Month: May 2014

Career Day – I Booktalked Branches – A New Group of Beginning Chapter Books

Today I surprised ML and visited her class to tell about what I do at my job.  She was super excited and helped me with the story time.  We did a shared reading of an Elephant & Piggie book and the puppet show we performed for the incoming kindergarteners yesterday.  Not only did I perform a story time, I booktalked.  For those of you in the non-library world, it’s telling a little bit about a book to entice readers.  I chose a new group of beginning reader chapter books by Scholastic Books to highlight called Branches.  The students were intrigued by the books.  Hopefully, they will visit the public library this summer and check some out.  I consider the most important part of my job getting books to readers.

There are eight series in this collection.  I’ve read snippets from four of the series.  Descriptions of the series are straight from Scholastic’s website. Plus a sentence on what I think will appeal to readers from the books I’ve physically laid my hands on.


Kung Pow Chicken by Cindi Marko – “Gordon Blue was an ordinary second grader — until he became the superhero known as Kung Pow Chicken! Now he battles bad guys all over town!”  Readers will like the colorful pages, and the intermixing of traditional text with comic book bubbles.


Looniverse by David Lubar – “A magical coin makes Ed’s universe go more than a little loony in this edge-of-your-seat series.”  Readers will like the quirky stories and the funny illustrations.


Lotus Lane by Kyla May – “These fun diaries give readers a glimpse into the fabulous Lotus Lane Girls Club.”  Readers will like the diary format and the illustrations interspersed throughout the diary entries.

Monkey Me

Monkey Me by Timothy Roland – “Thanks to a wacky banana, energetic Clyde turns into a monkey when he gets excited!”  Readers will like the combination of narrative text and comic strip format.

Dragon Masters

Dragon Masters by Tracey West and illustrated by Graham Howells – “Dragon Masters has it all!  Dragons, a Dragon Stone, a king, a wizard, and magic!”

I am glad to have additional beginning chapter books to share with readers this summer beyond my regular go tos… Magic Tree House, Flat Stanley, and Rainbow Magic.

Libraries can’t buy every book.  Other series in the Branches group, I’ve yet to read include…


Boris by Andrew Joyner – “Adventure is always just around the corner for this enthusiastic warthog.”


Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe by Susan Nees – “Missy does everything the super-duper-royal-deluxe way in this irresistible series about a girl with a big personality!”


The Notebook of Doom by Troy Cummings  – “Alexander Bopp has just moved to a new town where he uncovers all sorts of monsters!”


Future Librarian in Training and A Secret


I am a member of the Friends of the Library at ML’s school.  In previous years, the school librarian presented a story time for incoming kindergartners near the end of the school year.  Between End of Grade Tests and other responsibilities the media specialist wasn’t able to work one in her schedule.  So I volunteered to do it.

At 8:30 a.m. this morning, ML and I shared books, songs, a flannelboard game and puppets with these rising kindergartners.  Some of her friends’ siblings were in the crowd so it was extra fun.  ML is an excellent story time presenter.  She read The Pigeon Needs a Bath, played the flannel game with the kids and performed in the puppet show.  Below is what we did.

Book Eddie Gets Ready for School by David Milgrim (I read it to get the kids in the mindset of going to school.  And so the parents won’t feel bad if their mornings are crazy.  Eddie’s parents mornings are even crazier.)

Flannel Rhyme –  A is for Alligator

A is for alligator,
Chomp, chomp, chomp
B is for bunny,
Hop, hop, hop
C is for circle
That goes around and around
And D is for down.
Let’s all sit down.

Flannel – What’s Inside My Little Book? (A guessing game where various flannel items are hidden behind flannel cut in the shape of different color books.  We repeated a rhyme together and they tried to guess what was behind each book… ice cream cone, blue car, purple hippo and green monster.)

BookThe Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems (ML read it to remind them to bathe before the first day of school.)

Puppet Show – Using the tune “The Wheels on the Bus” we performed a show with animal puppets and appropriate props for various people found at school.

The teachers at the school  say, “Welcome to School.”
The art teacher at the school says, “Paint, Paint, Paint!”
The music teacher at the school says, “La, La, La!”
The coach at the school  says, “Run, Run, Run”
The librarian at the school says “Read, Read, Read!”
The students at the school  say, “We’re Glad You’re Here.”

ML doesn’t know I’ll be sharing this story time tomorrow with her class.  Then, I’ll tell the students all about being a librarian.  Shhhh!  It’s a secret.


Troll Swap3BillyGoatsGruff

I read so many picture books.  Sometimes I forget which ones ML and I read together.  The other night I pulled out Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson.  ML insisted, “Mommy!  We’ve read it before!”  I said, “I don’t think so.”  She promised, “We did!  It’s really good, so we can read it again.”  ML was correct.  We did read it together a few weeks ago.  We enjoyed the book even more the second time.  We spent the evening laughing at the new details we discovered in the illustrations.  ML loves how the troll’s outfit and the girl’s outfit match.

It was a night of troll books.  We enjoyed The Three Billy Goats Gruff retold by Mary Finch and illustrated by Roberta Arenson too.  When ML saw the cover she exclaimed, “We have that book at school.  I love it.”  It was a shared reading experience.  In a deep voice ML read…

“Im a troll,from a deep dark hole,
My belly’s getting thinner,
I need to eat — and goat’s a treat —
So I’ll have you for my dinner.”

I don’t often name the publishers of books, but I want to highlight the publishers of these two books.  Nosy Crow, the publisher of Troll Swap, began publishing in 2011.  In just three years, they’ve published award-winning, kid approved books.  Barefoot Books, the publisher of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, began in 1992.  Several of my favorite books to read in story time are published by Barefoot BooksThe Animal Boogie sung by Fred Penner and illustrated by Debbie Harter is my go to for a group filled with children of all ages.

Animal Boogie

Happy Anniversary to ML Reads

Typewriter old

WordPress informed me this week, it’s the first anniversary of ML Reads.  When I started the blog, I did it on a whim.  Just a fun way to share books with friends.  I had no idea how much it would enrich my life; nor how it would evolve.

So 217 posts later with over 10,000 page views. . . this is what I’ve learned.

  • I’ve created a wonderful journal of ML’s reading and important events in our life.  Most make me smile; but the one about her friend dying hurts my heart every time I read it.
  • Authors and illustrators of children books are amazing.  Not only do they provide high quality books for children, they are kind.  A month or so into the blog I decided to contact authors and illustrators when they were featured.  I receive responses from the vast majority.  Some send ML copies of their books.  Others provide a sneak peak to artwork from an upcoming book.  A few even follow my blog.  I didn’t expect any of this when I started the blog.  All the authors and illustrators are gracious and appreciate learning how much ML enjoys their books.
  • People from all over the world view my blog…  78 countries and counting.
  • Writing is hard work.  211 posts are in some sort of draft yet to be finished.
  • I’m a better librarian for keeping this blog.  It’s renewed my enthusiasm for helping children find books they may enjoy.  I love it when they let me know if they like it or not.

I plan to continue posting for another year.  As ML grows I know the blog will continue to evolve.  With my love of picture books and ML’s interest in art, sharing about new picture books will be a permanent feature.  I anticipate ML’s reading skills to ramp up exponentially in the next year.  Maybe I’ll have her write posts on the chapter books she loves.


Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman


I’m having a hard time keeping up with posting about all the fantastic picture books arriving at the library.  I didn’t want to let the book ML and I read last night slip through the cracks.  Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman is an epic adventure with amazing watercolors.  I promise I didn’t copy “epic adventure” from the inner flap of the book jacket.  It’s immediately what popped into my mind when we finished the book.

However, I am going to copy from the flap now because it describes the book perfectly.  “This read-aloud shares its best qualities with classic picture books: breath-taking illustrations, epic adventure and a subtle message about taking responsibility for your actions.”

Reading this book reminded me of my mom and I cuddling and reading books when I was young.  It’s only fitting ML wanted us to cuddle after this book.  I smiled when she said, “Mommy, tell me a story about your mom.  I don’t know much about her.”  (My mother passed away almost five years to the day before ML’s birth) I told the story of the time mom made salt brownies.  Those who knew and loved my mom know this story well.

For my literary friends, check out the illustrations of various boats.  You won’t be able to read it without thinking of some classics from American Literature.

DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK!!!  It is deserving of all the starred reviews and accolades it’s receiving.  I promise it will show up on my 2015 Mock Caldecott list.

ML Finally Likes Elephant & Piggie Books


I’ve checked out Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems for years.  ML emphatically refused for us to read them stating, “You know I don’t like comic books.”  Recently she said, “Mommy, I don’t like the Pigeon books anymore.  I like the Elephant & Piggie books.”  The Pigeon books are by Mo Willems too.

The library received a new pigeon book days before this conversation.  I responded, “OK, I won’t bring home the new Pigeon book, The Pigeon Needs a Bath.  ML changed her tune requesting, “Please bring home the Pigeon book, but also bring home some Elephant & Piggie books.”  Excitedly, I seized the opportunity and requested every Elephant & Piggie book published.

The night I brought home The Pigeon Needs a Bath  bedtime snuck up on us.  I wanted to multitask the bedtime routine by reading to ML while she ate her bedtime snack.  Sitting on the floor in the kitchen, I was ready to begin reading.   ML said, “Wait! I want to read The Pigeon Needs a Bath to you.”  On our dusty wooden floor, I realized something.  The only people who read picture books out loud with more feeling than a children’s librarian are the children of these librarians.

I’m glad I didn’t force the Elephant & Piggie books on ML.  The dramatic opportunities in these books are beyond measure.  Of course, I didn’t realize this until ML showed me.  She decided I should be Elephant and she would be Piggie.  We’ve been reading them out loud together.

Recently, her friend came for dinner.  They acted out seven different Elephant & Piggie books.  I sat on the sofa and held the books open so they could read the words.  It was fun watching them taking turns being Elephant & Piggie.  There were even costumes made from blue painter’s tape.  A long strip taped to Elephant’s nose and a short curly tail for Piggie allowing for quick costume changes after each book.

My wonderful friend from library school who lives in California posted Elephant & Piggie Do Reader’s Theater last week on her blog.  Looks like children from coast to coast are performing dramatic readings of Elephant & Piggie books.

When you read the Elephant & Piggie books (because you must no matter your age or access to children) make sure to check out the back inside covers of the books.  The Pigeon makes an appearance.  I’m not buying ML’s comment, ” I don’t like the Pigeon books anymore.”   She loves finding that silly bird hiding out in the Elephant & Piggie books.



Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! Bunnies in Our Yard


Yesterday, I alluded to bunnies in our yard.  Today, I am highlighting a trilogy of bunny books by Candace Fleming and illustrated by G. Brian Karas.  And sharing some very sad news about one of our bunnies living in the urban wild.

In the first book, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! a very grumpy Mr. McGreeley  is inundated with bunnies eating his garden.  Each day he works hard to keep the bunnies out of his garden.  Every night the bunnies muncha, muncha, muncha.

Winter’s arrived in the next book of the series…  Tippy, Tippy, Tippy Hide!  Mr. McGreeley looks forward to a quiet winter with no bunnies.  Doesn’t happen.  Those pufftails invade his home.

In the final book of the trilogy,  Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Splash!, Mr. McGreeley decides to visit the beach to escape the bunnies who drive him crazy.  No such luck.  They hitch a ride.

I wrote this post yesterday.  Last night, we lost one of the three bunnies who have been visiting our patch of clover and strawberries everyday for weeks.  ML found it on the side of the street.  She’s named all the bunnies with first, middle and last names and was able to identify the deceased as “Strawberry Cottontail Bunny.”

Guess who buried the bunny? Personally, I think I deserve a  Mom of the Year award.  The tombstone ML made is below. She also took photos of the dead bunny. I’ll spare you.  It comforted ML she had made a special bunny salad of dandelions, clover and strawberries for the bunnies Sunday evening.   As for the person who sped down our street sometime between 6 and 8 p.m. and hit the hind leg of our “pet,” your speeding made my daughter cry. Was the three seconds faster you got to your destination worth it?