Month: January 2014

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?