Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Laura Vaccaro Seeger writes great books for children. My grand kids all enjoy her books. Lemons Are Not Red is a fun book with cut outs in each page. The book begins with "Lemons are not RED," with a red lemon showing.

The lemon is a cut out, so when you turn the page, the lemon cut out is now colored yellow with the words, "Lemons are YELLOW. Apples are RED."

Each page shows a different item from nature and keeps the child guessing which item will be shown next. Honestly, you can't go wrong with this author. She knows how to delight young readers - and old ones like me. :)


This would be a great book to send to our NICU babies. 


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Lake House by Kate Morton

We read The Lake House by Kate Morton for our September book club. This book was published in 2015, and is a good mystery. I was kept guessing almost until the end.

In the first chapter, an unknown woman is burying something, something heavier than she'd thought it would be. I thought this character was Alice, and then I thought this character was Eleanor, and then I wondered if it was Nanny Rose, or or maybe Constance. The reader doesn't find out until nearly the end. 

The story travels in time from 1933 to 2003 to 1914 to 2004 and back and forth all through the book. The story is told from several different point of views as the narration follows the different possible suspects. 

Sadie is a current day detective on leave from her job for stepping on toes. She stumbles across a seventy-year-old missing person's case. A baby disappeared, but the reader doesn't know what happened to him. 

I found myself hating one character after the other as I thought they may have killed the missing child. Sadie also has a modern day mystery that plays a role in the story but not in the story of the missing child. 

Kate Morton is a good story teller. This isn't the first book our book club has read by her and it probably won't be the last. 





Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes was published in 2016. Because I hadn't read anything about this book, I thought it would be set in 2001. It is set in current time. 

Deja, the main character, and her family live in a homeless shelter. She has a little brother and sister, a mother, and a father who is always sick, coughing, and it sounds like he has a bad case of PTSD. 

At school, her teacher tells them their essays will all connect with the missing twin towers. Deja doesn't understand why they need to learn about something that happened before she was born. It's old history, and it doesn't matter to her, or so she thinks. 

Deja has her defenses up. The shelter is in the nicest neighborhood she's ever lived in, and at least two of the kids at the school are determined to be her friends. I enjoyed seeing the changes in Deja and her friends. I loved how they helped one another. Every person needs friends like Ben and Sabeen. 

I love this story of friendship and connections and how we are all one family. I liked that the kids were not just white and that the author was realistic in her representations of different cultures. Children need to read about people who look just like them and about people who don't. 

I think this is an important book for children who don't know about 9/11. Know that this book may make them curious enough to do more research and some of what's online about 9/11 isn't for younger readers. 

I listened to the audio version and nearly gave up on it because Deja sounded too angry, unlikable, and full of hate for everybody and everything, but I didn't have any other audio books to listen to that day, so I stuck it out. I may have liked the book more if I had read it, but I loved it anyway. Be warned that if you remember 9/11, this book will make you weep. 

I look forward to reading more of Rhodes' work. She's an excellent author. 





Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford was published in 1961, and if you have a reader who loves animals, they will enjoy this story. I found this copy at a local Little Free Library. I love our Little Free Libraries. I think I need one.

The novel is set in Canada, and tells about two dogs and a cat who do all they can to get home to their people. The book is well illustrated by Carl Burger, and this book would be great for middle grade and middle school students.

I listened to the audio version which as well done, but the pictures in the book really add what the audio version can not. As a person with dogs at home, I could see the love and caring that these three animals had for one another. I also could understand when they got annoyed with one another. Animals are so much deeper than we may ever know. I liked how the animals took care of one another and the kind people who also helped them along their way.

Animals are smarter than we often realize.



Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan is the first book of The Trials of Apollo series and was published in 2016. This series is connected to the Percy Jackson series, but the main character is Apollo who has been cast to earth by an angry Zeus as a mortal teen complete with acne and without his god like good looks, strength, or agility.

Percy Jackson takes him to Camp Half-Blood, and Apollo learns he must restore five lost oracles. This book, just like all of Riordan's work, is fast paced with never a dull moment. He makes good use of white space and short chapters, so even students who have hard time with text, should do fine with the formatting of this book.The cover is completely awesome.

I enjoyed seeing the changes in Apollo as he learned what he had been putting his children through when he sent them struggles, and now that he has no special powers, he must rely on the half-bloods to help him.

I also like the positive references to the LGBT+ community. Apollo is bisexual and encourages his fans to study Greek history to learn more about his background, although he does tell about the two main loves of his life - one male and one female. His son is also gay in this novel. Riordan doesn't make it a big deal, it just is. I appreciate that students who are LGBT+ will see themselves in this novel in a positive way.

Riordan is always a good choice for students. My grandson, Isaac loves all his books, and I enjoy them as well even though I am way older than his target audience.



My niece, Michelle of The Cleaning Artists, donated these books for the NICU babies. I appreciate her donation as we're low on books right now. Thank you, Michelle. 


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H Balson

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H Balson was published in 2010. This book is historical fiction set during WWII and into modern day.

The story begins with Ben Solomon accosting Elliot Rosenzweig at a social event and threatening to shoot him. Ben accuses Elliot of being a Nazi SS Officer during WWII and of committing war crimes. However, Elliot has a tattoo from being a prisoner at Auschwitz, and the mystery begins. Ben believes Elliot was named Otto Piatek, and believes he recognizes him as the foster brother who was taken in by his parents during the depression in Germany, so they were raised as brothers.

Solomon convinces an attorney to help him bring Otto Piatek to justice. The story grabbed me right in and although the time shifts from present to past to present again, it is well written and compelling. I could see how this story could have come to pass even though it is fiction. I won't tell you if Ben is correct or not, but Balson makes his reader think.


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

The Wild Robot was written and illustrated by Peter Brown and published in 2016. This is a darling early and middle grade book. There are just enough pictures to make it a fun chapter book. The cover does not look at all babyish, and both boy and girls should like this introduction to science fiction.

A shipment of robots is sent out, but in a storm, a container of them fall overboard and end up on an island. All the robots but one are broken when their cases hit the shore, and that one robot, Roz, is accidentally activated by some curious otters.

The animals on the island think she is a monster and are afraid of her. Their fear causes Roz damage because the animals act out against her. She is a learning robot, so she learns to adapt to life on the island with the elements and animals.

This book has important themes: working together, adapting and learning, taking responsibility for your actions, finding initiative to create, and the importance of learning about those who you see as different.

This is a fun story with a lot happening, so a child will not be bored. I need to get the next book in this series called The Wild Robot Escapes.


My mom, Rolean, donated another 100 zipper bags to our book project. Thank you, Mom. This keeps the books safe at bedside and allows me to spend more money on books.

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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


Monday, September 10, 2018

Nat Turner by Kyle Baker

Nat Turner by Kyle Baker is a graphic novel that tells the story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion in 1831.

Baker uses Turner's own words as the majority of the text in this book which is nearly wordless otherwise. The art in this book is absolutely raw and beautiful and horrifying. This is the first book I've read that is completely about Nat Turner, and although it is marketed to young readers, it is not for the faint of heart: however, it is an important part of American history and a story that is often untold as it is so brutal.

I liked that Baker allows the reader to make their own judgments about the characters in this story. He presents what happened, and he doesn't sugar coat it. This book is not didactic at all and leaves the reader feeling unsettled because as Americans we share some very sad, unfair, and awful history.

I wonder what Nat Turner could have done in his life had he been born into a society that respected black Americans and slavery did not exist. He was brilliant but saw so much brutality towards his family and people. What he and his companions did was horrific, but it was no more horrific than the realities of slavery. The system of slavery and the brutal men who enforced the law of slavery created their own executioners.

I think this is an important book because of it realness. The end of the book contains notes that are important to the story and sources to obtain more information. This book was published in 2008.






Yes, it is somber and sad, but we need to know our history if we want to do better. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Almost Home by Joan Bauer

Almost Home by Joan Bauer was published in 2012 and is the first book I've read for a while that makes me want to rush back into the classroom just so I could read this book with a class. 

Sugar Mae Cole, the main character, is in sixth grade. She has a gambling addicted absentee father and a mother full of sunshine and gratitude. Unfortunately, her father has borrowed money on their house, and she and her mother become homeless. This is their story of trying to get off the streets.

Sugar had a grandfather who wrote a book for her and her mother that is full of great advice, but he is no longer living. Sugar also rescues a dog right before they lose their home, and she hopes to keep this dog with her. This dog, this dog, oh, if everyone could have this dog. I love Sugar's attitude and strength when it comes to taking care of and keeping this dog with her. 

Sugar's mom taught her to write the best thank you notes, and gratitude is a theme throughout the book. I want to be more like this - to have gratitude in my heart for all around me. 

This book made me laugh, cry, and think. Although this book was written for middle grade and middle school, I think adults would also enjoy it. There is a lot of great advice in this book for people of all ages. There is also poetry. 

Some quotes I loved:

Page 54 - "It's not fair but sometimes a kid has to act older than their age. You just pray hard to know what to do."

Page 63 - "Whenever you go through a fat mess of a time, try to learn something from it so you don't have to go through it again."

Page 94 "If you've got a place to live and money in the bank, you can sit anywhere. If you're homeless it's called loitering."

Page 138 "We celebrate the wrong people sometimes. We should wake up and see who the real heroes are and give them the star treatment."

Page 140 "You understand that when you take a plant out of starter box, it gets nervous."

Page 141 "I'm always looking to see somebody do something well, so I can copy it. King Cole said you can learn a lot about how the world works by watching people do things right."

Page 173 "Sometimes the best thing that can happen to a person is to have a puppy lick your face."

Page 189 when speaking of peacocks "I'm not sure they're proud as much as they know what they've been given and they're not ashamed to show it."

Page 217 "This little tree here? It can't survive on it's own. The wind will knock it down. So we've got to give it support to grow while it's young."

Page 223 "You just keep taking steps forward little one."

Page 241 "You told me a kind answer turns away anger. And that being kind doesn't mean you are blind."

There are so many good characters in this book. I love Sugar's grandpa, King Cole. I love Lexie, Joonie, and Shush. The characters grow and change, and did I mention there is a wonderful dog in this story?




Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Monday, September 3, 2018

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson is a series of five books, but I have only read the first three books.

If you liked Peter Pan, you will enjoy this series of books that explain all the magic in Peter Pan. The first three books explain Pixie dust, how Tinker Bell and the mermaids came into being, losing your shadow, and how Tick-Tock became Tick-Tock.

All three books have illustrations that add to the stories. The characters are fun and grow during the series. Friendships and loyalty are important, and magic is prevalent. I will be getting the next two books in this series.

I think the covers of these books are beautiful.





Luckily, we've had some NICU book donations lately as we almost ran out of books. Thank you to all you sent books.

Caitie brought these cute books over.


Heidi found these beauties for the NICU.

Angie brought this selection to me.

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Friday, August 31, 2018

Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

Malala's Magic Pencil  written by Malala Yousafzai and illustrated by Kerascoet was published in 2017. Yes, this is the same Malala who was shot by the Taliban for advocating for girls to be educated.

I wondered how she would handle the scary, graphic nature of what happened to her, as this is her story told for a young audience, but she does a good job.

She tells about a show she used to watch where a boy had a magic pencil and how she wished she had one. She tells about what she would change in the world with her magic pencil. She tells about how she spoke out for other girls, and when she gets to the part where she was shot, she says, "My voice became so powerful that the dangerous men tried to silence me. But they failed."

The illustrations are well done and use color to convey mood and tone. Kerascoet is actually a pseudonym for two people: a husband and wife team, Sebastien Cosset and Marie Pommepuy. I love the pictures of Malala drawing things with her magic pencil. I think children will appreciate the magic of the story along with the reality that Malala used a real pencil and real words along with a whole lot of courage to help change the world.


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson was published in 2001, and was a completely different style than her book Which Witch? I enjoyed Which Witch?, but I really loved Journey to the River Sea because it is my favorite genre of realistic fiction. 

In Journey to the River Sea, set over hundred years ago when proper ladies still wore corsets, Maia, the main character has been orphaned. She is wealthy and is being sent to Brazil near the Amazon River to live with some distant relatives, relatives she hopes will be nice and love her. Her friends are scared for to go into the wilds of the Brazil, and although the things they say should scare her, Maia is a brave girl of thirteen.

When she arrives in Brazil she quickly learns that her relatives only want her for one reason, money. Maia must find a way to protect herself from them and to help two new friends stay safe. She hopes to gain the one thing she most wants - a real adventure. 

This book also has nice pictures tucked into the chapters. 

I liked the friendships in this story. I also liked that the native people of Brazil were portrayed in a positive way. They were not portrayed as magical but as real people who simply had different customs than those Maia had known in England. I liked the racial diversity, and that the people were proud of their racial diversity. Both Finn and Clovis as friends were wonderful - both so different from each other, but both of them great friends. 

I loved the ending. 




Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hope Is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera

Hope Is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera was published in 2014. I had not heard of this book, but picked it up at my local library, and I'm glad I did. In Herrera's story, Star, the main character is new to her California school. She has moved here from Oregon with her Mom, her sister, and their mother's best friend and all live in the same trailer park right next to the town dump.

Star is in fifth grade, and although she reads older than ten, I enjoyed her story. Her sister, Winter, is sixteen and attends the alternative high school, she is depressed and struggling. Star decides to create a club at school, but it ends up completely different than what she'd imagined.

As Star and Winter search for their absentee father, things don't turn out quite like the girls expected.

I loved Star's vocabulary sentences, and I loved the poetry. Star's relationships with her sister and mother are realistic. Her journey at times made me remember how I felt as a child with an absentee father and how confusing those feelings can be.

I was confused at first who the character's were, but Star is the main character, Winter is her older sister, her mother is Carly, and her  mother's best friend is Gloria. Now you know who is who before you even start reading.

Some quotes I enjoyed:

Page 120 ". . . but I think hope is a rock. Because you can squeeze it all you want, and you can't destroy it. But it can still be crushed."

Page 121 "Hope is September when I get all my new students."

Page 121 "Hope is a dirty window. You can't see through it all the way. You just figure there's something good out there."

Page 143 "Sometimes hope isn't enough."

Page 241 "It turns out I just needed one person. One friend."

Happy reading this week and may we all be that one friend for someone in the world who just needs one person.



Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown by Fredrik Backman was published in 2017 and is one more reason for me to love this author. His writing makes me think. He has so many, many quotes that matter in his writing. Beartown is the story of rape culture set in a very small hockey town. This story has so many, many characters, and Backman weaves them all together seamlessly. He makes the characters come off the page. I felt the backache of Fatima. I felt the rage and despair of Kira. I felt the shame that Benji feels when people say exclusionary things. I knew the pain and fear that Maya went through. I loved Ana's loyalty. I sorrowed with Kevin's mother. I longed for David to be upstanding. I felt Peter's heartbreak and anger. Backman's writing makes every single character matter, and I loved them all.

The book begins, "Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else's forehead, and pulled the trigger.

"This is the story of how we got there."

A few quotes I enjoyed:

Page 56 ". . .when he came once again, it was too late for words. You can't look a gravestone in the eye and ask its forgiveness."

Page 59 "All adults have days when we feel completely drained. When we no longer know quite what we spend so much time fighting for, when reality and everyday worries overwhelm us and we wonder how much longer we're going to be able to carry on. The wonderful thing is that we can all live through far more days like that without breaking than we think. The terrible thing is that we never know exactly how many."

Page 66 "Culture is as much about what we encourage as what we permit."

Page 165 "No matter how hard she sandpapers herself, she's never going to fit in here."

Page 235 "Words are not small things."

Page 226 "It's just as easy to be exclusive as inclusive, just as easy to create an us as a them."

Page 343 "When I was little, my dad used to hit me if I spilled my milk, Leo. That didn't teach me not to spill things. It just made me scared of milk. Remember that."

Page 348 "The room is silent enough for everyone to hear when his heart breaks."

Page 385 "They don't know if they will ever stop feeling ashamed that they were forced to give up. How can anyone lose like this without dying?"

Page 398 "The girl is four years old and is standing in a hall without light in a house full of bruises."

Typing these quotes makes me want to go read this book again. If you are a parent, this book is important. If you are a teen, this book is important. This book was written for adults, but I think every teen would benefit by reading it.




Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer

The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer is the true story of a Jewish woman who after coming home from a forced labor camp during WWII in Vienna goes into hiding. One of her friends who is not Jewish helps her get identity papers that say she is a German. She meets a German officer who courts her and even after she tells him her true identity, he still marries her.

Edith's story is one of constant fear: fear of being discovered and taken to the death camps, fear of not being able to get food, fear that her identity papers will give her away, fear of not being able to get clothing. During WWII one needed proper papers to buy anything or do anything. This book captures that fear well and the experience of living in a constant hyper alert state.

Edith was such a brave person. I enjoyed learning about another way people escaped the Nazis. This story is sad yet hopeful and shows that there were people during WWII who were willing to break the horrible laws of the Nazi regime in order to save lives.

Quote I liked: "He was an inspired listener. That was his gift" (19).


We've had some generous donations to our NICU book project lately. 

Michelle sent these two books over. 

Rolean, my sweet momma, sent these 20 books for the babies.

 My sister, Christy, also donated to our cause to get books into the hands of the youngest readers.

One of Angie's friends/coworkers, Cami, sent these books for the babies.

Cami also sent a selection that will be perfect for a teacher's classroom.

I appreciate all the help we get that enables us to continue to reach so many babies. I love all the literacy advocates in my life. Thank you all, again. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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