Monday, December 5, 2016

Small Pig by Arnold Lobel

Small Pig by Arnold Lobel was a big hit with Angie's kids. Small pig has a happy life until the farmer's wife get a little carried away with her cleaning and vacuums up his mud puddle. He runs away from home and gets into all sorts of scary situations trying to find a restful mud puddle.

At last he finds a mud puddle, but the children listening to or reading the story can see that the mud puddle is really wet cement. Will small pig be rescued? Will he be stuck in the concrete forever? The farmer and his wife are looking everywhere for their small pig. Will they save the day?

Arnold Lobel is a good storyteller and his cute pictures are just right for this story.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Eyelike Numbers by Play Bac Publishing

I have a daughter who loves numbers. When she was little, she counted everything including holes in ceiling tile. She knows who she is. She would have loved this book as a child as it explains numbers and how they work with beautiful photographs. Eyelike Numbers 

Here is a peak inside: Think of the number word power your child will have after reading this book.
 A pair, twins, a couple:
 A lot, plenty, a few, zero:
Counting and multiplying by ten:
 Smaller than, bigger than:
 Even and odd numbers:
 Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division all get a shout out:

Your child gets fifty-five beautiful pages of numbers and math vocabulary. If you have a numbers aficionado at your house, they will love this book. My two-year-old granddaughter, Aria, enjoyed reading this with me and identifying number and colors. She also enjoyed counting the items on each page.

Read to a child today because with reading, your child can learn everything.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A is for Zebra: A Happy Ending on Every Page by Mark Shulman

A is for Zebra: A Happy Ending on Every Page by Mark Shulman and illustrated by Tamara Petrosino is the newest addition to my collection of alphabet books. I collect alphabet books that I find delightful (I collect a lot of books for that very same reason).
What do you mean, A is for Zebra? How can that be? Take a look at the first three pages and see if you can figure it out.

The pictures are fun and this book will help your reader think - to really look at words and see why they fit or why they don't. Children's books are wonderful, with them you can find ways to teach any concept.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Comfort Reading: Clementine and the Family Meeting by Sara Pennypacker

Lately in my circle of friends and family, there have been several deaths - only one of which was expected. I find that when life gets hard, I need books that are comforting, books that don't make me think too hard, books that are not sad or too deep.

I reached for the fifth book in the Clementine Series by Sara Pennypacker. I knew that Clementine would delight me because she reminds me of my youngest daughter (who also delights me). I knew that I could finish the book in an hour or two. I knew that I would come away from the reading feeling a little better as I read about the love Clementine has for everyone and read about how good parents parent.

I was not disappointed. In Clementine's family; when they have something they need to discuss, they call a family meeting, and now that the family meeting sign is up, Clementine is worried sick that she's done something wrong because that is usually why family meetings are held. Instead, she is told that their family situation is going to change and she is uncertain if she likes the new changes.

I enjoy seeing Clementine conquer her fears and grow in each installment of this series. This is a perfect series for younger readers because it tackles issues that matter to them - things that adults may deem unimportant but to a child are pretty big deals.

This series would also make a great read-aloud.

Read to a child today, especially if that child needs some tender nurturing and comfort. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

NICU Delivery

We delivered 17 packets of books to the NICU last week. That means eighty-five more books are blessing the lives of our littlest new babies.

Michelle brought more books over because she is awesome like that, and one of our teacher friends is going to donate some of her Scholastic bookclub points for books for the babies.

One of the best gifts you can give your young child is a love of reading. Reading to your child builds your relationship as they snuggle on your lap and learn, laugh, and bond with you. Your child will be a better student and have a better attention span if you read to them.

Contact me if you'd like to donate books to the NICU babies.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

ish by Peter H Reynolds

ish is a sweet book about Ramon who loves to draw. He draws all the time until one day his older brother laughs at Ramon's art. Ramon is heartsick and now feels he isn't a good artist. He keeps working on his art, but at the end of each attempt, he crumples his drawing and throws it across the room.

He tries for months to become a better artist, but he gives up and decides to quit drawing until an encounter with his little sister shows him an appreciation for his art that he didn't previously have.

I like this story because Peter Reynolds shows children with his art and words to not allow someone's unkind words to sink us. He also shows how kinds words build us and allow us to be our best selves.

If you have a budding artist in your life, they may love this sweet storybook.

Read to a child toady even if that child is you.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

LibriVox and our home remodel is getting me through more of my classic to-read pile. In listening to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I was reminded of the television series House, with Gregory House as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. James Wilson as Dr. Watson.

Both House and Holmes are addicted to drugs and both are incredibly observant and smart, which shows they are functioning drug addicts, for now. Neither likes to take a case unless they find it interesting. Both are arrogant. I didn't think I'd enjoy Sherlock Holmes, but I found each case interesting just like watching each episode of House interests me.

Although this book is not the first in the series, I didn't have any trouble following along. Doyle paints his characters well, and the reader on LibriVox's version four, David Clarke, did an excellent job on the narration.

If you like reading things that make you think, you may enjoy this book.

Read to child today or allow LibriVox to read you a story.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Maus I and Maus II: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman

Maus I and Maus II have been on my reading list for a while, and I enjoyed reading both. I found Art Spiegelman's artistic true account of his father's life in Poland during WWII and his time in Auschwitz interesting, saddening, and realistic.

Realistic in the sense that Spiegelman doesn't make his dad out to be this perfect man who survived the Holocaust but a man complete with many flaws - and maybe more flawed because of his experiences.

Spiegelman depicts his father and all Jews as mice. The Germans as cats and the Poles as pigs. The Swedish are some kind of deer or elk, and the Americans are dogs. Often times the mice wear the mask of another nationality.

Spiegelman's series is a good one to share with teens who are interested in the Holocaust as they are graphic novels. They contain some language and adult situations. In Maus II, Spiegelman delves into his own mental health issues from being born to parents who survived the death camps and lost their first son in the Holocaust. These are quick reads, but pay attention to the pictures as much is depicted there.

Read to a child today, so that they might know why our world needs love and understanding.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Not a lot of reading of books is happening at my house lately, but I am listening to classics on LibriVox while I paint. This week, I listened to David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Dickens said this was his favorite work.

In David Copperfield we get to see Dickens' sense of humor shine - of course the story has heartache and death, but I found myself laughing out loud at times. I listened to Version 2, and the narrator, Tadhg, was excellent, so excellent that if I met him in person, I might fall in love with him just for his accent and voice. Okay, I may be a little bit in love with him now.. :)

This novel tells what life was like in Dickens' day. Life could be very hard if you didn't have money. Snobbery, even in our main character was real and different classes of people didn't mix well. Again as in Bleak House, Dickens is not didactic in this telling, he trusts his reader's intelligence and allows them to figure it out for themselves.

Dickens' characters are well rounded and come off the page. I love David's Aunt Betsy. Everyone needs an aunt like her - one who calls it like she see it - and isn't afraid to throw your sister's behavior in your face - even though said sister doesn't exist. I laughed almost every time she was in a scene.

Tommy Traddles is David's friend and from Dickens' description of him, I can see him with his hair sticking up and him sitting drawing skeletons.

Copperfield has a tender heart, which at times gets him into trouble. The villains are vile and the noble characters, while flawed, are likeable.

Read to a child today or allow LibriVox to read to the child in you.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

If it wasn't for LibriVox, I wouldn't be getting through any of my books during painting time. I listened to Bleak House by Charles Dickens this week and for now, it is my second favorite Dickens - A Christmas Carol being my favorite.

I listened to version three with Mil Nicholson as the narrator, and this narrator made the story come alive changing voice to match each character even getting their characteristics correctly.

This is Esther's story mostly, but interwoven with her story is the Jarndyce vs Jarndyce court case, a sailor, a lost son, a lost mother, orphans, sickness, friendships, and many other people.

I loved Esther's guardian, and how he put others first. He was a treasure of a man. I love how Dickens shows class issues and social issues without being didactic about it. The reader can see how things were and make a judgement for themselves. I also loved Dickens sense of humor in this story and found myself chuckling at times.

Dickens, as many writers from his time period, goes on a bit too much at times and could certainly pare down the story, but this was first published as a weekly series, so he had room to be a bit verbose.

The friendships in this story are realistic. The people are realistic - flaws and all, which makes me like them all the more. Some consider this Dickens' masterpiece and it is indeed a masterpiece of storytelling.

Read to a child today, or allow LibriVox to read to you. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Shout Out

I am lucky to live next door to and across the street from two amazing ladies. They are kind to my NICU book project - a project that honors the lost lives of my twins who were born too soon and honors the parents and babies fighting for life in the NICU.

Alysen brought me five board books. I put one board book in every single package for each baby. Babies need books they can handle, chew on, and not rip to pieces. She brought a book with cat ears - so cute. Alysen loves animals especially cats.

Michelle found this collection of board books at Costco. These are only $2 each and so sturdy for little hands. 

She also brought me a huge collection of paperbacks and hardbacks. She found quite a few Spanish books.

I appreciate help with this project because if I were Queen of the World, every baby would have a library of fun books to help them on their reading journey. Although we are unable to provide a whole library, the babies at McKayDee NICU get a taste of books with our packets of five books for each baby.

If you'd like to contribute to our book drive for NICU babies, here is how you can help:

1. You can order books for your own children (of all ages) from our online Usborne book party and the proceeds will go to purchase books for the NICU. I've received over $350.00 in free books for the NICU from people buying books for their own families through this web link. Usborne is really good to their hostesses, and they have great board books for babies. Click on the link: Usborne book sale to benefit NICU The books you order will be shipped directly to your home. You can then give them to your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews. The free books from the hostess benefits go to the NICU. 

2. We have set up a baby registry at with many books listed for the NICU babies. Some of these books only cost $2.50. Many of these are classics that all children should have. Click on this link if you'd like to help provide books for the NICU: Catherine Crosby Building Lifelong Readers Book Registry. If you order books for us, they will be shipped to me, and I will package and send them to the NICU. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Remodeling a home along with LibriVox is helping me get through my stack of classic literature as I listen to my books instead of read them.

I listened to Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. This delightful tale pokes fun at a lot of things - parents thinking they can't afford their children, using a dog as a nanny instead of a person, putting dad in the kennel as penance.

The story is not politically correct by today's standards, but I enjoyed the tale for the most part. I struggled with how inept Mr. Darling is because it makes for a book without any positive male role models and our children need those. The women and animals are strong which is nice for girls, but I don't care to make one gender better at the expense of the other gender.

When the Darling children learn to fly, it is  most magical, and I think most children have wished for the power of flight, which is one reason they love swings. Swinging as high as we can, jumping out, and for one brief moment before we hit the ground, we fly.

The problem with Peter Pan is that he allows Wendy to grow up too soon while he only plays at being dad for the lost boys. If all the women grow up and the men don't, we are left with chaos and incredibly annoyed women. If you leave out the deeper meanings of this story, it is a fun tale of adventure with pirates, crocodiles, mermaids, fairies, lost boys dressed as wild animals, flying, and returning home to a mother's love.

Read to a child today even if that child is you, or allow LibriVox to do your reading for you. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Abel's Island by William Steig

Abel's Island by William Steig was published in 1976 and won a Newbery Honor. The entire time I read this sweet little book, I thought about how fun it would be to teach this novel along with a science unit. There are so many experiments and research projects that would tie right in to the story line.

Reading this made me miss my colleague and friend, Jeanne Bostwick, who is a stellar middle school science teacher, and when we taught, we tied what my Language Arts students were reading into what she taught them in the science classroom. If you have the ability to teach across the curriculum, this the perfect book.

Abel, a mouse, is swept up in a storm and deposited on an island in the middle of a river. Over the course of a year, he attempts to get off the island by using his creativity and thinking things through. I love each attempt and how he gets frustrated at times, but he keeps trying demonstrating a growth mindset. Your students could recreate what Abel does and see if their attempts work out better than Abel's. Abel has to survive by gathering the native edibles on the island; could your students survive a winter in the wilds? What would they do to prepare shelter and food?

Steig includes many fun illustrations, so this little 120 page book filled with pictures makes a quick and fun read.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson

This is another book I listened to using the LibriVox app. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is a classic, and I can see why it appealed so greatly to teen boys of yesteryear and why it is still in print today.

Jim Hawkins, the main character is a teen, impetuous, brave even when he is shaking in his boots, and willing to do good. His courage and adventurous nature make him a likable character.

Long John Silver is the villain, yet he is truly fond of Jim Hawkins. He is a multi-layered character who is both charming and frightening - my most favorite kind of villain.

There are many other characters who bring this story to life and keep this novel published in 1882 a true classic. This may become a breakfast book for my son. In case you are unsure what a breakfast book is, it is a book that I read to my teen son after he is ready for school while he eats breakfast. This allows us to have a pleasant morning and gets his brain in gear for school.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is a classic that most will enjoy. This is an epic saga of a story that covers several decades. I listened to this novel on  the LibriVox app, and the narrator was wonderful. Although this novel is huge, I was sad to see it end as the story sucked me right in.

The heartbreak of Edmond Dantès and Mercedes when their lives were nearly destroyed by the covetous Fernand will make you want revenge for them.

Edmond goes through quite the growth process in this novel which asks the question, if you could be fate, would you? How far would you go as fate? What if you were innocently sentenced to years in a horrible prison in solitary confinement - then how far would you take your revenge? There were many characters that played a part in hurting Edmond, and I loved seeing how he returned to them what they had given him. I also loved how he played fate to those who had done all they could to help him.

The characters are well developed and multi dimensional. Abbé Faria was one of my favorites. At first, I believed, like the jailers, that he was completely delusional. I loved seeing how Dumas wrote him and the effect he had on Edmond Dantes. I found myself engrossed in their attempt to escape prison.

I loved all the characters that Edmond played, but through it all, he had such a broken sadness. The ending is satisfying, and if you get confused on the plot line, go to for help.

This is a novel that stays with you and has rightfully earned it place in the canon.

Read to a child today or allow LibriVox to read to you.