Thankful for Books, Day 6: Babymouse!


I’m thankful for: Babymouse by Jennifer L Holm

With its distinctive pink and black artwork, Babymouse is easily recognizable as one of the kings (queens?) of graphic novels.  It’s her strong sense of self, her struggles with friendship, and her vivid imagination that keep readers coming back for more.  From the beach to the stage, the high-spirited Babymouse series is a winner.

J-girl, age 7, is a huge Babymouse fan.  It’s the classic combination of words and pictures in a palatable format that keeps her entertained for hours.  She seeks out titles at libraries and bookstores, rereading favorites wherever she can: in the car, under the covers, on the couch.  As much as she loves Babymouse, though, perhaps I love her more.  Because any character that engages my girl and encourages reading is worthy of adoration.

Thankful for Books, Day 5: Cam Jansen


I’m thankful for: Cam Jansen by David A. Adler

Her real name is Jennifer, but with a memory like a camera she’s known as Cam.  It’s that photographic memory that enables her to solve mysteries with her best friend Eric.  Hearing Cam say “click” lets readers know she’s found a potential clue, giving readers a chance to work alongside her to crack the case.

I vividly remember my elementary school library and where, exactly, the Cam Jansen mysteries were shelved:  all the way in the back, on the stage (yes, there was a stage), a sharp left, then under A for Adler.  Third grade wasn’t my best year as a student, but it was perhaps the year that I started to identify myself as a reader…and Cam Jansen was a big part of my self-identification.  And while it may be crazy to think how this series – the first of many series I read as a child – continues to be both published AND popular more than 30 years later, it’s really not so far-fetched: great books will always have readers.  Cam Jansen is the proof for young readers.


Me and David A Adler at 2014 ALA. Exciting!

Thankful for Books, Day 4

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I’m thankful for: Foxtrot / Calvin and Hobbes

Perennial favorites in the 90’s, Ament and Watterson created memorable characters and dynamic family scenarios with just a few words and pictures each day.

Starting in middle school, my mornings began with the comics.  I’d race my brother to get the AJC newspaper, snatch the Entertainment section, and then pour over the day’s offerings while he’d wait in a less-than-silent sulk.  Without question, our favorites were spicy Calvin and his expressive tiger, Hobbes and the realistic siblings of the Fox family.  Eventually, we branched out: I’d also read the Sports pages, while he’d grab the Auto section.  As adults we’re still readers of comics, though neither Calvin nor Foxtrot run as daily strips.  To this day, when we visit our parents, we’ll grab a bowl of cereal, scour the paper for the funnies, and settle to read our new favorites…while lording it over the other in triumph, of course.

Each year, as Thanksgiving approaches, I take a moment to reflect and give thanks to the books that influence my life, my family, and my students.

Thankful for Books, Day 3


I’m thankful for: Matilda by Roald Dahl

Precocious Matilda lives with curiosity, wonder, and a strong sense of justice while she attends primary school and deals with her unloving, loathsome parents.

Another pick from our 2014 West Coast Road Trip that has become a family favorite.  Sharing stories where the adults are most horrid and the children are good and angelic is a delight – I’d almost dare any child not to like it.  My littles were fully engaged listening to young Matilda enforce vigilante justice to those who wronged her.

Each year, as Thanksgiving approaches, I take a moment to reflect and give thanks to the books that influence my life, my family, and my students.

Thankful for Books, Day 2


I’m thankful for: the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo

My boy H, age 5, loves – LOVES! – this series.  So does J-girl, age 7.  So do all the adults and children readers I know.  Yippie-aye-oh, here’s what we know: Mercy is the best!

Mercy is a pig – a true porcine wonder.  Mr and Mrs Watson are her doting owners.  And Eugenia, Baby Lincoln, Ned, Leroy Ninker and others make up the Deckawoo Drive gang of neighbors, friends, and community members where the Watsons live.  A beginning chapter book series that’s as entertaining for adults as it is for children. Kate DiCamillo’s rich vocabulary and fluid storytelling – along with Van Dusen’s energetic artwork – is not to be missed.

Each year, as Thanksgiving approaches, I take a moment to reflect and give thanks to the books that influence my life, my family, and my students.

Read-Aloud Tuesday! Nov 18, 2014

Welcome!   No theme this week, just picture books I’ve enjoyed.

building-our-house-jonathan-beanBuilding Our House by Jonathan Bean

A family moves from the city to the country and, with hard work and dedication, builds their own house from the ground up.  Based on Bean’s childhood, this story is sure to keep the builders of the world engaged.  Rich illustrations showcasing the abilities of every family member (Mom hangs insulation while pregnant!) add to the perfection of the story.  Family photos add to the beauty and realism.  A welcome story for the Maker movement in today’s libraries.  Share with ages 4+. ©2013.


Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead

Sebastian, bored and with nothing to see, decides to solve his problem: he builds a balloon of afghans and patchwork quilts, fills it with all the things he’ll ever need, and floats free high into the night sky.  His fantastical adventure includes a real Bear, a long-beaked Bird, and three Sisters as his balloon travels to new places.  Gorgeous illustrations, particularly the grey mist, accompany Sebastian’s voyage.  Is it imagined?  A daydream?  Readers have much to discuss as Sebastian’s balloon flies on.  Share with ages 4-8.   ©2014.


Betty Bunny Wants Everything by Michael B. Kaplan

Betty Bunny, the precocious heroine from Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake, is back – this time at the toy store.  She’s allowed to choose just one toy, but Betty’s not about to follow the rules: she tests the limits, filling a shopping cart with toys, toys, TOYS!  With a mom and dad who follow through and three siblings full of wise words, Betty learns that one little bunny can’t always have everything she wants.  The Betty Bunny books are a family favorite, and this one is timely for the winter holidays (and the bookfair at H’s school) when limits are needed.  Share with ages 3+.

Read-Aloud Tuesday is a time when I read aloud in my son’s Montessori classroom (ages 3-6).  Young readers are demanding and honest: I strive to share the best of the best with them each week.

2014 Thankful for Books, Day 1

Each year, as Thanksgiving approaches, I take a moment to reflect and give thanks to the books that influence me, my family, and my students.  Today, I’m thankful for:

Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Realistic fiction, Humorous.  Stand-alone / series (Fudge).  Share with ages 5+.

Peter Hatcher shares stories about life as a fourth grader, both at school and at home.  It’s his little brother, 3-year-old Fudge that makes this chapter book – first published in 1972 – appealing to readers today.  Fudgie steals the story with his outrageous-yet-believable antics in the humorous, memoir-themed chapters.

I read this book over 30 years ago in 4th grade and loved every moment.  My husband and I shared it with J-girl and my boy H this summer on our 2014 West Coast Road Trip, laughing our way through the desert in Utah and Nevada. Not a week goes by without someone saying “Eat It or Wear It!” during dinner in homage to Fudge’s dinnertime drama.  Thanks, Judy Blume!