The World Needs Your Kid: Raising Children Who Care and Contribute' by Marc Kielburger, Craig Kielburger, and Shelley Page

If you want to give someone a gift that will make a huge difference in their life, here is a book you should give to every parents, grandparent or educator you know!!
You probably already know Free The Children (ISBN-10: 0978437500) by Craig Kielburger, the powerful story of a 12 year old Canadian boy who ends up truly changing the world. Shocked by the concept of child labor, he actually travels to India to tackle this evil. In the process he meets Mother Theresa and becomes actively involved in freeing children from child-labor factories. Craig ended up being a life time activist, changing laws, and minds of people around the world. He started Me To We, a global organization helping children to help children.

His current book is The World Needs Your Kid: Raising Children Who Care and Contribute by Marc Kielburger, Craig Kielburger, and Shelley Page, with a foreword by the Dalai Lama, ISBN - 10:1553655052. I'm not kidding: you need to rush out and buy this book for everyone who is raising a child!!
A practical guide to raising caring kids, lending a hand and changing the world - all at the same time! With simple, every day actions to strengthen a child's motivation to do more in the world, the book gives staggering statistics but also practical tools. As the Kielburgers reflect on lessons from their own childhood, they examine insights of activists such as Jane Fonda, Mia Farrow and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Over 200 interviews with remarkable parents, educators and experts make this is a valuable guide that will encourage children to become global citizens. A must have for all educators, parents and grandparents. See:

I Stood Upon A Mountain by Aileen Fisher

I Stood Upon A Mountain, a picture book by Aileen Fisher

This relatively unknown book is one of my all-time favorites. It's older, and may not be readily available anymore - but you can still find it online. And it's worth a search.

Standing on top of a mountain, a young child wonders about the creation of the world. How did it all happen?
One old man tells her it all started with an egg.
"Can it be true" she wonders.
"It all came from a word!" someone else tells her.
But what was before the word? How did oceans and deserts begin?

"With fire!" knows a native man.
"An explosion!" thinks someone else.
In the end, she realizes there are many answers. But does it really matter how it all began? Being filled with wonder if the most important thing as you gaze upon creation.

ISBN 0-690-03977-8

Edward the Emu, by Sheena Knowles, Ill by Rod Clement

"Edward the emu was sick of the zoo,
There was nowhere to go, there was nothing to do,
And compared to the seals that lived right next door,
Well being an emu was frankly a bore...."

Tired of his life as an emu, Edward decides to try being something else for a change. He tries swimming with the seals. He spends a day lounging with the lions. He even does a stint slithering with the snakes.

But Edward soon discovers that being an emu may be the best thing after all. And so he returns to his pen, only to find a big surprise awaiting him. .
I love Sheena Knowles' rhyming text but Rod Clement's amazing illustrations really make this a fabulous picture book. Right now I am in Australia and see this book everywhere. I've used it for years with both kids and teachers.

The fun continues with Edwina the Emu by the same two creators.

Paperback, 32 pages, HarperCollins ISBN
0064434990 (ISBN13: 9780064434997)

Lesson Plan:

Global Bookmark Exchange

If you are a teacher and would like to participate in the global bookmark exchange, please contact Susan Hughes to register:

Susan will now be running the program.
It's easy: tell her how many students you have, where you are and which grade.
She will match you to another school. This allows you to:
- do art
- discuss good books
- study another place on the planet
- practise writing skills
- and make new friends.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi Longstocking  by Astrid Lindgren

Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!

The book that I loved as a child, translated from Swedish, is now a classic. Does that show my age, too?
But really this story is ageless. As all good child protagonists, Pippi has no parents. At least not any that are in the picture. And as any child reader, I vividly remember wanting to live just like Pippi: to eat when and what I wanted. To only go to bed when I decided to. To have the freedom and the strength to make my own decisions. Pippi has even more strength than that. She can lift up her horse and do other amazing things that seem to perfectly fit the story.

Re-read this book, share it out loud with a child in your life! Re-live being a child in a book in which anything is possible.
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; Reissue edition (April 26 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142402494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142402498
Also check out Astrid Lingren's web page with wonderful information:
 IBBY, the International Board of Books for Young People, administers the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award:

The Underneat by Kathi Appelt

The Underneath The Underneath, Kathi Appelt.
Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1-84738-311-2

This book.
What a book it is.
Not poetry really, but such a story.
Woven around some kittens and a hound.

This story is dark, heavy, gripping. Yet light as a feather. I couldn't put it down - wanted to taste the words and swirl them around on my tongue. How does one author make such words, put them in such a delicious order?
This author.
She is a story spinner.

Some stories are built on strong characters, with strong settings. A plot.
This story has all that, spun out of wonderful words.
It draws you in, like the whirlpools in the dark river in the story.
I was scared. Scared for the kittens and the hound.
Scared of the snake and the gators.
Scared of the darkness of the man.

But there was light, too.
Light of love, and hope.
Always hope. Hope for a happy ending...
This is a story to read aloud, share with children the story this author spins.
If you are a writer, read these words. See how she spun them. Into a story that will tug at your heart strings. A story of love and friendship. A story of deep running hatred. A scary story that is beautiful.
Part folklore, part fairytale. A tale set in the south.
A tale that you will not soon forget.
Oh, such a tale.

Awards for The Underneath:
  • Borders "Original New Voices"
  • Book Sense "Pick of the Week"
  • Starred review, Booklist Magazine
  • Top Ten Bestsellers, Indie Bound
  • Finalist, The National Book Awards
  • John Newbery Honor Book, ALA
  • Finalist, Heart of Hawick Children's Book Award
  • PEN Center USA Award Children's Literature
  • Winner, Writer's League of TX Award for Children's Literature
  • New York Times Bestseller

A new, local book for sailors with pooches

South Islander, Memoirs of a Cruising Dog by Amanda Spottiswoode

If you sail the waters around the Gulf Island AND have a dog, here's a fun new book for you: South Islander, Memoirs of a Cruising Dog by Amanda Spottiswoode. Fun stories of years of sailing adventures are accompanied by maps of favorite (dog) walks on many islands. For those who cruise with dogs, and for those who like to venture ashore to stretch their legs, the book is illustrated with maps describing walks up and down the coast. The book tells tales of mishaps, adventures, explorations and glorious days on the water, set against the stunning backdrop of the waters, mountains and islands between the B.C. mainland and Vancouver Island. Whether you are an experienced sailor with extensive knowledge of the B.C. Coast, are new to boating, or even a confirmed landlubber and armchair sailor, you will enjoy this book, even if its price range is that of map/chart books, well above a softcover storybook.

Book Lists Galore!

Looking for some good books to put into the hands of a young reader, or your own for that matter? Better yet, read these books aloud with them!
Add some Canadian books from this site:

Then check out some international books from IBBY's BookBird magazine here:

and you will have one heck of a list from which to pick your books!
Happy reading.

On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing, Stephen King

Let me beginning with confessing that I am not a fan of Stephen King's novels. I'm not 'into' horror at all, even though they are, undoubtedly, well written horror stories.
However, horrible as the writing life can sometimes be - what with rejections and all - his book On Writing is a spot-on, often funny reflection on the profession.
I found it to be a helpful encouraging, down-to-earth guide for writers at all stages of their career. The book does not make things more rosy than they are. It states clearly the not even attempt to write for publishing if you don't have anything to say. But it does make it clear how exciting a writer's life can be if you love research and storytelling.

"Long live the King," said Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King's On Writing: Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 -- and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told. If you are serious at wanting to be a writer, get it.

Mass Market Paperback, 297 pages
ISBN 0743455967

Pick One and Finish the Story

Pick one of these story starters and finish writing the story!

• 'Jason knew he shouldn’t be waiting for Greg. He knew that the bell was about to ring. Mrs. Jackson would be mad if he came in late. But he just had to find out why Greg had gone into that alley. And why hadn’t he come back yet?...'

• '“Stacey Jacobs!” The teacher’s voice was loud. Stacey startled out of her day dream and back into the classroom. She had no idea what he had asked her but all the children were staring at her. She took a deep breath and said...'

• 'The dog came out of nowhere. It ran across the square, in between two parked cars and then straight toward me. I didn’t know what to do. If I didn’t pretend this was my dog, the cops would catch it and take it to the S.P.C.A. And then what would happen to him? So I didn’t think much, I just...'

After you write the first draft, do what all writers do: read your story and rewrite it.

Listen, Observe, and Steal!

Listening in on people's conversations is not acceptable. Except if you are a writer and studying the way people express themselves.
Next time you are in a coffee shop, listen and observe: how do people interact? How do people of the same age chat with each other?
How do adults speak to children?
How do children talk to each other; to adults?
Is anyone having an argument?

Try to jot down some interesting lines or comments.
Now create a fictional dialogue between two people you spotted in the coffee shop. Perhaps one orders, and one works there.
Or have to friends talk to each other at a table.

This will help you to create realistic dialogue.

Lose the Rhyme!

Take your poem from a few days ago.
Retell the story in short, poetic sentences but lose the rhyme!
Don't worry about find words that rhyme but do see if you can use some aliteration.
Use humor.
Use short,  snappy lines.

Which format tells a better story?
Which version do you like best?

While I like rhyming poems, I love free verse. Free verse is a story told in poetic, often short, sentences that do not rhyme.

Some of my favorite free verse novels include:
Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse
Love That Dogs, Sharon Creech
May B, Caroline Starr Rose
The Dancing Pancake, Eileen Spinelli

Find a Poem!

From my book: The Power of Poems, Maupin House

Just as you can find things that become treasures, you can find words that, put together, make a poem. 

Here is a piece of (prose) writing:

“When I was little, Grandma’s button box was my favorite toy.
I would sit on the floor by Grandma’s chair and she would bring me the button box. Gently, she’d bend down and put it by my feet on the carpet.
Slowly, I’d lift the lid and stare at the treasure—glittering, shim- mering jewels they were.  Shiny black eyes, golden coins and sparkling diamonds off princesses’ dresses.
Then I’d tilt the box, slowly, with both hands until the buttons poured out onto the carpet.  I’d shift them with my hands, let them run through my fingers in a cascade of colors.  I’d make piles and bulldoze them around the carpet.  I felt the buttons. They felt good.”
Now I am going to pick words from this piece of writing and put them into a poem.  I will underline the words I choose:

“When I   was         little Grandma’s button box was my favorite toy.
I would sit on the floor by Grandma’s chair and she would bring me the button box.  Gently, she’d bend down and put it by my feet on the carpet.
Slowly, I’d lift the lid and stare at the treasure—glittering, shim- mering jewels they were.  Shiny black eyes, golden coins and sparkling diamonds off princesses’ dresses.
Then I’d tilt the box, slowly, with both               hands until the buttons poured out onto the carpet.  I’d shift them with my  hands, let them run through my fingers in a cascade of colors.  I’d make piles and bulldoze them around the carpet.  I felt the buttons. They felt             good

Now I put these underlined words into a poem.  Look:


I was little
her eyes sparkled
Both hands in my hands Grandma felt good.

I found a poem in a piece of prose!

Use any piece of your own writing for this activity. Find words and arrange them until you have found a poem.

Feature Movie: Library of the Early Mind

This documentary film explores children's literature! Hooray for the creators, and those authors and illustrators interviewed.
OK, it's very much American. Too bad they did not include some Canadian, or more international authors of children's literature to give the study a broader scope.
Authors like Anthony Brown or Dick Bruna whose books are widely read in North America could have added a more worldly perspective.
However, this is an admirable production.

The accompanying website states that:
“Library of the Early Mind” is an exploration of the art and impact of children’s literature on our kids, our culture, and ourselves.
From the first stories we hear told to us to those childhood heroes that stay with us a lifetime, the impact on our culture runs deeper than what we might expect. “No one suspects the children’s writer,” says author and illustrator Mo Willems, a former 'Sesame Street' writer.
The film features nearly 40 prominent authors and illustrators talking about their work, its genesis and its impact. The number of books in print by the authors in 'Library of the Early Mind' exceeds 240 million.

It can be rented online to view directly on your computer, or you can purchase the DVD via the website. Check also to see if it is available in your local library.

Free Fall Writing

Today, take a sheet of paper and a pen to a comfortable spot: the table, your desk, a lawn chair, anywhere.

Then spend FIVE minutes writing free fall.
This means ANYTHING that comes up in your head. Just write for the sake of writing. Don't try to think of a character, or a setting, or a description. Just write what comes to mind. Even if it is "I don't know what the heck I'm writing..."

Free fall writing helps to clear your mind, helps to bring new ideas to light. It will make writing easier than when you always try to write with a clear idea in mind. It is even used as therapy. Google 'free fall writing' and you will find many websites and books devoted to the topic.

Try it.
If you like it, do it again tomorrow. Just five minutes.
After a few days, make it ten minutes. Pretty soon, your free fall writing might take a shape, show you a pattern. But don't look for it soon.
Just write. Anything that comes to mind, without taking your pen off the paper!

Rhyme for a Reason

Read several books of great poems for kids:
• any title by Jack Prelutsky
• Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
• a Dr. Seuss book. Look up poetry books by Bruce Lansky, David Greenberg, Kenn Nesbitt (

• Read poetry books by Sheree Fitch and Loris Lesynski!!

• Read The Party and Two by Two, by Barbara Reid!

Now write a poem about a boy who did not do his homework.
Make up wild and funny excuses.
Use rhyme.
aa, bb.
Or a, b, a, b.


Use dialogue to create a believable character.
An adult sounds different from a four year old. A teen speaks different from a senior. And a trucker may sound different from a lady selling yarns. Select one of the following dialogue exercises, or do them all!

• Write a page of dialogue between a man working in the hardware store and an elderly lady who comes in looking for a tool.

• Write a page of dialogue between a pilot and air traffic control. Make it exciting.

• Write a page of dialogue between six year old Anna and her friend Michael. They are in the backyard. Show me, through their dialogue, what is happening.

Which children's books have great dialogue? Read a Clementine book, and a book by Wendy Maas.

Paint Pictures

Several of my picturebooks won children's choice awards selected by blind kids. That helped me enormously to realize that text has to work without art. As writers we have to paint pictures in the reader's head with words.

Describe an object. Pick a flower, a puppy, a doll, the house across the street, a pine cone, anything. Describe it in detail for yourself on paper. Note its color, shape, size, texture. Now feel it. Describe how it feels. Or listen to any sounds and add them to your description.

Did you write half a page, a full page of description?
Now try to sum this all up by painting a picture of it. What does it compare to? Use a few poetic words instead of the long tedious paragraph.

In my book Emma's Eggs I did not describe the chick yellow, round, fluffy, soft, etc. But after making this list I compared her and called her "a dandelion chick". Does such a comparison work for your description?

Show me what it FEELS like.

Show, don't tell. Here's a writing activity to help you do that in a children's story:

• Don't tell me that Nathan is angry. Show me.

• Don't say "Madeleine is sad." Show me.

• Justin is supposed to be sleeping but he is afraid. Show me why and how he feels.

All the Write Moves...

Having just spent an intense week at the Oregon Coast Children's Book Writers' Workshop (, I decided to write some posts aimed at helping (beginning) writers. Most of my blog has been aimed at fellow booklovers and reading. However, many of you might also enjoy doing some writing activities.

So, I will aim to put a new writing activity on this blog each day for the next month or so. Just a short one. Something aimed at helping you to write each day for the sake of practise. We'll look at description, voice, tense, dialogue and more. See how this fits into your day. Write for 5 minutes, if that's all you have. Or expand my short activity into an hour of writing for you. Do it as a stand-alone exercise or fit it into a piece you already have... Just write.

So, for today, here we go.
The golden rule we've all heard about: SHOW, don't tell.
Take me for a walk along the harbour. SHOW me what it looks like. Be sure to include the smells, sounds and feels of a harbour front on a... sunny day, or blustery day.

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry

The rain forest is full of amazing animals, trees, vines and flowers. But one day a man enters the forest and the animals hold their breath. He is told to cut down the great kapok tree. The man tires and naps. While he sleeps the creatures take turns whispering in his ear what the tree means to each of them. When he wakes up, he gathers his axe and leaves. The forest can breath again.

This book - which looks at what the Kapok tree means to the creatures that live in it, and what rain forests mean to the world's ecology - was at the forefront of the ecological movement and continues to resonate profoundly with children everywhere.

Beautifully written, with a strong message, this book can be enjoyed as a picture book and used in classrooms on many different levels.

Paperback, 40 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ISBN
0152026142 (ISBN13: 9780152026141)

Lesson Plan:

Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living - by Mem Fox

Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living  by Mem Fox

Mem Fox, internationally acclaimed children's book writer and educator offers insights into the learning process, language education, and the pleasure, growth, and power that reading and writing can bring.
Some of her most well known titles include Possum Magic and Koala Lou, I Do Love You.
But this title is fabulous reading for any educator, including homeschooling parents. She explains how no child will ever get passionate about filling in the blanks, but how to turn anyone into an avid reader.

At the same time I should mention Mem's book specifically at parents:

Reading Magic is a great guide to reading with children, now in a new and revised edition. Fox reveals the incredible emotional and intellectual impact reading aloud to children has on their ability to learn to read. With passion and humor, Fox speaks of when, where, and why to read aloud and demonstrates how to read aloud to best effect and get the most out of a read-aloud session. She discusses the three secrets of reading, offers guidance on defining and choosing good books, and--for this new edition--includes two new chapters on boy readers and phonics, a foreword, and a list of "Twenty Books That Children Love." Filled with practical advice, activities, and inspiring true read-aloud miracles, this book is a turn-to classic for educators and parents.

I have often used these books as gifts for educators or new parents. Hope you love them.

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

When Billie Jo is just fourteen she endures heart-wrenching ordeals that no child should have to face. The quiet strength she displays while dealing with unspeakable loss is as surprising as it is inspiring.

Written in free verse, this Newbery Award winning story is set in the heart of the Great Depression. It chronicles Oklahoma's staggering dust storms, and the environmental as well as emotional turmoil they leave in their path. An unforgettable tribute to hope and inner strength.

I completely fell in love with the language of this book. Not all Newbery books are books that I love, although most of them are. And that medal on the cover always makes me want to read the book, just to see why the judges felt it was worthy. Out of The Dust is powerfully written and deserves this recognition. It made me want to read all the free verse novels I could get my hands on. Love the genre. Karen Hesse says more with fewer words. Read it!

Something Else by Kathryn Cave, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Something Else by Kathryn Cave, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Sometimes a book is based on such a simple yet brilliant idea, that you think 'why didn't I think of that?!'.
Something Else is like that.
Have you ever told a kid that he is 'something else'? Well, Something Else is like that. He tries hard to be just like everyone else. But everything he does shows how different he is. Just when he is feeling very different, and alone, Something shows up.
Has Something Else finally met someone just like himself?

This story is perfect for every child who feels different. Also great to discuss differences and acceptance in school.

Paperback, 32 pages Mondo Publishing
ISBN 1572555637 (ISBN13: 9781572555631)
Winner of the first UNESCO Prize for Children's Literature in the Service of Tolerance (under 8s).

Lesson Plan:

Special picture books: GIFT DAYS and ONE HEN and MIMI'S VILLAGE

 One Hen, the story of micro lending and Mimi’s Village, And How Basic Health Care Transformed It, both by Katie Smith Milway. These large, hardcover picture books for middle school share important global issues such as health care, micro loans and environmental awareness. One Hen, in particular, shows how one egg can lead to one chicken, to more eggs and eventually to food and income for an entire village. Each book is based on a real person or event. The books give information on how you can help to make a difference in the world.

These titles are part of an inspiring series called Citizen Kid. Each title, such as If The World Were A Village, explains an important aspect of global awareness, be it health care, wildlife preservation or clean water. In addition to a good story, each book gives information on organizations you can join to help others. The website tied to these books allows children to take action beyond the books: has online interviews, videos and activities that complement the books.
ISBN: 978-155453-028-1

Teaching guides:

Gift Days by Kari-Lynn Winters, is a new picture book for ages 8 up. This is the touching story of Nassali who longs to learn to read and write like her brother, Baaba. But since her mother’s death, Nassali is responsible for looking after her younger siblings and running the household. There is no time for books and learning. But one day she wakes up to discover that her chores have already been done. It is her first gift day. From that day on, once a week, Baaba gives Nassali the gift of time so that she can pursue her dream of an education, just as her mother would have wanted. The book itself is also raising money for the charity. Through the organization I am a Girl, which focuses on education and women’s rights, money has been raised to send girls to school in Uganda for a full year.
Check out:

ISBN-10 1554551927; ISBN-13 9781554551927

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

Sometimes I am not sure what motivated a Newbery jury in selecting a particular book. Daunting as their task must be, Newbery novels have been all over the map for me - from books I adore to books in which I just don't see the merits. But The One and Only Ivan is a delicious, unique, lovely written story. Published by HarperCollins in 2012, this is the 2013 Newbery Award winning novel. 

If gorillas had a human voice, this one rings true as a large primate living in captivity. Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all since he has successfully blocked out the dark events of his past. He has accepted his fate, even if he'd rather be anywhere else.

Ivan' friends are Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. Bob is a wonderful character, stray by choice. Stella, however, has an elephant's memory and she has not forgotten how life in the wild was. She has not forgotten nor accepted humans' brutalities. In between the circus acts in which both Ivan and Stella have to earn their keep, Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then Ruby arrived, a baby elephant taken from her family. She makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

Beautifully and gently told, this story can lead to much contemplation of how humans hunt, and keep animals in captivity. I'll never again look a zoo gorilla in the eyes without wondering what's going on behind that high forehead.

The Paperbag Princess by Robert N. Munsch

The Paperbag Princess by Robert N. Munsch

Robert Munsch is probably Canada's most well known children's book writer. What child did not grow up on Thomas' Snowsuit or Jonathan Heard A Noise...

But the Paperbag Princess, Munsch's very first picture book, has sold over 3 million copies and is his best known story. He developed the stories over many years while working at a daycare. I am not a fan of many of Munsch's stories but this one is great. The smoothness of the story, the repetition and the twisted ending make this one of my favorite books ever.

Elizabeth, a beautiful princess, lives in a castle and wears fancy clothes. Just when she is about to marry Prince Ronald, a dragon smashes her castle, burns her clothes with his fiery breath, and prince-naps her dear Ronald. Undaunted and presumably unclad, she dons a large paper bag and sets off to find the dragon and her cherished prince. Once she's tracked down the rascally reptile, she flatters him into performing all sorts of dragonly stunts that eventually exhaust him, allowing her to rescue Prince Ronald. But what does Prince Not-So-Charming say when he sees her? "Elizabeth, you smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess." Princess Elizabeth makes a wise decision and does not marry Prince Ronald after all.

Michael Martchenko's scratchy, comical, pen-and-ink drawings capture the tongue-in-cheek quality of this read-aloud crowd pleaser. (Ages 4 to 8)

Window by Jeannie Baker

Window by Jeannie Baker 

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In that case, the picture book Window equals a thick novel! A wordless picture book with story telling possibilities for all ages, this is a book of environmental awareness.

One window frames an ever evolving view. First of a green back yard. But as the baby inside the home grows up, the yard has its own story. Diapers on the clothes line give way to toys and bikes, then a VW beetle. The walls show their age, trees disappear to make way for a new subdivision, stores and roads.

Eventually the boy is a grown up and moves into his own home, with his own family - to enjoy the view from a new window: of green and the promise of a more natural environment for his new baby.

Endless possibilities to discuss urban expansion, growing populations, preservation and threats to the environment! Combine this with Jeannie Baker's wonderful collage art, and this book is a must for all classrooms.

"The effect human beings have on the landscape around them is the theme of Baker's most recent tour de force....The artist's multimedia collage constructions are, as ever, fascinating in their realistic detail and powerfully convey the dramatic message.."-- Horn Book.

Hardcover, 32 pages, Greenwillow Books
ISBN 0688089186 (ISBN13: 9780688089184)

Lesson Plans:

Spine Poetry

Here's a fun  idea for librarians and teachers.
Well.. maybe messing up the order of books on shelves does not work for librarians. But it will sure get kids to notice titles!

Arrange titles to create stories, free verse poems... Have fun! Here are two poems I 'found' on the shelves in my room:

Footprints in time
into the wilderness -
one step beyond
the best places to kiss.
Almost paradise.

Holy cow!
 Here be monsters!
Then came you..
just cruising
  off the beaten path.

Have fun creating your own spine poetry!

Where River Turns to Sky

Where River Turns to Sky, a novel by Gregg Kleiner, HarperCollins

Weaving a tale of immense power in his magical voice, Kleiner tells the story of a man determined to realize an improbable dream after the death of his best friend. Eighty-year-old George Castor promised he would never let his best friend Ralph die alone at the Silver Gardens Nursing Home -- but Ralph passed on while George was away fishing. Distraught, guilt-stricken and seeking redemption, George buys a broken-down mansion in  Oregon, paints it fire-engine red, and begins searching for other old folks to share it with him. Because George has made a new promise that will alter the course of the rest of his life. And, with the help of a miraculous old woman named Grace, he assembles a ragtag bunch of aging strangers, determined to make their last days on earth--and his own--an adventure.

I discovered this book while living in Oregon and enjoyed the humor. A great read if you need a relaxing summer book. Would make a fun movie, too!

Author's website:

Books for Earth Day!

Here are four books that are perfect to celebrate Earth Day with your students or family:

Product Details
MAKE A SPLASH! by Cathryn Berger Kaye and Philippe Cousteau.
This colorful book starts with an introduction to Philippe Cousteau's famous grandfather Jacques and his groundbreaking research into the world of water. Following in his footsteps, and teamed up with educator Berger Kaye, Cousteau invites kids to learn more about water in its broadest sense.
Making A Splash touches on major concerns such as pollution, over-fishing, oil spills and climate change. Yet it does so in a child-friendly manner and gives kids tools to be positive, effective change-makers. The books shows how individual kids, as well as schools, have made a difference by taking action.
Through photos, colorful charts, interviews, and pictures it shows how much water we need, how we can work toward cleaner oceans and streams and what kids can do to protect wetlands. A fabulous new resource for all classrooms!

Product Details
GOING BLUE is a Teen Guide to Saving our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers and Wetlands. Similar to the previous book but aimed at an older audience, it gives teens much needed information on global, environmental issues while giving them realistic tools to make a difference.
With features across Asia, Africa and around the world this book brings awareness of critical issues concerning all aspects of water. Put this book in the hands of an environmental aware teen, especially one who loves scuba diving, and amazing things will happen!

Both books are published by Free Spirit:

Product Details
50 Climate Questions by Peter Christie, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird, published by Annick Press.
50 questions, and more importantly 50 answers, look at how climate has influences human and natural evolution. The book touches on environmental components like rain, wind, water. From mummies to poop, it investigates questions that curious kids will like and learn from.

Product DetailsThe Earth, by Cynthia Pratt Nicolson, illustrated by Bill Slavin, published by Kids Can Press.
This illustrated picture book looks at how we can be hurling through space at 100 000 KM/hr, why we have day and night, what earth looked like to dinosaurs and how earth is threatened by pollution. Touching on earth quakes, volcanoes and many other intriguing earthly features, this book will bring satisfaction to curious kids. 'Try It' activities add a fun but important component by giving young readers (and educators) activities to become scientists themselves.

Each of these titles will bring awareness of critical environmental information to young readers, giving them the power and tools needed to become concerned citizens who can make a difference to our precious earth! Happy Earth Day!

ZOOM to your library!

Zoom by Istvan Banyai

Here is a picturebook that is for almost all ages! The book is wordless and takes you onto an amazing journey: from farm to ship to city streets to a desert island. You will go by any mode of transportation, around the entire globe.
But if you think you know where you are, guess again. For nothing is ever as it seems in Banyai's mysterious landscapes of pictures within pictures.
Like a photographer with a zoom lens, the illustrator zooms out from a close-up, surprising you at every turn of the page.
You can 'read' the colorful images with young children, make up elaborate tales with others and have interesting discussions with readers right into high school.

If you like this book, try part 2: Rezoom.
Paperback, 64 pages, Puffin Books  ISBN 0140557741 (ISBN13: 9780140557749)

Lesson Plan:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins
One of the advantages of being in a book club, I find, is that it sometimes makes me read books I might not select on my own. The Hunger Games is a perfect example. Judging by the short content on the back cover, I would never ever have picked this book to read. Gruesome, terrible, not at all 'my kind' of book. I am not at all a fan of science fiction (if that's what this is).

However, my book club decided that we should read this first book in the series, mostly to find out what all the hype was about. My book club consists of about 6 - 8 women ranging in age from 19 to 80.

And so I took The Hunger Games home from the library and, hesitantly, starting reading.

I don't remember now how long it was before I was completely, totally hooked: in the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I could not put the book down. The writing was superb, the story riveting. And with today's popularity of reality TV shows, scary as it is, even has a ring of truth to it.

When my book club next met we discovered that the story had gripped each of us in a similar way. Each of us read all three books in a row:
Part 2: Catching Fire
Part 3: Mockingjay

Powerful writing! Highly recommended for YA and adults of all ages. Good discussion material in highschool.
I had no need at all to see the movie: as with all good books, I had already seen the movie in my head while reading. (for games, downloads)

Clementine, Sara Pennypacker

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

In this first book of the series, Clementine tries to help out her friend Margaret, but ends up in a lot of trouble for it. Things get worse each day of the week, until finally she's worried that Margaret is right: Clementine's parents might consider her to be "the hard one" in the family. They're up to something mysterious...are they thinking they'd be better off if they only had her little vegetable-named brother..."the easy one"?
I love Clementine because of her spunky, individual voice. Her character rings true and I can recognize real several little girls in her. A great example of 'voice', this is a wonderful book to read aloud at bedtime to 5 - 8 year olds.

Hyperion Books
Paperback, 160 pages

Review: The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

I have enjoyed Susin Nielsen's previous books (Word Nerd and Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom). But this Governor General's award winning title blows you right of the water.
If you have ever watched news reports of bullying on TV, this book will hit home. Nielsen skillfully, tactfully, insightfully tackles a scary but important topic. All kids who have been subjected to bullying at school, all kids who have ever bullied someone else - for whatever reason - ought to read this book. And so should all teachers, parents and kids. Counselors, too.
The story features Henry whose brother has just committed an act of utter despair. The story is poignant, touching, funny and sad - all at once.
Read this aloud with your students to discuss the aftermath and deep reaching effects of bullying. Make this book mandatory for your students, for fellow teachers - it could possibly prevent similar heartbreak in real life.
A well crafted, fascinating read worthy of winning the highest praise in Canadian children's literature.
Oh, and if you read Word Nerd you will be pleasantly surprised to encounter Ambrose on the sidelines of this story.

Tundra Books
256 pages
ISBN: 978-1-77049-372-8 (1-77049-372-7)

Global Books

If you are a teacher or parent, interested in sharing meaningful books with children, here is a website you will enjoy:

Citizen Kid features books that deal with global awareness and topics such as micro lending and preservation. The website allows you to take actions and discussions beyond the book. Children can find out how they can help others and make a difference in the world.


A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert Newton Peck

A beautiful, tender, rough and haunting tale - this American classic is the story of a 13 year old Shaker boy growing up on a Vermont farm.
The seasons pass, life and death are part of the cycle.
Even though he's Shaker and, according to his father "it's not the Shaker Way to take frills for being neighborly. All that Robert done was what any farmer would do for another" - Rob accepts a small pig from a neighbor as a thank you for saving his cow's life.

He keeps the pig, names her, and gives her his devotion. He wrestles with grammar in the schoolhouse. He hears rumors of sin. He is taken -- at last -- to the Rutland Fair. He broadens his heart to make room, even for Baptists. And when his father, who can neither read nor write but whose wisdom and skill of country things is part of his bones, entrusts Rob with his final secret, the boy makes the sacrifice that completes his passage into manhood.

"All is told with quiet humor and simplicity. Here are lives lived by earthy reason -- in a novel that, like a hoedown country fiddler's tune, rings at the same time with both poignancy and cheer."

Study guide:

Teachers guide:

The Corn Grows Ripe by Dorothy Rhoads

The Corn Grows Ripe by Dorothy Rhoads (Viking)

The Corn Grows Ripe In 1957, when Old Yeller won the Newbery Medal, this small book was awarded an honor title. I had bought a copy of some used book sale and had it on my shelf, unread, for years. When I traveled to Mexico to help with the opening of a small, newly built library in a Mayan village, I grabbed this book of the shelf thinking I would leave it behind once I read it.

I was amazed to discovered that this lovely story takes place in a Mayan village in Mexico. It taught me so much of the history and way of life, the beliefs and customs of the people I was about to meet.

When his father is badly injured in an accident, a young Mayan boy called Tigre wonders who will plant and harvest the corn that they need to survive--and to please the Mayan gods. Twelve-year-old Tigre has never done a man's work before. Now he will have to take his father's place.

The story's setting and premise are rare. If you like to read books to children aloud, this is a perfect choice. I did leave the book behind in the Mayan library, even though the story is in English, but I ordered myself a new copy (at because I wanted to own this little gem. Happy reading!

I'll Be There, Holly Goldberg Sloan

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
ISBN 978-0-316-13038-7

I was given a review copy of this book at a literacy conference. Finally had a chance to read the 393 page novel.
Sloan writes movie scripts, including Made in America and The Big Green. It shows. Her debut novel, I'll Be There, reads like a movie. I couldn't put the book down because it is so well written. From several different view points - boy, girl, young adults, adults. It's a wild ride of action, intrigue, emotions. A story of families and belonging.
A good story. Even though.. I kept thinking, in the back of my mind, this is TOO far fetched, this would never happen!
There are too many unbelievable, implausible, things that happen in this book. Two boys, abducted by their father, living on the road for ten years. They move at his whim, eat out of dumpsters. Then the oldest boy meets a girl from a warm, loving home and things change for him. But he still stays with his younger brother as the father takes them to Utah, tries to shoot them. They survive in the wilderness, loose each other, find each other and their surrogate family again. They live, love and learn.
It's an intriguing story. It pulls you in.
Toward the end, the author goes overboard by describing what happens to the rest of the lives of several, fleeting characters. Should have stuck to the main story.
But if you can buy into all the improbable events, it's great. Even if you don't buy it, it's still a good read.

Jeremiah Learns To Read by Jo Ellen Bogart

Jeremiah Learns To Read by Jo Ellen Bogart, Laura Fernandez (Illustrator), Rick Jacobson (Illustrator)

Jeremiah is has always worked hard his whole life. He knows how to build a split-rail fence and make buttermilk pancakes, but he doesn't know how to read. 
His wife says "what's keeping you?" and so, one day, Jeremiah joins the children on their way to school.
The teacher assigns him a seat in the one-room schoolhouse and her students help him. In return Jeremiah teaches the children "how to chirp like a chickadee and honk like a goose."
Jeremiah does learn how to read and, in fact, inspires his wife to do the same.
This is a touching story about the importance of literacy.

Hardcover, 32 pages, Scholastic Inc.
ISBN 0531301907 (ISBN13: 9780531301906)

Lesson Plan:

Interview with author Iain Lawrence

Recently I interviewed Canadian YA author Iain Lawrence.
His books include Winter Pony, The Wreckers and many others.

The interview appears in the current issue of Canadian Teacher Magazine, follow the link and click on the interview:

Happy Reading!


Sticks by Joan Bauer

Sticks, Joan Bauer

While I have enjoyed most of Joan Bauer's books (Hope Was Here, Looking for Alaska, Almost Famous and more) I wasn't sure when someone recently gave me a copy of Sticks.
Cover? Not that great...
Short content? Said it was about pool and math.
I am not into pool.
And I don't like math.
But Newbery Award winning author Joan Bauer spins a great tale. Her words, her language drew me right in. I came to care for Mickey. And his motley crew of friends.
They became real. I wanted to know more. What would happen.
I couldn't put the book down.
One of those wonderful books where you "see the movie in your head" as you read. Where you do want to know how it ends, but you don't want the ending to come. Which it always does.
OK, maybe it was just a tiny bit predictable. I kept wondering if all would really end well. But the ride was wonderful.
This is a book that especially boys will like. A story about tough kids in a small town. 5th Graders. But there's just enough girl to make it a story for them, too. A good book for anyone, really. If she'd made it a 7th grader it would have worked too, and more kids would possibly read it.
What intrigued me most is how Joan Bauer weaves playing pool and math together effortlessly. Who knew that pool can be based on math? It sure sounds plausible. Throw in a science project, a bully, a truck, and you have great ingredients.  Let Joan Bauer tell the story and you have... a plain good book you should read.

Then follow up, if you are a teacher, with her teaching guide:
  • ISBN 13: 9780142404287 ISBN 10: 0142404284

Liebster Award

How fun to discover that teacher Kemble Flynn has nominated my Book Blog for the Liebster Award. Liebster means 'favorite' so I am flattered that Kemble likes my book reviews!

Check out her blog here:

And the rules are:
1. Post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
4. choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them to your post.
5. No tag backs, but please leave a comment on this post if you were nominated so I can learn more about you and see who you nominate.

Let's see if I am tech savvy enough to do all this...
1. 11 random things:
• I love reading
• I write books for children
• I love dark chocolate 
• I like to hike
• I don't like winters
• I like to knit
• I have moved 24 times
• I met the Queen of England
• I don't watch much TV
• I like dogs but am not crazy about cats
• I can count to 11!

2.  Questions to the nominees:
1.  What book would you recommend reading?
     Any books posted on my blog!
2.  What song makes you smile?
     Yesterday by the Beatles
3.  The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
     Beatles, of course!
4.  What is your favourite movie?
5.  Do you have any pets?
     Do 47 chickens count?
6.  What has been the most amazing thing you have seen?
     The birth of my children.
7.  What is your favourite season?  Why?
     Summer. I love sandals and sunshine.
8.  What is your favourite saying/quote?
     No worries!
9.  What is your favourite word in the english language?
     Love. Or 'chocolate'.
10.  What is your favourite TV show?
    That's an oxymoron as far as I am concerned.
11.  If I came to visit, what restaurant would your recommend in your city?
   The Tree House, it's an experience.

3. 11 questions for my nominees:
1. What's a favorite book now?
2. What was a favorite book as a child?
3. Who's one of your favorite authors? 
4. What's the most amazing country you have visited?
5. How many places have you lived?
6. What's your favorite food?
7. What advise do you have for new parents?
8. What's your favorite color?
9. Sunrise or sunset?
10. Sun or snow?
11. Favorite internet site?

My nominees: