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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Clowning Around

Schools out, clowns have taken over the library, our tote is crammed with circus reads, the water is just right, so let the summer begin!  Yes, we’ve already started  our summer reading and planning some excursions to other area libraries.  

Little Reader wants to know what we’re gonna do when we finish reading all the library books?  I’m pretty sure by that time we will be promoting my new book and giving magic garden tours.  But one must write to be published, and my writing has been on the backburner for a while now.  Looking for a little motivation here?  I did just order a book of idioms, as I have a spark for an interesting story.  What kinds of children’s stories are there not enough of?   I’m personally tired of the preachy being yourself is best, and the how we are all winner reads.   Where are the stories with a premise of self responsibility and hard work?  Okay, I’ll stop here and today will write.  Many popular picture books are also trending characters like Pinkalicious, Splat Cat, Brown Bear etc…  So I will visit my pickle factory and work on Emma :-9

Of course, only after a romp in the garden!  It’s beginning to look like something from Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Clowning Around With Words
With few circus choices, only one was a big hit.

Eat Your Peas, Ivy Louise!
By Landry, Leo

Don’t play with your food, especially the peas!  Ivy Louise has no intention of eating her acrobatic peas, and when they climb up her spoon they end up flying out the window.  Basic story, funny pictures, but a little too young for Little Reader.

I Want to Be Somebody New!
By Lopshire, Robert

Spot is bored being himself and decides to change his shape. Is an elephant, giraffe, or mouse best?  You guessed it, his shape is best.  And why can be found in the read.   I will say the rhyme scheme was choppy and I’m exhausted with the “being you is best” preachy reads. 

Ballet of the Elephants
By Schubert,

A beautifully illustrated biography of how the circus master John Ringling North, ballet-master George Balanchine, and composer Igor Stravinsky created the elephant circus ballet.   With complex sentences, people focus, and with out a concept of depression era circuses, Little Reader did not connect.  I was surprised this was a Texas Bluebonnet Award.   Don’t be fooled by awarded books, especially if the author’s notes in the back are longer than the story.  

The Happiest Hippo in the World
By Steel, Danielle

I love hippos but ugh... another super- preachy be yourself read.   Greenie the green hippo thinks he’s too different from all the other circus animals and goes on a journey to fit in somewhere.   I do find it fitting that Greenie goes to New York in search of other outcasts like himself.  If green hippos do exist, then where else would they be right!  Pictures made it tolerable, but adult authors should stick to adult books and not try and write for kids. 

The Circus Ship
By Van Dusen, Chris


Having not had a lot of luck with the circus books thus far, this eye-spyish read was a charmer. Beautiful illustrations wrap around this loosely based true story of a sinking circus ship.  When a greedy circus owner saves himself and not the overboard animals, fifteen of them swim safely to a nearby island.  And when the ringmaster comes to take them away from the town’s people who have come to love them, they must keep them out of sight.  You will love how the animals fit in with the island scene, and can say Chris Van Dusen is one of our favorite authors.  I enjoy stories that are inspired by actual events, but sadly many animals and people did not survive this sinking ship.   "Can we keep this one forever?" - Little Reader

Secret Circus
By Wright, Johanna


There’s a tiny secret circus in Paris, and only when the people sleep do the mice come out.   A bit of oddness here with simple repetition.  “It’s looks scratchy and not pretty, I think it’s a French book?”  - Little Reader  Not to offend the French, but what a funny observation.  The illustrator uses thin black lines on textured paper, creating an unusual style

Other Tote Pics

Shark vs. Train
By Barton, Chris

Superman vs. Batman don’t have anything on Shark vs. Train. A competition of burping, bowling, pie eating, and more!  Again I’m stereotyping, but a great boy read!

Yes Day!
By Rosenthal, Amy Krouse

A day of Yes!   When one red headed lucky boy asks his mom to please have a pizza for breakfast you *page turn* to picture of boy eating pizza!  The yes’s continue with small treats, having a friend over, eating outside and more.  “I have lots of yes days, but H has lots of no days.” - Little Reader   We are talking a 17 year old teenager, what do you expect?

Robot Zot!
By Scieszka, Jon

Just like Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, Robot Zot is one looney toy invading earth… aka the kitchen.   He soon finds himself battling household electronics and falling in love with a toy cell phone.  A bizarre story that I enjoyed more than Little Reader.    Lots of colorful pictures, and if she were into robots maybe this would have gone over better.  The youngest teenager loved it bringing back memories of her favorite movie, The Brave Little Toaster.
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kneeded to Be Away

Little Reader and I have returned from our week in Austin.   Not a trip of leisure, but tending to my mother after a knee replacement.  We read bunches, hung with the doctors, raided the third floor kitchen, and I even got my first scorpion sting.  If you ever have an encounter with this “lobster bug” put a couple drops of oil of oregano on your tongue and also on the sting.  This hill country remedy really works!  

It’s so good to be back home with the rest of my family.  And after surviving a 17th birthday party for my son yesterday, I’m glad to be sitting here.  At least for the moment, that is.  This morning I’m looking out at the pergola construction and my odd fibrous plants.  I’m pleased to announce that I’m harvesting my shower sponges for next year.  Yes this sounds strange, but it’s true - I’m growing luffas!  I thought they came from the sea, but these garden vegetables can actually grow in your backyard.  Let me interject here that I’m not an earth hippie mother, nor have any involvement with the so called “green” movement.  I just think luffas are interesting, and the idea of harvesting them into sponges for Christmas presents next year will definitely have people talking.  So now you want to become part of the luffa revolution and grow your own right? 
“If they came from the ocean, it would be Sponge Bob Square Pants house!” -  Little Reader 

Waiting for the luffas & long handle dippers to climb!

Check out this luffa garden!

Kneed to Read Books

Milo Armadillo
By Fearnley, Jan

Talllulah only wants a pink rabbit for her birthday and when Grandma knits her one, it takes the shape of a pink fluffy armadillo instead.  And feeling dejected, Milo the armadillo runs away from home only to... 
I’m not going to spoil this, but will say absence does make the heart grow fonder.   This is “sew” an adorable smile inducing read.

And Then It’s Spring 
By Fogliano, Julie

A lesson on patience for one little boy. “When will the brown disappear and green appear?”   You plant seeds, check them daily, and after the rain and sun, they finally sprout.  A simple springtime story that should be read leisurely, as to marvel in the pictures.   “Our garden is magic, growing super fast!” Little Reader  

Hiding In The Magic Garden

Beautifully Amazing!

Clumsy Crab
By Galloway, Ruth

An author/illustrator cutesy picture book about a crab who doesn't like his big claws.   But when Octopus gets stuck in seaweed, Nipper the crab comes to the rescue, realizing his claws aren’t useless after all.  This book may appear a little message heavy, but we tend to like books with an underwater theme.    

Fidgety Fish
By Galloway, Ruth 

Good for toddlers and preschoolers with its bold pictures and simple story line.  Tiddler is one squirmy fish and when his mom sends him out to swim away his wiggles, it’s the squiggles that end up saving his life.  “Hey I jump on the trampoline to get rid of my wiggles!” - Little Reader

Smiley Shark
By Galloway, Ruth 

An underwater tale about a shark who loves to smile his sharp toothy grin.  But the other sea animals are frightened by him, that is until they are caught in a net.   But you can’t fool some.  Little Reader quickly pointed out this could never happen, “Cause sharks never make friends with other fish, they only eat them!”

Six Perfectly Different Pigs
By Geoghegan, Adrienne

A we are different in our own way and that’s what makes us special story.  Six pigs deliver a few giggles in their discovery of what makes them perfect.   Good, but not a re-read request.

My Garden
By Henkes, Kevin

A whimsical garden tale told from the perspective of a little girl.  Through vibrant illustrations her dream garden fills up with chocolate bunnies, jelly-bean bushes, umbrellas, and old rusty keys.  “We have a lot of weird things in our garden, but not candy bunnies or scarecrows!”  - Little Reader 
Nothing better than wild imagination in the garden, right.  I’ve got it, a librarian scarecrow for next fall!

Gimme Cracked Corn & I Will Share
By O'Malley, Kevin

Totally corny and imaginative!  What’s a chicken to do with dreams of everlasting corn?  Grab his buddy and cross the road to seek his dream of course.  I enjoyed the figurative language and though Little Reader didn't pick up on all the puns, the comical pictures induced laughter.
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Saturday, May 5, 2012

“R” Besties and a Little Mayo

Lot’s of food reads in this weeks R romp.  Shared sandwiches, football eats, award winning pickles, and boars sweet recipes, had Little Reader asking, “If we ate letters, what would letter “R” taste like?”  A rice cake with raspberry jam and raisins of course! And after eating “r” snack, this was proven correct. 

And what else was cooking last night?  It was a Big Apple Adventure, meaning mom spent 3 hours in the kitchen preparing York City diner fare.  Not kidding, it took that long to make 9 chicken club sandwiches, a homemade cheesecake, and three rounds of chocolate egg cream soda. - But well worth it!  I’ve noticed a correlation between the more I cook, the more teenagers appear at our house around dinner time.  And for tonight, it’s a Taco Bar in this casa.  Why this morning we found dozens of mayonnaise bottles in the pool, so it must be Sinko de Mayo!

Did I mention the gigantor snake slithering through our not so typical potted plants?   The kids and I were going outside for an under the stars trampoline jump, and there it was, a ginormous black and white ribboned snake.  Yes, I was the first outside, the only one to see it, and on pain medicine from my tooth surgery that morning, but swear I saw it.  And  not sure if it was the “snake” or the“wacky mom” that kept everyone inside for the night.  But like Steve Erwin, the Crocodile Hunter my oldest and I combed the back yard with flashlights, but found nothing.  And not sure what we would have done in this case anyway?   So now I’m not just the crazy library lady, I’m also a snake whisperer.  If the snake returns, is friendly, and promises not to eat the dog, we will give it a name and invite him or her to Little Reader’s garden party. 

So what is this not so typical plant anyway?  It's taken root and we are building a trellis so it can begin its journey upward and make …  
  Any idea?

 "R" Good Reads

By Ray, Mary Lyn

Catch this falling star at your library.  In this tall book you’ll see real stars in the sky, stars made with paper, and even stars found in nature like dandelions floating in the wind.  While encouraging creativity, this book also reminds us the importance of believing in something beyond ourselves.  If you can’t find this on your library shelf, be sure and request an interlibrary loan, better yet recommend a purchase.  

Dandelion Wishes “For a lion to come to my garden.

The Sandwhich Swap
By Rania

If there’s a contest for best picture book cover, this one’s a high contender.   One look at the title Sandwich Swap, and it becomes an attention grabbing must read.   Do you have a hankering for a peanut butter and jelly or humus sandwich?  And what do you think happens when two best friends realize their lunchbox differences?  An enjoyable look at understanding and appreciating other cultures, in a fun food fight kind of way. 

Buffalo Wings
By Reynolds, Aaron

Are you ready for some football?   When Rooster gets to making snacks for the big game, he realizes there are no buffalos for the buffalo wings, then sets out on a road trip.   Hilarious plot, but Little Reader didn’t quite follow along what was happening.  Good, but not great like Reynolds other book, Chicks and Salsa. 

The Dot           
Reynolds, Peter

Have you ever had a blank sheet of paper with nowhere to go?  … Not talking about math class here!  Well, when one little girl couldn’t move beyond a blank sheet of paper, her art teacher inspired her with one simple suggestion, "Just make a mark and see where it takes you."  That’s it, need I say more!  From the simplest beginnings like a dot, we never know where this will take us.  Reynolds successfully delivers the concept of inspiration and motivation on a child’s level.  But I couldn’t give this a blue book rating because of the girl’s name, Vashiti.   It seemed to break up the text at times disrupting the flow. 

By Rickards, Lynne

What happens to a penguin that turns pink?  They go to Africa to live with flamingos of course.  But when Patrick doesn’t fit in, he returns home to the icy waters.  Being missed, he tells all about his journey and concludes that being pink isn’t so bad after all.    Cheerfully entertaining, but Little Reader kept trying to figure out why he turned pink in the first place. 

Mrs. Fickle’s Pickles
By Ries, Lori Anne

We have checked this book out so many times, I think it’s time to purchase it.  I love pickles, and so a little partial to books about these crunchy sour-packed treats.  An adorable, silly, seed to pickle, pictured story that will be a sure favorite. 

Pickletastic garden read!

ATTENTION BOOK AGENTS / PUBLISHERS:  My manuscript is out of the brine and ready to be packed.  Picklelicious inquiries!

Birdie’s Big-Girl Shoes
By Rim, Sujean

A girly-girl, “Fancy Nancy”, shoe-loving kinda read.  Birdie’s wants nothing more than to wear her mother’s high heels, from her crocodile pumps to stilettos.  But after learning the downfall of “big girl” shoes, decides it’s okay to wait a little longer to grow up.  An adorable fashionista story that had Little Reader giggling and trying on shoes.  Cowgirl boots that is!

Wild Boars Cook
By Rosoff, Meg

Horace, Morris, Boris, and Delores are the hungriest, messiest, most bad mannered boars around.  But after devouring a large “pudding” dessert recipe, will they finally be full?  Funny, with just enough grossness to please any young book lover in the house. 

Ham and Pickles
By Rubel, Nicole

Luckily for Pickles, she has her big brother Ham to help her get over being nervous about starting school for the first time.  But is releasing snakes and bugs on the school bus or hopping like a kangaroo for a restroom break really good advice?  Though well meaning, Pickles discovers his ideas would make for a disastrous school day.  A brightly colored humorous back to school read. 

Ho-Hum … Cute ideas, but greatness none-delivered

Rex, Adam

Santa’s Eleven Months Off
By Reiss, Mike

The New Girl and Me
 By Robbins, Jacqui
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