The Book No One Ever Read

I love picture books — no surprise there — and it makes me sad when any book is forgotten on the shelf. So when I saw the title or this book

I had to read it. The huge bonus was the author, Cornelia Funke. Funke (pronounced foon•ka) is from Germany and her books have a different flavor to them, since they draw on European traditions that you don't always find in American writings.

Funke has created a tribute to the great books she loved as a kid.

How wonderful to encourage kids to live a book and to become part of it! The characters in this book are books. Morry is sad that no one ever reads them but the other books are fine with no one soiling their pages. Funke's illustrations turn beloved authors into books.
You will recognize many as you follow Morry's story. In the end I knew exactly who Morry was and you will too. Enjoy this tribute to much loved authors and their books.

Madame Eiffel: The Love Story of the Eiffel Tower

Yesterday I had planned to post about a beautifully illustrated book that I came across at work.  Of course, things changed, as is natural, and instead I posted about my beloved Bloo.  I do still want to share the book about the Eiffel Tower with you though.


First off, I do not know if this story is true.  I did some poking around on the Internet and most of the known story about the Eiffel Tower being designed for the 1889 World’s Fair seems to be very straightforward.  Gustave Eiffel (and other engineers) designed the tower to stand 1,063 feet tall, the same as an 81-story building.

The picture book, with it’s fabulous vintage-feeling illustrations, seems to suggest that Eiffel designed the tower to help his wife overcome depression.  The story is not really clear if it cured her or if she died.  It’s poetic, but the ending is confusing.  I’m not sure kids would understand this.


The author,  Alice Brière-Haquet, and illustrator, Csil, made a beautiful book, but it’s probably not one that I’d use in class.  I love the style and the idea of the story is beautiful, but I just couldn’t find definitive proof that this is a true story, or even a fictionalized version of real events.  I think it’s a great book for looking at a different illustration style, but it’s not a great book for gathering facts.

All cats go to Heaven.

I can't write a lot today. I just can't. Bloo, my 9 year old cat, passed away today. He hadn't been sick and he was himself right up until the end.

Bloo was a lap cat through and through, and he never met anyone he didn't like. I found this poem online and I think it's perfect.

If you have ever had to see kids through the loss of a pet, there are many titles to help them understand and grieve.

I know that not everyone believes our pets go to Heaven, but I do. I look forward to cuddling him again some day.

Author Spotlight: Peter Brown

Peter Brown isn't just an author, he's an author/illustrator.

He is one of my favorite picture book authors; kids just love his funny stories.

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not!) is a story about a boy stuck with a loud and growling teacher who is always yelling st him in class. But one day he sees her at the park and is amazed at how un-monsterlike she is. It would be fun for Brown to write the story from the teacher's point of view. My Student Is a Gremlin or something like that. The first time I ever read this to a class, I was wearing a wide bracelet that oxidized on my skin. The 2nd graders' eyes about popped out when they saw my green skin!

Lucy is a bear who happens across a little child in the woods one day. She promises to take good care of Squeaker, and at first he seems like a great pet. Sadly, Squeaker's manners aren't the best and he's impossible to house train. Lucy has to make the hard choice to set him free so he can be happy in the wild with his own kind. My students are always incredulous that Lucy sees Squeaker as an animal and the scene with the litter pan gets them giggling every time.

Lucy is back for another adventure! She is determined to make a new friend but quickly realizes that friendship can't be forced. She also learns that she doesn't have to change who she is to make friends either. Just being her quirky self, she ends up finding the perfect friend in the end.

Brown won the Caldecott Award for Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. Mr. Tiger is from a very prim and proper town where everyone acts appropriately. But one day, he just decides he's had enough and breaks free from the expectations of his neighbors. Ultimately, Mr. Tiger has to find a happy medium, not too proper and not too wild. He ends up helping the whole community learn to relax and be themselves.

Brown has more books, but I want to read them before I talk about them. So, to be continued…

The tricky thing about hats.

I know, you’re thinking that hats are pretty basic, but they’re not if you’re an animal from the world of author/illustrator Jon Klassen.

​For example, this big bear has lost his hat and can’t seem to find it. He asks everyone he can find and no one seems to know anything about the hat. Until…

Bear isn’t overly bright, he believes that rabbit hasn’t seen the hat and walks away before realizing the error he’s made. Rabbit doesn’t seem to feel to bad about it either.

Sometimes you happen upon a treasure like this smart little bowler hat, and even though it’s not yours….well, why not try to get away with it?

Unfortunately for the little fish, the animals aren’t afraid to point out who took the hat. I’d give it back to the big guy too.

And what happens when two friends find one hat?

Hopefully, they figure out how to share. Or at least take turns.

Klassen has a very unassuming humor that kids love. I also enjoy books that he has illustrated for other authors:

You’ll need to really look at these pictures. Somehow he hides little details in his simple drawings that kids will love.

The Candymakers

The summer before I started at the school library I listened to a book on audio called The Candymakers. It’s by Wendy Mass.

I will admit to being fuzzy on the exact details, but I remember the premise.

Logan is the Candymaker’s son. That means his dad won a competition at age twelve to create a new kind of candy–the best of the year. I’m fact, his grandfather won as well, so there’s no pressure or anything for Logan to win.

He is competing against three strange kids, you can see their descriptions in the picture above. Each kid has a crazy weird story that brought them to this point but the weirdest part is how the stories all intertwine. Who will create the best candy of the year?

This book is thick but it was a hit with 5th and 6th grade students, so I was excited to see Wendy Mass had written a sequel:

I have just started this book, and I’m not reading it, I’m listening to it. Normally, I only use audio books when I’m driving with my girls to Nebraska (a trip that got cancelled this summer.) I started crocheting this summer, I learned with the tween girls in crochet club. I’m ‘hooked’ on it, but I’m feeling guilt over not reading my books for the What’s New In Children’s Literature class I’m teaching in two weeks. 

Today, it struck me that I could listen to books while I crochet (big duh there). It’s a new 2017 book too, so I can use it for my presentation. I’m killing two–maybe three–birds with one stone, awesome!
This new story involves a 50 year old mystery that goes back to Logan’s grandfather, the first of the Candymakers. I’m on chapter 6 and Miles and Philip are at the factory for the unveiling of the candy that won the competition in the first book. Daisy hasn’t entered the storyline yet, but I don’t think the boys will be able to solve the mystery without her.

P.S. This book makes me hungry for candy!!

The Missing Piece

Today is my daughter’s 13th birthday, and in honor of that, I want to share her two most favorite childhood books.

When she was 3 we borrowed Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece from the library. Something about Silverstein’s simplistically drawn pictures and the words of the story hooked her. We read it every night and she memorized it. Her favorite part to say was this:

After discovering her love for this book, we decided to try The Missing Piece Meets the Big O.

She didn’t latch on to it quite as much as the first, but I bought copies of both for our private collection anyway. I plan to save those copies and give them to her kids when she grows up (I don’t want to think of it!….)

It’s obvious to most adult readers that Silverstein’s message was about relationships and what we expect from our partners in life. I doubt kids see that, or at least understand it the way adults do.

I am so happy to share something that brought her so much joy on her special day. I hope you have a young one to share it with too.

Towers Falling

Earlier this summer I posted about a book called nine, ten: a September 11th story. Tonight I’d like to tell you about a second book that deals with the September 11th tragedy.

Towers Falling by Jewel Parker Rhodes takes place in 2016, 15 years after the tragedy (you may remember that nine, ten takes place in the days leading up to the tragedy.)  

The story’s main character is Dèja, a girl who has recently had to move with her family to a homeless shelter. The move means she will have to start at a new school. She doesn’t want anyone to know about her living situation and is willing to push people away to keep the secret.

Dèja’s life isn’t easy. She has a younger brother and sister she must help care for, her mother works a lot, and something is wrong with her dad. He is sad and angry for no reason, he has trouble breathing and he can’t hold a job. Deja doesn’t understand because he won’t tell her anything.

Dèja makes friends at school, despite her best efforts. Ben is a new kid too, he’s just moved to New York because of his parents’ divorce, and Sabeen, a wonderfully sweet girl from a Muslim family. The new school seems to be working out for Dèja until Miss Garcia explains they must learn about the history Of their city, one tragic event in particular.

Dèja has no idea what Miss Garcia is alluding to. She asks questions and the responses make her feel like she did something wrong. She has no idea what happened to the World Trade Center fifteen years before.

-I still don’t understand. How can ‘history be alive’? The people in those towers are dead. It happened long ago.

-Not so long. Fifteen years.

-I wasn’t even born. Why should I care?

-A good question, Dèja. Why should anybody care?

Dèja isn’t too blame for her ignorance of history or its importance. She has been purposely kept in the dark. I quickly guessed that her father had post traumatic stress, and my guess was that he was a first responder. 

I don’t want to give too much of the book away. I can tell you that the tragedy has touched each of the children’s lives. Dèja’s family is struggling because of her father’s PTSD, Ben’s father is a veteran from Afghanistan, and Sabeen’s family is distrusted for being Muslim. 

The children decide to find out the truth and because of their bravery, they are able to help their families come to grips with the past and move into the future.

Soup Opera

When it comes to my storytelling style, singing isn’t a big priority. I’ve never been able to sing in tune and it’s one thing I’m selfconscious about. But I’ve learned that kids don’t care how off-key I sing, they just live how silly it is.

So what better book to read than one that requires an operatic style?

This story is about a bowl of soup. Onion soup…mmmm, my favorite. Singing with passion, we find out that a man has ordered a bowl of soup but insists that he can’t eat it. 

Things escalate quickly as the waiter brings in the chef, who calls in a police officer, who calls in the mayor, who calls in the president. Finally, the president asks “why can’t you eat the soup?” 

🎼Because I have no spoon!🎶

Noni the Pony

Lots of little girls love ponies and horses. It can be hard to find simple, sweet stories to share with them; many horse stories are too hard or are more about the cowboy who rides them. But today I found a character that any little girl (or boy) could love.

Noni the Pony is a simple rhyming story about a pony and her friends on a farm in Australia. Her best friends are Dave the Dig and Coco the Cat.

Noni is friends with everyone on the farm though, from the chickens and ducks to the ladies next door (cows.)

Noni appears in a second book as well:

The animals all enjoy the beach, even though Coco doesn’t like the water. 

Little kids will love Noni and maybe they should have a Noni of their own:

I kind of want one!