Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pug and Other Animal Poems

Never wanting to rush anything, I have waited until the very last day of April to celebrate National Poetry Month. Pug and Other Animal Poems is a collection of short poems by Valerie Worth and illustrated by Steve Jenkins. This is the second posthumous collection of Valerie Worth’s animal poetry. She wrote poems  about an elusive  fox, a cicada metamorphosis and toads in window wells. As well as poems about geese leaving for the winter and returning in the spring, a rat’s domain and pugs who look a lot like people. Each poem captures something about the animal that is unique. They are simple and accessible for children of all ages.

Pug and Other Animal Poems

Steve Jenkins’ collage artwork beautifully illustrates each poem. Jenkins won a Caldecott Honor  for What Do You Do With A Tail Like This? He also has an interesting website. He takes you through the process of creating a book from concept to completion. He has written and illustrated numerous non-fiction books for children.

The Sonoma County Library has a few copies.

Good News for Timmy Failure Fans

Monday’s Press Democrat has an article about local cartoonist and author, Stephan Pastis. For fans of Timmy Failure Mistakes Were Made a second book has been  completed (but not published) and the author is working on ideas for the third book. I know some eight year olds that are really excited about that.

Timmy Failure Mistakes Were Made 

As of Sunday, Copperfield’s Books in Montgomery Village still had signed copies for sale. And on Friday, May 3, he will be at the Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma at 7 PM.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fundraiser at Copperfield Books for Yulupa School

This weekend, Copperfield Books Montgomery Village, is hosting a fundraiser for Yulupa School. Twenty percent of sales from the Yulupa community will go to the school. You will need to present a flyer with your purchase. What a great way to get your kids some books for summer reading and something for yourself, too.

The store has a large children’s section and knowledgeable sales people. There is a good selection of picture books, non-fiction books organized by topic and early reader books. There are lots of graphic novels (including some signed copies of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made), plenty of series books like Puppy Place and Magic Tree House and an excellent selection of middle grade chapter books and series. There is something for everyone and something for your school, too.

Copperfield’s books is located in Montgomery Village at 775 Village Court in Santa Rosa. The dates for this event are Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28. The store is open on Saturday 9 AM to 8 PM and Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

That Is NOT a Good Idea!

The prolific Mo Willems is back with a new picture book that comes with its own Greek chorus. That Is NOT a Good Idea! is a tale about a fox, a plump goose and dinner. Fox spies Goose. Like in a silent movie, the next two pages is text that says “What luck!” “Dinner!” Fox asks goose if she would like to go for a stroll. She says yes. Immediately, a gosling pops up to say, “That is NOT a good idea!” He invites her to continue the walk in the deep, dark woods. Now two goslings pop up to say, “That is REALLY NOT a good idea!” At each point in the story, one more gosling appears and one more REALLY is added to the chorus. The ending will surprise and delight the reader. It is a great book to read aloud, especially if you have a Greek chorus of your own.

NOT A GOOD IDEA The book was just published yesterday, April 23, 2013. The Sonoma County Library is waiting for several copies to arrive. A cute preview of the book is on YouTube.

Two out of two first graders who read this book love it!  One loved it so much, he read it twice.

Keep Calm and Read Me A Book

We took the some of our grandkids to the Apple Blossom Festival in Sebastopol last weekend. One of the vendors was offering T-shirts for kids with this logo, a play on the “Keep Calm and Carry On” British posters from the second World War. It seemed to be the perfect mantra for primary school kids. You can find the T-shirts here.

Keep Calm

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jennifer Fosberry Comes to Yulupa School

This morning, all the second grade classes and one first grade class met with Jennifer Fosberry, the author of Isabella Star of the Story (see below). Since she is pretty punny on the page, I was not surprised that she gave a humorous and information presentation. She told us how she got started writing. After a career as an engineer, she decided to stay home with her three children. When her oldest daughter was four she loved to play dress up. One day she was a … princess and the next day she was a … princess and the day after that a … princess. Since there are few jobs for princesses, Ms. Fosberry decided to write a book for her daughter about women she admired. She thought her daughter would understand the message that she can be anything she wants to be if it was in a book. That first book was My Name Is Not Isabella. She then wrote a book for her son, and that one became My Name Is Not Alexander.

Jennifer Fosberry

Ms. Fosberry read the book Isabella Star of the Story twice. The first time she read it she talked about all the visual clues and foreshadowing  in Mike Litwin’s illustrations. Isabella has a little mouse, called Button, that plays various roles in her imagining of herself as the characters of the books she is reading. On the Peter Pan page, Button is Tinkerbell. Alexander appears in the background in the library and as the Cowardly Lion when Isabella is reading The Wizard of Oz. If you look carefully, you might be able to predict what book Isabella will be reading next. In the second run through, she had everyone stand and act out the book (per her instructions). That part was a really big hit. Then she took questions.

I tutored a second grader after lunch and he was enthusiastic about the assembly. The other kids seemed to enjoy it too. It isn’t often that seven and eight year olds get to meet an author and find out how they work and why they started writing. Thanks to Copperfield Books for bringing Jennifer Fosberry to Yulupa School.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Jennifer Fosberry Comes to Santa Rosa

Jennifer Fosberry and her illustrator, Mike Litwin, echo in a book what a little boy in 1980 announced to his mother, “I love to read! You can go anywhere and be anything; all you have to do is read a book.” In Isabella Star of the Story, on a trip to the library, Isabella checks out classic children’s books, looking for the just the right ones. She imagines herself to be Peter Pan, Goldilocks, Captain Nemo, Black Beauty, Alice in Wonderland and Dorothy. After she follows the yellow brick road to the checkout desk she goes home to read one adventure before bed and a plan to read the rest tomorrow.

Adults will like (or maybe not) the puns sprinkled into the parents’ dialogue. There is an epilogue with  with information about every book Isabella chooses, a bibliography and a list of source websites. Isabella star of the story 

Isabella Star of the Story is the fourth book in the Fosberry/Litwin series. An earlier  book, My Name is Not Alexander, follows Alexander as he imagines himself as a few of the  great men from US history. When  he wakes up, he is Teddy Roosevelt, at breakfast Thomas Edison and loading up the car he is Chief Joseph. Later, while visiting his grandmother, he is Fred Astaire as he takes her for a turn around the room. After dinner he is Jackie Robinson and while getting ready for a campout he imagines himself as Daddy, “the greatest, coolest father who ever was”. As he drifts off to sleep under the stars, Alexander dreams about who he will be tomorrow. 


Look for the puns in the father’s dialogue and biographies of the “men who changed the world” in the epilogue, as well as a bibliography and source websites.

A copy of My Name is not Alexander can be found at the Sonoma County Library. Isabella Star of the Story  was published April 2, so there are no copies in the library yet. But they do have a copy of Isabella: Girl on the Go and My Name is not Isabella.

Jennifer Fosberry will be at Copperfield’s in Montgomery Village at 3:30 PM on April 16th.  All month, the store has had a display of her books. Rest assured, they will have many copies available.

The AR levels of the books range from 2.5 to 2.8.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

50 Ways to Teach Your Child to Read

The No Time For Flashcards blog has a list of 50 ways you can help your child learn to read. Check out the post  here. Some of those 50 ways are ones we have talked about many times: read to your child, provide fun and interesting books for them to read and give them books as gifts. Number 43 on her list was play sight word games with them. She linked to a homemade sight word dominoes game; complete with rules for two games and easy instructions on how to make the dominoes. I plan to try this out on my first grade students this week. Nobody said learning to read had to be dull. Try it!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Exclamation Mark

First, let me say, I love the old school writing paper look of the book. All the pages are the newsprint with  the blue lines and dotted lines that kids are using in elementary school even today. Even the title is simple: ! Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld is about an exclamation mark who just wants to fit in, but the only time he doesn’t stand out is when he is sleeping. He tries hard to fit in, but it doesn’t work, he still stands out. One day he meets ? (Question Mark) who peppers him with endless questions until he yells STOP! Both ! and ? were pretty impressed with his exclamation. So he tries again, first small, then bigger and bigger until he is exclaiming all kinds of phrases: That’s Great! Happy Birthday! Bravo! He could not wait to show his friends what he could do. His friends were sure he could do it along.  Exclamation Mark 

This is a great story about finding your talents and using them. It is also a great fun to read aloud. The Sonoma County Library has a few copies. Scholastic has the reading level listed as second grade.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Snow Treasure

It is early spring in 1940. The Nazis have just taken Poland and are headed towards the Norwegian Arctic Circle community of Riswyk. The citizens have a plan to get their gold bullion out of Norway to keep it from the Germans. They hide the gold in a well camouflaged snow cave just as the Nazis arrive in April, 1940. The task is  how to get it from the snow cave  in the mountains to a fishing boat that is waiting to take the bullion to the United States without the German’s knowing what they were doing. And get is done before the spring thaw. The older children of the community will carry the gold on their sleds down the mountain, a few bars at a time until the nearly 2000 pounds of gold are safely on their way to the US.

Twelve year old Peter Lundstrom’s father is the town banker. His uncle, Victor, is a fisherman who knows all the streams and fjords along the Norwegian coast. Peter, his sister Lovisa and his friends Michael and Helga are to be captains of teams of students who will carry the gold on their sleds to a place near a hidden fjord; then bury their gold bars in the snow. To mark the burial spots, they  will build snowmen. Uncle Victor and his first mate will dig up the gold bars each night and stash them in Victor’s camouflaged boat. It is a race to beat the spring thaw and avoid the German sentries. There are some close calls, but every bar makes it onto the ship. As the book ends, the ship is at sea on it’s way to America.

Snow Treasures

When I first read Snow Treasure in 1957 (that is not a typo) and my son read it in 1980, it was believed that this was a true story. The  Norwegian freighter Bomma landed in Baltimore on June 28, 1940 with 9 million dollars worth of gold bullion. The rest of the story has never been verified. Marie McSwigan wrote a piece in 1944 saying that she had read a newspaper article about the arrival of the bullion in New York and that children had helped ferry it out of Norway. She liked   their  resourcefulness and decided to write a children’s book about it. The article she wrote was easy for me to find in 2013 using Google, but probably much harder to find in an earlier era.

The Sonoma County Library has several copies.

The AR level is 5.3.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Cynthia Lord’s picture book, Happy Birthday, Hamster. Under her name was a tag that said Newbery Honor winner. I promised to come back and review that book: Rules.


It is the beginning of summer, twelve year old Catherine’s best friend, Melissa, has gone to California to spend the summer with her dad. She is looking forward to meeting the girl who is moving in next door, imagining lots of summer fun with her new neighbor. But her brother, David may be a problem. David is autistic. David’s social skills are not the best, so Catherine has written him some rules. They include: say ‘thank you’ when someone gives you a present (even if you don’t like it), you can yell at a playground but not during dinner and no toys in the fish tank (see cover).

David goes to Occupational Therapy twice a week. Catherine frequently goes along because the clinic is near her favorite shopping district. One day Catherine meets Jason, a boy of 14 or 15, who is also an OT patient. Jason is in a wheel chair and communicates by pointing to hand-written cards in a binder. The cards in the binder are utilitarian. Catherine offers to make word cards to expand Jason’s vocabulary. Catherine gives him back cards that say Gross! Awesome!  Friend. As their friendship grows, so do the cards in Jason’s binder.

The new girl, Krista, finally moves in next door. Catherine goes to great lengths to make sure David does not embarrass her in front of her new friend. How Catherine balances her devotion to her brother, her uneasiness about how others see David and her friendship with Jason with her new friend is the crux  of the rest of the book. I am not sure the 12 year old me would have made the same decisions. It was tough to be 12 in 1960, it is way tougher in the 21st century. Being perfect, looking perfect and having “perfect” friends is so important, or at least the media and a great deal of society makes you think it is. Catherine finds her “real” self in the process.

The Sonoma County Library has several copies and  one copy on CD.

The AR level is 3.9.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

KidsWorx Creative Workshop

Kids Worx

KidsWorx Creative W0rkshop will be at the Santa Rosa Avenue Friedman’s Home Improvement Store parking lot on Saturday, April 6 from 9A.M. until Noon. I may have to get myself a kid because they are doing a project that interests me. They will be making seed paper (and then planting it in a pot to take home). There will also be Children’s Museum of Sonoma County’s  interactive exhibits. Did you know that the Museum is set to open this year? You can find out more about it here.