Saturday, November 26, 2011

Farmyard Beat by Lindsey Craig, Illustrated by Marc Brown

"Chicks can't sleep. Chicks can't sleep.   Chicks can't sleep
'cause they got that beat!"

So starts this cute book for the young ones in our lives.

And the beat goes on with sheep, cat, cows, Hank, (yes Hank), owl, and Farmer Sue. They finally fall asleep when Rooster sings, "Cock-a-doodle-do, I've got that beat!"

Fun, toe-tapping story with Arthur creator Marc Brown's illustrations of collage art made with hand-painted papers!

I know my students and grandson will be singing, "Again, again!"

Delightful! I give it 5 stars!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's A Little Book by Lane Smith

Lane Smith is becoming a favorite author and illustrator of mine. His work is so varied but always exceptional. The book I chose of his is It's a Little Book. This is the baby version of It's a Book. I bought it for my grandson Henry and for the school library. The baby donkey asks the baby ape about what he is holding, which is a book. "Is it for chewing?" "No," he answers...and donkey asks question after question until baby ape says, "It's a book, silly." This is a great book for babies through 2nd grade or anyone who would enjoy it just because it's about books. My kindergarteners loved it and the second time through they practically read it by themselves. It's so adorable and so like a little one to ask so many quesitons. This is a board book and perfect for baby gifts! I ALWAYS give books for presents. ALWAYS! Enjoy!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Pig Day! by Mo Willems

We are celebrating Picture Book Month in November and I had to write about my very favorite author for children, Mo Willems. He started writing children's picture books after a successful career with Sesame Street, winning 6 Emmy awards for his writing. He's been a stand up comedian, creator of shows for Cartoon Network, and commentator for the BBC. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus was his first children's book and one of his most beloved. He's going to go down in history for being known as the author who made children scream at his a good way.

This past week I read aloud his new Elephant and Piggie book, Happy Pig Day! to my students. I tell my kids the story of how some librarians (not THIS librarian) and critics poo-pooed his nomination for a Caldecott Honor book with Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, saying that his drawings were too simplistic.

Oh, you should have heard the outcry! Case in point...just look at the cover of Happy Pig Day! and tell us that you don't know exactly what each one of the characters are feeling. Look at elephant, what is he feeling? Exactly, sad and left out! Have you ever felt left out? We all have! What does that feel like?

Great, great discussions come from these "simplistic" books. Every time I read one of his books, I hear a chorus of "read it again, read it again!". If you want a fun book for an emerging reader, these are it! The really cool part is when we do read it again and the children can almost read it word for word by themselves!

Then, the kids go to the drawing software on the computers and we learn how to draw the characters using shapes. When they start to draw, we've already talked about how he shows us a character is angry, or excited, or moving...they all know the answers just by looking at his amazing illustrations. They get so excited that they can draw just like the illustrator!

One of my teacher's daughter made an entire book of Pigeon all by herself. I was so excited because I don't often get to see the results of our short time together. I was delighted, to say the least. 

So, be sure to pick up a Mo Willems picture book and read it aloud, even if it's to yourself!

As my kids say at the end of each read aloud, "Yay books!".

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November Has Been Proclaimed Picture Book Month!

The picture book I picked for today is YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND by Peter Brown. Lucy is a gregarious little bear who is excited to go out in the forrest and make new friends. My students LOVED this book! Brown's first Lucy book was CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS, another favorite!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith, 1943

Years ago, one of the teachers in the building asked me if I had read A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN. When I told her no, she gasped and told me I must. I had forgotten about it but something led me to buy it on Audible so I could listen to it. (The audio was fantastic and I would highly recommend it.)

It wasn't anything like what I had expected. First, for some reason, I thought it was a book for young adults. It is not. I think every person should read this book at some point in their life but I wouldn't suggest this to students until high school.

Then every time, and I mean EVERY time, I mentioned to someone who had read it themselves, they would gasp and get that look on their face of pure love.  Many of them put their hands to their heart while talking. It's THAT kind of book.

I had no idea that it is a classic right up there with my favorite book of all time, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, by Harper Lee. TREE is now in my number two slot. 

It's the writing you notice first, it's just exquisite. I bought a paperback copy so that at some point, I can go back and read it again, highlighting my favorite passages.  A little hard to do when you're listening in the car.

The book starts in 1912, in the tenements of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. It is about the Nolan family, a poor Irish-American family just trying to survive. The young daughter, Francie Nolan, 11, is the main character. The details of everyday life are written in such great detail that you feel as if you are living this life with Francie and you root for her every step of the way.

As I started reading this book, I kept thinking, "Really? This book was written in 1943?" It is such a realistic look at how people lived their lives that I've been searching for information on whether it was ever banned. Betty Smith writes in excruciating detail how hard  life was for this family. She never omitted any of the realities. We get the truth, and sometimes truth is much harder than any fiction from someones imagination. You know in your heart that these incidents were real.

I learned a lot about our country through this book and it never felt "preachy". Horrible things that happened that eventually changed our country for the better. It is one of my favorite ways to learn history, through a great book.

I can now imagine that this had to be like how my mother lived in the coal camps of southern Colorado. Very poor, just squeaking by, but able to enjoy life despite everything. Desperate at times but because of the character of the people,  there was always hope and joy.

I was sad, and cried at times while reading this book but I truly don't think I felt depressed. And I believe that's the joy of this book. Hope.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'M A SHARK by Bob Shea AWESOME book trailer

From MrSchuReads and Watch Connect Read

Awesome Book People

Being a librarian means I need to keep up with the best books in the business. One of the ways I do this is to go here first every morning:

Anita Silvey's Children's Book-A-Day Almanac

Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.
Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics . . .
The new books on their way to becoming classics . . .
And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large

Here is her impressive bio from her site:
Anita Silvey has been the editor of The Horn Book review journal and the publisher of children’s books at Houghton Mifflin. She estimates that she’s read about 125,000 kids books over the past 40 years. When she’s not reading, she teaches courses in children’s literature, writes nonfiction, and travels all over the country talking to parents, teachers, and librarians about the best books for kids.
She not only gives us book titles but amazing extra information about the books and authors. What she packs into this daily site is astounding without being overwhelming. I LOVE ANITA AND HER ALMANAC!
John at one of his many stops on his summer vacation. This one is in Colorado...sort of. =)
Being an elementary librarian also means that I have to promote books that kids will read. So the second place I go every morning is Watch Connect Read This blog is made by John Schumacher, elementary librarian extraordinaire! John gets more done in one day than I do in a month. He's amazing! He keeps winning awards and making the cover of library magazines because he is one of the finest and hardest-working teacher/librarians in the country. I don't think he sleeps much because he lives and breaths children's books and getting children excited about reading. And you will not meet a nicer young man on the planet. We've been featuring his book trailer videos from his website on our morning news at school. The kids LOVE them and the books go flying out of our library faster than Skippy Jon runs to his closet! I LOVE MRSCHUREADS AND HIS BLOG! 
The third place I go to every morning is Twitter. That is where I met these two people and all of the other people I follow. No matter what business you are in, if you want to learn, promote your business, or keep up with news at the second it happens, you MUST be on Twitter. If you haven't tried it for one reason or another, start with something you love and are passionate about and you won't be sorry. I get so many amazing ideas off of Twitter that sometimes it IS overwhelming. But I believe that it has made me a better librarian, teacher, and person. I LOVE TWITTER AND ALL THE PEOPLE THERE THAT HELP ME!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Mad At Mommy by Komako Sakai

"Mommy, I - I - I AM SO MAD AT YOU!" begins this honest book full of high emotions and sweet pictures. Boy rabbit is really mad at his mommy. The story is short and simple and full of real love. A slice of an ordinary day in 32 pages. Sure to comfort little ones that it's okay to be mad at mommy, she will love you no matter what. 4Stars.

Komako Sakai's books have won numerous awards, including an ALA Notable Children's Book. In May of 2011 she illustrated In the Meadow by author Yukiko Kato. Her other books include The Snow Day and Emily's Balloon.

She lives in Japan.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ice by Arthur Geisert

Ice is a wordless book. That's right, not ONE word, but amazing, fun, unique illustrations. On the back flap is a bit of infromation about the author. "Geisert has published just about a book a year for the last 30 years, and every one of his books has been illustrated with etchings. His work has appeared in The New York Times and the Horn Book Magazine, and he has been a recipient of The New York Times' Best Illustrated Award."

I'm ashamed and stunned and feel cheated that this if my first Geisert book that I've read. Each page has so much going on. You could spend a lot of time describing what's going on with these delightful pigs and that's exactly what my students and I are going to do. I think I will keep my opinion out of it and just urge my students to tell me what they see. I may even stop at a critical point and let them "tell" me what they think happened in the rest of the book. They can tell me verbally, write about it, draw about it, whatever strikes their mood.

We're going to have some kind of fun with this 4Star book, Ice.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Latest Books!

I've been grabbing new books from the library and again, almost made the bag so heavy that I couldn't carry it out.

Some of my favorites:

Socksquatch by Frank W. Dormer - This book made me laugh out loud just looking at the cover. It just hit me as hilarious and I loved the quirky drawings and story. Socksquatch can't find his other sock. He asks quite a few other goofy looking creatures in the process. I thought it was a lot of fun and the drawings are simple enough that my students could easily try to have fun drawing them. 4Stars.

ABC Kids by Simon Basher - The illustrations for this book are quite the opposite feel from the last book. They are beautiful, precise drawings, almost anime-looking. Children's names are used for the fun alliteration. "Arthur's angry ant ate apples." I found this book in a top 100 best books for kids list and am not surprised. It would be another great book for an activity with students. Using their own names, they could come up with their own drawings and sentences. They could try to copy this type of illustration, too. This could be used from pre-school on up for reading and creating their own ABC book! 4Stars

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dog and Bear: Two Friends - Three Stories by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

A "5 Stars Henry and Grandma book"! Great illustrations! So fun and colorful outlined in black! Henry is 2 1/2 and could understand this book easily. Dog and Bear lose something and Henry "walked" his fingers right to it. Grandma loved the book within a book idea. And even though it has three stories, they are just the right length.  Newborns to five year olds will LOVE this book! This grandma and grandson sure did. AND she has sequels! I will be getting this for the school library as well. Just look at the cover and see how easily we can talk about shapes and then draw Dog and Bear. Oh, how the kids are going to love it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Big Week for Me!

What a treat to meet John and Donna on their Adventure Out West '11 They were kind enough to meet up with me while they were here in Fort Collins. Every summer they take a "book trip" taking favorite characters from children's lit to as many libraries, book stores, and American Roadside Attractions as they can pack in. This year it was Frankie Pickle, Argyle, Owly and Wormy. And of course, MANY books.

John gave me Little Chicken's Big Day by Katie Davis with stickers and postcards. My students are going to love this fun book!

Little Chicken's Big Day book trailer. My students went NUTS over this video!

Below, look close and you'll see I'm holding Darth Paper origami that John made (instructions here) of Darth Paper Strikes Back, cover above. It's the sequel to The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. Great read for 4th grade and up, about a group of nerdy middle schoolers who come to depend on the advice of Origami Yoda. Can't wait to read the sequel!

John lives and breathes children's books. The man is unbelievable, a hard act to follow. Of course that's why he made the cover of School Library Journal. He was chosen as one of the top movers and shakers of school librarians. Here he's signing my copy. I had him sign it to my students at Bacon. Why did I do THAT? I should have had him sign Little Chicken's Big Day to the students and the magazine to ME! What can I say, I was nervous. Who knows what I said to him during lunch. I hope I wasn't too much of a babbling idiot. Sigh.
John and I met on Twitter. He's @MrSchuReads and I am @BookJeannie. He is one of the first librarians I started following. I learned so much from him in a short amount of time, and I started following eveyone he followed and quickly became addicted to Twitter.

Every morning I check out Anita Silvey's Children's Book-A-Day Almanac and John's Watch. Connect. Read. They are both gobs of wonderful, wonderful information about children's books. I get so many great recommendations and titles from them!

I wish we lived closer so I could visit him and his school, and especially the book store Anderson's Book Shop in Chicago! I WILL get to Chicago some day. My daughter is actually on her way there for business. Small world.
It's a fine line for me to follow him and other amazing people on Twitter. I feel like I'm spending WAY too much time there. I must set priorities and go from there. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


And click below for the

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

FORGOTTEN by Cat Patrick

FORGOTTEN is Cat Patrick's debut young adult book about a 16 year old girl, London Lane, who at 4:33 every morning forgets her past. When she wakes up, she has notes, her cell phone is her life line, and her mom helps, too. But she cannot remember yesterday but she can see the future. Think about that. Would YOU want to know your future? Not seeing the past for me means I can read books and see movies for the first time over and over and over!

The pic at the right is a photo I took.  We were on vacation when it came out. In England. My hubby and I took a day to go to Oxford (because of Harry Potter and The Golden Compass) and we went to Blackwell's Book Shop.  Cool, right? I was so excited when I found it, I bought it on the spot!

Cat Patrick is the sister-in-law of Katie, a teacher at my school. So, I've been in on all of the excitement long before the book came out. 

How cool is it to have your first book get published? By Little and Brown, no less? They're the ones who published that vampire series. Yes, that one. No, I was NOT a fan. At all. Wanted to throw the second one across the room and did not (and will not) read the rest. No, you can't make me. Ever. But I do delight in making fun of the movies. HA!

Story is that Cat's husband was a little iffy about the idea of her quitting her day job to write full time. But she did it anyway and wrote Forgotten. Then it was published, big deal in of itself. Then she sold the movie rights. Hailee Stanfield will star. Yep, you know, the one who won an Oscar for TRUE GRIT?

I'd say hubby is happier.

But the really good part, is the book. The story. It's so much fun to read and try to figure out. I haven't predicted one thing in this book and to me that means it's top notch! Hubby is reading it right now and enjoying it!

Cat has more books in her bag, sorry, pun intended. We'll have to see what she comes up with next, can't wait!

Friday, May 6, 2011

I Want to Be Like Anita and John!

I'm dating myself here. Remember the old Nike commercial "I want to be like Mike"? Well, I want to be a combination of my two favorite people I follow on Twitter.

Anita Silvey's Book-a-Day Almanac and John Schumacher's Watch. Connect. Read. Every morning I make coffee and then get on my IPad and check both of these informative and fun sites.

Anita Silvey's credits are a mile long. Former editor of Horn book and author herself, each day she highlights a favorite book of hers. Her article is always loaded with wonderful tidbits. She also reports each day about author birthdays, and days like National Bubble Gum day. I find that my day has not started until I've read every single word.

John Schumacher was just named as one of the movers and shakers in the librarain world. If you need to know the hottest and newest books, he's your guy. His specialty is book trailers, the latest and greatest. His impressive goal for 2011 is to read 2011 books, he's nearing one thousand already. I think he's going to SMOKE that goal! A librarian, teacher, and techie, oh my! He brings authors into his school via Skype. He uses QR codes to get his students interested in new books. He hangs posters in the bathrooms of all the new books he's purchased at the wonderful Anderson's Book Store! He is what all librarians want to be. Young. Okay, I'm kidding...well, maybe only a little.

To say that they inspire me is an understatement. Their passion for kids and books are my passions. My hope is that I can glean knowledge from both of them, little by little, and share with my students, fellow teachers, and librarians. If you love kids and books, join me, and take a look at these two amazing people. You won't be disappointed. ENJOY AND KEEP READING!

REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly

Jennifer Donnelly has done it again with REVOLUTION. Another near perfect book. I've only read one of her other books, A NORTHERN LIGHT. Totally different but brilliant as well. I loved them for different reasons but give both 5 of 5 stars.

Andi blames herself for her younger brother's death, and, maybe unconsciously, her parents estrangement. But she's angry and deservedly so. Her passion is music but her father doesn't hear it. She is researching an 18th century composer Amade Malherbeau. (Whom I believed to be real, he's not. Ms. Donnelly made him up.) Andi's research and a mysterious discovery leads her to a young girl during the French Revolution. You, the reader, get to go back and forth from Andi's life and Alex's life.

Maria, from West Side Story. Sing it. Hear those 3 notes? Ma♪ri♪a♪. Before I read REVOLUTION, I didn't know why I love minor notes and chords, I just knew they moved me. Those three notes are called a triad. From Wikipedia: triad - three-note chord consisting of a "root" note together with the third and fifth above it. Music is just part of REVOLUTION, but for me, it's very important.

In an interview with her at Booktunes I quote, "I wanted very much to make the point of the power of art to sustain. I love the idea of reaching back to our artistic ancestors for help and comfort and guidance. I’ve been sustained by the work of other writers my entire life. Andi is sustained by generations of musicians, stretching from Johnny Greenwood all the way back to Malherbeau (a fictional 18th-century French composer I conjured for this book). If there’s one thing I really want to get across to readers, especially teenage readers, is that this priceless legacy – be it music, or paintings, or books – exists. And it exists for you. If things are bad, take hold of it and let it carry you."

Sometimes, I don't always "get" why a book moves me. I mean, I know what moved me. The music moved me but it was the connection to the music. It took this article for me to understand that connection, that it SUSTAINS me and it can help my students to know that it can sustain them, too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


The United States as we know it no longer exists. In its place stand 13 districts. Each year two names are drawn from each district, one girl, one boy, between the ages 12-18 to compete in a gladiator-type contest to the death. It is broadcast live on television for all to see. A gruesome reminder of the hungry times, in hopes that it will never happen again. The games takes place, ironically, in the prosperous Capitol, lead by President Snow.

From bleak district 12, Katniss and sister Prim are fatherless after an explosion in the mines. The sisters' mother has a break down, which Katniss can't, or won't, forgive. Katniss and her best friend Gale hunt in the forbidden woods to put food on the table for their families and trade in the black market. Horror strikes the family again as they hear young Prim's name drawn for the Hunger Games. Katniss immediately volunteers to replace her. Peeta, the baker's son, is the chosen boy. Soon, they are sent off to train and prepare for the Hunger Games, each knowing that only one can come out alive.

It's been a long time since I've gobbled up a trilogy this fast. My hubby has the fever and is now finishing the last book. My angst was so great, that I wrote sticky notes to let him know how I was feeling on certain pages. Many, many times I wanted to turn to the last page and end my torture. But I persevered. I made it.

Suzanne Collins has written, perhaps, the book that will entice girls to read a fantasy genre without vampires. And once the boys discover it, they will be racing to tell their friends, too. But kids aren't the only ones reading these fast paced, well written books, as I've witnessed adults raving and sharing.

Rumors for the movie are already circulating, realizing we are late in discovering the tomes. The young female star from True Grit, Hailee Steinfeld, is one of the favorites to play Katniss.

Ms. Collins never sugar coats, yet elegantly, showing us the brutal horrors of war, while we, as the reader, can do nothing but watch it unfold and marvel at her story telling. Nothing in these books is predictable, none of it is easy. If you start this series, be sure to have all three books handy. Trust me. 1 THE HUNGER GAMES 2 CATCHING FIRE 3 MOCKINGJAY