Month: March 2014

Take Me Out To the Ball Park – Baseball’s Opening Day – March 31st


To kick off the Opening Day of Major League Baseball  a few book ideas.

Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares – This is Matt Tavares latest book featuring baseball.  He must be a huge fan.  Six of his thirteen books published are about baseball.  Until we read this book, all I knew about Babe Ruth was he was a great baseball player and a candy bar bore his name.  I had no idea Babe Ruth’s parents  sent him to reform school when he was ML’s age.  He never forgot his experiences.  Throughout his career, he was especially kind to children in reform schools, orphanages, and hospitals.  Don’t miss A 3-Minute Drawing Lesson with Matt Tavares.  I love it when illustrators show their process.

Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon – ML’s cousins live in Japan, so this book caught her interest.  Told from the perspective of one boy attending two baseball games.  One in the United States with his grandfather; and one in Japan with his other grandfather.  Each page spread compares something about the United States to the same thing in Japan… transportation to the game,  details about the game, descriptions of the stadium, taking a bath and finally dozing off to sleep.    ML’s favorite pages show the food eaten at each location.  As a lover of edamame, she’s interested in attending a game in Japan.

Who’s On First? by Abbott & Costello and illustrated by John Martz – Many know this Abbott & Costello comedy routine by heart.  I do not.  Truthfully, I never understood why it was funny until I read this recently published picture book version.

Casey Back at Bat by Dan Gutman and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher – A creative sequel to Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s famous poem “Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic” written in 1888.  Casey does not strike out.  Instead, he hits the ball.  It flies around the world and universe.  Finally, returning to the stadium.  Then…  My lips are sealed.  Read the book for this fun play on Casey at the Bat.

ML enjoys attending the local minor league team’s games.  I’m not sure she watches the game, but she loves the chance to run the bases after the game.

There are many other great books for kids about baseball; both fiction and non-fiction.  I’ll feature a few on April 15th.  Some people refer to it as Tax Day.  I’s also celebrated as Jackie Robinson Day.

Grimmtastic Girls Arrived at the Library Today


Today, a new series arrived at the library.  Grimmtastic Girls by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams.  I learned of the series when one of the authors, Joan Holub, sent me advanced copies of the first two books.  I immediately let the librarian who orders books know about it.  The authors’ series Goddess Girls and Heroes in Training are immensely popular.  I knew Grimmtastic Girls would be too.

The advanced copies arrived the evening ML’s good friend spent the night.  Here’s my email to the author.

“I was excited to receive advanced copies of Grimmtastic Girls in the mail.  It was such a pleasant surprise.  I read 4 chapters of the first book to ML and her friend last night.  They wanted me to keep going but it was 11pm.  I’m going to pass the copy of the one you sent to us to ML’s friend from last night.  She’s a better reader than ML so she will probably be able to read it herself.  One thing I can already tell I like about the books is the vocabulary used.  So many times, series books can be watered down.  I look forward to this opening up ML’s interest in the 398.2 section of the library.”  (For non-librarians – the 398.2 section is the Dewey Decimal Number where the non-Disney folk and fairy tales are housed.)

Even though I wrote a post called “Not Another Princess Book,” I am excited about this series.  Based on what we’ve read so far, the princesses have depth and take care of themselves.  The first book starts with your typical Cinderella story… evil stepmother, mean stepsisters.  From there it changes.  Cinderella or Cinda as she is called in the book starts at the boarding school her stepsisters attend,  Grimmtastic Academy.  We haven’t finished reading about the first day of school and the stepsisters have tried to sabotage Cinda three times.  Luckily, she meets Snow, Red and Rapunzel.  It looks like they are going to show her the ropes.  Other characters introduced include the school secretary Mrs Jabberwocky , the lunch room lady Mistress Hagscorch, the headmaster Grumpystiltskin.  And of course Prince Awesome who the stepsisters swoon over.

I look forward to reading more of this book with ML.  Her reading is improving so she’s likely to be reading the series on her own September 30th when the third and fourth book in the series are released.

Book 1 – Cinderella Stays Up Late
Book 2 – Red Riding Hood Gets Lost
Book 3 – Snow White Lucks Out
Book 4 – Rapunzel Cuts Loose


Nursery Rhymes


Tonight while reading Detective Blue by Steve Metzger and illustrated by Tedd Arnold,  I realized I failed ML.  She didn’t get parts of the story because she didn’t know all the nursery rhymes references. I feared I missed my chance.  Once children reach a certain age, nursery rhymes are seen as babyish.  Luckily, children’s authors and illustrators are keeping them alive in children’s minds by expanding on rhymes or changing the rhymes’ words.

Cindy Moo by Lori Mortensen and illustrated by Jeff Mack – Cindy Moo overhears the farmer’s daughter reading the nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle.  She decides if the cow in the story can jump over the moon, she can too.  She tries and fails.  Then, tries and fails again.  But Cindy Moo doesn’t give up hope.  Even when the moon disappears completely.  After a very rainy evening, she is able to jump over the moon.  We love the various facial expressions on the cows throughout the book.

The Adventures of the The Dish and the Spoon by Mini Grey -Another book playing on the “Hey Diddle, Diddle” rhyme.  This book is a love story highlighting the fun and not so fun times the dish and spoon experience after running away.  The illustrations suggest they fell off the white cliffs of Dover and floated all the way to the Statue of Liberty.  After robbing a bank, dish is broken and immediately deported.  Spoon serves jail time and is deported upon release.  They reconnect in a Junk Shop.  I’ve featured Mini Grey before.  ML loves her books  and I do too.  The hidden comedy for adults in her illustrations delights.

Monster Goose by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Jack E. Davis – ML calls these “Scary Nursery Rhymes.”  With titles like “Mary Had a Vampire Bat” and Little Miss Mummy” popular nursery rhymes words are changed.  The new rhymes follow the same rhythm of the original.  ML and the boy down the street like to pretend they are zombies.  So ML’s favorite rhyme was “There Was an Old Zombie.”  I like “Slithery, Dithery, Dock.”  The illustrations are not too scary, but scary-funny.  No nightmares after reading this book.

The Web Files by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Richard Egielski–  Thankfully, I didn’t fail ML completely.  She got all the nursery rhyme references in this book and loved the play on words like “The sheep said this is b-a-a-a-d!  Really b-a-a-a-d!” and “quack the case.”  You can’t help but laugh at all the nursery rhyme characters featured in the illustrations.  Our favorite part of the book… repeating Dum De Dum Dum.

As a child, I remember pouring over Mother Goose:  A Treasury of Best-Loved Rhymes edited by Watty Piper and illustrated by Tim and Greg Hildebrandt.  Last night I found it on my bookshelf and shared a few rhymes with ML.  Thankfully, she’s not opposed to an overdue education on nursery rhymes.  She thinks it’s cool to read a book I read as a child, published the year of my birth.



Eddie Gets Ready for School



Eddie Gets Ready for School by David Milgrim is a fun read.  My coworker introduced it to me after her three-year-old wanted to hear it over and over.  Like Eddie, ML has a morning routine.  She also has a bedtime routine.  Unlike Eddie her morning routine does not involve wearing underwear on her head, drinking root beer, or packing a cat in her backpack.   Neither does Eddie’s when his mom gets involved.

I admit… ML does wear underwear on her head.  Usually at night.  She ties a large green blanket around a pair of underwear.  Then places the underwear on her head.  Prancing around with very long green hair.  Calling herself Rapunzel.

We love the checklist format in the book.  When ML was first learning to do all the steps of her bedtime routine without me nagging, she wrote it on a note card.  Then, checked each step off every night.

Pick Out Clothes
Put on Jammies
Check Backpack for Everything Needed for School
Bedtime Snack
Read Books and Cuddle in My Bed
Lights Out

Her bed time routine is longer than the morning routine.  In the morning all ML has to do is

Get Dressed
Eat Breakfast

Once ML finishes those two tasks, she can watch TV until it’s time to go.  At the beginning of the school year we didn’t have this routine.  Our mornings go smoother now.  Not being allowed to watch Wild Kratts until she is dressed and eating breakfast is a real motivator.  Usually, she brushes her teeth right before we scoot out the door.  If we are running late, we skip that step.  Don’t tell Dr. Schmorr.

Tell the truth.  Do your children always brush their teeth two times a day?



On the way to work recently, I noticed pink flowers on the trees along my commute.  The red buds are blooming.  Last year we planted one at our new house.  The plan was to take a picture of ML in front of it each year.  Didn’t happen yet.  But it appears the trees has survived this very cold, bizarre winter.  As soon as it’s full of leaves, I’ll snap the picture.

Maple by Lori  Nichols is a recent addition to the library collection.  It’s a unique book highlighting the changing seasons and the experience of having a new sibling.  Before Maple is born, her parents plant a tree.  A maple of course.  Throughout Maple’s childhood, the tree is a companion to her.  When she’s sent outside for being too noisy, the tree doesn’t care.

One day a small tree begins growing next to Maple’s tree.  Then, a bigger surprise.  Her mom’s stomach is getting bigger.  Soon, a baby sister is brought home from the hospital.  Maple works hard to be a helpful big sister.  When the baby gets too noisy, she takes it outside under the maple tree.  Next to it a small willow is beginning to grow.  I am sure you can guess Maple’s sister’s name.

I’ve only given the most basic of descriptions about this book.  It’s so much more.  A story of nature, companionship and love.

Mrs. Wishy-Washy


One of my favorite books to read at story times for toddlers is Mrs. Wishy-Washy by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Elizabeth Ann Fuller.  I read it many times to ML in her preschool years.  Mrs. Wishy-Washy likes for things to be clean.  Whenever her animals get muddy, she puts them in the washtub.

Yesterday, I felt like Mrs. Wishy-Washy.  Although it was bedding and stuffed animals I was washing, not muddy farm animals.

In went the quilt.  Wishy-Washy.  Wishy-Washy.
In went the sheets.  Wishy-Washy.  Wishy-Washy.
In went the matress pad.  Wishy-Washy.  Wishy-Washy.
In went the sleeping bag.  Wishy-Washy.  Wishy-Washy.
In went the stuffed animals.  Wishy-Washy.  Wishy-Washy.
In went every towel we own.  Wishy-Washy.  Wishy-Washy.

Into the outdoor trashcan went the white blanket… triple-bagged.  Even Mrs. Wishy-Washy couldn’t have cleaned it.

Thankfully, ML bounced back quickly.  Sadly, she shared with her mama.  The washing machine’s been going for two days straight.  And there is a strong scent of bleach in the air.

What are Pocket Poems?


Part of my responsibilities co-chairing the Poetry Celebration is finding poems to include on the Pocket Poem display.  It’s a display in the school library where children can pick out poems to read, put in their pocket and keep.

I selected poems from the following books.

The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury selected by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Meilo So – A collection of more than 200 poems by such modern poets as Nikki Grimes, John Ciardi, Karla Kuskin, Ted Hughes, e.e. cummings, Eve Merriam, Deborah Chandra, Arnold Adoff, and more than 100 others.

National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry:  200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar and Roar! edited by J. Patrick Lewis – Combines photography with lyrical text celebrating the animal world, in a compilation that includes works by such poets as Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and Rudyard Kipling.

Pocket Poems edited by Bobbi Katz and illustrated by Marilyn Hafner – A collection of short poems by such authors as: Gwendolyn Brooks, Emily Dickinson, Emily George, Nikki Giovanni, Eve Merriam, and Charlotte Pomerantz.

Poems to pick up and put in your pocket.  What a great way to share poetry.