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



Kristin’s Daughter – Third Grade Girl In Love with Harry Potter – Actually Obsessed With Him

My friend Kristin sent me this request.  “What about a third grader who is in love/obsessed with Harry Potter. Can read it on her own and get the meaning, even though it is clearly above her reading level.”

If She Has a Crush on Harry Potter


Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo – “Charlie Bone’s life with his widowed mother and two grandmothers undergoes a dramatic change when he discovers that he can hear people in photographs talking.”


Rump:  The True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff – “Relates the tale of Rumpelstiltskin’s childhood and youth, explaining why his name is so important, how he is able to spin straw into gold, and why a first-born child is his reward for helping the miller’s daughter-turned-queen.”

Fantasy Books Featuring Strong Females (Like Hermione)


Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke – “The daughter of two magicians, twelve-year-old Igraine wants nothing more than to be a knight, and when their castle is attacked by a treacherous neighbor bent on stealing their singing magic books, Igraine has an opportunity to demonstrate her bravery.”

Molly Moon

Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng -“Unlucky and unloved, Molly Moon, living in a dreary orphanage in a small English town, discovers a hidden talent for hypnotism and hypnotizes her way to stardom in New York City.”


Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin – “Minli, an adventurous girl from a poor village, buys a magical goldfish, and then joins a dragon who cannot fly on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon in hopes of bringing life to Fruitless Mountain and freshness to Jade River.”

Classic Fantasy Series


Half Magic by Edgar Eager – “Faced with a dull summer in the city, Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha suddenly find themselves involved in a series of extraordinary adventures after Jane discovers an ordinary-looking coin that seems to grant wishes.”


The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – “Four English schoolchildren find their way through the back of a wardrobe into the magic land of Narnia and assist Aslan, the golden lion, to triumph over the White Witch, who has cursed the land with eternal winter.”

A Final Idea


The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson – “Odge Gribble, a young hag, accompanies an old wizard, a gentle fey, and a giant ogre on their mission through a magical tunnel from their Island to London to rescue their King and Queen’s son who had been stolen as an infant.”

Tea Parties

This is not a political piece.
However, I do have advice for all politicians –
Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, Socialist, etc.
Read picture books about tea parties.
Your manners are lacking.  The books below will teach you etiquette.


Tea Party Rules by  Ame Dyckman and and  K. G. Campbell – This one begins by the hostess demanding her guests follow all the rules.  Very slowly the story develops a friendship that is more give and take, instead of dictatorial.

Tea Rex by Molly Idle – Mr. Rex is invited to tea at Cordelia’s house.  Even though he’s big and clumsy, he’s treated with respect.  At the end of the book, Cordelia is invited to sit down at the table with Mr. Rex and his dinosaur friends.  What a concept.  Sitting down at the table and treating others with respect.

Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf by Judy Sierra and illustrated by J. Otto Seibold – B.B. Wolf’s song says it best “Even in a house of bricks, big bad wolves can learn new tricks.  Sip your tea and never slurp, say “excuse me” if you burp.  Smile and have a lot of fun, But don’t go biting anyone!”

Miss Spider’s Tea Party by David Kirk – A classic from 1994.  Miss Spider invites various insects to join her for tea.  For obvious reasons, they refuse.  Until a fragile moth soaked from the rain accepts Miss Spiders hospitality.  The moth told the other insects about his experience.  So the other insects joined Miss Spider for tea.  Sometimes it only takes one to make a difference and get the conversation following a different path.

***I wrote this post during the government shutdown.  My hospitalization got in the way of my posting it.  The shutdown is over.  It’s only a matter of time before the next crisis.  Here’s hoping politicians will learn manners between now and then***

Millie the Cow


ML loves the Millie books by Alexander Steffensmeier. Millie is a cow.  She looks like a Holstein to me.  I know my cows.  ML’s great granddaddy owned a dairy farm.  I wish ML could have met the calmest man I have ever known.  There’s something to be said for waking at 5:30 in the morning, milking the cows, working on the farm until the noonday dinner, resting in the heat of the day, milking the cows again in the early evening, having a light dinner and going to bed by 9.  It left my grandfather a calm, grounded man,  but I digress.

Last night I asked ML, “Why do love Millie?”  She said, “She reminds me of Minerva Louise.  She’s silly”  If you haven’t read the post about Minerva Louise, here’s ML’s take on her

Trust ML… the following books should be read aloud at least three times at your house.

Millie Waits for the Mail – Millie loves to surprise the mailman.
Millie and the Big Rescue – When Millie participates in a hide and seek game, who knows what may happen.
Millie in the Snow – This one is set on Christmas Eve.  It’s one of our favorite holiday books this year.

Alexander Steffensmeier is a German author and illustrator.  In the German version, Millie’s name is Lieselotte, a contraction of Lisa and Charlotte.  I can’t wait to share this with ML.  Why did the name change to Millie in our books?  Looks like the popularity of the name Millie was on the rise in England at that time.  Made me wonder if a publisher in England released the English language version.   They did.  And guess when Millie was at the height of Great Britain popularity?  2004

Through research for the blog, I’ve learned how long it takes to actually get a picture book from idea to the hands of children.  With the first Millie book published in 2007, the renaming of Millie was a business decision.  Wouldn’t you buy a children’s book where the main character and your daughter, granddaughter, niece,  or friend shared a name?  The name is gaining popularity in Scotland and Ireland now.  Looks like Millie will continue to have a shelf life in the United Kingdom.

Sadly, Millie the cow is not widely known in the US.  But the name Millie is only 716th in popularity here.  Maybe, they should have changed her name to Emily for an American version.  No, Emily the cow just doesn’t have the same ring.

Amy’s Daughter – 2nd Grader Reading at 4th/5th Grade Level Loves “The Sister’s Grimm” Series

My friend Amy’s daughter is a 2nd grader who loves the series The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley and illustrated by Peter Ferguson.  She’s almost finished with this series about fairy-tale detectives.  Below are some ideas for an advanced reader in 2nd grade.


Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – “In this novel based on the story of Cinderella, Ella struggles against the childhood curse that forces her to obey any order given to her.”


Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins – “Six stories relate the adventures of three best friends, who happen to be toys.”  There are two more books in this trilogy.

Jeremy Thatcher

Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville – “Small for his age but artistically talented, twelve-year-old Jeremy Thatcher unknowingly buys a dragon’s egg.”



A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz – “Follows Hansel and Gretel as they walk out of their own story and into eight more tales, encountering such wicked creatures as witches, along with kindly strangers and other helpful folk. Based in part on the Grimms’ fairy tales Faithful Johannes, Hanseland Gretel, The seven ravens, Brother and sister, The robber bridegroom, and The devil and his three golden hairs”


The Spiderwick Chronicles by Toni DiTerlizzi and illustrated by Holly Black – “The field guide sets up the story of the Grace children–13-year-old Mallory and 9-year-old twins Jared and Simon–who with their mother move into the dilapidated Spiderwick Estate only to quickly find themselves sucked into a dark and fascinating world of faeries. In the Spiderwick chronicles’ second book, The seeing stone things get even more exciting–and kind of scary–for the Grace kids, as the strange faerie world hinted at in The field guide blooms to full life around them. When Mallory and Jared attempt to rescue Simon from goblins, they use a magical stone which enables them to see things that are normally invisible.”


My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Gannett – “A young boy determines to rescue a poor baby dragon who is being used by a group of lazy wild animals to ferry them across the river on Wild Island.”


Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler – “After finally convincing her mother that she should take swimming lessons, twelve-year-old Emily discovers a terrible and wonderful secret about herself that opens up a whole new world.”


Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist by R. L. LaFevers – “In 1928, when timid ten-year-old Nate learns that his parents have been lost at sea, he joins his father’s cousin on a flight to Arabia where they must oversee the death and rebirth of the phoenix, thus beginning his training as a “beastologist.”

Something Unrelated to The Sisters Grimm


Clementine by Sara Pennypacker  – While sorting through difficulties in her friendship with her neighbor Margaret, eight-year-old Clementine gains several unique hairstyles while also helping her father in his efforts to banish pigeons from the front of their apartment building.

Jennifer’s Daughter – Middle Schooler Who Loves The Mysterious Benedict Society

Jennifer’s daughter turns 13 in a few weeks. She has a very sweet and innocent personality. A lot of the fiction for her age is dark and scary to her. She likes feel good books or mysterious books. She loved Mysterious Benedict Society.

With the help of coworkers, I came up with this list.  Blurbs are from the library catalog.  I am trying to write as many postings as possible for holiday shoppers.

Stand Alone Books

Westing Game

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin – “The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance.”  A clever book that won the Newbery Award in 1978.

Chasing Vermeer

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett – “When strange and seemingly unrelated events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra and Calder combine their talents to solve an international art scandal.”


Rooftoppers by  Katherine Rundell – “When authorities threaten to take Sophie, twelve, from Charles who has been her guardian since she was one and both survived a shipwreck, the pair goes to Paris to try to find Sophie’s mother, and they are aided by Matteo and his band of “rooftoppers.”  One of my favorite books of the year.  Expect a posting on it alone in the New Year.

Egypt Game

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder – “A group of children, entranced with the study of Egypt, play their own Egypt game, are visited by a secret oracle, become involved in a murder, and befriend the Professor of the local junk shop.”  A Newbery Honor Book from 1967.


Escape From Mr. Lemoncell0’s Library by Chris Grabenstein – “Twelve-year-old Kyle gets to stay overnight in the new town library, designed by his hero (the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello), with other students but finds that come morning he must work with friends to solve puzzles in order to escape


The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit – “Relates the curious escapades of the six Bastable children who attempt to restore the family fortunes by searching for treasure, starting a newspaper, and becoming detectives

A Few Series to Consider


Heist Society by Ally Carter- “A group of teenagers uses their combined talents to re-steal several priceless paintings and save fifteen-year-old Kat Bishop’s father, himself an international art thief, from a vengeful collector”


The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin – “Puzzle-crazy, twelve-year-old Winston and his ten-year-old sister Katie find themselves involved in a dangerous mystery involving a hidden ring. Puzzles for the reader to solve are included throughout the text.”


The Red Blazer Girls by Micheal D. Biel – the first book in the series “Catholic-schooled seventh-graders Sophie, Margaret, Rebecca, and Leigh Ann help an elderly neighbor solve a puzzle her father left for her estranged daughter twenty years ago.”


Ruby Redfort by Lauren Child – “Thirteen-year-old Ruby, a genius code-cracker and daring detective, gets an anonymous call setting a challenge that leads her to the headquarters of Spectrum, a highly secret anti-crime agency that needs her help to crack a code, but soon Ruby uncovers dastardly plans of the Fool’s Gold Gang.”

I haven’t read all these books but if they had been around when I was growing up, I’m betting I would.  Nancy Drew was my hero!  I cannot wait to introduce ML to the classic Nancy Drew.

Christmas Parade – Goldilocks and the Three Bears


ML, her friend, my coworkers and myself marched in the Christmas Parade to represent the library.  I was certain ML’s choice would be dressing as Goldilocks.  It wasn’t.  When I told her about the costumes she screamed, “I want to be Baby Bear.”  Her friend agreed to be Goldilocks.  ML’s friend has long, golden hair so it worked out great.  Smart choice by ML.  It was freezing and the bear costume was toasty.

There are many variations on the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Above is a picture of a classic, simple edition by Byron Barton.  Below are some of the more unusual ones.  Long day marching in the cold;  all the descriptions are straight from the library catalog


Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson – “Little Bear, all grown up, finds himself lost in a noisy, busy city where he happens to bump into someone with golden hair who remembers exactly how he likes his porridge.”  ML has visited NYC two times.  One more than I.  She enjoyed this version with a city twist.


Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems – “When three hungry dinosaurs lay a trap hoping to catch something to eat, Goldilocks who never listens to warnings, walks into their house and springs the trap.” Mo Willems and Dinosaurs… need I say more.  We haven’t read it but ML just read the title over my shoulder.  I asked, “What do you think.”  Her response, “Sounds funny.”  I’ll bring it home next week.


Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox by Erin Dealey and illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama – “When Goldie Locks comes down with chicken pox, she is teased by her brother and is unable to visit with Bo Peep, Little Red, and other friends.”  We own this one.  ML thinks it’s hilarious.  Luckily, she shouldn’t experience the itchiness of chicken pox.  I still remember. However, the disappointment about missing my kindergarten field trip to Mayfield Dairy due to chicken pox was more traumatic than red, itchy bumps.

Bears Christmas

The Three Bears’ Christmas by Kathy Duval and Paul Meisel – We haven’t read this one yet.  My coworker told me about it during the parade.   “After taking a walk on Christmas Eve while their freshly baked gingerbread cools, Papa, Mama, and Baby Bear arrive home to encounter another “trespasser,” who does not have golden hair but wears a red suit and leaves present.”  ML loves funny stories. It’s certain to be a hit.

No post tomorrow… We’re decorating the tree or as ML says WE’RE DECORATING THE CHRISTMAS TREE!!!!!!

Books for Boys – Beginning Readers


Beginning reading books, often called easy readers, can be boring.  With a controlled vocabulary, repetition and built for increasing fluency it’s a challenge to write a truly fascinating story.  Below are some series boys learning to read like.

Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold

Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems

Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Sucie Stevenson

Mr Putter and Tabby by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Arthur Howard

In the past few years, publishers have stepped up publication of non-fiction easy readers.  I’ll do a post about those soon.  But wanted you to know that is an option for those boys you know who are mostly interested in stories about real things.

Would love input on more ideas of easy readers that boys enjoy.  Any suggestions?

Books for Boys – I Survived


I didn’t have a post ready for today.  I didn’t think anyone would tar and feather me if I skipped a day.  It’s a big fear of mine now that I read the You Wouldn’t Want to Know series.

However, at 8:45 this evening an elementary-aged boy approached me at the children’s desk.  He asked, “Do you have any I Survived books?”  Not only were they checked out at the library branch where I work; most of the copies in the library system were checked out.  Using this knowledge and remembering another boy asked me for the same books yesterday, the post wrote itself.  Lauren Tarshis, the author, says “Each book in my series tells a terrifying and thrilling story from history, through the eyes of a boy who lived to tell the tale.”

Titles in this series include both historical and modern day events.

I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912
I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916
I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941
I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906
I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001
I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863
I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011

Looks like I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944 is being released February 25, 2014.

Books for Boys – Who Was and Who Is?


When I returned to the library world, older elementary boys would approach me for two specific series…  Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Who Was  I hadn’t been completely under a rock… I knew about Diary of a Wimpy Kid. However, the Who Was series was a mystery to me.  These boys brought me up to speed.  This fall at the school book fair, ML’s media specialist told me they are especially liked by boys who are reluctant to read.

I can see why… interspersed with the text are black and white illustrations.  For example, the Who Was Abraham Lincoln includes pen and ink drawings of both the inside and outside of a log cabin, Lincoln studying on the cabin floor, helping to sail river boats, his tall hat for a tall man and his legs falling over the end of the bed.  A timeline and bibliography of books and websites is provided.  At 104 pages, it meets that difficult assignment of reading a biography for kids over one hundred pages long.

My hat goes off to whoever created this series.  The bobble-head looking covers make it an easy sale.  Over 70 titles make it easy to find a person that interests each reader.

Books for Boys – Series Fiction for Elementary School Boys


David Adler sent me an advanced copy of his new series, Danny’s Doodles.  His first book, The Jelly Bean Experiment follows the antics of two extremely different personalities, Danny and Calvin.  According to Danny, “My new friend is 100% weird.”   Danny is an average baseball playing fourth grader.  When Danny and Calvin team up for an experiment it  is anything but average.  The result the beginning of a friendship… a dynamic duo for a new series  of  books for boys.

Unfortunately, the next book in the series, The Donut Dilemma won’t be published until the fall of 2014.   Check out the books below for other ideas.


Adventures of Jo Schmo by Greg Trine and art by Frank W. Dormer – Wait a minute… the main character is a girl.  Yes, but one book is called Wyatt Burp Rides Again… and she’s a superhero.


Alvin Ho by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham – With titles like Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things, Allergic to Babies, Burglars and Bumps in the Night, and Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters…   readers are destined to find a title highlighting their greatest anxiety.  If you want your home filled with laughter, buy Alvin Ho.


Calvin Coconut by Graham Salisbury and illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers – Most boys I know live in North Carolina or Georgia.  A book about Calvin who lives close to the beach in Hawaii is exotic.  Kung Fooey,


EllRay Jakes  by Sally Warner and illustrated by Jamie Harper – Straight from the publisher Penguin’s website.  “From trouble with bullies to the need to impress friends, EllRay Jakes finds himself in situations that young boys can relate to.”


George Brown, Class Clown by Nancy Krulik and illustrated by Aaron Blecha – What boy doesn’t find burping, toilets, wedgies, and boogers funny?  These subjects and more are covered in this series of 11 books.


Hank Zipzer by Henry Winkler (best known as the Fonz) and Lin Oliver and illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson.  It’s hard not to be a winner with the Fonz as the author and titles like Barfing in the Backseat.   The Hank Zipzer website states, “Inspired by the true life experiences of Henry Winkler, this winning series about the world’s greatest underachiever is funny, touching, and deals with learning differences in a gentle and humorous manner.”


Stink by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds – Stink is the brother to Judy Moody, a popular series first published in 2000.  According to Megan McDonald, his own series was conceived when she walked into a classroom yelling, “Stink! Stink! Stink!”


The Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith – I’m getting lazy, but I’m honest… giving credit where it is due.  This is straight from Wikipedia.  “The Time Warp Trio is a book series written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith and later by Adam McCauley, which chronicles the adventures of three boys – Joe, Sam, and Fred – who travel through time and space with the aid of the mysterious Book.”

Disclaimer:  I’ve only read the first chapter of most of these.  But various friends promise me their boys love them.

Books for Boys – You Wouldn’t Want To…


I don’t like to call books “boy books” or “girl books.” But the reality is there are books most boys aren’t interested in reading… Fancy Nancy, Disney Princesses and Barbie to name a few.  On the contrary, I’ve rarely found a book that a girl is unwilling to try because it’s a “boy book.”  Use this week’s posts to find a perfect book for those hard to buy for boys.

The “You Wouldn’t Want To Be Series” is on my top pick of books for elementary school boys this year.  I don’t know one boy who wouldn’t be interested in at least one of the titles.  Books range from You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Egyptian Mummy  to You Wouldn’t Want to Be On Apollo 13.

I read a few myself.  Actually, twelve.  I had no idea “Typhoid Mary” lived in the United States.  For some reason, I thought she lived in England.  I assumed she had typhoid.  She didn’t.  Instead, she was a carrier of the bacteria.

The Twelve Titles I Read and Why I Don’t Want to

Be a Chicago Gangster – Too Many Mean Men
Be a Civil War Soldier –  Too Many Guns
Be a Secret Agent During World War II – Too Much Training
Be a Slave in Ancient Greece – Too Back Breaking
Be an American Colonist – Too Hungry
Be an Aztec Sacrifice – Too Much Blood
Be at the Boston Tea Party – Too Many Chances to be Tarred and Feathered
Be on the First Flying Machine – Too Many Crashes
Meet a Body Snatcher –  Too Creepy
Explore With Lewis and Clark – T00 Cold
Meet Typhoid Mary – Too Dangerous
Work on the Hoover Damn – Too Much Dynamite

There are many more titles available at  I plan to read all of them.  Not sure how ML feels about them yet.