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Archive for the month “August, 2014”

Talking Books at Target

I really was just trying to get some milk from the dairy case….really. I happened to overhear two lovely women talking about their middle school children and how they might choose appropriate books for them to read. I couldn’t resist and (probably rudely) inserted myself into their conversation. They are right. How do you, as a parent, select appropriate books for your child? Their kids had already read books like Tom Angleberger’s Origami Yoda  series and were looking for something a bit more challenging. But these women didn’t want them reading beyond their own life experience. They sounded like very sensible parents.

I told them about this blog and I hope they take a look. (Hi!) Here are some resources that might help:

Capitol Choices – click here for the description of this excellent book list and the group that produces it. It’s a WONDERFUL resource.


I published a book called Choosing to Read: Connecting Middle Schoolers with Books (Heinemann, 2012) that features lists of books that appeal to middle school kids.


The American Library Association has a web presence at that offers full lists of books for reluctant teen readers, the Newbery winners, Caldecott winners, Printz winners (for YA), and numerous others. It’s a great way to look at what has received recognition over the years. Don’t just look at the titles, though; notice authors whose names tend to come up again and again. It’s likely their work is strong enough to merit multiple mentions.

I also mentioned my Best Bets for the Classroom lists and adding them to this blog has been on my list of things to do. I will make that a priority.

That’s all for now. I may add to this and create a new category when time permits. 🙂


Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

On a recent rip to London where wandering through bookstores is a daily routine, I happened upon the new Chris Haughton. I just love his books! Like his other books, he uses color in such a different way. The cover of the new book, Shh! We Have a Plan  drew my attention immediately. My suitcase was full to bursting and I thought, “I can’t get it home. Rats!” I figured it would come out in the US before long and, lo and behold, it arrived last week. It is so terrific and easily as good as his others.



The art is dichromatic, for the most part, as you can see in the image above. The first hint that the little guy is the protagonist is subtly shown in his eyes looking away. In the story, he is always doing something different from his buddies. The guys have a plan for capturing a bird. Our little guy just wants to say hi to the birdie but the big guys execute their wacky plan anyway. Except that it fails miserably leaving the reader to laugh at how silly their attempt was. They try again, again it fails. Even the youngest readers realize that maybe their plans are not as well thought out, or well-intentioned, as they could be. After three failed attempts, our little guy offers the bird some bread and before you know it, he is surrounded by birds of all colors and sizes. Of course, he has no interest in capturing the bird, he just wants to enjoy his time with them. The big guys see this but do they get it? Maybe not because soon thereafter they spot a squirrel. Uh-oh!

It should also be mentioned that the language is wonderful in the book. When the big guys are climbing up to get at the bird the repetition is lovely: “tiptoe slowly, tiptoe slowly, now stop. Shh!” The repetition allows kids to pick up sight words and chuckle as this hapless trio’s determination wreaks havoc again and again.

There’s a wonderful quote on the CIP page that really encapsulates the theme of this book:

“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.” – Albert Einstein

Haughton’s other books include Oh, No, George…

9780763655464_p0_v1_s260x420and Little Owl Lost…


9780763650223_p0_v1_s600All three would make a great addition to any elementary classroom or library. Can you tell I am a huge fan!!!

Halloween anyone?

Now is the time to start thinking about Halloween books so you can have them ready to go when late October rolls around. I am so excited to to spotlight Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s latest addition to her Dog and Bear series. I love Seeger’s inventiveness, playfulness, and all around cleverness (is that even a word?) in each and every one of her books. Dog and Bear was inspired by her own little dog and an old stuffed bear she has.


The series started with Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories (2007) which was followed by Dog and Bear: Two’s Company in 2008. These books are so charming and so accessible for beginning readers. Her third book in the series, Dog and Bear: Three to Get Ready (2009),  only whets your appetite for more. Young children love stories about friendship and it is friendship that is at the heart of this book. Actually, as I write this I realize that “heart” is at the core of this entire series. The latest is Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats and it’s terrific. There are three stories just as in all the other titles in the series. The first is called “The Other Bear” and we see Bear getting a little overwrought when he sees another bear EXACTLY like himself in the costume shop fitting room. Who COULD that be! “Ding Dong” tells the story of a very excited Dog who can’t wait for the trick-or-treaters. When they say “Trick or Treat?” Dog exclaims, “Treats!” But who exactly is getting the treats? In “No Treats for You” a ghost answers the door to Dog and Bear but won’t give them any treats because they’re not wearing costumes. As in all of the “chapters,” it is the pictures that tell so much of the story. The ghost is surprised when Dog and Bear insist they ARE wearing costumes. This book will be a treat for every trick-or-treater!

The National Book Festival


This coming Saturday, August 30th, the 14th annual National Book Festival will be held in Washington, D.C. It boasts an incredible array of authors for children and adults across a variety of genres. If they don’t have something for you, I’d be surprised.

There is one difference this year – they are moving the festival from the National Mall to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The nearest Metro stop is the Mount Vernon Square station.

If you click on this link it will bring you to the Festival’s home page which contains a list of the authors that will be there. If that fails, Google National Book Festival and follow the link they provide. Sometimes these links can be a bit cranky. 

Some of the highlights for me are Peter Brown, Bryan Collier, Jacqueline Woodson, Raul Colon, Kate DiCamillo (the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and author of Flora & Ulysses, the 2014 Newbery Award winner!), Jules Feiffer, Jack Gantos, Molly Idle (Caldecott Honor medalist, 2014, for Flora and the Flamingo), Cynthia Kadohata, Brian Biggs, Rep. John Lewis, Dav Pilkey, Jeff Smith, Raina Telgemeier, Anne Ursu, Susan Stockdale, Judith Viorst, Rita Williams-Garcia, Gene Luen Yang, and I am sure I am leaving quite a few out.

It is a day meant for book lovers of all kinds and it’s free!!! The amount of authors is an embarrassment of riches. Plan on coming; you won’t regret it. The hours are from 10am-10pm with the doors opening at 9am. See you there!

I’m Back! (but sadly, so is Sarah Palin)


The_Giver_15I apologize for not posting these last few times but I have been traveling in Eastern Europe. Of course, I couldn’t post that because that’s like putting out a welcome mat for burglars, isn’t it? If you are careful readers, however, you will see I posted once from abroad when I was in Belgrade, Serbia and saw a ton of US children’s books in their bookstores. Still, I didn’t actually say I was away from home, did I? I’m back now so look for my twice weekly posts starting now.

I was just reading The Guardian (a British newspaper I really like) and there was an article about Sarah Palin who apparently fancies herself a movie critic now. This blog is not meant to be one about politics so this is not a blast at her politics. It’s a blast at a person who knows nothing about children’s literature using an extraordinary book, The Giver, to make a ridiculous political statement. Here’s a link to the article:

The good news is she liked the movie but the bad news is she “repositions the dystopian tale as an anti-Obama polemic.” I’m betting that never occurred to Lois Lowry – especially since the book came out in 1993 – 21 years ago!

US Books in Eastern Europe

I was recently in Belgrade, Serbia and came upon five bookstores on the main pedestrian street. I went into each and every one, of course, and beelined for the children’s and YA area. Here are some photos of books you might recognize – except that they’re written in Serbian.

IMG_1563The Fault in Our Stars!




Diary of a Wimpy Kid!


Judy Moody is Caca Faca in Serbian. I love it!


Roald Dahl is loved worldwide!




….And even the Mr. Men books!

I was really pleased to see our children’s literature represented in foreign bookstores. Kids abroad seem keenly interested in our culture and it shows on their bookstore shelves, Pretty cool, I’d say.

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