Here We Are: Notes For Living on Planet Earth

Here We Are:  Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers is spectacular.  I want to buy a copy for everyone in the world to remind each one we are different but the same.

And we should follow the advice of Oliver’s Dad, an all-round good human.  “There are only three words you need to live by, son:  respect, consideration and tolerance.”

New Christmas Books from 2017

I’ve loved Christmas books my entire life.  I treasure my copy of Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree from childhood.  I’m always eager to find new gems each year.  Below are my favorites this year.

Pick a Pine Tree

Pick A Pine Tree by Patricia Toht and illustrated by Jarvis – A festive read-aloud brimming with all the joy and excitement of Christmastime — beginning, of course, with picking out a tree!

Little Reindeer

The Little Reindeer by Nicola Killen – An enchanting Christmas story about a magical yet unlikely friendship between a little girl and a lost reindeer sure to be a Christmas classic lovingly told and illustrated with red foil highlights and interactive die cuts.


The 12 Days of Christmas by Greg Pizzoli – Elephant is delighted to get a gift, but as the twelve days of Christmas continue, presents pile higher and higher! A partridge in a pear tree? Cute! But soon, her dad despairs. Two turtle doves? THREE French hens?! And just what are they supposed to do with ten lords a-leaping? Kids will love each silly spread in this raucous take on the classic carol that is perfect for reading aloud around the fireplace.

Merry Christmas Peanut

Merry Christmas, Peanut! by Terry Border – A sweet (or is it salty?) Christmas story with heart, humor, and plenty of punny holiday cheer.

All summaries from publishers’ websites.



Ame Dyckman and Zachariah Ohora Do It Again


I’ve yet to read a book written and illustrated by this duo which hasn’t resulted in me laughing out loud.  Ame Dyckman’s writing and Zachariah OHora’s illustrations are always a perfect match.

You must read, Read the Book, Lemmings – “The team behind the New York Times bestselling Wolfie the Bunny and Horrible Bear! is back with with new Arctic characters in this hilarious learning-to-read adventure!

Aboard the S.S. Cliff, First Mate Foxy reads an interesting fact: “Lemmings don’tjump off cliffs.” But Foxy can’t get the lemmings on the Cliff to read his book, too. They’re too busy jumping off.

After a chilly third rescue, exasperated Foxy and grumbly polar bear Captain PB realize their naughty nautical crew isn’t being stubborn: The lemmings (Jumper, Me Too, and Ditto) can’t read. And until Foxy patiently teaches his lemmings to read the book, he can’t return to reading it, either!” (publisher’s summary)

And if you haven’t read Wolfie the Bunny or Horrible Bear, check them out today.



Claymates – My Favorite Picture Book of 2018

When Claymates by Dev Petty and illustrated by Lauren Eldridge arrived at the library, all the Youth Services staff loved it.  Then, I used it at a program for Kindergarten – 2nd graders.  They loved it even more.  This summer, I’ll share it with 3rd-5th graders.  I should warn the library staff before the program.  I know the kids will scream with laughter while I read the book.  When I share the book trailer video, there will probably be a noise complaint from the apartments across the street.


The activity for this book was fun. We viewed this Book Chat first.


Then, each child received a paper plate with a generous pinch of two colors of play dough and googly eyes.  They were encouraged to create characters.  Around ten minutes later, toothpicks were added to the mix.  Ten minutes after the toothpick distribution, colorful plastic straws and scissors to cut the straws were placed on the tables for use.  They spent half an hour molding a variety of  creatures.  The parents loved this program as much as the children.  Many asked if there were extra materials so they could participate.  Parents and children alike created their very own Claymates.




Story Time on Aisle Three

I’ve been known to say, “I could do a story time at a moment’s notice in a grocery store with no books.”  It’s not a joke.  I just haven’t tried it yet.  The thought of it doesn’t scare me.  Of course, I prefer to read a few books during story times.  But in a pinch I could pull one off without books.

Recently, I read three books which are begging to be read at story time.  As the librarian in charge of programs for elementary age children, I rarely do story times these days.  Maybe I should pack these books in my purse and do an impromptu story time at the grocery store.

Still a Gorillla! by Kim Norman and illustrated by Chad Geran – If you go to Publix and hear children yelling “Still a Gorilla!” over and over, you can bet it’s me.

Little Wolf’s First Howling by Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate Harvey McGee – If you go to Harris Teeter and it sounds like a pack of wolves,  rest assured I’m instigating this crowd howling up a storm.

I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora –   If you go to Whole Foods and you hear children whispering “good night” over and over, it’s me.’

If I get a chance to do a story time this fall, these are the books I plan to read.  If I don’t, the likelihood you may see me on aisle three come December is high.


The Green Umbrella

The Green Umbrella by Jackie Azua Kramer and illustrated by Maral Sassouni is perfect for this rainy day.  I’ll understand if you don’t run straight to the library to get it today.  However, you should request it immediately; so its waiting on a shelf to be picked up the next sunny day.

This book celebrates creativity; and the illustrations are delightful.



Back to School 2016

Steamboat School

School started this week.  I decided I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions very well.  So I’m doing New School Year’s Resolutions.  ML and and I selected three chapter books we would read together this summer.  We didn’t read any of them.  I don’t think we even read a picture book together.  One of my resolutions is getting back to our reading time.  Another is cooking something on the weekend for Monday night; so I don’t have my usual after work scramble.  Every year ML gets a new responsibility.  Last year, it was packing her lunch.  This year, it’s folding and putting away her laundry.

Reality set in and I returned the books we planned to read this summer weeks ago.  I’m waiting for one of them to arrive at my library.  However, I wanted us to start school on the right foot.  Laundry is folded and put away.  Dinner is ready for tomorrow night.  This left the reading resolution.  I didn’t want to start a chapter book; so I looked through my pile of picture books from the library.  Steamboat School:  Inspired by a True Story by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Ron Husband was sitting there waiting to be read.

I’m not giving a summary of this book because I want you to discover the beauty of the loophole yourself.  Often, when people talk about loopholes it’s because someone is greedy.  The loophole highlighted in this book is selflessness at it’s  purest.


Even More Picture Books

Summer at the library is CRAZY.  We continue to get great new books, but I’m too tired to write about them when I get home.  Here’s a list of my recent favorites with a very small sentence about each one.  When life calms down, I’ll link to the books and authors but I wanted to get these titles out to you because summer is the perfect time to read great books.

Dog Chicken

My Dog’s a Chicken by Susan McElroy Montanari and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf – Lula Mae’s chicken is a mighty good dog.  Herding, watching and rescuing.  Delightful illustrations.


Hector and Hummingbird by Nicholas John Frith – Love the artwork. Love the story line.  Love the book!


Blocks by Irene Dickson – As a child, I loved playing with blocks.  So any picture books about blocks make me happy.  The added bonus of this book is it teaches about sharing in a not too preachy way.

Hoot and Peep

Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge – Some of us sing to a different hoot.  An entertaining book about differences in siblings.  A great read aloud with phrases like “Schweep dingity dong, schweep dingity dong.”

Opposite Zoo

The Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na – I get asked for books on opposites frequently.  There aren’t enough out there.  And non of them are as beautiful as this one.

Brave Bear

A Brave Bear by Sean Taylor and Emily Hughes – Seeing that it’s already reached over 90 degrees this summer, I could relate to the beginning line of this book.”The sun was hot.  The air was hot.  Even the shade was hot.”  A fun read aloud with beautiful illustrations.


Little Bitty Friends by Elizabeth McPike and Patrice Barton – A perfect book for baby storytime.


Quackers by Liz Wong – A cat who thinks he’s a duck, until he meets some cats.  This cat merges the best of both worlds.

Dylan Villian

Dylan the Villain by K. G. Campbell – First line of the book, “Mr. and Mrs. Snivels were minding their own business, when they happened to have a baby.”

Maggie and Wendel

Maggie and Wendel:  Imagine Everything! by Cori Doerrfeld  – I love this brother/sister combo.

More New Picture Books

Best of today’s batch. . .

Hare Tortoise

Hare and Tortoise by Alison Murray – I love this rendition of the famous Aesop fable.  A fluid, interactive text for story time and beautiful illustrations.

Peep and Egg

Peep and Egg:  I’m Not Hatching by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Joyce Wan – A perfect book for story time.  Every child will want to shout “I’m Not Hatching” at the top of their lungs.  I’m eager for the second in this series to arrive,  Peep and Egg:  I’m Not Trick-or-Treating.


Rules of House

Rules of the House by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Matt Myers – Just read what the book jacket says.  You won’t be able to resist…

Follow the rules.


Ten Hungry Pigs

Ten Hungry Pigs by Derek Anderson – A book about counting and food with a twist at the end.  Another perfect story time book.



Hensel and Gretel:Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez and illustrated by Dan Santat – Forget Hansel and Gretel and the temptation of a gingerbread house..  Hensel and Gretel and the cornbread cottage is where it’s at.

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.


The Bear Ate Your Sandwich

Bear Ate Sandwich

On Tuesday, I’ll be presenting my first program for kindergarten through second graders at my newly renovated library.  On Thursday, it will be for third –  fifth graders.  I’ll start the program with the clever book, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach.  Then, we’ll brainstorm what you can put on a sandwich.  From there, its a creative mixed-media bonanza.  I have construction paper, fancy cutting scissors, colored pompoms, tissue paper, chenille stickers, feathers, buttons and more which each child can use to create their own sandwich.  Thankfully, I have artistic coworkers to compensate for my lack of visual artistry.  Below is an example sure to entice families to return to the library next week.



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.

Elizabeth Started All the Trouble – That’s why I’m voting today


Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Faulkner is the best book for children I’ve read about the Suffragist Movement.  Instead of focusing on one or two women, it gives a historical view of the entire movement.  I don’t want to spoil all of the book, but did you know… Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote?  The suffragists held a parade the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration?   Women were beaten by angry mobs while picketing the White House?  And so much more.  The illustrations perfectly depict the time period and emotions of the cause.

Today is an election day in many states, including mine.  I overhead ML and her friend’s discussing candidates recently.  They exclaimed no one should vote for Trump because third graders are more mature than he.  Several said they would vote for Hillary.  I asked why?  They gave some valid reasons.  But what struck me the most is they didn’t say anything about her being a woman.  At least with four third grade girls, a woman president is no big deal.  Elizabeth would be proud.

One More Dino on the Floor

One More Dino

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the publication of One More Dino on the Floor by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Luke Flowers for several reasons.  There are never enough dinosaur picture books, counting books aren’t prevalent either and Kelly Starling Lyons is a local author.

This brightly illustrated book is perfect for story times.  All the dinosaurs are sharing their cool moves when tyrannosaurus shows up. . .

For all my local followers, Kelly Starling Lyons will be at Quail Ridge Books this Saturday (March 5) at 2:00.




Today a picture book arrived that reminded me of ML and her friends.  Shopkins are a huge part of their life right now.  If you don’t know what Shopkins are, consider yourself lucky.  Think baseball cards, or Pokemon cards in the shape of small little plastic characters with names like Lolli Poppins, Betty Boot, Zappy Microwave, Mary Meringue, Carrie Carrot Cake…   There are commons, rares and ultra rares.  Not to mention seasons.  Currently, they are on season 4.  I’ll admit I had a hard time when ML first showed up at my house with Shopkins because I knew they are probably made by children her age.  I posted on fb, “I’m trying to think of shopkins as learning about economics, and history. You know… supply and demand, bartering, social stratification (commons, rares and ultra rares), and child labor.”

Which brings me to the book, Swap! by Steve Light.  It’s a delightful book every teacher should own.  It teaches economics in a fun, easy to understand way.  The illustrations are exciting.  It’s the first book I’m adding to this year’s Mock Caldecott 2017.

It’s best described by it’s publisher, Candlewick Press, “In a young scalawag’s first tale of bartering, a peg-legged youngster sets out to help his captain repair his vessel. One button for three teacups. SWAP! Two teacups for four coils of rope. SWAP! And so it goes, until the little swashbuckler secures sails, anchors, a ship’s wheel, and more . . . including a happy friend. Steve Light’s intricate pen-and-ink illustrations, punctuated by brilliant blue and other hues, anchor this clever tale of friendship and ingenuity.

An old ship. A sad friend. A button . . . An idea. Let’s SWAP!”



First Five Star Picture Book of 2016 – Rock-A-Bye Romp

Rock A Bye Romp

Rock-A-Bye Romp by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Simona Mulazzani – My first five star picture book of this year.  Need I say more?

Ok, I’ll write a little more.  This is a perfect gift for expecting parents.  Since I don’t know any expecting parents, expecting grandparents or great-grandparents will suffice.

How to Dress a Dragon

How to Dress Dragon

While my library location is being renovated, I’m spending time at one of the smaller community libraries.  This Saturday, I’m doing story time.  The theme is favorites.  Immediately before planning the program, I read How to Dress a Dragon by Thelma Lynne Godin and illustrated by Eric Barclay.  Of the twenty-four picture books I’ve read in 2016, I think it will be the biggest story time hit.  How can it not be?  It includes two of preschoolers favorite subjects… underwear and dragons.  Add in dinosaurs, trains and princesses… it would be a preschoolers dream.  I know what I’ll do. I’ll create the dream program for preschoolers.  Time to find my favorite dinosaur, train and princess books.

Do you have suggestions?

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 Caldecott 2016


I am not happy with the American Library Association.  Their Midwinter conference is earlier than I remember in years past.  With a busy fall and the holidays, ML and I have some work to do.  Every year we do a Mock Caldecott with her dear friend, Calvin.  They’ve been friends since they were two.  I’m not sure how I’m going to get them together before January 11th.  It only takes them about 15 minutes to decide which book they think should win.  However, between school, my work schedule and ML’s time with her Dad, it’s going to be hard.

Sadly, our tradition with Calvin did not happen this year.  However, I squeezed in a Mock Caldecott Friday.  Taking advantage of ML’s subjects for her Science Fair experiment… five third grade girls.  ML’s topic is “Do you run faster after drinking orange juice?”  In the chilly, drizzle each girl was timed while they ran around the track.  Afterwards, they chugged 200 ml of orange juice.  Twenty minutes later, they were timed running the track again.  During their break between runs, I grabbed the opportunity… placing around 15 books I consider worthy of the Caldecott on the table.  Each girl selected two favorites.

ML’s Top Two

Village by Sea
In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van and illustrated by April Chu

Night World
The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein

MLL’s Top Two (not to be confused with ML)

Finding Winnie
Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Village by Sea
In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van and illustrated by April Chu

AO’s Top Two

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman

SJ’s Top Two

Finding Winnie
Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman

AH’s Top Two

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

Night World
The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein

My Top Two

If You Plant a Seed
If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

Village by Sea
In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van and illustrated by April Chu

We have to wait until Monday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. to hear the choices made by the official Caldecott committee.  Warning colleagues at the Cary Library, I will be live streaming this while we are completing the library opening procedures.

I have to wait until Wednesday morning to find out the results of ML’s experiment.  She does her Science Fair project with her Dad every year.  You can find me Wednesday morning at ML’s school to find out if you run faster after drinking orange juice.







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



BRRRR! – 77 Degrees on Christmas Eve

In the spirit of Christmas, I wore a green dress to the Christmas Eve service.  Finding something appropriate for both the weather and holiday was difficult until I remembered the sleeveless dress I purchased last spring.  When the high temperature in Burlington, Vermont is 68 degrees, you can imagine the high in the more southern city of Raleigh, North Carolina — a balmy 77 degrees.  Then, there’s Boston… 69, New York City… 72, Norfolk, VA…82, Naples, FL… 89!

Missing the normal holiday temperatures?  Turn on the air conditioning, put on your fuzzy jammies, warm socks and snuggle with your family while reading these snowy books.


Toys Meet Snow
Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky

Little Red Gliding
Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar and illustrated by Troy Cummings

First Snow
First Snow by Peter McCarty

Bear and Hare
Bear & Hare: Snow! by Emily Gravett

Virgil and Owen
Virgil & Owen by Paulette Bogan

Snowman's Story
Snowman’s Story by Will Hillenbrand

Bear Report
The Bear Report by Thyra Heder

Snow by Sam Usher

Max and Marla
Max and Marla by Alexandra Boiger

Lost Found
Lost. Found. by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Penguins Adventure
Penguins Big Adventure by Salina Yoon

Snowy Bear
Snowy Bear by Tony Mitton and illustrated by Alison Brown

Dear Yeti
Dear Yeti by James Kwan


The Knights Before Christmas

Knights Before Christmas

It’s a little over a week before Christmas and due to some home renovations, we can’t access our ornaments, stockings, or Christmas books.  Luckily, we received a galley of The Knights Before Christmas by Joan Holub and illustrated by Scott Magoon this summer.  It’s been hanging out in my office (dining room table) for months.  This year it’s going to serve as our Christmas tree.  With my bed on the floor in the living room and everything in my closet in the dining room, there isn’t any space for a tree.  So I’ll place this book on my nightstand and put our presents underneath.  If you’re looking for a great book, especially for preschool and early elementary aged children, The Knights Before Christmas should go under your tree.

In years past, I’ve written a few posts about Christmas books.  I hope you take the time to enjoy some of these this Christmas.

Christmas Books – One to Twenty-Four

A Few More Christmas Books

Christmas Is Coming – What Should You Expect?



Five Star Picture Books 2015

It’s that time of year when the “Best of” lists are being published.  The following books received five stars from me on Goodreads, which isn’t easy to do.   I’ve read 499 picture books this year; most which were published this year.  Only fifteen received 5 stars.


Whale in Swimming Pool

The Whale in My Swimming Pool by Joyce Wan


Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper


Home by Carson Ellis

If You Plant a Seed

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

Simons New Bed

Simon’s New Bed by Christian Trimmer and illustrated by Melissa van der Paardt


Waiting by Kevin Henkes

Where's Walrus

Where’s Walrus?  And Penguin? by Stephen Savage

Lizard from Park

Lizard from the Park by Mark Pett

Dog Wearing Shoes

A Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko

Everybody Sleeps

Everybody Sleeps (but not Fred) by Josh Schneider

How to Share with Bear

How to Share With a Bear by Eric Pinder and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Last Stop on Market Street

Last Stop on Market Street by  Matt de La Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Beep Beep Go to Sleep

Beep, Beep, Go To Sleep by Todd Tarpley and illustrated by John Rocco


Look by Jeff Mack

Interstellar Cinderella

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt

The Three Questions

Three Questions

Mom would be so proud. I said, “No, I have too much on my plate to be room parent. When asked for ideas of who might be wiling to do it, I suggested asking a DAD. I said, “All the moms I know in the class plates are overflowing.”  Later in the day, I read the book The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth.  Every mom I know needs to sit down and read this book.  Then, read it to their child.  Then, discuss the three questions “When is the best time to do things?  Who is the most important one?  What is the right thing to do?”

As the crazy holiday season approaches, I’ve decided to live in the present.  Every year, since ML was tiny we’ve tried to go Christmas Caroling with friends.  When she was younger, it was spur of the moment.  As she grew, I tried to turn it into a party.  For the past three years, it’s been cancelled due to sickness or pouring rain.  This year, I’m not putting a plan in place.  This doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.  It might if the weather is good, everyone at our house is well and the stars align.  If they do, I’ll send you a last minute text.

If you have not discovered Jon J. Muth, you should.  He writes and illustrates wise books.  His version of Stone Soup is one of my favorites.

Stone Soup