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!

Something From Nothing

This summer’s program theme is Build A Better World, and one of the weekly sub-themes is recycling. My librarian friend told me about a perfect book to go with that theme.

Phoebe Gilman based Something From Nothing on an old Jewish folktale. There are other versions of this story, but it’s my friend’s favorite–and for good reason!

The story starts with Grandfather, a tailor, making Joseph a blanket when he is a baby. 

You might notice that under the floor there are tiny scraps of fabric. Readers will want to keep their eyes on that space, as an industrious mouse family makes use of every bit of fabric.

As Joseph grows, his blanket gets old and worn. Mama wants to throw it away but Joseph says, “Grandfather can fix it!” 

The blanket becomes a coat. And then a vest. And then a necktie. And then a handkerchief. And finally a button. 

One day, Joseph loses the button. He is very sad but the next day he is inspired to write a story about the button, to make something out of nothing.

This is a wonderful story and there is the bonus story of the mouse family. They grow and change along with Joseph and his family, and their home is enriched by every scrap of fabric that was once a piece of Joseph’s blanket.

Gorilla Priscilla

I have shared some of Barbara Bottner’s books before, Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don’t) and Miss Brooks’ Story Nook. They are illustrated by Michael Emberly.  Today’s book is another great story by this team.

Priscilla loves, I mean loves gorillas. She loved them because she is sure that they can do whatever they want and no one ever messes with them. This fascination is great when the class is assigned an animal report.

But then Priscilla decided to keep being a gorilla long after it was necessary.

Priscilla’s antics does not impress her teacher and eventually causes problems with the whole class. Finally she realizes that gorillas don’t act that way and makes better choices. Her good choices lead to a great adventure for the whole class.

This is a great story for teaching that being an individual doesn’t mean being the center of the universe. 

Author Spotlight: Kelly DiPucchio

Yesterday I shared a pair of books by Kelly DiPucchio. I like her books a lot, so I’ll share a few of my favorites:

Grace For President inspired my fourth grade classes to hold class elections last November. This delightful story explains the election process in a kid-friendly way.

Clink is about a cute robot who makes toast and plays music. But he burns the toast and is missing pieces. No one seems interested in buying him, even after the other robots try to fix him up. Luckily, being a bit odd is exactly what one little boy is looking for.

Bed Hogs is just too cute! It is illustrated by Howard Fine, who drew the fabulous piggies in Piggie Pie (one of my favorites by Margie Palatini.) The runt of the family feels too crowded by his mama, papa, brother and sisters. So he kicks them out of the sty, but when you’re little, a big bed can be awfully lonely.

If you are looking for an animal sound book, the little bird in What’s the Magic Word will teach some to you. He is blown here and there by the wind and finally learns the real magic word.

I have a list of more of DiPucchio’s books that I’d like to get for my library and read. Here they are.


Today’s family movie at the library (I make free popcorn…) wasLego Batman and it made me think about family stories. The movie shows that nontraditional families are still strong, and so I wanted to share a couple of stories about nontraditional families by Kelly DiPucchio.

Gaston is about a French bulldog who was switched at birth with a French poodle. It’s very obvious that he’s the odd man out and doesn’t really fit in.

The one day, Gaston’s family meets Antoinette’s family. It’s obvious that Gaston and Antoinette were meant with each other’s families so they make the switch. The dog families quickly realize that appearance and even DNA are not what makes a true family. The best part is that now, all the puppies can be friends.

Antoinette picks up where Gaston left off. Antoinette is part of a family where everyone has a special talent. But Antoinette is still looking for her talent. 

One day in the park Antoinette & Gaston’s families are playing together when one of Gaston’s sister goes missing. Speed, strength and bravery aren’t enough to find her. Antoinette discovers that she has a nose for tracking and saves the day. There is a sweet ending that I’m not going to share.

You’ll just have to go check it out to find out what it is.

American Girls BeForever

Today is a big day for me. I took the lead on today’s program, a Meet the American Girls Party, since my librarian is super busy with everything else that we’ve got going on.

The American Girl company has the girl of the year series, the custom dolls and the historical or BeForever dolls. I say dolls, but the girl of the year and the historical girls all have books. 

The historical girls are Kaya-1764, Felicity-1774, Caroline-1812, Josefina-1824, Kirsten-1854, Addy-1864, Samantha-1904, Rebecca-1914, Kit-1934, Molly-1944, Maryellen-1954, Melody-1964 and Julie-1774.  The library own the dolls Kaya, Felicity, Josefina, Addy, Rebecca and Kit, so they are my focus.

For the party today, we wanted something to represent each girl’s time in history. For Kaya, a Nez Perce girl in pre-colonial times, we are making doll-sized parfleche pouches.

For Felicity, a girl in colonial New England, we are serving apple juice, even though she would have had apple cider.

For Josefina, a Spanish girl from the Spanish settlements in the South West, I asked a friend for two branches and created a rustic weaving loom.

For Addy, a runaway slave during the Civil War, we are serving gingersnaps like she would have baked.

For Rebecca, a girl from a Jewish family at the start of World War I, due we found old fashioned games like tiddlywinks, pick up sticks, jacks and marbles.

For Kit, a girl facing hard times during the Great Depression, we found cute paper dolls for the girls to try out.

I made a timeline with all of the historical girls so that the kids could see how they fall in our history.  I also made an autograph book for each girl so that our party guests could write them a note.

The final bit of fun is the photo booth. I wanted the visiting girls today to see that they are part of history just like the characters, so they get to become an American Girl doll.

My friend and former student even loaned us her beautifully bound collection of American Girl books. My daughter loved the Addy books. I recommend the Kirsten books a lot since she is a pioneer girl (a logical step after kids finish Little House On the Prairie), and the other librarians here have told me that they enjoyed Kit, Felicity and Molly. The American Girl company had reissued the historical girls’ books, and I have added all of them to my collection. I wish I had known about these books when I was 10 years old. I love history and would have read the whole set.

Young Authors

It is not often that I get to say I know an author (I know very, very few) and it’s even less often that they have been to my home. But when the author is the same age as my older daughter and lives right next door, well then, that author becomes pretty special to me.

A Dilly Dally Day is a sweet little book written by Jamie Robbins when she was in 5th grade. She told me about it, but I had yet to get my hands on a copy. Today I was digging through donations to find something to blog about when I came across it.

When I looked up the cover art online I noticed the author’s name. I was shocked to see my sweet little neighbor on the author page.

The story is about two friends who want to visit the library but just can’t seem to stay on track. First ice cream distracts them, then a play and finally stopping to smell the flowers causes them to get to the library after it closes.

The friends promise not to dilly dally the next day and find a pleasant surprise (or two or three) waiting for them at the library. As I said, Jamie is a young author, so she doesn’t have other titles yet, but I’m keeping an eye out for more. Have a dilly dally day!

Never judge a book by its movie.

One of my personal rules is to always read the book before I see the movie adaptation. Of course, as a kid, I didn’t have such strict rules. The book/movies I’m talking about today were ones I saw first and read later.

The point of the post is really about how film adaptations never really do the books justice. These three examples, which I learned about while reading on Listverse, are instances where the authors were terribly unhappy with the movies based on their books.

It might seem like I’m contradicting myself with this first one, because just yesterday I was telling you how much I loved this movie:

But author Roald Dahl was very unhappy with the movie. It’s sad that something so iconic wasn’t a shining moment for the author.

I had no idea that The Neverending Story was a book, but it was one of the most amazing things I saw as a child.

Author Michael Ende despised the movie and spent a fortune in court costs trying to stop the production. I own this movie and I want my girls to see it. It meant a lot to me and my friends. I’m sure Ende wanted to touch the hearts of children more than anything, so maybe it worked out after all.

I have not read Mary Poppins yet. It’s on that 4-mile-long list of books to read that I keep. I have seen the movie though:

I enjoyed the story, and I love Julie Andrews, but P.L. Travers hated everything about it. I don’t want to seem like a hater, but it seems like Disney versions of anything are too cutesy and sweet, it’s not a stretch to see why Travers was so upset about the movie.

There are plenty of other instances where books have been turned into movies in a terrible way. I really dislike when actors are chosen who look nothing like the character is described, and I can’t deal with two minor characters being combined. Don’t change the ending either! Wow, this is becoming a rant. I guess the authors aren’t the only ones who feel strongly on this.

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is one of the greatest children’s authors of all times. Almost every one of us has either read or seen a film adaptation of his works. I prefer to read his books with the perfect illustrations by Quentin Blake. 

I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator as a kid. To this day, I can sing almost all the words to every song in the Gene Wilder version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s not as true to the book as it could be, but it’s a wonderful piece of my childhood. The snozzberries taste like snozzberries! 

I remember our school librarian reading The Twits to us, and it’s so horribly wonderful, I read it every year to third grade.

As an adult, I read James and the Giant Peach and The BFG. I wish I had read them as a kid!

I have not read nearly enough of his works, though. I need to read Matilda and The Fantastic Mr. Fox still.

I also enjoy his poetry, specifically Revolting Rhymes

My two favorite stories in this collection of fractured fairytales are Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf and The Three Little Pigs. I always read them together. Red Riding Hood is a forward thinking young woman and takes care of the wolf problem with a concealed weapon. So it makes perfect sense for the pigs to call her in when they have their own wolf problems. I’m not going to tell you how it ends, it’s too fabulous to spoil. Go borrow a copy and find out for yourself!

As a final note, check out this amazing collection my mother-in-law gave me for my birthday years ago: