Yad Drawkcab!

Posted January 31, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , , , , ,

Translation:  Backward Day!

Today is Backward Day. Don’t get up. Say goodnight and stay in bed.

Okay. If you must get up, get up on the wrong side of the bed. Wear your clothes backwards. Walk backwards. Talk backwards. You’ve heard of breakfast for lunch. How about dinner for breakfast, starting with dessert? Now that’s a treat!

Backward is the way to go today. Have some fun. Tomorrow you can put your best foot forward.


A perfect book for Backward Day is The End written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Richard Egielski. The story begins with “And they lived happily ever after.” Yes, it begins at the end and works its way back to the beginning. Cause and effect becomes effect and cause. Besides the usual fairy tale characters of princess, prince, giant, and dragon, this book includes bunny rabbits, a giant tomato, a teacup, lemons, and a blue flying pig that appears throughout the story. Whether you read it backwards or forwards, this clever story with its colorful illustrations is sure to entertain readers.

More Backward books:

Mirror Mirror A Book of Reversible Verse written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josee Masse (Dutton Juvenile, 2010)

Tell Me the Day Backwards written by Albert Lamb and illustrated by David McPhail (Candlewick Press, 2011)

The Backward Day written by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Marc Simont (NYR Children’s Collection, 2007)    


Posted January 24, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Classic Books

Tags: , , , , ,

Books are fascinating. When my niece gave me a copy of Riley Child-Rhymes with Hoosier Pictures written by James Whitcomb Riley, I was captivated. The book is an 1898 edition and belonged to my great aunt. The pages are yellowed and it’s falling apart, but Riley’s poems and the Hoosier Pictures by Will Vawter are all there. I was holding a treasure!


James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916) was known as the Hoosier Poet because of the poems he wrote, using childhood memories and dialect of his home state of Indiana The illustrations, known as Hoosier Pictures, were created by Will Vawter (1871-1941), also of Indiana. He worked closely with Riley and illustrated many of Riley’s works.


In Child-Rhymes, Vawter’s black and white illustrations enhance Riley’s poems. Some poems are short and others are longer and tell a story. “Little Orphant Annie” entertains children with witch-tales and warns them “the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!” “The Bear Story” is a funny tale of how a youngster went out to kill a bear. It reminds me of how children love to exaggerate when telling adventures of their own. In “The Happy Little Cripple,” Riley writes about a little child who has “Curv’ture of the Spine” and whose Pa “runned away” because he was drunk. They’re not your ordinary rhymes of today, but Riley’s poems provide humor and insight into what life was like in simpler times.

This new-found treasure has been a source of entertainment and has enriched my life.

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Posted January 17, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Classic Books

Tags: , , , , , ,

As the announcements of the Caldecott and Newbery Awards approach, I came across the 1948 Caldecott winner. White Snow Bright Snow was written by Alvin Tresselt and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin.

The eighteen inches of snow we had dumped on us days before Christmas has all but disappeared, and I find myself yearning for more of the fluffy white stuff. White Snow Bright Snow is the perfect answer for the winter season. It’s an ideal book to cuddle up with someone special in front of a nice warm fire and read together.


The book starts with a snow poem, which sets the stage for what is to follow. As the story begins, the postman, the farmer, the policeman and his wife, the children, and even the rabbits are anticipating what is to come. Suddenly, snowflakes appear. The adults deal with the snow in very practical ways, but the children laugh and dance while trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues. During the day and into the night, the snow falls to create a beautiful white landscape as can be seen by Duvoisin’s double-page spread. The next day the children and the rabbits take advantage of the snow, enjoying their time outside. The adults go about their daily chores despite the snow. The snow slowly melts as the story comes to a close. “…the smell of wet brown earth filled the warm air.” When the children see the first robin, they know spring has arrived.

Tresselt’s lyrical language found throughout the story adds to the beauty of the book. And Roger Duvoisin’s use of bright red and yellow make the pages sparkle against the more subdued background colors. The team of Tresselt and Duvoisin make this book a classic.

I eagerly anticipate the new Caldecott Award winner and Caldecott Honor books.

Enjoy these snowy picture books:

Snow written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Lauren Stringer

The Snowy Day written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats

Snow written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz

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

Snowballs written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert

Oh! written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes

A Perfect Day written and illustrated by Carin Berger

Katy and the Big Snow written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton

Hallucinating Star Wars Style

Posted January 10, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Fun

Tags: , , , , , , ,

It happened on New Year’s Eve just minutes after midnight. My husband and I were at our friends’ house, celebrating the holiday together. When the clock struck twelve, we rang in the New Year and declared it time to get some sleep. Tom and I stepped into our hosts’ youngest son’s bedroom. We were swallowed up by the Star Wars galaxy.

Perhaps it was the champagne. Perhaps it was the French food we consumed, but as soon as the lights were turned out and my body hit the Star Wars sheets, Obei-Wan-You-Know-Me appeared.


“Princess Leiabrarian, don’t go to sleep,” he whispered. “I need your help. Dark Vader has cut off the electricity to the library. Yoda-Le-He-Hoo and his students can’t see the books of knowledge they need in order to become Jedi. And even if they could see the books, they can’t check them out because the computer is as dark as Dark Vader!”


“Students not able to check out books!” I cried. “That’s dastardly! Princess Leiabrarian will take care of this!”

Soon Obei-Wan-You-Know-Me and I were in a speedy starfighter on our way to the Star Wars galaxy.

Jabba the Mutt was guarding the door to the library. Slobbering and  growling, he was letting no one in or out. Dark Vader was inside. He was engulfed in darkness, making sure no books of knowledge reached the hands of Yoda-Le-He-Hoo and his would-be Jedi.

“Get me a lightsaber,” I commanded

I rapidly swung the lightsaber through the air. It produced a high pitch, which sent Jabba the Mutt into a frenzy. He ran from his post and freed the entrance to the library.

With my lightsaber, I made short work of Dark Vader. He was banished to an outer galaxy until he could see the light of his evil ways. Electricity was quickly restored, and book titles flashed from their shelves.

It was time to help Yoda-Le-He-Hoo educate his students. To my surprise, no one was looking for books of knowledge, they were clamoring for Star Wars books.

I knew exactly what they wanted. They were just like my second grade students, fighting over who would get to check out the next Star Wars book.


Some Well-Read Books


I wrote down a list of books and suggested they try the intergalactic library system.

My job was done. I returned to my Tom Solo, who was peacefully snoring under the Star Wars sheets. He had no idea I had traveled to a distant galaxy to do what a librarian must do.

Like I said, maybe it was the champagne or the French food that caused my Star Wars hallucination, but then how do you explain the text I got on my phone that night.


Check out some of the 43,800+ Star Wars  titles I found on the Intergalactic Internet.

Putting Christmas Away

Posted January 3, 2013 by cathyso3
Categories: Life

Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been known to over decorate when it comes to Christmas, but I can’t help it. I love Christmas and all its trimmings. I enjoy the sparkle and lights through the month of December, but there comes a time to put Christmas away. The time is NOW!

I’m up to my knees in ornaments, little trees, medium trees, full-sized trees, snowmen, santas, candles, wreathes, garland, and lights. Everywhere I look there is Christmas clutter. After years of putting up and taking down Christmas, I still haven’t figured out how to do it in an organized way.

Our trees are filled with ornaments we’ve picked up or have been given over the course of our lifetime. Each one has a special meaning. This year we received another ornament that will add to our Christmas memories.

My daughter’s boyfriend gave us a Chilean doll ornament. His mother is from Chile, and one of their family traditions is to decorate the Christmas tree with little dolls they’ve collected.


His gift reminded me of two other little dolls we have on one of our trees. We inherited them from my husband’s Swedish family.


These are the ornaments that make a tree special. Family history and recollections of Christmases past are right at hand each time an ornament is placed on the tree or taken down.

I may over decorate, but for a few weeks our house sparkles and warm memories surround us!

The time has come to put Christmas away. It’s a bit overwhelming and sad, but after it’s all done, there’s a feeling of satisfaction. I’m happy to call my uncluttered house my own once again, but I look forward to next Thanksgiving when the process begins all over.

Happy New Year, everyone! May this be a rewarding year for all of us.

Pepe Says Okay

Posted December 27, 2012 by cathyso3
Categories: Laughter

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Maybe I had too much cleaning, too much cooking, and too much family. Picking up scraps of leftover wrapping paper, ribbons, and food hiding in the carpet and furniture wasn’t on my list of priorities. Whatever the case, I wasn’t in my usual jovial holiday mood on Wednesday, okay.

I decided it was “me time.” So I sat down with a book my daughter received as a gift for Christmas. The book appealed to me. It offered lots of white space for a quick read, and I knew it wouldn’t tax my tired brain. The book in hand was It’s Hard Out Here For A Shrimp by Pepe the King Prawn.


Let it be known, our family is crazy for Muppets, okay. During the Christmas holiday, we watched Muppets from Space, and on Christmas night, we all fell asleep watching The Muppet Christmas Carol. It’s a tradition – not to fall asleep during the movie, but to watch the Muppets. So reading Pepe the King Prawn’s book was a welcome escape, okay.

Kermit the Frog’s introduction put a smile on my face, and Pepe’s forward started me laughing. Giggles and snorts followed as I read page after page of Pepe’s thoughts and advice on life, love, and living large. This book is irreverently funny, but so on target, okay. My laughter caught the attention of my family. Perhaps they were wondering if I had finally gone off the deep end. Then I started sharing some of Pepe’s words of wisdom with them, and they knew.

Pepe’s thoughts on families:

My family embarrasses me,

makes me mad,

and drives me crazy.

That’s how I know they’re my family.

This is a great book to take your mind off the things that really don’t matter – like picking up dog poop from the yard when it’s twenty-three degrees. I suggest you put this book on your to read list for the New Year, okay.

(Just in case you didn’t know, Pepe often adds okay after he says something, okay.)

Christmas Books Worth Reading: Don’t Be a Scrooge!

Posted December 20, 2012 by cathyso3
Categories: Holiday Books

Tags: , , , , , ,

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, …”


What the dickens am I blathering about? Charles Dickens, of course. You know – the Charles Dickens of David Copperfield, Great Expectations, and Oliver Twist fame. He also wrote a slew of other books. I’m well acquainted with Dickens. His books were required reading in high school, and I have to admit I found them a bit depressing. Okay, I’m a Scrooge but not a total Scrooge. One of my favorite Christmas stories written by the same Charles Dickens is A Christmas Carol. You know the story. If you don’t, shame on you. It’s a must read!


Scrooge is the perfect curmudgeon. He’s a character you love to hate. Tight-fisted, mean, and heartless are just a few words to describe him. When his dead-as-a-door-nail business partner, Jacob Marley, pays an unexpected ghostly visit to Scrooge, the fun begins. A stern warning to change his ways and a promise of three more ghosts follow Marley’s early evening visit to Scrooge. The Spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet To Come  force Scrooge to face the person he has become. It’s not a pretty picture. By observing the love and caring of those around him, especially a certain Tiny Tim, Scrooge has an aha moment and realizes how empty and worthless his life has become. Thus begins his transformation.

There is great satisfaction in reading this book, knowing that change for the better is always possible. It is a heart-warming story filled with themes of family, love, and kindness. It will touch your heart.

Don’t be a humbug. Remember it is better to give than receive. So give yourself a gift this year. Read this Christmas classic and keep the true meaning of Christmas alive throughout the year.

In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us every one!”



%d bloggers like this: