Archive for May 2016

Planting Season

May 26, 2016

In my part of the world, warm weather has taken the place of the extreme cold of winter and early spring. Jack Frost has packed his icy bags for a long vacation. Spring is here, and summer is not too far behind. It’s time for planting gardens!

Fresh vegetables are a boon to everyone’s health. Crunchy radishes, long green beans, juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce leaves – all this can be yours. A little plot of land or a few dirt-filled buckets will do. Get the family together and plant those seeds, nurture them, and watch them grow.

While you’re waiting for your veggie delight, here’s a great book to share.


My Garden written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow books.

A little girl helps her mother in the garden as they water, weed, and chase rabbits away. But the little girl has her own ideas of what she would like in a garden. She imagines a weedless garden with flowers that change color and patterns, chocolate rabbits, a jelly bean bush, and all kinds of possibilities that only a child could dream up. Henkes’ text and colorful spring illustrations will make even the biggest skeptic a believer in garden possibilities. This is a perfect book to plant the seeds of creativity in your children.

If you choose a flower garden over a vegetable garden, here’s another great book.


Planting a Rainbow written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Lois Ehlert’s colorful collages and simple text help children understand the step-by-step process of planting a flower garden. With special care, you’ll soon have a rainbow at your fingertips.

And one more …


Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden written by Edith Pattou and illustrated by Tricia Tusa, Harcourt Children’s Books.

There are many different types of gardens. Mrs. Spitzer’s garden happens to be the students in her classroom. She knows just how to plant the seeds of knowledge in children to make them blossom. Young readers will love Tusa’s delightful illustrations and Mrs. Spitzer’s unusual gardening techniques.








May 19, 2016

My niece graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison this past weekend.


We celebrated her success in a stadium filled with proud parents, relatives, and friends.


I’d like to say the day was perfect, but that would be an understatement. The problem was the weather. It felt more like January than May. The temperature was thirty degrees, the wind was blowing between fifteen and twenty miles per hour, and the sky was spitting snow and sleet pellets. Not even keynote speaker Russell Wilson, a UW graduate and Seahawks quarterback, could warm the cockles of my heart.

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Despite the highly unusual weather, we were proud to see our niece graduate and embark upon the next steps to achieve her career goals. “On Wisconsin!”

So what do you give as a gift to a graduate? Money, of course, that’s always appreciated. But if you want to give a gift that’s from the heart, choose Pat Zietlow Miller‘s book, WHEREVER YOU GO.


Eliza Wheeler‘s enchanting illustrations and Miller’s rhythmic text take the reader on a wondrous journey of roads that “bend, merge, zoom, climb, …” This book is perfect for graduates as they decide which road they will choose.



Picture Book Fun

May 12, 2016

It’s been a crazy week around our house, and it’s going to get crazier. We have graduation, family events, and some travel. I also need to shop. I’m embarrassed to say I was caught wearing a 1999 Rose Bowl sweatshirt the other day. WHAT? (My mother taught me to take good care of my clothes.) It’s time to update.

While I’m shopping for a new look, take a peek at these great picture books.


That’s (Not) Mine written by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant, Two Lions. Sharing isn’t easy for these two critters. Kids will enjoy the crazy antics as the two vie for a comfy chair. MINE.


Orion and the Dark written and illustrated by Emma Yarlett, Templar Books. Afraid of the dark? Meet Orion. He’s extremely afraid of the dark until Dark enters his room one night and shows Orion that Dark isn’t so bad after all.


Old MacDonald Had A Truck written by Steve Goetz and illustrated by Eda Kaban, Chronicle Books. You’ve never seen Old MacDonald’s farm look quite like this. Join the rollicking fun in the retelling of this tale. Old MacDonald uses a collection of machines to “SCOOP SCOOP, SCRAPE RAKE, DUMP THUMP,” and more for a surprise ending.



Movin’ to the Music

May 5, 2016

Music speaks to me. When I hear something that makes me want to move to the groove, I find my happy feet.



Jazz Baby did just that. This book is written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. Wheeler’s text and Christie’s illustrations sing to its readers. It’s fast-paced. It has rhythm, rhyme, and a beat that keeps your toes tapping. There’s snap, clap, and singing with a “Doo-Wop-Doo.” Each page turn offers up more fun as family, friends, and neighbors get into the action as the beat goes on. When the song and dance party comes to an end, it’s time for the little jazz baby to sleep. “OH YEAH!”


Another book that is upbeat is Trombone Shorty. It’s a Coretta Scott King Award winner and a Caldecott Honor Book. This is a picture book autobiography written by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier. Andrews tells how his love of music began when he was a child, living in New Orleans where music was always in the air. He was drawn to brass instruments, and when he found a broken trombone, he made it his. Because the instrument was much bigger than he was, he got the nickname Trombone Shorty. His older brother encouraged him, and he practiced day and night. At a jazz festival, Bo Diddley heard him play his trombone and called him on stage to join him. After that, Trombone Shorty organized his own band and played around New Orleans. He now has a band of his own and has performed with many talented musicians. Even with his success, Trombone Shorty has not forgotten his roots. He started the Trombone Shorty Foundation to make sure the musical history of New Orleans is preserved. His foundation also helps mentor talented music students from New Orleans high schools. This inspiring story accompanied by Collier’s  amazing illustrations is not to be missed.        

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