Month: August 2014

One Special Day: A Story For Big Brothers & Sisters

One Special Day

I’m often asked for stories about a new sibling arriving. Tonight, we read One Special Day: A Story For Big Brothers & Sisters written by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Jessica Meserve. Spencer is a wild and crazy boy. “Strong as a bear. Loud as an elephant. Messy as a pig.” And more! One special day Spencer is quiet. He’s waiting to meet the new addition to his family; so he can gently hold the baby.

ML asked, “Is it a brother or sister?” At first, she thought brother.  Then, I closed the book.  She looked at the cover; and decided it was a sister. Read the book and you’ll see why.  It’s my new go to book about the arrival of a sibling.

Last year, I presented a storytime where I read some rollicking books about babies.  The preschoolers loved it. After the books I discovered for the StrollerThon post and this new book, I’m performing another Baby themed storytime this winter. One Special Day is a perfect storytime read. Each page is a guessing game. For example, one page states “He was fast-” When you turn the page, there is an illustration of a horse created with digital oil pastel.  Not sure how this art technique works; but the result captivated us.

Addendum:  I contact authors and illustrators when I feature their books.  Often I learn really cool things.  Like what their working on now.  Lola Schaeffer shared about how sometimes a book idea comes and you have to drop everything.  Here’s what she wrote.

“I can admit to you that One Special Day came to me in one swift gust of words. I was preparing lunch and had to throw everything back into the refrigerator and run up to the computer to type it.  Sometimes our strongest work comes that way. We writers call that a “gift” book. It’s a gift that the universe channels through us.  It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s heaven.”

We Almost Went to the Beach – Instead We Read Beach Related Books

Ben and ZipShark KissHope For WinterBears Sea Escape
Thinking ML and I might take a trip to the coast for Labor Day, I checked out some ocean related books. Luckily, I never told her about my idea. With the start of school, we needed a low-key weekend. However, I knew with three days off from school, ML would be begging to have friends over. So I decided a sleepover on Friday night would be the ticket.

Last night I showed ML and Louise a stack of ten books. Allowing them to each pick two. I laughed when I saw they chose all the ocean related books.

Ben & Zip:  Two Short Friends by Joanne Linden and illustrated by Tom Goldsmith – Ben’s friend is missing.  He searches the boardwalk and stands on a bench to get a better view.  It doesn’t help.  So he climbs a picnic bench.  Then, a lifeguard stand where he is able to see his friend.  There’s a surprise to this book I’m not sharing.  The illustrations in this book are a relief from the airbrushed media our children are exposed to daily.  It shows what real people look like at the beach.  “Round bellies, flat bellies, bellies white and brown.  Hairy bellies, jelly bellies, bellies hanging down.”

Shark Kiss, Octopus Hug by Lynn Rowe Reed and illustrated by Kevin Cornell – A rollicking story about a shark wanting a hug and an octopus wanting a kiss. No matter what these sea animals try, the people on the beach aren’t interested in hugging and kissing them. The book ends with Octopus receiving a kiss and Shark being hugged.  Eight arms wrap themselves around Shark to comfort him resulting in a kiss for Octopus.  I got a hug and kiss at the end of the book too.

Hope for Winter: The True Story of a Remarkable Dolphin Friendship
by David Yates, Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff and Isabelle Hatkoff – This photographic tale of two dolphins’ friendship entranced these animal-loving, science minded girls. They recognized the story of Winter and knew there was a movie too. Guess what I just added to my Netflix queue? We’ll have to invite Louise over for a movie night when it arrives.

The Bear’s Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud – We didn’t read this choice. The girls were getting restless… acting like snakes inside their sleeping bags,  Near lights out, I showed the girls how they could find the baby bear in each picture. Thought it would be a way to calm them. Not so much. Instead they were giggling about the boat with the swimming pool, bedrooms, exercise room, and more. Safe to say they’ve never been on a cruise.

I picked one too… Who Sleeps, Cat the Cat? I couldn’t resist reading this new Mo Willems book knowing the girls would howl at page nine. Cat let’s Horse the Horse know it’s time to sleep. His response is “I’m on it!” And he is. He’s on the potty. There was howling. Then, ML noticed Cat the Cat’s head was turned and she was hiding her eyes. So they laughed even more.

Who Sleeps

PS:  Don’t tell ML, but Louise’s mom and I are planning a picnic and swimming for Sunday afternoon.  Watermelon and the pool.  A perfect way to end summer… if you aren’t at the beach.

Second Grade So Far – Once Again, ML’s Teacher Has A Greater Influence on The Books ML Chooses to Read Than I

ML’s not big on answering questions about school.  Especially, “What happened at school today?”  She will usually tell me if she had music, art, PE or one of the other specials.  I’ve asked her this every night since kindergarten.

I’ve added two questions this year,  “Did your teacher read a book to the class?” and “What did you read today?”  So far, she’s answering these questions; and I’m pleased with the answers.



How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague – “A schoolboy tells his class about his summer vacation, during which he joined a group of cowboys and stopped a cattle stampede.”


My Teacher Is Monster

Busy night with the final StrollerThon planning meeting at our house.  I forgot to ask what the teacher read.  We did read a book together.  My Teacher is a Monster! No I am Not. by Peter Brown.  ML assured me her teacher is not a monster.  I already figured that out.


“I can’t remember because I read two chapter books.  A Jack and Annie book.  And a Mercy Watson book.  Well almost two.  I have another chapter in the Jack and Annie book.” For those unfamiliar with the term Jack and Annie book.  It’s the Magic Tree House series.




The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith – “Mean Jean is the biggest bully on the playground until a new girl arrives and challenges Jean’s status as the Recess Queen.”  I’m learning from ML’s teacher too.  I have a post on picture books about bullying in draft form.  I’ve added this book to the list.


Mercy WatsonMercy Watson Princess

Once again, ML’s teacher is more influential in getting ML to read great books than I.  For over a year, I’ve encouraged ML to try a Mercy Watson book by Kate DiCamillo  and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.  Last night, ML informed me she has read two so far this school year.  She’s eager for me to bring the other four books in the series home from the library.

There are several books I am dying for ML to read.  I purchased paperbacks of a few of these.  Looks like the best way to get her to read them is to donate them to the classroom library.  I’m bringing our copy of Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee to Open House Wednesday night for the class to enjoy.


The Very Cranky Bear

Very Cranky Bear

I didn’t open the cover of this new arrival at the library until ML and I could enjoy it together. I’m glad I waited. The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland is a delightful, rhyming read-aloud.  After all, it’s set in the Jingle, Jangle, Jungle.

This fall, I’m presenting a Bear themed story time. I asked ML if I should read The Very Cranky Bear to the preschoolers. She put her thumb up. Can’t wait to ask them to show me a cranky face.

The illustrations are hilarious.  I know I use the word “hilarious’ often in my posts.  But that’s the great thing about children’s books so many of them are hilarious.  Time to get out the thesaurus.

The Very Cranky Bear is a side-splitting, gut-busting read!


Do You Know What a StrollerThon Is?

If you’re in the Raleigh/Durham area on Saturday, September 13th, it’s an event you should attend. Postpartum Education and Support is a local non-profit dedicated to the emotional wellness of mothers. We offer support for mothers and their families, provide resources for health care providers, and raise public awareness of perinatal mood disorders. StrollerThon is the major annual fundraising event.

This year’s walk is at 10 a.m., Sept. 13, at Fred G. Bond Metro Park in Cary. After the walk, there will be children’s games, face painting, a tot trot for little ones, and The Buzztown Band. Raffle prizes include a Bumbleride Stroller. (One need not be present to enter raffle.) However, you should attend. Form a team like ML and her friend Sarah. Prizes for Best Team Name, Team Spirit and Best-Decorated Stroller. No stroller? No problem! Strollers aren’t required to attend this event.

In celebration of the challenges of life with baby a few of my favorite baby related picture books.

No Nap!

No Nap! Yes Nap! by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino – This book arrived just in time for this post. “Follow Mommy on her quest to settle Baby down for a nap as Baby dashes from family room to living room, both on the table and under it, through the kitchen and even hiding in the laundry basket.”

Pirates Don't Change Diapers

Pirates Don’t Change Diapers by Melinda Long and illustrated by David Shannon – “Braid Beard and his pirate crew return to retrieve the treasure they buried in Jeremy Jacob’s backyard, but first they may help calm his baby sister, Bonney Anne, whom they awoke from her nap.”

Whoa Baby

Whoa, Baby, Whoa! by Grace Nichols and illustrated by Eleanor Taylor – “A baby finally finds something to do that does not make everyone in the family tell him, No.”

Baby Brains

Baby Brains:  The Smartest Baby In the Whole Wide World by Simon James -“Even though the baby of Mr. and Mrs Brains is very intelligent, they realize that he is still just a baby.”


Julius, The Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes – No post about babies is complete without a book about sibling rivalry.  “Lilly is convinced that the arrival of her new baby brother is the worst thing that has happened in their house, until Cousin Garland comes to visit.”



2014 Reading & Writing Goals – Update


With school starting today, I decided to look at how I am doing with the reading goals I set in January.

Read 200 Picture Books – I’ve met this goal… plus some. According to my Goodreads account, I’ve read 321. I’ll continue to read every picture book the library purchases this year; and others I’ve missed throughout the years. Should probably up the goal to 500. I’m certain I can achieve it.

Read 10 Juvenile Chapter Books – I’ve achieved this and will continue to read more. Or at least the first twenty-five pages of books being discussed on librarian blogs as possible Newbery Award contenders.

Read 5 Young Adult Novels – I can check this goal off too.

Read 52 Nonfiction Books For Children – 63.4% percent accomplished. 19 books to go.

200 Blog Postings In 2014 – I may reach this goal; but I’m not counting on it. Today’s post is number 123. With only 128 days left in 2014, it’s going to be close. However, I do have 270 posts in draft form yet to be published. Admittedly, some only have the title of a book I want to share and no other words. I hope to polish up 77 of them in the next four months.

What I’ve learned most from these goals is reading is much easier than writing. I can read a picture book in three minutes. It takes days, even weeks for me to write and edit a blog post. My estimate is each blog post takes somewhere from thirty minutes to four hours of focused energy to write, link to authors and books, and check for mistakes.

It’s worth it. My knowledge of children’s literature is better than ever. I reference this blog daily to remember books I want to share with kids.  In years past, specific titles of books for First Graders Who Fly Through Magic Tree House Books,  A Third Grade Girl Obsessed With Harry Potter, To Read After The Ivy + Bean Series  flew straight from my brain to my mouth.  Not the case these days.  This summer, this blog was my crutch at least two times a day. I printed the post Books for Boys: Series Fiction For Elementary Boys for over fifteen families.

One More Goal – Find one more person to follow my blog.  Then, I’ll have 100 followers. Pretty amazing for something I started on a whim.

Back to School – New Picture Books

There are a couple of things you can count on in the picture book publishing world.  New picture books about going to school and new Christmas picture books each year.  In honor of ML starting second grade tomorrow, some of the best new picture books about school.

Dog Days of School

Dog Days of School written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Brian Biggs – Be careful what you wish for or you might end up drinking out of the toilet.  It happened to Charlie when he wished he was a dog one Sunday night; so he wouldn’t have to go to school the next day.  Miraculously, his dog Norman and he traded places. Noone seemed to notice.  Although they looked the same as always.  Norman with his four legs and floppy ears spent the week creating clay sculptures, making a food pyramid and eating cupcakes.  Charlie with two legs and two arms ate dog biscuits, played fetch and visited the dog groomer.

Planet Kindergarten

Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt and illustrated by Shane Prigmore – Even if you attended preschool, kindergarten is a different world.  According to this kindergartner “gravity works differently here.  We have to try hard to stay in our seats.”  A fun twist on the anxieties of the first day of kindergarten.  Last Thursday, I checked out a stack of books about going to kindergarten to a mom.  I made her wait while I ran and found this book.  She agreed it was the perfect book for both her son and herself.  Like most parents of kindergartners, you could hear the anxiety in her voice.  Watching your small child with their big backpack enter the school on their first day takes your breath away.

My Teacher Is Monster

My Teacher Is a Monster!  No, I Am Not. by Peter Brown – Will my teacher be mean?  A thought on every child’s mind tonight.  Bobby’s teacher Ms. Kirby is.  Actually, she’s a monster who stomps and roars in the classroom.  One weekend, Bobby runs into  Mean Ms. Kirby at the park.  They have a rollicking adventure concluding with the best paper airplane flight ever.  Monday, Bobby flies a paper airplane to Ms. Kirby from his desk.  Do you think the monster reappears?


Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School by Adam Auerbach – A story about Edda who lives in a magical land with everything a Valkyrie wants, except someone her age.  Her father knows the perfect place for her to meet a friend.  He sends her to a school on earth.  It’s a strange and somewhat difficult world.  Waiting in line, sitting still, writing assignments and more.  Edda perseveres and makes it through the first day.  Her new friends are delighted to see who she brings to school on the second day.  The cover of the book provides a hint.

Monsters Love School

Monsters Love School written and illustrated by Mike Austin – We loved Mike Austin’s book Monsters Love Colors.  When Monsters Love School arrived, I knew great things were in store.  A rollicking, colorful read about a monster’s first day of school.  From buying school supplies, to the crosswalk, meeting the librarian, art and music teachers, recess, spelling, lunch and the bell ringing to end school… Blue experiences it all.  ML loved the quote, “What’s school for, anyway? asks Blue.  “I already know my ABGs and 413s and XYDs!” My favorite part of the book is when they study hisssssssssstory.

On My Way To School

On My Way to School by Sarah Maizes and illustrated by Michael Paraskevas – Luckily, ML is not like the character in this book.  She does not say “School is for people who need to learn stuff.  I have gone to school a hundred times, and I already know lots of stuff.”  However, ML dilly dallies in the morning in a similar manner to the character in this book.  It won’t happen the first day.  Not even the first week.  But towards the end of September I’ll be saying, “Are you dressed?  Did you eat breakfast?  Teeth brushed?  Backpack and lunch?  We gotta GO!”

Dear Panda

Dear Panda by Miriam Latimer – Florence recently moved and is attending a new school.  As any child would be, she’s nervous.  With the help of the panda who lives at the zoo next door, Florence makes it through the first day of school and meets a new friend. The perfect book to encourage ML to welcome new students at her school.