Recent Reading

Hi Reading Friends– I have one question for you —  What are you reading??    Do you have some recommendations?  I’d love to hear them!  Always looking for worthwhile books to track down and read.

And for you readers:

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”  ― C.S. Lewis
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Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”  ― Lemony Snicket

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  ― Dr. Seuss

I’ve been reading a piles of books lately.  Mostly reading snuggled up against a toddler, who has definite literary tastes. And also some a few books of my own that have been worthwhile.   Here’s a few of our favorites:

There’s been multiple readings of The Lady with the Alligator Purse every day around here.   It’s a sing-along book about a baby who drinks up all the bathwater and eats up all the soap, resulting in visits from the doctor, nurse and, or course, the Lady with the Alligator Purse, who saves the day!  Nadine Westcott has added her lively lovely illustrations to a whole string of children’s songs in books like Miss Mary Mack and Down By the Bay.  All books you’ll read/sing again and again.

Hug by Jez Alborough is also on high demand here.  A baby monkey sees an elephant mom & child giving hugs and it sets him on a search for his own big hug.  Along the way he finds other jungle animals hugging and is about to despair when his Mom appears with– you guessed it– an enormous hug!  Few words, just illustrations tell the story.  Was fun to talk though and the bonus was big hugs from my reading buddy!

Go Dog Go is a classic by P. D. Eastman (but in the Dr. Seuss collection).  It’s just a series of observations about dogs doing crazy things, in the simplest vocabulary and happy illustrations.  That’s why it’s great reading with a toddler and also a wonderful first book for a kindergartner to take on reading on his own.  It’s silly and whimsical and ends with a big dog party!!  Any kid who likes dogs, will like this book.

The Monster At The End of This Book by Jon Stone is the best!  Good old Grover notices from the title that there is a monster at the end of the book.  He spends that next several pages trying to stop you from turning pages so that you will not get to the monster at the end.  It’s funny and interactive and happily (spoiler alert!) the monster at the end is just him–lovable Grover.  I recommend this book be read with that grumbly Grover voice for best effect!!  Lois and I love it– with her stuffed Grover sitting on her lap!

Here’s my reading buddy Little Lois and I reading at the library after Toddler Story Time.

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And happily, I’ve had some time to read books that are not heavily illustrated, aimed at a little more mature audience.

One of those books that sticks with you long after you’ve turned the last page, Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover is a riveting story.  Westover grew up in a large survivalist family near he mountains of Idaho.  Her rigid father ran a junkyard on their land, her mother a mid-wife and herbal healer. Over the years family members suffered gashes, burns, concussions and were just treated at home, the medical world distrusted.  As well, the children did not attend schools and were cut off from the wide world.  Tara suffered from an abusive brother and parents who would not protect her.   When one of Westover’s brothers goes to college, he encourages her to do it as well.  She teaches herself enough to take the ACT and eventually goes/graduates from Brigham Young University–hearing for the first time of the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement.  She continues on to study at Harvard and to earn her PhD from Cambridge.  But through these years she constantly struggles over her relationship with her family, with loyalties and the fears of her childhood at play. A fascinating crazy true story about the ties of family and the power of education.

Eleanor Oliphant is a quirky socially awkward young woman whose days are filled with office work and nights and weekends are spent alone, consuming frozen pizza and vodka.  She makes the acquaintance of Raymond, the IT guy at her work and he gradually becomes the friend she needs.  As you read along, the story of Eleanor’s disturbing childhood becomes apparent.  Raymond’s dogged friendship see’s her through her darkest hours.  Enjoyed this story for the interesting characters that I fell in love with by the end of the book–faithful kind hearted Raymond and courageous Eleanor.

Kate Bowler is a professor Duke Divinity School.  At 35 she has a wonderful husband and a small new son– and is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.  She realizes how much she believed she could control her own life circumstances — that things did happen for a reason.  What results is her journey through involved treatments, surrounded by family and friends.  Her honest, vivid, sometimes funny account is Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved.  Her truths about how to live when death is a near possibility are heartening and ring true.”

And I’ve saved the best for last.  I have to admit to being a huge fan of Shannan Martin, first on her blog and now her Instagram posts that are sweet, funny, honest and open my eyes to the world of need around me.  So when there was an offer to receive an advance copy of her latest book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places, I jumped at the chance!  Shannan tells stories– of people in her neighborhood and how strangers became friends.  She writes about digging in deep with the people around us, about being intrepid in how we love people, about sticking around for the long haul.  My copy is dog eared right and left– and I’m ready to go in and read it for a second time to collect all the thoughts I need to remember for my own care taking of people I love. Loved every well crafted page of this amazing book.  You can find Shannan’s Instagram meditations/warm hearted stories at “Shannanwrites.”  And her book is due out October 9th.

Here’s an excerpt of her writing:
“I’m on a journey toward understanding that my highest calling is to be a woman who loves my neighbor more than I love myself. I’m not very awesome at this yet, but each day is a new opportunity for growth, for guts, for compassion, and for open hands.”

 

For more posts on books worth reading:
Halloween Books Kids Love
Best Thanksgiving Books
Two Books–Two Old Favorites
Three Books–Three Women
A Pair of Good Books
Two Favorite Books

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”   — Jane Austen from Pride and Prejudice

P.S.  Painting at the top is “Great Chapter” by Nancy Chaboun (1954-)
Painitng at the bottom is “Girl Reading” by Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938)

 

Some Favorite Books by Roald Dahl

Hi all- I love kid’s books– have a bookcase full, up to the ceiling, ready for grand-kids to chose from.  And reading with kids?? The Best!  So looking back at reading with my kids, reading to my school kids and reading with grand-kids, I’d have to say my favorite read aloud author has to be Roald Dahl– just for the pure sense of fun and adventure that fill the chapters of his books!  (Not to mention the expressive delightful illustration by Quentin Blake!)

So here is the short list of my favorite Dahl read-aloud books.  How many of them have you chuckled through??

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The BFG is the swashbuckling tale of The Big Friendly Giant, who along with little Sophie, sets off to save the children of England from being eaten by a band of blood curdling giants!!  The story involves some magical dreams, rollicking language and the Queen of England!  A favorite.

 

A favorite of readers, Matilda, tells the story of a prodigious little reader who comes up against the harshest headmistress of all time and with the of her beloved teacher, Miss Honey, she brings the ugly Miss Trunchbull to justice.  Matilda is bright, thoroughly lovable character.  Love the unexpected happy ending.

 

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In Fantastic Mr. Fox, the Fox, father of a family of foxes, protects his family by outwitting the 3 mean farmers who are after him– fat Boggis, squat Bunce and skinny Bean.  It will have you guessing how that fantastic fox will do it and you are rooting for him all the way!  Full of fun.

 

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Mr. Hoppy of the book Esio Trot, is in love with his neighbor, Mrs. Silver. But she only has eyes for her pet tortoise, Alfie.  So Mr. Hoppy schemes through a series of tortoises for a way to gain Mrs. Silver’s affection.  It’s a sweet lightheaded story and Mr. Hoppy gets his happy ending!

 

A remarkable Grandmother, warns here young grandson how to spot a witch in this page turner, The Witches.   When the boys encounters a room full of witches on holiday with his grandma, he is turned into a mouse!  But that does not stop him (or his grandmother) from bringing the witches to their just reward.  A tender tale of the young boy and his ever loving grandmother.

Finally, I would offer you, D is for Dahl, a comprehensive A to Z guide on all things Roald Dahl.  It is not a biography, but rather a dictionary of facts, trivia and way detail about Roald Dahl, his stories and his beloved Characters.  A lot of fun for any Roald Dahl fan!

 

“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.”  –Roald Dahl (1916-1990, British, author, screenwriter, fighter pilot)

 

Five Favorite Children’s Books

Hi all– I’ve been tagged to post my 5 Top Children’s Books– by one of my favorite bloggers Marcia Strykowski, author, librarian and blogger who writes about books, travels, authors. Her posts are always interesting!!  Thanks Marcia!!

The Rules are:
1.  Thank whoever’s nominated you and and share their blog link.
2.  Let us know your Top 5 Children’s books!
3.  Nominate 5 people to do the same.
4.  Let your nominee’s know you’ve nominated them.

I’m going with Marcia and picking 5 picture books.  Even though I think I’ve mentioned these before, they are my Top 5:

Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier — The story of Noah told through finely detailed illustration. My favorite frame is Mrs. Noah weeping for joy when the dove returns with the olive twig, marking the end of the flood.  A Caldecott Medal winner, just beautiful.

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Brave Iene by William Steig — When Sophie’s dressmaking mother fall’s ill, Sophie sets off through stormy weather to deliver the gown to the Duchess for her ball.  Charming picture of a young girl’s courage and the sweetest happy ending.

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Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet & Allan Ahlberg — Through a series of “I spy” poems readers cross paths with many fairy tale characters until they all converge on a plum pie picnic!  Adorable lively illustration.

 

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Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Schart Hyman — The classic retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story paired with the most beautiful detailed illustrations by my favorite illustrator.  Caldecot Medal Honor book.

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Wolf by Becky Bloom — a group of reading barnyard animals inspire a ferocious wolf to change his ways and learn to read– which is not as easy as he thought it would be!  Wonderful salute to reading with the most expressive whimsical illustration.

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My nominees to write their own post on favorite children’s books (if they chose to do so) are:
Antonia at http://zoale.com
Lacey at https://bigandpinkytoes.wordpress.com
Mary at https://heartandsoul974.wordpress.com
Lisa at https://booktime584.wordpress.com/

Please be sure to visit my nominator at  https://marciastrykowski.com

P.S. Illlustation at the top by Francesco Ghersina

Books for a Special Baby

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“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall. 
— Roald Dahl (British novelist & children’s writer 1916-1990)

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Hi all– In a couple weeks we’re heading up to San Francisco to a baby shower for our daughter Ani and her Brian.  I can’t wait!  And all the friends are bringing books to start that baby girl’s library.  I’m of a mind that a baby can’t have too many books!  So here’s my dilemma– which books should I wrap up for the newest grand-girl??  There are so many stories I look forward to reading to that little girl!  Here’s a few possibilities:

The Jolly Postman by Alan and Janet Ahlberg
A British postman delivers letters to storybook characters across the countryside– and the actual letters pull out from pockets on the pages to be read.  Charming.

Noah’s Ark by Peter Speier
Dutch artist. Peter Speier,  tells the story of Noah and his ark in the this detailed wordless book with plenty  of humor ad warmth. A Caldecott winner.

No Jumping on the Bed! by Tedd Arnold
Despite warnings about jumping on the bed, Walter jumps until he crashes down through several floors of his apartment building, taking the other occupants along with him.  Clever rhyme and illustration.

My Crayons Talk by G. Brian Karas
A lively lovely first book of colors– set the to a staccato rhythm that carries the story along.  “Talk talk, my crayons talk, Clickety Clackety Talk talk talk!”

Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells
Naughty Nora just wants attention and she’ll do just about anything to get it– until she disappears!

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont
A toddler goes wild with his set of paints, starting with his body and ending up pretty much splashing paint in all directions– to the tune of “It Ain’t Going to Rain No More.”  Wacky rhyme and whimsical illustrations make this loads of fun!

The Lady with the Alligator Purse by Nadine Wescott
Sing along story of a baby who drinks the bath water and eats the soap and ends up with the arrival of the slightly crazy doctor and nurse.  But the hero of the story is the lady with the alligator purse– and her pizza!
Wacky fun.

Lunch by Denise Flemming
Colorfully crafted illustrations tell the story of a little mouse with a big appetite who eats his way through the kitchen.  Delightful.

There you have it.  So many fantastic books (and there are more!!)  We’ll be reading stories galore to our new little baby Heung in the year to come…

 

Christmas Books for Kids (& people who read to them!)

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Illustration by Eva Erickson

Hi Book Buddies–  One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the big stack of books I lug off to school December 1st.  In room #2 we read a Christmas book every morning to kick off our study day.  Everything from The Nativity to The Grinch.

— And now with the Grand-girls coming for Christmas this year, I’m collecting a stack of my favorites on the coffee table for a little pre-bedtime reading with the girls, cozy on the couch under a blanket.  It’s a very readable time of year.  So here are just a few of our favorites:

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Christmas in the Barn is one of those cozy books that make perfect bedtime reading.  The lilting words and the gentle pictures are like a sweet lullaby.  It’s a different telling of the nativity by Margaret Wise Brown (who wrote Goodnight Moon)– simple and perfect for small children.

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If you’ve ever been involved in a church Christmas pageant, you’ll love this rollicking story of the year the Herdman’s, the most notoriously mean kids in town, who stride into Sunday School and take over the Christmas program.  The rag tag siblings put a whole new spin on Mary, Joseph and the 3 wise men.  And the result is surprisingly touching.  It’s a short chapter book– just read it aloud to my 4th graders.  We loved it.

 

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This is a book about Christmas wishes– a small girl wishing for a family.  A doll wishing for a girl to claim her.  And the Joneses wishing for a daughter to share their Christmas.  There are twists and turns in a snowy English village as all their wishes converge into one suitably happy ending.  I think I love this book because years back I read it every Christmas with my two girls. –A sweet and satisfying Christmas tale.

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If you’ve only seen the Grinch movie, I’m asking you– oh please do read the book,  How the Grinch stole Christmas  —soon.  (it’s so much better!). That old Grinch mischievously tries to ruin Christmas, only to find it can go on without presents or trees or roast-beast.   It’s Dr. Seuss at his very best, with his inventive rhymes, quirky illustrations, thoroughly likable characters, and crazy story line all wrapped up with a heart-warming ending.

Some Fine Books for Kids

Hi Reading Buddies–  Everyday after lunch in room #2, we had the most tranquil time of day.  I read to the kids, the most page turning book I could drum up.  And then they read alone propped in various places around the room.  It just makes me happy sitting in the middle of a room full of readers.

So if you have some younger readers in your life and are always looking for book recommendations as I am, here’s some books that can take you into summer reading:

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The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech is full of delightful quirky characters, starting with Lizzie and Naomi, a pair of orphaned friends who banter and bumble through the town of Blackbird Tree.  Then there’s the boy Finn who falls from a tree– and across the sea in Ireland, two unusual sisters, Nula and Sybil. There’s mystery secrets, humor and deeper meanings.  Fun and  yes, unexpected events make the book so charming.

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This story, A Horse and His Boy, was one of our favorite read-alouds in room#2 this past year.  It’s the third in the C.S. Lewis fantasy series– the perilous trek of two runaways, Shasta, who lived with a poor fisherman, and a nobleman’s daughter, Aravis, along with their talking horses. They come upon trickery, magical encounters and in the end a noble battle.  We loved these likable characters and their rocky interactions.  A profound adventure story.

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Unknown-1Slylark, is the sequel to Patricia MacLachan’s better known Sarah Plain and Tall.  It continues the story of Anna and Caleb, who live on the Nebraska prairie with their father and Sarah, who came from Maine to marry and be their mother.  The family faces a severe drought, loss of dear neighbors who abandon their farms.  They survive a fire and endless heat, but in the end Sarah and the children retreat to Maine and the house by the sea.  What will become of the farm? of their family?  –a heartwarming picture of the difficult life of pioneers and a family who lived it.
P.S.– There’s a wonderful film version starring Glenn Close and Christopher Walken to follow up your reading.

It’s summer– big trips to the library followed by long, bookish afternoons.  Enjoy!

 

Thanksgiving Books for Kids

Hello friends– Do you love Thanksgiving as much we do around here?  In my third-fourth grade class at school, we’re filling in those “Thankful Heart Charts” and making plans with the cafeteria lady to use her ovens to bake 30 little pumpkin breads!  And we start off every day of November with a Thanksgiving picture book– I’m hoping to drum up a whole lot of thankfulness in room #2.

Here’s some of our favorite books:

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Pilgrims of Plymouth is one of those beautifully photographed National Geographic books.  It’s a slice of history for young readers, detailing a child’s life almost 400 years ago.  There were games of marbles and meals cooked over open fires, no school, but plenty chores to help the family.  It’s simple, but engaging, a great first introduction to colonial America.

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This rollicking book of Thanksgiving poetry can keep you amused for days–starting with the school Thanksgiving pageant and moving on through visiting relatives, the lively feast and even the post Thanksgiving dinner nap.  The illustrations add to the fun with loads of colorful detail.  It’s a books kids from 5 to 55 can enjoy.

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This Thanksgiving story is a tender tale for older readers with a decidedly southern flavor from Truman Capote.  Twelve year old Buddy and his best friend, his elderly cousin Miss Sook prepare the country house for Thanksgiving. The holiday is populated with a houseful of colorful characters, and Buddy is dismayed when the school bully, Odd Henderson is invited.  A crisis occurs in the middle of feast, but Miss Sook makes things right and consoles Buddy through it all.

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These two books make quite a pair.  The text is the same– the classic lyric, “Over the River and Through the Woods” by Lydia Maria Child.  Both books follow a family on their way to the grandparents homes, but that is where the similarity ends!  My old trusty-rusty version pictures an old time family on an idyllic sleigh ride through the woods.  It’s all “Currier & Ives-ish.”  The newer version features a wacky New York City family and includes a NYC traffic jam, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, balloons and all and a death defying arrival for the youngest member of the clan.  It’s pure fun.  They belong side by side on your Thanksgiving bookshelf.  Happy reading!