12 August 2017

12 Books About Disasters #resist

Kenta and the Big Wave
written and illustrated by Ruth Ohi

The Killing Sea
written by Richard Lewis

The Last Girls of Pompeii
written by Kathryn Lasky

Lila and the Secret of Rain
written by David Conway, images by Jude Daly

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans
written by Phil Bildner, images by John Parra

Radiant Girl
written by Andrea White

After the Ashes
written by Sara K Joiner

The Blizzard
written by Betty Ren Wright, illustrated by Ronald Himler

Dangerous Planet: Natural Disasters That Changed History
written and illustrated by Bryn Barnard

The Day the World Exploded: The Earthshaking Catastrophe at Krakatoa
written by Simon Winchester, images by Jason Chin

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans
written and illustrated by Don Brown

Fire Birds: Valuing Natural Wildfires and Burned Forests
written and photographed by Sneed B. Collard III

05 August 2017

5 Books About Grandmothers

My grandmother would have been 94 years old today. Happy birthday, Nana!

Albert's Impossible Toothache
written by Barbara Williams, illustrated by Doug Cushman

Betsy Red Hoodie
written by Gail Carson Levine, illustrated by Scott Nash

written by Lauren Myracle

Can't Scare Me!
written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan

Everything Is Different at Nonna's House
written by Caron Lee Cohen, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata

01 August 2017

8 Books About Summer

Cool off in the air conditioning with an ice cream and a good book.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever
written and illustrated by Marla Frazee

Heat Wave
written by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

Hot City
written by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

My Faire Lady
written by Laura Wettersten

Hot Day On Abbott Avenue
written by Karen English, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe

Past Perfect
written by Leila Sales

Hot Hot Hot
written and illustrated by Neal Layton

Ice Cream Summer
written and illustrated by Peter Sís

26 July 2017

26 Personal Favorites

Time for some personal favorites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Anne of Green Gables
written by L.M. Montgomery

Ramona Quimby, Age 8
written by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen

Where the Sidewalk Ends
written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein

Little Gorilla
written and illustrated by Ruth Bornstein

Where the Wild Things Are
written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Green Eggs and Ham
written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss

The Bad Beginning
written by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
written by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Mary GrandPré

Jingle Dancer
written by Cynthia Leitich Smith, images by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu

Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific
written by Mary Cronk Farrell

In the Small, Small Pond
written and illustrated by Denise Fleming

Duck! Rabbit!
written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

The Dollhouse Murders
written by Betty Ren Wright

Wait Till Helen Comes
written by Mary Downing Hahn

Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself
written by Judy Blume

Love That Dog
written by Sharon Creech

The Giggler Treatment
written by Roddy Doyle, images by Brian Ajhar

Daughters of Eve
written by Lois Duncan

Number the Stars
written by Lois Lowry

The Girl In the Box
written by Ouida Sebestyn

Skeleton Man
written by Joseph Bruchac, images by Sally Wern Comport

Leonardo the Terrible Monster
written and illustrated by Mo Willems

Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing
written by Judi Barrett, images by Ron Barrett

Big Mean Mike
written by Michelle Knudsen, images by Scott Magoon

Hattie Big Sky
written by Kirby Larson

The Girl In White Armor: The Story of Joan of Arc
written by Albert Bigelow Paine, images by Joe Isom

12 July 2017

12 Books About Oceans #resist

Oceans make up more of the surface of the planet and are still largely unexplored.

Life In the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle
written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

Mother Osprey: Nursery Rhymes for Buoys and Gulls
written by Lucy Nolan, images by Connie McLennan

Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans
written by Elizabeth Rusch

Peggony Po: A Whale of a Tale
written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, images by Brian Pinkney

Rainbow Fish and the Sea Monster's Cave
written and illustrated by Marcus Pfister

written and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

written and illustrated by David Wiesner

Gone Fishing: Ocean Life by the Numbers
written and illustrated by David McLimans

How Many Fish?
written by Caron Lee Cohen, images by S.D. Schindler

I'm a Manatee
written by John Lithgow, images by Ard Hoyt

I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean
written and illustrated by Kevin Sherry

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau
written by Jennifer Berne, images by Éric Puybaret

04 July 2017

4 Books About Patriotism

It's Independence Day, and to honor America, here are some books celebrating the patriotic spirit of our country.

I Am America
written and photographed by Charles R. Smith, Jr.

I Could Do That: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote
written by Linda Arms White, images by Nancy Carpenter

Imogene's Last Stand
written by Candace Fleming, images by Nancy Carpenter

John Muir: America's First Environmentalist
written by Kathryn Lasky, images by Stan Fellows

12 June 2017

12 Books About Trees #resist

In April we planted a new tree at our house -- a white spruce I christened Herbert. In Herbert's honor, here are some books about trees, their importance, and the people who love them.

Thea's Tree
written by Alison Jackson, images by Janet Pedersen

This Tree Counts
written by Alison Formento, images by Sarah Snow

The Tree
written by Dana Lyons, images by David Lane Danioth

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-loving Woman Changed a City Forever
written by H. Joseph Hopkins, images by Jill McElmurry

Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees
written by Franck Prévot, images by Aurélia Fronty

We Planted a Tree
written by Diane Muldrow, images by Bob Staake

Yellow Time
written and illustrated by Lauren Stringer

The Apple King
written by Francesca Bosca, images by Giuliano Ferri

Apples to Oregon: Being the (Slightly) True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (and Children) Across the Plains
written by Deborah Hopkinson, images by Nancy Carpenter

Herbert, the white spruce
Are Trees Alive?
written by Debbie S. Miller, images by Stacey Schuett

As an Oak Tree Grows
written and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Celebritrees: Historic & Famous Trees of the World
written by Margi Preus, images by Rebecca Gibbon

08 June 2017

8 Books About Neighbors

When we lived in Texas, we had a wonderful neighbor. She shared her newspaper with us when she finished reading it. She collected our mail when we were on vacation, and she kept an eye on our house even when we were home. She was a true angel, and I miss her. Today is her birthday, and in her honor, here are some books about neighbors.

written and illustrated by Kevin Luthardt

Laundry Day
written and illustrated by Maurie J. Manning

written and illustrated by Peter Sís

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans
written by Phil Bildner, illustrated by John Parra

My Chair
written by Betsy James, illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma

On the Town: A Community Adventure
written and illustrated by Judith Caseley

Roger Is Reading a Book
written and illustrated by Koen Van Biesen

C. R. Mudgeon
written by Leslie Muir, illustrated by Julian Hector

06 June 2017

6 Books about World War II

It's the 73rd anniversary of D-Day. Have you read any of these books about World War II?

Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood
written and illustrated by James McMullan

Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis
written by Pete Nelson

Orphans of Normandy: A True Story of World War II Told Through Drawings by Children
written by Nancy Amis

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
written by Steve Sheinkin

Prisoners of Breendonk: Personal Histories from a World War II Concentration Camp
written by James M. Deem, images by Leon Nolis

Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific
written by Mary Cronk Farrell

21 May 2017

5 Books About Washington State

In honor of the premiere of the third season of Twin Peaks - my all-time favorite television show - here are some books set in the gorgeous state of Washington. Are they as mysterious as Twin Peaks? Only reading them will give you the answers.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
written by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Ellen Forney

The Bargaining
written by Carly Anne West

The Dead Boys
written by Royce Buckingham

Elliott the Otter: The Totally Untrue Story of Elliott, Boss of the Bay
written by John Skewes and Eric Ode, illustrated by John Skewes

Mysterious Bones: The Story of Kennewick Man
written by Katherine Kirkpatrick, illustrated by Emma Stevenson

17 May 2017

The Owls Are Not What They Seem

I've been rewatching Twin Peaks. Again. I've talked about my love for the show and its characters. Needless to say I am positively giddy thinking about the new episodes that begin Sunday. It has been a long twenty-five years since we last visited that town "both wonderful and strange."

As I rewatch the show, I find myself increasingly drawn to two characters in particular. All of the characters are intriguing and special, but these two have claimed my undying love — Deputy Andy Brennan and Agent Albert Rosenfeld.

I'll talk about Andy first. I loved him from the very first time I saw the show in April 1990. He wore his heart on his sleeve and had a strong sense of justice and moral character. He weeps at the sight of Laura Palmer wrapped in plastic. Harry Goaz is so sincere in his portrayal of Andy that you can't help but adore him. He's so sweet, and he tries so hard. How can you not love a law officer who openly mourns the victims of crimes?

He may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but his heart is in the right place.

Albert is another officer of the law, but that's about all he and Andy have in common. Albert is argumentative, stubborn and judgmental. He does not suffer fools, and he thinks everyone is a fool until they prove themselves otherwise. Miguel Ferrer is brilliant playing this pugnacious FBI agent. 

While we meet Andy in the first five minutes of the first episode, we only hear about Albert who Agent Cooper says "has a little more on the ball" than Sam.

Albert finally makes an appearance in the third episode and immediately antagonizes Sheriff Truman and the entire Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department, not to mention the hospital staff and town citizens. He even takes a punch from the sheriff!

His methods seem cruel to Twin Peaks' residents. They knew Laura, after all, and hate to see her treated so cruelly in her death (never mind her treatment in life). But, as Agent Cooper says, "Albert's path is a strange and difficult one."

Andy's and Albert's journey takes them from adversaries to allies. I cannot wait to see what's in store for these two law men in the upcoming episodes.

Thank you to Harry Goaz and Miguel Ferrer for bringing these two indelible characters to life. And thank you to David Lynch and Mark Frost for creating such indelible characters in the first place.

Who other than these four geniuses could gift us with a scene like this?

14 May 2017

14 Books About Mothers

Catching the Sun
written by Coleen M. Paratore, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto

Chicks Run Wild
written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Ward Jenkins

Close Your Eyes
written by Kate Banks, illustrated by Georg Hallensleben

Come On, Rain!
written by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Jon J. Muth

Coming On Home Soon
written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean

Dani Noir
written by Nova Ren Suma

Dawdle Duckling
written by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Margaret Spengler

The Day I Lost My Superpowers
written by Michael Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

Do Like a Duck Does!
written by Judy Hindley, illustrated by Ivan Bates

Don't You Feel Well, Sam?
written by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram

written and illustrated by Randy Cecil

Erandi's Braids
written by Antonio Hernandez Madrigal, illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Gotcha, Louie!
written by H.M. Ehrlich, illustrated by Emily Bolam

Hairs / Pelitos
written by Sandra Cisneros, illustrated by Terry Ybanez

12 May 2017

12 Books About Endangered Species #resist

Almost Gone: The World's Rarest Animals
written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Counting Lions: Portraits from the Wild
written Katie Cotton, illustrated by Stephen Walton

Crocodile's Tears
written and illustrated by Alex Beard

Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet
written and illustrated by David McLimans

 Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?
written by Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle

Parrots Over Puerto Rico
written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, illustrated by Susan L. Roth

Honey Girl: The Hawaiian Monk Seal
written by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Shennen Bersani

Disappearing Acts: A Search-and-Find Book of Endangered Animals
written and illustrated by Isabella Bunnell

Where Did They Go? A Spotting Book
written and illustrated by Emily Bornoff

12 Mammals Back From the Brink
written by Nancy Furstinger

The Race to Save the Lord God Bird
written by Phillip Hoose

Gone Fishing: Ocean Life by the Numbers
written and illustrated by David McLimans

06 May 2017

6 Books About Horses

The Run for the Roses -- the Kentucky Derby -- is today.

Cowboy Jose
written by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Tim Raglin

Crankee Doodle
written by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by Cece Bell

D Is for Derby: A Kentucky Derby Alphabet
written by Helen L. Wilbur, illustrated by Jaime Corum

The Girl On the High-diving Horse
written by Linda Oatman High, illustrated by Ted Lewin

I Rode the Red Horse: Secretariat's Belmont Race
written and illustrated by Barbara M. Libby

written by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Frané Lessac

28 April 2017

Books I Love: Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
L.M. Montgomery
I first read this book
summer after my junior year of high school, 1993

I will admit that I didn't read this book until after I had seen the Kevin Sullivan television movies with Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie. I adored those movies. My grandmother and I borrowed them from a friend, and we watched both of them in one day. Then I watched the first one again!

Needless to say, I needed to read the book.

Fortunately, the same friend who had the movies also had the entire series in paperback. I borrowed all of them, and read them one after the other in about a month.

I love the entire series, but Anne of Green Gables is my favorite. I adore that spunky little redhead and all her misadventures.

I also find myself drawn in by the descriptions the Montgomery uses. To me, they're beautiful. Maybe too effusive, but I don't mind. Prince Edward Island was such a long way from my small-town Texas home that I needed those somewhat flowery passages to fully appreciate the beauty of Anne's world.

I loved Anne so much I had to share her with my best friend. We watched the movies, and she read the books, too. We even wrote letters to each other as Anne (me) and Diana (her). My grandmother became Marilla.

The next summer I was cast in a local production of Anne of Green Gables at the Gaslight Theatre. I got to play Mrs. Rachel Lynde, and the whole experience of that show was such a delight--terrific cast, amazing crew, wonderful director, fantastic audiences.

I'm enjoying my cordial.
photo by Mom
In 2008, I was able to visit Prince Edward Island and see the "real" Green Gables. I walked through the Haunted Wood and drank raspberry cordial. I strolled down Lovers' Lane and cried from happiness.

And that raspberry cordial? It was delicious! I bought two more bottles to share with another kindred spirit and shipped them home wrapped tightly in bubble wrap. I'm pleased to say they made it all the way back to Texas intact. Sharing that drink with a kindred spirit at her apartment was one of the best moments.

Anne of Green Gables has turned strangers into friends and truly changed my life. It is my absolute favorite children's book.

22 April 2017

22 Books About the Environment #resist

Journey Into the Arctic
written by Bryan and Cherry Alexander

Koala Hospital
written by Suzi Eszterhas

Kyle Goes Alone
written by Jan Thornhill, illustrated by Ashley Barron

Life In the Boreal Forest
written by Brenda Z. Guiberson, illustrated by Gennady Spirin

The Lorax
written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss

M Is for Majestic: A National Parks Alphabet
written by David Domeniconi, illustrated by Pamela Carroll

A Man for All Seasons: The Life of George Washington Carver
written by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Wil Clay

Manfish: The Story of Jacques Cousteau
written by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Éric Puybaret

Me ... Jane
written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America
written by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein

Moon Bear
written by Brenda Z. Guiberson, illustrated by Ed Young

The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans
written by Elizabeth Rusch

On the Way to the Beach
written and illustrated by Henry Cole

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
written by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Our World of Water: Children and Water Around the World
written by Beatrice Hollyer

Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson
written by Amy Ehrlich, illustrated by Wendell Minor

Actual Size
written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Aliens From Earth: When Animals and Plants Invade Other Ecosystems
written by Mary Batten, illustrated by Beverly J. Doyle

All the Water In the World
written by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson

All the Wild Wonders: Poems of Our Earth
edited by Wendy Cooling, illustrated by Piet Grobler

Animals Hibernating: How Animals Survive Extreme Conditions
written by Pamela Hickman, illustrated by Pat Stephens

Anna's Table
written by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Taia Morley

20 April 2017

The Buffalo In the Campground

This is not the buffalo in the campground. This bison was seen many years
later along a trail. I slowly backed away after taking some pictures.
photo by Sara K Joiner
In 1987, my mother, my niece and I took another long summer road trip through the western United States. We again spent most of the trip camping in state and national parks. One of the more memorable evenings I've ever spent in a national park was on this trip.

It was dusk, and Mom stood by the picnic table boiling water on our little Coleman stove to make hot chocolate. It wasn't a cold evening--being late June--but it was cooler than us Texans were used to at that time of year.

My niece and I sat in the rear of the van with the back doors open drinking our hot chocolates. We must have been deep in the conversation of ten-year-olds because we weren't too aware of our surroundings at that moment.

Until we heard an angry shuffling noise nearby.

All three of us raised our heads and looked toward the back of our campsite. I don't know what I was expecting to see, but I was shocked to my core by what I did—an enormous buffalo the size of the boulder he stood beside.

And he was mad!

I don't know if he was mad at us specifically or campers in general. I don't know if he was mad because he had gotten lost from the rest of the herd. I don't know why he was mad; I only know he was.

He pawed the ground with a sharp, furious motion. He snorted.

Mom, who stood closer to the buffalo than my niece and me, said, "Girls, don't move."

As if we could. We were frozen in fear.

Time stretched out between the three of us and the buffalo.

Then, as if cued by some sound on he could hear, he charged!

Mom grabbed her hot chocolate and scurried over to us at the van.

The buffalo ran past the picnic table, across the drive of the neighboring campsite, and off away from the noise of the campgrounds.

Mom asked if we were all right, which we were except for the serious heart palpitations.

I don't remember other campers being nearby (no one was in the neighboring site he crossed), and I don't recall hearing any yells in the distance. Maybe I was too scared to register any other noises. Surely he had to come across other campers before he moved away from the campground.

Years later I learned that buffalo have poor eyesight, so we were even more fortunate. That's probably why he swerved across to the neighboring site from the picnic table.

Every trip back to Yellowstone, Mom and I talk about that buffalo. I hope he was able to reunite with the herd.

18 April 2017

18 Books About the American Revolution

Gingerbread for Liberty! How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution
written by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch

Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution
written by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Matt Faulkner

King George: What Was His Problem? Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the American Revolution
written by Steve Sheinkin, illustrated by Tim Robinson

Liberty or Death: The Surprising Story of Runaway Slaves Who Sided with the British During the American Revolution
written by Margaret Whitman Blair

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Bravery
written by Steve Sheinkin

Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution
written by Avi

The Declaration of Independence
written by Thomas Jefferson, illustrated by Sam Fink

Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette
written by Selene Castrovilla, illustrated by Drazen Kozjan

The Revolutionary John Adams
written and illustrated by Cheryl Harness

Thomas Paine: Crusader for Liberty
written by Albert Marrin

Founding Fathers: Those Horse-ridin', Fiddle-playin', Book-readin', Gun-totin' Gentlemen Who Started America
written by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Barry Blitt

Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies
written by Cokie Roberts, illustrated by Diana Goode

Those Rebels, John and Tom
written by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became a Nation
written by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Jef Czekaj

Alexander Hamilton
written by Brenda Haugen

B. Franklin, Printer
written by David Adler

Farmer George Plants a Nation
written by Peggy Thomas, illustrated by Layne Johnson

John, Paul, George and Ben
written and illustrated by Lane Smith