Month: October 2014

Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents

Kid Presidents

It’s Halloween.  I should probably feature a scary book; but I’m not.  Instead, I’m highlighting Kid Presidents:  True Tales of Childhood From America’s Presidents by David Stabler and illustrated  by Doogie Horner because Bill Clinton’s in town.  He’s speaking at the high school ML’s likely to attend in six years.  Actually, he’s stumping.  The US Senate race in North Carolina is close and ugly.

Lately, ML’s said repeatedly, “There are too many elections.”  Each time, I explain, “We’re fortunate to live in a place where we are allowed to vote.”  ML understands; but she’s sick of all the political ads.  Last week, she said, “All they do is say he did this, she didn’t do that.  They are not respectful.”

Obviously, we won’t read books tonight.  Candy is the priority.  Next Tuesday, I’ll take ML with me to vote.  Then, we’ll read snippets from Kid’s Presidents and laugh at the cartoonish illustrations depicting the Presidents as children.


My Little Vampire

ML decided months ago she wanted to be a vampire. We bought a black dress for the occasion. Recently, we’ve read several vampire picture books.  The books reminded us she needed a cape, fangs and bright red lipstick.  They have been purchased and are ready for Friday night.

Below are our favorite vampire picture books.  Plus a bonus for parents of toddlers.


Vampirina Ballerina written by Countess Anne Marie Pace and pictures by Mistress of the Night LeUyen Pham – ML loved the illustration of Vamperina demonstrating her plies and arabesques to all the creatures in her house… a ghost, Frankenstein, a mummy and more.

Vampire Boy

Vampire Boy’s Good Night by Lisa Brown – ML found the illustration featuring two legs with black and white tights and ruby red slippers sticking out from under a house hilarious.  We saw The Wizard of Oz Broadway play last year; so ML fully appreciated the reference.

Dear Vampa

Dear Vampa by Ross Collins – “A young vampire writes a letter to his grandfather bemoaning his new neighbors.” The vampires decide to sell their house.  ML and I howled when we saw who bought the house. Here’s a hint about the buyers.  On the full moon, they’ll be howling too.


The Sleepless Little Vampire by Richard Egielski – Why isn’t the little vampire sleeping.  Is it the noisy creatures around?  Spiders, bats, cockroaches and more?  Of course not.  He’s waiting for the sun to rise.


Hampire! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and illustrated by Howard Fine – Who is this vampire and what does it eat?  Not your average vampire book.

I'm a Vampire

I’m a Little Vampire by Sonali Fry and illustrated by Sanja Rescek – It’s a board book so ML wouldn’t let me read it stating, “That’s for babies.”  But it’s so adorable I had to include it for those of you with toddlers.

Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey

Butterly Journey

Handle With Care:  An Unusual Butterfly Journey by Loree Griffin Burns and photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz mesmerized us.  Curious how museums acquire butterflies for Butterfly House Exhibits?  This is the book for you.

One of my fondest memories of ML, when she was experiencing the first adolescence, (aka as age three).   A visit to the Butterfly House at the Museum of Life and Sciences in Durham, NC.  Well, until she threw the biggest temper tantrum she’s ever thrown.  All because we had to leave.  You can ask my cousin Ashlee about it.  She was there and wasn’t a mother yet.  Thankfully, it didn’t deter her from motherhood.  Ashlee’s daughter is almost three.  Pretty certain she can relate now.

Halloween Books – New and Old

I love Halloween picture books.  Most aren’t very scary.  Instead, they’re funny scary.  Below are my favorites published this year; and my all-time favorite.

Sweetest Witch

The Sweetest Witch Around by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Harry Bliss – “On Halloween, a little witch and her baby sister study humans and their mysterious ways.”  Notice the Easy-Bake Cauldron and the Graveyard Barbie in the illustrations.  Other funny details are interspersed throughout the book.


Not Very Scary


Not Very Scary by Carol Brendler and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli – “On Halloween, Melly is invited to Cousin Malberta’s home for a surprise, but as she walks there on a beautifully spooky evening, she is followed by increasing numbers of creatures that may actually be frightening.”  They aren’t very frightening.  Notice the smiling skeleton, ghost, mummy, monster and more on the cover.

Shivery Shades

Shivery Shades of Halloween:  A Spooky Book of Colors by Mary McKenna Siddals and illustrated by Jimmy Pickering – “Introduces colors to young readers, in spooky scenes with rhyming text featuring a little monster on a Halloween adventure.”  A unique book featuring a subject I’m asked for often… colors.  When Halloween is over, I’ll still recommend this book to those looking for books about colors.

Tricks and Treats

Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats by Laura Vaccaro Seeger – This book is comprised of three hilarious Halloween themed stories.  Each story includes a funny twist.


Little Old Lady

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams and illustrated by Megan Lloyd – “A little old lady who is not afraid of anything must deal with a pumpkin head, tall black hat and other spooky objects that follow her through the dark woods trying to scare her.”  This is a classic.  I read it at every story time the week of Halloween.  Preschoolers clomp, wiggle, nod, and clap along.

Ten Thank-You Letters

Thank-You Letters

ML had a huge birthday party two weeks ago.  As I told her, “This is your one big birthday party.”  She and around 30 of her closest friends played Jedi Dodge Ball, Toilet Tag, and other fun games in the gymnasium at our local community center.  The games were led by a teenager, so I didn’t have to herd the cats.  I was responsible for the last forty-five minutes of the party.  We had cake, I told a scary story, they decorated mustaches and had a dance party.  It was chaotic fun.

Between homework, dinner and bedtime; ML hasn’t written many thank-you notes.  Today I said, “We’re not going to the Halloween Party unless you write ten thank-you notes.”  After a little grumbling, she wrote all ten.  Nothing works better to motivate ML than to miss out on a social event.

Before bed tonight, ML pulled out new books from my library bag.  Appropriately, there was a new book titled, Ten Thank-You Letters by Daniel Kirk.  It’s a delightful read.  Need to show your child how to write thank-you notes?  Check out this book.  Although, ML refused to let me read her notes; and sealed them to make certain I didn’t sneak a peek.  Knowing her, there isn’t any telling what they say.

ML fed my ego while we read Ten Thank-You Letters.  One of the thank-you notes states, “Dear Mr. Moose, You are the best librarian.”  ML disagreed, “He’s wrong.  You are the best librarian.”  Tonight, I feel like one.  Nothing pleases librarians more than getting the right book, in the right child’s hands, at the right time.


Need to Talk to Your Child About Chores? Use Julia’s House for Lost Creatures

Lost Creatures

When we started reading Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke, I had no idea I would use it to discuss ML’s need to step it up on her chores.  After Julia hangs a sign at her house stating “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures,” a variety of characters arrive… a kitty, a troll, gnomes, a mermaid, a dragon, a ghost and a host of others.  Chaos ensues.

Eventually, Julia has enough.  She yells at the creatures, runs to her workshop and places a “Do Not Disturb” sign on her door.  After a bit she returns with a new sign, “Julia’s House Chore Chart.”  We giggled at the appropriateness of the assignments.  Dragon – make toast.  Ghost- polish and dust.

One of the most creative story lines I’ve seen in years.