Friday, April 21, 2017

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco

I listened to the audio version of Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco. Published in 2013, this story is set during WWII.

Bee, the main character, works for a carnival. She is an orphan who lives with a young woman who also works for the carnival. The carnival owner is unpleasant, and Bee faces ridicule and poor treatment because she has a diamond shaped birthmark on her face.

As an adult, I found the first section of the story a bit slow and repetitive, but I think the story works for a younger reader. Bee wants nothing more to do than be invisible and find a home for herself and Pauline, the woman she lives with in the back of a truck.

This story has elements of the supernatural, which the little girl me loves. There are parallels to the story of Heidi. Fusco ties many threads together to create one big story.

The reader will encounter bullying, the loss of loved ones, caring for animals, taking care of others, friendships, WWII, disabilities and the treatment of them during that time period.

I liked the development of Bee's character over the course of the story. She is painfully aware of her face and tries to hide herself behind her hair. She learns how to be brave and stand up for herself. She is teachable and remembers what Pauline and Bobby have taught her as she goes out into the world on her own. As time goes on, you see her begin to rely less on them and more on herself.

She takes good care of her pets. I was glad the author paid attention to how the animals were treated. Bee doesn't always make the choices others may want her to make, but she tries her best, and learns from her mistakes. Although she has had a hard life, she is able to see that others have also faced great turmoil.

As I child, I would have loved reading about a girl who has to find inner strength in order to succeed.

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

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas

The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas was published in France in 1844. If you liked The Count of Monte Cristo, you will probably like this one as well.

In this epic tale, and young man, D'artagnon, meets three of the King's Musketeers. He is young and easily offended. After he challenges all three of these men to separate duels, they become friends. I'll admit to needing to read sparknotes for the first few chapters in order to figure out what exactly was happening, but after chapter six, I had it down and the story flowed well.

In this novel, Dumas creates probably one of the best villains ever in Lady de Winter. She was so full of manipulations and evil. I only wish we could have known more about her beginnings - what made her so evil?

This book is full of intrigue, friendships, lots of sword fighting, love affairs, and adventure. This book contains more humor than The Count of Monte Cristo, my favorite of the two, but this book is well worth reading.

I listened to the unabridged audio version and enjoyed it greatly.

Read to a child today or allow an audio book to do it for you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine - A True Story

Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine begins in March 2000 when a suitcase arrives at a children's Holocaust education center in Tokyo, Japan. The suitcase is empty, but it has the name Hana Brady, her birthday, and the German word for orphan.

The children who came to the center wanted to know who she was and what became of her. The center's curator, Fumiko Ishioka goes on a quest to find answers about the young girl they have come to care about.

This story goes back and forth from Ishioka's time to that of Hana Brady. This is a non-fiction biography that includes a lot of pictures. Written for children, this is a good book to introduce the Holocaust to younger readers.

I found myself brought to tears by the tender mercies that were shown to Ishioka as she searched for information about Brady's life. She helped the Holocaust mean more to the people of her town because she cared enough to put a face to that lone suitcase.

I was lucky enough to find this book at a library sale for ten cents, but it is worth every penny of the list price. This book would be a great teaching aid in a classroom to help students discover ways to research.

This is a picture of the audio version, but I read the book. I think reading the book would have more impact as the pictures really help the story come alive.

Read to a child today so that they may know how to keep peace in our world. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies.

Michelle brought more books for the NICU today. Thank you, Michelle. That Rainbabies book is so beautiful.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park

In Barbara Park's short 88 page novel, Mick Harte Was Here, she takes on bike safety. We learn in the first two pages of the book that Mick Harte is dead. What proceeds is his sister's account, older by ten months, of Mick Harte's life and death.

This slim novel carries a lot of emotional weight. The text size is large and there is plenty of white space on the page, which makes this one great for reluctant readers.

Park gets grief correct in this book, but she does a magical thing and makes the reader laugh out loud sometimes in the same sentence or paragraph where she just evoked tears. That takes good writing.

If you have a child who refuses to wear a helmet when they cycle, have them read this book. As Phoebe tries to come to terms with the death of her brother, she longs to make sure that he is not forgotten.

Park even has a part for those left behind and the guilt they feel. Park chooses her words carefully, making this slim little book pack a powerful message.

First published in 1995, this novel is still in print.

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

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

I will readily admit to purchasing Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz just because the cover is completely awesome. I like a good creepy story, and Schlitz did not disappoint.

Published in 2012, Splendors and Glooms is set in the Victorian era. It is the story of Clara, a young girl who seems to have it all: money, good parents, social position, but she lives in a house of perpetual mourning as her four siblings are all dead.

Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are orphans who work for the master puppeteer, Grisini - a man intent on making his fortune anyway he can.

The four characters meet at Clara's house when they come to present a puppet show for her birthday. Later that night, Clara disappears and things get very strange for all three children. Add in a witch for good measure and anything can and does happen.

I'll admit that I read this book too close to bedtime and it kind of creeped me out. The characters are well fleshed out, and I found myself caring about them. Schlitz's descriptions made me feel like I was inside her story. I could picture everything clearly: sounds, smells, sights, and settings. Because she does such a good job of putting the reader into her story, you may want to pass this one by if you don't like macabre stories. If, however, you like a good spine tingling story, this book is for you.

Yes, that is a Newbery Honor medal on the front cover.

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

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson published in 2003 is a story told in poetry format about a boy who lost his parents. The more books I read that are told in this format, the more I feel that this will be the way I ultimately end up telling my story.

I've often been told I should write a book about my life, but I feel there are too many sad things, and no one could handle trudging through it, but when hard things are told in small bits using poetry, they somehow seem easier to digest.

Lonnie C. Motion is the main character in this book. He is living in foster care away from his little sister because their parents have died. His teacher has them write poetry each day facilitating his storytelling.

Jacqueline Woodson is a talented writer. The poetry she wrote to tell Lonnie's story is touching and tender. There is sweetness and sadness throughout this story. In one poem, Lonnie feels an attachment to his adult foster brother and the imagery used will probably always stay with me. His foster brother goes to the park with him and they talk about trees. His foster brother, as he walks with his arm around  Lonnie, says, "You know what I love about trees. It's like . . . I's like their leaves are hands reaching out to you. Saying Come over here, Brother. Let me just . . . Let me just . . ." Rodney looks down at me and grins. "Let me just give you some shade for a while."

As a teacher I like how Lonnie begins to understand himself by telling his story. The act of writing heals and the ability to tell stories gives us freedom, compassion, and understanding.

Peace, Locomotion is book two of this duo and is written as letters to Lonnie's sister from himself. In this story, Lonnie's foster brother has been wounded in the war and his foster mother is very stressed. 

The writing is beautiful and will make you cry as you witness human fear, pain, love, and peace. 

I enjoyed every minute of reading this book, but it felt unfinished. I wanted it to go on longer and tell me more of the story. Both books are worth reading, but I want a book three told in poetry form. 

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander is the first of a five book series. When this book started, I struggled with it a bit, but Alexander brings in humor and a strong girl character that saves this story.

Published in 1964, this story is set in a fictional Welsh kingdom. Taran, the main character must rescue a pig and warn a kingdom of the Horned King.

In his travels, he learns how to be a good friend and to appreciate the simple things in life. Eilonwy is my favorite character in this story. She is a girl he meets when he has been imprisoned in a dungeon. She is feisty and smart. She doesn't take any garbage from anyone, but she is a person one can count on.

I enjoyed the themes of kindness and friendship that ran through this book - the importance of not judging someone without first knowing and understanding them.

The Black Cauldron is the second book in the series, and this is the book that Disney based their movie on. 

In this installment, the companions head out on another adventure to find the Black Cauldron - the source of all the Cauldron born. The characters are further developed and we get a sense of who Taran will become as an adult. 

The Castle of Llyr is the third book, and so far I think it is my favorite. It would make a really good movie if it done properly. The relationships of the companions strengthen and we learn more about Eilonwy's background and her projected future. 

Angie, I think Isaac will enjoy this series. There are still two books in the series that I haven't yet read, but I will. 

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

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder was published in 1967 and won a Newbery Honor award. Snyder is a writer who delights and frustrates me. I have loved some of her work and found other books by her not to my liking, but I enjoyed The Velvet Room, so I keep reading her books.

Because I'm an older reader, this book took me back to my own childhood. In this story, April moves in with her grandmother and meets some new friends, Melanie and her little brother, Marshall. They invent a game in an old boarded up lot called The Egypt Game. I felt like I was taken back in time as most of our play as children was imaginative play.

I like that the characters are children of diversity. I like that they have personalities that are realistic. I loved Marshall's octopus, Security. Some of the slang will need to be explained to new readers, but overall, the book aged well.

As the story progresses, a young girl is murdered and April and her friends are unable to play outside for a while as the parents are scared. This story has just enough scare and mystery to make it interesting.

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

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies. If you have a NICU graduate and would like to donate a book and have a special gift plate inside the front cover, just purchase a $5 gift card to our book registry, email me a current picture of your child if you'd like that included. Let me know at what week gestation your baby was born, what weight, and how old your child is now and a little about them. I think this could give hope to those currently in the trenches with their tiny babies when the roller coaster ride gets too intense. Thank you to all who have joined in our efforts to bring the joy of reading to the littlest of babies.

A shout out to my mom, Rolean, she brought me 200 extra large Ziplock bags for our NICU book packets. I use the two gallon bags and they can get pricey, but we are set for a while now. These bags keep the books safe while they are at the babies' bedsides.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Elisabeth by Claire A. Nivola

I am always on the lookout for picture books about difficult topics. As an educator, I find that picture books work well for teen students.  Elisabeth by Claire A. Nivola was published in 1997 and tells the story of a Jewish girl during WWII.

This story is based on the life of the author's mother, which makes it all the more poignant. In this story, Elisabeth is a beloved doll that gets left behind when Ruth's family leaves Germany and can take nothing. Ruth promises Elisabeth that she will come back for her, but of course, she can't come back. The family is safe, but Ruth misses her doll.

This sweet story reminds me of the The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane  by Kate DiCamillo. I won't spoil the ending for you on either book but both are worth reading.

Elisabeth currently out of print, but you can find it on Amazon for a decent price.

Books like this give us a way to introduce hard topics like the Holocaust to young readers. I enjoy using books like this in my classroom with teen readers.

Michelle dropped off another armload of books for the NICU. Thank you, Michelle. Our book project loves when she decides to go shopping or cull her own personal library.

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

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies. If you have a NICU graduate and would like to donate a book and have a special gift plate inside the front cover, just purchase a $5 gift card to our book registry, email me a current picture of your child if you'd like that included. Let me know at what week gestation your baby was born, what weight, and how old your child is now and a little about them. I think this could give hope to those currently in the trenches with their tiny babies when the roller coaster ride gets too intense.  I started this project to honor my own twins who were lost too soon and those of two grandchildren who were lost. What started as a one time donation after I'd gathered books for a year has become an ongoing project. Thank you to all who have joined in our efforts to bring the joy of reading to the littlest of babies.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin is a book about relationships. Suzy Swanson's former best friend has died in the ocean, and she tries to make sense of what happened to her.

During this process we get to see the good, bad, and ugly of adolescent relationships. I like Suzy's character because she is realistic. She does the wrong thing often because I think her mind works differently than most, but she seems real.

When Suzy finds out that many people are stung by jellyfish, she is determined to discover if this might be what killed her friend. She is unwilling to accept that "These things just happen."

This book made me tear up a few times and is worth reading.

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

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr is a book I saw in a thrift shop but didn't end up buying. I wish I had now that I've listened to the audio version. I will be adding a hard copy to my library.

In this story, Zarr weaves a complicated tale of Sam, the daughter of a workaholic pastor and an alcoholic mother. When a young girl from their church comes up missing, nearly everyone, including Sam's dad, is a suspect.

Zarr does a wonderful job of heightening the suspense factor. I found myself getting knots in my stomach when Sam would find herself alone with different men in the town. Sam struggles to find out who she can trust as her relationship with her father deteriorates.

I don't want to give anything away, but if you like suspense and seeing an author weave several stories together, you will enjoy this book.

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems

Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems is part of the Elephant and Piggie series. This series does not need to be read in any particular order, but each one is wonderful for first readers.

The pages only have a few words on a page. There is a lot of repetition, which helps your little reader gain a sense of accomplishment as they read a fifty to sixty page book.

This series shows the importance of being a good friend. Willems uses humor in all of his books. The illustrations are clean and simple, and each book teaches without being didactic.

This series is a favorite of Angie's kids: Callie, Jace, and Olivia. If you have a child who is struggling with reading, get some of Willems' books. You won't be sorry. The price on his books are quite reasonable as well.

My friend, Michelle, is determined not have a Library of Congress sized library in her home, so she pulled some of her nicer books for the NICU book project. She brought over 35  more books. That means seven more babies get the gift of reading. Thank you, Michelle.

Take a look at these treasures.

Read to a child today and help them start their reading journey. 

NICU book registry

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse was published n 2012. Hesse not only tells the story, but she also walked the route that Radley takes in her escape from a disfunctioning America to Canada. Hesse took pictures along the way to illustrate Radley's story.

This book has a lot of white space, 90 photographs, and larger text size. These things combined with a 720 Lexile measure and a topic for older teens make this a good hi/low book - just right for readers who are still getting their bearings in the book world.

Radley has flown home from a trip to help orphans in Haiti because the President of the US has been assassinated and the country has been plunged into riots, chaos, and martial law. Radley has not heard from her parents, so she leaves Haiti to find them.

When her plane lands, she finds a very different US than what she left. Her cell phone is dead, her debit card no longer works, people cannot cross state lines without travel papers. As she travels the east coast to her home to try to find her parents, she encounters many dangers.

I read this book in one sitting as I wanted to know what would happen to Radley. The changes in Radley from the beginning of the novel to the end are profound. This book makes me thankful for angels disguised as human who help those in need.

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

NICU book registry

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck was published in 1997 and won a Newbery Honor medal. If you've ever read the Great Brain books, this book will remind you of that series, except for the manipulative great brain of this book is the grandmother, and she uses her powers for good.

This story takes place during the depression and the narrator is Joey, her grandson. He tells the story of their yearly summer visits to Grandma. The humor of this story will draw you right in. Joey loves his grandma and she is one feisty women. She takes care of those around her and sets things right even if she sometimes has to scheme and cheat a little to make it happen.

Grandma Dowdel is a force to be reckoned with.

Read to a child today and enjoy a good laugh. 

NICU book registry

Friday, March 31, 2017

If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, DON'T! by Elise Parsley

If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, DON'T! by Elise Parsley was published in 2015, and while the story is fun and very cute, the pictures alone are worth the price of this book. Oh, my word, every once in a while an illustrator comes along who completely delights me, and Elise Parsley does just that. Even her name is cool.

Your older children will laugh with the words and all of you will love the illustrations. There is so much emotion and detail in these pictures. You could use the characters in her pictures to create all new stories. Even the end flaps tell a story.

The kids in this classroom have been asked to bring something from nature for show and tell and Magnolia, the protagonist, tells you that the teacher means a hollow stick, a nest, or some sparkly rocks. Magnolia of course brings her alligator and it proceeds to get her into all sorts of trouble.

I can hardly wait to share this one with all of the grandkids.

I looked for Elise Parsley on and found she is the author of two other books and has illustrated a fourth book by another writer. I'll be on the lookout for more of her books.

Yesterday was a good day for the NICU book project. My good friend and neighbor, Alysen, brought over five brand new board books for the babies. She is such a sweetheart and has so much going on in her life right now, but she still thought about the babies. I love board books for little hands.

Michelle, the one person in the world who probably has more books than I do, brought four books for my personal library, and she brought all these lovelies for the babies. I was pretty excited about the Spanish Caps for Sale. I love that book.

I appreciate each and every book that is donated to the babies. Your donations help us give the gift of words to more littles.

Read and laugh with a child today even if that child is you. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Where I Belong by Mary Downing Hahn

In case you didn't know, Mary Downing Hahn doesn't only write scary stories, she also writes realistic fiction. Where I Belong is the story of a young boy, Brendan, who was abandoned at birth by a drug addicted mother. He hasn't been adopted and is in yet one more foster home.

He is failing school and is friendless, but he is okay with failing school as he is terrified of going to the middle school and being picked on by even more bullies. He feels that if he stays where he is, he will be too big to get bullied.

Brendan's foster mother is frustrated with is lack of motivation. He spends as much time as possible in the woods, and when he is forced to attend summer school, a girl follows him to his tree house in the woods and they become friends.

This story reminded me a bit of Bridge to Terebithia with two friends enjoying the magic of the woods. Brendan tries hard to find his place in a world where he doesn't feel he has a home. This is a book about friendships, about what we tell our friends to make sure they like us, and about what we withhold from the telling or lie about in order to keep our friends.

Read to a child today to help them understand how to be a good friend. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was first published in England in 1958. I love learning about belief systems and cultures that differ from my own. This book is for adult readers.

I've read several books that paint the belief systems of those in Africa as silly and superstitious, so I enjoyed this book because it didn't cast that judgement. I love authors who trust their readers and allow them to make their own judgement calls.

This story follows Okonkwo, the son of a lazy farmer who is determined to be brave, masculine, strong, and more than his father. Although Okonkwo is a strong man, he is often unkind because he fears being viewed as weak. Many of his decisions are based on him doing all he can to be unlike his own father.

In his culture, a man can have several wives. The better crops he can grow, the more he is respected in his village - a place where twins are put out to die in the evil forest because twins are an evil thing.

I enjoyed the explanation about why the village believed what they did. I enjoyed learning why some of the people discarded their beliefs and converted to Christianity. My own muddled history of religious practices makes this type of book enjoyable for me.

This book is the first of a three book trilogy and although this one ends at a natural stopping place, I will probably read the others. I enjoyed the writing style of this novel.

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden was published in 1960 and won a Newbery Honor. I read this story often when I was in grade school, but I haven't read it since then and wanted to revisit it to see if I still found it as delightful as I once did.

This is the story of a poor family who owns a newspaper and magazine stand. The mother, father, and son all work here. One day the son finds a cricket and wants to keep him for a pet. His mother is against this idea as she doesn't like bugs, but he is allowed to keep the cricket.

This is where the magic comes in. The cricket, Chester, makes friends with a mouse and a cat and shares his story with them. Chester is a cricket with a strong sense of what is right and wrong. When he walks in his sleep and chews up a two dollar bill, he feels guilty and wants to make it up to the family. Tucker, the mouse, tries to convince him to blame someone else, but Chester refuses. He wants to do something to help the family.

This story is sweet, magical, teaches good values without being didactic, and leaves the reader feeling happy. I listened to the audio version and the narrator was wonderful. Garth Williams is the illustrator for the print version, and his artwork adds to the story. This books makes a fun read aloud.

Read an old favorite to a child today even if that child is you. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams was published in 2009, and I won a copy at an educator's conference. I put off reading it as I am from a polygamist cult and reading stories about this topic depresses me.

I listened to the audio version and the narration was good. Yes, it depressed me because I know how hopeless a person can feel once they make the decision that they want to get out. Williams' inspiration for this story was my cousin's story. She ran from the uncle she'd been married to and was badly beaten by her father for leaving. The case was highly publicized. Williams set her story in a more closed society than that of the Kingston's.

Williams did her research, and I found the fictionalized story she wrote believable with the exception of Kyra's escape. Skip the rest of this paragraph because of spoilers. I found it hard to believe that the cult would murder an outsider because that would bring too many people to investigate. This is something the cult would avoid at all costs. In reality, they would have let her go and gotten her back using their lawyers since she was underage, but it made for good drama. These cults thrive on secrecy and keeping things in the cold hard dark.

No more spoilers. I liked that Williams showed how nearly impossible it is to get out of these cults, as the cults control everything - your housing, your job, your families. People who leave have not had to open bank accounts, get jobs on their own, and many haven't finished school.

This book is well written, and if you find yourself asking why more people don't leave these cults, this book will answer your questions. In getting out, you risk everything. I'm thankful my family didn't disown me. They kept truth from me and lied to me about what was happening inside the cult after I left, but they still loved me and had contact with me. But from the day I left, I was an outsider, and yes, that did hurt. I am lucky that most of my immediate family have left the Kingston cult in the years since I left. Now there are no secrets, no fear of eternal damnation if the wrong thing is said, no mind control, and a great sense of freedom.

Read today even if what you read is hard for you emotionally. This book was hard for me to read, but I'm glad I did. I'm thankful for the freedoms I enjoy. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

I've read two books by Cynthia Lord and enjoyed both of them. I read Rules several years ago, and last week, I read Half a Chance

Lucy is the main character in this novel. She is a budding photographer who has just moved to a lake in New Hampshire. Her father is a photographer who travels frequently for his job. Right before he leaves town, he tells her about a photo contest that he is judging when he gets back. Lucy wants to enter this contest but she wants to do so anonymously so her father judges her pictures by their merit, not because they are hers. 

I like how the contest makes the reader think about right and wrong. Lucy wants to the win the money to help her neighbor, but is it okay to do the wrong thing for a good reason? This book has the characters making many judgment calls which would bring up great discussion points in a classroom.

I also like the list of topics for the pictures Lucy needs to take as I would love to see how my students would interpret this list. 

One character is dealing with his grandmother losing her memory. Lord handles this with grace and realism. 

She has joined the ranks of authors whose books I will buy just because they wrote them. 

Read to a child today to help them know how to solve problems. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck is a classic that was first published in 1931. This is the first book of a trilogy, and although I enjoyed it and found the writing beautiful, I don't feel compelled to read the other two books. This book ends in a good place, and the lives of the characters I cared about were covered. I felt it was complete.

The story begins with Wang Lung's wedding day. He is a poor farmer and his father has arranged for him to marry a slave - one who is neither small nor comely, but she is selfless and faithful.

The story takes place in pre-revolutionary China, and Pearl Buck gives the reader a portrait of customs, practices, and prejudices of the time.

The main character, Wang Lung is for the most part a decent person, but he is at times a puppet to the practices of his time period. The story begins with his marriage and ends with him as an old man whose sons don't value the same things he does. This sets up the next book if you desire to go forward with the series. I may or may not read the next two books.

This book would be an excellent choice for a book club as there are so many choices and customs that would make for great discussion points: foot binding, the value of men children, girls viewed as slaves, opium, the responsibility of taking care of extended family members, polygamy, fidelity, hard work, entitlement, death customs, birth customs, how women found power, and many more.

This book will make you think about what you have and what you value.

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Book Display for the Grandkids

Yesterday, I found this book at the library book sale: I Hate Picture Books by Timothy Young and it inspired my new display for the grandkids.

This is a story about a boy who is getting rid of all his pictures books because they get him into trouble. When his mom read Harold and the Purple crayon to him, he drew on the wall and got into trouble. When he ate green ham from the fridge, it made him really sick. 

There are so many great books that show up in this cute story. I pulled as many as would fit in my display area. All of the picture books in my display show up in this one book. If you are a book lover, you will enjoy this storybook. 

Michelle brought a few more books for the NICU. Thanks go to Michelle for giving the gift of reading to so many families. 

Read an old favorite to a child today even if that child is you. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Graphic Novel: The Hammer and The Anvil by Dwight Jon Zimmerman

The Hammer and The Anvil: Fredrick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the End of Slavery in America by Dwight Jon Zimmerman and illustrated by Wayne Vansant is a graphic novel biography of how Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln helped end slavery.

I love graphic novels as they are perfect for teens who don't really enjoy reading but are forced to read by their crazy book lady mothers (meaning my son and myself). There are many good graphic novels available about many different topics.

The book switches back and forth from Douglass's and Lincoln's stories, and Vansant does this switch well by showing Lincoln's story in sepia tones and Douglass's story in grey tones. I learned new things about our nation's history by reading this book and feel it would work well in a classroom environment by bringing up many discussion points and topics for further research.

I am thankful for these two men and the courage they had to fight evil in a time when so many were fine with the status quo. I would love to be in heaven some day and sit in on a conversation with Lincoln, Douglass, and Martin Luther King JR.

This book was published in 2012 and annoyingly is already out of print. Boo, Hiss. You can still find it at a reasonable price on line, but it being out of print means that classrooms won't be able to get it. I sincerely hope this book gets reprinted at some point.

Read to a child today so that may know and understand the history of our nation. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed

The Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed and illstrated by Jim LaMarche was published in 1992. I remember seeing this book years ago, somewhere, and being delighted with the illustrations. I'd forgotten about it until my sweet friend, Michelle gave me a copy of the book last week.

In The Rainbabies, an older couple who were never able to have a child discover a dozen tiny thumb sized babies in the grass after a rainstorm. They tenderly gather the babies and care for them. The babies face many dangers, yet the couple risk their own lives to see them safe.

When faced with a woman at the door who longs to purchase the babies from them, will they make the right choice?

The story is very sweet and the illustrations alone are worth the purchase price of this book.

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Principal's New Clothes by Stephanie Calmenson

The Principal's New Clothes by Stephanie Calmenson and illustrated by Denise Brunkus is a fun take on the Emperor's New Clothes.

In this story, the principal, Mr Bundy, is snappy dresser. His students never miss a day of school because they want to see what he will be wearing. A couple of tricksters come to town and tell him that they will make him a suit out of a special fabric that "is invisible to anyone who is no good at his job or just plain stupid."

The principal tells people about this and no one, including himself, will admit that they cannot see the fabric because they don't want to be seen as no good or stupid.

The pictures by Denise Brunkus are quite fun in this story that shows that it is best to be honest.

This book is currently out of print, but you can still find it online for a good price. Michelle provided a copy for me. Thank you, Michelle.

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wordless - The Silver Pony by Lynd Ward

The Silver Pony by Lynd Ward is an older wordless book published in 1973. Ward tells the story of a young farm boy who sees a Pegasus in the clouds. He tries to show his father, but when is father can't see the horse, he gives his young son a spanking.

The Pegasus comes back and takes the boy on many adventures. This is a sweet story with wonderful art and so much to see in each picture. Each adventure helps the boy to learn about other people in far off places.

This book has been reprinted in paperback format, but  my sweet friend, Michelle, found an original 1973 hardback for me. It is such a beautiful book. Thanks, Michelle.

Michelle also brought some more books for the NICU. I am thankful for her help on this project. 

Read a book without words to a child today even if that child is you. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath

Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath was a Newbery Honor book for 2002. This book reminded me a lot of the Trixie Belden book I recently read.

This is the story of Primrose Squarp, an accident prone girl whose parents are lost at sea. Everyone in the town believes her parents are dead, but Primrose cannot accept this.

This book is fun, action packed - mainly because Primrose can't seem to keep herself out of trouble. This book contains a recipe at the end of each chapter.  I like the message of this book that sometimes we believe something to be true even when all the evidence is against us. This is a reoccurring theme throughout the book. When is it okay to trust your instincts, and when should you believe the evidence?

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Trixie Belden: The Secret of the Mansion by Julie Campbell

My friend, Michelle, recommended  Trixie Belden: The Secret of the Mansion by Julie Campbell to me quite a while ago. I recently listened to the audio version and enjoyed it. This is book one in the series. In it, we meet, Trixie, a girl who speaks her mind, is prone to finding trouble, but is also smart enough to think her way out of problems. She has two living parents - quite a find in a children's book.

We meet her friend, Honey, who is rich but dissatisfied with her life as her parents ignore her more than they should. She is a good friend to all.

We meet Jim, an orphan who is battling a wicked step-father. He is also a good friend, and with Trixie's and Honey's help, he may be able to save his inheritance.

If you were born in the 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s, this book will take you back to a time when children were more likely to roam free, do dangerous things, get hurt but survive, and have a lot of chores and responsibilities.

This book was first published in 1948 and is still in print - this shows you how popular this series is.

Today, read a book from your childhood to a child even if that child is you. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Cars! Cars! Cars! by Grace Maccarone

Cars! Cars! Cars! by Grace Maccarone and illustrated by David A. Carter is a book about cars told in a Seuss kind of way.

The pictures are fun, the colors bold and bright, and the words simple enough for little ones. The pages of this book are not quite board book thick, but they are plenty sturdy for little hands.

Both Vincent and Aria loved this book over the weekend. This is a perfect book for a toddler who is learning to count or learning their colors. The little ones also love the doggies that are pictured driving the cars.

This book is out of print, but you can find it used for a good price online.

Michelle brought more books for the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit). She found some real treasures for the babies. We are always accepting books for the NICU book project.

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