Sunday, November 17, 2013

Beautiful Children’s Books

Apartment Therapy  (who knew?) writes about the  20 Most Beautiful Children’s Books. There is a  blog favorite on the list, Sleep Like A Tiger. Lots of classics like Where the Wild Things Are, Madeline and Good Night Moon plus newer classics like Olivia and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Since this is a decorating article, there were also links for ways to display your children’s books to entice them to pick up a book and read. 7 Ideas for Making a Forward Facing Book Display and Little Readers: Most Appealing Book Displays of the Year give you plenty of ideas for interesting and pleasing ways to display books.

Hat tip: Jump Into A Book

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Reading Fluency

The Room Mom has a post up today about helping your child improve her reading fluency with lots of practical tips. If your child is doing a lot of reading on her own, do you know if she comprehends what she is reading? One of the things I see frequently with second graders is that they change words they do not know into something they think would fit. Doing this occasionally is not catastrophic but it can become a bad habit that will affect your child’s understanding of what she reads. See also The Five Finger Rule to help find books that are just right.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Trouper is a novel in verse told by a three legged dog who wanders the streets with other homeless dogs looking for food wherever they can find it. One day, a man lures them into his truck  with a huge steak and takes  them to a shelter. Trouper watches as each of his friends is adopted, finally, he is the only one left.  His heart is a cold heartless night until a  young boy comes  to the shelter and takes Trouper home. The last page should bring a tear to your eye.

Based on the real story of her own rescue dog, Trouper, Meg Kearney wrote a poem about the life she imagined he had before she adopted him. Caldecott Honor medalist, E. B. Lewis used the real Trouper as the model for his paintings


Meg Kearney did a video on You Tube about the real Trouper. The book was published at the end of October, so it is not yet at the Sonoma County or Yulupa libraries, but it is available from Scholastic.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Locomotive is part geography book, part history book and part instruction manual for all things to do with trains. Written and illustrated by Brian Floca, it is a homage to the locomotive which was the height of mid-nineteenth century technology.

It is 1869. you, your mother and a sibling  are taking the train out of Omaha, Nebraska to join your father in San Francisco. You learn about the crew and what they do to keep your train running. As the train crosses Nebraska, you get a glimpse out your windows of the Platte River Valley and the Plains beyond. Are you hungry or bored? A “butch” ( a young boy selling books, newspapers and food) comes through your car. You learn how the passengers stay warm and that it is rude to use the “convenience” when the train is sitting at a station. You get off the train for a simple railroad dinner along the way. At the end of the day, a new crew boards and a new engine pulls the train. At night, some people sleep in berths the porters pull from the ceiling. In your car, you try to sleep on your bench seat as best you can.

Out of Cheyenne, Wyoming your train starts climbing up the Rocky Mountains. That requires two engines to pull the train. You see the beautiful rock formations out your window. Near Salt Lake, you reach Promontory Summit; the place where the Union Pacific meets the Central Pacific Railroad and where a golden spike joined the two halves. This is where you change trains. You got here by way of the Union Pacific Railroad. You will finish your journey on the Central Pacific Railroad.  On through the high desert to Truckee to start the steep climb over the Sierra Mountains. Up to Donner Pass, through the summit tunnel and down hill from Summit Station to San Francisco, where your father is waiting for you at the station.


All along the route, we learn what each crew member is doing to keep the train moving towards its destination. Each page is beautifully illustrated, not with generic scenery but what you would actually see if you where on the train. This is a book to be poured over.  Inside the front cover is a map of your journey and a little about how people traveled before the railroad.  Inside the back cover is a primer on steam power.  Locomotive is my new favorite picture book. It is a book for kids who think they are too old for picture books. It is a jewel!

The Sonoma County Library has several copies of Locomotive. The AR level is 4.7.

Friday, November 1, 2013

How To Train A Train

Lately, books about trains seem to be jumping off the shelves to get my attention. Maybe it is because the “Thomas the Tank Engine” crowd is growing up and this year I have a couple of students  interested in trains. Of course, it could be that people have been fascinated by trains for over one hundred and fifty years and I have just begun to notice.

How To Train A Train claims to be an instruction manual on how to choose and train your train. Jason Carter Eaton’s imaginative story is well illustrated by John Rocco. Who doesn’t want a pet train?  What kind of a train would you like? And how do you catch it? This involves some early morning stakeouts, coal  and smoke signals. Then your  train needs a name. Several suggestions are offered to get you thinking. What do you do if your train is shy? Or has trouble falling asleep? The answers can be found in the book. Did you know you can teach your train to do tricks? Once you gain your trains trust, you can ride him, but it is best to start in the caboose. Soon you and your pet train can socialize with other children and their pet trains or even pet airplanes. If you follow this plan, your train will be happy!

How To Train A Train

The humor extends to the author’s note at the end. It is sure to be a favorite with kids who love trains, especially those from 4-8 years old.  How To Train A Train is on order at the Sonoma County Library.

November is Picture Book Month


Picture books are an important tool in introducing children to reading. Toddlers love “lift the flap” books and “touch and feel” books. Dr Seuss helped introduce funny and colorful “easy to read” books in the late fifties that changed picture books forever. But there are many picture books meant for older children; the reading level can be as high as fifth grade. As S.T.E.M. and the new Common Core become ubiquitous, we will be seeing more non-fiction picture books that can be wonderful learning tools.  We are headed fast into the giving season and I have been collecting picture books to present to you for consideration as gifts. You can find out more about Picture Book Month  here. Join us as we explore the wonderful variety of subjects, artistic styles and genres available in bookstores and libraries.