Egg Books Crack ML Up


Due to inclement weather, I worked at an alternate library location this week.  Only 1.6 miles from my house.  It’s usually an easy stroll.  But in the ice and snow there were more hills than I remember. Working at another location is always fun.  But today’s work day provided more than fun.  A recently retired library manager visited with a few dozen eggs fresh from “her girls.”    I jumped on the chance for fresh eggs.  I don’t know if I ever had some straight from the chicken.  My grandparents had farms but no chickens when I was a child.  Though I know at least one of them had a rooster when my Dad was a child.  One of my uncles threw a day old biscuit out the door.  It hit the rooster in the head and killed it.  At least, that’s the story the Meeks boys tell.

I didn’t have to walk home.  One of the staff drove me to the corner of my street. I wouldn’t let her drive down the hill. I knew it would be icy. About 50 feet from my driveway the street looked better. Umm… not true. Black ice is for real. I slid straight onto my hiney.  Luckily, my purse was back there to cushion the fall.  Miraculously, the eggs did not break.  Good thing!  Being covered in the eggs of my first chance for eggs straight from the nest… not sure how I would have reacted.  Tears, screaming, sobbing?

In celebration of fresh eggs… a few egg books ML loves.  Some are about cracked eggs.

The Cow That Laid an Egg by Andy Cutbill and illustrated by Russell Ayto – ML loves this one and it’s a story time hit.  Marjorie the cow’s self-esteem is very low.  All the other cows can do amazing things… ride bicycles and do handstands.  The chickens take charge with a plan to increase Marjorie’s confidence.   A spotted egg appears underneath her while she sleeps.  This results in gossip, intrigue and one funny book.  There’s even a Welsh version, Y Fuwch Wnaeth Ddodwy Wy.

Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss – A post about eggs without mentioning Horton is unacceptable.  If you haven’t read this one, you’ve missed the classic egg book.

Tillie Lays an Egg by Terry Golson with photographs by Ben Fink – ML loves this book for three reasons. 1.  Her grandmother’s name is Tillie.  2. On each page there is an egg to find.  3.  She likes looking at the pictures and pointing to each of the hens – Prudence, Edwina, Twinkydink, Buffy, Marge, Ginger and Tillie.  Of course, Tillie is her favorite. This is acclaimed photographer, Ben Fink’s, first children’s book.  His photographs for the Culinary Institute of America are amazing.  I hope we see more of his work in picture books.

And a few I checked out at my inclement weather location… I’ll read them to ML next week.

An Egg is Quiet written by Dianna Aston and illustrated by  Sylvia Long – An amazing author and illustrator work together in this quiet, understated book.  Its focus… eggs from a variety of species, not just birds.  Explore the  true to size eggs illustrated on the first two pages.  Then, turn to the back pages to view exquisite living creatures hatched from eggs… a lobster, an iguana, a fish, insects, a frog and a variety of birds.  ML will pour over this book again and again.  Expect a future post highlighting the other titles in their collaborative work.

Egg Drop by Mini Grey – ML doesn’t eat eggs.  I enjoy omelets.  What happens to an egg wanting to fly before it’s time?  In this story, it lands sunny-side-up.  A cautionary story about what happens when an egg is inpatient.

And our favorite “egg” book I posted about recently.  Fitting for this snowy weather.  When Blue Met Egg by Lyndsay Ward.


Will There Be Six More Weeks of Winter?

GroundhogSchoolGroundhogsSubstitute GroundhogGroundhogGetsSay

This past Monday – my prediction was no.  It was 65 degrees.  Today – after my hike to work through the ice and single digits I think yes.  (Actually, it had warmed up to double digits by the time I started my trek.)  We will know for certain on February 2nd when the groundhog does his job.  In the meantime, some great groundhog books to read.

Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller -With Groundhog Day approaching Dr. Owl diagnoses Groundhog with the flu.  Groundhog takes his duties very seriously.  He searches for a replacement… interviewing numerous candidates before going to bed as the doctor ordered.  Sorry Dr. Owl, I’ve had the flu a few times in my life.  I think you misdiagnosed.  The world could have ended.  I wouldn’t have cared.  And job.  What job?  With all the fever and  throbbing pain, I could barely remember my name.  Thankfully, ML hasn’t experienced the flu.  Nonetheless Groundhog finally finds a replacement and goes to bed.  You’ll have to read the book to find out which animal predicted the weather.

Groundhogs by Chadwick Gillenwater – I learned a lot from this easy-to-read, nonfiction text.  ML the nature girl, already knew most of it.  So she read it to me.  We spent several minutes admiring the baby groundhog pictures.  The only thing ML loves more than animals is baby animals.

Groundhog Gets a Say as told to Pamela Curtis Swallow and illustrated by Denise Brunkus – Groundhog doesn’t like just having one day.  He thinks he deserves a month.  Squirrel and Crow do not agree.  As Groundhog shares more and more about his awesome abilities, the animals reconsider.  Squirrel had no idea they were cousins.  Crow becomes more and more impressed with all groundhog can do.  ML and I couldn’t believe during hibernation groundhogs take a breath around every six minutes.  Their hearts beat every four to five minutes.  An enjoyable, illustrated picture book with both a fun storyline and interesting information about groundhogs.  Kids will enjoy learning the artist illustrated Junie B. Jones’ books.

Groundhog Weather School by Joan Holub and illustrated by Kristin Sorra – I saved the best for last.  It’s written by the author of Little Red Writing, our favorite picture book of 2013.  This one is just as funny.  Rabbit is not happy.  Groundhog announced “Spring is Here.”  So rabbit threw on shorts, flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt.  Hopped up her burrow to a ground filled with snow.   Then, wrote a letter to complain.  Groundhog realized he couldn’t predict weather for the entire country.  So he started a weather school.  The fun begins.  Our favorite line… a student with her head on the desk lamenting, “Shadows?  Nobody said anything about shadows.  Dark, creepy shadows…”  Kristin Sorras’ inventive layouts add to her spunky illustrations. Elementary school students will love this book.  They have the experience to appreciate all the school humor – Pledge of Hog-Allegiance, GeoHOGraphy, research reports, lunchtime, drama, Shadow Studies, The Big Test, and Graduation.

Tap the Magic Tree – It worked for ML


Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson is a fun, interactive book libraries can circulate.  Lift-the-flaps and pop-up books aren’t practical.  It only takes one or two checkouts before most are destroyed.  To my knowledge interactive books requiring small motor skills, other than turning the book pages; but  don’t include pop-ups or lift-the flaps are a recent addition to children’s literature.  I could be wrong.  The clever Press Here by Herve Tullet is the first I remember.  Rest assured Tap the Magic Tree isn’t a copycat.  It’s a unique story using similar interactivity.  I hope similar books with great stories continue to be published.  I’m ready to share this one at story time.

This book is perfect for learning about seasons and how trees change throughout the year.  It all starts with a bare tree on a white background.  The first page instructed ML to tap the tree once and turn the page.  Magically a leaf appeared on the tree on the next page.  From there she tapped again and again.  Each page more leaves appeared.  After rubbing it warm… buds and flowers appear.  When the apples appeared, ML was instructed to shake the tree.  She grabbed the book from me and shook it all over the bed.  Knocking, patting and clapping followed on other pages.  Clapping brought the… SNOW!  As ML clapped it was snowing here.  A real, sticking to the ground snow.  We haven’t seen a real snowfall in three years.  ML screamed, “Mommy, it’s snowing just like here.  Let’s go look at the backyard again.”

While waiting for the school’s closed announcement, I sent an email to neighbors.   “We have two great sledding hills on our block but no sled.  Anyone want to join us in the morning with a sled.  I know school hasn’t been cancelled yet.  But really… we know what’s going to happen.”

Sleds and children were found this morning.  Five children, four sleds and one mommy to watch for cars made for perfect snow fun.  Only two “almost” accidents.  ML and friend sled into a parked car.  No damage to car or children.  Her other friend’s sled swerved suddenly to the drain on the curb.  I ran and kept her from disappearing.  From then on, I was traffic and drainage patrol.

Five minutes after the kids came inside to warm up, one of the other moms showed up with a kettle of steaming hot cocoa and marshmallows.  We had Girl Scout cookies here.  Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties go very well with hot chocolate.  All in all, a perfect day.

Who Won the Caldecott?


Locomotive –  illustrated and written by Brian Floca

Last night, I told ML the Caldecott would be announced today.  She started chanting, “Hello My Name is Ruby, Hello My Name is Ruby, Hello My Name is Ruby…”  She’ll be upset her choice didn’t win.  However, the winner was one of the books she and her friend named an honor book… And the book her friend chose to win was named an honor book.  They will be excited winners from their Mock Caldecott received recognition.

The Caldecott Committee has specific criteria it must consider, which I did not ask ML and Calvin to follow.  Instead my instructions were, “Here are some books. Decide which book has the best pictures.”  If you’re interested in the real committee’s task, I’ve copied the criteria at the end of the post.  In addition to the medal, the committee can create a list of books they agree deserve to be honored.  This year’s Caldecott Honor books are:
  1. In identifying a “distinguished American picture book for children,” defined as illustration, committee members need to consider:
    1. Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;
    2. Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;
    3. Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;
    4. Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;
    5. Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.
  2. The only limitation to graphic form is that the form must be one which may be used in a picture book. The book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media (i.e., sound, film or computer program) for its enjoyment.
  3. Each book is to be considered as a picture book. The committee is to make its decision primarily on the illustration, but other components of a book are to be considered especially when they make a book less effective as a children’s picture book. Such other components might include the written text, the overall design of the book, etc.

Notable Children’s Books – ML’s Favorites and Mine

Below is a link to the Discussion List for Children’s Notable Lists.  Each year the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children’s books, recordings, and videos.  These lists will be whittled down and announced at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting.

I do not know if there is a set number of books they choose as Notable for each category.  I looked at the picture book list and made a list of the ones ML and I enjoyed most this year.  I admit there are many on the list we didn’t read; so I trust the committee on the decisions they make.  However… , I’ve starred and bolded the titles of seven books ML insists should make the cut.


Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett and Kevin Cornell


Journey by Aaron Becker


Crankenstein by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Dan Santat


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown


The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers


Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov


If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin Stead


***Ribbit by Rodrigo Folgueira and illustrated by Poly Bernantene


***Little Red Writing by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet


Open This Little Book by Jessie Klausmeier and illustrated by Suzy Lee


***Warning:  Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaput and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
How To Be a Cat by Nikki McClure and illustrated by Abrams Appleseed
***Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
***The Long, Long Line by Tomoko Ohmura

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea
Bluebird by Bob Staake
The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague
Round is a Tortilla:  A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong and illustrated by John Parra
***Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner
***That Is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems
I have blogged about most of the books on the list.  The ones I haven’t are in the queue.  So many great books out there so little time to read and write.

My Caldecott Award and Honor Choices

Which of the three books below will I chose as my Mock Caldecott Medal Winner?  I’ve studied my long list.  Looked at the books over and over… and then some more.  Contemplated and finally decided to ignore all opinions, including Calvin and ML’s and choose from my heart.




I would like Stardines illustrated by Carin Berger to win the medal.  The quirky illustrations using diorama, cut paper and collage compliment Jack Prelutsky’s wacky poems.  Each time I looked at Bluebird by Bob Staake, the more I appreciated the artistry.  It almost didn’t make my long list.  I’m glad it did.  There’s a reason David Wiesner has won three Caldecott medals.  He’s that talented and his latest book Mr. Wuffles is worthy of a fourth.  I just couldn’t give it to him with so many other artists deserving to be recognized.  I know it’s not supposed to work that way.

ML and I are eager to hear the committee’s decision.  It’s the first thing she’ll want to know when I pick her up Monday from school.

The Funniest Book This Year – Buddy and the Bunnies in: Don’t Play With Your Food

Don't Play With Food

Buddy and the Bunnies in:  Don’t Play With Your Food by Bob Shea is the funniest book we’ve read this year.  I know it’s only January, but it’s set the bar high for other picture books to win ML’s “Funniest Picture Book of 2014 Award.”

I can’t tell you anything about the book other than it’s clever and the illustrations are dynamite.  Don’t want to spoil it for you.   This is the third time I’ve featured a Bob Shea book.  We love his silly sense of humor.  And are looking forward to more books by him.

I wonder what crazy idea he has for his next book.  Bob, can you give us a hint?

Ellen’s Broom

Ellen's Broom

I am proud to say the first seven years of ML’s life she didn’t know names for various races.  People had lighter skin or darker skin.  We’d talk about the ladies I worked with a the library.  She’d ask, “Is Ms. Susan the one with the lighter skin or the darker skin?”

Now that she’s older, she’s learned about race.  Today, we talked about why school was out and the library was closed.  They’ve been talking about it at school; so she knew.  But I think it hit home when I told her if she was in elementary school sixty years ago, Ms. Shaw would not have been allowed to be her teacher.

Last year, we had the opportunity to attend an event at the library by author Kelly Starling Lyons.  She is the author of several picture books for children.  My favorite is Ellen’s Broom.  “This story of an African American wedding explains the history of the custom of jumping the broom, and the time when slaves had not been allowed to legally marry before the post-slavery Reconstruction era.”

The linoleum block pictures printed and painted by Daniel Minter are amazing.  He was awarded a 2013 Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustration for Ellen’s Broom.  ML loved them.  We did a web search to find out how he created the illustrations.  Then, discovered Kelly Starling Lyons has a Discussion and Craft Guide on her website.  We plan to make a block print using the instructions on page 6 of the guide.

Earlier today, ML was reading a book out loud to her stuffed animals.  I explained, “Slaves were not allowed to learn to read.  If they did, they were punished.”  She asked, “Would they be whipped?”  I didn’t sugarcoat it.  I said, “Yes, probably.”

Tonight, while reading Ellen’s Broom,  ML learned other injustices.  Marriage wasn’t protected by law for slaves.  Families were torn apart if a master decided to sell a husband or a wife… a mother or a father… a sister or a brother.  The slaves had no say in the matter.

The author signed our copy. “Mary Louise, Dare to Dream and Soar.”  I am thankful we live in a time when it doesn’t matter your race, children have the chance to dream and soar…  And where a child can reach age seven before knowing the names society gives people with darker skin and lighter skin.




And the Winners Are…


I am sure a Caldecott Medal has never been awarded as quickly as ML and Calvin did.  It only took fifteen minutes.  They whittled the choices down to five titles.  Then, two.  They were digging their feet in; and I knew a consensus would never be reached.  I didn’t want to hear their arguing.  So I let them each choose a book.

ML’s choice was Hello, My Name is Ruby by Philip Stead. Her reasoning… it’s really colorful… he mixes colors together… the background’s pretty… like how he uses birds.

Calvin’s choice was Journey by Aaron Becker.  He explained… it was kind of a copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon… a really cool story… could really tell the story from the illustrations.

I explained sometimes books are chosen to receive a Caldecott Honor.  ML and Calvin quickly agreed on which two titles they wanted to name as Caldecott Honor books.


Locomotive by Brian Floca


Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov

I didn’t receive two books from our Mock Caldecott 2014 list before the “committee” met.  Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown and The Tortoise & the Hare by Jerry Pinkney were not in the mix.  So if one of those two titles win, Calvin and ML can claim it would have been their choice.  They were very interested in what they would get if they chose the book which received the Caldecott Medal.  I told them, “Bragging rights.”

Other Book Awards To Be Announced on January 27th

My posts these past few weeks are Caldecott centric.  Awards for children’s and young adult books will be announced also at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference on Monday, January 27th at 8:00 am. (EST)  I haven’t read enough books to form an opinion on awards other than the Caldecott Medal.

All the definitions of the awards are straight from the Association for Library Service to Children’s website.

Images of the 2013 winners are included in this post.

My Family

Batchelder Award – Awarded to the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States.


Belpre Medal – Presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.


CaldecottMedal -Awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.


Coretta Scott King Book Awards – Awarded to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.


Geisel Award – Awarded to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States.


Newbery Medal – Awarded to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.


Odyssey Award -Awarded to the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.


Sibert Medal – Awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States.

Katherine Paterson

Wilder Award – Honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.

The Young Adult Library Services Association chooses many awards too.  You can view their site at  At this point in my life, I’m uneducated about potential winners.  In 6 years, this genre will be a primary focus.  ML will be 13.  Oh no!  Only 6 years til she is a teenager!

Bluebird – Another Addition to ML and Calvin’s Mock Caldecott List


I’ve been going back and forth on adding Bluebird by Bob Staake to their Mock Caldecott list.  I don’t want to overwhelm them with choices.  And quite honestly, it wasn’t one I wanted on my long list until I looked at again yesterday.

Today, I saw a bluebird as I entered my car to drive to work.  It’s only January.  Next, I looked on the ground and saw a robin.  As my grandma always said, “The robin’s are here, spring is on it’s way.” Call it a sign if you like.  It was a reminder ML and I are allowed different opinions.  And I should provide a variety of art mediums in the Mock Caldecott.  To quote inside the book, “The illustrations in this book were rendered in Adobe Photoshop.”  Most of the books on the list I created for Calvin and ML include watercolor.

With a quick web search, I learned NC bluebirds do not migrate.  In February, they begin to select their nesting territory.  Last year we had two broods of bluebirds in our birdhouse.  This weekend, while ML and Calvin are reading Bluebird, I’ll spring clean their house in hopes they return.

If ML and Calvin award the medal to this wordless book, the laugh’s on me.  Actually it’s an almost wordless book; set in the city with a bluebird following a boy throughout his day.  The words are on street signs, the classroom chalkboard, busesm trucks and a cart to purchase boats in a park.  I don’t want to tell you more.  I want you to find your own meaning in the book.  However, here’s a link to his process  I love the image of the proposal he sent to editors.  Really helps show the long, arduous process of getting your book in print.  Us lay people have no idea.

Thrilled I saw the bluebird and rediscovered this book.  Like so many other books, you discover more when you read it months later.  Who knows?  Maybe it will make it to the top of my list.

Mock Caldecott 2014 List

Below are the books, I am hoping ML and her friend, Calvin will look at this weekend for their Mock Caldecott Award.  I’m still waiting on a few to come from other library branches.  So they may not have a chance to win.

One really cool aspect of our multimedia world is many illustrators have videos showing them creating their work.  This post includes links to these.  And a quick note if I know the mediums used to create the illustrations.


Hello, My Name is Ruby by  Philip Stead – Mixed media… chalk pastel, colored pencils, and colored ink


If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin Stead – Pencil and linoleum prints


Journey by Aaron Becker – Watercolor


Little Red Writing by Joan Holub and Melissa Sweet – Watercolor, pencil and collage


Locomotive by Brian Floca – Pen and ink, watercolor, acrylic, and gouache.  Scroll to the bottom of the following like to watch 3 short videos on the process and a view of a book dummy


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown –   still trying to determine mediums


Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner – Water color and ink line


Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov – mixed media


Stardines by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Carin Berger – shadow boxes, diorama and cut-paper


That Is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems – pencil and watercolor with additional digital color and compositing


Tortoise & the Hare by Jerry Pinkney – Watercolor

Looking forward to seeing if one of the Stead books are chosen or a book with Mr. in it’s title.  I feel more confident in predicting which books I think the Caldecott committee will pick for the award and honors; than I do guessing what ML and Calvin will choose.  It’s going to be fun hearing two first-graders opinion.

Hello, My Name is Ruby and The Eye of the Tiger


The other night, ML told me her favorite song is the “Eye of Tiger.”  Confused and wondering when she heard this Survivor song from 1982… I started singing “I am the eye of the tiger.”  She looked at me strange.  Then started singing a song with a different beat and different words… “I have the eye of the tiger.”

A conversation with a coworker and the internet helped me discover ML’s favorite song is actually called “Roar” by Katy Perry.  ML and I have one thing in common.  Both of our lyrics are wrong.  In the Survivor song, the correct lyrics are “It’s the eye of the tiger.”  In Katy Perry’s song, it’s “I got the eye of the tiger.”  Close enough.  ML always makes up words when she doesn’t remember the lyrics but remembers the tune.  Apparently, I do too.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with a picture book named Hello, My Name is Ruby by Philip Stead.  Well… last night we read this book.  Halfway through, ML started singing “I am the eye of the elephant.”

Once again, I was perplexed.  Then, I looked closely at the elephant illustration composed of hundreds of red birds.  Ruby, a mostly yellow bird, served as the eye.  I thought about putting a link to this illustration, but decided you need to read the whole book.  However, follow this link and scroll to the bottom of the page.  You can view a speedy version of Philip Stead’s creative process showing him drawing the book cover.

Among the books written by Philip Stead is A Sick Day for Amos McGee.  His wife, Erin Stead, won the Caldecott Medal in 2011 for her illustrations in A Sick Day for Amos McGee.  It’s the highest honor for illustrations an artist can receive.  The  Association for Library  Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association,  awards this medal.  A committee of fifteen choose the winner.  On Monday, January 27 this year’s winner will be announced.

This weekend, ML and her friend will award a Mock Caldecott medal to 1 one of 10 books.  Tomorrow, I’ll list the titles I’m bringing home for consideration.  Hello, My Name is Ruby is one.   If You Want to See a Whale illustrated by his wife is another.  Stay tuned… next Monday, I’ll announce their choice.

11 Experiments That Failed


Last week was the Kindergarten and First grade Science fair at ML’s school.  It’s voluntary to participate.  Each year, I tell ML it is up to her and Daddy.  He’s a scientist.  So I get to enjoy the science fair without any of the parental stress.  As soon as I find my camera to upload the pictures, I’ll tell you more about ML’s project.  For now, I’ll share the perfect book to help explain the scientific process to elementary school students.

11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter – Between the illustrations and the science experiment ideas this is the funniest book about the scientific method.  It’s also the most effective.  When the paper from school arrived about the science fair, I pulled out this book.  There are eleven experiments.  Each experiment includes the following steps:

  • Question
  • Hypothesis
  • What You Need
  • What to Do
  • What Happened

All eleven experiments failed.   ML’s favorites included, “Would a gerbil like a bigger wheel?”  A trip to a ferris wheel is part of this experiment.  “Will a piece of bologna fly like a Frisbee?”  The result, “Teacher caught bologna with his head.  No recess.

I was hoping the “Can a washing machine wash dishes?” experiment results would be yes.  We don’t have a dishwasher, nor room for one in the kitchen.  Loading up the washing machine would simplify my life.  Clean dishes and clothes at the same time.

Looking forward to ML getting a little taller and she can have the dish washing chore.

Whale Shines: An Artistic Tale


Last week, all the new picture books arriving at the library were fantastic.  Each day, I bring a new one home.  Tonight, we read Whale Shines:  An Artistic Tale by Fiona Robinson.  Afterwards, I asked ML, “Did you like it? ”  Her response, “I didn’t like it; but I loved it.”

ML loves art.  Her favorite medium this week is pencil and copy paper.  Trees, fairies, mermaids, mountains and birds are recurring illustrations.  Tonight, I found her latest masterpiece and a pencil in her bed.  Looks like she slept with them last night. Every night before lights out, she does something quietly in her bed.  Sometimes she reads.  Other times she completes a word search.  Last night she asked, “Mommy, can I draw?”

In Whale Shines, an art show is being curated by Mr. Jackson Pollock.  In the marine world, pollock is a type of fish.  Whale is in advertising… floating through the ocean with a big banner tied around his body to solicit entries.  He finds artistic sea animals creating sculptures, drawings, sand art.  It leaves Whale depressed and wishing he was an artist.  With the help of plankton, he discovers he is an artist and finds his favorite medium.

My favorite part… Whale is so immersed in his art, the plankton have to remind him to go up for air.  While breathing, he discovers an idea for his masterpiece.  Two hints on the theme.  1.  It’s dark when whale surfaces.  2.  Van Gogh doesn’t have anything on Whale.

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey


I know I already posted an entry today; but we read another winner this evening.

ML gave Dream Animals:  A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin the best compliment a picture book can receive.  “Can we look at all the pages again?”  Then, “Let’s look through the book one more time.”  I could tell this wasn’t an instance of trying to stall bedtime.  ML was mesmerized.

Animals deliver children to their dreams.  ML couldn’t choose between riding a red fox under the roots of a tree where fairies and elves play instruments… or diving on the back of a narwhal to a mermaid tea party.  My dream choice was riding the moth to the crescent moon and painting stars in the sky.

This book ends with the same words my mom said to me every night growing up.  I say them to Mary Louise…  Sweet Dreams!

Brimbsy’s Hats

Brimsby's Hats

It’s only the second week of January, but we’ve read a book I guarantee you will be on our Top Ten Picture Books of 2014. Even though it was published in 2013… on New Year’s Eve.

Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin is a story of friendship.  Unlike many picture books celebrating friendship… it’s sweet, not syrupy.  The illustrations alone make it a hit.  With a unique, muted palette, excellent use of white space and funny details on each page; it’s a true gift.

ML first heard this story last night with her friend, Pip.  They’ve been friends forever.  Unbeknownst to me a little girl was born to a family around the block 12 days before ML.  Our neighborhood had a small park with playground equipment perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.  Many friendships were formed there.  Both children and parents made lasting friendships.  It’s where my friendship began with Pip’s mom, Becky.

Soon after, ML’s dad and I separated.  Then, Becky gave birth to another daughter.  Her husband was in Iraq for many months proceeding and following the birth.  We joined forces.  Communal dinners with baths, jammies and books were the norm.  ML and Pip’s first sleepover was the night the heat went out at our house.  Putting on shows, climbing our fig tree, digging in the dirt, eating ABC pasta, and making potions filled the girls days together.

One day ML and Pip were at Pip’s house.  They decided to make a potion.  Sneaking the sunscreen, shampoo and lotion into Pip’s room they started stirring up a brew.  When Becky checked on the girls she knew they were up to something from the aroma permeating the room.  The girls learned a lesson.  Potion making is an outside activity.  Dirt, water, leaves and berries are the best ingredients to use.

These girls are creative and compassionate just like Brimsby.  Lonely after his friend moves away… he uses his talents to help the birds. The result –  a lovely friendship with a flock of birds.

Between the park, playdates, and preschool the girls saw each other most days for several years.  Then, we moved and the girls started attending different schools.  Now the girls go weeks without seeing each other.  However, like Brimsby and his friend who moved away, they pick up exactly where they left off.  Quirky, creative, whimsical, delightful and lovely are adjectives I read in reviews of this book.  I agree.  And they are words which describe ML and Pip to a T.

I’m writing this post at a coffee shop on Hargett Street which opened today. I highly recommend you visit it.  As soon as I remember the name, I’ll post it here.  The girls are trying out a trapeze class at Cirque de Vol down the street.  A perfect activity for two girls whose friendship grew on the monkey bars at the Oakwood Common.

A Great Read Aloud for Toddlers, Preschoolers and Early Elementary School Students


I am the preschool librarian, so I perform 5 preschool story times a week.  Today, I had the opportunity to present a story time for toddlers.  Before ML was born, story times for babies and toddlers were my responsibility.  I was a little rusty, but it was lots of fun.  Parents of toddlers aren’t tired of story time so they are extra excited and participate in all the songs, rhymes and interactive stories.

There are only a few books I know which work for toddlers through elementary school students perfectly. Since ML was a little over one-year-old, I’ve presented at least one story time to her class each year.   The Animal Boogie by Debbie Harter by is always included.  It gets the kids up and moving.  The rhythmic text and colorful pictures add to the experience.  It’s a long book easily shortened when the crowd becomes restless.

I haven’t done a story time for ML’s class yet this year.  I need to email her teacher right now.




My favorite juvenile fiction book I read in 2013 was Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell.

After the sinking of the Queen Mary, an infant was found floating in a cello case.  Charles the man who found her took her home, named her Sophie and raised her as his own.  As Sophie became older, a meddlesome neighbor believed Sophie was not being raised to be a lady.  Climbing trees and wearing trousers was inappropriate.  The neighbor invited the National Childcare Agency to intervene.

After learning the government planned to  remove Sophie from Charles’ home, they escaped to Paris.  Sophie was convinced her mother survived and was living in  Paris.  Following their mantra “And never ignore a possible!” a magical journey began.

The French government wasn’t any help.  But Sophie soon meet a young man who lived on the rooftops of Paris.  He and the tree dwellers helped Sophie discover the mystery of her mother.

The language in this book is as rhythmic as Sophie’s quest to find the mother who played  Faure’s Requeim in double time on her cello.  I love the descriptions of Sophie’s heart.  On page 79 “Sophie’s heart looped the loop and danced a jitterbug”  Later on page 194 “Her heart was hummingbirding.”  Terry Fan’s illustrations at the beginning of each chapter add to the elegance of this book.

You’re probably wondering if she found her mother.  I’ll never tell.  Read the book.  It’s an enjoyable read for both children and adults.

ML is Going to Be Vice President


School started 2 hours late today.  It’s wonderful to have other single mom friends.  I took the early shift, staying home until it was time to drop the kids.  She picked ML up from after school so I could get a full eight hours in at the library.

Her daughter plans to be President of the United States.  Her son wavers between being a General or Secretary of State.  Today, he decided top General of the Navy is his future career.  ML will assume the position of Vice President.  They named one of their friends as White House Tour Guide.  I said, “You know what that means the moms will be.”  Their response, “Old.”

“Wrong,”  I explained, ” We will be the most powerful people in the nation.  Mothers of the President, Vice President and the highest ranking General in the Navy.”

A few books to prepare them for the campaign trail, future home and responsibilities…

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin – Duck is not happy with his chores at the farm so he runs for Farmer and wins.  It’s not a fun job.  He decides Governor is a better choice for him.  He campaigns for it and wins.  Once in office, he learns being a governor is even harder work.  So he runs for president and wins.  Soon, he learns it’s the hardest job.  So he puts the Vice President in charge and answers an advertisement for a farmer looking for a duck.  Wonder if ML’s friend will resign and hand the reins over to her?

Capital by Lynn Curlee – This book includes in depth information about the design and building of 5 National Landmarks – The White House, The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial and The Capitol building.  There’s a map at the end so our future president can get her bearings.

So you Want To Be President? by Judith St. George and illustrated by David Small – A perfect selection for their friend appointed to White House Tour Guide to read.  Did you know… the White House has a swimming pool, bowling alley and movie theater?  The most exciting tidbit is Theodore Roosevelt’s son took his Shetland Pony, Algonquin, upstairs using the White House elevator to cheer up his sick brother.

Anybody want to make a contribution to their campaign war chest?  They’re not eligible to run for 28 more years.  By then support of a SUPER, SUPER, SUPER, SUPER PAC will probably be needed to win the White House.

Books for a Frigid Day


The low temperature forecast for today… nine degrees.  Much to our dismay, no snow.  We haven’t had any since we moved into our new house on a street with a perfect sledding hill.  School is on a two hour delay.  They’re probably scared the buses won’t start for those early morning routes.  So our books tonight will follow warm mugs of hot chocolate.

Here are some of ML’s favorite winter books.

Snowman at Night by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner – There are many books about snowman, but no snowmen have more fun than the ones in this book.  Snowball fights, snow angels and races each night.  The hidden figures in the shadows and snow add excitement to this lively book.

Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick – There are very few books with photographs that end up in the picture book section of the library.  Luckily, this one did.  A stranger is discovered by the animals in the snowy woods.  While they are discussing which animal should approach it, the brave little chickadee takes it upon herself to fly over and check out the stranger.  It is a snowman with a treat of birdseed on his hat.  The other animals approach and find their own treats… corn, carrots, nuts and acorns.  There are two-legged strangers hiding in the woods watching the animals eat the goodies.

Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara – An original take on winter.  Most books are about snow.  This book focusing on Jack Frost includes simple, yet beautiful illustrations.  Most of the pages include white illustrations with a royal blue background and a few blue details.  At our house, we experience Jack Frost more often than snow.  He particularly loves the car windshield on days we are running a little bit behind.

Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London – I don’t let a winter go by without reading ML this book.  It’s meant to be read aloud, especially the words FROGGY and UNDERWEAR.  She finds it hilarious every year.

And of course the all time classic snow book

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats – It’s been popular for 50 plus years.  Many say it broke the color barrier in children’s literature.  The great thing about the story is the story itself has nothing to do with race.  Instead, it’s the adventure of a child after snowfall.  I love Al Roker’s quote on the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation’s website, “I remember reading this book to my baby sister thinking, ‘Here’s a kid who looks like me.’ On so many levels, this is such a groundbreaking piece of literature and artwork.”  As NPR’s piece “As Demographics Shift, Kids’ Books Stay Stubbornly White” proves we still have a long way to go.

I Caught ML Reading the Dictionary


Saturday was a cold day in NC.  I found ML sitting in front of the heat vent reading her new dictionary.  Santa brought it to her.  She actually asked for one from him.

He looked at several options at our local bookstore.  The American Heritage Children’s Dictionary seemed the best choice for ML.

Loving that ML loves words like her Mama.

First Graders Who Fly Through The Magic Tree House Books

ML’s teacher asked me to recommend books for her first graders who are flying through Magic Tree House, Flat Stanley, etc.   She was particularly interested in ideas for boys.

Books for first graders at a challenging reading level, but not too mature, take a bit of thought.  Luckily, my coworker does a 2nd-3rd grade book club so I had an expert source.


The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary – A reckless young mouse named Ralph makes friends with a boy in room 215 of the Mountain View Inn and discovers the joys of motorcycling.

Wild Robot

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown – Roz the robot discovers she is alone on a remote, wild island with no memory of where she is from or why she is there, and her only hope of survival is to try to learn about her new environment from the island’s hostile inhabitants.



How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell – Because of a bet, Billy is in the uncomfortable position of having to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days. A hilarious story that will revolt and delight.


The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Peter A Reynolds – During a weekend trip to Ocracoke Island, siblings Judy and Stink Moody take part in a pirate treasure-hunting game, in which various clues lead them to silver coins, or “pieces of eight,” hidden across the island.


The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith – In 1930, on the coast of Scotland, eight-year-old Kirstie finds a large egg which hatches into an unusual sea creature, and as he grows her family must decide what to do with him.

Chocolate Fever

Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith– Henry breaks out in brown bumps as a result of eating too much chocolate. He then gets caught up in a hijacking and learns a valuable lesson about self-indulgence.


The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney – Humphrey, pet hamster at Longfellow School, learns that he has an important role to play in helping his classmates and teacher.


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.

Chet Gecko

Chet Gecko – Private Eye by Bruce Hale – When hired by a fellow fourth-grader to find her missing brother, Chet Gecko uncovers a plot involving a Gila monster’s revenge upon the school football team.


Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl – Three farmers, each one meaner than the other, try all-out warfare to get rid of the fox and his family.


Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol – Encyclopedia Brown, a ten-year-old detective, uses his intelligence to help solve puzzling crimes.


2014 Reading – Children’s Authors are Kind

I’ve set some pretty high reading goals for this year.  And these don’t include my adult reading goals.

  • Read 200 Picture Books
  • Read 10 Juvenile Fiction Chapter Books
  • Read 5 Young Adult Novels
  • Read 52 Nonfiction books for Children

Also, I plan to continue the blog with the goal of 200 blog postings in 2014 here.

For most posts I write, I contact the authors and illustrators.  I have been amazed at the responses I receive in return.  My favorite responses include information of their upcoming books.  Below are some I can’t wait for ML and I to read in 2014.

May 1, 2014 – Turtle Island by Kevin Sherry


May 6, 2014 – Big Bad Bubble by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri


Sometime in Fall 2014,

A book about Thanksgiving by Mark Fearing

I am certain there are others I’m forgetting.  But I need to get reading and writing if I’m going to reach my 2014 goals.