Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween from Witches Wendy and Dorrie

Back in 1967, when I was a small child, Dorrie and the Witch Doctor was published, and I thought all of Patricia Coombs' Dorrie books were so fun. Dorrie is such a cute witch with her upturned nose.

In this book, Dorrie's grouchy and complaining Aunt Agra comes to visit. She complains about everything, and soon, little Dorrie with the mismatched socks that Aunt Agra gripes about is sick. Big Witch calls the Witch Doctor and he comes to hopefully solve all their woes.

I love the detailed illustrations in this book. Dorrie's cat Gink is the cutest cat ever and is always by her side.


The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches, written by Alice Low and illustrated by Karen Gundersheimer was first published in 1978, so I didn't meet this book until I was a bit older. This book has been revised - in a good way. Wendy's sisters were given names, and a new illustrator was hired. Although the old pictures are cute, the new ones are also very good. Jane Manning is the illustrator of the new edition.

In this story, Wendy's sisters aren't very nice to her. They won't teach her to fly or even take her flying on their brooms. They won't teach her spells, so Wendy is unable to be witchy at all. She loses her broom, and now the little bit of magic she had is gone. Her sisters leave her behind on Halloween night, and Wendy meets a ghostly friend who is out trick-or-treating. Wendy's luck is about to change and her sisters better watch out.



Have a happy and safe Halloween, and may all the witches, ghosts, and goblins you meet tonight practice good magic. Create magic of your own and read to a child today even if that child is you. 



Thursday, October 29, 2015

Three for Throwback Thursday: Fear Month: Ghost Stories for Little Ones.

What do Gus the friendly ghost and Georgie the ghost have in common?

This is a question you can ask your child before you read Gus was a Friendly Ghost , Georgie and the Robbers, and What's a Ghost Going to Do? Have your child look at the covers of the books and talk about what they may have in common. Ask, "What looks the same about these books? What looks different?" Comparing and contrasting literature is just one important reading skill to help your child become a stronger reader.

Read the stories, and then compare and contrast the stories once again. By doing this, you will help your child make text to text connections, which is another important reading strategy.

Gus was a Friendly Ghost   and What's a Ghost Going to Do? were written by Jane Thayer and illustrated by Seymour Fleishman, and published in 1961 and 1966.

In these stories, the reader can see the Gus tries to be kind. He wants to be a good ghost and take care of the house he haunts. In the first story, a mouse takes advantage of Gus's friendly nature, and Gus has to figure out a way to solve his problem before his house's owners get too upset.



In the second book, Gus's family has sold his house and it's going to be torn down, so he has to find a new place to live. He tries living in other places, but none of them work out. He must somehow convince the person who bought his house to restore it instead of tearing it down, but the man can't hear Gus. Gus must figure out a way to save his house. 

Georgie and the Robbers was written and illustrated by Robert Bright and first published in 1963. Georgie is shy and never scares anyone. He is friends with a cat and an owl. He reminds his owner to go to bed by creaking the stairs. When robbers come to the house and take all the antique furniture while the owners are away, Georgie has to be brave and find a way to capture the robbers. He has to protect his house. 

After reading these books, you will see that they have several things in common and several things that are different. All three are cute stories with gentle, helpful ghosts who have problems they need to solve. 

You can take making connections to the next level by asking your reader if they ever had a problem to solve like Gus or Georgie. What was their problem and how did they solve it? This is called text to self connections. If your reader can find a text to world connection - a time they've seen something like what they saw in the books happen in the world or on the news, it is a text to world connection. 

Of course, you can use any books you have on hand to work on making connections. They don't have to be these books. When your child makes connections to and with the books they read, they become stronger readers. 

NICU Book Project Update

Since September 24, 2015, sixty-eight books have been donated to our book project. That means we were able to bring literacy to 13 more newborns than I could have reached on my own. I want to thank all of you who have generously helped with this project. 

We are still collecting books, and probably always will be, so if you'd like to help, there is still time to do so. 

You can order from the Amazon gift registry and the books will come right to us, so that we can package them up and give them to the littlest of babies. Click on the link to access it. Amazon gift registry.

You can bring new or like new books to either Angie or myself.

Or, you can order books for your own children from this link to Usborne books. Your order will be shipped directly to your house. Usborne sends me a percentage of the sales in free books for the babies. This way your kids gets books and the NICU babies get books. Everyone wins.

Janelle sent these books to help our Spanish families. She also sent books for English speaking families. Thank you!


 Michelle, my neighbor, brought these books over for the Spanish babies. Thank you!

I greatly appreciate the help we've received on this project. Literacy changes lives, and for these little ones who are starting life way too tiny and sick, it means so much. Hopefully getting five books will give them a start on an at home library and help turn them into Lifelong Readers. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fear Month: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children covers many different genres. It is a mystery, adventure, fairy-tale, fantasy, historical-fiction, and science fiction. In this book, he touches on WWII, mental illness, monster hunting, time travel, and shape shifting. One might think that no author could cover so much and still do a story justice, but Ransom Riggs does just that. His story is complex and well written. I was sucked into this book from the beginning.

I have to give a disclaimer at this point because the first part of the story has swear words and contains a reference to oral sex.. By the middle of the book, Riggs tones down the swearing, which was nice. Many of my seventh and eighth grade students recommended this book to me, so I wish he had realized that his writing was strong enough to carry the story without resorting to crudity. There are two other books in this series that I have not read yet, so I am unable to say if they also have swearing or crudity.

At the beginning of this story, I wondered which direction the story would go. Riggs kept me guessing for a while - but in a good way. And then, once Jacob makes it to the remote island, I was reminded of one of my favorite books, The Wicked Pigeon Ladies in the Garden by Mary Chase. The magic of this story really comes alive on the island.

Jacob is a great main character. He is strong yet not perfect. He is brave but sometimes makes wrong choices. He is loyal to his grandfather's memory even when his own father is somewhat of a jerk towards him. Jacob grows during the story and becomes even more interesting. I loved the children at the school. They are well written, and I cared what happened to them. I found myself wanting them to win.

The pictures in the book add to the eerie creepiness of the story and also make the book more interesting and easier to read. They are said to be authentic photos from the time period with minimal photo shopping. The Lexile of this book is 890, so it is accessible to most students. The format of the book is absolutely beautiful and creepy. The chapter breaks make for easy stopping places if you can bring yourself to put the book down.

I look forward to reading the next book in this series and hope I enjoy it as much as I did this one. Have you read this series? What did you think of it?


Monday, October 26, 2015

Fun Fear Month: Monster Munchies by Laura Numeroff

My six year-old grand daughter, Kayana, was over on Saturday night, and she asked, "Can we read the monster book again?"

"I don't remember the monster book," I replied.

"You read it to me and Callie last time."

Still not remembering, I asked, "Tell me what happens in the story."

She said, "I don't remember all of it, but it is a counting book, and at the end, the monsters were going to eat us up."

The light bulb went on, and I remembered Laura Numeroff's Monster Munchies. Numeroff is the author of the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series.

This book is currently out of print, but copies are available at reasonable prices at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Hopefully at some point, with Laura Numeroff's fame, this book will be reprinted. 

This book counts monsters from one to twenty. 

Page one: 
One giant monster
wears a dress,
eats the couch, 
and makes a mess. 

Page two:
Two happy monsters
clean the room.
When they're done,
they eat the broom. 

This goes on with cute pictures to twenty. 
"Twenty hungry monsters
with nothing left to chew. 
Better close this book up tight . . .
Before they chew on you!"

I asked, "Can you find the rhyming words on each page?"

She struggled a bit, but then I said, "Let's look for a pattern."

We looked at how line one and three don't rhyme, but lines two and four of each page always rhyme. After she knew the pattern, it was "easy peasy" (as she says) for her to find the rhyme. After reading it twice, I covered the last line, and she used to the pictures to predict what line four would say. She got really brave, stood across the room from me, had me read the first three lines of each page, and she would recite the fourth line. She felt really smart - as she should. 

Books with rhyme and rhythm give kids a big sense of accomplishment. They are easier to memorize, and help a child build fluency when reading. Kayana is in kindergarten, and loves books, and when she comes to see me, we read. This book is great for a lot of laughing, fun, and learning. She always gets up and runs away from the book when we get to the last line. She is not going to let  the monsters chew on her. 

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



Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fear Month Throwback Thursday: Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp

Jane-Emily  by Patricia Clapp was first published in 1969. I read it as a pre-teen and loved it so much that when I grew up, I bought a reflecting ball for my own garden. So far, I've only seen my own face staring out at me from it, but one can always hope. 

The blurb from the back of the book: "Emily was a selfish, willful, hateful child who died before her thirteenth birthday. But that was a long time ago.
Jane is nine years old and an orphan when she and her young Aunt Louisa come to spend the summer at Jane's grandmother's house, a large, mysterious mansion in Massachusetts. Then one day Jane stares into a reflecting ball in the garden—and the face that looks back at her is not her own.
Many years earlier, a child [Emily] of rage and malevolence lived in this place. And she never left. Now Emily has dark plans for little Jane—a blood-chilling purpose that Louisa, just a girl herself, must battle with all her heart, soul, and spirit . . . or she will lose her innocent, helpless niece forever."

Patricia Clapp writes a hair-raising scary story that includes romance, a Gothic feel, and suspense. This book was out of print for a while, and I am glad to see it back in print even though the cover and the title have changed a bit. My old copy sold for 95 cents and looks like this:


The new edition looks like this: They added "and Witches Children" to the title. I'm not sure if anything inside has changed, but if you like scary stories, this one is worth reading. 


Have you read Jane-Emily? Did you like it?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fear Month: Switch on the Night - Ray Bradbury

A couple of years ago, I was in a second-hand shop and picked up a sweet book called Switch on the Night. To be honest, I bought it because I liked the pictures, but I didn't note the author or the illustrators as their names are so small on the cover. After I got home and really looked at this book, I realized it was by Ray Bradbury. I thought certainly it was not 'the' Ray Bradbury, so I research it or in other words Googled it, and yes, this book was written by 'the' Ray Bradbury literary master.

Many children's books help a child deal with their fears, and this book helps a child deal with their fear of the night or the dark. The illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon capture Bradbury's vision and his mastery of suspense in many of his writings.


Notice the long shadows and the different angles each picture provides.



"But where was our little boy?
Up in his room.
With his lanterns and lamps
and flashlights
and candles and chandeliers. 
All by himself. 
He liked only the sun. 
The yellow sun. 
He didn't like the night." 


This book has repetition and is very fun to read. And then in comes Night, and isn't she beautiful.

"And all of a sudden someone said, 'Hello!'
And a little girl stood there in the middle of the white lights, the bright lights, 
the hall lights, the small lights, 
the yellow lights, the mellow lights. 
'My name is Dark,' she said. 
And she had dark hair 
and dark eyes, 
and wore a dark dress 
and dark shoes. 
But her face was as white as the moon,
And the light in her eyes
shone like the white stars.

'You're lonely,' she said."
By the end of the story, the lonely little boy isn't afraid of the night anymore, and now he can join the other children for night games.

"You can see him switching on the white moon,
switching on the red stars,
switching on the blue stars,
the green stars, the light stars,
 the white stars,
switching on the frogs, the crickets, and Night.
And running in the dark,
on the lawns, with the happy children . . .
Laughing."

The words were written in 1955. The illustrations were created in 1993. This book is still in print and readily available for a good price.



What was your childhood fear? Is there a book about it?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Two for Tuesday: Fear Month with Betty Ren Wright

Betty Ren Wright had a lengthy career as a scary book writer. I've read many of her books, including The Dollhouse Murders, but my two favorite Betty Ren Wright books are Christina's Ghost and A Ghost in the House

Christina's Ghost tells the story of a young girl, Christina, who has to stay with her grouchy Uncle Ralph for the summer. While she is there, she meets a little ghost boy who needs her help. This book comes complete with an evil presence in the attic. This 105 page book has a 620 Lexile and is a favorite with my students who like scary stories. My reluctant readers who read this book will usually read another book by Betty Ren Wright. The ghost in this one is pretty scary, so you may not want to read it after dark if you get scared easily. This book was published in 1985 and is still in print.



A Ghost in the House is out of print but readily available used on Amazon.com and was published in 1991. Sarah has just moved into a new home with a beautiful big bedroom, but finances demand that her great aunt move in with them. Sarah is moved from the big beautiful bedroom into a small storage room, so her great aunt can have her room. Strange things start to happen in the house putting the entire family in danger. This book has 163 pages and a Lexile of 780. 


In both books, the main characters grow and become stronger. I've read many other books by Betty Ren Wright and enjoyed all of them. She writes good scary stories. Try one out for Halloween, but you may want to keep the lights on. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Early Literacy: 30 Million words by age four

In the Deseret News, there is an article called, "Why this pediatric surgeon wants your child to hear 30 million more words by their fourth birthday." You can read the complete article here. In this article Eric Schulzke interviews Dana Suskind who is a professor of surgery at the University of Chicago. She specializes in cochler implants that allow people who are born deaf to hear.

This article explains how important it is to talk to our babies and surround them in a literacy rich environment.

Some important quotes from the article:

Suskind: I came across research conducted about 30 years ago, where they found that the critical factor in a child’s ability to learn was his or her early language environment. They found that by the time they reached their fourth birthday, children born into poverty heard 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers.

Suskind: The reason I wrote this book is that I am hoping to get across that 0-3 is a critical period. Not to say that later on is not important, but this is a critical period. But whenever we talk about early childhood, we talk about pre-K. That’s missing the mark. We’ve got to start earlier, and with more intentionality. Learning doesn’t start on the first day of preschool. It starts on the first day of life. We need to re-imagine what education means.

I highly recommend this article, and I appreciate Dana Suskind's push to help us immerse our children in a literacy rich environment.

Talking to your child and listening to their responses is important. Books are another tool to help your child's brain grow strong. With books, your child will be exposed to vocabulary that they won't hear in day to day conversation. You will build their background knowledge, and create a stronger relationship with your child.

This is a video of my 13 month old grand daughter, Aria, reading to her parents. Although she uses her own language, she is mimicking the rhythm and cadence of natural speech. This is what early literacy looks like. She is reading a board book, so she doesn't have to worry about  her little fingers damaging it. She has been read to since she was born.

*ETA: click in the blank spot and the video will magically appear.

video


NICU update: On Saturday, I received six books from Jennifer Hunt. Thank you, Jennifer for helping spread literacy to our littlest readers. Three of these books are touch and feel books which are wonderful for babies and get your littlest reader interacting with books. The black and white board books are shown to catch the visual interest of our very youngest readers, and Ferdinand is one of the best books ever.



Saturday also brought twenty-seven new Usborne books for the NICU. These were my free gifts for hosting an Usborne party. Thanks to everyone who purchased books for your own children because it greatly benefited the NICU. Five more babies will get a package of books thanks to those of you who ordered. If you'd like to order books for your kids, it will still benefit the NICU. Just click on this link, and get great quality books for your kids. They will be shipped directly to your house. 

The Sun book is a great vocabulary builder as it shows things your child may not yet be familiar with. It is a board book, so your child can read without damaging it. This book shows: seal pups, bird nests, beehives, a baby calf, a farm mouse, and a family all waking up with the morning sun. 

If I could read Spanish, I'd tell you how wonderful the Spanish book is, but alas, I do not, so if you've read this one, please tell us if it is good or not in the comments. 


Panda in the park is much loved at my house. This peek-a-boo board book has cut outs on each page. This is a great book for teaching animal sounds. You will encounter a panda, bees, butterflies, a snake, a giraffe, an elephant, cherries, flowers, birds, trees,a tiger, bugs, snails, a rabbit, and a frog.

Duck to the Rescue is a board book that has rhyme. and onomatopoeia words which are so fun to read: splat, splish, splash, splosh, wibble, wobble. This book shows the value of friends and helping one another.

Baby's Very First Touchy - Feely - animals book is a board book that has wonderful textures. It also has a page at the end that shows all the colors of the animals, so this book is great for teaching colors and sound effects.

The Little Red Penguin books are also board books that have lift the flap pages for learning, interacting, and discovery.

Aria was  playing with the Usborne books I've purchased for the grandkids, and my husband was surprised at how tough these books are. These board books really are made to be handled by babies.

I bought a book for the grandkids from Usborne that is wonderful. It is called The Gobble Gobble Moooooo Tractor Book, and is so much fun to read. There are animal sounds to read and for your child to mimic. This is my grandson Vincent's favorite book. He heads to the bookcase and pulls it out as soon as he gets to grandma's house. This is not a board book, so you will want to supervise, but the pages are sturdy and it is a hardback book.


This is Vincent in our reading chair ready to read. 

30 million words by the age of four. Happy Reading!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fear Month: Author Kathryn Reiss

Author Kathryn Reiss has degrees in German, English, and Creative Writing, and is a Fullbright Scholar. She also writes mystery well.

Her first novel, Time Windows, was published in 1991 and is still in print. In this story, Miranda and her parents have just moved into an old house, and she finds a dollhouse in the attic. When she looks through the windows of the dollhouse, she sees a little girl. What does this little girl want? What is she trying to tell Miranda?





Reiss has a way of making the hair stand up on the back of your neck. She writes a good scary story that is creepy without being over the top.

She followed up Time Windows with a sequel in 1993 called Pale Phoenix. Abby, a pale girl with ghostly hair comes to stay with Miranda and her parents. Miranda begins to hear a sad cry that seems to come form everywhere. Is it Abby or something else? I enjoyed this book, and it went well with Time Windows although I found the behavior of the parents a bit unbelievable in this story.



As you can see, Reiss has a large booklist of which I've only read four; however, I've enjoyed all four that I've read. Each has an element of time travel or one time touching another.

Paint by Magic, published in 2002, has Connor's mother acting strange and slipping into trances when she looks at an old art book filled with paintings of a woman that look just like her. Connor gets a chance to save his mom when he is whisked back in time to the 1920s, but can he save his mom and himself before it's too late?



In Paperquake, published in 1998, Violet, a triplet who is very different from her sisters, has always been sickly and deathly afraid of earthquakes. While helping her sisters clean a building her parents have purchased to use as a flower shop, she finds a letter, an old letter, and becomes certain it was left for her. As she finds more messages from the past, she begins to unravel a mystery, but as the earthquakes become more frequent, will she unravel the mystery in time, and if she does, will anyone believe her? I liked the character development in this story.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fear Month Throwback Thursday: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

You've probably heard of Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds, which was based on Daphne du Maurier's short story by the same name. It is often read in ninth grade English classes, and the students love it. Du Maurier is a master of choosing just the right words to build suspense. If you liked "The Birds," you will also like her novel Rebecca.

Two years ago, our book club read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. She first published this haunting romantic masterpiece in 1938. The title of the book refers to Mr. de Winter's dead wife. The main character of this story is married to Mr. de Winter, but du Maurier never names her. She goes to Manderley and dwells with Mr. Maxim de Winter in Rebecca's shadow. She is shy and much younger than her wealthy husband.

There we meet Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper who makes life hard for the young Mrs. de Winter. She is a sketchy and sinister character. However, Frank Crawley, the kind overseer at Manderley becomes the heroine's friend.

I took my time reading this book because I didn't want it to end. I wanted to think about it. Daphne du Maurier writes her characters well. They are fleshed out and as a reader, I found myself drawn to them and wanted them to win. This is a great read for Halloween month. This book will make you think and raise the hair on the back of your neck.





Monday, October 12, 2015

Patricia C. McKissack's The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural

When I first spotted Patricia C McKissak's The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural, with the Newberry Honor Award and the Coretta Scott King Award on the front cover, I had to bring it home with me. I thought it would contain thirty scary stories, but the 8 X 10 book contains ten. In the introduction to this book, McKissack explains, "When I was growing up in the South, we kids called the half hour just before nightfall the dark-thirty. We had exactly half an hour to get home before the monsters came out."

She says of this collection of tales, "This is a collection of original stories rooted in African American history and the oral storytelling tradition. They should be shared at that special time when it is neither day nor night and when shapes and shadows play tricks on the mind."

All of the stories in this collection are short, so you can read one or two a night and make them last for a week or more. Many of McKissack's 177 books educate readers and are based on history, and this collection is no different. Some of these tales are based on real stories, so this collection builds background knowledge, and shows the importance of kindness, courage, honesty, and integrity.

She concludes the book with a story from her own childhood, "The Chicken-Coop Monster." It is one of my favorites of the collection and made me remember being little and running as fast as I could from dark basements, garages, and tripping up the stairs to escape whatever horrible thing was behind me.

Her tale, "Justice," is just that, and has a fitting ending for a horrible man. This story shows the damage caused by Jim Crow laws, the KKK, and people not valuing the lives of those they considered different from themselves.

"The Woman in the Snow" will make you think twice about turning your back on someone who needs help. It is a classic ghost story that also educates about Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the fight for equality.

Each story could be used in a Civil Rights history unit at Halloween time, and students could then write their own ghost stories based on their own life experiences or on one from history. While this book is interesting and enjoyable to read on its own, it has many applications in the classroom.



Do you have a favorite collection of scary short stories?


Friday, October 9, 2015

I have books for my little one; now what do I do?

When you read to your child, do you just read, or do you allow yourself to get a bit silly? Using a few books that were donated to our NICU book project, here are some things you can do with books in addition to simply reading them to your child.


Dino Parade is a fun board book by Thom Wiley and illustrated by Benji Davies. Instead of having pages, this cute book opens out into a dinosaur parade. 


On this page, you can ask your child about the colors of the dinosaurs. Ask if they dinosaurs look happy or what your child thinks the dinosaurs may be thinking.


Again, you can talk about colors. You can count the dinosaurs, and ask, "How many dinosaurs are flying. How many are blue, how many are red, etc. Then, count with them.

One side of the parade has words, and the other side has the names of the dinosaurs. You can also talk about the instruments the dinosaurs are playing. Books are a great way to build your child's vocabulary. You can teach your child about accordions, trumpets and horns, and drums.


Laura Numeroff If You Give A _______ series are great for teaching children how to predict. Remember that a prediction doesn't have to be correct, but it gets your child thinking about what may happen based on what has already happened. Felicia Bond does a great job on the cute illustrations in this series.



How Does Sleep Come by Jeanne C. Blackmore and illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles has amazing pictures. This is a gentle book just perfect for bedtime. You can ask about the different animals in this book and the sounds they make. There are many pages where you can count items on the page.


If you don't live by water, these pages are a great way to introduce your child to new vocabulary words and build their background knowledge. Many of my students were not read to, so they lack knowing what a lighthouse is or what the purpose of a buoy is. Your child can find these items on the page, and you can talk about the importance of both items.
This page with beautiful butterflies is a great page to introduce butterfly kisses to your child. Get a bit silly, and let them feel your lashes on their cheek, and then let them give you butterfly kisses. Reading should be a time of love, laughter, and without your child even knowing it, they are learning.
 How many white flowers does this page have, how many yellow?


 These shape books are not stories, but they are still so much fun.



A child who can speak, can feel like they can read as they identify the pictures on the page. Put your finger under the word and ask, "What does this word say?" This allows them to know that the words have meaning. Of course you can also talk about colors used.


When reading this book, you could stop at each shape and go on a treasure hunt or an outdoor field trip and try to find the shapes in the environment.  You can ask, "Do you like to eat pizza?" (or cake, cucumbers, or oranges). You can talk about the word circles and that it starts with a C. "Let's look for other words on this page that start with a C."


Make sure that reading is fun. If your child struggles to sit through a story, that is okay. Read a page or two if that is all they have attention for. The attention span will come. Bedtime is a great time to read, but it certainly doesn't have to be the only time you read to your child. Allow this to be a wind down, snuggle, bonding time with your child.

Ready, set, Read!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fear Month - Throwback Thursday: Frankenstein

No fear month would be complete without Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein published in 1818. She wrote the story in 1816 after she and her friends spent a rainy day reading ghost stories and Lord Byron suggested they all should try their hand at writing a horror story. Frankenstein was Mary Shelley's contribution to that challenge. Shelley was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft who wrote The Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). Both of her parents were writers, and the young Mary began writing quite early. She married Percy Bysshe Shelley who was a famous writer.

You can learn more about her life here.


I didn't read Frankenstein until I was in college. Sure, I'd seen Young Frankenstein and other adaptions on the big screen, but until it was assigned in college, I never bothered with it. I found the story deep with layers of meaning. What happens to creature or child who is abandoned by its creator? Ray Bradbury in Dandelion Wine calls the serial killer 'The Lonely One." Is that done to honor Mary Shelley's creature? Her creature is far more complex than his creator, Victor Frankenstein, give him credit. This book is about science and the responsibilities of science. It is also about the need we have for human connections and the consequences of abandonment. What happens when a person runs from their troubles, sins, responsibilities? 

Recently, my young son had me watch I Frankenstein, a movie that continues the creature's story into our time period. He was fascinated with the movie, and I liked that they got the feeling and motivations of the creature right. We started reading Frankenstein together, but he struggled with the language of 1816. I found this version: Treasury of Illustrated Classics Frankenstein, and now he is reading it on his own and understanding the story. I believe we need to reach our readers where they are, and he wasn't ready for the original version. 


Frankenstein is worth reading because it reveals much about human nature through the eyes of the creature and at times he is more human than those who profess their superiority.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mousekin's Golden House and Go Away Big Green Monster - Fright Month

Both of the books for today are for little ones, so although they are not frightening, they are perfect for the Halloween season. The first one is out of print, so I am sharing a second book that is readily available.

Mousekin's Golden House by Edna Miller is a darling Autumn story about a mouse who encounters a Jack-O-Lantern shortly after Halloween and decides it is the perfect house for the winter. Edna Miller's illustrations are absolutely charming. This book was published in 1964 and can be found for a large sum of money on Amazon. (over $40)



Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley is a darling book. As you read and turn each page, you build a monster with Emberley's fun artwork. Continue reading, and the words and turning the pages make the monster go away. Matt loved this book when he was little. It is fun to read and not at all scary. The cost for this one is under $10.