Month: December 2013

My Favorite Picture Book of the Year – Little Red Writing


It was a hard choice, but I’ve decided my favorite picture book of the year is Little Red Writing  by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.  (A book about writing, wonder why that’s my choice?)  I’ll ask ML her favorite when she returns from living it up with her grandparents and cousins.    Then, post it next week.

This book is a funny rendition of “Little Red Riding Hood.”  The teachers, students, janitor and principal are pencils.  However, the Wolf 3000 Pencil Sharpener has taken over the principal’s office.  Will Little Red Riding save the day?

Her class is led by Ms. 2.  Fellow classmates include a birthday pencil, two airplane pencils, two sports pencils, a dinosaur pencil, a candy pencil, a Pencilvania pencil, a pencil with a special grip and Little Red.

At the end of the book, each of these pencils provides a “punny” story.  ML’s favorite was the candy pencil… “Then Pencil and Gretel ate all the candy!”

The illustrations are detailed and full of humor.  We had a great time pouring over each page.

Teachers will love this book.  It’s a great way to teach the writing process, descriptive language, parts of speech and punctuation.  Even the most reluctant student writer won’t be able to keep a straight face reading this book.

Up the Creek


Up the Creek by Nicholas Oldland is not as large as most picture books.  It’s only 8.3 x 8.1 inches.  What it lacks in size, it makes up in humor.  Three friends… a bear, a moose and a beaver rarely agree.  When the three friends decide to take a canoe trip, it’s filled with strife.  Canoeing in circles, tipping over, splashing each other and lots of yelling.  Too busy screaming at each other, they don’t hear the white-water rapids until it’s too late.  Oops!

In the face of disaster, they work together.  Repairing the canoe, fixing the paddles, making lunch, and giving thanks.  Our favorite illustration is lunch being cooked over a campfire.  Bear is cooking a fish, moose is roasting grass and beaver is heating a twig.

If you like the illustrations in the book, Nicholas Oldland also illustrates pajamas.  Check it out  I’m partial to the women’s sleepshirts with funny captions and illustrations.  The “Night Owl” pj’s are perfect for ML

There are several other books by Nicholas Oldland featuring bear, moose and beaver.
Big Bear Hug
The Busy Beaver
Making the Moose Out of Life

Sadly, our library only owns two.  We’ll be requesting Big Bear Hug and Making the Moose Out of Life.

This is Like a Dream


On Saturday I took ML and her friend to see the NC Symphony perform Cirque de la Symphonie.  We received three free tickets so I let ML choose a friend to take.  Her choice was Lily.  They don’t know each other well, so I was a little surprised.  Recently I told ML, “Lily has a twin brother and wants to join our book club so she can do some stuff with girls.”  It must have stuck in her mind.  A few cays after the decision, ML informed me she chose Lily because “My brother annoys me sometimes.  I’m sure her brother annoys her.  She probably needs a break from him.”

The concert was amazing.  About two songs in, ML whispered, “This is Like a Dream.”  Seeing acrobats flying through the sky on aerial silks; accompanied by the symphony playing Christmas songs is hard to beat.

Below are some recent arrivals.  They fit the theme of this post… siblings and flying through the air.


Big Little Mother by Kevin Kling and illustrated by Chris Monroe – The library catalog describes this book as “A four-year-old boy demonstrates what a good teacher his big sister is during her tap dancing class and garners praise for them both.”  But’s so much more.  There’s a cat whose forced to play tea party, learn piano and receive a celebrity makeover.  Early in the book,  Kittywumpus decides to fly out the front door.  Guess who replaces the cat for the sister’s playtime ideas?

The Nowhere Box by Sam Zuppardi – “Frustrated by little brothers who follow him everywhere and wreck his toys and games, George commandeers an empty washing machine box for an imaginative escape that is free of pirates, dragons, and bothersome younger siblings.”  George flies on a roller coaster and rockets to the moon.  I love this book because if ML had been a boy she was going to have the moniker, George.  Her grandfather, two great-grandfathers, and great-uncle share the name.

My Christmas wish for families with multiple children.  May there be peace, love and no squabbling among siblings for at least Christmas day.  Pretty certain my brother and I didn’t achieve it in our childhood.  Hopefully, yours will.

ML’s only annoyance Christmas morning will be me.  When she joins her Dad in the afternoon, her almost two-year-old brother will be there.  ML requested make-up from Santa at her dad’s house.  Recently, she said, “J is banned from markers, pencils, and crayons until the new year.”  I told her “If that’s the case, you will need to find a place to hide your makeup.  Or it will end up all over the house.”

Fonzie is Coming To Town

Here's HankShortTaleLongDog

ML and I give friends books for Christmas.  No surprise there.  Today, I went to our local bookstore to finish the last of our Christmas shopping.

I learned Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver are visiting Quail Ridge Books on Thursday, February 13 at 7:00 pm.  They co-write the popular series Hank Zipzer.  Henry Winkler was my first childhood crush.  He is best known as The Fonz from Happy Days.  I’ve been singing “Monday, Tuesday, happy days.  Tuesday, Wednesday, happy days.  Thursday, Friday happy days.  Saturday.  What a day.” over and over since I left the store.  YouTube’s helping me learn the rest of the words.

More exciting than an opportunity to meet the authors is learning about their new series perfect for younger elementary readers, Here’s Hank.  It’s about Hank Zipzer  but focuses on his 2nd grade year, instead of 4th and 5th grade.  I’m adding this one to the Books for Boys – Series Fiction for Elementary School Boys post on February 6, 2014.  The day the first two books in this series,  Bookmarks Are People Too! and A Short Tale About a Long Dog, are available for purchase.

The best part of my bookstore visit occurred in the parking lot.  I ran into my dear friend, Susan.  When our children attended preschool together, we saw each other daily.  Now ML and her kids attend different schools.  We always say we are going to meet up for lunch, but finding time which works for both of us is a challenge.

Susan was on her way to the bookstore to purchase books for her niece and nephew.  She’s an avid follower of the blog.  It was fun to provide book in recommendations in person.

A very Happy Day in Raleigh, NC today.

Holiday Gifts – Drawing Books


Ed Emberley began writing and illustrating books with step-by-step instructions for drawing people, animals and objects using a minimum of line and circle combinations in the 1970s.  Not only is he a grandfather, he is the grandfather of drawing books for kids.  Thirteen of his drawing books are still in print.  His website is fantastic.  It may take you back to your childhood.

Below are other drawing series from easiest to hardest.  I’ve included pictures of one title in each series.  Each series includes books on a variety of subjects.

Simple Steps to Drawing – Breaks the steps into basic shapes and patterns.  Then provides, 3 simple steps to create the picture.


Scribblers Bright Start Right Start:  It’s Fun to Draw – Developed for preschool children and older.


Draw It! – Includes six easy to follow steps.


Draw 50 – Another classic series.


How to Draw – The most advanced series I’ve seen written specifically for children.
Do you know any other series for kids on drawings?  I would love to add them to the list.

A Few More Christmas Books



This morning, ML and I read Turkey Claus by Wendi Silvano and illustrated by Lee Harper. It’s a sequel to Turkey Trouble.  In Turkey Trouble, Turkey overhears the farmer’s family are planning to eat him for Thanksgiving Day.  He comes up with a plan to save his life.  ML’s teacher read it to her class before Thanksgiving.  So, when I brought home Turkey Claus she was excited.  Once again, Turkey overhears the farmer and his wife making plans for a holiday dinner; turkey will be the main dish.  Turkey realizes he needs to get his wish list to Santa as soon as possible.  However, the elves won’t let anyone disturb Santa on Christmas Eve.

What Dogs Want for Christmas by Kandy Radzinski  includes 14 different letters to Santa from a variety of dog breeds.  ML’s favorite – “Dear Santa, My ears hand down to my feet.  Can you fix them so they’re short and neat? Love, Daisy”  The picture of the basset hound with a specially knitted hat with a pouch for each ear cracked her up.  I loved the dachshund’s letter.  “Dear Santa,  I need something to help me get around ’cause my belly’s too close to the ground.  Love, Ruby.”

The Night Before Christmas retold and illustrated by Rachel Isadora is set in Africa.  We read the information in the back about the author.  She lived in Africa for over ten years.  She’s created other classic stories with an African setting.  ML is eager to read them all – The Ugly Duckling, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, The Fisherman and His Wife, The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Princess and the Pea.

ML’s Second Book Club


We had our first meeting in September and our second today.  Didn’t plan for it to  happen that way.  But life got in the way.  So I gave the girls three books to read.

First, we played twenty questions.  Each girl read about a non-fiction animal or not – ML didn’t.  Her mama forgot to pick one up from the library.  The girls asked questions to try to guess each friend’s animal.  Some were really hard.  Do you know what an okapi is?

Then, we discussed The Stinky Cheese Man by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith for about three minutes.  Several girls’ favorite story was “The Princess and the Bowling Ball.”  I bought stinky cheese for the meeting.  Not one girl wanted to taste it.  I enjoyed it with a fresh baguette and wine afterwards.

Next up… cake, pretzels and strawberries.  Thankfully, it was a beautiful day so all eating, crumbs and spilled drinks happened on the driveway.

Finally, the main event.  The girls read Poppy the Pirate Dog by Liz Kessler.  Poppy goes on vacation with his humans.  They try out a few boats.  Poppy doesn’t like any of them.  Finally, they find the perfect boat for a Pirate Dog.

ML and I filled three large boxes with stuff – ribbons, recyclable containers, bottle tops, googly eyes, sequins, markers and lots of other things.  The girls were divided in groups. Each group used the contents in their box to design and decorate their boat.  I enlisted a middle schooler, Lillian, to help.  All future book clubs will be arranged around her schedule.



The girls were still working on their projects when parents started arriving.  Below are pictures of “The Mayflower” and “Girls Rule” and “Pirate Girls.”

I love the fact they included a toilet.  Can you find it?  Hint: It’s green.
This group wins the teamwork award.
Every time I walked by Bridget, Lily, Piper and Clara were sharing ideas and encouraging each other.


Is the boat named Girls Rule or Miriam?
I wish I took pictures of each side.  This group worked more as individuals.
Each girl decorated one side.
The other sides probably said Siena, Anna Giles and Avery.


Do you see the sail boat behind the  big boat?.
Annabeth and Roslyn did a large percentage of the boat design.
ML and Sara Jane dressed as “Pirate Girls.”
Sequins tapped to the ears, eye patches created from satin ribbon…

Pirate Girls