Hamilton is All the Rage

Duel

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.

mugshot

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

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

Blocks

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

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.

Toy Inventors

Lego InventorWhoosh

Do you have a child who loves Lego, but doesn’t like to read?  I found the perfect book for them.  Awesome Minds:  The Inventors of Lego Toys by Erin Hagar and art by Paige Garrison.  Have a child who doesn’t like to read but loves Super Soakers?  Try Whoosh!  Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate.  Both these books have engaging text and illustrations.  No boring biographies here.  An added bonus is both books show how perseverance pays off.

How I Met Mr. Pants

Mr Pants

I love how my library system runs it’s Summer Reading Program.  Children aren’t required to keep track of the amount of time they read or the number of books they read throughout the summer.  It’s a low stress program to make reading and visiting the library fun.  Children are rewarded for visiting the library and telling us about favorite books.  Each child receives a sturdy plastic bag and a reading log.  On one side of the reading log is a place to write favorite books read over the summer.  The other side has a maze featuring our library mascot.  Children receive stickers for their maze when they tell us about their favorite books, bring their bag to carry books home and attend programs.  If they check out books, they get what we call a “Weekly Wow.”  Something different and special every week.  Bubbles, bookmarks, tattoos. . . you get the idea.

Last week, a girl around ML’s age told me about a book she loved.  It was a graphic novel about a cat named Mr. Pants.  It sounded great so I immediately found the first book in the series when she left, Mr Pants:  It’s Go Time by Scott McCormick and illustrated by R. H. Lazzell.  Even though ML tells me weekly, “I don’t like comic books.”  I’ve come to realize it’s not graphic novels she doesn’t like, it’s superhero graphic novels.  She devoured El Deafo by Cece Bell a few weeks ago.  So I knew she’d enjoy Mr. Pants.  I read a bit of the first book to her before bedtime.  She asked if she could take it to bed and finished it before she went to sleep.  Then, I finished it the next morning.  We were both eager for the next book in the series.  I did something I rarely do on a day off.  We visited our local library.  Sadly, the next Mr. Pants book wasn’t on the shelf.  Luckily, I found the other two this morning at my library.

Our semi-annual trip to visit ML’s cousins is coming soon.  We always take books.  Luckily, our local bookstore had a copy of Mr. Pants:  It’s Go Time.  ML’s with her dad this week.  It’s going to be really hard for  me to hold out reading the next two titles in the Mr. Pants series without her.  The only way to resist this temptation is to put them back on the shelf.  They won’t stay there long.  I’m certain to throw them in the hands within the first hour I work tomorrow.

PS:  If you happen to order books for my library system, a new Mr. Pants book was released June, 7th.  Mr Pants: Camping Catastrophe.  I only mention this because I know children are eager for another Mr. Pants book.  It has nothing to do with me wanting to read it.

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.
BRUSH YOUR TEETH.
MAKE YOUR BED.
AND NEVER
EVER
OPEN THE RED DOOR.

 

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

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.

Books for a Rising 4th Grade Dog Lover

I’m taking orders for personalized summer reading lists.  My first request was for a rising 4th grade girl who LOVES dogs.  There are 238 chapter books with the subject heading of dogs at my branch alone.  Below are my recommendations for AB.  I’ve added a story about a cat and another about a sassy girl to provide a little variety to AB’s summer reading.

rain reign

Rain Reign by Ann K. Martin – “Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different – not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.  When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.” (from publisher’s website)

Handful Stars

Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord – “When Lily’s blind dog, Lucky, slips his collar and runs away across the wide-open blueberry barrens of eastern Maine, it’s Salma Santiago who manages to catch him. Salma, the daughter of migrant workers, is in the small town with her family for the blueberry-picking season.  After their initial chance meeting, Salma and Lily bond over painting bee boxes for Lily’s grandfather, and Salma’s friendship transforms Lily’s summer. But when Salma decides to run in the upcoming Blueberry Queen pageant, they’ll have to face some tough truths about friendship and belonging. Should an outsider like Salma really participate in the pageant-and possibly win?” (from publisher’s website)

Honey

Honey by Sarah Weeks -“Melody has lived in Royal, Indiana, for as long as she can remember. It’s been just her and her father, and she’s been okay with that. But then she overhears him calling someone “Honey” and suddenly it feels like everyone in Royal has a secret. It’s up to Melody and her best friend, Nick, to piece together the clues and discover why Honey is being hidden.  Meanwhile, a dog named Mo is new to Royal. He doesn’t remember much from when he was a puppy, but he keeps having dreams of a girl he is bound to meet someday. This girl, he’s sure, will change everything.” (from publisher’s website)

dog diaries

Dog Diaries by Kate Klimo – “For anyone who has ever wanted a puppy, the DOG DIARIES series tells a dog’s story in a new way–from a dog’s point of view! Focusing on a different breed for each book, starting with a Golden Retriever and a German Shepherd, these stories are based on true dog stories or on true-to-life situations.” (from publisher’s website)

Cat Who Came In Off the Roof

The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof by Annie Schmidt – “An act of kindness brings shy reporter Mr. Tibble into contact with the unusual Miss Minou. Tibble is close to losing his job because he only writes stories about cats. Fortunately, Minou provides him with real news. She gets the juicy inside information from her local feline friends, who are the eyes and ears of the neighborhood. Tibble is appreciative, but he wonders how she does it. He has noticed that Minou is terrified of dogs and can climb trees and rooftops with elegance and ease. . . . It’s almost as if she’s a cat herself. But how can that be?” (from publisher’s website)

When Mischief Came to Town

When Mischief Came to Town by Katarina Nannestad – “When Inge Maria arrives on the tiny island of Bornholm in Denmark to live with her grandmother, she’s not sure what to expect. Her grandmother is stern, the people on the island are strange, and children are supposed to be seen and not heard.   But no matter how hard Inge tries to be good, mischief has a way of finding her.     Could it be that a bit of mischief is exactly what Grandmother and the people of Bornholm need?” (from publisher’s website)

Save Me a Seat

Save Me a Seat

I LOVED Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan!  It includes the funniest scene I’ve read in children’s literature.  Let’s just say karma happens to a kleptomaniac, bully in such a way that you can’t help but cheer and laugh out loud.  I will be nominating this book to be included on the 2017-2018 North Carolina Children’s Book Award contenders.  Plus forcing it into the hands of every 4th-6th grader I know; especially boys.  First stops, Cole and Eli

Here’s a synopsis from the publisher:

“Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they’re both stuck in the same place: school.

Joe’s lived in the same town all his life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own. Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in.

Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common, but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.”

What I Do When There Are No Diary of a Wimpy Kid Books on the Shelf?

Actually, they rarely make it to the shelf.  I make certain to check the carts ready to be shelved.  If there aren’t any copies on the shelving carts, I offer to put the book on request.  I don’t want children leaving the library without a book;  so I try to sell them another series.  Big Nate was once my got to series; but they are usually checked out these days too.

This blog post has been in draft for over a year.  Yesterday, I realized summer is approaching quickly.  I needed to complete this post so I could access it all summer.  Even though I hadn’t finished the post, I used it last night.  A mom asked me, “Where are the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books?”  I explained the author’s last name was Kinney; but there probably wouldn’t be any on the shelf.  Then, added I had suggestions for similar books.  Here’s my recommendations for people who like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate books.

Terrible Two

The Terrible Two  by Mac Barnett and Jory John and illustrated by Kevin Cornell

 

CluelessMcGee

Clueless McGee by Jeff Mack 

 

Julius Zebra

Julius Zebra by Gary Northfield

 

CharlieJoe

CharlieJoe Jackson by Tommy Greenwald and illustrated by JP Coovert

 

Qwikpick Papers

The Qwikpick Papers by Tom Angleberger

 

frank einstein

Frank Einstein by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Brian Biggs

 

Tapper Twins

The Tapper Twins by Geoff Rodkey

 

Stick Dog

Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog:  Another Really GOOD story with kind of BAD drawings by Tom Watson

 

Vordak

Vordak the Incomprehensible by Scott Seegert and illustrated by John Martin

 

Thirteenth Story Tree House

The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton

 

Just Jake

Just Jake by Jake Marcionette

The Classroom

The Classroom by Robin Mellom and illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

 

Shredderman

Shredderman by Wendelin Van Draanen

 

Frankie Pickle

Frankie Pickle by Eric Wight

 

Billy Sure

Billy Sure Kid Entrepeneur invented by Luke Sharpe and drawings by Graham Ross

Teddy Mars

Teddy Mars by Molly B. Burnham and illustrated by Trevor Spencer

 

Alvin Ho

Alvin Ho by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

 

Melonhead

Melonhead by Katy Kelly and illustrated by Gillian Johnson

 

Spaceheadz

Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka, made extra-strength by Francesco Sedita and illustrated by Shane Prigmore

 

Timmy Failure

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephen Pastis 

 

Desmond Pucket

Desmond Pucket by Mark Tatulli

 

Justin Case

Justin Case   by Rachel Vail and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

New Picture Books for the Newly Renovated Library

There are lots of pristine books at the renovated library.  Many of which I’ve read.  So I was excited when new picture books arrived at the library yesterday.  My favorites are below.

At the Farm

On the Farm, At the Market by G. Brian Karas – This book focuses on how a variety of things are grown or made for a farmer’s market. . . vegetables, mushrooms, cheese.  There’s a lot that goes into making a fresh meal.  This a fun story that shows the farm to market to restaurant concept with great illustrations.

Playtime

Playtime? by Jeff Mack – I love Jeff Mack’s book.  I once did a story time only using his books.  This one has great story time potential.  The last page will make you laugh out loud.

Sam and Jump

Sam and Jump by Jennifer K. Mann – “This one is for my sister, who took me back to the beach to look for my lost doll.  And for my dad, who made it possible to be at the beach in the first place.”  With a dedication like that, how can you resist reading the book?

More-Igami

More-igami by Dori Kleber and illustrated by G. Brian Karas – Finally, a book about the importance of practice that doesn’t feature sports.

 

 

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

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.

Hamburger

 

Meet Cody

CodyFountainCodyUniverse

There’s a new girl in town for fans of Judy Moody and Clementine.  Two books about Cody have been published.  I hope the author, Tricia Springstubb and illustrator, Eliza Wheeler are working on a third book.

I’m glad I discovered Cody before the summer reading rush.  Parents are always seeking books that are appropriate for readers who are ready for the next step from Magic Tree House books; but they aren’t ready for a more mature plot.  Think avid kindergarten – second graders.

“So many things twang Cody’s heart: her genius big brother, her new friend Spencer, and an old cat named MewMew. For her, each day brims with surprises, so grab your hat and join the fun. First book in a brand new series!” (from author’s website)

Here’s a glimpse of the first few sentences from the first two books.

Cody and the Fountain of Happiness
“In this life many things are beautiful:
Marshmallows
100% on your spelling test
Turtles, with their cute thumb-shaped head
But if Cody had to name the most beautiful thing in the world, it would be. . .
The first day of summer vacation.”

Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe
“In this life, many things are hard to wait for:
Your turn
Your birthday
Being allowed to get a real tattoo
But if Cody had to name the hardest thing of all,  it would be waiting for her best friend, Spencer.”

I read 87 pages of the first book without stopping.  That’s unusual for me in a chapter book for the younger set.  I’m eager to get home, put on my jammies and continue to read about Cody’s adventures.

 

Renovated Library – First Book Checked Out by ML

Cake

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.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid + You Wouldn’t Want To = Julius Zebra

Julius Zebra

There’s a new series in town just in time for the summer rush.  It makes me think of Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets You Wouldn’t Want To.  If you don’t know who Diary of a Wimpy Kid is, you’ve been hiding under a rock since 2007.  If you’re not familiar with the You Wouldn’t Want To series I’ll cut you a little slack.  You can learn more about it on my blog post  Books for Boys – You Wouldn’t Want To.

“What happens when you you mix the gladiatorial combat of ancient Rome with a fast-talking creature who is DEFINITELY NOT A STRIPY HORSE?” (Candlewick Press webpage)

The answer is Julius Zebra, the coolest zebra to enter children’s literature.  I read a portion of the first book a few weeks ago.  Until, a mother was looking for a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book.  There were none on the shelf so I added her name to the request list.  In the meantime, I encouraged her to take home Julius Zebra:  Rumble With The Romans by Gary Northfield.

So far it appears the second book Julius Zebra: Bundle With the Britons is only available for Kindle.  I hope paper copies land at the library before school ends on June 9th.

 

The Wild Robot – Mock Newbery 2017

Wild Robot

Can a picture book author/illustrator write a chapter book?  Of course.  But can they write a good one? Peter Brown can.  Since I first read The Curious Garden, I’ve been a fan of Peter Brown’s picture books.  Now, I’m a fan of his first middle grade novel, The Wild Robot.

This book is a definite read aloud.  Hopefully, MLs teacher will let me come to the class and book talk some books before summer.  This will be on the list.  I can’t wait to read “Have the nicest evening Pinktail.  I shall look forward to the pleasure of encountering you again in the future.  Soon, I hope.  Farewell.” (page 68)  The other quote that will be shared is when the animals are helping Roz with a garden.  She thanked all the animals for their help.  “I am not capable of defecating so your droppings are most appreciated.” (page 94)

It’s hard to find books for children who read on a higher grade level but aren’t emotionally ready for some of the themes explored in middle grade novels.  I’m adding this book to my post titled First Graders Who Fly Through Magic Tree House Books I wrote after ML’s first grade teacher asked for recommendations.

I hope Peter Brown has another middle grade novel in the works.  And some picture books.  His talent for both types of books is phenomenal.  Another book for my Mock Newbery 2017.  So many good books are being published this year.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to choose which one deserves the medal.

 

Booked – Mock Newbery 2017

Booked

Reading a novel in verse is a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month.  Though I don’t need a reason to read novels in verse.  I love them.  Oftentimes, it’s a love or hate relationship people have for these poetic novels.  Booked by Kwame Alexander will be a love for everyone… adults, girls and most importantly adolescent males.  The online catalog describes Booked as “Twelve-year-old Nick loves soccer and hates books; but soon learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.”

Reading this novel is like going down a rabbit hole.  You find yourself learning new words that you want to memorize and bring out in conversation:  yobbery, limerance, onomatophobia, sweven and irascent.  Then, there are the book recommendations provided in the poems:  Out of the DustLocomotion, Peace, Locomotion and All the Broken Pieces.  As a lover, of novels in verse I was surprised I haven’t read All the Broken Pieces.  Then, I saw the publication date. . . 2009.  ML was three.  I wasn’t reading many books over the standard 32 pages picture books at that time.

I’m off to read All the Broken Pieces; but first let me assure you Booked is on my Mock Newbery 2017.  Alexander’s The Crossover won the Newbery in 2015.  Booked is just as worthy of a medal.  These books need a jazzier genre name.  Novel in Verse doesn’t cut it.  Rapping Read is a better term!

The Key to Extraordinary – Mock Newbery 2017

Key to Extraordinary

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post about Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd stating I wasn’t reading another page of the book until I thought ML would both enjoy and get it.  My guesstimate was somewhere between fourth to seventh grade.  Currently, I’m in a conundrum.  ML has matured a lot in the past two years.  She’s ready for Snicker of Magic; but she’s also ready for Natalie Lloyd’s current release The Key to Extraordinary.  We have limited time to read aloud with each other.  I’ve thought long and hard about which book she and I should read together.

Finally, I had an AHA! moment.  It’s more important for she and I to read The Key to Extraordinary together.  One story line throughout the book is grieving the death of a mother.  Something I know about.  Thankfully, I was thirty when my mother passed away; not an elementary school girl.

ML and I talk about Grandma Nell often.  This book provides new ways to share about mom with ML.  Flowers and their meaning play a big part in The Key to Extraordinary.  Flowers were a big part of mom’s life too.  Some of my earliest memories are in mom’s flower garden.  I fondly remember her yellow roses, yellow marigolds, orange day lilies. . .

After my mother passed away, my dad sold my childhood home.  He encouraged me take anything I wanted.  One of the precious items I  have is  the book given to mom for being the Garden Club President.  It’s called Tussie Mussies:  The Victorian Art of Expressing Yourself in the Language of Flowers by Geraldine Adamich Laufer.  After reading The Key to Extraordinary, I’ll share this book with ML. I’m thinking about adding a few blank pages to the book so we can start a family “Book of Days.”  Read the book The Key to Extraordinary and you’ll understand what I’m saying.

Tussie Mussie

After reading The Key to Extraordinary, ML will be eager to read A Snicker of Magic.  I’ve decided it will be the summer book for her bookclub.  Any member who reads the book, can come to the Snicker of Magic Ice-Cream Party.  Of course, ML and I will have a centerpiece with a secret message in the meaning of the flowers.  The girls can crack it using the Tussie Mussies book and the end papers of The Key to Extraordinary.

SnickerOfMagic

Summerlost by Ally Condie

Summerlost_BOM.indd

Ally Condie writer of the international best-selling young adult, dystopian series Matched published her first book for middle-grade students, Summerlost.  I haven’t read the Matched series but am eager to after reading Summerlost.  I enjoyed all 249 pages which described in poetic detail the special friendship developing between Leo and Cedar.  A perfect book to share with ML and show what healthy friendships look like whether they are between a boy and a girl, two girls or two boys.

 

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.

Raymie Nightingale – Mock Newbery 2017

Raymie

Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, The Horn Book and School Library Journal all gave Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo a starred  review.  However, it didn’t receive 5 stars from me.  I’ve been thinking about the book all weekend and why I didn’t give it five stars.  After all,  it met Judy Freeman’s criteria for a great book.  It startled, surprised and satisfied.  The climax of the story created an image I’ve been seeing all weekend.

But it still only gets 4 stars.  Mainly, because ML has been raving about a different Kate DiCamillo book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, for months.  I read it a few weeks ago.  Then, asked her what she liked about it.  She loved how it was happy, then sad, then happy, then sad. . . until the very happy ending.  I’m not seeing ML being as enchanted with Raymie; but I should read it with her and see what she says.  If she loves it, I’ll change it to five stars.

It will definitely be on every Mock Newbery list out there.  If it wins, I wouldn’t be disappointed.  And maybe after reading it with ML, it will be my choice.

Judy Freeman and I Agree – 10 of the Best Books Published in 2015

Recently I attended an excellent workshop by Judy Freeman called What’s New In Children’s Literature and Strategies for Using It in Your Program.  It includes a workbook with an list of the 150 Best Children’s Books published in 2015.  I was excited to see some of the books I featured on the blog on the list.  There were several that I started entries about last year; but wasn’t able to polish and publish the posts.  Truthfully, some of the posts just have a title and author.  Here are 10 books that Judy Freeman loved which I meant to share with you in 2015.

I love what Judy said on how to determine if a book is great.  “Did the book leave you Surprised? Startled? Satisfied?  Each of these books left me that way.

Mesmerized

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

Ketzel

Ketzel, the Cat who Composed by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Amy June Bates

lillians

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Mama Seeton

Mama Seeton’s Whistle by Jerry Spinelli and illustrated LeUyen Pham

mango]

Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina and illustrated by Angela Dominguez

three best friends

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Billys Boogers

Billy’s Booger: A Memoir by William Joyce

Stick and Stone

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and illustrated Tom Lichtenheld

Imagiinary Fred

Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

The Nest

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel and illustrated by Jon Klassen

The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof

Cat Who Came In Off the Roof

The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof by Annie M. G. Schmidt is adorable.  Though I wouldn’t say that to the intended age group of readers.  I’d replace adorable with captivating and funny.  I plowed through it and found myself wishing I was a kindergarten – third grade teacher, so I could start reading the book aloud to my class the next day.  The books was published in the Netherlands in 1970 by their acclaimed children’s literature author Annie M.G. Schmidt who received the 1988 Hans Christian Andersen Medal for her lasting contribution as a children’s writer.  It is the highest recognition available to a writer or illustrator of children’s books.

I’m convinced if this book was offered in English when I was a child, my second grade teacher, Ms. Coffee, would have read it to us.  Through Facebook, I learned Ms. Coffee turned 100 hundred recently.  My comment about her reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books and The Mouse and the Motorcycle while she sat in the special, cushy class reading chair resulted in others sharing fond memories of her read-alouds.

I can’t tell you exactly which teacher introduced me to fractions or commas or prepositions.  However, I can tell you the teacher’s who read out loud to my class and which were my favorite books they read.