Happy Summer Reading

Reading in a hammock

photo courtesy of http://www.giverslog.com

Lazy summer days with nothing more to do than swing in a hammock with a glass of lemonade and a book? That’s my idea of a wonderful summer afternoon.

If it isn’t your child’s idea of a perfect afternoon, then help them discover the magic of reading by reading out loud with them. Make a special time, a special place, and choose a special book. If possible, read it ahead of time to make sure they will like it, and come up with a coordinating activity to finish the time.  Depending on your child’s age, a book read over several sessions increases excitement (especially when the chapter leaves the reader hanging…) There is nothing better than hearing your child plead, “Oh don’t stop there, please can we read more?”

Don’t let your child backslide in reading skills over the summer.

Make it Fun!

Photo courtesy Built by Kids/Princeton Tec. Visit builtbykids.com for a link to this cool headlamp, and for instructions for making a nifty A-frame tent for reading indoors.

Photo courtesy Built by Kids/Princeton Tec. Visit builtbykids.com for a link to this cool headlamp, and for instructions for making a nifty A-frame tent for reading indoors.

Have a D.E.A.R. day (Drop Everything and Read).

Take a Reading Picnic. Make fun food and take books along. Even your own back yard can be fun if you’re doing something different.

Have a Twilight Reading Party. Put a tent in your back yard and give everyone flashlights for reading. Or you can let the kids stay up as long as they want, as long as they are reading.

Make a weekly trip to the nearest public library, and stop for ice cream with the money you’ve saved. (Just don’t get ice cream drips on the library books!) Find your local library here.

Find or make a fun spot where reading is the only activity allowed. My favorite spot to read as a child? The maple tree in our side yard. It was easily climbed and had a natural seat — not too far up, but far enough to not be seen and be surrounded by green. One of my favorite reading memories was reading The Secret Garden in that tree.

Make sure your kids have down-time this summer. Our lives and our children’s lives are so structured and planned that sometimes we forget that kids need time to be kids. (And if they tell you they are bored, hand them a good book.)

And bribery works too. 🙂

What’s on YOUR reading list this summer?

Summer reading

Follow this link for age/grade appropriate book lists:
Summer Reading Lists for Elementary Students

Have a great reading summer!


E-Books at the library

Thanks to the Hometown High Q team’s amazing performance last year, the TCS Library has been able to purchase a new e-book collection.  Trinity’s High Q team last year — Alex Murph, Jack Worsham, and Evan Thomas — earned a grant for Trinity’s library by getting so far in the tournament. The generous grant, underwritten by Westfield Insurance, enabled the library to purchase fifty e-books on a variety of non-fiction subjects for middle school and high school, such as Literature criticism, Biographies, History, Contemporary Issues, and World Geography.

All e-books are identified on Library World by this little icon.

All e-books are identified on Library World by this little icon.

The electronic books are cataloged on Library World just like a regular book. The difference is, rather than going to the shelf to find the book, you just click on the screen words Electronic Access.  If a login screen appears, use your TCS library card number, and then the “book” will appear on your computer (or laptop, or tablet, or smartphone.)
For home access, the e-books can also be downloaded in both EPub and PDF formats, which accommodates most e-book readers. Log in with your TCS library card number and instructions will be sent to your email address for downloading the book to your device or your computer.




Library World now has mobile apps for  IPhone, IPad , Android.  Click on the links to download the apps to your device. This is great for downloading copies of the new e-books.

For a list of the electronic resources that the library purchased you may click on this link: Electronic Books purchased for TCS


The Librarian’s 26 Favorite Picture Books of All Time: to give as gifts, to read over and over, or just to have on your own bookshelves…Part 2

This is the second part of the list. For the first thirteen, see the previous post.

A Visitor for Bear A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker; illustrations by Kady MacDonald Denton.

This is another favorite about unlikely friends — Bear has a sign on his front door that says No Visitors Allowed! But little Mouse just keeps ignoring the sign and popping up at the most inopportune moments in the most inopportune places. (Hmmm…Just like real life!) When Mouse finally shows up in the teapot and begs to have tea with Bear, Bear relents — mostly because he is just tired of being badgered.

But amazingly enough, he discovers that he actually likes little mouse’s company. Becker has written a just right book for cuddling and laughing and perhaps having a tea party together…

48481 The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson; illustrated by Vladimir VasilĘąevich Vagin.

Katherine Patterson is famous in the children’s literary world for winning the Newbery Award twice — Bridge to Terabithia in 1978 and Jacob Have I Loved in 1981. She didn’t write very many picture books — most of her books are for older children — and this selection is longer than the traditional picture book; indeed, this is best as a family read-aloud, for everyone in the family (older than six) will enjoy it.

An original “fairy-tale” The King’s Equal tells the story of Prince Raphael, the haughty, prideful son of the beloved King. Alas, the old king knows of his character — on his death bed the king tells the Prince that he may reign as king, but he can never wear the crown until he weds someone who is his equal in beauty, intelligence, and wealth.

Of course, Raphael has to be humbled before that person can be found, and this wonderful book is the story of how he finds humility — and his queen.

mufaro's beautful daughtersMufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe.

Another story of pride, this beloved book is often called an African Cinderella story. All the daughters in the land are called to the city, where the king will choose a wife. Two sisters — one gentle and humble, the other prideful and selfish — go their own way to the city, meeting the same people and the same situations along the way. The King, however, knows their temperaments because he has met both of them before…

the christmas miracle of jonathan toomeyThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojieczowski; illustrations by P.J. Lynch.

When this book was published in 1995, my children were past the picture book stage. But too bad, I made them listen to this every Christmas anyway… In our house, it supplemented The Christmas Carol. It is longer than an average picture book, but oh my, it is SO worth it! Each Christmas season I scour the new releases hoping that there will be another Christmas book that equals this one. So far I haven’t found it. (And whatever you do, don’t pay any attention to the movie that was made with the same title…). P.J. Lynch’s illustrations are magnificent!


This is the story of Jonathan Toomey, the best woodcarver in the valley, who has a terrible secret that has made him withdraw from society. But the widow and her young son have lost their beloved nativity set in their move and they come asking him to carve them another, hoping it will be done in time for Christmas. They shower love and acceptance and simple gifts upon him — even though he is a reluctant receiver.

Oh, such transformations love can accomplish!

sylvester and the magic pebbleSylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig.

When I was researching the books on this list, I was astonished to find that Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was on the Banned Books List! How can that be? I wondered. It’s such a fantastic book AND it won the Caldecott Medal in 1970. When I discovered why it was banned, I burst out laughing. Any guesses? (Answer is at the bottom of this post…)

If you’ve lived under a rock and have never heard of this book (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) it is the story of a young donkey who finds a lovely magic pebble;  he dissylvester2covers accidentally that it is magic and has a few minutes of terrific excitement thinking  how this wish-granting pebble will change his life.

Then disaster strikes. To get away from the mean, hungry lion who appears out of nowhere, he panics and makes a bad decision. He wishes himself into a rock. “And there was Sylvester, a rock on Strawberry Hill, with the magic pebble lying right beside him on the ground, and he was unable to pick it up.”

Everyone in town searches for young Sylvester, but no one thinks to go to Strawberry Hill and look for a rock… It’s a wonderfully happy ending though, with his parents actually doing the finding. (And you will give your child an extra big hug when you finish reading it.)

Cloudy with a chance of meatballsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett

My (adult) kids would probably disown me if I left this off the list. We read this over and over. We owned a copy and when that copy fell apart, we bought a hard-cover edition. And we wore that one out too… I’ve heard that this book was ruined by a movie made into a movie also, but I would never go see it…

How can anybody resist the story of the weather bringing food? Tomato tornadoes? A giant jello setting in the west? Or storms of hamburgers becoming heavy at times?

chicken sunday Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco.

It was tough picking my favorite Patricia Polacco book. I’m not sure why she has been shunned by awards committees, for her illustrations and her stories are almost always great.  I also really like Just Plain Fancy, and Thunder Cake, but Chicken Sunday wins out for several reasons.

It is a story of unselfconscious inter-racial friendship and love that is heartwarming. Young Tricia hangs out with Stewart and Winston; their gramma, Miss Eula, often cooks dinner for all of them. The three kids are running through the neighborhood one day and get falsely accused of throwing eggs at Mr. Kodinski’s hat shop. Gramma looks at them sternly when they deny throwing the eggs and then decides to believe them. But, she says, Mr. Kodinski thinks you threw those eggs, so you’ll have to do something to make up to him, so he will know that you are good children.

The three were hatching a plan to buy Miss Eula her favorite hat for Easter (from Mr. Kodinski’s Hat shop!) so they decide to be brave and try it. Courageously they march into the hat shop with handmade Pysanky eggs (made with the help of Tricia’s mother). Mr. Kodinski is instantly transported back to his homeland at the sight of the Russian eggs. He is impressed by the children’s chutzpah and a friendship begins.


As always, Polacco’s water colors glow with warmth and color and light. And you can just hear Miss Eula’s voice that “sounded like slow thunder and sweet rain…”

Sidney and Norman
by Phil Vischer; illustrations by Justin Gerard.

Phil Vischer is the creative genius behind Veggie Tales; Justin Gerard’s wonderful illustrations glow, and together they have written just about the perfect picture book for Christian parents and teachers to read to their kids.  The two pigs are as different as can be: Norman is the perfect pig; Sidney has trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Norman always did well in school and has a good job; Sidney spent many hours in the principal’s office, and he fears his boss now doesn’t like him much either. They are neighbors, though they rarely meet until one day God invites both of them to meet him on Tuesday at noon on Elm Street…Regardless of which pig you identify with, or your child identifies with, God has something interesting to tell them both. Think of it as a modern day Prodigal Pig Parable. Vischer has written a winner–with not only a message, but style, heart, and two darn cute pigs.

frog and toad

The Frog and Toad Treasury by Arnold Lobel

The Frog and Toad series (along with the Little Bear books by Else Holme Minarik) helped change the style of beginning books for children to read for themselves. First published in 1970, Frog and Toad Are Friends was an instant hit. The two friends are as opposite as Sidney and Norman (see above) and they don’t always get along. They disagree, they hop off in disgust, they say the wrong things; but at the end of the day, they are still best friends. Each story is an understated golden lesson in friendship that children need to hear. They need to hear that it isn’t always easy to be a friend, that sometimes we mess up, and that we need to be kind. The frog and the toad couldn’t be more human. frogandtoadBuy the Treasury — it includes Frog and Toad Are Friends, Frog and Toad Together, and Frog and Toad All Year. (There is one more that is missing in this trilogy — Days with Frog and Toad, published in 1979.) These are technically Beginning Readers, so your first grader will be able to read it, but for goodness sake, sit down and read it with them. You don’t want to miss these great stories and wonderful discussion starters.

oxcartmanOx-cart Man by Donald Hall; illustrations by Barbara Cooney.

Barbara Cooney’s delicate primitive style illustrations are part of why Ox-cart Man made this list. It was a tough call between this book and Cooney’s own Miss Rumphius. But ultimately I think I chose this one because I love what it represents. On an old New England farm, the family spends the year making what they need and being self-sufficient. Then in late fall, the father packs all the extras that they have made and grown that year into his ox-cart and walks many miles to the town of Portsmouth where he sells it all. Even the cart. Even the ox. With the money he makes, he buys what supplies they will need and small gifts that will please his wife and children. Then he walks back home, and the seasons of making begin again.

The rhythm of country life, satisfaction in craft, industriousness, and learning to make do with what you have — our modern American urbanized children need to hear this over and over. Ox-cart Man won the Caldecott for best picture book in 1979.

george and marthaGeorge and Martha by James Marshall.

Right next to Frog and Toad, are George and Martha. Simply written and simply illustrated by the illustrious James Marshall, these are the stories of two hippos who are friends. One of the best sidelights of the George and Martha books is that it lets kids know that it is fine to be friends with the opposite sex. George and Martha don’t always understand each other, and their friendship goes through many trials as well. In one story, Martha is determined that their friendship is over — she just can’t take George’s tricks any longer. But then she realizes how much she misses him, and so he is forgiven (but not without consequences!)Martha walking the tightrope

Marshall was a master at drawing one squiggly line to tell the story. His hippos are hilarious — Martha walking a tightrope comes to mind — and the pictures are lovingly created cartoons that fit the tongue-and-cheek stories perfectly. Again, buy the treasury which contains seven of the individual books. And laugh!

the ant and the elephantThe Ant and the Elephant by Bill Peet.

Bill Peet has such an amazing body of work that it was difficult for me to choose my favorite. My children and I loved Farewell to Shady Glade (an ecological tale told from the animal’s point of view) and No Such Things (a hilarious book filled with crazy, made-up animals). But The Ant and the Elephant is the classic story of the large and the small, with the ant saving the life of the elephant. Kids love it!

This book is filled with other gentle lessons as well. The elephant goes through his day fixing the lives of other animals who have gotten in trouble. None of them are grateful; in fact, this book might be filled with some of the orneriest critters ever drawn. But at the end of the day, the elephant is feeling pretty smug and self-satisfied — and sure enough — then he gets into trouble! Ant comes to the rescue, and all ends well.

Peet was an early illustrator with Disney Studios, and his illustrations are done entirely in colored pencil. They are amazing! (Be sure to have a set of colored pencils handy for your child after reading this book).

And now I’ve come to Number 26. I’ve dithered very much about this last book — some have come on the list and gone off the list at least three times…But now, there’s no hesitation. This might be the only book on this list that isn’t easily obtainable. I know, because I don’t have it and I can’t get it (unless I want to pay $50.)

MoonstruckMoonstruck: the true story of the cow who jumped over the moon by Gennifer Choldenko; illustrated by Paul Yalowitz.

The horse narrates this satirically funny take on the cow who jumped over the moon. And he thinks Mother Goose did a terrible disservice to the cow by relegating her to one line in the nursery rhyme. After all, it was no mean feat to jump over the moon! Especially a cow! As he notes, horses have been jumping over the moon for thousands of years, but horses are born to jump — cows are most certainly not jumpers.

This is wonderfully hilarious; it has great wordplay, funny puns, and a good lesson — if at first you don’t succeed, practice. And if you practice, practice, practice, you might just be able to jump over the moon!

shelf of books

My worst fear in making these lists and writing these posts is that I will have forgotten one of my very favorites that I haven’t read for awhile and isn’t in my personal collection. Knowing how forgetful I am, it is bound to happen…

But there are also four books which didn’t make the cut — Honorable Mention, as it were — that I feel I just can’t leave off the list — no review, but they are wonderful just the same: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A Wolf (Jon Scieszka); Edward and the Pirates by David McPhail ;  Borreguita and the Coyote by Verna Aardema ; and Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.

I have also intentionally left off non-fiction and poetry. They might have their own lists later…

How about you? Do you have a favorite picture book of all time?

Unknown*Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was banned in some places because the police officers were depicted as pigs.

The Librarian’s 26 Favorite Picture Books of All Time: to give as gifts, to read over and over, or just to have on your own bookshelves…(Part 1)

Do you have to be qualified to make a list of your favorite picture books of all time?

No,  anyone can have their favorites…blue award ribbon

But I will list my qualifications: a librarian for over thirty-five years; a children’s librarian for twenty-five of those years; a word addict, editor, storyteller, and writer on and off throughout my life; and a book lover since before I even learned to read…

So if any of that makes my list more credible, here are my favorite twenty-six picture books of all time — old favorites as well as new — thirteen now and thirteen next week. But I must confess — I like stories that tell us about how to live — not heavy-handed, but stories that can be talked about over and over; stories that can be read on more than one level; stories that stick. And because they are picture books, the illustrations have to be outstanding, too. Please notice that this is a list of MY FAVORITES! It is not a list of the Best Picture Books of All Time — you can find those lists here and here.

In no particular order they are:

Down the RoadDown the Road by Alice Schertle; illustrated by E.B. Lewis.  Mama needs eggs, but no one in the family has time to go to the store, so Hattie begs and pleads to be able to “go down the road all by herself.” Mama hedges, but Papa stands up for her and says, “Hattie is absolutely old enough to go by herself.”

Careful and proud to have money in her pocket and finally knowing how it feels to be grown up, Hattie does everything just the way Mama and Papa would do; well, almost…

This might top the list of favorites. It is a wonderful story of family love and messing up and forgiveness. And E.B. Lewis’ soft watercolor illustrations fit the words perfectly!

Sneaky SheepSneaky Sheep by Chris Monroe.

Every time I read this, kids beg to check it out.  I think they want to pore over the clever  illustrations, but honestly, they could never outgrow the lesson here. In fact, if the adult reader doesn’t point it out, they might not even know why they love it so much.

Blossom and Rocky are two sheep who aren’t known for their wise decisions in the past. In fact, they’ve made some pretty poor choices (very humorously illustrated!). Murphy, the sheep dog who watches over them, knows this and keeps a watchful eye on the pair.

But one day Murphy is busy helping a lamb and the two black sheep make a run for it. They really haven’t even gotten close to their destination of the high clover field on the mountain when they stop for a rest and meet THE WOLF.  It’s not a stretch to move from this story into the Biblical story of Jesus as the shepherd who watches over us and cares for us all, no matter how we behave… And the kids hardly know they’ve gotten a lesson!

The Lion and the Little Red BirdThe Lion and the Little Red Bird by Elise Kleven.

Elise Kleven’s artwork sings out joyously; the art in her other books is spectacular too, but this particular book stands out because of the story as well. It’s about art — creating it and sharing it — and the happiness that brings.

The Lion’s tail is a different color every day and the little bird wonders why. When she asks him, all he can hear is her cheerful song. They accompany each other throughout the day, enjoying one another’s company, but not really communicating. (Inter-species difficulties, you know!)

Elisa Kleven's artA nighttime rainstorm and rescue bring the little bird into the lion’s cave where she discovers that he paints all night what he has seen that day. (There is a slight guessing game here that your young one will be so proud to figure out.) And this amazing book is perfect for getting on your own creativity — get out the paints and go wild with color with your child.

Blueberries for Sal

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

If there is a McCloskey book on most people’s lists, it is usually Make Way for Ducklings. And although that is a charming book, this one stole my heart when I read it (over and over) to my own children. Little Sal and her mother and Little Bear and his mother go to Blueberry Hill one pleasant summer afternoon to stock up on blueberries. They get all mixed up, and the word play, and the illustrations could not possibly be any better. blueberriesIf you ask me, this one should have won the Caldecott Award! One of McCloskey’s best drawings is the picture of Mother Bear looking at Little Sal in horror as they realize they are with the wrong parent/wrong child. Have some blueberry muffins handy to eat while reading this gem.

Extra YarnExtra Yarn by Mac Barnett; illustrations by Jon Klassen.

This is an understated book and I confess that I had to read it twice before I fell in love. And now, each time I read it, I find more to love about it.  It’s another one of those “lesson” books that kids won’t get until you start a discussion about it.

The town where Annabelle lives is grey and cold, and so are the people. Until one day she finds a box of multi-colored yarn and begins to knit. She knits colorful sweaters for herself and her dog, then for her friend and his dog. The sweaters cause a stir, and somehow the box of yarn never empties…

UNTIL the evil archduke comes to town and offers to buy the magical box of yarn for one million, two million, ten million dollars. But Annabelle won’t sell. No? She won’t sell? Then he will steal it. This is a parable of joy, of kindness, of goodness, of whatever you want to call that which you have that can’t be bought, sold, or stolen, but can only be given away. Look at the illustrations carefully. They are (almost) as good as the story.

City Dog, Country Frog

City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems; illustrated by Jon J. Muth.

Mo Willems is another perennial to Best Picture Book Lists, but generally the book listed is Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Okay, so I’ll give you that it’s cute, but best picture book? No. This one is a thousand times better!

Unlikely friends always make for good stories! There are several other books on this list with that theme. But this particular story is so good because there are So Many Big Themes in this one short picture book. Willems is a master at saying much in few words. And the illustrations! Look at this one of Dog and  Frog playing together:

Dog and frogEvery season, Dog escapes into the county — nothing is said about how or why — and runs off to find his friend. But dogs live longer than frogs do, and one winter Frog is gone. It’s a moving story of friendship, loss, grief, and recovery — in less than 350 words.

The Three QuestionsThe Three Questions by Jon J. Muth

There are two books by Jon J. Muth on this list, so I might as well put them next to each other. The Three Questions is adapted from a famous short story by Leo Tolstoy, and Tolstoy fans will find nods to his life and culture in the names of the characters in the book. The boy has three questions that he puts to his friends, a monkey, a bird, and a dog. They answer as their kind would answer — the boy knows they are trying to be helpful, but he also knows they aren’t the true answers. So he goes off to find the wise old Turtle (Leo), who helps him discover for himself, the truth.

Muth takes hard thoughts, and puts them together so a child can understand them. There is much to talk about in this book…

ebody Loves You, Mr. HatchSomebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli; illustrations by Paul Yalowitz.

Although Spinelli’s book is traditionally read on Valentine’s Day, really any day is a good day to read this book to someone you love.

Mr. Hatch is quiet and keeps to himself. He has an uneventful life and talks to no one, and no one talks to him either.  Then one day the postman brings him a box of candy with a note that says it is from a secret admirer.

Mr. Hatch is stunned. He has a secret admirer? And suddenly he finds a silly little grin on his face. He puts on a yellow tie and some aftershave. He brings the box of candy into work and shares it with his co-workers. In short, his life is changed. All because someone loves him.

Mr. Hatch's candy, by Paul Yalowitz

There is more. But I can’t spoil it for you. Just be sure to have some chocolate candy or brownies to share with this story.

I Wish I Were a Butterfly by James Howe.

 I Wish I Were a Butterfly by James Howe; Illustrations by Ed Young.

James Howe is famous for writing the Bunnicula series; Ed Young is famous for his elegant watercolors. (His book Lon Po Po : a Red Riding-Hood Story from China won the Caldecott Award in 1990 for the  best illustrated children’s book of that year.) But together, they have made a superior storybook. This is a bit long — probably best suited to a six-to eight-year-old’s attention span. But the main idea is timeless — we are all beautiful, no matter what our outside appearance is.

The frog who lives in Swampswallow Pond has just  told the little cricket that he is the ugliest thing in the world; so now the cricket  is wandering through the meadow seeing wonderful insects who are much more attractive than he is —  a ladybug, a butterfly, a dragonfly… They all give him rather random advice: Buck up, Cheer up, Forget about it, and none is very helpful. So he goes to visit his best friend the Spider to get comfort from her. To the little caterpillar, the Spider is beautiful because he loves her. She laughs at him and they have a very interesting discussion about friendship, beauty, bullies, and loving your own talents — and the last line is a lovely twist!

chickenstewThe Wolf’s Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza.

Simple illustrations, simple story = belly laughs and a great moral.

The wolf goes out to eat the hen and her one hundred chicks, but then has the great idea that he will fatten them all up before he eats them. He makes them 100 pancakes and delivers them at night. Eventually though he finds  the chicks are so darling, that he just can’t eat them — they end up calling him Uncle Wolf — proof that anyone can be redeemed! A great story about loving your enemies!

enemy pieEnemy Pie by Derek Munson; illustrated by Tara Calahan King.

And if you would like specifics on how to love your enemy, here is one of the best instruction books — Make Enemy Pie.

And better yet, Dad knows the recipe. But one of the secret ingredients is having to spend the whole day with your enemy. Can he do it? And then what happens to the enemy? Heartwarming and real…

skyfarawayWhy the Sky Is Far Away: a Nigerian folktale by Mary Jane Gerson; illustrated by Carla Golembe.

Once the people lived in paradise — all their needs of food came from the sky. But they grew greedy and wanted more, even though the God of the sky had warned them about their greed and lack of obedience. One woman’s selfish greed ruined it all for the people, and as their punishment, their God moved away from them and the people now had to toil for their food. Sound familiar?

This folktale is five-hundred years old from the Bini tribe of Nigeria. It is billed everywhere as an ecological tale — how the stewardship of the earth is in the hands of humans. And, it is that. But a believer cannot help but see the connections to Genesis, Chapter 3. It is a fascinating discussion starter, and the illustrations are magnificent.

Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski

Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski; illustrated by Henry Cole.

And the last book of this post (stay tuned for the next thirteen) is absolute Chicken Fluff — hilarious to read, hilarious to listen to, with absolutely no redeeming value except laughter.

The four big chickens go squawking and pwocking and flocking into the woods to hide from the wolf who is sneaking around their henhouse. The cowardly chickens come upon barrier after barrier and each time their worst fears are realized. They fall into the ditch, they step into a cow patty, they fall into the lake, they stumble into the cave, and sure enough, they meet the wolf. They shriek, and they squeak, and they freak until the wolf is scared away by their antics. The word play is fun and  the illustrations are fun; in fact, it is one of the most fun books ever for reading out loud… And now that I think of it, there is a moral of the story: Even if your worst fears are realized, they are rarely as bad as you have imagined them to be…

Stay tuned — the next post will have thirteen more...

Can’t put it down? Thrillers for kids…

Yes, the library has the new Rick Riordan book House of Hades. Two copies, actually.house of hades

But if you are looking for a new gripping adventure, you might like to read the new Michael Vey novel...Battle of the Ampere. What? You haven’t read the first two??? 

Michael Vey series by Richard Paul EvansMichael is charged with electricity — strange events have always happened to him — that’s why he and his mom live off the beaten path in Idaho. Not only is he an awkward 14 year old, he also has Tourette’s Syndrome, which makes him an object of bullying, mostly due to his facial tics, a result of Tourette’s. He doesn’t fit in with most kids in school, and the girls avoid him whenever possible. His only friend is Ostin, the class brain, who also endures teasing and pranks. Together they endure the pain of high school, until one day the bullying goes too far, and Michael hits back. He zaps three bullies twice his size, and suddenly he has the respect of a lot of kids.

There are others. Other kids who are electric, too. Why? How? And suddenly when Michael’s mom is kidnapped, there are even more questions.  Michael and his friends have to find the answers to rescue his mother from the bad guys. Very. Bad. Guys.


The Last Thing I rememberThe Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan is an engrossing, white-knuckle, stay-up-until-2:30-to-finish-it type of book. It is Book 1 of The Homelanders series; the library has Book 2 also, The Long Way Home.

Imagine just being a normal high-school student with the ordinary worries of homework, tests, if a certain girl likes you, practicing karate…Oh, that isn’t hard for you? Okay, now imagine waking up the next day strapped to a chair, dried blood and bruises all over you, and hearing a voice outside the door, say softly, “Kill him.” And this is just through Chapter Three…

But Charlie West isn’t going to let that happen without a fight. He’s the best student in his karate class (or was — suddenly there’s no karate class anymore) and now he has to use it to survive. And he has to use all his brain power to figure out what has happened, where he is, what happened to his parents, and who are the terrorists that are tracking him. And why.

If you don’t love this book, the librarian will give you your money back. What money? Never mind…


We the Children, by Andrew Clements

Fear Itself by Andrew Clements

For younger kids, the mystery series The Keepers of the School by Andrew Clements is a page-turner for sure. The first book in a projected six-book series is We the Children. Ben and Jill are locked into a race to stop their historical school on the coast of Massachusetts from being demolished and the seaside property turned into an oceanside amusement park. There are clues and riddles a plenty, as well as people who seem to be good guys turning out to be pretty sneaky bad guys. Just who can they trust? These are cliffhangers; take out two of them at a time… The library now has the new fifth book in the series, We Hold these Truths.


The Dragon's ToothI’ve been meaning to read N.D. Wilson’s newest series for a year now. For awhile, it was always out when I wanted to take it home; it is a lengthy 482 pages, and I didn’t want to hog it in case I didn’t get it read quickly.

Hah! No danger of that. The Dragon’s Tooth is a non-stop action, can’t- put-it-down sort of book. I was reading it while I cooked dinner; I went to bed early, just so I could read it in bed. And if you are prone to nightmares, well…

It is creepy. People die. Sometimes the evil person is disguised as a friend; and sometimes the person least expected turns out to be a friend. There is a secret society; there is magic; there are battles between good and evil; there is a Hogwarts-like school for apprentices. And there are snakes…

Christian metaphors abound — especially as you read further up and further in the series. Reviewers are comparing Wilson’s writing to C.S. Lewis and Rick Riordan. Recommended for grades 6+.

This is Book One of The Ashtown Burials; N.D. Wilson’s other series was the 100 Cupboards.