Open Wide!


ML loves going to the dentist. Recently, I had a dental appointment. She didn’t. She cried all the way to school.

Open Wide! A Look Inside Animal Mouths by Catharine Ham highlights a variety of animals’ mouths. ML was more interested in looking at the photographs than reading the poetic text. She loved the cheetah. My favorite was the elephant. Who knew such a big animal has such a small mouth?

Can you study animal dentistry? It might be the perfect fit for ML.



ML never drew on the walls. From the time she was allowed to use crayons and markers unsupervised, I explained drawing on walls wasn’t appropriate. So she drew on her desk chair and dollhouse. After discovering this I explained, “We only draw on paper.”

Doodleday by Ross Collins is about a mother warning her son not to draw on Doodleday. She then leaves for the store. What do you think the kid does? He draws. The result major. . . havoc in his house and neighborhood. Luckily, his mom is able to save the day.

Did you ever draw on something other than paper?

Dog’s Colorful Day


ML and I didn’t read Dog’s Coloful Day by Emma Dodd over and over together. But for 3 weeks straight, I caught her reading it all over the house. On the floor in the living room, up in her loft, and while she hid in my bed.

Why wasn’t she asking me to read it? I think learning to read finally clicked for her. The text is simple and repetitive. The illustrations are colorful. It’s a fun book.

What’s the first book you remember reading independently?

Birthday Presents


When ML is invited to a birthday party, I take her to Quail Ridge Books. It’s fun to see what she picks. She takes this job seriously. Recently, she was invited to the birthday party of a set of twins. She methodically shopped for one of the boys; then the other. . . thinking very carefully about each one’s interests.

As a parent, I love the free gift wrapping at the local bookstore. When buying multiple presents, they put little sticky notes with the recipient name on the wrapped book. It’s a great service until the notes are accidently removed. Luckily, ML remembered. She made certain her handmade cards were on the appropriate “butys” book.

Has one of your “butys” ever given you the perfect book?

I Spent My 6th Year in a Sycamore Tree

The backyard of my childhood had an enormous sycamore tree. The lowest branch was too high for me to reach. Everyday after kindergarten, I carried a chair outside and put it under the tree. I used it to boost me into the tree. Then, I kicked it away.

Some of you climbed my sycamore tree. At least one of you, heard your father yell, “Get down from that tree now.” You were almost at the tippy top.

ML loves trees. We moved a few years ago. The hardest part for ML. . . leaving her friends and the fig tree.

A new book arrived at the library recently, Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid. We read it last weekend. My tree hugger/climber/lover gives it two thumbs up.

The illustrations are created from plasticine, an oil based, squishable, never dries out modeling clay. I am buying some this week. Can’t wait to see what ML creates. I’m hoping a tree.

Nurse ML


A month ago, we read a new book called Nurse Clementine by Simon James. Today, ML closed the car door on her elbow on the way to Trader Joe’s. Luckily, one of ML’s favorite sitters works there. She saved the day with ice in a plastic glove.

My mother was a scarf person before they were cool. I am glad I kept them. It’s fun to see ML dressing up in Grandma Nell’s scarves. Today she used one to bandage her arm. She looked like Clementine’s brother.

ML the Messy Sleeper


There is a book called Buglette the Messy Sleeper by Bethanie Deeney Murguia. In 2011, this book arrived at the library. I immediately took it home because ML is a messy sleeper. Rarely is she allowed to crawl into bed with me. However, she has a loft, which means I insist she climbs in bed with me anytime she feels queasy. Trust me! Cleaning vomit out of a loft at 3:00 a.m. is a nightmare.

With daylight lasting longer, we are staying up later. In addition, summer is busy at the library. Last night, I heard footsteps. I felt a poke in the side. Then, I heard a little voice saying, “Mommy, I’m scared.” Usually, I talk to her and put her back in her bed. Last night in my exhaustion, I said, “Climb into my bed.” This morning, I remembered why she sleeps in her bed. My body is aching from being kicked and jabbed.

Another book by Murguia is Snippet the Early Riser. Thankfully, this is not ML. I’ll take messy over early any day of the week. . . especially Saturday mornings.

Sharks and Minnows


When I was a child, we played sharks and minnows in the deep end of the neighborhood pool many times each day. I planned to teach ML how to play it this week; but she has swimmer’s ear.

Instead, I shared a picture book of 2 friends. Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever or — Snack Time by Tammi Sauer.
Nugget is a minnow. Fang is a shark. They are best friends until Nugget goes to school and learns sharks eat minnows. ML loves nonfiction books so the humor of a minnow and shark being best friends wasn’t lost on her.

One of her favorite nonfiction easy reader series is National Geographic Readers. Sharks, Volcanoes, Whales, Snakes, Wolves, Tigers, the list goes on.

Water Fights, Watermelon and Books

Last night, we invited friends over for water fun. Then, watermelon. The kids were soaked.

Parents were encouraged to bring pajamas for their kids to change into. When everyone was dry and in their jammies, I shared a fun new book. The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli They loved it. One of the boys took it home to enjoy again. And probably again. . . and again. . . and again.

His sister wanted to read aloud to the group. She read 999 Frogs Wake Up by Ken Kimura. Picture books are often difficult to read. But she sounded it out and showed all the pictures to her audience on the floor.

The other book I read was, Can You Make a Scary Face by Jan Thomas. All Jan Thomas’ books are funny. In my opinion, this is the funniest. I was shocked to learn ML doesn’t know the chicken dance. Guess what I’m teaching her this weekend? Read the book. You’ll understand why.

Not Another Princess Book


For those of you living the Disney Princess stage. There is hope! Eventually, the obsession will fade. Fade is the keyword, not go completely away.

Adding some non-Disney princess books is harder than you think; especially if your child is 3. Below are some that ML has enjoyed:

Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox
The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas by Tony Williams
The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett
The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herm Auch
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke

I read many books each year. Within a month, I have forgotten most of the books, especially the details. However, a paragraph from Cinderella Ate My Daughter has stayed with me since 2011. Read it below. Warning: you may find it creepy.

“I spoke with Mooney one day in his fittingly palatial office in Burbank, California. In a rolling, Scottish burr that was pretty darned Charming, he told me the now-legendary story: how, about a month into his tenure, he had flown to Phoenix to check out a “Disney on Ice” show and found himself surrounded by little girls in princess costumes. Princess costumes that were — horrors! – homemade. How had such a massive branding opportunity been overlooked? The very next day he called together his team and they began working on what would become known in-house as “Princess.” It was a risky move: Disney had never marketed it’s characters separately from a film’s release, and old-timers like Roy Disney considered it heresy to lump together those from different stories. That is why, these days, when the ladies appear on the same item, they never make eye contact. Each stares off in a slightly different direction, as if unaware of the others presence. Now that I have told you, you’ll always notice it. And let me tell you, it’s freaky.”

ONE FINAL WORD OF ADVICE:The Disney Princess books can be long and boring to read. If your kid can’t read, make up the words. You already know the stories so it’s easy to “read” an abridged version.



I am fortunate ML was never truly afraid of the water. She was cautious, but not fearful. With a few swim lessons under her belt, she was ready to dive in.

If you have a child that is reluctant about swimming, read them Little by Little by Amber Stewart. Her book is the best I have seen to encourage young children to conquer the fear of swimming.

If I Built a House


After a year, I thought we were finally settled in our new home. I was wrong. As soon as I brought home If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen, ML wanted to renovate.

She wants an art room, a flying room, a racetrack room, a fish tank room and a detachable plexiglass playroom to fly around the world. With only 900 square feet, she’s gotta be happy with an art nook in the dining room.

Another of Chris Van Dusen’s books is If I Built a Car. When ML was four, she wanted to know where I got my car. I told her, “It was Grandma Nell’s car. Papa gave it to me when she died.” She thought for a minute. Then, said, “When you die, can I have this car?” She’s changed her mind. My 13-year-old Honda can’t compete with a Jaguar.

I think we’ll read If I Built a Car. Then, ML can design a car in her new art nook.


Top Secret


I emailed Kevin Sherry about his book I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean. He emailed us a sneak peak of his upcoming work.

One is a picture book called Turtle Island. The other is a beginning chapter book. The Yeti Files: Meet the Big Feet.

The beginning chapter book is going to feature biped creatures. Think bigfoot, abominable snowman, and other such creatures. There will be diagrams and comic book elements. I know it will be a hit. ML and one of her friends are always looking for bigfoot.

Do you know what a yeti is?

You Mean I Get to Keep It?

When your mom works at the public library, you read many different books. But they belong to the library and must be returned. We own many picture books and easy readers. But we didn’t have any non-library chapter books until yesterday.

For graduation, I bought ML a variety of beginning chapter books. When she opened the present, she asked, “Do I have to return them to the library? Yea! I have my very own Flat Stanley book”

What beginning chapter books are a hit at your house?

ML’s Last Day of Kindergarten

ML graduates from kindergarten today.

We started the year by reading Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate and illustrated by Ashley Wolff On the 100th day of school, I planned to read Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th day of Kindergarten. But it was checked out.

Life got busy. I forgot about it and the other Miss Bindergarten books:

Miss Bindergarten Stays Home From Kindergarten
Miss Bindergarten Takes a Field Trip with Kindergarten
Miss Bindergarten Plans a Circus with Kindergarten

I can’t believe it’s time to read another Miss Bindergarten book, Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the Last Day of Kindergarten. Or maybe not, ML told me last night, “I wish it was the first day of kindergarten. I love Ms. Shaw so much!”



In Atlanta for Easter 2012, we visited the High Museum of Art. There was a “Picasso to Warhol” exhibit. I paid the extra money to enjoy some world famous art with ML. She flew through the exhibit; didn’t stop to take in the artistic elements of even one painting. “What a waste of money,” I thought.

On the flight home, I opened Sky Magazine. There was a picture of “Girl Before a Mirror” . . . the Picasso I barely glimpsed while trying to keep up with ML. In that crowded little airplane seat, ML turned to me excitedly, “MOM, That’s the painting we saw!”

Recently, we read The Museum by Susan Verde. Peter Reynold’s illustrations are magical. Children absorb information even when we think they aren’t noticing things. ML stopped me on page ten. She said, “Mom, that looks like one of the paintings we saw in Atlanta.” A sketch of a Picasso was on page ten.

I guess it was money well spent. Last night, I bought The Museum. More money well spent.




Recently, neighbors invited us over for dinner. There were 4 kindergarteners, 2 four-year-olds and a ten-year-old. Thank goodness for the ten-year-old.

The girls were dressed in princess gowns. It was time to eat. Hamburgers and princess dress up clothes do not go well together. Luckily, the ten year old was their King. He decreed, “Change back into your clothes to eat.” They did! No arguments, no buts, nothing . . . I need to adopt that king.

As the evening was drawing to an end, fireflies arrived. I had forgotten how much fun it is to chase fireflies. ML and I chased them all the way home.

We received a new book at the library today. It’s a Firefly Night by Dianne Ochiltree. Betsy Snyder’s illustrations evoke the magic of firefly catching. ML is going to love it.

Repetition is Good

ML reads me at least one book a night. Every night this week she has read the same book. Except the infamous “No Books . . . Go Straight To Bed! I Mean It!” evening.

The book is Little Mouse and the Great Big House by Phyllis Conable. It’s an easy reader book with lots of rhyming and repetitive phrases. To become fluent readers, repetition is key.

Some books ML loves to read over and over are

Put Me In the Zoo by Robert Lopshire
Too Many Cats by Lori Haskins
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
No, David! by David Shannon
I’m The Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry

What are your children’s favorite books to read again and again?

No books last night . . . Straight to bed! I mean it!

I’ve turned into my mom. I had to bite my tongue to keep the “exact” words said to me from flying out of my mouth. Let’s just say ML said “No.” disrespectfully a few too many times last night.

She really needed a bath. But sometimes discipline is more important than cleanliness.

That reminds me to pull out one of my favorite childhood books. The Little Boy Who Loved Dirt and Almost Became a Superslob by Judith Vigna. Maybe tonight will go better.

Like Mother. . . Like Daughter


I checked out the book Wacky Wednesday by Theo LeSieg at my elementary school alot. I probably read it 200 times as a child.

So I purchased a copy of it for my daughter. It’s her favorite book at the moment. Looks like I’ll be reading it 200 more times.

A bit of trivia to impress your friends. Theo LeSieg is another pen name for Theodor Seuss Geisel. Dr. Seuss is his other. If you spell LeSieg backwards, you get Geisel.

Children of all ages can enjoy fun games at Seussville.

Mom, “That’s a Trapezoid”

Today, I am focusing on shapes at storytime. ML didn’t preview the books. She’s way to advanced for them. Last November, she asked me to name a shape. In my kindergarten days, we called it a diamond. ML corrected me, ” Hello Mom. It’s a trapezoid.”

Yesterday evening, ML excaimed, “Wow. Look at that cool car.” The doors rotated vertically instead of horizontal. Like my description? I don’t know a trapezoid, but I can describe scissor-doors. I confess, the description is from Wikipedia.

A few miles down the road, ML said “When I buy a car, I am getting a Jaguar. Earlier in the day, she told me, “I am going to be a lifeguard for awhile. Then, I’ll be a teacher.” I explained, “Teacher’s can’t afford Jaguars.” Where did she learn about Jaguars, anyway?. We don’t know anyone that drives one. But we know alot of people driving minivans.

After reading Start Saving, Henry. We discussed her allowance and the Spend, Save, Donate plan. I asked, “What are you saving for?” Her response, “A Jaguar.”

A few minutes later, ML changed her mind declaring “I’m saving for college. I want to go to Duke and it’s expensive.” I didn’t burst her bubble, $1.25 a week for 12 years is $5475. Probably, won’t pay for a week at Duke in the year 2025.

Start Saving, Henry! I mean ML

ML’s room is finally clean! She promises to keep it clean all summer. All I have to do is give her $1.00 at the end of the summer. It would be a great deal for me. But now that ML can recognize the different coins and do math, I’m ready to start financial literacy. In our day, it was called allowance.

Getting an allowance, saving for things and giving to others is complicated. Recently, a mom asked me for a book on saving money. I didn’t know one off the top of my head. Luckily, I found the perfect book. It’s called Start Saving, Henry! by Nancy Carlson.

Also, I’m stealing an idea from my friend. 3 Jars with lids labeled: Save, Spend and Donate. At the end of the week, ML will receive her allowance. My only request; she add money to all three jars.

Now I just need to figure out her salary. Any advice on the going rate for a first grader’s allowance?

Ms. Shaw is Cooler Than Mom


ML’s teacher is Ms. Shaw. She is way cooler than I. If ML sees her when I pick her up from afterschool, she runs to hug her. One would think ML hadn’t seen her in months instead of 3 hours. Poor Ms. Shaw is almost tackled.

This winter, I tried to read Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester to ML. Tacky is an odd bird with a horrible singing voice. I can relate. Each winter, I belt out the words to his song. The preschoolers love it. I thought ML would too. She didn’t! Luckily, she didn’t get her mom’s musical ability; the singing hurt her ears. “MOMMY STOP!” she said forcefully.

This week the library received a brand new Tacky book. Happy Birdday, Tacky! (That isn’t a spelling error) Last night was Spring Fling at her school. We closed the party down. It was too late to read books. Confession – Even librarians don’t read to their children everyday.

ML saw the Happy Birdday, Tacky! book in the new library book stack. She was excited, “Mommy, it’s Tackylocks.” Tacky has a series of funny books. Tackylocks and the Three Bears is one of them. I knew I hadn’t read Tackylocks to ML.

I admit I got a little defensive, “Who read you Tackylocks?” I wanted to be the one to promote a love of Tacky. It was her teacher Ms. Shaw. Thank you Ms. Shaw for doing what I couldn’t do. Tacky is one of my favorite characters in children’s literature. Not wanting to scare ML away from Tacky again, I’ll try to sing Happy Birdday to Tacky in a harmonious voice tonight.

Helen Lester, the creator of Tacky books has written many hilarious books. Your public library should have them. Put them on your list of must reads today.