Honoring Martin Luther King and Others

It takes a village to raise a child and it takes an army to lead a civil rights movement.  As we honor Martin Luther King Jr., I’m reminded of several books published this year that show it truly was an army of people making a difference.


Have you ever heard of Georgia Gilmore?  I hadn’t either until last November when I read Pies from Nowhere:  How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito and illustrated by Laura Freeman.  The blurb about the book says “When the bus boycott began in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama after Rosa Park’s arrest, Georgia Gilmore knew just what to do.  She organized a group of of women, the Club from Nowhere, who cooked and baked to fund-raise for the boycott.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. used his words and voice to make a difference.  Georgia Gilmore used her cooking.  Read this book and learn the nickname Martin Luther King, Jr. gave Georgia; but don’t only focus on the story.  The illustrations are as wonderful as the story.


Memphis, Martin and the Mountain and the Mountaintop:  The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie soars.  Info from the front of book, “Author Alice Faye Duncan based the character of Lorraine Jackson on a teacher who participated in the Memphis Sanitation Strike as a child.  Using a riveting combination of poetry and prose.  She reveals the inspiring story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final stand.”  I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know anything about the sanitation strike; nor did I know Coretta Scott King led the strike days after her husband’s assassination.  The book says it best.  “Despite her broken heart, Mrs. King and members of SCLC helped to keep her husband’s pledge on April 8, 1968.”

I’ve got a lot to learn.

The Hen Who Sailed Around the World: A True Story


This week at the library, I did an Egg Drop Challenge with kindergarten – 2nd graders.  I didn’t realize how loud we were until after the program when my coworkers gave me the look.  The one of fear that somebody might ask what was going on and complain about the noise.  Then, they would have to explain kids were throwing eggs in the library and the loudest one in the group was the librarian.

We were laughing out of the gate at this program.  Days before a a new book showed up at the library.  It begged to be read to the group before starting the messy fun.  The Hen Who Sailed Around the World:  A True Story by Guirec Soudee is not to be missed.

As for the Egg Drop Challenge, it was so much fun for the kids and myself.  I’m going to do it again this summer with 3rd-5th graders.  In the meantime, I’ll be putting this book on display and recommending it often.


2018 Goal

Life Hacks

I’ve been very slack this year sharing great books.  I’ve learned the older your child gets the less mental capacity you have to write.  In 2018, I plan to share brief posts about new books arriving at the library.  At least three a week.  If I have time to elaborate on the titles, I will.  If not, I’ll include the publisher’s summary.

We received a big shipment today.  I immediately checked out one title.  It’s certain to be a hit with my DIY girl.  I’ll probably stock up on the supplies for the Groovy Lava Lamp before showing her the book.  Otherwise, she’ll drive me crazy begging to drive to our nearest grocery store for supplies.  I need to stock up on ear wires for Duct Tape Earrings too.  I can see it now.  A new trend will start at her school  because she loves to make gifts for people.  Luckily, I read the Let’s Get Pranked Hacks chapter.  She “gets me good” all the time.  No new ideas needed.   Maybe I’ll try one on her before I give her the book.

Life Hacks for Kids with Sunny Keller – Packed with 35 popular “hacks” from the top rated YouTube show Life Hacks for Kids, this book is sure to be a hit with fans of the show as well as kids who love to make something out of nothing. Featuring original photographs and behind the scenes insight from show’s star, Sunny Keller. (publisher’s summary)

Girlology: There’s Something New About You


Recently I read an email from a librarian to a teen librarian group.  It reminded me I had a draft in the works about the book, Girlology:  There’s Something New About You by Dr. Melisa Holmes and Dr. Trish Hutchison.

Hi all,

Anyone have recommendations for good, recent (published within the last year or so) books for tweens about puberty?



My response:

My daughter’s pediatrician recommended Girlology:  There’s Something New About You.  It’s the best I’ve ever seen.  It’s written by two ob/gyns who have daughters and were disappointed with the resources available when their daughters were entering puberty.  Check out their website.  It has fantastic information.  www.girlology.com

At ML’s third grade physical, I asked her pediatrician about resources to share with ML about puberty.  I’ve seen what’s out there and it seemed to say too much or too little.  I’m pleased with the book Dr. Shaw recommended.  After reading it, I found myself wishing it had been around when I was near puberty.  It’s much better than that film shown after school in the cafeteria for moms and daughters to watch if they wanted around 4th grade.  I wish I could remember the the title.  I’d love to see it again.  I remember being horrified by it.  Driving home in the red station wagon with the fake wood paneling my mom asked, “Do you have any questions?”  I shook my head very fast.  I’m sure the look on my face was a grimace.  Anybody else have the Mother/Daughter film in the cafeteria after school experience?

To respect ML’s privacy, I won’t share details about her reaction.  I will say it’s a great book for moms to read themselves.  It reminded me of my anxiety at this age about body changes, emotions and friendships.   I asked her dad to read it and encourage you to do the same.

My pediatrician has two daughters a little older than ML.  She explained she gave it to each of her daughters the summer before fourth grade.  The older daughter went straight to her room and read it straight through that afternoon.  When her mom asked if she had any questions she said, “No.”  The younger daughter took it and put it in her room.  Then went back to whatever she was doing.  A few months later, she came to her mom with questions.  She said the reactions didn’t surprise her.  Each one fit their personality.


Next summer I’ll buy a copy of A Girls Guide to Stuff That Matters.

And the summer before high school, I’ll buy Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out.  Although, it may have a different title by then.  When you peruse the website, you will see these doctors stay up to date on what’s happening with middle and high schoolers.

For all my friends with sons, don’t fret.  There is also a book called Guyology.  If it’s anything like Girlology, it’s excellent.


Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map

Have you filled out your March Madness bracket yet?  I’m not asking about the men’s bracket.  That’s a no brainer.  It’s going to be a UNC Tarheels – Duke Blue Devils matchup in Phoenix.  It’s the WOMEN’S BRACKET you need to fill out and follow.  Our sons and daughters need to understand women play basketball too.  Their games are awesome, exciting and affordable.  Tickets for women’s basketball  are manageable, even on a librarian’s salary.  Men’s basketball tickets, not so much.  I know because I organized a mother/daughter excursion to watch the UNC – NC State Women’s basketball game.  There were twenty-three of us.  Half UNC fans.  Half NC State fans.  All the mom’s agreed we should make it a yearly tradition.

Basketball Belles:  How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map by Sue Macy and illustrated by Matt Collins chronicles the first women’s intercollegiate basketball game in 1896.  Stanford and Berkeley played at a neutral site.  In celebration of this historic event, I’ve picked Stanford and Berkeley to be the last teams standing in the 2017 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Game.  Stanford will win the game as they did in 1896.  Rules and uniforms have changed these past 121 years.  The thrill of watching scrappy women fight it out is the same.

As most things in history, opportunities for men developed sooner than women.  The Olympics hosted the first men’s game in 1936.  Forty years later, women were given the opportunity to play at the Olympics.  In 1946, the first NBA game was played.  It wasn’t until 1997 the WNBA began.  That’s 51 years.  I’m thankful ML is being raised in a time where women have more choices for athletic opportunities.  Playing basketball is not her thing; and that’s ok.  But it’s some of her friends’ favorite activity.  I’m glad they can have Olympic dreams like ML does for gymnastics.


Anything But Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrman Queen of Magic

Anything but Ordinary

Anything But Ordinary:  The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann Queen of Magic by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Iacopo Bruno is ENCHANTING!  After reading it, I realized I couldn’t name a contemporary female magician.  I did a little web search.  It appears women are still a minority in the magic field.  Do not miss this book.  The story is empowering and the illustrations are captivating.  Next, read the interesting articles linked below.

Why Are There So Few Female Magicians?

Why Are There No Female Magicians?  Maybe Because We BURNED THEM ALL TO DEATH

Adelaide Herrman:  Queen of Magic

Wikipedia:  Adelaide Herrman

Adelaide 2



The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activitist

I’m back to writing about books for children.  I’ll devote the rest of this month to books about Amazing Women and Girls.

I’m embarrassed to say I’d never heard of the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March until I read The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton.  Or if I did, I don’t remember it.  Which is worse than not knowing about it at all.  But I know now and plan to share this book with ML tonight.

The children of Birmingham in 1963 were strong, amazing children.  I can’t imagine agreeing to march, when I was in elementary school, knowing I would probably end up in jail.  Audrey was one of over 3000 brave children who marched.  Thank you Cynthia Levinson and Vanessa Brantley Newton for bringing this story to today’s children and ignorant adults like me.

The next book I plan to read is by Cynthia Levinson.  It provides more details about the march.

Hamilton is All the Rage


Last October a book titled Aaron and Alexander:  The Most Famous Duel in American History written and illustrated by Don Brown arrived in the library just in time for me to take it to Georgia for Thanksgiving.  I’ve known about this duel far longer than most.  As a child, we would sometimes drive by the jail where Aaron Burr was jailed in Warthen, GA. (pronounced Wur-then) on the way to my grandparents.  My grandfather’s name was Warthen.  My mother lived in Warthen when she was a child.  Add in a history buff of a brother and you can see why I’ve know about the duel for so long.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, my brother’s family, ML and I packed up the car and headed toward Tennille, GA.  Along the way, I read Aaron and Alexander:  The Most Famous Duel in American History to ML, my niece and nephew.

We stopped at our favorite roadside barbecue restaurant.  It serves the same barbecue and brunswwick stew, I’ve loved for 40 years.  The building hasn’t changed either.  There’s still sawdust on the floor.  And the brunswick stew is the best in the world.  Before September 11th, I was known to carry a quart of it on the airplane from Atlanta to Raleigh.

After filling up on barbecue, we stopped at the jail in Warthen.  I have a mug shot to prove it.

We arrived in Georgia last weekend to the cd of Hamilton on full blast in my brother’s car.  Seeing that his US History paper in high school was titled “Hamiltonism vs Jeffersoniasm,” I was not surprised.  What did surprise me is how much ML loved it; even with my brother stopping the music every five seconds to give us a history lesson.  She demanded I order a copy for us; not that I hadn’t already planned to get one as soon as we arrived home.

For the past two weekends, we’ve been jamming to Hamilton with three people who most deserve front row tickets to Hamilton.  Last weekend, my brother.  This weekend, our friend and her son.  All were experts on Hamilton before Hamilton was cool.  My friend refers to Hamilton as her “historical boyfriend.”  There’s nothing like driving your child to camp with three kids in the back singing Hamilton at the top of their lungs.

I confess. I’ve been playing it full blast on my way to work this week.  It’s left me in a historical frame of mind.  Expect to read about more illustrated, nonfiction books about historical times and places in the very new future.


ML Reads is Three Years Old!!!

I can’t believe it’s been three years since I started this blog.  I started it on a whim ML’s last month of kindergarten.  This weekend, I realized how very grown up and mature my soon to be fourth grader is.  The blog has evolved these past three years.  I’m certain it will continue to evolve each year.  Expect to see more chapter books and nonfiction books.  Maybe even a young adult book or two.  Don’t worry picture books are my first love; so I’ll continue to share my favorites.  Below are some books with three in their title.  I’ve read two out of three.  Three Times Lucky is on my to read list.  I’m embarrassed I haven’t read it.  It’s a Newbery Honor book by a North Carolina author.

Goldy Luck

Goldy Luck and The Three Pandas by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Grace Zong – One Chinese New Year, Goldy Luck’s mother asks her to take a plate of turnip cakes to the neighbors. The Chans aren’t home, but that doesn’t stop Goldy from trying out their rice porridge, their chairs, and their beds—with disastrous results.

Thre Times Lucky

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage – Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone’s business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she’s been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her “upstream mother,” she’s found a home with the Colonel–a café owner with a forgotten past of his own–and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.


Breakthrough:  How Three People Saved Blue Babies and Changed Medicine Forever by Jim Murphy – In 1944 an unprecedented surgical procedure repaired the heart of a child with blue baby syndrome—lack of blood oxygen caused by a congenital defect. This landmark operation opened the way for all types of open heart surgery. The team that developed it included a cardiologist and a surgeon, but most of the actual work was done by Vivien Thomas, an African American lab assistant who was frequently mistaken for a janitor.


Renovated Library – First Book Checked Out by ML


For the past few months, the library I work at has been under renovation.  Our reopening is Saturday.  ML and I are out of town for the big event; so she did a walk through Monday night.  She gave the library two thumbs up.  Then, checked out her first book in the beautiful, new space.  She poured over Piece of Cake! by Dana Meachen Rau all the way home.  After lots of consideration, ML has decided the first cake she would like to make is the Pool Party Cake.  Hard to resist having a blue jello pool.  I’ve checked out three other books by Dana Meachen Rau for ML to fawn over during our 3 hour car trip.  What’s Up, Cupcake?, Smart Cookie, and Eye Candy.

Here’s a picture of my new home away from home.

New Library



America’s Tea Parties: Not One But Four

America Tea Parties

Until I read the book America’s Tea Parties:  Not One But Four by Marissa Moss, I only knew about the Boston Tea Party.  With the information given in this book one is better able to understand why the Boston Tea Party happened; and the concerted effort by colonists in all colonies to oppose taxation without representation.  While Boston was a hotbed of patriotism, other cities disposed of tea in one way or another during this time of history.  It’s extremely readable and includes newspaper articles, artwork and political cartoons from the time.  It’s a great book to use with elementary, middle and even high school students.

For the past year, I’ve read marvelous non-fiction books about history in the picture book format.  I’ll start sharing more of them.

I Hit The Jackpot Today. . .

Four new picture books and one juvenile nonfiction book were waiting for me when I arrived at work.  I’m about to read all of them and tell you what I think.

Are We There Yet

Are We There Yet? but Dan Santat – A problem has been solved.  I’ve been searching furiously for a book to read to 3rd-5th graders for my “On the Go” program.  I’ll teach games to play in a car, train or airplane.  Thankfully, I have lots of third-graders to help me decide which games to share.  Although, it’s possible we might spend the entire 45 minutes pouring over the delightful illustrations in this book and not get to the games.

Horrible Bear

Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHora – My job responsibilites have changed; and I’m not doing a lot of story times.  One Saturday a month, I’ll have the honor.  The first book I want to read is Horrible Bear!  Ame Dycman books are always hilarious and startling.  Zachariah OHora’s illustrations are awesome.  So much so that it’s the first book I’m adding for a Mock Caldecott in 2017.

Twenty Yawns

Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and illustrated by Lauren Castillo –  Can an author of many novels for adults, one of which won the Pulitzer Prize write a great picture book?  The answer is yes.  This is a perfect bedtime story about a day in the life of a preschooler.  We need diverse books is an important plea by those who love children’s books.  This book meets the need in a very subtle way.  The family includes a father with lighter skin and a mother with darker skin.  This is how ML described people in preschool before learning labels based on race.  The love of this family for eachother is apparent in every illustration.  Another for the 2017 Mock Caldecott.

have a look

Have a Look, Says Book. by Richard Jackson and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes – This book is a must to help children learn about adjectives in a way that will resonate with them.  The page which will resonate with ML the most is “I am scratchy says tutu.”  It appears the scratchiness of ballet costumes has not changed since I was a child.  ML can vouch for that.

Worms for Breakfast

Worms for Breakfast:  How to Feed a Zoo by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Kathy Boake – My little animal loving chef is going to love this book.  A creative way to share information about the zoo, what animals eat and ways to take care of our earth which benefit animals.  I’d write more but I really want to read all the recipes from Platypus Party Mix to Midnight Mealworm Mush.  I’m seeing a program for kindergartners through fifth on graders on what animals eat in my future.

Would You Rather Dine with a Dung Beetle or Lunch with a Maggot?

Dung Beetle

Last night, ML brought a notebook in my bedroom and started asking me “Would you rather questions?”  Would you rather bathe in a bathtub full of leeches or one full of worms?  Would you rather drink milk for the rest of your life or lemonade?  Plus a lot more that I can’t remember because I was half asleep.

This morning I read a book called Would You Rather Dine with a Dung Beetle or Lunch with a Maggot? by Camilla de la Bedoyere and illustrated by Mel Howells.  The Would You Rather. . .  series is perfect for the elementary set.  Since, kindergarten I’ve heard ML and her friends quizzing each other other on their preferences.

Tonight, I’ll ask ML “Would you rather questions?”  I ‘m certain of a few of her answers.  She loves snails; so I know she would prefer to live with a snail than a family of termites.  Seeing that we are in soccer season, I feel certain ML would prefer a millipede as a sister than a stick insect as a brother.  Imagine what her team could do if they had a bug with up to 750 legs on the team.  There is no question, she would definitely prefer to cartwheel like a flic-flack spider.  I think her record is five in a row.  She loved to do more than twenty-five in a row.  The big question is would ML rather dine with a dung beetle or lunch with a maggot.  I can’t even begin to guess her answer.

I was already considering a library program about bugs next spring.  Now, it’s official.  I will be reading Would You Rather. . . Dine with a Dung Beetle or Lunch with a Maggot? to kindergarten – fifth graders.

Depression, Yoga and Stress Relief

Many wonderful books were published last year, but I didn’t feel up to writing about them.  Depression creeped in. As long time reader’s know, I experienced severe postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis after my daughter was born nine years ago.  From time to time, the depression returns.  This fall it returned with a vengeance.  My symptoms didn’t include sadness, hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness.  Instead, a loss of interest in hobbies, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, restlessness and oversleeping.  All things that affect my ability to write.

After tweaking some medications with little results, I asked to receive ECT… best known by the term shock therapy.  I received it after my daughter was born.  It was a lifesaver for me; but definitely caused memory loss, required anesthesia, someone to drive me to and from the hospital, and a day living on hospital time.  Sometimes I waited 30 minutes to be called back for the procedure, other times hours.   For me to be ready to try it again shows how bad I’ve felt.  If you’re thinking One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s next, don’t.  When my brain is less foggy, I’m going to write about the reality of shock therapy in the mid 2000’s.

I’m very open about my struggle with depression.  Unlike other diseases, friends, family, even strangers have diverse opinions on how it should be treated and have no qualms about sharing their thoughts. Very few say, “Your psychiatrist is the best person to help you make this decision. Instead you hear “Maybe you should try… hot tea, exercise, yoga, meditation, counseling, St. Johns Wort, a massage, acupuncture, take dairy, gluten, meat, or some other item out of your diet, light therapy. fish oil, join a clinical trial for the use of ketamine (a club drug of the date rape variety), draw, paint, read, volunteer your time, start a new hobby.”  The list is as diverse as the people I know.  Many of these suggestions I’ve tried.   I appreciate the concern; but for me I’ve come to realize there’s a certain section of my brain that needs to be zapped and I’m reset.  ECT did this for me; but as I show above, it requires lots of time and finding someone to drive me.

Thankfully, there is a new therapy available nearby which wasn’t offered nine years ago.  It’s called TMS, which stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.  Next week, I have a consultation with one of the doctor’s who administered shock therapy to me.  He  is currently doing TMS.  I’ll be able to drive myself to and from this procedure.  Most people resume their normal daily activities immediately afterwards.  For me that means going to work, being a mom, and meeting up with friends from time to time.  All things I’ve struggled with this year.

Even with these challenges, there is still joy.  This fall, ML started yoga at her after school care,  One particularly hard day,   I needed a laugh. ML provided it. She showed me the new yoga pose she created, “downward peeing dog.” Basically, it’s downward dog with one leg raised.

This Christmas, Santa brought ML a yoga mat in her favorite color… black.  It was her favorite present.  Well, almost. The winner was raspberry filled Ghiradelli.  When she pulled them out of her stocking she exclaimed, “Santa loves me!”

I’ve realized an important aspect of parenting should be helping ML learn how to decompress and relax at an early age.  Yoga is a perfect way to do that.  Below are my favorite books to teach yoga poses to children.

I Am Yoga
I Am Yoga by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds – A beautifully illustrated picture book introduction to yoga poses.

Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo – My favorite book to help children understand the benefits of yoga.

You Are a Liion
You Are a Lion and Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo – The perfect book to introduce preschoolers to yoga poses.

My Daddy is a Pretzel
My Daddy is a Pretzel:  Yoga for Parents and Kids by  Baron Baptiste and illustrated by Sophie Fatus – Tomorrow ML returns from her Dad’s house.  I’m getting out my yoga mat in my favorite color… green.  ML can get out her black yoga mat.  Then we’ll learn these poses together.

Girl's Guide to Yoga
A Girls Guide to Yoga by Jeanne Finestone – I found this book in the Young Adult section of the library.  In a few years, I’ll be checking it out so ML can learn “period poses,” to ease pain during menstruation.

I Love Yoga
I Love Yoga by Mary Kaye Chryssicas and photographed by Angela Coppolo – The cover’s deceptive.  Most of the photographs inside the book are of girls and boys around ML’s age, not preschoolers.  Of all the books with photographs, this one had the clearest images and easy to understand steps involved in various poses.

Mock Coretta Scott King Awards

Awards season for Children’s Literature is fast approaching.  Today, as I read The Book Itch:  Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore I thought, why should we exclude ourselves to Mock Newberys and Mock Caldecotts.  Why not a Mock Coretta Scott King?  With twelve days left before winners are announced, it’s too late for me to coordinate a formal Mock Coretta Scott King; but  I promise the books below would be on my list.

This award   “given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.  The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.”  (ALA website)

There’s an author award, an illustrator award and a new talent award.  I’ll let the committee hash out which book should go where.  I’m hoping to see all of these books on one of the lists.  In most of the books, we learned about amazing people we didn’t know about.  The fictional account of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sitting down in 1904 with a cup of tea kept us up way past bedtime.

Book Itch
The Book Itch:  Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

John Roy Lynch
The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate

Chasing Freedom
Chasing Freedom:  The Life Journeys of  Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Michele Wood

Voice of Freedom:  Fannie Lou Hammer:  The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes



Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used In War

Child Soldier

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.   Yesterday, I read Child Soldier:  When Boys and Girls Are Used in War written by Jessica Dee Humphreys & Michael Chikwanine and illustrated by Claudia Davila.  This book covers a horrifying subject matter in an age appropriate way for later elementary and middle school students.  It’s written in the graphic novel format.  According to wikipedia, “A graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. Although the word “novel” normally refers to long fictional works, the term “graphic novel” is applied broadly and includes fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work. It is distinguished from the term “comic book“, which is used for comics periodicals”

While the subject is one of the most horrific ones I’ve read in children’s literature.  The illustrations are not graphic.  Ml doesn’t like graphic  novels.  Anytime, I’ve brought one home, she’s said, “You know I don’t like graphic novels.”  If she did, I would take it home and introduce her to this heartbreaking reality before she sees a more graphic version in the news.

Until yesterday, it would not have occurred to me to add the fact that my daughter and friends are not being recruited as soldiers to what I am thankful for.  After reading this book, it will be one of the top things on my list.

Why’d They Wear That? Fashion as the Mirror of History

Why'd They Wear That

I’m often amazed with the outfits ML creates from her wardrobe.  Usually, I refrain from asking her to change clothes.  Unless, it’s 30 degrees and she’s wearing a tank top and shorts.  I’ll save the clothing arguments for later years.  Her combinations mimic her personality.  Athletic, original and full of zest.

I knew when Why’d They Wear That? Fashion as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee arrived, ML would love it.  The text is difficult to read for a 2nd grader; but I knew she would poor over the pictures.  She did.  For the first time in a long time, she did not resist a book recommendation from me.

Today, when I dropped ML off at carpool, we were greeted by a drummer boy and a man playing a fife.  Any guesses on “Why’d they wear that?”



Basketball Books – Three Winners

Hoop GeniusLong shotHorse


In honor of the Duke Blue Devils… a team in which I have a love/hate relationship.  I loved them in the early nineties when my brother attended Duke.  In the late nineties, my allegiance changed because I enrolled in library school at UNC-Chapel Hill.  In theory, Duke is my arch enemy.  However,some of my favorite people, including ML, are fans.  With a 9:18 tip-off, I’m not telling ML the NCAA championship game is tonight.  As a mother, I would like Duke to win.  My grumpy, non-morning person child would actually smile before I dropped her at school.  As a Tarheel, I hope Wisconsin wins by twenty-five.  Either way, I’m content.

Here’s a few books about basketball.  Each one is deserving of a championship title.

Hoop Genius:  How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy and illustrations by Joe Morse – Don’t miss this illustrated, non-fiction book.  It chronicles the beginnings of basketball through simple text and historically accurate illustrations.  Compare the clothing throughout the book with the last illustration in the book.   A unique and refreshing approach for teaching the history of basketball.

Long Shot: Never Too Small To Dream Big by Chris Paul and illustrated by Frank Morrison – An autobiographical picture book by NBA star Chris Paul.  Picture books written by celebrities are usually disappointing; but this one is a slam dunk.  The story is well written and the illustrations highlight the anxiety of basketball tryouts and the elation when one makes the team.

H.O.R.S.E.  A Game of Basketball and Imagination by Christopher Myers – This book reminds me of the many times my brother and I played H.O.R.S.E in our driveway as children.  The players in this book are more creative in their shots; but the trash talk is similar to what you would have found at our house in the eighties.  As always, Christopher Myers illustrations are out of this world.


Candy Experiments 2

Candy Experiments 2

Last autumn, I wrote about the book Candy Experiments.  ML loved it so much she based her science fair project this winter on one of the experiments in the book.

Candy Experiments 2 by Loralee Leavitt arrived last week.  After a busy weekend, I remembered the book.  ML perused it in her bed last night.  Then, quickly asked if we could go to the store tonight to purchase warheads, pop rocks and an egg.  In the name of science, we’re doing a candy run after work and school.

ML wouldn’t let me see the experiment.  She wants it to be a surprise.  I’m pretty certain there will be some fizz; but I’m not sure why she needs an egg.

Presidential Reads

Presidential MisadventuresThose Founding FathersThomas JeffersonDear Mr WashingtonPresident TaftiPhone George Washington


It’s Presidents Day and I planned to finish this post before the day arrived so I could post it.  I didn’t; but have decided to post it in it’s incomplete form.  These are some great books.  Trust me.

Presidential Misadventures:  Poems that Poke Fun at the Man in Charge by Bob Raczka and art by Dan E. Burr – Have you ever heard of a clerihew?  I hadn’t until I read this book.  It’s a four line poem that pokes fun at a famous person.  The first two lines rhyme and the third and fourth lines rhyme.  There’s a poem written about each of the forty-four presidents.

The Founding Fathers: Those Horse Ridin’, Fiddle Playin’, Book Readin’ Gun Totin’ Gentlemen Who Started America by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Barry Blitt

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything by Maria Kalman – An exquisitely illustrated picture book describing the interests and complexities of Thomas Jefferson in simple age appropriate words.

Dear Mr. Washington by Lynn Cullen and pictures by Nancy Carpenter

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

The Left Behinds and the iPhone That Saved George Washington by David Potter


Outside the Box: A Book of Poems

Outside the Box

I haven’t featured a collection of poems in a long time.  My favorite collection from 2014 was Outside the Box:  A Book of Poems by Karma Wilson and drawings by Diane Goode.

ML and my favorite poem from the book is “My Friend . . . Imaginary.”

Other favorites include:

Citizen of the Month
Inside Joke
Ick . . . Gross . . . Ew . . .
Monkey Business
You’re No Lady!
Bear Bare Feet
Alan Had a Little Frog
Captain Cluck

This year, I’m in charge of the Poetry Celebration at ML’s school.  Students submit poems.  Then, standouts are chosen to be read at the Spring Assembly.  To market the Poetry Celebration, I would love for the fifth graders to read poems from Outside the Box on the school’s morning news show.

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel – Another Fantastic Nonfiction Book


I wrote this post in October.  Then, neglected to pretty it up and post it.   Mr Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis and illustrated by Gilbert Ford is a another of ML’s favorite illustrated nonfiction books from 2014.

The North Carolina State Fair wrapped up this past Sunday.  So we won’t be hearing fireworks at 9:45 each night until October 16, 2015.  I’m not ashamed to say I’ve never attended.  I’m not against fairs; but my body is against being anywhere near a horse.  And horses are at the fair.  So ML enjoys the fair with her dad.

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis and illustrated by Gilbert Ford arrived the week after ML attended the fair.  Earlier in the week, she exclaimed, “I rode the ferris wheel at the fair.”  So I knew it would be a hit.

This beautifully illustrated, historical record of the 1893 Chicago World Fair wanting to outdo the Eiffel Paris from the 1889 World Fair is a highly readable amusement.  The perfect pacing left us wondering if this engineering feat would be completed in time for the fair.  If so, would it actually work?

An official photograph of Geroge Washington Gale Ferris Jr is included at the back of the book.  ML pointed to a picture frame on our bookshelf saying, “He looks like the guy over there.”  It was a photograph of my great grandfather.  She was correct.  They both had somber faces,  similar hairstyles and clothes.  Neither was looking directly in the camera.

The Noisy Paint Box – ML’s Favorite Nonfiction Book of 2014

Noisy Paint Box

ML rarely asks me to read a nonfiction book again; and never repeatedly for several nights in a row.  Then, I brought home The Noisy Paint Box:  The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosentock and illustrated by Mary Grandpre.  Mary Louise couldn’t get enough of this book.

“Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy: he studied math and history, he practiced the piano, he sat up straight and was perfectly polite. And when his family sent him to art classes, they expected him to paint pretty houses and flowers—like a proper artist.

But as Vasya opened his paint box and began mixing the reds, the yellows, the blues, he heard a strange sound—the swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a symphony! And as he grew older, he continued to hear brilliant colors singing and see vibrant sounds dancing. But was Vasya brave enough to put aside his proper still lifes and portraits and paint . . . music?”

Why should you read this book?
I’m buying ML the book for Christmas. I know it’s a book she’ll treasure for years.  Colorful language surges throughout the book.  The opening illustrations depict the life of “a proper Russian boy” during the mid 1800’s.  As Kandinksy follows his dream, the book’s illustrations transform from realistic to abstract.

You’ll learn something.  At least, I did.  If I knew about Vasya Kandinsky before, it’s buried somewhere deep inside my brain where I can no longer retrieve it.  It is know thought Kandinsky had a genetic condition called synethesia.  “In people with synesthesia, one sense triggers a different sense, allowing them, for example to hear colors, see music, taste words, or small numbers.”  Kandinsky began hearing colors after his Auntie gave him a wooden paint box.


Candy Experiments

Candy Experiments

Don’t know what to do with the Halloween candy other than your children being on a sugar high for weeks; or eating the candy yourself?  I have the solution.

Last July, I checked out Candy Experiments by Loralee Leavitt and started a post about it.  Then, realized I needed to wait until after Halloween when the supplies for the experiments are plentiful at everyone’s home.

I’ve scanned the book and evaluated ML’s loot from Halloween.  Of the seventy or so experiments, we have supplies to complete at least sixty of them without a visit to the store.

Lifesavers, candy canes and conversation hearts are the only ingredients we don’t currently possess.  However, Christmas is around the corner and Santa always puts Lifesavers and candy canes in our stockings.  Also, oranges to add a healthy choice.  As for the conversation hearts, I am certain the day after Christmas Valentine’s Day candy will magically appear at the store.

ML’s at her dad’s house tonight.  I’m going to stockpile some candy for when she and her friends ask to do science experiments.  Last time, I let them use ginger ale and baking soda.  Never again!

Below are some experiments in the book, which appear to result in limited mess.

Skin the Candy p.13 – Candy Corn, Jelly Beans, Dots, Nerds or Tootsie Rolls

Clamshell Skittles p. 99 – Skittles

Race To Dissolve (Big vs Small) p. 112 – Two identical pieces of colored candy, such as Jolly Ranchers, Tic-Tacs, Pez or conversation hearts.

Race To Dissolve (Hot vs Cold) p. 114 – Two identical pieces of candy, such as Skittles, Jolly Ranchers, Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls, lollipops, small chocolate, or chocolate bars.



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.