Don’t Be Smug! A PB Review

Posted May 20, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Humor, Picture Book Review

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Sometimes you just need a good laugh, and Smug Seagull provided that for me. This book is written and illustrated by Maddie Frost. The format is a combination of prose and graphic picture book. Seagull has a high opinion of himself and his masterful way of snatching snacks from unsuspecting beachgoers. He thinks he is “the best snack swiper from shore to shore.” Until…the day Seagull confronts a small crab.  Seagull’s confidence is shaken when he is unable to snatch a french fry from Crab. Crab continues to outwit Seagull’s efforts. When Seagull tries to snatch snacks from beachgoers, they fight back. Seagull is devastated as he realizes he has lost his swipe. Seagull abandons hope and decides to move to a lake and “eat soggy breadcrumbs with ducks.” Until…Crab shows up once again and shows Seagull how easy it is to snag a snack just by being cute and courteous. Seagull teams up with Crab and discovers a little humility goes a long way. The hilarious text and illustrations in this book are sure to keep readers laughing.

Zoomed Out!

Posted May 13, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life

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I love Zoom as a way of connecting with people. Over the past year, Zoom has been a godsend to keep me in touch with family and friends.

As a writer, I’m constantly on Zoom. There are writing conferences, critique groups, writing classes, author webinars, etc. COVID-19 has made writing conferences much more affordable now that they are offered virtually. Because of this, I’m taking advantage of more and more of them.

There are bad things and good things about these opportunities. Different time zones present a problem with my schedule. Too early. Too late. Dinner time. Length of meetings. A perfect Zoom/webinar lasts no longer than one hour. After that, my mind, ears, and eyes begin to wander. The good thing is that most are recorded so I can catch up later at my own pace. The bad thing is I tend to jump into Zoom opportunities too often. I need to rectify that. Right now, I’m backlogged, trying to catch up on webinars and conferences I’ve missed. All this is eating into my writing time. That is not good.

I am zoomed out!!

Did I mention FaceTime? Don’t get me started!

A Family Derby Day!

Posted May 6, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

Tags: ,

It’s always special when we’re able to get together with family – especially now that we’re all vaccinated. It’s even more fun when we can dress up with hats for ladies and bow ties for gentlemen and enjoy the Kentucky Derby together. A mint julep for the adults in the crowd helps, too!

Welcome! Choose a hat. Choose a bow tie.

Making adjustments.

Enter!

Feast!

Enjoy!

A horse race inside. A turkey trot outside.

If you love horses, you will love this book.

The True Story of ZIPPY CHIPPY: The Little Horse That Couldn’t written by Artie Bennett and illustrated by Dave Szalay, NorthSouth Books, 2020.

A PORTRAIT IN POEMS: The Storied Life of GERTRUDE STEIN & ALICE B. TOKLAS

Posted April 29, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Poetry Month

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A Portrait in Poems: The Storied Life of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas written by Evie Robillard and illustrated by Rachel Katstaller. Kids Can Press, 2020.

In order to give this book a review it deserves, I’m posting a review from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cooperative Children’s Book Center CCBC Choices 2021.

“A pitch-perfect picture book about Gertrude Stein’s life in Paris focuses on her art collection, her writing, her famous Salon, and her relationship with Alice B. Toklas. Not a word is wasted in this engaging, masterful account. Wisconsin author Robillard’s well-rounded portrait of Stein (and Toklas, too) includes just the right excerpts from Stein’s writing to give readers a sense of her singular style, her wit, her Steiny-ness. The gouache and colored pencil illustrations flawlessly echo the tone of the poems that comprise the text—both playful and profound, rather like Stein and Toklas themselves. They also extend the sense of place that was so important to Stein and her kindred spirits: Paris, specifically 27 rue de Fleurus “…a place that was once filled with paintings— / bright, bold, wild, impossible paintings. / And in that place lived a woman named Gertrude Stein / and her brother Leo. / And later on, her partner, Alice.” (Ages 5-9)” (CCBC Choices 2021, p. 21, PDF File)

Choices is a list of books published in the previous year and recommended for their excellence by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center librarians.

I love this book, and no one can review it better than the librarians at the CCBC!

Today Is Earth Day!

Posted April 22, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Earth Day

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In 1970, Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin senator, established the first Earth Day to bring awareness to air and water pollution. Fifty-one years later, taking care of the Earth is more important than ever. The theme of this year’s Earth Day is Restore Our Earth. Environmental issues are taking place across the world. It’s up to everyone to act responsibly in the challenges that confront us.

Books to celebrate Earth Day

Hello, Earth! Poems to our Planet written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Miren Asiain Lora, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, February, 2021.

Once Upon Another Time written by Matt Forrest Esenwine and Charles Ghigna and illustrated by Andrés F. Landazábal, Beaming Books, March, 2021.

The Outdoor Scientist: The Wonder of Observing the Natural World written by Temple Grandin, Philomel Books, April, 2021.

Treaty Words: For as Long as the Rivers Flow written by Aimée Craft and illustrated by Luke Swinson, Annick Press, March, 2021.

Wonder Walkers written and illustrated by Micha Archer, Nancy Paulsen Books, March, 2021.

Poetry: A Tribute to Friendship & Dictionary for a Better World

Posted April 15, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: National Poetry Month

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In my previous blog, I talked about National Poetry Month and included book suggestions to celebrate poetry. That blog inspired my very first best friend to create a poem of her own – an ode to our friendship. It brought back fond memories and touched my heart.

Karen Goelz Rodgers and Me

I met my first friend in Milwaukee
Many long years ago.
The fun we two had,
In olde dresses clad
These two little girls in Milwaukee


We played in the attic
We played in the yard
The old apple tree we did climb
Life back in the day was simply sublime
For the two little girls in Milwaukee

Time went by as time often does
Other friends we both did make
We wed, had families, jobs, and things
From time to time gave the other a ring
And remembered the days in Milwaukee

Two grandma’s we are now
Separated by miles,
Connected by memories of an earlier time
And perhaps the ‘silliest’ rhyme!
Those two little girls from Milwaukee

~Karen Goelz Rodgers

There is joy in poetry! Thank you, my dear friend. 

Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z written by Irene Latham & Charles Waters and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, Carolrhoda Books, 2020.

Behold this book! As the title says, this book is a dictionary. The carefully chosen words, appear in alphabetical order, are meant to inspire readers to think and to make a difference in themselves and the world. Each spread has a poem that relates to the word. Different poetic forms are used throughout the book. Each spread also contains a quote, an anecdote that relates to the word, and an activity you can try to grow and expand your world to make it a better place. This is a perfect book to share with others and celebrate National Poetry Month!

April is Poetry Month!

Posted April 8, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Poetry Month

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Evening sky glistens

Awash with dazzling colors

Sun whispers goodnight

~CSO

How about a little haiku to begin poetry month? An idea. Three lines. Seventeen syllables – 5-7-5. Voilà!

There is joy to be found in words that paint pictures. Choose any book below and immerse yourself and your family in the world of poetry. Read. Relax. Enjoy.

A World Full of Poems: Inspiring Poetry for Children selected by Sylvia Vardell, DK Children, 2020.

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and other Nonsense written by Chris Harris and illustrated by Lane Smith, Little, Brown Books for Young Children updated version 2020.

My First Book of Haiku Poems: A Picture, a Poem, and a Dream written by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen and illustrated by Tracy Gallup, Tuttle Publishing, 2019.

One Last Word written by Nikki Grimes, Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2017.

The Poetry of US edited by J. Patrick Lewis, National Geographic Kids, 2018.

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems written by Bob Raczka, Roaring Book Press, 2016.

The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom written and illustrated by Lita Judge, Roaring Book Press, March 2021.

The Dance of the Bees written by Fran Nuño, illustrated by Zuzanna Celej, translated by Jon Brokenbrow, Cuento de Luz SL, February 2021.

Girl. Girl. Girl… Boy?

Posted April 1, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

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Many years ago, a boy was born into our family. It was a day to celebrate.

Over the years more babies arrived – a girl, another girl, and another girl. Through the years, those girls kept coming. Fourteen girls dominated the family tree. Then two years ago a baby boy arrived! An anomaly? A miracle? Was the universe playing with our expectations?

Last week, we welcomed a new baby into our family. Lo and behold! Another boy!!!

This may be a sign we are eking out a new pattern in our family tree. If so, the boys have a long way to go to catch up to those fourteen girls!

Welcome, Samuel!

Don’t forget. Today is…

More Mighty Women to Celebrate!

Posted March 25, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Women's History Month

Tags:

You can never read enough about amazing women in history!

Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, The First Woman Pilot written by Matthew Clark Smith and illustrated by Matt Tavares, Candlewick, 2017

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee written by Julie Leung and illustrted by Julie Kwon, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2021

Standing On Her Shoulders: A Celebrations of Women written by Monica Clark-Robinson and illustrated by Laura Freeman, Orchard Books, 2021

Kate’s Light: Kate Walker at Robbins Reef Lighthouse written by Elizabeth Spires and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, Margaret Ferguson Books, 2021

Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance – Nikki Grimes, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2021

A Shamrock Wish for Everyone!

Posted March 18, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

Tags: ,

May you always have

A sunbeam to warm you

Good luck to charm you

And a sheltering angel

So nothing can harm you

Laughter to cheer you

Faithful friends near you

And whenever you pray,

Heaven to hear you.

It’s a day late, but I wish everyone…


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