Monday, January 15, 2018

Round Trip by Ann Jonas

Round Trip by Ann Jonas is a cool concept book published in 1983 and featured on the PBS series Reading Rainbow.

This book has all black and white illustrations. You read the story and when you get to the end, you flip the book upside down to read the trip back. The illustrations are clever and look like something different when flipped upside down.

It begins, "We started out as soon as it was light." This book is both the first and last page of the story. I love a book with a concept especially when it's done well.


Valarie, one of Angie's dear friends, found out that we needed Spanish books, so she ordered a box of books from Barnes and Noble. She operates a book exchange at her local school, and she is a writer. Check out this wonderful article she wrote on how to get grumpy kids to feel better. Wild Rumpus

It's so much fun to open a box of new books. 

 Here is a picture of all seventeen board books she sent us. Thank you so much, Valarie.



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. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier

Daphne  DuMaurier is such a good story teller, and her book My Cousin Rachel kept me riveted wondering what would happen to all the players.

The story begins by describing a hanging that happened when the main character, Phillip, was a boy. DuMaurier builds suspense right away when we learn by the end of this scene that something wicked is coming, only we don't know who will commit the evil.

Phillip's cousin and guardian, Ambrose, marries Rachel late in life. She is a beautiful younger woman who is about ten years older than Phillip. When Ambrose dies mysteriously, Phillip hates and blames Rachel, until she comes to his Cornwall estate and enchants him.

The questions of who is good and who is evil will haunt the reader long after the story is finished. As always, DuMaurier makes the reader question what they think they know and leaves questions unanswered even at the end of the story. This novel is classic Gothic DuMaurier. I found myself frustrated with Phillip and with Rachel, but I couldn't stop listening to the story. The narrator of the audio version was wonderful.




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, January 12, 2018

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson published in 2013 is the first memoir I've read that was written by a Holocaust survivor who was saved because of Oskar Schindler. Leon was fifteen but looked like he was ten when he was sent to a concentration camp along with his family. His father and older brother had been working for Schindler, but the rest of his family was in danger. Could Schindler get their paperwork done in time to save them all? 

This first person autobiography was published the year the author died, and his story is an important one. I found it interesting how he viewed racial discrimination and Jim Crow laws when he went to the Southern United States for basic training into the US military. He said, "Near the end of the training, I was transferred to a base outside Atlanta, Georgia. One weekend we received passes to to into the city. After boarding the shuttle to town, I wen to my favorite spot in the back to catch some shut-eye. I was startled when the driver stopped the bus and walked back to me. 'You can't sit there,' he said. 'The back seats are for the Negroes. You have to move to the front of the bus.' His words hit me like a hard slap. Suddenly I flashed to Krakow when the Nazis ordered us Jews to the back of the bus (before they forbade us from traveling on public transportation altogether). The context was very different, but nonetheless it almost made my head explode. Why would something like this exist in America? I had mistakenly believed that such discrimination was unique to Jews suffering under Nazi oppression. Now I discovered that there was inequality and prejudice in this country that I had already come to love" (190-191).

This book was written for young readers ages 9 to 14. The font is a bit larger and is widely spaced with plenty of white space on the page making this a good hi/low book even though the lexile is 1000L. 




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 are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always 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 book you donate. 

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

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman was published in 2013 and is classic Gaiman storytelling with all the suspense and creepiness of Coraline.

Gaiman brings his magic to life once again in this fairy tale for adults. Here is the blurb from Goodreads.com: "Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

"Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what."

Gaiman has the ability to make the man remember what it is like to not only be a seven year-old boy, but to become that child once again. One reason his stories have so much creep factor is that he makes the characters come alive and makes the story almost too real. I could feel the young boy's anxiety, his fear, and his struggle to make sense of the things that didn't make sense.

I listened to the audio version that was performed by Neil Gaiman, and it made the book even better. He has a rich voice and the story seemed to become a movie as I listened. 



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 are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always 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 will make a book plate with their name for the book you donate. 

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

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lingren

The Children of Noisy Village written by Astrid Lingren and illustrated by Ilon Wikland was published in 1961. I enjoyed this little story set in Sweden. Lingren relates the life of a farm child during a year. She uses her same fun writing style in this realistic fiction that she uses in Pippi Longstockings. 

Noisy village is three farm houses set close together, and it is noisy because there are so many children. The story is sweet and fun. In it I learned about snow lanterns, and now I have to make one as soon as it snows. I thought of my Swedish grandfather while I read this book and wondered if he had some of these same experiences. 







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 are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always 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 book you donate. 

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

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennett

This book is an older chapter book that is still darling. Little Witch was published in 1953. It was written by Anna Elizabeth Bennett (I love her name) and illustrated by Helen Stone. The pictures are perfect for the story. I have an original copy that was published on the most glorious rich, creamy, thick paper. This book was reprinted to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Minikin Snickasnee is the daughter of a mean witch who turns neighborhood children into potted plants. Her mother doesn't allow her to go to school. Minikin has never had a bath or washed her clothing. One day she decides to sneak out and go to school, and here her problems get worse before things get straightened out.

This book would make a fun read aloud. Minikin Snickasnee is such a fun name to say. The story is just the right amount of scary combined with humor and friendships and fun for your early reader. I found it predictable but in a good way for a young reader. This book has 128 pages of widely spaced text and darling pictures.




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 are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always 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 book you donate. 

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

Monday, January 8, 2018

My Life as a Fifth-Grade Comedian by Elizabeth Levy

Although My Life as a Fifth-Grade Comedian by Elizabeth Levy was published in 1997, it still works twenty years later. 

Bobby is the class clown and is constantly getting into trouble. His principal has threatened to send him to the School for Intervention. His older brother also got into trouble a lot, and he has been kicked out of school and out of their house for bad behavior. Bobby doesn't know when to stop joking and often takes jokes too far. He isn't turning in his school work and is struggling to get along with his dad. 

This book look like it would be fluff, from the blurb on the back to the cover, but it is a lot more complex than that. Bobby's dad is often a jerk - one who doesn't mean to be a jerk, but there he is anyway. Bobby and his brother used to laugh with his dad often, but now his dad has taken his humor on a mean sarcastic bend, and Bobby may not be too far behind him. 

With the help of a good teacher, Bobby is assigned to create a school laugh off to save his grade and to be able to stay in his school. Will Bobby's efforts help his family and himself be able to communicate more effectively or are they all lost causes?

I think some students will see themselves in this book. I think others will see their relationship with their parents in this middle-grade book. This book is thoughtful and worth reading.


Click this 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 are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always 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 book you donate. 

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

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Private Thoughts of Amelia E. Rye by Bonnie Shimko

The Private Thoughts of Amelia E. Rye by Bonnie Shimko was published in 2010.

Amelia's grandpa says that all a person needs is one true friend in life, but until Fancy comes along to be that friend, Amelia is friendless. Her mother was not happy to have had another baby late in life and dresses Amelia in her older by twenty years sister's clothing that has been stored for all those years. When Fancy comes along, Amelia meets the first black person she has ever met. Fancy has all the things that Amelia wants: nice clothing, a loving mother, a safe home.

Fancy helps Amelia gain courage to stand up against bullies and bigots. Her friendship with Fancy helps her discover her place in the world and in her family.

This is a touching story of friendships and dysfunction. It is a story of forgiveness and love. It also shows the importance of being that one person for someone. My goal this year is to try to reach out to be that one person who makes someone's day a little 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. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 Year-End NICU Book Project Totals

I started collecting books in 2014 for the NICU where my daughter works to honor the lives of my own twins and also of two grandchildren who did not survive pregnancy. It took me a year to gather 150 books sorted into packets of 5 books each. I delivered them in September of 2015. I had only planned on making this one donation, but the books were so needed by the parents, that I kept on gathering books. 

Other people started donating books so we could attempt to make sure every baby went home with a packet of books. Parents read these books during their often lengthy stays, helping their baby's brains and creating bonding moments full of love. 

In 2016, eight other donors sent books for our project. 2016 totals. We gathered a total of 1,123 books in 2016. 

In 2017, we had over 30 donors to our project. Some chose to donate anonymously, and many people donated to honor the memory of one of our NICU babies, Liam Heintz. We collected a total of 1,618 books. This means that 323 babies will be read to in the NICU and will go home with their very first collection of books. 

Thank you to the following people and to those who donated anonymously. 
  • Michelle Schwendiman 
  • Friends of Liam Heintz and Miranda Heintz
  • Angie Moore
  • Mikiya Herring
  • Judson Duryea
  • Leslie
  • Janice Crosby 
  • Mary Miller
  • Aime Hsieh
  • Dani Phipps
  • Diane Lund
  • Lori Russell
  • Kaytie Ellis
  • Alysen Jefferies
  • Cayli and Brandon Johnson
  • Caitie Jolley
  • Gail Jeriosh
  • Rolean Peterson
  • Brandy Peterson
  • Christy Blair
  • Sharon Hall
  • Angela Jensen
  • Emily Goldman
  • Deb Malloy
  • Janelle Topik
  • Breitling Corts
  • Several Anonymous Donors
I thank each and every one you. I know that reading to babies makes a difference in their educational future. When the packages of books began arriving to honor Liam, I cried for the love that was sent to honor his life. Each book that is donated means so much to me and to what began as a small gesture to honor my own babies. Our project has grown a lot. Now nearly every baby in my daughter's NICU receives a packet of books. I hope that in 2018, every single baby will receive books before they go home. 

Here are pictures of our last two donations of 2017. Breitling Corts's mom and Brandon and Cayli heard that we were in desperate need of Spanish books, so they came to the rescue. 


Breitling is one Angie's scouts. He was so kind to bring these bilingual Spanish and English books for the NICU babies. 

Here are the bilingual books that Brandon and Cayli brought over. It is so important for children to be read to in their first language. Thank you, Brandon, Cayli, and Breitling for helping make this possible.

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, December 29, 2017

Clara Barton: Founder of the Red Cross by Augusta Stevenson

I would have loved this book as a child as I loved true stories about strong women. Clara Barton: Founder of the Red Cross by Augusta Stevenson gives the reader a feel for what Clara was like as a child. I never knew that Clara had almost debilitating anxiety (It is called being shy in the book) when she was little. I still love books about strong women who face hard challenges.

I learned that she was the youngest and adored daughter of her family. Her siblings were all a lot older than she was. She got her start by nursing sick and injured animals back to health. She started her nursing career as a child by nursing her friend and her brother back to health. She was a school teacher for a time.

This chapter book has larger text, great white space, and nice illustrations by Frank Giacoia. This book was published in 1946.




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, December 26, 2017

Yellow Bird, Black Spider by Dosh and Mike Archer

In Yellow Bird, Black Spider, authors Dosh and Mike Archer created a darling book with bright and fun pictures. Published in 2004, Black Spider keeps asking why Yellow Bird doesn't do things differently.

For instance: When Yellow bird takes a blue boat, Black Spider asks, "Why don't you fly across the sea?" "I like to sail, actually," said yellow bird. This continues on throughout the book until the surprise ending. Each page introduces a new color, which means this book teaches about colors and about doing what is right for yourself even if other people question your choices.


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 are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always 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 book you donate. 

On Christmas Eve, these two books came in memory of Liam Heintz. I find the title of the first one especially fitting for Liam. 


Michelle sent this batch over:

And Janice sent this batch of books:

Thank you for thinking of our book project this holiday season. I delivered 38 packets of books to Angie on Christmas Day.

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

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Bang! by Sharon G. Flake

Bang! by Sharon G. Flake was published in 2005. This story follows Mann, who is thirteen years-old. He and his family are dealing with the shooting death of his little brother, Jason. Being shot to death is a common occurrence in Mann's neighborhood.

Although I have not experienced the things that Mann and his family have experienced, there are  young readers who have experienced this. Mann's family isn't dealing well with Jason's death. His father is pushing Mann to be a man before he is ready and his mother who has stopped eating tries to keep Jason's memory alive by acting as if he is still alive.

Mann is hanging out with a friend who is leading him down the wrong path, but that isn't as bad as what he father does to try to make him grow up.

I wanted to strangle Mann's father, but Sharon Flake does a superb job of helping me see where his father's head is. I loved the conclusion and the growth of the characters. I was  confused on what happened to the caretakers or owners of the horses and wish that had been answered. I loved the conflict and the contrast between the city and the country and how the country also had dangers.

I wanted people to be nicer, but I know that often they are not. I wanted to see the artwork of Mann and his friend Kee-lee. I wanted to wrap my arms around all the characters and put them in a safe place. I liked that even though Jason was killed at the beginning of the book, he was still very present in the story.

Sharon G. Flake is a good storyteller. You will laugh and cry. You will be angry at her characters. You will want to shake them and protect them. Her stories will make you squirm and they may make you feel uncomfortable, but she addresses some hard topics and writes books that need to be in classrooms.



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.

We are currently in dire need of Spanish books. There have been a lot of Spanish speaking families who have had babies in the NICU recently, and we are completely out of books for them.

I found this stack of three board books on my front porch this morning. Thank you to whomever left it for the babies.

Michelle and I went shopping on Saturday and we found some books. Here are the books Michelle found. Thank you, Michelle.


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

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton

Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton tells the story of Chanda, a teen girl who helps her mother and younger siblings. The story is set in a fictional country in Sub-Saharan Africa. When the story begins, Chanda's baby sister has just died from what we later find out is AIDS.

This story follows Chanda as she tries to keep her family together while trying to grow up and go to school as he mother struggles with her own health. This story is quite complex as Stratton weaves together the tale of Chanda's history, her friends, her family, and her community. This book is well written and hard to put down.

I found myself wanting to know what would happen to Chanda, her  mother, and her siblings. I loved her dedication to her friend and to her mother. I also liked that Stratton wrote her as a complex character who wasn't perfect but instead was human.

I loved the ending of this story and how Stratton shows the value of honesty and the importance of truth in keeping people safe. I feel that I can't adequately describe the nuances of this story or the plot line without giving spoilers. This book deserved the Snow Willow Award it earned and being nominated for the Michael L. Printz award.

This book is well researched and written. Thank you, Allan Stratton for a book that could save lives.

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 are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always 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 book you donate. 

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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Going Solo by Roald Dahl

Going Solo by Roald Dahl was published in 1986, and is the sequel to Boy. It is also Dahl's autobiography of the time he served as a fighter pilot during WWII.

I learned that Dahl flew planes in Africa. He crashed his plane and was injured. He was 6' 6" tall and struggled to fit in the cockpit, and now I think I need to go buy the book Boy and read it because Dahl had quite the life.

In this book, he shares stories about his first job in East Africa, the boat ride there, and being threatened by black mamba snakes and lions. He tells about flight training and how surprisingly fast new pilots were sent up in planes they were not familiar with.

This would be a great first autobiography for a child to read. It is interesting, funny, and introduces the reader to many interesting parts of history. Pictures, letters, and telegrams are included, which make this all the more interesting. I listened to the audio version, and it is well narrated by Dan Stevens.


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, December 13, 2017

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord was first published in 1984; it has aged well.

Before Bandit and her mother go to the United States of America to live with her father, she is given a new name. She chooses the name Shirley Temple.

Goodreads blurb: Shirley Temple Wong sails from China to America with a heart full of dreams.Her new home is Brooklyn, New York. America is indeed a land full of wonders, but Shirley doesn't know any English, so it's hard to make friends. Then a miracle-baseball-happens. It is 1947, and Jackie Robinson, star of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is everyone's hero. Jackie Robinson is proving that a black man, the grandson of a slave, can make a difference in America and for Shirley as well, on the ball field and off, America becomes the land of opportunity. 

Bette Bao Lord based Shirley's story on her own from when she, herself, was a newcomer to America. Shirley deals with bullying, with trying to learn a new language, with trying to understand a new culture, and with trying to make friends. 

This story is endearing and sweet. This chapter book is great for 54 year-old elementary students with good white space and wonderful illustrations by Marc Simont. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 




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.