Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tempests and Slaughter

Remember this book?? That I got when I returned from our vacation?  I FINALLY finished it.

Once I was able to put aside all the holiday distractions, I jumped right into the book.  Several times, I thought that I should stop reading and let you know what was going on.  At one point, Pierce describes how the main character feels as he enters inside rock to help manipulate it.  Pierce is brilliant at this kind of description.  She makes you believe that the character is really experiencing elemental magic.  Elemental Magic is the magic inside things that make the world, water, air, earth, rock, plants, animals.  Well, that's how I understand it.  I almost stopped reading just to share THAT with you.

Then there was a short interchange between the main character, Arram, and his roommate, Ozorne, that might foreshadow future difficulties.  The interchange comes fairly early in the book.  I wanted to tell you about it and wonder with you just what it might mean.  I can't say anything else now, though.

Let's talk about Arram.  He's eager, curious, and fascinated by his own Gift and the Gifts of others.  He's a little slow to understand relationship politics.  That makes him more lovable.  He's genuinely kind and that shows up in the very first few pages.  Adventures "happen" to him, usually because he tries to do something new.  He never forgets a kindness. He greets each new experience with excitement. And, he has tremendous power.

His best friends are Varice, a quick careful girl, who loves kitchen magic (Elemental Magic in many forms) and Ozorne, the "left-over prince".  They meet when Arram enters the University at the age of not-quite 11.  They are together during most of the book except at the times that Arram's power is used by his teachers to perform necessary tasks - or when Ozorne is called to the palace for royal events - or when Varice works in the kitchen to earn money for her future.

I hope that Pierce will give Ozorne and Varice each their own volume.  It is obvious at the end of this book that there is so much more to be told.

Now about the setting: Carthak is the biggest empire in the Islands.  It is a country where the royal family, the nobles and the wealthy control everything.  Slavery still exists and makes Arram very uncomfortable because his small country or principality has outlawed slavery.  There is cruelty in this book - and political wrangling that sets the stage for future adventures.  The times approximate the Roman Empire with the addition of magic.  The country is tropical - no snow!

The Magic in this book includes spells, threads, potions, chants (although the chants are not shared with the readers) and the magic of animals, the elements, the lesser gods and goddesses, tribal magic, elemental magic - and the various jealousies and rivalries that exist among all these magics.   IT'S AWESOME!!

And the Crocodile God... read the book.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ready for Christmas???

Last Minute Christmas Gift Alert!

I have found the PERFECT (where are the little jingle bells stickers???) book for every one who can safely turn pages - from 4 to all grown up.  I    AM    SERIOUS!

This Book Is a Planetarium by Kelli Anderson will intrigue absolutely anyone with a soul. (OK, I can think of one soul owning person who will not be that excited but, other than that character..)  This pop-up book (which is why the reader must turn pages safely) transforms into SIX (6), yes, that's SIX different tools.  You use your cell phone's flashlight app to power the planetarium.  There is a stringed instrument inside, a spiralgraph, a speaker for your tablet, a decoder ring and a perpetual calendar.

I have the book right here on my desk, still wrapped in plastic.  As long as it stays wrapped, its promise is intact.  I will open it on Christmas day.  On New Year's Eve, I plan to gaze at the stars.



 Meanwhile:
The Squirrel family and their snowy friends are stationed at the window watching for snow - or elves - or jingle bells - or anything Christmasy.


But not Little Blue Bunny.  He had to write his letter to Santa.



He thought of some other stuff he wanted.  He wanted a real bunny - because D has asked for one.
He wanted a dragon that can fly without Nana helping it.

On ToyTV, Little Blue Bunny saw a commercial for texting Santa.  You entered SANTA and the text went straight to the North Pole. 
Warning to all toy owners out there: This text action will result in a hefty pretend charge on your phone bill. (Also, it's not true, ok?)

Little Blue Bunny got MY cell phone and sent a text asking for the dragon and the bunny.  AND I got the hefty charge.  Oh, was I angry!  I told my friend, Nutsa Squirrel (LBB's Mom), about it right away and Little Blue Bunny is on dish washing duty until the New Year to earn money to pay me back.

But Wait!  There's MORE.  I got an email confirming the delivery of the DRAGON to my house on Thursday.  The dragon had already shipped.

D flew into action.  She spun around and pooof! shimmer! sparkle! we were in Wizard World.  I was Queen Apple Orchard and D was Princess Apple Blossom.  Little Blue Bunny was Little Blue Wizard, not that he was much help.

Using her Future Ball, Princess Apple Blossom went into the future, found the dragon, cancelled the order and returned the dragon to his den.  A pre-Christmas catastrophe was averted by quick and clever magical thinking.  What would we do without Princess Apple Tree?



I am not at all sure why LBB is in the Christmas cactus or riding the space shuttle we got him.  He's probably trying to avoid doing the dishes.  Wait until he sees what Santa plans to bring him!  I am hugging myself with glee here.

Hey, if I don't post before Christmas, have a great holiday.  All you Hanukkah'ers out there, I hope you had enough latkes and gelt and celebrated the miracle of faith.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Left Behind - Little Blue Bunny

Last year, FlameFly went with us on our cruise to escape winter.  This year, we took Ivan the Turkey - more about that in another post.  We did NOT take Little Blue Bunny and he was not happy about that at all. 

First, he tried to follow us in a boat he made from a Boscov's ad.  Not going to work.


 When he realized he needed water to sail his boat, he filled up the dishpan.  Bunnies are not known for their logic. 


OK.  He wasn't going to catch up with us.  Since he had to stay home, he decided to have fun.
I'm glad I didn't DECORATE the tree before we left.
He is SO lucky that the Eiffel Tower didn't break.

Nutty Romomlia refused to play with him so his climbing escapades were all solo.  Then, Little Blue Bunny got hungry.  FOOD!  Nutty Romomlia followed him in a flash.


A game of hide and seek got a little rough.


Don't worry.  Nutty gives as good as she gets.
Little Blue Bunny suddenly remembered that we hide cameras around the house when we go.  We had proof of his craziness from last year.  So, he hid before we got back.
It took me a half an hour to find him. I had to look out over the dining room from the stairs before I located the rascal.

You see why we don't take him on vacation with us.  I don't even want to imagine what he'd get up to on a cruise ship.  He'd fall over board or steer the ship in circles or jump into the ice cream or trip people on the dance floor or... No!  it doesn't bear thinking about.

I'm just glad he's safe and sound here at home.




Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas came early!

I have been at sea - literally - where the Internet is not so readily available.  (I did read a lot - though not kids' books.  Some rather creepy Albert Campion novels by Margery Allingham - is that right? Her bad guys are so evil and then they have these crises - not necessarily of conscience, though.  Read one.)

When I got home guess what was sitting on the table waiting for me.  (Thanks go to my brother, Mark, for bringing in the unexpected package.)

Yayyyyyy!!!!  HAPPY!  Excited!

If one has to come home from sun drenched islands to snow, one should always get a surprise like this!

Oh, Tammy, I so, so, so love your books and this one looks like a wonder.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tess of The Road - a review

Let's return to the kingdom of Goredd and the Dombegh family - both created by the author Rachel Hartman.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She was always curious, always rebellious.  Meanwhile, her twin (not identical, of course) was always good.

And so starts the story of Tess, Seraphina Dombegh's half sister, and the twin of beautiful, virginal Jeanne.

We meet her when she is just 7 or so, investigating how babies happen by insisting that her young uncle and her twin kiss in a bed.  Tess gets a beating for that.

8 or 9 years later we meet Tess again.  She is deep in negotiations to insure that her sister will make a splendid marriage to a man who loves her.  She is also in deep disgrace with her bitter, angry mother.  Their father - whose first wife was Seraphina's dragon mother - is in disgrace with the court as well.  He married a dragon, after all.  All Tess wants is to marry Jeanne off safely and happily.  Then, Tess will be free.

Oh, Tess.  Did you really think it would be so easy?  The wedding is just the beginning of Tess's troubles and her adventures.

And what adventures they are!  It takes some unraveling to find out what young Tess did to anger her mother so very much.  Her headstrong ways endanger her at every turn but they also give her the courage to do what is right.  She rekindles her friendship with her best childhood friend, a quigutl, - a creature that is looked down on by both humans and dragons; -  and with him/her, she discovers ancient powers under the soil.

The ending feels more like a beginning.  I'd like to read more about Tess.   But this ending has a happy-ever-after feel to it, without the Prince, or the wedding or even romance.  You will be proud of how much Tess has grown.  Read Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Mindful Thanksgiving

Take a deep breath.  You CAN get through this day serenely.  There is no need to respond to provocateurs at dinner today.  Smile.  Pass the gravy.  Pace yourself and practice mindfulness.

Abrams Books gives tips for staying grounded today and throughout the holiday season here.  (Okay, it's an ad but the tips are very useful.)


7 Things I Am Thankful Today:

Speaker phone capability.  I can roll out pie dough and discuss stuff at the same time!

Sunlight. 

Heat and hot water.  We ran out of oil last night.

Emergency workmen.  Eric, an oil/furnace man, came out at 9 pm to restart our furnace.

Pies.  I like baking pies.

Stories.  Entertaining, thought provoking, and enlightening.

All of you.  'Nuff said.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Lovely November Day

We all have those chores - you know the ones.  These are jobs we put off for so many reasons. It will take too long and I don't want to start until I can finish.  It's raining (for outside chores).  It's too nice out (for indoor chores).  It's too messy and then I'll have to put everything away.  No one can see it anyway.  But those chores sit in the backseat of our brains and kick the front seat, over and over and over.

The chore I have been avoiding is emptying the compost barrel.  I have one of those old compost barrels that you turn upside down on an axle to mix the compost.  This year it reached critical mass.  It was sooo heavy I had trouble turning it.  Most years, I go in with my trusty trowel or spade and scoop about half of my "veggie poo" into buckets and carry that stuff to my garden bed.  This year, I decided I had to empty the whole thing and rinse the barrel out.

But it was so hard, my head whined.  It took so long to just scoop out a few buckets.  So, I shoved it into the backseat and did other things.

In the backseat, the chore kicked and kicked and I had to find a way to quiet it down.  I came up with a plan.  Instead of scooping the compost out, I'd dump it on a tarp.  Hope!  And then it rained, and rained again.

TODAY, I substituted a sheet of cardboard for the tarp and I emptied that enormous barrel in 15 MINUTES!!!  I kid you not.  And God bless my youngest brother, he came over to talk and dug all that stuff into the garden beds.  What a blessing.

As he dug - and we talked - I sat in the sun and made a sage wreath - my very first - from wreath forms made of my blackberry canes and my home grown sage and rosemary.  I must find a hook so I can hang it in my kitchen to dry.  Then I will use it over the winter.  And my youngest sister called from far away!  What could be better?

Just a lovely, lovely November day.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tellabration!

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

FUN FOR AGES!!!

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; www.underonesunbenefit.com.

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.

Please.

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.
http://www.seymoursimon.com/




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!)
Fashioning!

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.
F-R-I-E-N-D
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 Chabad.org 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!