Month: July 2014

Gaston and The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water – Two Similar Yet Different Picture Books

GastonCrocodile Who Didn't Like Water

I wanted to plow through a stack of picture books before ML went on vacation for two weeks.  Time got away from us; but the cover of Gaston by Kelly Dipucchio and pictures by Christian Robinson was so appealing I let her stay up a little later so we could read it.

After we finished, ML said, “It’s like the dragon book we read.”  I had no idea what she was talking about.  The first dragon book which popped in my head was Dragons Love Tacos.  I didn’t see a correlation.  ML explained, “The one with the crocodiles.”  Believe it or not, this made perfect sense.  ML was referring to The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino.

Both books are about finding where you belong.  In Gaston, two dog families meet at the park.  It you judge by the physical features of the dogs, Gaston belongs with the other family and Antoinette with Gaston’s little poodle family.  They decide to switch places.  But it’s not the right fit.  So they return to their real homes.  Christian Robinson deservedly won the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award this year for his book Rain, which I’ve been meaning to write about.  An illustrator to watch for certain.

In The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water, one crocodile has nothing in common with his siblings.  They love the water.  He does not and it leaves him lonely.  Until he develops a plan… saving all his tooth fairy money to buy a swim ring.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t help him enjoy the water, but in the process he learns why he doesn’t like water.  Learning his true talent which helps him find his perfect home.  A debut picture book by author/illustrator Gemma Merino.  Her pacing and illustrations are perfect.

Don’t miss reading two of our favorite reads this summer.  ML’s cousins visit this weekend.  These books are in my bag to go home again.  I know they’ll be a hit.



For Bronte: Future Author/Illustrator – Two Middle Grade Books

Under The EggThe Boundless

ML and I perused her yearbook together recently.  Under each picture of the fifth graders, were their names and what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Many made me laugh, especially the one who wants to be a worker’s compensation lawyer.  To know so young the specific area of law you want to practice. . . he must know a worker’s comp lawyer.  I’ve met people halfway through law school who are still unsure.  Some even after graduation.

Several students’ answers warmed my heart and reminded me of great books to recommend to these rising middle schoolers.

Bronte wants to be an author and illustrator.  ML worships her.  We’ve seen her artwork.  I read her poetry for the Poetry Celebration.  Look out Children’s Publishing World.  I’ve seen the future and it’s talented.

The synopsis for the recommendations for Bronte are straight from the publishers’ websites.  Each book involves art.  One a mysterious painting.  The other a young man whose passion is drawing.

Under The Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald – When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen.

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo’s search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she’ll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel – The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life!

When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past.

In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?

I’m working on some books for ML’s other favorite almost middle schooler.  She wants to own a restaurant.  A new book arrived at the library last week which looks promising for a future professional chef.

Bella Lost and Found by Ryan O’Rourke


My dear friends Debbie and Dale moved to Oriental, NC with their cats Bella and Coby to be near their sailboat.  When Bella Lost and Found by Ryan O’Rourke arrived at the library, I couldn’t stop thinking about their invitation to visit.  It’s time we venture to the Pamlico Sound, where ML experienced her first sailing trip when she was a mere eight months old.

What’s this book about?  The dust jacket’s describes the plot perfectly.  “Bella is an indoor cat who lives inside a lighthouse.  She has always imagined having great adventures on the high seas.  But she has never gone outside until . . .  One day she finds an open door and ventures down to the sea.  Bella hops onto a sailboat and drifts away just like in her dreams.”  As for the illustrations, the front cover provides a small taste of the delightful pictures inside the book.

Rumor has it Debbie is volunteering at a local school.  A perfect fit for her as she performed storytimes for at least fifteen years.  Bella Lost and Found is an excellent book for her to read aloud.  Then, she can tell the group about her Bella.  I don’t think we’ll visit empty-handed.  Guess what we’ll bring?


Edward Gibbs’ I Spy Books

I Spy With My Little EyeI Spy Under the Sea

ML read three Edward Gibbs’ I Spy books the other night while I cooked dinner.  She yelled to me in the kitchen, “Mommy, what’s that fish with the long nose?”  Then, quickly said, “Nevermind… Swordfish.”  She guessed all the answers for each page of these books using the written and visual clues.

This week at the library we received I Spy With My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs in board book format.  Instead of paper pages, board books have thick cardboard pages perfect for toddlers developing fine motor skills.  I’m thrilled the publishers released it in board book.  I hope the other titles in this series are published in board book soon.

I’m adding this title to my post Books for a One Year Old Birthday Present.

Nonfiction Matters

The article Children’s Nonfiction Rising from the Huffington Post reminded me of two things.  My pledge to read fifty-two nonfiction titles for children this year and my slacking off on posting about nonfiction. Our library catalog allows you to search the newest additions to the library.  One subject heading is Children’s Nonfiction.  Today I judged the books by the covers and checked out eight nonfiction books.  I tried to get a variety of topics.  Below are the ones I’m eager to share with ML.

Pinecone Projects

Super Simple Pinecone Projects by Kelly Doudna – The beginning pages start with nonfiction information about pinecones in nature, which I think is a great idea.  When looking at the crafts, the first three were super simple and used at many preschools. At this point, I was unsure the book would hold ML’s interest.  Then, I reached page twenty… bobblehead pinecones.  A creative, clever idea.  From there, the ideas were perfect for ML’s age.  Pinecone art will be a part of our fall.

If It Rains Pancakes

If It Rains Pancakes:  Haiku and Lantern Poems by Brian P. Cleary with illustrations by Andy Rowland – I’m familiar with the haiku form of poetry.  This spring I did several posts about them.  This new book tweaked my interest because I wasn’t familiar with the term lantern poems.  I’m co-chairing the Poetry Celebration at ML’s school again this year.  Can’t wait to share lantern poems with the students.  Here’s one from the book.

— ah-CHOOOO —
out of my nose

Magic School Bus Presents Wild Weather

The Magic School Bus Presents Wild Weather by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen – ML’s been a Magic School Bus fan since she was three.  This nonfiction companion to the original Magic School Bus series includes the fun characters from the books and beautiful color illustrations.  The library owns five titles from this new series.  I’m checking out all five for ML.

Park Scientists

Park Scientists:  Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard by Mary Kay Carson and photographs by Tom Uhlman – The text of this book will be difficult for ML to read.  But it provides a great opportunity for me to share about my trips to various National Parks.  Three parks are featured – Yellowstone, Saguaro and Great Smoky Mountains.

Mysterious Patterns

Mysterious Patterns:  Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell with photographs by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell – One thing I love about children’s nonfiction is I am always learning something new.  If I learned about fractals in school, I’ve forgotten about these cool patterns.  Broccoli florets, trees, river systems and so many other fractals in our world.

See What a Seal Can Do

See What a Seal Can Do by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Kate Nelms – Seals flump.  If you don’t know what that means, this book is perfect for you.  Who knew seals breathe out when taking a dive? These days most nonfiction we receive include glossy colored illustrations.  This book with mixed media illustrations looks and reads like a picture book.  Many nonfiction books aren’t great read alouds to a group.  This one works perfectly.

Space Exploration

Space Exploration:  It Is Rocket Science created Basher and written by Dan Green – If this book was in alphabetical order, I would call it an in depth dictionary on rocket science.  From space shuttles to Venus Express to Cassini-Huygens to space tourists and more, you can learn about the equipment and people exploring outer space.  I’m not a space expert so it was interesting to have all these things described in an easy to understand format.

National Geographic Student Atlas

National Geographic Student World Atlas – As a child, I loved to explore the globe we owned.  Spinning it and stopping it with my finger to see which country it landed on.  When this new atlas appeared at the library, I was intrigued.  Back in the day, I could name most of the countries in the world.  There were some countries I was unfamiliar with in this atlas… Eritrea and Tajikistan to name two.  No doubt if ML memorizes all the countries names, there will be different countries when she is an adult.  My favorite part of the book is the Flags & Stats pages at the end.

In Memory of a Courageous Athlete


My heart is breaking at the death of a young man I never met.  Over forty-five years ago, my parents were newlyweds living in a small town in south Georgia.  They met lifelong friends who had two small children.  When my parents moved three hours away, the friendship continued.  Doris and my mom wrote letters to each other back when that still happened.  Their family visited our family.  We visited them.  Braves games and Six Flags and just hanging out are some of the memories I have. Since my mother passed away, Doris has continued this lifelong friendship.  Reaching out and supporting me through both happy and difficult times.

The grandson of this wonderful family passed away yesterday.  When he was a junior in high school, Keaton was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Even through his treatment, which included surgeries and chemotherapy, he played football.  For the past two years, I’ve been following his story on Facebook via his mom and grandmother.  Watching with amazement at this courageous young man who didn’t let brain cancer keep him from enjoying high school to the fullest.  Football games, homework, high school dances.  He did it all.

Since learning of his death, I’ve been searching for the perfect picture book to honor him.  I thought maybe a story about football.  But I couldn’t find one I liked.  Through a web search using the words picture books and courage, I found one.


Wilma, Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became The World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by David Diaz – A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.

Just like Wilma Rudolph, Keaton plowed through showing others what one can do with determination and pure grit.  A few weeks ago he was chosen as Georgia’s Male Positive Athlete of The Year.  No one deserves this honor more.

Books for a One Year Old Birthday Present

A dear friend of my mom’s, who has been wonderful to me since my mom passed away, sent this request a few weeks ago.  “Do you have a recommendation for a great book to give a one year old for their birthday? Been so long with my grands now I can’t think of the perfect one.”  She only asked for one idea but I gave her ten.

Good Night Gorilla

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman – An unobservant zookeeper is followed home by all the animals he thinks he has left behind in the zoo.

Chicka Chicka

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault and illustrated by Lois Ehlert – An alphabet rhyme/chant that relates what happens when the whole alphabet tries to climb a coconut tree.

From Head to Toe

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle – Readers enjoy copying the movements of various animals presented in this story.

Mother Mother

Mother, Mother I Want Another by Maria Polushkin Robbins and illustrated by Jon Goodell – Mrs. Mouse is anxious to get her son to sleep and goes off to find what she thinks he wants.

Dear Zoo

Dear Zoo By Rod Campbell – Answering a child’s request, the zoo keeps sending a wide assortment of animals until they find the perfect pet.

Bear Hunt

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt retold by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury – Brave bear hunters go through grass, a river, mud and other obstacles before the inevitable encounter with the bear forces a headlong retreat.

Owl Babies

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Patrick Benson – Three owl babies whose mother has gone out in the night try to stay calm while she is gone.

I Went Walking

I Went Walking by Sue Williams and illustrated by Julie Vivas – During the course of a walk, a boy identifies animals of different colors.

Good Night Construction Site

Good Night, Good Night Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld – At sunset, when their work is done for the day, a crane truck, a cement mixer, and other pieces of construction equipment make their way to their resting place.

Freight Train

Freight Train by Donald Crews – Brief text and illustrations trace the journey of a colorful train as it goes through tunnels, by cities and over trestles.

I Spy With My Little Eye

I Spy With My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs – Asks young readers to identify the animal based on their color, including blue for a blue whale, white for a polar bear, and green for a frog, with die-cut spy holes.

All synopsis are from the library catalog records.