Happy Fall, All…

Fall Colors

What a glorious weekend in the Hudson Valley. I've been away from the blog for so long.  Please stay with me as I share some stories of our lives raising the twins, managing Suzuki violin with our son, new thoughts on public school and further, more serious inquiries into a homeschooling option for my children.  I may become a fundamentalist Christian so that homeschool seems a more obvious choice to my friends, who certainly think I've gone entirely insane these past few months (have I mentioned I'm putting Ray in Hebrew school?).  Oh, and I think we're going to buy a Travel Trailer. I'm also considering a new entrepreneurial pursuit for the moment that shall at the moment remained unnamed. I continue to slog away, privately and Continue Reading

Book #282: Breathe

Breath -- ship

When I started writing this book-a-day portion of the blog, my intent was to focus exclusively on books for my five-year-old (he’s now six). Recently, however, I’ve noticed that my two-year-old twins have become increasingly curious about sitting and listening, which makes me feel guilty occasionally. They are simply too little to sit through or […]

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Book #281: America’s White Table

America's White Table -- hero

I had no idea that for the past thirty years or more, a white table with an empty chair has been set in military dining halls all across America. In this book, a family goes about setting a white table for those lost or missing in action during the Vietnam war.  Although this book is […]

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Book #280: Hey, Rabbit

Hey Rabbit -- cover

I love this guy’s work. Look closely, there’s a bit of Maurice Sendak in there for sure. I wrote about Sergio Ruzzzier before, but somehow I overlooked a pretty good bunny book during the Easter season and thought I’d catch up to it now. This is a dreamy and magical sort of book, definitely short […]

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Book #279: The Wall

The Wall --  hands

Eve Bunting’s beautifully written story of a boy and his father as they visit the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington D.C. is one of the best books you can find to introduce young children to the meaning of Memorial Day. In this book, a little boy watches his father stand at the wall, remembering his […]

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Book #278: The Lotus Seed

The Lotus Seed -- emperor's garden

Someday I’m going to have to write a picture book about a seed, since no matter how you come at the topic there’s always going to be something symbolic in there for everybody. The Carrot Seed, The Empty Pot, practically anything by Lois Ehlert – it’s all good. With The Lotus Seed, children are introduced […]

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Book #277: Planting the Trees of Kenya

Planting the Trees of Kenya -- cover

It’s amazing what planting a tree can do for a  nation’s future….check back for this review soon.   Previous

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Book #276: City Green

City Green -- empty lot

Ray and I really enjoyed this story about an old building that is knocked down on a poor city block. According to the narrator, “now this block looks like a big smile with one tooth missing.” With the help of her neighbor, Marcy decides to form a neighborhood group of people dedicated to renting out […]

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Book #275: The Wildest Brother

The Wildest Brother -- cover

Now that my son Ray is coming up on six-and-a-half, his imaginative world is as vigorous as ever. The other day I must have called his name from the kitchen about fifty times before he actually heard me. Not because he was all that far away, but because he was immersed in some fantasy situation […]

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Book #274: On Meadowview Street

On Meadowview Street -- Dad & Pond

As a child my father never cared much for owning a perfectly manicured front lawn, so I can appreciate Henry Cole’s On Meadowview Street, about a child who turns her suburban front yard into a sort of nature preserve. Her father is mowing the lawn when Caroline finds a small blossom. She runs to the basement […]

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Book #273: Farfallina and Marcel

Farfallina and Marcel -- leaf

I’m one of those people who thinks that anything you wish to say of any importance can be perfectly expressed in a picture book. For this reason, I’ve pretty much always given children’s book as gifts to adults, and nobody has complained. Good friends will likely receive the George and Martha books, or the vintage favorite, […]

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Book #272: Elsie’s Bird

Elsie's Bird -- nebraska

Sorry to be redundant, but it’s David Small’s magnificent illustrations that compel me to write about a 2010 book called Elsie’s Bird. It’s about a little girl who moves from Boston to Nebraska during the time of the American pioneers. The words, by Jane Yolen (of Owl Moon and countless others) work beautifully with Small’s pictures, […]

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Book #271: A Boy and A Jaguar

A Boy and a Jaguar -- cover

An illustrated autobiography of a naturalist, A Boy and a Jaguar tells the story of a boy who is set apart from others because of a debilitating stutter. The book opens with the boy leaning toward his favorite animal, about to speak, but he is interrupted by his father.  “What are you doing?” his father […]

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Book #270: Lion vs. Rabbit

Lion vs Rabbit -- up the mountain

Lion is a bully that must be stopped. He gives Buffalo a wedgie, he sticks silly notes on Zebra. He steals Hyena’s lunch monkey!  The animals are exasperated, so finally Baboon runs an ad offering a reward for anyone who can get Lion to stop bullying.  (The reward is 100 bucks, or, mostly gazelle — […]

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Book #269: Have You Seen My Dragon?

Have You Seen My Dragon -- cover

Just ink with a splash of color on each page, Have You Seen My Dragon is a counting book, a find-the-object-book, and a paean to Manhattan rolled all into one. Since the dragon is really not that hard to find, I figured the book might be a bit young for my six-year-old, but he insisted […]

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Book #268: An Egg is Quiet

An egg is colorful -- double paged

Another book I forgot to mention this past Easter is An Egg is Quiet, written by Dianna Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long. I tend to write largely about fictional or biographical picture books, so this is a nice break. An Egg is Quiet, published by Chronicle Books, is a lovely homage to the different kinds […]

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Book #267: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site -- cover

A crane truck and a cement mixer nod off and fall gently to sleep. Other heavy machinery, too. This one is a nice break from sleepy animals and babies, and somehow the rhyming narrative isn’t bothersome. He lowers his bed, locks his gate, Rests his wheels; it’s getting late. He dims his lights, then shuts […]

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Book #266: The Giant Carrot

Barry Root..."The Giant Carot" Watercolor and Gouache on paper.

Originally a Russian folktale called “The Turnip,” Jan Peck decided to rewrite the story in a southern vernacular and switch out the turnip for the “tasty, versatile carrot.”  What you get is a wonderful retelling of an old tale and a recipe for carrot pudding at the back of the book besides. As the days grew […]

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Book #265: The Gardener

The Gardener -- cover

I don’t know how you can talk about children’s books and the spring season without mentioning Sara Stewart and David Small’s The Gardener, published in 1997 and winner of a Caldecott honor (Rapunzel won the medal that year, in case you were interested). This is a depression-era piece about a young girl who goes to […]

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Book #264: The Ugly Vegetables

The Ugly Vegetables -- wheelbarrow

A thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read from 1999, The Ugly Vegetables is a first person story about a little girl who wishes her mother would plant something besides “ugly vegetables,” or Chinese greens, during the spring months. While the neighbors are busy watching and smelling their beautiful flower blooms, the narrator is dismayed to see […]

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Book #263: The Dandelion’s Tale

The Dandelion's Tale -- cover

I’m so happy to see spring that I’ve decided to devote a few days to books that celebrate the season.  The Dandelion’s Tale feels a bit springlike in that it’s about birth and renewal — the circle of life, if you’ll forgive the term. But it’s also about death and memory and yes, writing, too, […]

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Book #262: President Taft is Stuck in the Bath

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath -- cover

Nobody knows if this is true or not, but rumor has it that President Taft, an enormous man, couldn’t get out of his bathtub one day. In Mac Barnett’s iteration of this version, Taft called upon everyone from his cabinet for advice on how to get himself out. “Blast it,” Taft bellows, repeatedly, when the members of […]

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Book #261: Coming Soon

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Book #260: Coming soon

Previous               Click here to read Book #261

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