Shark Lady: Eugenie Clark

Today’s book is a new picture book biography of Eugenie Clark. Clark was a trailblazing scientist who left a grand legacy to science.

Eugenie was discouraged from going into a scientific career, but was unwilling to give up her love of the oceans. Eugenie specifically loved sharks, but did advance the study if other species of fish. She even discovered three new species early in her career: the Red Sea sand diver, the barred Xenia pipefish and the volcano triplefin. 

Her scientific discoveries did not stop there. She discovered that sharks were able to stop moving to rest, dispelling the myth that they must keep moving to stay alive, and that they could be trained like a dog and would remember that training for up to two months. She also discovered a rare six-filled shark.

I learned all of these facts about Eugenie from this book, but there are other books about her:

 Eugenie Clark died in 2015 at the age of 92. You can learn more about her at the website


Even famous people start out small.

I’m not joking. Did you know that Thomas Edison fed someone worms once?

It’s true! He thought that worms might be what gave birds the power of flight. While it was a good observation that birds eat worms and are able to fly, it wasn’t one of his best theories on how to imbue humans with the power of flight.

It’s true, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a kid once and he did regular everyday kid things. One thing he never did though was respond to violence with more violence.

This fun new series of narrative nonfiction biographies is by Mark Weakland. I have them on my purchase list for the upcoming school year and I’m hoping to read the other two books here at the public library.

I have heard about Amelia’s rollercoaster, I think in Brad Meltzer’s Ordinary People Change the World Series, but I have not heard about Wilma playing basketball.

These books have nice illustrations and are easy to read and understand. I think they will go over well with my K-4 audience. I plan to put them with the biographies but here at the public library, they are in the picture books.

Not so spooky zombies and vampires!

Kids have really gotten desensitized to horror imagery. It’s visible in so many places. Zombies sell for Visine, Dr. Scholls and Sprint, to name a few, so it’s impossible to keep them away from your kids 100%.

So rather than freak out, why not find a fun age-appropriate zombie for your child? This post is actually more for girls, but I’m not ruling out boys who may enjoy ballet.

Kristyn Crow has some cute spooky-themed stories and three about Zombelina. Her story is told in rhymes with cute illustrations by Molly Idle.

I would read these to ballet loving girls, maybe to give myself a break from Monster High obsessed kids. I found another fun series about a ballet loving vampire:

This series by Anne Marie Pace looks so cute! I love LeUyen Pham’s illustrations. It’s going to be a Disney Junior show do it must be wholesome.

There are other stories out there that appeal to kids who like some traditional themes, like ballet, and nontraditional themes like zombies and vampires. I’d be willing to bet that it suits a lot of parents as well. I would rather read monsters than ballet, but if they make my kid happy, I’ll gladly take them together.

June Sparrow and the Million Dollar Penny

While looking for brand new fiction on our library’s eBook site, I came across a cover with a cute illustration of a girl and her pet pig.

Intrigued, I looked at the description and it compared the book to Because of Winn Dixie and Three Times Lucky, two of my all time favorite middle-grade books. And really, who can resist a pig in a top hat and cape??

June is an orphan, but luckily she was left her parents’ entire fortune and lives an amazing, if solitary, life in New York City with her miniature pig named Indigo Bunting.

Life is turned on it’s ear on June’s 12th birthday. Her fortune has been lost by the executor of her parents’ estate and she must move to South Dakota to live with an aunt she’s never even met!

I could not pass up an opportunity to read a book that takes place in South Dakota. Red Bank, the town June lives in, is fictional. The only place Google came up with when I searched for it is a campground in the Black Hills called Redbank Campground. The town in the story is close to Sioux Falls and the Black Hills are on the opposite side of the state.

June is sure she belongs in New York and after finding her mom’s penny book, she’s positive she can make it happen. 

I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m enjoying it enough that I’m hoping for a series about June. In fact, I kind of hope she finds the million dollar penny and instead of moving back to New York, uses it to help Red Bank and her aunt. We’ll just have to see…

Claude and Sir Bobblysock

My librarian friend has asked me to help her out reading books that are on the nominee list for the Prairie Pasque and Prairie Bud Awards. I grabbed a couple to try out.

I really liked Claude In the Country. Claude is a very dapper dog who lives with Mr. and Mrs. Shinyshoes and enjoys daily adventures with his best friend, Mr. Bobblysock (he’s literally a sock.) I think Claude may be from England, there is just something European about the book.

This fun adventure on the farm with Mrs. Cowpat was a very fun story. It’s perfect for an emergent reader who enjoys cute illustrations.

There were some moments in the book that I thought may have been jokes for the parents, but overall, it is a series I’d buy for the school.

I believe there is also a new book in the set where Claude goes to sea. I think I’ll discuss this set in the What’s New In Children’s Lit class in teaching as well. 

Dragons Love Tacos

Really, it should be common knowledge by now that dragons love tacos (watch out for that spicy salsa though!) We have talked about the first of Adam Rubin’s hilarious book before:

Today, though, I’m super excited to share the next book in this series:

Sometimes when you have something really great and you love it so much, you over use it and then there’s a shortage. Fossil fuels come to mind but the sad truth is that this time, is tacos that we’ve run out of!

What’s a dragon to do?!? How about we jump into a time machine and go back to our super amazing taco party? Its a perfect idea but we need to  make sure we get there before the dragons accidentally eat the spicey salsa. 

Good thing we can go back a little further and try again. And again. Be careful not to put spicey salsa in the time machine’s engine! What? Now dragons love diapers? Now tacos love dragons? Finally! We’ve saved a taco and kept the dragons from eating it, can one taco save the world?

We’ll plant a [taco] tree and have tacos forever. The dragons will be so happy.

After all, dragons love diapers. I mean, tacos. Dragons love tacos.

These are the layouts from the end of the book. You may notice an all-star group of taco lovers:

  • Abraham Lincoln 
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Ghandi
  • Frankenstein
  • Cleopatra 
  • The Stinky Cheese Man (look that one up.)
  • The racoon from Rubin’s book Secret Pizza Party
  • The robot from Robo-Sauce, also by Rubin 

The Tinderbox

I’ve read a few of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories before and they are not sweet, flowery books. The Little Match Girl its the saddest Christmas story ever, The Ice Queen is one dark lady (kids never want to hear that she is who Elsa from Frozen is based on), and The Little Mermaid dies at the end of her story.

I picked up The Tinderbox because of those freaky dogs on the cover. The children’s librarian I am assisting this summer had not read it either. I think I may have read a version of it by an amateur author, but it wasn’t kid friendly.

In the story,a soldier coming home from war meets a witch who offers him all the riches he can carry if he will go into an underground hall and bring her back a tinderbox that her grandmother left down there the last time she went below ground.

This illustrator its amazing! Look at the detail!

The Witch tells him that he will meet three dogs with giant eyes but gives him a means to get around them.

He looks really constipated or like he’s getting his temperature taken at the vet!

The soldier does as she asks and fills his pockets with all the gold he can carry. She demands the tinderbox, but the soldier isn’t stupid and realizes it must be special. He kills the Witch and takes the tinderbox along with the gold. 

He isn’t overly intelligent though, and manages to spend all of his gold. Down to nothing, he decides to light the candle in the tinderbox. He is amazed to discover that when he strikes the flint, the first of the giant-eyed dogs magically appears. Two strikes brings the second dog , three the third, four strikes brings all three and best of all, they can grant wishes!

The story gets weird here. There is a beautiful princess secreted away in the city and he longs to see her. He had the dog  abduct her while she sleeps so that he may kiss her. This continues and the king and queen try frantically to stop it. Finally, the soldier is discovered and arrested.

On the day he is to be hanged, the soldier’s last request is to smoke a pipe one last time. He strikes the tinderbox four times to summon all three dogs and sics them on the royalty in the crowd and kills them! He is then (Good knows why) declared the new king and marries the princess.

Don’t get me wrong, many old fairy tales seem unbelievable to modern people, but this one was out there. I think it’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure about the whole kidnapping/murder thing–I have reservations about a lot of old stories in their original form in fact. 

Keep in mind it may be necessary to pre-read stories to make sure they don’t have details in them you aren’t willing to share with kids–like Rapunzel getting pregnant with twins, or Cinderella’s stepsisters curling off parts of their feet to make the glass slipper fit. Fairytales can be brutal.