Friday, April 27, 2012

Lost Days

Ever take a nap that makes you want to take a nap every day?  That's what happened to me this week.  I  became enamored with (of?) pillows and fluffy quilts and dreams. 

Yesterday, at work, I picked up  Cold Cereal by Adam Rex.  Since I usually read in bed, and this week, I am sleeping more, I haven't gotten too far into this already wacky fantasy.  I mean, the book opens with a little man in a pet carrier - NOT a leprechaun - and the main character's name is Scottish Play Doe.  Yep.  I do wonder about the workings of some author's brains.  Maybe Rex can make more sense of his dreams than I can make of mine.
I feel another nap coming on.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

KBWT- Celebrate Spring with Todd Parr

I don't remember featuring Todd Parr's page, yet.  And he has some very colorful, fun stuff on his page.
Todd's books are so popular with young readers.  It's easy to see why.

Print out paper dolls, coloring pages and more on Todd's page.  Watch videos, see what new books he has in store for us (The Underwear Book?? Maybe...)

For More about Spring:
If you swing over to Delightful Children's Books, you will find a lovely list of Spring picture books.  The Earth Day Book List from last year is equally delightful.

Page Update:
The 2012 KU Children's Literature Conference book list is available on my Lists page.  I hope you enjoy it.  The books are for readers in grade 5 through 8 (and above).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's Wednesday! Poetry? Whatever.

Thing 1:
 I sent my booklist to KU last night to see if the folks there have time to copy and collate it before Saturday.  (KU Children's Literature Conference, remember?  Register now.) And, of course, as soon as it was sent off, I thought of no less than five books I should add to the list.  Sigh.  This is the way of the world.  I know that on the road on Saturday morning, I will think of at least 2 or 3 more. 
The poster is so pretty!

Thing 2:
It's still Poetry Month.  Isn't that great?
  Every year I can hardly wait
for a month about rhyming and pictures in words.
 Images, noises, train tracks and birds!
 Talk to my heart.  Listen to mine. 
Poetry month is fine, so fine. 

Over at AdLit.Org, it's all about Poetry Month, with ideas and activities for getting adolescents engaged. 

The AdLit newsletter alerted me to Colorin Colorado's celebration of Poetry Month. Check that site out for booklists for young poets of all ages.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

KBWT - Seymour Simon

I am so excited about meeting Seymour Simon, a superstar author of children's non-fiction, at the Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference this weekend!  I will be tongue-tied, I'm sure.  Simon's books are age-appropriate, well-written, well researched and so much fun to read.

So in honor of Simon's appearance in Southeastern-ish PA, I am featuring his website for Kids Book Website Tuesday.  Click here to read about his books, his blog, get advice for teachers, parents and homeschoolers.  Yay!  Seymour Simon rocks!
Just one of Seymour Simon's many wonderful science books for children.
BTW, I think you can still register for the event on Saturday.  Click here for more information on the Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference.  Seymour Simon will be one of THREE well known children's authors and illustrators who will present that day.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April is Poetry Month

Half of Poetry Month is over.  Check out GottaBook for 30 Poems in 30 Days.  Today's post features a poem by Eric Ode AND a song video.  So much fun!  Check out other posts from this month for poems by Kate Coombs, Bruce Coville, Alma Flor Ada and so many more.

National Poetry Month is officially Sweet Sixteen this year.  Go to for all the cool things you can do during Poetry Month.
Play Exquisite Corpse at your next Poetry Slam, Poetry Reading or Poetry Open Mike.

And don't forget that Poem in your Pocket Day is April 26th.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Storytelling Thursday - Elder Barry and props!

When I was new to storytelling on the web - back when storytelling meant actually telling stories and not script writing, or movie making, or songwriting or... - Elder Barry was there.  His website had stories I could learn, and tips for telling, and jokes, and workshop ideas.

Now, Elder Barry is actually an elder in his church so his site does lead you to church-y, Christian-y places.  If that is not your thing, just enjoy Barry's stories, storytelling games and advice on getting started.

Have you gotten into Pinterest yet?  I haven't really BUT I found this fantastic board on storytelling props.  The board belongs to Amy Anderson and I just want to say thanks, Amy!  Storytelling props are fun when you are working with a classroom or after school program.  Props are sort of like training wheels for starting storytellers.  Some props add a whole other dimension to storytelling.

My favorite storytelling prop is my accordion.  Can you blame me?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Whatever Wednesday -Books, books, books

I started Tuesday by crunching my glasses so they sat on my nose crooked.  The world was even more disjointed than normal.  I followed this with a visit to the dentist to drill out a "cavity".  It's not a cavity until they drill.  It's decay up until then.  Well, this "cavity" was actually TWO spots of decay between and on two teeth.  Small, but time consuming.  And, me, without a book!!!

From the dentist, I went to get my glasses straightened and picked up four books at the Bethlehem Public Library. Those three errands took most of the morning.  BUt I ended up with new books to read.  Hooray!

Here is my books-read count for the week.

The Phantom of the Post Office by Kate and M. Sarah Klise.  This is the fourth book in a series about an abandoned boy being raised by a grumpy author and a ghost.  When the Klise sisters collaborate, their books are a montage of fictional press clippings, letters, emails, handwritten notes, posters and the like.  In The Phantom of the Post Office, the post office is threatened with extinction and the inhabitants of 43 Old Cemetery Road are up in arms to keep the post office running.  Lots of word play and a whole lot of "propaganda" about the wonders of letter writing.  Viva the Post Office!!  Write a letter today!

Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger.  Lenny's best friend, Casper, buys an expensive and very realistic fake mustache and a man-about-town suit right before someone with a very similar mustache and suit goes on a major crime spree.  It's up to Lenny and TV cowgirl Jodie O'Rodeo to clear Lenny's name (he gets blamed for everything!) and stop the evil mustache.  What a romp!

Temple Grandin : How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery.  This fascinating and accessible biography chronicles the struggles and triumphs of Temple Grandin, known world wide for her eloquent descriptions of her own autism and for her work in designing humane solutions in the raising and slaughtering of food animals.  This biography describes the real life problems of a child who is significantly different from those around her.  A foreword from Grandin herself encourages readers to persevere in doing what they love.

FOOD BOOKS.  I am not alone in loving books that deal with food.  Here are two that I've read this week:
Pie by Sarah Weeks. Alice's Aunt Polly makes the best pies ever.  She has won the Blueberry Medal - awarded nationally to the best pie baker - 13 years running.  Polly also runs the bake "shop" PIE, where she gives away the pies she bakes and people repay her with anonymous donations of ingredients.  When Polly dies, it seems like her world famous pie crust recipe is gone with her.  Her will claims that she gave the recipe to her cat and she left her cat to her niece, Alice.   Catnappings, a lot of nasty pie baking, grief, love, friendship and a celebration of each person's gifts are all wrapped up in the delectable crust of this book.  Recipes are included.

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer.  I set this book down while Hub and I went to lunch.  "There are some authors,"  I told Hub, "Whose books just make me smile."  I didn't add that those authors often make me cry.
   Foster McFee and her mom leave Memphis in a hurry the night an Elvis impersonator of their acquaintance breaks in their front window.  They end up in the small town of Culpepper, WV.  The town has some major problems of its own, including a new prison that did not bring in the jobs it promised and the encroachment of fast food franchises.
   Foster deals with the crises in her life by baking and her muffins and cupcakes are beyond description.  Foster, a devotee of one very popular Food Network star, wants a cooking show of her own.
   Culpepper has a slew of small town "characters", including a "resting" Hollywood star, a budding filmmaker, a young track star, the preacher's widow and more.  Here's a down home feel good book about positive thinking, perseverance and hope.  Bauer is big on hope.  Me, too.
There are recipes in this book but they are worked into Foster's practice TV monologues.  They make your mouth water.

Last but not least, I finished The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour at 12:53 - or so - this morning.  Colby, his best friend, Bev and Bev's band, The Disenchantments, are off on a post graduation tour.  Then, Colby and Bev are off to Europe to bum around while all their friends go off to college.  Colby and Bev have been friends since they were nine, but Colby is head over heels in love with Bev and she seems to just want them to remain friends.  The four friends, including sisters Meg and Alexa - the other members of the band, head off in an old VW van.  Four artsy types travel together.  Except before the first day is through, Bev throws a monkey wrench into the works.  Oh yeah.  
   This is quite the romantic road trip novel meandering from scenic West Coast location to quirky characters to best-friend spats to Ta DAH! self-realization.  The subplot of hunting down tattoos based on an obscure album cover designed by Colby's mom has almost as much weight as the evolution of the relationship between Bev and Colby.  For slightly more mature readers because of the nakedness factor, this is still a thoughtful book. 

I also started Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt.  It's about a house mouse who "went".  That's what happens to mice who disappear.  They "went".  He ends up outside.  Haven't found out what happens to him yet.  I will let you know.

Today, I will compile my list for the KU Children's Literature Conference.   You still have time to register!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Peter Sis won the Hans Christian Andersen Award! for best illustrator in 2012.  Congratulations, Mr. Sis!  The best thing about the Hans Christian Andersen Award is that the award includes authors and illustrators from around the world.  This award is presented each year by the International Board on Books for Young People.  Winning is a huge honor. 

The 2012 Han Christian Andersen Award winner for writing is Maria Teresa Andruetto from Argentina.   Andruetto won this award not only because of her novels for young people but also for her work promoting literacy among children and teens.

So one of today's Kids Book Websites is IBBY - The International Board on Books for Young People.

Check back in an hour or two for another Kids Book Website and a book review.  This post should stand alone.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Food, Friendships & Wonder

Today, I did what I have been doing on Good Friday for the past three years.  I listened to Jesus Christ Superstar while dipping peanut butter eggs in melted chocolate.

I also dipped candied orange peels in chocolate since my Dad has decided they are scrumptious.

About a third of the way through the dipping I decided something.  My neighbor and I are friends but lately things have seemed...awkward, maybe?  Strained?  You know how it gets.  Someone does or says something and, later, you replay it and wonder if it means something more serious than it does.  And then someone's feelings get hurt.  Usually mine, because I have very fragile feelings and a HUGE imagination for all the negative meanings or nuances for what has been said or done.

So, since the Hub was out running errands and I had just made coffee and was dipping things in chocolate, I called my neighbor and offered to bring her coffee and chocolate.

It was a very good idea.  I like my neighbor a lot.  We had fun talking to one another.

When I returned to chocolate dipping - and to Jesus Christ Superstar - I started thinking about Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  Now, that is a book made to think about.  Some of you will think about the characters and the events.  Others will wonder if the author's choices were realistic.  And still others will get inspiration from the way the characters behaved.

I realized that I might have been inspired by Miranda's actions.  In the book, Miranda is/was Auggie's sister's best friend.  And then something happened, some small thing, that changed the dynamics of the girls' relationship.  Towards the end of the book, Miranda makes a choice which helps the girls reconnect.  Yeah.  This is a good thing.  I like Olivia, Auggie's sister, and I like Miranda.  They should still be friends.

More about the book.  The book is told in many voices - one of the choices the author makes that will make people wonder.  I felt the choice was a good one.  I needed to see the same events - or situations - through different people's eyes.  Auggie, whose facial deformities have made his life challenging and painful, does most of the narration.  But when Olivia gets a chance to speak, it is good to see that she is not as perfect as Auggie paints her.  Their family life is all about Auggie and Olivia understands and accepts that.  That doesn't mean that she wants everyone to think of her as "the girl with the deformed brother."

Miranda has loved Auggie for as long as she has been Olivia's friend.  There are times that she thinks of Auggie as her brother.  This complicates her life.  Her story is a touching one.  Miranda might be my favorite character.

We hear from Auggie's friends at school, Summer and Jack.  Sometimes, fifth graders do stupid hurtful things when they think no one will know about them.  Honesty is hard at that age.

We hear from Olivia's first boyfriend.  This is an odd narration.  But a useful one.  The other characters are involved with Auggie in constant and deep ways.  Josh is an outsider and his view of the family dynamics is refreshing.  Plus, I like a little romance in books about difficult topics.

AND, there are fun happenings and scary happenings in this book - action, maybe even a little adventure.  There is information about birth defects -  how they are treated and technology.  Humor and hope can defuse a lot of painful events.

So, this book goes on my list of favorites!  Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  I suggest that your read it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Storytelling Thursday - Tell YOUR Story

For Storytelling Thursday, I'm sharing a post from Huffington Post's Anya Strzemien.  Anya is tired of hearing her friends - her women friends - talk badly about their looks.  In her article, she talks specifically about looks but we women also talk badly about our cooking, "I can never make this casserole taste as good as my sister can", our talents, "I can't draw - or sew - or write - or sing as well as (insert name here)." our housework - you name it.  It gets wearing to have to reassure us.  It really does.

Maybe we do it to be complimentary to the other person.  And, maybe, we're all lying and we actually believe that we're awesome.  Well, Anya wants you to tell her why you think you're awesome and for every comment, she'll give $1 to Girls, Inc.

So, visit Anya's article and tell her why you like the way you look. Tell a different story about yourself and change the world's perception of YOU. I did.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Whatever Wednesday

Randomity today:

Check the storytelling page for new stuff, - a new link and a new game.

We switched cable/bundle providers last week.  I hate change and so does the Hub.  All that technical stuff making things work the way they used to is very trying.  Any techies willing to reinstall Adobe Flash for patience-challenged older folks?  My Mac is untouched.  Finally, a reason to be grateful for my iMac.

This is the American cover, much more expressive than the British cover, I think.
I read Earwig and the Witch by the great and, sadly, late Diana Wynne Jones.  It's very short and reads like the beginning of a longer book or possibly a series for younger readers.    We will never know, though, will we?  Suddenly, I feel bereft - again.

Anyway, Earwig is a typical Diana Wynne Jones character - willful, clever, maybe even a little devious.  She gets "adopted" by a witch who really just wants "another pair of hands".  Earwig makes sure the witch gets what she wants.  Hehehehehehehehehehe.  Man, I wish there could be another book about Earwig.

Started Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  Love Auggie's voice so far.  There is not a lot of detail about his deformities.  Is that good or bad?  I will find out.  Check out the book trailer.

I read The Running Dream by Wende Van Draanen last week.  I liked it but it read, in parts, like a manual on the building and fitting of prosthetic limbs.  Fascinating!  No, actually, very fascinating!

It's a very hopeful book, full of good people pulling together to "make things work".  A track star loses part of one leg in a bus accident.  That's how the book starts.  Somehow, she and her family and her friends have to make her recurring running dreams a reality again.  Although I wonder how realistic the main character's reactions could be, I feel that Van Draanen provides a model for how these challenges should  be met.  Hope keeps people alive and striving.  Hope makes people happy.  Hope rules. 

That's it for now. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Caddy's World -KBWT

Sigh.  I just finished Caddy's World by Hilary McKay.  I needed this book.  I needed Caddy to have a book that was almost free of Rose's very definite, and pervasive personality.  Caddy's World is the last, or hopefully just the latest, of McKay's books about the chaotic but always lovable Casson family.  The series started with Saffy's Angel all about Saffron, the second oldest Casson child.  Then, Indigo, child three, got a book of his own, Indigo's Star.  Rose gets her own book in Permanent Rose.  And although, the fourth book in the series, Caddy Ever After is supposedly about Caddy, it has so much of the other Cassons in it that this fifth book is really Caddy's very own.

Rose is not even in the first half of Caddy's World.  Caddy is only twelve and the Casson family consists of Dad, Darling Bill the London artist, Mum, disorganized painterly Eve, Caddy, Saffy and Indigo.  Saffy's very best friend, Sarah, hasn't even appeared.  She's there at the end of the street and we do meet Sarah's Mum at the end of the book.

This book is about Caddy and her three best friends, Alison - who hates everyone, Ruby - very bright, and Beth who is perfect.  Each girl has a specific problem that each girl attacks in a perfectly reasonable way- by 12-year-old girl standards.  With so many different characters, because, of course, the Cassons have to have a major crisis, it's amazing how clearly drawn each character is.  There don't seem to be any bad guys in a Casson family story just impossible situations and busy, busy lives. 

Caddy wants things to stay the same.  (Me, too, Caddy.)  So do her friends, especially Beth and Ruby.  But in the end, it is Caddy who helps her friends navigate their futures - in the hair-brained, intuitive leaps that Casson family fans have come to know and love.  I want these people to move next door.  All of them, even Dingbat. 

I strongly suggest that you read the Casson family books in the order in which they are written.  Some prequels need to be read last, or later, in the series.  This is the book that makes sense of the others - not that those books aren't perfectly lovable on their own.

I adore Hilary McKay.   If McKay wants you to love a character, you do.  And even her most flawed characters are treated humanely.  Look what she did with Miss Minchin in Wishing for Tomorrow, the sequel to Frances Hodge Burnett's Little Princess.

 In case, you thought I forgot that this is Kids Book Website Tuesday, I'd like to introduce Rose Casson's blog.  Oh, yeah.  Rose has a blog! Actually, she stopped blogging and is tweeting instead but read her blog posts if you want to find out how Rose is.  She's indomitable!  From there, you can visit Hilary McKay's page and check out the other books that she has written.

BTW, Sarah needs her own book, whether she is an actual Casson or not. 

Monday, April 2, 2012


The zombie won!!  The Undead, brought back by overwhelming acclaim, snatched this year's Battle of the Books prize away from Between Shades of Gray and Life: an Exploded Diagram. 

 Which book was this year zombie? The WINNAH!!!  Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt.

Am I happy?  Yes.  How could I not be?  Even though I had trouble reading Life: an Exploded Diagram, had that book won, I would have been happy!  Any event that causes the excitement, discussion, ardor, - even factions - about books that Battle of the Kids Book does, makes me very happy.

What a Battle!!!  It's a good thing Summer Reading Club is just a couple of months away, because I can barely wait for next March.  SRC will give me something to take my mind off wondering what books the BoB group will choose for 2013.

Battle of the Kids Books needs a theme song, I think - oh, and t-shirts and mugs!  Yeah!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Panic sets in!

Well, StoryFUSION is officially over and it was a BIG SMASHING success.   You weren't there.  At least, I didn't see you.  I just want to let you know that you can't miss this again.  Never again.  You MUST be there next year.  It was amazing.   And it WILL be amazing next year, too.

But suddenly, I feel like I have NOT read enough middle grade fiction.  The Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference is only 3 weeks away.  I will have to visit three libraries in quick succession starting tomorrow and gather together as many amazing middle grade books as I possibly can.  I haven't read Young Fredle by Cynthia Voight, nor have I finished Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce.

So, panic set in.  It set in as the Master Class that Elizabeth Ellis offered this afternoon was drawing to a close.  All those unread middle grade books crept into my mind and taunted me.  It's fortunate that there are reviewers like Betsy Bird and Kate Coombs out there to keep me on topic.

More on all this tomorrow when we find out who wins the Battle of the Kids Books.  My eyes and fingers are crossed.  I will probably faint from holding my breath.  This Battle has been a more exciting than being a wing walker.