Archive for March 2011

Concise Words of Wisdom

March 29, 2011

“The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90% probability you’ll get it wrong.” – Andy Rooney

I like to watch 60 Minutes on Sunday night. I find it interesting and entertaining. It provides news, investigative interviews, and my all-time favorite – the Andy Rooney segment.

Last Sunday, Andy Rooney talked about the many studies that have been done with drinks. He noted that in one study done years ago, coffee was thought to cause cancer, but a new study now says coffee may be good for you. And what about diet soda and wine? Good? Bad?  Studies seem to contradict themselves so Andy Rooney doesn’t pay attention to the research. He says “life can be dangerous to your health” and when it comes to drinks, “drink up because tomorrow they may say it’s bad.”  

Andy Rooney is a writer, producer, and humorist. As a commentator, he’s concise. It’s a quality I admire. In less than three minutes, he imparts words of wit and wisdom as he looks at everyday life from beneath his bushy eyebrows. He’s ninety-two. I don’t want to say he’s old, but he’s a lot older than most people I know.

“I didn’t get old on purpose, it just happened. If you’re lucky, it could happen to you.” ─ Andy Rooney

My conclusion is that Andy Rooney knows what he’s talking about. Listen and learn from Andy Rooney.

“The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.” ─ Andy Rooney



March 25, 2011

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”  ─ Winston Churchill

Courage is a word that means many things to many people. It can be as simple as saying hello to someone or as hard as admitting you’re wrong about something.

For me, courage is also having the strength to say, “No, you don’t need to buy another book. You have too many already.” I didn’t have the courage to say that so I bought another book. It’s a picture book written and illustrated by Bernard Waber. It’s called Courage.

I couldn’t resist. Just look at the cover. You can feel the fear that little boy has he stares down at the water so far below him. He needs courage to step off that diving board and make a big splash. Will he find it?

Courage is a perfect book to share with children. Using pen and ink and soft watercolors, Waber shows his readers the many faces of courage. One of my favorite pages is the one that says:  “Courage is not peeking at the last pages of your whodunit book to find out who did it.” For me, that takes a lot of courage! The book is both silly and serious at the same time and lends itself to simple discussions about life and how to face fears.

Everyone needs courage at one time or another. Have you found yours?

It’s Goof Off Day

March 22, 2011

Dilly-dally, fiddle around, lollygag, slack off, diddle-daddle. What do all these words and phrases have in common? They all mean to avoid work. And that’s what I’m doing. Why shouldn’t I? Today’s National Goof Off Day!

I’m goofing off right now. Instead of writing a witty, intelligent blog, I’m lollygagging. That’s right – lollygagging. I could be sharing some great new picture books I found, or writing about creative learning activities to go along with those picture books, or interviewing and up and coming author, or suggesting new ways to come up with “out of the box” book ideas.

Yeah, I could be doing all of that stuff, but I’m not. This is my school vacation week. I deserve to shirk my duties. I can’t be on top of my game all the time. So now I’m at the bottom of my game with all the other dawdlers, deciding what not to do next.

I don’t want to tell anyone else what to do – especially to take it easy today. Do what you want to do, but if you don’t take advantage of this day in some way or another, you really are a goof off!

Celebrating the Irish

March 18, 2011


When Irish Eyes Are Smiling!

National Potato Chip Day

March 15, 2011

George Crum is my kind of man. His invention has satisfied young and old alike. What he did for the world makes my taste buds jump for joy! So who is this Crum guy? This magnificent man created the snack I adore, the snack I’m addicted to, the snack that makes me a happy chomper. Yes, George Crum is the inventor of the potato chip!

In 1853, George Crum was a chef at a chic resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. When a fussy diner was dissatisfied with the thick-cut French fries Crum had prepared, Crum decided to slice a potato into thin pieces and fry the pieces to a crisp finish so the diner wouldn’t be able to use his fork to pick them up. His little trick backfired, but in a good way. The result was a new item on the menu called the Saratoga Chip – now known as the potato chip.

Yesterday was National Potato Chip Day. It was the best excuse ever to bite into a good chip off the old potato! I headed to the grocery store and steered my cart to the snack aisle – no stopping along the way. I grabbed a bag of my favorite chips. Then it occurred to me why stop there? It was National Potato Chip Day – a day to celebrate without guilt. A taste test was in order. I added more bags of chips to my cart, threw in a few essential items, checked out, and raced home, drooling along the way.  

I thank you, George Crum. You have added crunch to my lunch, savor to my flavor, and salt to my tears of joy! YUM!!

I’ve chosen my favorite chip. What’s yours?

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip written by Gaylia Taylor and illustrated by Frank Morrison (Lee & Low Books, 2006)

Our History Is Our Strength

March 11, 2011

Stand up and cheer for the gallant women who have worked and fought hard to pave the way for future generations of women to succeed in their endeavors. As promised on my Tuesday blog, here are more picture books to celebrate Women in History Month.

Vinnie Ream was the first woman hired by the U.S. Post Office, but that was not her claim to fame. Vinnie and Abraham written by Dawn FitzGerald and illustrated by Catherine Stock celebrates Vinnie Ream’s extraordinary talent as a sculptor. She was commissioned by Congress to sculpt a full-size figure of Abraham Lincoln – another first for women and Vinnie.

A perfect book to introduce young readers to artist Georgia O’Keeffe is Georgia’s Bones written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Bethanne Andersen. It’s written in lyrical verse and illustrated in bright colors. The story tells of Georgia’s interest in shapes and common objects and her ambition to become an artist.

Oprah The Little Speaker written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by London Ladd is about Oprah Winfrey’s childhood and how her grandmother played a significant role in Oprah’s life. By teaching Oprah reading, writing, arithmetic, and scripture, she gave Oprah the tools to succeed. When Oprah began speaking in church, she knew what she wanted to do with her life, and Oprah succeeded.

Wilma Rudolph began life as a tiny, sickly baby. With the love and care of her large family, Wilma thrived until she was five when she came down with scarlet fever and polio. She was told she would never walk again. Wilma Unlimited written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by David Diaz is an inspiring story about a young girl with desire and determination. Not only did Wilma walk again, she ran. Wilma won three gold medals at the 1960 Summer Olympics in track events. She was known as the fastest woman in the world.

Annie Oakley was quick on the draw. Shooting for the Moon The Amazing Life and Times of Annie Oakley written by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Bernie Fuchs tells the life story of Annie Oakley and how she survived tough times, taught herself to become a sharpshooter, and became a world-renowned star.


Girl Wonder A Baseball Story in Nine Innings written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Terry Widener introduces Alta Weiss. Playing baseball was her passion. At a time when only men played baseball, Alta cleverly convinced a coach to give her a chance and became the first woman to pitch on an all-male semipro team.

Make sure to check out your local library for many more inspiring stories of strong, determined women who helped shape our country.

Women in History Month

March 8, 2011

“It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.” ─ Susan B. Anthony

Women and girls, take note. It’s our month! “Our History Is Our Strength” is the theme of this year’s observation of Women in History Month. So let’s celebrate by learning more about those daring women who had the strength to break down barriers and made a difference in our everyday lives. Take a look at these picture book biographies of women in politics and women who helped to shape our country.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s fight for equal rights and the right for women to vote is told in Elizabeth Leads the Way written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon.

Eleanor, Quiet No More written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Gary Kelley tells how Eleanor Roosevelt learned to speak out for what she believed in and her fight for rights for all people no matter what their color or religion.

Victoria Woodhull may not be as well-known as other women in history, but in A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Jane Dyer we find out about a truly amazing woman. Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president, have a seat on the New York stock exchange, speak before Congress, and own her own newspaper.  

Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, was not one sit back and do nothing. Abigail Adams written and illustrated by Alexandra Wallner tells how Abigail supported the American Revolution, spoke out against slavery, and spoke for equal rights for women.

Sacagawea written by Lise Erdrick and illustrated by Julie Buffalohead is about the life of a young Shoshone girl who had strength and courage and who acted as an interpreter and guide for Lewis and Clark and their expedition through the West.

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, a Caldecott Honor book, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Kadir Nelson and is a lyrical telling of Harriet Tubman’s daring escape from slavery to freedom and her frequent return to slave territory to bring her family and others to freedom.

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney is another lyrical story about a slave who escaped to freedom and felt it was her job to speak out against slavery and unfair treatment of black people and women.

Fly High! The Story of Bessie Coleman written by Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger and illustrated by Teresa Flavin is about a young woman’s determination to be the first African-American woman to get a pilot’s license and become a successful stunt pilot. She was somebody, and she took advantage of her celebrity status, telling young African-Americans they could be somebody, too.  

In Independent Dames written by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Matt Faulkner, Anderson tells of the many women and young girls who played key roles in our country’s fight for independence.

Check these and other picture book biographies in your library, and be sure to check my blog on Friday for more exciting books about Women in History!

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