Wednesday, April 26, 2017

We're All Wonders

In 2012, R.J. Palacio wrote a book about a boy named Auggie Pullman who was born with severe facial deformities called Wonder. Auggie is finally going to a regular school in the fifth grade.He wants to be treated like everyone else but that is easier said than done. Over 5 million copies of the book have been sold. It inspired the Choose Kind movement. For years, teachers and librarians have wanted a picture book about Auggie. We're All Wonders is the result. 

Auggie narrates his story. He is an ordinary kid inside, he likes the same things kids his age like. But he doesn't look like other kids. His mom says he is a wonder but some others just see how different he looks. Kids staring, pointing and laughing at him hurt his feelings. When that happens, he and his dog Daisy put on their helmets and blast off to Pluto to see old friends. From there he looks back at the earth, it looks so small but he knows that billions of people live there. People who look different and speak other languages. The world is big enough for all kinds of people. Auggie can't change the way he looks but maybe people can change the way they see because everyone is a wonder.

The Sonoma County Library has fifteen copies. The AR is 1.5. There are thirty copies of Wonder.
The AR is 4.8 with 11 points. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Importance of School Libraries

Teachers: James Patterson Would Like to Help You Build Your Classroom Libraries

Two years ago James Patterson gave independent bookstores grants, last year he gave grants to libraries. This year he is giving away $1.75 million to help teachers build their classroom libraries. Scholastic will kick in 500 bonus points, too. You'll find everything you need to enter here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Happy D.E.A.R. Day

Every year on April 12, Beverly Cleary's Birthday, we celebrate Drop Everything And Read Day. She wrote about D.E.A.R. in Ramona Quimby, Age 8. So, you know what you have to do.

Beverly Cleary is 101 years old today!

Hat tip: Reading Is Fundamental

Friday, April 7, 2017

Sick Days

When I was three, I had a very serious illness that lasted a few weeks. My mother read to me several times a day even though I had a baby brother that kept her busy, too. She didn't remember much about that time, but I sure do. Decades later those memories are still very vivid.

Hat tip: Imagination Soup

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Reading Ideas

I came across a couple of interesting articles this morning. The first is from the  October 3, 2016  The New Yorker, What Makes A Children's Book Good? by Adam Gidwitz. He is the author of The Inquisitor's Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. If you have middle-grade age readers, this is a rollicking, medieval and timely story. Gidwitz looks at the criteria that has been used to make judgments about the worth of children's books. Should the judgment be about content or results?

The Sonoma County Library has thirteen copies. The AR is 4.5 and is worth 11 points.

The second article is from Brightly by Jean Reagan, the author of How To Babysit A Grandma and How To Babysit A Grandpa: How to Make Reading Fun: 25 Ideas Kids Will Love. One idea I particularly love is to give kids Calvin and Hobbes books. Bill Watterson channeled  kid's  imagination and emotions perfectly. Another great idea that worked with my oldest grandson is to read aloud a book just to the exciting part. More often than not, even a reluctant reader will want to finish the book. Another great idea is using audiobooks. The same grandson as above just needed the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to hook him on the whole series (Jim Dale is a magnificent narrator. He had over 100 distinct voices for the many characters over the seven books. Even if your kids read the books, listening to them is a real treat).

The Sonoma County Library has seven  copies of How to Babysit a Grandma and six copies of How to Babysit a Grandpa. The AR for the Grandma book is 3.0 and the Grandpa book is 2.4.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Good Night Owl

Greg Pizzoli seems to have a thing for obsessive characters. The crocodile in 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal book, The Watermelon Seed, was obsessed with watermelon and then obsessed with the imagined consequences of swallowing a watermelon seed. While reading this book, a first grade student  said repeatedly, "I really, really love this book".

In Good Night Owl, Owl hears an unfamiliar noise as he is going to bed. He checks the door, there is no one there. As he is returning to bed, he hears it again, this time from the cupboard. He takes everything out but can't find the source of the sound. He goes back to bed and hears it again. Is it coming from under the floor? He pulls up every floor board but does not find it. This pattern is repeated as he dismantles the roof and the walls but he is no closer to finding the source of the sound. In his bed, under the stars, he finally sees the source of the noise: a mouse. After Owl says "good night noise" they both go to sleep. This book received a 2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor.
I love that Owl is holding a book on the cover; a picture says a thousand words. The font is large and well spaced. It is easy for a beginning reader to tell where one word ends and another begins.

The Sonoma County Library has five copies. The AR is 1.7.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I Am (Not) Scared

My first ride on a roller coaster was when I was dating my husband. We rode the Cyclone at Excelsior Park towards the end of its almost fifty year life. To say it was rickety would be an understatement. I was pretty sure the whole thing would come down before the end of the ride but it didn't. It took a good fifteen years before I got on another one and that was because I didn't know Space Mountain was a roller coaster. Roller coasters are even more terrifying in the dark. I am sure this is a brain issue because my favorite ride is a log flume ride. I have been on them in parks all over the United States; they are scary but I have fun. Other than the addition of water, what is the difference between a log flume ride and a roller coaster?

Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are back with another book about two bear friends from the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal book You Are (Not) Small. Our friends want to ride the Loop of Doom but one is brave and one is a little scared. The brave one lists many things that are much scarier: snakes, a tub of hairy spiders, a hot lava pit, a pan of fried ants and a space alien with pink eyes and furry teeth. Suddenly, the roller coaster seems less scary. Their car comes forward with a snake in the back seat. They decide to be scared together. Up they go, around a loop-de-loop, down with their arms in the air and back to safety. Smiling, they agree that the ride was scary but off they go, with the snake, to ride again.

With about fifty unique words, Anna Kang creates a funny story about having fun while being scared. Christopher Weyant's ink and watercolor pictures fill in the details. The font is large, bold and well-spaced which makes it perfect for beginning readers.

The Sonoma County Library has four copies. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Author, Mac Barnett and illustrator, Jon Klassen's two previous collaborations,  Extra Yarn and Sam & Dave Dig A Hole won Caldecott Honors. They have teamed up again to create Triangle, the first book in a planned trilogy. 

Triangle lives in a house shaped like a triangle, with a triangle shaped door. He wants to play a trick on his friend, Square. On his way to Square's house he passes triangular shaped hills, then hills "that weren't triangles anymore" and finally to square shaped hills. Because he knows Square is afraid of snakes, Triangle says "HISS" sounding like a snake at his friend's door. Square is frightened. Triangle keeps hissing but soon he is laughing too hard to hiss anymore. Square recognizes the laugh and chases Triangle past the square hills , the undefined shape hills and the triangle shaped hills to Triangle's house where he gets stuck in the triangle shaped door. He is blocking the light and guess what? Triangle is afraid of the dark. Square says he planned his revenge, does the reader believe him?

John Klassen's artwork is known for his use of earth-toned palettes. In this book, he introduces a pale blueish green that he uses both alone and in overlays of earth tones to create darker toned greens. The font is large, well spaced and easy to read. There is plenty of white space and few words on each page. Kids who read at a mid-year first grade level or higher can read this book with little help.

The Sonoma County Library has ten copies. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Go, Otto, Go!

David Milgrim won a Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor this year for the fifth book in his Adventures of Otto series, Go, Otto, Go! Otto misses his family, so he decides to build a spaceship to go visit. His friends are sad to see him leave. They watch as his ship goes "up, up, up" and then "down, down, down" right back to where he started: "home, sweet, home".

Most of the story is told by the illustrations. The text is simple and minimal.The font is large and easy to read and there is plenty of white space. Go, Otto, Go! and the other books in the series are perfect for brand new readers.

The Sonoma County Library has twelve copies. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Happy Birthday, Dr Seuss

Tomorrow,  March 2 is the 113th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel, known to generations of children as Dr. Seuss. He believed learning to read should be fun and exciting. He respected children and trusted their intelligence. As I have said before, I grew up in a Dick and Jane world. Dr. Seuss changed that.

It is also  is Read Across America Day. Celebrated in conjunction with the March 2 Birthday of Dr. Seuss, The National Education Association (NEA) sponsors the day to help create a nation of readers.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Scholastic Book Fair February 27-March 3

This week is Yulupa's annual Scholastic Book Fair held in the Library/Media Center from 8-9 AM and 1-4 PM. On Wednesday it will stay open from 1-7:30 PM. This is a great opportunity to get your kids some books, both for read alouds and for reading on their own. And maybe even pick up a book for your child's classroom; teachers fill out slips of paper with the names of books they would like to add to their classrooms. Check out the Scholastic Book Fair Flyer. This is just a small sample of the books available.

One of the books I plan to purchase is Dog Man Unleashed by Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame. This is the second book in the Dog Man series. In this short clip, Dav Pilkey talks about why graphic novels should be in every classroom. You can here more from him in this January, 2013 interview on NPR.

Another book that interests me is Pig the Pug because it is 1) a dog book and 2) it is about a pug, albeit a rather naughty one. This book is part of a picture book series.

One of my granddaughters loves the Upside Down Magic books. The flyer features Showing Off, the third book in the series.

To help you and your child find the just right book to read here is the Five Finger Rule again:


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! An Alphabet Caper

Mike Twohy's Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor winning abecedary, Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! An Alphabet Caper tells a compelling story with one or two words on each page. A mouse is sleeping, a dog's ball bounces into his home to wake him up. The dog reaches into the mouse hole to retrieve the ball, scares the mouse, the mouse runs and a chase ensues. Finally, the mouse manages to get back home, wraps up the ball and gives the present to the dog, the dog loves it, they make up and become friends. I have now used twice as many words to tell the story as the author used. His drawings are pen and ink with color used only for the mouse, the dog, the ball, the present and the ABCs. There is plenty of white space to focus attention on the action and the font is large and bold. It is a great book for both younger kids and beginning readers. The younger kids get a different look at the alphabet and beginning readers have a action filled book they can read themselves.

The Sonoma County Library has twelve copies. There is no AR for this book. If your kids like this abecedary (an alphabet book), they might also like Z is for Moose, too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


The Bulldog and Poodle families from Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio are back in Antoinette. Each of Antoinette's brothers has a special talent: Rocky is clever, Ricky is fast and Bruno is strong. What is Antoinette's talent? She's not sure..

One day while playing in the park with the Poodle kids: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La and Gaston, Ooh-La-La goes missing while chasing a butterfly. Where could she be? Everyone starts looking for her. Antoinette catches a scent and follows it through the streets of Paris right into the Louvre and up to the very tip of Winged Victory and catches Ooh-La-La just as she is about to fall off the statue. An "instant" replay lets us see Antoinette save Ooh-La-La again. Fast forward into the future and we see Antoinette and Gaston in the park with their puppies near a statue honoring Antoinette as Paris' most famous police dog.

Again Christian Robinson's artwork perfectly captures the dog families, the action and the feeling of Paris.

The Sonoma County Library has seven copies. There is no AR yet for this book but the AR for Gaston is 2.8.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

World Read Aloud Day

Here is an ideas for a great read aloud book:

Vera Brosgol's Leave Me Alone! is a 2017 Caldecott Honor book. The protagonist is the grandmother in a small house with many children,a big sack of yarn and lots of sweaters to make for her grandchildren. But she could get no peace, so she left to find a place to knit. Bears bothered her in the woods,  goats in a mountain cave snacked on her yarn, she climbed so far up the mountain that she climbed onto the moon. Did she find peace there? The little green men had scanners that beeped and booped until she could stand it no longer and left through a wormhole. On the other side it was very dark, very quiet and she was alone at last. The perfect place to do her knitting. When she finished 30 sweaters she went through another wormhole back to the house and a joyous welcome from her grandchildren.

Depending on the age of the child(ren) you are reading to, be prepared to answer some questions about wormholes. The Sonoma County Library has thirteen copies. The AR is 2.9.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Infamous Ratsos

The Ratso brothers, Louie and Ralphie,  want to be tough just like their dad, Big Lou. But try as they might every time they try to  be tough they wind up doing a good deed. One day, their father confronts them with a letter from school commending them on welcoming a new student to school and stopping a bully from harassing another student. And to top it off, Mr. O'Hare told him that the boys shoveled his sidewalk during the snowstorm. What did they have to say for themselves? They want to be tough like their dad. Dad thinks he should be more like his boys and help others. So that is what the three of them do.

The Infamous Ratsos won a Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor for 2017. Kara La Reau has written several other books for beginning readers. Most of them fall into the 2.0 to 3.0 AR range. This book has not been assigned an AR as of today. One of the things that I like about the book is that the font is easy to read, the letters large and spaced so beginning readers can tell where one word ends and another begins. Beginning readers will like this funny chapter book and Matt Myers' illustrations.

The Sonoma County Library has one copy.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Finding Books

Listen to the Kids & Family Reading Report. One place my son got book recommendations that excited him was a weekly Friday book talk in his fourth grade classroom. Each student presented a book that he or she had just read and why they liked it. Every Friday afternoon, he came home from school talking about the books he wanted to read next.

Monday, January 23, 2017

2017 Newbery Medal and Honors

The American Library Association awarded the 2017 Newbery Medal  for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” to The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

Honors were awarded to

Freedom Over Me, Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life words and pictures by Ashley Bryan

The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Dog words by Adam Gitwitz and illustrated by Hatem Aly

I am in the middle of this book right now. Despite being set in 1242 AD in France, it is a book for our times. And it obeys the first rule of dog characters in children's books: the dog is the smartest one!

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

This was one of my two favorite middle grade books from last year. Another story for our times set in Pennsylvania in the early 1940's.

2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal and Honors

The American Library Association gives the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the “most distinguished beginning reader book” We Are Growing : A Mo Willems' Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! Book written by Laurie Keller.

You can read my review here.

The Honor books are:

Good Night Owl written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. Three years ago Greg Pizzoli won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal for The Watermelon Seed a book that has delighted many of my students.

Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! An Alphabet Caper words and pictures by Mike Twohy

Go Otto Go! written and illustrated by David Milgrim

The Infamous Ratsos words by Kara LaReau and pictures by Matt Myers

2017 Caldecott Medal and Honors

Each year the Caldecott Award is given to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. This morning the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of  the American Library Association, awarded the 2017 Caldecott Medal to Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat written and illustrated by Javanka Steptoe.

The Honor books are:

Leave Me Alone illustrated and written by Vera Brosgol


Freedom in Congo Square illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and written by Carole Boston Weatherford

Do Iz Tak? illustrated and written by Carson Ellis

They All Saw A Cat illustrated and written by Brendan Wenzel 

You can read my review here. This book is genius, the Honor is well deserved.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fly Guy Presents Castles

Buzz and Fly Guy go on a field trip to learn about castles in Fly Guy Presents Castles by Tedd Arnold. Buzz and Fly Guy learn about when, where and why castles were built. They see moats and drawbridges, parapets and gatehouses and watchtowers and keeps. Weapons used to lay siege to a castle include a ballista, a battering ram and a trebuchet. The latter flung heavy stones, beehives and animal poop over castle walls. I believe this is the first time "poop" and in Fly Guy's case "poopz' have made an appearance in any Fly Guy book. This will cause some giggles, I am sure. Another first is Fly Guy speaks an entire sentence completely devoid of 'z's.

A brief history of castles includes a timeline and a discussion of the Middle Ages. There are pictures of castles from France (the birthplace of castles), Spain, Britain, Ireland, Germany, Romania, Prague, Japan, Russia, India and even New York City. Lots of information about who lived in the castles, including the Lord and Lady, Knights, Jesters, Gardeners, Blacksmiths, Tailors, Kitchen Workers and pets. 

The topic was picked and voted upon by Fly Guy readers. This should appeal to kids who like fairy tales, princess books and adventure stories. This book was published on Jan 6th. Neither the Sonoma County Library nor Accelerated Reader have it listed. Most of the Fly Guy Presents books have an AR around 3.2-3.7. 

Up next is a Tedd Arnold bonus book, Vincent Paints His House. Full disclosure:  have loved Vincent Van Gogh almost my entire life. In High School, I did a self-portrait in his painting style, spent two weeks in August many years later visiting places he lived in France including the sanitarium in Saint-Remy, ate lunch at The Little Yellow House in Arles and spent a day at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam viewing his paintings in chronological order. When I found this book, I had to buy it.

The story is simple, Vincent wants to paint his house. He thinks white might be nice. The next page shows four tubes of white paint: Snow, Ivory, Titanium and Cream. A spider says, "Stop! This is MY house and I like red". The next page has four tubes of red paint, each a different shade of red. And so it goes as a caterpillar, beetle, bird, butterfly, snake, mouse and bat state their preferences. Vincent decides to use all the colors and the last page has the multi-colored house in front of the Starry Night sky. 

This is a very accessible book for a beginning reader because there is so much repetition, picture clues, an easy to read font and lots of white space. The AR is 1.1. The Sonoma County Library has four copies.