Saturday, November 18, 2017


Tellabration!(tm) is the International Day of Storytelling and it is TODAY, November 18th.  The Saturday before Thanksgiving, every year, storytellers around the world share tales, reminiscences, and history with audiences of all kinds.

Join the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild tonight, at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Bethlehem, PA, as we go classy!  Five tellers will share elegant stories, memories and even an historical character.  Join us for drinks and snacks at 6 pm.  The stories begin at 7 pm.  Donations are gratefully accepted.  Leave the children home.  These stories require adult sensibilities.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Are Unicorns REAL?

Brightly offers "storytimes".  Miss Lisa reads a book and the words are highlighted as she goes.  Here is their latest effort, Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  Visit Brightly's website to find more read-alouds.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Concert - The Final Report - LONG!!!!

Ok.  Maybe not FINAL final report, but the concert happened.  Dan and I rocked!  Totally! As did everyone else...and we had a lot of fun up there in the sanctuary of Trinity Episcopal church (or the transept or wherever...)  And we raised over $1200!  I KNOW!!!!!!

So pretty!
Here is the whole unexpurgated story of the BIG day.  Dan and I practiced in the morning at my house.  And it's a good thing we did because Dan found the very last piece of the 1000 piece puzzle that Hub and I just finished that morning.  (I had to take my mind off the concert details somehow.  Also, looking for a missing puzzle piece means forgotten corners were swept.  Win-win.)

Then off we went to Trinity Episcopal Church where bedlam was slowly percolating.  Two Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild tellers, Ingrid Bohn and Judy England-McCarthy, were already there and ready to take over the kitchen!!  Dave Howell, another LVSG member and Trinity Episcopal Church member, was resplendent in his chef's toque.  He was ready to make his wildly popular tomato soup for the after-concert party.  Marcie Lightwood, Trinity Episcopal Church member and my CO-CONSPIRATOR and PLANNER handled the influx of food for the potluck.   Jolene Kiernan and her amazing husband, Charles Kiernan (LVSG member), were there ready to help out.

I ran around - this is the only way to describe what I did - I ran - checking with every single person - except the sound and video folks because I know nothing about sound and video.  Dan consulted with Bruce Marold (LVSG and Trinity Episcopal Church member) on matters electronic.   Tom and Betty Druckenmiller arrived at about the same time that we did.

Around 12:45, other performers started to arrive.  I had hoped that ALL the performers would be there but traffic and family and finding parking and other stuff often intervenes.

In the church people, plugged things in, said "testing, testing" over and over again.

In the Parish Hall, Marcie and I went over EventBrite ticketing in case people wanted to use credit cards.

Then, Denise McCormack arrived. I showed her how to do EventBrite ticketing because, just like me, Marcie was running around- I felt that her mode of perambulation was somehow more serene, and elegant, than mine - and had kitchen stuff to check on and etc.

As normally happens when I plan events, people found themselves talking to air as I left - like the Roadrunner - in a puff of dust to attend to something else.  I know it's irritating but, hey, I was a tad anxious.

More performers arrived with MORE sound equipment, so there was MORE plugging and feedback and "testing, testing" and 2 pm rolled around.

One act was not at the church.  One act was fussing with their equipment.  Five acts were sitting quietly on the sidelines waiting .  The audience, full of friends and family and church members and generous people, waited.  The MC, Rick Weaver, of Piper's Request, smiled benignly in an attempt to calm me down.

FINALLY, about 25 minutes late, we started.  Rick sang a wonderful song.  What a lovely voice he has!!   YAY!  Today, We Fight with Peace arrived!

Then Dan and I, in our Chiles' Play personas, took the stage.  We did very well.  And we were well-received.

Judy England-McCarthy was next with an animated and masterful telling of how Anansi, the spider, got his come-uppance!  It was a great example of reverse psychology.  A little info on arachnids and insects set the stage.

Today, We Fight with Peace's leader and her dad.
Today, We Fight with Peace got up to sing and play after a short technical check-in (testing, testing?).  They were awesome and have such a nice onstage rapport.  That girl has a lovely clear singing voice.  There was a balance problem with the instruments drowning out Annabellie's voice at times.  Still, a wonderful performance by all, Father, daughter and Uncle/brother. My favorite? - The Hungry Song but Awkward Teenager was a close second.  I love the way they play with words in that one.

Ingrid Bohn came next.  Her story, The King's Drum, was about working together and carrying your part of the burden AND about guilt.   Anansi made an appearance in her story but as a wise counselor, not a trickster.  Ingrid prowled the front of the church and into the pews like the lion in her story.  Wow!

I can't find the words for the music of Tom and Betty Druckenmiller.  I love their old time sound, the history of the songs they sing, a genre of music that is heart warming and heartening, (see what I did there?).
This wasn't taken at the church but here they are.

However, I wanted to get a total of the money we brought in so I left the church for a few minutes and, what??? We brought in that much?  Over $600 in cash and with the checks people wrote, we had over $800 in the cash box.

I got back in time to hear Tom and Betty sing one of my favorites, "You've Been that Friend to Me" and two songs I had never heard before.

Up next was Charles Kiernan with a story about loss and reclamation, curiosity and faithfulness, from Spain, A Sprig of Rosemary.  Charles is always in control of his story, his presence and his audience.  The story featured the wind as helping character, unlike the winds that destroyed much of Puerto Rico.

Rick Weaver introduced each act, interjected facts about the events in Puerto Rico and the conditions there and kept things moving.

The last act, Closer (pronounced like "getting nearer", not like "closing the deal", although they truly did) performed classic rock and country-rock songs and they were sooooooo very good.  SO GOOD!  They don't have an online presence, alas, or I would link you to them.

Then, PARTY TIME.  We all made our way to the Parish Hall where we ate soup and hummus and cheese and sausages and crackers and fruit and drank coffee and tea and chatted and visited and just had fun.

This is just the story of the BIG DAY!  All the planning, emails, FB boosts, website building, PR, graphic design, networking, - that will be chronicled elsewhere.

BTW, we have most of the day's events recorded.  I might post video here.

You can still donate here.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Let's Not Forget - Pat Hutchins, RIP

Pat Hutchins died this week.  Her death is a HUGE loss to the picture book world.

Rosie's WalkWho remembers the filmstrip - or the Weston Woods film?  Hutchins' artwork was perfect for the simple animation that Weston Woods used.

Changes, Changes was one of my all time favorite wordless picture books.  Still is.  The block family reacts quickly and cleverly to a number of disasters. This picture book would be useful during community helpers week.

 Pat Hutchins' books encompass so much.  Think of Changes, Changes.  In there we find the concepts of colors, shapes, sequencing, events and their consequences, action and reaction.  There are SO MANY ways to view each book Hutchins wrote and illustrated.

In The Doorbell Rang, children meet the concept of division as two children must share their cookies with more and more friends.  The welcome kitchen, the tension as the number of cookies shrink on the children's plates and the repetitive refrain set the reader up for the big ending.  

Hutchins' illustrations give clues to what might happen next and give pre-readers so much to search for and find.

I COULD spend the rest of the post naming each of her books and how I might use them with a young listener or in storytime.  But I don't need to.  Go to the library and borrow her books.  Read them; share them.  You will find a character or a story that pleases you - whether you like monsters, parties, toys, farms or families.

The very saddest thing when a great artist or writer dies is that we will never know what comes next.  Pat Hutchins left us with a treasure chest of reading fun.  We will miss her but we should never forget her.

Here is Pat Hutchins' obituary from Publisher's Weekly.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Benefit Concert!!!

I dream about it.  I worry about it.  It's the Under One Sun: Benefit Concert for Puerto Rico!

November 12th from 2 to 4 pm
Trinity Episcopal Church
44 East Market Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018


I really wanted to download the ad that will be in tomorrow's paper but I, alas, don't have permission to do that.  So here is the postcard we've been handing out.

And here is the list or performers...
AND here's the link to the website that will tell you everything you need to know.

I hope to see you there.

Thanks to the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild and WDIY-FM for sponsoring this event.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Trick or Treat with a Bunny

Little Blue Bunny, what character!  Here, I just want to show you his costume attempts.
I honestly don't know what he's supposed to be while he climbs on the BTP. (Big Tin Pumpkin)  But, it is certainly an eye catching costume.

This is his jogger costume.  Headband and fitness calculator.  The pumpkin behind him is seasonal decoration.
Ride 'em, cowbunny!

The common thread in all these costumes is the orangesicle designed snap bracelet watch, known as the Ninja Watch!  It is endlessly versatile and you can order YOURS today by dialing 555-555-5555 - ext. 5!  (Not really.  That's a family inside joke.  That watch has headed off many a toddler meltdown in the past and still gets a giggle from the girl - who is six years old, today.)

How was your Halloween?  We had a sleepover and:
1.  Little Blue Bunny snuck on a bus headed for Sam's Club without paying his fare.  The driver dropped him off with the security guard at Sam's.  Alas, no one was home to pick him up so D, his "cousin", put him back on the bus with her and her new BFF, Buttercup, the cat.  They roared off to New Jersey to find D's mom and to give LBB a good talking to.
2.  Halloween costume making - some of the results are above.  Nutty Romomlia was a ladybug.  Felina Fairyfox was a witch.
3.  Trick or Treating - Did you know that toy candy looks like Legos?  It does!  (Human trick or treat was the night before.)
4.  Haunted House Under the Table - with the Big Tin Pumpkin, the color changing ghost lantern, a ghost made out of a napkin, and a vibrating bug thing that makes a racket inside the BTP.
5.  The requisite glow stick song and dance show.  (OMG, I need to proof read better!  It's SONG and dance show.)
More impressive in person.
6.  10 books.
7.  a very boring story that "never gets old" according to D.
Sleep.  Breakfast.  Home.

BTW.  Tickets are still available for Under One Sun: Benefit Concert for Puerto Rico.  Please check out the website, Facebook page and/or FB Event page.  Here's the website, from whence you can visit the other sites;

Thanks.  Book stuff in the next post.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sherlock - AGAIN??!!!

He's back.  He's 14.  He's at a boarding school in New England.  And he is cheerfully annoying. Set in modern times, The Initiation, (Lock & Key #1), isn't about Sherlock Holmes at all.  Sherlock (or Lock, as Moria Moriarty calls him) is the main character's room mate.  Who is this illustrious co-habitant? James Moriarty....(Or Jamie, as his younger sister calls him). 

Sherlock, who dislikes nicknames as much as James does, calls James "Key" after his middle name, Keynes.  Get it?  Lock and Key?  Don't worry, the book transcends.

All that nicknaming comes toward the middle of the book.  The beginning shows James as a highly competitive but loving older brother.  Hey, you'll even like the guy.  The LAST thing James wants to do is go to Baskerville Academy (I know.  I know.  I didn't name the school!)  BUT it is a family tradition, the seriousness of which James and Moria can't even begin to comprehend.

Their father sends Moria to Baskerville as well, to keep an eye on James.  After a rather scary "hazing" incident, Moriarty senior gives Moria secret instructions.  Then the pair are off to Baskerville for what is usually a perfectly normal high-income boarding school experience.  Not for these two.  Not for intensely clever, arrogant Sherlock Holmes.

Light a candle in thanks to Arthur Conan Doyle.  His characters continue to inspire great writers (like the prolific Ridley Pearson) to keep us entertained.  Mesmerizing, this book is just the beginning!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Under One Sun - for Puerto Rico

The news wears me out.

So I decided to do something.  My youngest brother (I have five) Dan and I write children's songs.  Just like an old "Our Gang" episode I said, "Let's put on a show for Puerto Rico!"  Note: Las Vegas and California wild fires had not started at that time.

I put out a request on Facebook and I emailed a bunch of storytellers.  Then I looked for a place to hold the concert and it's happening!  With a lot of help from a lot of people, it's happening.

I made a Facebook event.  In it, you will find a way to purchase tickets online.  Then I made a GoFundMe campaign, to help with any costs we might incur.  And if we have no costs, then the money goes to the charity we chose, UNIDOS, the Hispanic Federation's Relief Fund for Puerto Rico.

It will all happen on November 12th from 2 to 4 pm.  Four musical acts will perform, Chiles Play - music for kids of all ages, the Druckenmillers - old time music to clap to, Today We Fight With Peace - thoughtful music written by a father and his pre-teen daughter, and Closer - a classic rock band.
BUT WAIT!  THERE'S MORE!  Three storytellers will spin their magic - Charles Kiernan, Judy England-McCarthy and Ingrid Bohn.  They are all splendid.

Where?  Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 East Market Street, Bethlehem, PA, 18018.

This concert is a month away.  The news from Puerto Rico gets worse.  One third of the people have no clean drinking water.  Deaths from water borne illnesses have happened.  The death toll climbs every day.  The people of Puerto Rico will still need our help in November. 

Do you want to help?  If you live in the Lehigh Valley, spread the word.  If you belong to a group or organization, kaffee klatsch or book club, church, Bunco group, tell all of your friends.

When the poster and postcards are done, I will post them here and you can print them out and cover the area with them.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Let's Not Forget - Seymour Simon!!!

At the Kutztown Univeristy Children's Literature Conference (KUCLC) presentations, I usually sit in the back.  That's because I come in late after setting up my book review presentation.  NOT WHEN THIS GUY PRESENTED.  Oh no!  I sat in the third row so I could hear ev-er-y word he said.

Seymour Simon is placed high in the pantheon of SuperHero children's non-fiction authors. The others will get their due.

For decades now, librarians and teachers have counted on Seymour Simon (his name sounds like a song, right?) for colorful, well-researched, accessible non-fiction.

It started with The Paper Airplane Book in 1971.  During Simon's presentation at KUCLC he showed us a video made soon after The Paper Airplane Book was launched (sorry!).  The grainy video showed one of the designs from his book as it flew out of an office window and down into the city.  Wow!  If I find the video, I will post it.  The Paper AirplanB book not only gave instructions for building several planes, but the aerodynamic principles that kept the planes in the air.

I took a screen shot of Simon's web page.  You need to visit this page to fully understand the scope of Simon's writing, past and present.  I won't forget this man any time soon.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Website Wednesday

Growing Book by Book is a wonderful place for book lists on all kinds of subjects; kindness, friends, even cooking!  For kids!

This website is all about increasing literacy skills in babies, toddler, preschoolers and beginning readers.  Booklists are only the beginning.

Growing Book by Book offers pre-reading and pre-writing activities, along with skill builders as children grow.

Designed to be used by teachers and caretakers, the ideas translate to one-on-one activities for moms as well.  So check this site out.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Breaking News! Today in Wizard World...

Princess Apple Blossom of Wizard World and Prince Johnny Handsomeman of Parts Unknown were married today in a small ceremony overseen by Fiddle-i-Fee.  Fiddle-i-Fee also provided all the music for the wedding, even though he was often overwhelmed with tears at the sight of his secret love, Princess Apple Blossom, in the arms of another, albeit invisible, man.
Play on, Fiddle-i-fee.

Meanwhile, Little Blue Wizard tried to be as disruptive as possible since he needs to be the center of attention.

Little Blue Wizard ended up in time-out in the big tin pumpkin.
Time out!

A highlight of the wedding was the energetic dance competition that Princess Apple Blossom  judged.  The winner was Ralph, the camel.  Whoever said that camels can't dance has never seen this hoofer!!

The wedding was the end of an eventful afternoon for Princess Apple Blossom, who also goes by the names of Wizardy Wizard, Queen Apple Tree, Trixie and D----, her real name.  Here was the full afternoon.

1.  Squirrel family camp out, complete with scary stories around the camp fire.  Of course, Little Blue Bunny thought it would be hilarious to scare his new baby sister by pretending to be a ghost.  Guess what?  He got in trouble - again.

2.  Fishing.  A garage sale Barbie fishing pole - a gen-u-wine Shakespeare(tm) pole - a magnet, paper fish, paper clips and a big box kept D happy for half an hour.  Then she had to cook the fish for the Squirrel family. 

3.  Fashioning.  D was reminded that Little Blue Bunny had, at one time, ripped up his mother's clothes for costumes so the fashion box came out.  Mrs. Nutsa Squirrel needed a new dress.  So did Nutty, a squirrel cousin who lives at D.'s house, (crocheted by none other than - NANA!)

4.  Jumping and gymnastics.  Jumping on sofa cushions, sliding down sofa cushions and making her toy friends do the same took up nice chunk of time.  Thanks, Rainy Day.

5. Snack.

6.  Wedding and dance competition.

Princess Apple Blossom was exhausted by all this excitement when her mother came to turn her back into D.

I wonder what we'll do tomorrow.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bunco debrief

15 women between the ages of 21 and 94 gathered at our house last night.  Hub escaped to his man cave while we ate way too much food and threw way too many dice.

Bunco, for those who may not know, is merely an excuse for people to;
1.  Clean their houses a little bit better than normal.
2.  Invite as many of their same sex friends (or maybe even mixed sexes, although that might destroy some of the appeal) to a party.
3.  Eat way too much yummy food.  (Always offer fruit and veggies.  Just putting it on your plate reduces the calories in the HUGE CHOCOLATE CAKE!!)
4.  Drink a little bit.
5.  Play a mindless game which requires no strategy and little concentration.
6.  Gossip.
7.  Chatter. - not the same as gossip.  Chatter covers all kinds of subjects.  Gossip is about people.
8.  Have fun.
9.  Laugh a lot.

And after all that, some of the players go home a little bit richer.

There were many topics last night.  Politics was NOT one of them.  Allelujah!  Husbands got brief mentions.  Our kids probably had ringing ears.  Our grandkids - one of the 21 year olds had a grandma in the house - were praised to the sky.  Work - yeah.  Food - yeah.  Gardens, chickens, hobbies - yeah.  Books and TV and movies - yeah but not so much.

But I was most surprised when someone (she knows who she is) rated the four tables we played on.  It appears - why had I not considered this? - that the noise that dice make when tossed on different surfaces adds to the excitement of the game.

Someone should write a dissertation on that subject.

I had a tablecloth on a wooden table.  I will never do that again.  The cloth muffled the clatter of the dice making each roll less exciting.  And my card table has a padded top.  Great for cards, I guess, but that top made getting a bunco just a little dull.

Then there was the height issue.  The oak coffee table had just the right tone but it was lower than dining table height.  So, though it won in the sound department, its comfort rating suffered.

The small, dining height, hard plastic table ended up being the Table Winner of the night.  Exciting sound, comfortable level- it is a winner.

The next time we play, I know I can do better.  Thanks to Suzanne for her enlightening assessment.

Feel free to use this post as the jumping off point into your doctoral study of how sound heightens game dynamics in non-digital play.

Well, anyway.  Bunco is my excuse for forgetting to Let's Not Forget this weekend.  I'll catch up. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Bunny Business

His adventures are getting shorter. 

So, Nutty Romomlia and Little Blue Bunny made up a clapping rhyme.  I don't remember it very well.  Something like;
Hands and feet
Sugar is Sweet
Maples are trees
Honey comes from bees
You're my Friend
To the end.
Now we're FREEEE!

It worked like magic!  They flew through the air from their home on the dining room window sill back to Paris, France and the Eiffel Tower (in the living room).  The Eiffel Tower is their playground.

Asleep in the Tower

The concierge, Monsieur Lapin Lupin, was not at all 'appy that le petit monsieur et la petite mademoiselle were staying at his hotel without their parents.  He had to scold them in an abominable French accent when they jumped on the beds and when they sang along to the radio.
Monsieur Lapin

He had to do sometheeng!  Tout suite!  So while Little Blue Bunny and Nutty Romomlia were sleeping, the Eiffel Tower - poof - disappeared.  What!!!??

Monsieur Lapin Lupin pounced!  (See what I did there?  The rabbit pounced??  ... Never mind.)
"You 'ave stolen zee Tour Eiffel!"  He shouted at them and he dragged them to the police station where Inspector Chien Noir took down his complaint.

Poor Little Blue Bunny!  This time he was innocent!  Poor Nutty Romomlia!  She was just as innocent.

Innocents asleep!
Inspector Chien Noir was on the case and on the scent and she sniffed out the missing tower in no time.  She returned it to its rightful place.

But Monsieur Lapin was not pleased at all.  He insisted that the perpetrators be punished.  There was no proof that our minuscule rodent siblings had stolen the Eiffel Tower.

Inspector Chien Noir investigated and she discovered rabbit fur - long GREY rabbit fur - all over the tower foundations.

In short order, Monsieur Lapin Lupin was arrested, charged and banged up in Toy Hoosegow for criminal mischief and theft of a National Monument.

For once, Little Blue Bunny got in trouble and it wasn't his fault at all.

Monday, October 2, 2017

What I Do When I'm Not Blogging

Here's what I do when I'm not blogging - or reading - or keeping Little Blue Bunny safe and out of trouble. (Or writing and singing songs with my youngest brother, or telling stories with the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild, or....)

It's a drop in storytime.  If you are in the area on a Wednesday evening, stop by.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Atonement - Let's Not Forget Eric A. Kimmel

Tonight begins one of Judaism's High Holy Days, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  What I know about Yom Kippur I have gleaned from children's books, since I was raised a Christian.  Most notably, the books of Eric A. Kimmel helped me understand the practice of seeking forgiveness and atoning for one's misbehavior.  Christians seek forgiveness, too, with rituals like Lent, Advent, and the sacrament of Penance.  Atonement just seems bigger on Yom Kippur.

To learn more about how Yom Kippur is observed, check out Printable Guide to Yom Kippur 2017.  

In 2016, Pjlibrary, an organization that sends free books to Jewish children came out with a booklist about forgiveness.   My favorite book on this list is Kimmel's Gershon's Monster.

 Since I mentioned Eric  A. Kimmel, I want to celebrate him in this Friday's Let's Not Forget!

He's still out there, gathering folklore and presenting it to children in engaging original ways. His earliest books dealt with Middle Eastern, Russian, Middle European and Jewish folklore.  He then moved on the tales of Greek Mythology, and to the stories told about Anansi.  Ukrainian tales, retellings of classic literature such as Don Quixote and Moby Dick, original tales that feature different parts of the world and of American history (The Erie Canal Pirates, anyone?), -  there doesn't seem to be any portion of folklore, mythology or fable that Eric A. Kimmel can't embellish for young readers. His books highlight cultures from all over the world. 

I loved the holidays when Kimmel could be counted on to retell or create holiday stories that came from world traditions.  ALL the holidays!  Almost EVERY year!
Hmm, I wonder where Eric A. Kimmel got the idea for this character?

Visit his website to hear him read some of his more recent books, to ask him a question, to visit his blog and more.

 Hurray for Eric A. Kimmel! 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Let's Not Forget - Betsy Byars

Oh! Oh! Oh!  Betsy Byars!  Over 60 books to her credit, Byars is an American treasure.  She has the talent and the perseverance to pare her prose down to the essential emotion or description.  In one of her Blossom families she describes a boy as someone who "Loved having too much to do."  I remember; it was in The Blossoms and the Green Phantom.   I knew exactly how Junior Blossom felt.  I saw his shining face and his excitement and Byars didn't even have to say "His face shone with excitement."  Sometimes, I read a Byars-written sentence and I am struck dumb with awe. 

My first ever Betsy Byars book was The Cartoonist.   How the author got into that boy's head, I'll never know.  No matter, I went on to read The 18th Emergency and I was launched.  I read every book she wrote - well, almost - from that day to this.

Enough fangirling.  She won a Newbery for The Summer of the Swans.  She won the National Book Award for The Night Swimmers.  AND get this.  She won an Edgar for Wanted...Mud Blossom.  What?!?  What about Herculeah Jones?

Please offer Betsy Byars books to young readers who need books about kids dealing with the real world.  The technology has changed since the 1970s, but the problems kids deal with are the same - finding a place for their passions, dealing with difficult people, dealing with being difficult people - those things are universal.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Blue Bunny Update - International Rabbit Day!

Update on the update: This post came out in time for International Rabbit Day - September 23, 2017!  PARTY!
Whew!  That Bunny!  He wears me out.  Just last week, he got sent to Toy Jail (Or as Gramps says, Toy Hoosegow) for trying to steal D's striped socks.  I don't blame him.  They were some of the very best striped socks that I have ever seen.  And I am a huge fan of striped socks.

Luckily, he was allowed to keep his cell phone with him.  After all, he did not actually STEAL anything.  So D sent him as many photos of her socks as she could.  Just so he could see what he was missing.

Yesterday, school was off because of the holiday (Shana Tovah, everyone) so D and Little Blue Bunny and Gramps and I had a full day.

Here are the highlights:
Playing with Trolls and Troll house
Experiments (just mixing stuff together)
Building a playground just for Little Blue Bunny 
....with an actual swing set that stood on its own designed by D.  Maybe she'll be an engineer.

A walk to collect material for our Neighborhood Newsletter
Attempt by Little Blue Bunny to take over the Trolls' house
Tree house time for LBB and Trolls
More resting...hmm, I hope D isn't getting sick
Climbing on the backs of furniture and sliding down pillow mountains.  

But the most exciting event of all is the birth of a new member of the Squirrel family.  Like most births, there was a struggle and some tears.  But Mrs. Squirrel and D and I persevered and here she is,
Little Blue Bunny's younger sister.
We made her out of pompoms.  We used a low-temp glue gun but there was an accident (sigh) and some tears (that's the struggle and the tears of the birthing process, I guess) and aloe vera and ice and a rest and then... We got the Elmer's Gel Glue.  D designed her and she is pretty darn cute.  She doesn't have a name.  Suggestions?

Wait!  You have a question.  How is it that the Squirrel family has two bunnies in it?  Ahhhhh, that has troubled us for a long time.  For the longest while, we thought Little Blue Bunny was adopted but on a recent space trip, we visited Bunnyvania, a planet where only bunnies are born.  And we learned that Little Blue Bunny was born THERE!!  Yes, Mrs. and Mr. Squirrel were astrosquirrels in their younger years.

Yesterday, they took a quick trip back to Bunnyvania to have their baby - just so Little Blue Bunny would not feel so all alone.  I could not possibly make these things up all by myself.  I have D to help me.

And there it is!  A Little Blue Bunny update!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Genteel Romance - two reviews

Ahhh, the Georgians, Victorians, all those bygone societies, - they knew how to do romance - coy looks and simpering smiles, lighthearted banter followed by meaningful pauses - and oh, so many ways for intentions to be misconstrued and for young people to step out of line.

Cindy Anstey writes about young gentlewomen who don't quite fit the well-behaved mold of society.  In Duels and Deceptions, young Lydia has little to complain about - outside her loud drunk Uncle and his land agent.  These "gentlemen" seem determined to ruin the sizable estate that Lydia's father left her.  Life is as it should be - except for these two louts.  She has a perfectly acceptable future fiance, chosen for her by her late father.  She is well-to-do.  And she is in control.  She likes being in control.  Funny that, actually.  As soon as she marries, all control will resort to her husband.

Lydia writes to her father's lawyer to complain about her uncle, and a young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, arrives to investigate.  He is thoughtful, well-mannered, a member of the peerage - although a younger son so destined to work for a living - in short, a paragon among men.

When an awful crime is perpetrated against Lydia in an attempt to steal her fortune, it is Mr. Newton who is Lydia's hero.  Said awful crime eventually leads to other awful crimes, all related in the most genteel manner in this romantic adventure.
Really!!??  This guy??!!

If we hop in the time machine to the 21st century, we meet Tash Zelenka, avid young vlogger and web series producer.  Tash love the works of Leo Tolstoy with a pure and burning ardor.  So, she and her best friend, Jack (short for Jacqueline), Tash's sister, Klaudie and others, create a web series titled Unhappy Families, based loosely on Anna Karenina. And life is fun and good and creative and THEN the series goes VIRAL.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy is about family, friendship, fame and feelings, among other more confusing things.  Such as sex and why Tash isn't really interested.  She is interested in romance - very, very interested, especially with boys.  But the physical part?  Not so much.  Tash tells her best friends, Jack and Jack's older brother, Paul, all about this confusion before the book starts.  But it's such an odd revelation that misunderstandings simply ABOUND!!

Then there is FAME and how it impacts the eight teens and one 20-something that make the cast of Unhappy Families - the social media frenzy, the fangirls and the haters, and the cute boy vlogger who reaches out to Tash and offers friendship and...more?

FAMILY?  Well, there is illness and explosive disclosures and separation anxiety as Klaudie prepares to leave for college.  Who needs this??

And FRIENDS?  Tash misinterprets or doesn't even seem to CARE about the feelings and problems that her friends have.  She is so caught up in her passion for filming and the chaos that fame creates.

Unhappy Families is a web series about genteel romance - the kind of love that Tash is looking for - someone to lean into, someone to share the deepest and best feelings with, someone who makes her heart melt with happiness.   There are a couple of candidates in Tash Hearts Tolstoy.  But which one will understand Tash's singular sensibilities and accept them?  Ahh, and there is where we find genteel romance.

Pretty darn good relaxing reads, both of these.  I'd give Tash Hearts Tolstoy the edge, though, because of the modern vibe.  The social commentary in both is coated with clever dialogue, likeable characters and humor.  The books did make me think but they also made me happy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Boynton Grew Up Quaker

Quel surpris!  Une Quaker amusant!  Sandra Boynton has been making us smile since her college days.  I remember when I first ran across her greeting cards.  My sisters and I were in a card store. (Remember those?  Once there were several in every town - not just the Hallmark(tm) shop.)  My sisters and I took turns saying, "Listen to this one!" and either groaning, laughing or sighing at the sentiments.

Boynton's cards made us breathless with laughter.

Needless to say, when her books showed up, I bought them for my son and eventually for the library at which I worked.

Her first book, "Hippos Go Berserk!" came out 40 years ago.  How is that even possible?  She was a mere child of - never mind. 
Boynton's books are all just the right size.  When "Philadelphia Chickens" came out, complete with music CD, I was thrilled!  The songs were silly, soulful and fun to sing!

Thanks to the Washington Post for writing this article celebrating 40 years of chubby animals with spunk and the woman who brought us so much joy.  (The title of this blogpost comes directly from the article.  I happen to like Quakers.)

"Hippo Birdie Two Ewes" to Sandra Boynton's Berserk Hippos!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Let's Not Forget - William Pène DuBois

Before Clifford, there was Otto, (my favorite Otto adventure is Otto and the Magic Potatoes), an enormous yellow dog with an insouciant adult owner.  Insouciant is the word that I'd give to a lot of William Pène du Bois' characters.  For instance, the hero of The Alligator Case is a cheeky youngster who "masquerades" as a bellhop, a waiter and other hotel staff to discover the truth about the alligators that plague his town.  The fact that he actually works at the hotel does nothing to dispel his air of sophistication.

Pène du Bois illustrated his books and several books by other authors.  He won the Newbery award in 1948 for The Twenty-One Balloons.  And he garnered Caldecott Honors for Bear Party and Lion.

Let's talk about Lion.   This creation story makes a great tell-and-draw story with a little preparation.  The Foreman of God's Creation workshop decides after all these years to design a new animal.  He has a wonderful name for the animal - LION.  His original design is small colorful and an odd combination of animal parts.  Feeling uneasy with the design, the Angel approaches one of the other designers and asks "In one word, what is wrong with LION?"

So the story goes, with the Foreman asking designers the same question until the answer is "Nothing".

The Foreman takes the final design to the Big Boss (I forget how Pène du Bois designates God) and even God has input into Lion's design.
The Foreman has some work to do, I think.

As much as I LOVE Lion,  Gentleman Bear is high on my list of Pène du Bois favorites.  Here is the opening.
..."Lord Billy Browne-Browne is an Englishman who lives mostly in London. He has spent the biggest part of his life with a teddy Bear. His bear's name is Bayard..."

A dignified beginning for the dignified story of a British peer and his dignified teddy bear. From boarding school to the 1936 Olympics, through marriage and into WWII, Billy Browne-Browne and Bayard are never separated.  The friends Billy makes in boarding school, the Teddy Bear Six, serve together in the RAF and their brave bears play a most important part in a flying mission.  Later, in the House of Lords, Bayard's wardrobe saves Lord Browne-Browne from having to speak.  And the whole story is illustrated by William Pène du Bois, himself.

I am grateful for many things.  Reading the books of William Pène Du Bois is one of those things.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Secret Agents of Good - Kindness

Someone dropped off the New York Times Book Review between my front doors today.  The page was opened to this review.

You Can’t Teach Kids Empathy, but These Picture Books Inspire It

I'd like to say a public THANK YOU to that Secret Agent of Good.

Little Blue Bunny and I are trying to think of SAOG activities for the Fall.  Our friend, Scootaloo, picks litter up in her neighborhood.  She wears gloves and has one of those long handled grabbers.  Scoot is almost six year old.

The kids in First Day School bake cookies for Young Friends who are attending college away from home and for other Friends in the hospital or Assisted Living Centers.

LBB made a list of stuff to do in a classroom or at home.  And I collected book lists and activity websites to spread the word. 
Secret Agent of Good Activity List

1.  Classroom Activity: Make a bingo card with kind acts on it... The first person to cross off a row or column gets to wear the Kindness crown or necklace or medal.

2. Hold the door for someone.

3. Ask someone to play with you.

3. Share a crayon, marker or pencil.

4. If someone is upset, say something nice,  "Do you need someone to sit with you?"  "Do you need help?"

5. Tell someone something nice about themselves.  "You have good ideas."  "You are funny."  "You are a great climber."  "I like the way you twirl."

6. Give someone a high five when they get the answer right.  This is especially important for kids who work harder at getting right answers.

7. Don't let anyone sit by themselves at lunch or in the playground.

8. School Activity - Ask someone you don't know very well what they like to do after school.  They might do something that's so cool.

9. Smile at someone.  Smile at grown-ups. (Don't talk to them much, though, unless you know them OR your grown-up is with you.)

10. Offer to carry something for someone - especially if they have several things to carry.

11. Let someone else go first in line or at the playground.

12. Make someone a picture, a card, a friendship bracelet...

13. Fist bump someone and smile while you do it.

14. Pick things up from the floor.

15. Help straighten up after crafts.

Some Books to Read to Get Inspired.

Brightly's list of kindness picture books.

 Candlewick's Classroom for August.  Great books (all from Candlewick) about Social Emotional Learning (self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision making, relationship skills and self-management) or SEL. 

Activity Websites for Craft Ideas and More

Kindness Rocks are everywhere.  Look for them during your morning walks. Here is Mod Podge's take on this cool craft idea.

Cootie catchers used to be a playground torture device -  or a game to see what we'd be when we grew up.  Now you can use these folded paper toys to suggest kind things to do.  From Coffee Cups and Crayons, here are ideas on making a Kindness Cootie Catcher (or Fortune Teller, if you prefer).

Playworks offers 12 activities to encourage kindness in children.

List My Five - an educator's blog - offers five classroom activities that promote an atmosphere of kindness.

Random Acts of Kindness is a world wide effort to make everyone's life smoother by urging people to just do kind things.  They have a Kids' Activity Page.  Check it out.

Little Blue Bunny and his friends remind you to be kind and to become Secret Agents of Good.

Friday, September 1, 2017

It's Friday! - Marguerite DeAngeli

Let's get those old books off the shelf!  Today's author is a Newbery AND Caldecott winner.

Marguerite DeAngeli!  She won the Newbery Award in the year I was born, 1950, for The Door in the Wall  - the story of Robin who deals with a sudden illness that cripples his legs destroying his chance to become a knight.   He manages to live with his infirmity and even turn it to his advantage when he uses his crutches as a disguise to go for help when his Lord's castle is besieged. Pretty cool, huh?

DeAngeli's books dealt with children from many diverse backgrounds.  Her book Bright April, follows April Bright, a little black girl in Philadelphia, as she grows up.  This book may have been the first children's book to deal with racial prejudice. 

Many of DeAngeli's books are set in Pennsylvania.  The Underground Railroad shows up in the Philadelphia Quaker story, Thee, HannahPeople who live in Pennsylvania Dutch country embrace Yonnie Wondernose.  And Yonnie is the younger brother of one of DeAngeli's earliest characters, Henner's Lydia.

Up the Hill shows a young Pennsylvania coal miner struggling to become an artist.

DeAngeli was a prolific illustrator, winning two Caldecott honors, one for Yonnie Wondernose and one for her Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes.

 In the spirit of her time, Marguerite DeAngeli gently showed her readers children like themselves, who lived in different times and with different expectations.   With over 25 books to her credit as an author/illustrator and over 30 books and articles as an illustrator, let's hope that Marguerite DeAngeli will not be forgotten.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sweepstakes! Love the World - Todd Parr

Love Todd Parr!  His uber-colorful books open the door for small readers to all sorts of ideas - about family, people, likes and dislikes - and most importantly, kindness.

You can win a copy of his new book Love the World by clicking through here.  This is a publisher's sweepstakes so read the rules carefully. 

I do this because I love you.

Friday, August 25, 2017

H. M. Hoover - Let's Not Forget Friday

I think about Orvis every now and then.  When I use hot glue to create fashions for a grandchild's toy, I remember the retired space travelers creating clothes for the two main characters - not counting Orvis - and warning them that the glue was not quite dry.

I remember details of Orvis' self-propelled journey to the dump and then his surprising mutiny.

I remember children who were homesick for space while on Earth since a space station had been their only home - and children who tired of space travel.  How two of these children - one yearning for space and the other trying to avoid returning there - join forces with the run-away robot is a wonderful yarn.

Orvis is just one of H. M. Hoover's sci-fi books that I have read and re-read. 

Although I recognize the social commentary that is central to almost all science fiction, it was Hoover's books that showed me how a rousing good story in a distant time and place, absent of "magic" but redolent with the possibilities of alternate life forms, could shed light on the issues of today.

Inequities between the haves and the have-nots, as in Away is a Strange Place to Be; the assumption of human superiority over other life forms, as in The Lost Star, are only two of the issues dealt with in Hoover's books.

Loneliness, family structure, oppression, and exclusion - all of these things may have been the germ that fueled her stories.  The stories themselves had me and young readers returning to the shelves again and again.

Hoover hasn't published a book since 1996.

Fantasy has long outstripped sci-fi in popularity.  Hoover's books have disappeared from a lot of library shelves.  (Orvis remains on my local library shelves, though.  Huzzah!)

Twenty plus books keep H. M. Hoover's reputation alive.  I won't forget!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

BOOM! BOOMBOX at Skokie Public Library

Check out the Show Me Librarian blog over in the right hand blogroll.  That librarian and team have some awesome ideas...  Like this one

I wonder how this would work on coffee filters instead of fabric.  Hmmm, crafty time!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

3 Books - 3 Reviews

NetGalley sent me three e-galleys to read; The Wonderling by Mira Bartok, The Explorer by Katherine Rundell, and The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken.  I finished Prosper's story today.

 I haven't figured out how to download e-galleys onto my tablet so I have to use my first-generation Nook to read them.  This usually isn't much of a problem.  Today, though, when I got to the end of The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding, I thought my old Nook was broken.  I kept trying to get to the next page.  Poke.  Poke.  NO. NEXT. PAGE.  Nope.  Not there.

This is NOT Prosper!
Prosper is the descendant of Honor Redding, the founder of Redhood, a small prosperous village near Cape Cod.  His family dominates everything there.  He, however, doesn't do well in anything.  His twin sister, Prudence, is clever, well-liked and has recently been cured of a life-threatening heart ailment.  Prosper has been tricked, bullied, punished by everyone he has ever met, except his parents and his sister.  The only thing he does well is draw and his family sees no profit in that.

On the night of the Redhood's Founder's Day, the entire Redding family gathers at Grandmother's house.  This year, however, they have something special in store for Prosper and Prue - something in the forbidden basement, something that involves an old book, a fire and a sharp silver blade. 

The rest of the book takes place in Salem, MA.  Around Halloween.  Mostly at night.   There better be a sequel, and soon. 'Nuff said.

The Wonderling by Mira Bartok follows a small orphaned fox "groundling" from a dismal Dickensian
What's with all the foxes?
poor house type orphanage to a town where groundlings are oppressed and mistreated.  An equally Dickensian character takes our hero, who has no name but the one his only friend gave him - Arthur -, under his "wing".  (The character is a rat groundling - no wings.)

Arthur discovers the orphan mistress's evil plan and must fight to save groundlings, humans, EVERYONE from a horrible fate - the death of music and dreams.  Luckily, he meets a lot of heroic groundlings and humans - some are just adorable  - who want to help him. 

Bartok's language is almost poetic as she describes the forest, the city, and the dismal orphanage and the underground dungeons that the groundlings end up in. 
A sequel is in order.

Katherine Rundell never disappoints me.  In The Explorer, four children are stranded in the Amazon Jungle when the pilot of the plane has a heart attack.  Except for Lila and her little brother Max, they are strangers, all sent to Manaus for various reasons.  Fred, the oldest and eventually the leader, is visiting a cousin of his widowed father.  Con, a blonde belle, appears to be the spoiled brat of wealthy parents.  Lila and Max's parents are research scientists sending the children to the city where they will be educated, safely.  Ha!

Adding a five-year-old to what might be just a kids-against-nature survival story is a great idea.  Max complicates everything, from learning to build fires, to finding food.  He also notices something that leads them all to make the most astonishing discovery.

The discovery leads them to a most enchanting place, inhabited by a frightening, baffling secret. 

The book has that lightness that Rundell brings to everything, - a joy, and a fear that is infused with excitement and determination!  And then, there is a teensy weensy bit of inspiration tossed in there for good measure.  You might even cheer at the end.  I did.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Let's Not Forget - Diana Wynne Jones

The summer before I turned nine I didn't get to the library nearly enough. I read the books my parents had saved from their childhood since we were not really book buying people. (Hint: we couldn't go very many places since child #6 was an infant. It's hard to travel with five rangy kids and an infant. Also, buy books? That's why we have libraries. 'Nuff said.) And I read ONE book* 22 times.

I still re-read books but more than three times? Ha! There are too many books in the world for that!  EXCEPT.... for The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones. 19 times and counting.  Every so often, I remember that scene in World (I forget which world it was.  Is it time to re-read the book?) when Christopher must stand firm and haughty in order to save Tacroy's life. And I ask myself, "What did he say? How did that scene go?" Because, that scene is truly wonderful. Every detail means something.
Proud and haughty!

Fantasy lovers everywhere; raise your water bottles high in praise and remembrance of Diana Wynne Jones.  Her plots are so complex that re-reading is never a waste of time. She was the almost first fantasy author I ever read that moved fantasy into the modern world. (I keep forgetting Edward Eager's books and E. Nesbit's Sand Fairy.) OK, so Dianna Wynne Jones was the first fantasy author that I NOTICED had moved fantasy into the modern world.  Witch WeekThe Homeward Bounders! Howl's Moving CastleThe exclamation marks are mine, not part of the titles.  I could read them ALL again. 

Four (or more) books follow the career of Christopher Chant, Chrestomanci.  One, my favorite, (see above) shows how he became the administrator of all magic in his world - a job his arrogant nature is not well-suited for. He plays pivotal parts in the The Magicians of Caprona  and Charmed Life. In Witch Week, Chant arrives to smooth out magic gone awry - still a pivotal part but you don't get a feel for his personality.  I only read Conrad's Fate once but Chrestomanci had influence there as well.

Oh, the Goddess!  And those Milly books! Yes.  Just thinking about her books makes me break out in happy memories. 

She left this world in 2011.  We might find her impression as a time ghost in Time City (A Tale of Time City), should we be lucky enough to travel there. 

*That 22 times-read book was Little Men by Louisa May Alcott. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Secret Agents of Good - Booklists

Little Blue Bunny does not watch the news.  If he did, he'd be very sad this week. People all over the world are hurting and killing other people for no good reason.  (The details make my heart ache too much to go into.)

How can I explain all this to a Little Blue Bunny who only wants to be a Secret Agent of Good?  I can't.  I can only say what Mr. Rogers quoted his mother as saying.  "Look for the Helpers, Little Blue Bunny."
Can that Panda be a helper?

I can also share lists of books on the fight for equal rights, on kindness, and on diversity.  Here are those lists.

In December of 2016, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted an article titled 1. "New Books for Young Readers Tackle Kindness and Friendship.  THIS LIST IS AWESOME.  The list is a wild mix of stories, history, slice-of-life, coming-of-age,  novels, graphic novels that tackle every aspect of kindness.  From something as ordinary as the day to day life of a cowboy, to different species combining resources to survive the wild, to learning how to fit in,  every title increases the readers understanding of the complexity of human problems and the simplicity of being kind.  LOVE 💖
(Warning: You might have to fill out a short survey to read the entire article.  My survey was on what kind of cheese sauce I buy.)

Social Justice Books put together 2. this 2017 summer reading list for readers of all ages.  The titles are 2016 and 2017 copyrights.  Check out the other booklists on this website. There are dozens of lists.

Brightly offers a list of 3. "Books To Help Kids Understand the Fight for Racial Equality".  The list is a good place to start.  From picture books, through memoirs the list traces voting rights, the "separate and equal" myth, and biographies of influential rights workers.  This list is too short.  Add to it, please.

NNSTOY (Nation Network of State Teachers of the Year) produced a lovely illustrated and annotated 4. booklist on Social Justice.  The list is 42 pages long and covers racism, sexism, different abilities, gender bias, abuse, slavery, war, apartheid, the Holocaust, religious freedom.  Print it out and carry it with you the next you take your children to the library.

Today's Parent (a Canadian parenting magazine) offers 5. 12 Kids' Books That Combat Anti-Semitism.  This slide show offers short descriptions of 12 books that explain Jewish holidays, culture and most importantly, history.  Books about the Holocaust and more recent acts of anti-semitism (although not all that recent) allow children of all faiths to see models of kindness and character.

The Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin developed this bibliography of children's books on social justice in 2003 and updated it twice, most recently in 2016. 6. 50 Books about Peace and Social Justice.

Back in November, less than a week after my birthday, the day after the 2016 elections (sigh),  I put together this little list of booklists about diversity.  Diversity and Stuff.  

Little Blue Bunny and I will continue to spread joy and kindness where we can.  You are loved.  Pass it on.