20 December 2016

Suggested Reading: Christmas Time Is Here

Christmas will be here before you know it! While the stores are already preparing for Valentine’s Day, let’s take a moment to read some stories before Santa Claus drops down the chimney for a visit.

Picture Books 

A Kenya Christmas 
written by Tony Johnston
illustrated by Leonard Jenkins

Christmas Wombat 
written by Jackie French
illustrated by Bruce Whatley

Flamingo’s First Christmas 
written by Nancy Raines Day
illustrated by Fiona Robinson

Christmas In the Country 
written by Cynthia Rylant
illustrated by Diane Goode

A Christmas Spider’s Miracle 
written by Trinka Hakes Noble
illustrated by Stephen Costanza

Dear Santa, Please Come to the 19th Floor 
written by Yin
illustrated by Chris Soentpiet

Happy reading!

For the purposes of the Suggested Reading posts, chapter books refers to any books with chapters. Those that are appropriate for teens are marked with an asterisk.

13 December 2016

White Christmas

First real snowfall of December saw 7.3" fall in one day.
photo by Sara K Joiner
This year is the first year we're celebrating Christmas in our new home. While I was living here last year, I was alone and had only started my new job four days earlier. It even snowed this past weekend to give us a extra-special Christmas feeling and set the stage for December 25.

But it's not the first white Christmas I've experienced.

In 2004, it snowed along the Texas Gulf Coast on Christmas Eve and the wee hours of Christmas Day. The Miracle Snow some people called it. The strangest thing about that snow was that areas closer to the beach received more snow than places farther inland. At my apartment we probably had four or five inches!

I heard stories from people waking up their children in the middle of the night to go play in the snow. It's so rare to see that much snow in Texas that it truly is astonishing. People still talk about the Christmas Snow of 2004. There was even a book published.

Now I live up north and snow has lost a little of its appeal, especially after having to shovel it for the first time ever. A snow thrower soon became my most desired Christmas gift.

But it sure is nice to sit inside with a cup of hot chocolate and watch it fall so silent and peaceful.

01 December 2016

Suggested Reading: Celebrate Hanukkah

Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 24 and to celebrate the Festival of Lights, here are some books to read with your loved ones.

Picture Books

Mrs. Greenberg’s Messy Hanukkah
written by Linda Glaser
illustrated by Nancy Cote

A Confused Hanukkah: An Original Story of Chelm
written by Jon Koons
illustrated by S.D. Schindler

The Flying Latke
written by Arthur Yorinks
illustrated by William Steig
photographs by Arthur Yorinks and Paul Colin

Chapter Books

The Stone Lamp: Eight Stories of Hanukkah Through History
written by Karen Hesse
illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Happy reading!

For the purposes of the Suggested Reading posts, chapter books refers to any books with chapters. Those that are appropriate for teens are marked with an asterisk.

23 November 2016

Books I Love: Ramona Quimby, Age 8

Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Beverly Cleary
I first read this book
during third grade, approximately 1985

Like the Harry Potter books, I truly love all the Ramona books, probably even more than Harry Potter because I read these as a child. There's that great line in You've Got Mail where Meg Ryan's character talks about books we read as children having a far greater impact on us than anything we read later in life.

I think that's true. It's certainly true of Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Ramona Quimby is still one of my very best friends, and she always will be. No one can convince me she's not real. She has a statue!

Ramona Quimby immortalized in bronze
in Portland, Oregon.
photo by Sara K Joiner
Ramona's very specific problems are what makes her so universally appealing and so enchanting to meet in the pages of a book. How on earth does a fad like cracking hard-boiled eggs on your head start anyway? I have no idea, but it does. Naturally, Ramon is going to have a problem with this situation. Does she learn a lesson? Do readers? Not necessarily the one adults might like.

Being a kid is tough. Ramona Quimby helped me through some pretty difficult times when I was younger. She still gets me through rough patches today. I can only hope the characters I create speak to my readers the same way Ramona Quimby speaks to me.

And if someone decides to build a statue of one of them? That wouldn't be so bad either.