Archive for September 2010


September 28, 2010

“So many roads. So many detours. So many choices. So many mistakes.” – Sarah Jessica Parker

I was on my way home from school last week. I was hot. I was tired. I just wanted to be HOME.

I had six-tenths of a mile to go when I came to a road closed sign. How could this be? No one told me. I didn’t believe it so I drove around the sign for about two-tenths of a mile where I came to a standstill. BIG machines were digging up my road home. I couldn’t even get to any side roads to bypass the construction. Blood pressure up! Patience down!

I turned around. The detour took me four miles out of my way. My mouth could have used a detour to a more polite way of expressing myself.

Yes, I know. There are detours in every aspect of life.

Take writing, for instance. You’ve spent months working on a manuscript, revising and perfecting until you think you have a winner. You send it out only to have it returned with a rejection. Or you’ve finally signed a book contract, and all is going well until there is a downturn in the economy and your contract is cancelled. Or you need that one last amazing line that will pull your whole book together, but it just won’t come.   

Detour signs go up, but if we look around, we can always find a roundabout way to continue on our course of action. Good luck finding the right detour.



September 24, 2010

“If you can imagine things aren’t quite what they seem, and dream of possibilities that only you can dream of, then anything is possible.” ─ Bart Vivian

Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have an imagination. You wouldn’t be able to fly to the moon and summersault back to earth on a moonbeam. You wouldn’t be able to slay the fiery dragon and save the village from ruin. Or the family van wouldn’t transform into a sporty Corvette for your special date. Of course, if you didn’t have an imagination, you wouldn’t be able to imagine any of that anyway. Pity the thought.

Imaginations need to be nurtured through creative or free play. It’s important to encourage children to use what’s in their mind’s eye to dream the impossible.

An article, debating whether academics or creative play are better for young children, caught my eye. In my opinion, there is merit to both ways of thinking.

Academics are important, and we need to make sure our children are given the best education we can offer them so they are well-prepared for the future. I also believe creative play is just as important and should be encouraged. Creative play – especially in groups – promotes use of imagination, social interaction, and problem solving. These are life skills that help make a well-rounded person.

There’s a picture book in our library called Imagine written and illustrated by Bart Vivian. I like this book because it’s about believing in yourself and dreaming of possibilities. It begins with a double page spread with spare text and a picture of an everyday event. When the page is turned, there is more text to accompany the picture on the opposite side. The picture shows how the ordinary event from the previous page becomes extraordinary with the use of imagination.

This book provides a perfect way to stimulate creative thinking as students try to guess what the outcome of the ordinary event will be. It’s also a jumping-off point for some creative play and interaction among the students.

Imagination gives you immeasurable possibilities. As parents and educators we need to encourage our children to use their gifts. In the meantime, wake up your own imagination and tell me what possibilities you see.

THE ROCKET BOOK: Another Classic Story

September 21, 2010

“The oldest books are still only just out to those who have not read them.”  − Samuel Butler

I like it when I find surprises like a newly laundered five dollar bill in the Monday wash or a piece of still edible dark chocolate hidden between the cushions of a couch. So when I found an old – and I do mean old – picture book in my stash of books, I was pleasantly surprised.

The title of the book is The Rocket Book by Peter Newell. The copyright date is 1912 by Harper & Brothers, and it also has a patent date of June 4, 1912. 

In The Rocket Book, Fritz, known as a “bad kid,” lights a rocket he finds in the basement of an apartment building. It shoots up through the ceiling and through all twenty floors or, as Newell calls them, “flats.” The residents react in their own peculiar ways as the rocket hurtles through each apartment. When it reaches the top flat, the rocket crashes into Billy Bunk’s ice cream maker where it’s frozen solid. I, personally, would have liked to have seen the rocket smash through the ice cream freezer and launch tiny balls of frozen ice cream, preferably chocolate, that fall to the earth. YUM!

The book is written in rhyming text, and the verses are filled with entertaining language and amusing puns. What makes this book unique is the hole- yes, a real hole – that appears on in the middle of every page, representing the rocket shooting through the apartments. Very cleverly done, I’d say.

Peter Newell was a popular writer and illustrator in the early 1900’s. His humorous drawings and poems delighted adults and children alike. The book certainly brought a smile to my face.  

The Rocket Book is out in a Kindle Edition. Can you believe it? I wonder if the rocket will blast through the Kindle so it has a real hole just like the one in the book.

If you have a chance, take a look at this classic. It’s a blast from the past!

Savvy Kids and Book Covers

September 17, 2010

“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.” ─ Charles Dickens

It has been said you can’t judge a book by its cover. “Not so,” claimed one of my library students. He held a book up to my face and stated, “This cover needs to be changed.”

The WISCONSIN volume from the Hello U.S.A. series sported a picture of a former Green Bay Packer, wearing a number four jersey. I’m not one to cave into pressure to remove books with questionable covers or text from the library, but, like a good referee, this young student’s judgment call was right on target.

I had to agree the cover was definitely in need of a new look. With a little creative brainstorming, we came up with an alternative cover.

Jump around for Bucky Badger and Wisconsin!

A Classic Story for a New Generation

September 14, 2010

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” ─ Emilie Buchwald

As a librarian, I love to get kids excited about reading. I’m always on the lookout for new books that promote the love of reading, but I have some classics that are perfect stand-bys. The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco is one of them. I’ll be reading it to my second grade students today.

When young Mary Ellen gets tired of reading, Grampa takes her on a hunt for a bee tree through the Michigan countryside. Along the way, they meet a bevy of characters that join in the quest to find the bee tree and fresh honey. The characters have interesting names and distinct personalities that make for a great read aloud. There’s Mrs. Govlock and Baby Sylvester, Einar Tundevold, Olav Lundheigen and the Hermann sisters, Petra and Dorma. There’s “Klondike” Bertha Fitchworth, Feduciary Longdrop, goats, geese, and traveling musicians. It’s a mouthful of fun to read!

When the cast of characters finally reach the bee tree where the honey is hidden, Grampa has everyone build a smoke fire to quiet the bees in order to collect pieces of honeycomb. Afterwards, the crowd enjoys biscuits, honey, tea, and music. My favorite part of the story is when Grampa shows Mary Ellen not only how to savor the sweet honey after the chase, but also how to savor the sweetness found when reading books…“adventure, knowledge and wisdom.”

Polacco’s illustrations add to the merriment of the book, and the ending is a perfect jumping-off point to discuss the importance of reading and the magic that can be found in books.

It’s Avatar Friday

September 10, 2010

“Manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure.” — Oliver Herford 

“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I mouthed those same words as I hunted for my avatar that had disappeared from its usual place. I scoured the computer. There was not a sign of him. I looked everywhere — in drawers, on bookshelves, in closets, under beds, in beds. My avatar was missing — gone astray, absent, lost.

There was mischief in the air. I needed to figure things out. I went for a cup of much needed coffee, and that’s when I found what was lost. I was greeted with a wink and a sweet birthday greeting!

It’s Apple Picking Time

September 7, 2010

“There is little choice in a barrel of rotten apples.” — William  Shakespeare

Apples in the trees

Apples on the ground

Apples, apples are all around!

We went apple picking this weekend. We munched, crunched, and chewed our way through the apple orchard. Thoughts of apple pies, apple crisp, apple cake, and apple sauce teased my taste buds. As we picked and stuffed apples into our bag, I imagined the delicious aroma of baking apples wafting throughout our house.

The apples are now sitting in a nice bowl on the counter. They look delicious. They taste delicious. And one of these days I’ll dig out some apple recipes and convince someone to bake all those sweet-smelling goodies for me!

Meanwhile, pick one of these tasty apple books.

Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson (Roaring Book Press, 2009), Up, Up, Up! It’s Apple-picking Time by Jody Fickes Shapiro (Holiday House, 2008), Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington (Puffin, 2004), How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro (Collins, 1993), Johnny Appleseed:  The Legend and the Truth by Jane Yolen (HarperCollins, 2008)


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