Archive for the ‘Literature’ category

THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE – Another Winner!

January 21, 2016

If you haven’t read The War That Saved My Life, I highly recommend it. Written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, the book is set in London during World War II and the German invasion. It’s a 2016 Newbery Honor Book, winner of the middle-school age Schneider Family Book Award, and Odyssey Award — well-deserved awards.


Ten-year-old Ada Smith is the heroine of this story. She has a club foot that is an embarrassment to her “mam” – a horrid person. Because of her disfigured foot, Ada is not allowed to leave their flat. She endures physical and mental abuse at the hands of her mother. Even though Ada’s life is one of misery, she makes sure to give her younger brother, Jamie, the best care she can. When the war threatens the well-being of those living in London, local children are evacuated to a safer place in the country. Ada’s mother sends Jamie away, and Ada runs away to join him. When Ada and Jamie arrive at their destination, no one chooses to take them in. They end up in the home of Susan Smith, who is unmarried and has issues of her own. Ada puts up a wall of distrust as Susan Smith desperately tries to help Ada see that she is a worthy person – even with her club foot. During their stay, Susan, Ada, and Jamie slowly begin to become a family unit. When “Mam” suddenly appears and demands to take the children back to London, Susan knows she has no right to keep them. Reluctantly, Susan lets them go. Back in London, Ada is once again subjected to the cruelty of her mother. When she learns her mother never wanted children, Ada knows what she must do. In a dramatic ending of air raid sirens and bombs, Ada is determined to make it back to Susan Smith and the new life she offers them. This is a story of courage, understanding, healing, and love. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley weaves a fascinating and heartwarming tale in this must-read book!

Picture Book Wins the Newbery!

January 14, 2016

This has been an exciting week. It’s one I wait for each year. The American Library Association announced the Youth Media Award winners for 2016. Shut the front door! Knock my socks off! The Newbery Medal didn’t go to a middle-grade or young adult novel as one would expect. I’m totally awestruck the Newbery Medal went to a picture book!

Last Stop on Market Street is an amazing book written by Matt De La Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. It was also named a Caldecott Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. This 757-word book packs power. Matt De La Peña’s lyrical language and Christian Robinson’s attention to detail depict a diverse population in an urban setting. Although this book may look uncomplicated, it’s a story of wants, needs, and the haves and have-nots in society. Readers are treated to the warm relationship between a young boy and his grandmother and their compassion for others. This book illustrates the kindness and beauty that encompasses us if we only take the time to notice. De La Peña and Robinson have created an unforgettable book – and Newbery Medal winner.

NEVER, NEVER underestimate the power of a picture book!

Winnie-the-Pooh and Twin Girls, Too!

July 23, 2015

We recently moved from the Midwest back to the East Coast. It’s been an adventure, but the best part of it is that we are now closer to our daughter and son-in-law. And the pièce de résistance is the impending births of identical twin girls. Yes, we’re going to be grandparents!

Last Sunday we celebrated the upcoming births with a baby shower. Close friends and family made the Winnie-the-Pooh-themed gathering a perfect afternoon. Come join the fun!

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Enter

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It’s the 100 Aker Wood!

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Presents and Balloons

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Pooh’s friends and Pooh books were there.

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There were flowers, food, and drinks.

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Tigger Tails, Rabbit’s Munchies, Eeyore’s House Sticks, Piglets in a Blanket, Kanga’s Chicken Salad Pockets

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Roo’s Fruit Salad, Rabbit’s Carrot-Top Rolls, Tigger’s Twisted Pasta Salad, Eeyore’s “Whine”

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Pooh’s Honey Cupcakes, and Piglet’s Haycorns

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There were games, prizes, and a take-home honey bear.

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There was love. There was laughter. And the beautiful mother-to-be!

Having twins? Check out this book.

Take Two! A Celebration of Twins written by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen and illustrated by Sohpie Blackall

Newbery Hopefuls

January 29, 2015

Crunch time is here. Next Monday, February second, the long-awaited Newbery and Caldecott Awards will be announced by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association. I love this time of year. My anticipation is high as I await the results.

I have to admit that although I’m familiar with many of the titles that are contenders for the 2015 Newbery Award, I haven’t read as many as I would have liked. You may have noticed the January fifteenth post, addresses Caldecott hopefuls. Those are the books I’ve concentrated on in the past few months because picture books are my great love.

Below is my list of intriguing  books. Anyone of these could receive the 2015 Newbery Medal or a Newbery Honor Medal. Do you have a favorite?

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Boys of Blur by N. D. Wilson

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Caminar by Skila Brown

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Curiosity by Gary Blackwood

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage

GreenGlass House by Kate Milford, illustrated by Jaime Zollars

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights Steve Sheinkin

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

The Riverman by Aaron Starmer

Saving Lucas Briggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague

The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana

West of the Moon by Margi Preus

Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina by Rodman Philbrick

Do you have any other suggestions?

The Olympics of Sports and Reading

February 6, 2014

The journey is the reward. ─Chinese Proverb

The opening ceremonies of the XXII Olympic Winter Games begin tomorrow in Sochi, Russia. Familiar winter sports such as alpine skiing, bobsled, cross-country skiing, curling, figuring skating, ice hockey, luge, snowboarding, and more will be watched by millions of sports enthusiasts.

Athletes from all over the world spend years and long hours training in hopes of securing a place on an Olympic team. From opening ceremonies to closing ceremonies, the air is charged with excitement. The Winter Olympics provide us with the opportunity to see talented athletes who have the passion and work ethic to succeed in a competitive sport.

A phrase written by Stanley Ralph Ross and made popular by ABC’s Wide World of Sports will ring true for athletes as the games progress.

The thrill of victory… and the agony defeat…

Good luck to all!

Do you like the Olympics? Try the Olympics of Reading with these titles.

The Treasures of the Olympic Winter Games by Olympic Museum; International Olympic Committee (Carlton Books, February 4, 2014)

The Winter Olympics written by Nick Hunter (Heinemann, 2013)

Olympic Poems written by Brian Moses and illustrated by Roger Stevens (Pan Macmillan, 2012)

Yes, I Can!: The Story of the Jamaican Bobsled Team written by Devon Harris and illustrated by Ricardo Cortes (Waterhouse Publishing LLC, 2008)

Winter Olympics Sports Series for Kids

Jesse Klausmeier: Creative Author, Creative Book

June 20, 2013

When someone says “open this little book,” do it – especially when it’s Jesse Klausmeier talking to you!

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Open This Little Book, published by Chronicle Books, is a charming picture book written by the very talented Jesse Klausmeier and illustrated by the equally talented Suzy Lee.

Last Friday, Jesse was at the local library for an author presentation. Her beaming smile and warm personality made everyone feel welcome.

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Jesse launched her program by having the audience  join her in singing her favorite song – the theme song from “Reading Rainbow.”  She watched this program as a young child which helped instill her love of reading. Jesse dedicated her book to her parents, grandparents, and LeVar Burton, host of “Reading Rainbow.”

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Open This Little Book is based on a book Jesse wrote when she was five years old. Thanks to her teacher parents and her grandmother, Jesse learned to love reading and writing books at a very young age. At bedtime Jesse wanted more than just one story read to her so she devised a clever way to entice her parents into reading more. She placed small books inside a larger book. When her parents opened the larger book – surprise – there were more books to read. Open This Little Book is like that. There are books within a book! Each character, Ladybug, Frog, Rabbit, Bear, and Giant, has his own book.

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Jesse read her book to us and then got the youngsters in the audience involved. As she read, a child would play a different instrument to represent each character.

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Then she had everyone take a closer look at the book and Suzy Lee’s illustrations. Jesse read the book again and had a different set of children use a prop that went along with each character. They sipped tea, tipped a hat, looked at the time, carried an umbrella, and waved a giant hand.

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Included in Jesse’s presentation were tidbits about each character’s size as compared to the size of each book inside. She spoke about the problem and solution in the story and commented about the end pages.

During the Q & A time, a little girl presented Jesse with a book she had made about how to write a book. It had excellent advice!

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And one little boy offered up a very profound question:  Why did the chicken cross the road?

Open This Little Book is a MUST HAVE book. It received two starred reviews and won a 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor for Excellence in Children’s Literature. Though spare in text, this book opens a whole new world of sharing, making new friends, and reading. Suzy Lee’s delightful illustrations fill the pages with clever details and surprises.

Jesse is a person to watch. She’s intelligent, talented, and witty. Her presentation was informative and entertaining. She displayed a wonderful sense of humor as she kept the adorable, roly-poly youngsters and adults actively involved. I give Jesse Klausmeier and her book a starred review! I can’t wait to see more.

Where to find Jesse Klausmeier:

The ALA Conference in Chicago at the Chronicle booth signing books on Saturday, June 29th from 12:30 – 1:30

Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL on Sunday, June 30th along with Chris Raschka, Molly Idle, and Loren Long at 1:00

Website: www.JesseKlausmeier.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmklausmeier

Twitter: @JesseKlausmeier

Christmas Books Worth Reading

December 6, 2012

Christmas books are my extreme passion. When I find one that makes my heart sing, I add it to my collection.

During the year, I keep the books in a cozy place on one of our many bookshelves. When the Christmas Season arrives in our house — the day after Thanksgiving — I display the books around the house in places where they can be picked up and enjoyed. Christmas books in the bathroom. Christmas books in the bedrooms. Christmas books in the kitchen. Christmas books in the family room. Pick one up and read it.

I can’t tell you which book is my favorite because they’re all my favorites!

One I particularly enjoy is The Reader’s Digest Book of Christmas. It was the first book I added to my collection after I got married. It has everything in it, including an additional booklet called Reader’s Digest Christmas Decorating Ideas. The ideas are dated, but they provide a hint of nostalgia.

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The book itself is filled with gorgeous pictures and covers topics such as The Birth of Christ, The History of Christmas, The Literature of Christmas (my favorite), and Christmas Around the World. There are sidebars on various pages that include pictures, artifacts, quotes from well-known people, lyrics from songs, prayers, and superstitions.

It was in this book I found a traditional prayer to be said when the Yule Log is lighted. This prayer is one of our family traditions when we light our Yule Log each year.

May the fire of this log warm the cold; may the hungry be fed; may the weary find rest, and may all enjoy Heaven’s peace.

Like the other books in my collection, this book is a good friend. It’s always there to share its secrets and keep me company.

Do Not Disturb – Busy Reading

August 24, 2012

All of the books I ordered for the library have arrived. I’m a happy camper. Each night I settle into my favorite comfy chair and read. I finished the Newbery book, Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, and loved it. It’s filled with humor and sprinkled with tidbits of interesting historical facts. It also has the gross factor that is sure to delight some. Think spewing blood, old gnarly hands, dead people, and murder all combined to make a great story based on events in Jack Gantos’ early life. This is a great pick – especially for boys.

Another book I particularly enjoyed was Step Gently Out written by Helen Frost with photographs by Rick Lieder. It’s a picture book that combines Lieder’s gorgeous close-up photographs of tiny creatures accompanied by Frost’s sparse but lyrical test. The book includes back matter with the names and information about each of the featured creatures. Absolutely beautiful!

Right now I’m busy reading Capture the flag by Kate Messner. History, mystery, and intrigue. So please, do not disturb. I’m busy reading.

Books! Books! Books!

August 3, 2012

I’m a school librarian, who, like so many other librarians, has to work with a meager budget.  When it comes to purchasing books, often times, there is little left to go around. Sigh.

In June I was given a monetary gift by a very generous parent to purchase new books for our library. I’m elated to know there are those who genuinely care that books are made available in the school library for children to enjoy. I am so lucky!

Since then I’ve been reading books, book blogs and reviews, trying to find appropriate books that will excite, entertain, and motivate students to read, read, read.

These are the books I’ve chosen. I hope our pre-k through fifth grade students will be pleased when they see them. If you have any other suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.

For Younger Students:

Z Is for Moose written by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Sight written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Over and Under the Snow written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal 

Goldie and the Three Hares written by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Jack E. Davis

Minette’s Feast written by Susanna Reich and illustrated by Amy Bates

Blackout by John Rocco

For Everyone:

Swirl by SwirlSpirals in Nature written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes

BookSpeak!:  Poems About Books written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Josee Bisaillon

Step Gently Out by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

Picture Books for Older Students:

Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco

Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln by Patricia Polacco

For Older Students:

Pie  by Sarah Weeks

Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny–Detectives Extraordinaire! written by Polly Horvath and illustrated by Sophie Blackwell

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker

Remarkable by Lizzie K. Foley

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

That’s all folks!

Where the Wild Things Are No Longer

May 15, 2012

Much has been written about Maurice Sendak. He’s been called a curmudgeon and cranky. But those who were lucky enough to know the real Maurice Sendak saw him as a warm, clever, and brutally honest individual with a unique vision.

I met Maurice Sendak through his books and illustrations. With sparse text and sometimes controversial illustrations, Sendak captured my imagination and pulled me into his stories. His skillful use of words and attention to artistic details begged the books be read and examined again and again. Sendak’s writing was unconventional and wildly fun.

Maurice Sendak was a talent beyond compare. He understood what children wanted and how to give it to them. He touched the hearts and souls of his readers. I will miss his creative genius.

Some of my favorites!


Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50

Navigating the second half of my life

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Children's Writer

VIVIAN KIRKFIELD - Writer for Children

Picture Books Help Kids Soar

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