pages, board books have thick cardboard pages perfect for toddlers developing fine motor skills.  I’m thrilled the publishers released it in board book.  I hope the other titles in this series are published in board book soon.

I’m adding this title to my post Books for a One Year Old Birthday Present.

Nonfiction Matters

The article Children’s Nonfiction Rising from the Huffington Post reminded me of two things.  My pledge to read fifty-two nonfiction titles for children this year and my slacking off on posting about nonfiction. Our library catalog allows you to search the newest additions to the library.  One subject heading is Children’s Nonfiction.  Today I judged the books by the covers and checked out eight nonfiction books.  I tried to get a variety of topics.  Below are the ones I’m eager to share with ML.

Pinecone Projects

Super Simple Pinecone Projects by Kelly Doudna – The beginning pages start with nonfiction information about pinecones in nature, which I think is a great idea.  When looking at the crafts, the first three were super simple and used at many preschools. At this point, I was unsure the book would hold ML’s interest.  Then, I reached page twenty… bobblehead pinecones.  A creative, clever idea.  From there, the ideas were perfect for ML’s age.  Pinecone art will be a part of our fall.

If It Rains Pancakes

If It Rains Pancakes:  Haiku and Lantern Poems by Brian P. Cleary with illustrations by Andy Rowland – I’m familiar with the haiku form of poetry.  This spring I did several posts about them.  This new book tweaked my interest because I wasn’t familiar with the term lantern poems.  I’m co-chairing the Poetry Celebration at ML’s school again this year.  Can’t wait to share lantern poems with the students.  Here’s one from the book.

– ah-CHOOOO –
out of my nose

Magic School Bus Presents Wild Weather

The Magic School Bus Presents Wild Weather by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen – ML’s been a Magic School Bus fan since she was three.  This nonfiction companion to the original Magic School Bus series includes the fun characters from the books and beautiful color illustrations.  The library owns five titles from this new series.  I’m checking out all five for ML.

Park Scientists

Park Scientists:  Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard by Mary Kay Carson and photographs by Tom Uhlman – The text of this book will be difficult for ML to read.  But it provides a great opportunity for me to share about my trips to various National Parks.  Three parks are featured – Yellowstone, Saguaro and Great Smoky Mountains.

Mysterious Patterns

Mysterious Patterns:  Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell with photographs by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell - One thing I love about children’s nonfiction is I am always learning something new.  If I learned about fractals in school, I’ve forgotten about these cool patterns.  Broccoli florets, trees, river systems and so many other fractals in our world.

See What a Seal Can Do

See What a Seal Can Do by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Kate Nelms – Seals flump.  If you don’t know what that means, this book is perfect for you.  Who knew seals breathe out when taking a dive? These days most nonfiction we receive include glossy colored illustrations.  This book with mixed media illustrations looks and reads like a picture book.  Many nonfiction books aren’t great read alouds to a group.  This one works perfectly.

Space Exploration

Space Exploration:  It Is Rocket Science created Basher and written by Dan Green – If this book was in alphabetical order, I would call it an in depth dictionary on rocket science.  From space shuttles to Venus Express to Cassini-Huygens to space tourists and more, you can learn about the equipment and people exploring outer space.  I’m not a space expert so it was interesting to have all these things described in an easy to understand format.

National Geographic Student Atlas

National Geographic Student World Atlas - As a child, I loved to explore the globe we owned.  Spinning it and stopping it with my finger to see which country it landed on.  When this new atlas appeared at the library, I was intrigued.  Back in the day, I could name most of the countries in the world.  There were some countries I was unfamiliar with in this atlas… Eritrea and Tajikistan to name two.  No doubt if ML memorizes all the countries names, there will be different countries when she is an adult.  My favorite part of the book is the Flags & Stats pages at the end.

In Memory of a Courageous Athlete


My heart is breaking at the death of a young man I never met.  Over forty-five years ago, my parents were newlyweds living in a small town in south Georgia.  They met lifelong friends who had two small children.  When my parents moved three hours away, the friendship continued.  Doris and my mom wrote letters to each other back when that still happened.  Their family visited our family.  We visited them.  Braves games and Six Flags and just hanging out are some of the memories I have. Since my mother passed away, Doris has continued this lifelong friendship.  Reaching out and supporting me through both happy and difficult times.

The grandson of this wonderful family passed away yesterday.  When he was a junior in high school, Keaton was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Even through his treatment, which included surgeries and chemotherapy, he played football.  For the past two years, I’ve been following his story on Facebook via his mom and grandmother.  Watching with amazement at this courageous young man who didn’t let brain cancer keep him from enjoying high school to the fullest.  Football games, homework, high school dances.  He did it all.

Since learning of his death, I’ve been searching for the perfect picture book to honor him.  I thought maybe a story about football.  But I couldn’t find one I liked.  Through a web search using the words picture books and courage, I found one.


Wilma, Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became The World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by David Diaz – A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.

Just like Wilma Rudolph, Keaton plowed through showing others what one can do with determination and pure grit.  A few weeks ago he was chosen as Georgia’s Male Positive Athlete of The Year.  No one deserves this honor more.

Books for a One Year Old Birthday Present

A dear friend of my mom’s, who has been wonderful to me since my mom passed away, sent this request a few weeks ago.  “Do you have a recommendation for a great book to give a one year old for their birthday? Been so long with my grands now I can’t think of the perfect one.”  She only asked for one idea but I gave her ten.

Good Night Gorilla

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman – An unobservant zookeeper is followed home by all the animals he thinks he has left behind in the zoo.

Chicka Chicka

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault and illustrated by Lois Ehlert – An alphabet rhyme/chant that relates what happens when the whole alphabet tries to climb a coconut tree.

From Head to Toe

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle – Readers enjoy copying the movements of various animals presented in this story.

Mother Mother

Mother, Mother I Want Another by Maria Polushkin Robbins and illustrated by Jon Goodell – Mrs. Mouse is anxious to get her son to sleep and goes off to find what she thinks he wants.

Dear Zoo

Dear Zoo By Rod Campbell – Answering a child’s request, the zoo keeps sending a wide assortment of animals until they find the perfect pet.

Bear Hunt

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt retold by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury – Brave bear hunters go through grass, a river, mud and other obstacles before the inevitable encounter with the bear forces a headlong retreat.

Owl Babies

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Patrick Benson – Three owl babies whose mother has gone out in the night try to stay calm while she is gone.

I Went Walking

I Went Walking by Sue Williams and illustrated by Julie Vivas – During the course of a walk, a boy identifies animals of different colors.

Good Night Construction Site

Good Night, Good Night Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld – At sunset, when their work is done for the day, a crane truck, a cement mixer, and other pieces of construction equipment make their way to their resting place.

Freight Train

Freight Train by Donald Crews – Brief text and illustrations trace the journey of a colorful train as it goes through tunnels, by cities and over trestles.

I Spy With My Little Eye

I Spy With My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs – Asks young readers to identify the animal based on their color, including blue for a blue whale, white for a polar bear, and green for a frog, with die-cut spy holes.

All synopsis are from the library catalog records.

The Meaning of Maggie – A Middle Grade Novel


I don’t finish a lot of novels written for middle grades.  Instead, I read a few chapters because I need to have knowledge of these books for work.  If I finish one, I know it is worth sharing on the blog.  I cried while reading The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern.

When the book arrived at the library, the cover intrigued me.  Once I read the synopsis of the book and learned the author lives in Atlanta I decided to take the book home.  I grew up outside of Atlanta; so in my mind this book was set there.  Maggie’s father has to quit his job at the airport due to an illness which starts with an M.  Maggie’s clueless about the name of his illness and the reality of it’s progression.  Her mom starts working to support the family at a fancy hotel.

I grew up outside of Atlanta.  In my mind, the hotel was either the Peachtree Plaza or the Hyatt Regency with the blue bubble.  I’m thinking it was the Hyatt Regency because the book mentions the atrium.  In my childhood, I was fortunate to have a Shirley Temple and lots of pretzels at the rotating bar inside this blue bubble.  Maggie’s family was not in a position where this was a reality.  When she visited the hotel with her mom, she ate in the employee cafeteria.

Enough of my reminiscing.  This book is both heart breaking and heart warming.  Maggie is a quirky young lady who is starting middle school.  She’s excited about turning eleven because it’s one year closer to college.  Plus she received her dream birthday present… Coca-cola stock.

My favorite quote from the book is on page twenty-four.  “I’d always thought all the answers to life’s questions were in books.  I’d thought knowing where the sidewalk ended and where the red fern grew and where the wild things were could help me figure out LIFE.”

It wasn’t until I read the Acknowledgements at the end of the book, I learned the book is a fictionalized account of her family’s experience.  For more information read The Story Behind The Story  on Megan Jean Sovern’s website.

ML’s not ready for this book yet.  But when she’s older, I plan for us to read it.

New Picture Books to Read When ML Returns From the Beach

It’s the end of the fiscal year for the library, which means great books are arriving everyday.  And ML’s not here.  These are the new picture books I’ll have at home for us to read when she returns.

Perfect Place For Ted

A Perfect Place For Ted by Leila Rudge – “A little dog named Ted sets out to find his perfect place, but no matter where he goes, he doesn’t stand out.  Will anyone ever notice Ted?”  Sometimes the perfect place isn’t where you expect.  ML is certain to giggle at the end of this book.

Pardon Me

Pardon Me! by Daniel Miyares -  “A bird tries to keep his spot to himself only to discover that spot is not safe.”  I made every coworker read this karmic book.  All loved it, and one even snorted. I already know what ML’s reaction will be on the last page… a grin and a snicker.

Big Bad Baby

Big Bad Baby by Bruce Hale and illustrated by Steve Breen – “When sweet little Sammy turns into Big Bad Baby, nothing can stop his misbehavior — or that of his evil hench-dog, Boris — except perhaps, his mother, armed with his favorite blue blanky.”  I chuckled throughout this Godzillaish story.  I bet you a penny ML will howl the whole time.

Edgars Second Word

Edgar’s Second Word by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Priscilla Burris – “After waiting for her baby brother to arrive, and then waiting for him to learn to talk, Hazel is disappointed in his first word.”  Finally, at the end he says a second and third word.  Hazel likes the second word; and loves the third word.

Sleep Tight Anna Banana

Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques, illustrated by Alexis Dormal and translated by Mark Siegel-  “Tyrannically subjecting her long-suffering stuffed animals to delays and excuses when she does not want to settle down for the night, a lively Anna Banana finally becomes sleepy only to be given a taste of her own medicine.”  This book was originally published in France with the title Ana Ana: Douce nuit.  When ML learns French children play with their stuffed animals at bedtime also, she will think she is tres chic.  As for me, I’m dying to see the French version to find out what Boing! Boing! Boing! is in French.


Green Is a Chile Pepper by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by John Parra – “In this lively picture book, children discover a world of colors all around them: red is spices and swirling skirts, yellow is masa, tortillas and sweet corn cake.”  A smattering of Spanish words are intermixed in the text.  I knew almost all the Spanish words for each of the colors except purple.  Looking forward to seeing which words ML knows.

Oliver and His Egg

Oliver and His Egg by Paul Schmid – “Oliver spots an egg on the playground.  But it’s not just any rock – he’s sure it’s a dinosaur egg.”  My imaginitive, rock loving daughter will relate to this one.

How To Cheer Up Dad

How To Cheer Up Dad by Fred Koehler – After two straight weeks with her dad, I think ML will find this especially funny.  “A young elephant sees his dad is in a bad mood and tries to cheer him up, not realizing his own mischief caused the bad mood in the first place.”  I’m excited to discover this author/illustrator; and even more excited another Jumbo book is coming in 2015.  Look at Jumbo’s face on the cover, who could resist reading books about him.

ML’s first night back will be a eight book night.