105 Ways to Give a Book

Personal Update

An update is in order, but it’s been hard to write it. Less because of my stress level, or even my general busyness, than because my head seems too full to manage writing. I hope to get better about that soon.

So, strokes are weird. My mother can make a pot of noodles for our dinner without asking one question along the way, but couldn’t figure out how to open her shampoo. We’ve had intelligent, thoughtful discussions about the stupid Arizona immigration law, but she can’t understand the concept of “next month.” She could identify her preferred food brands at the grocery store and discuss why she liked them, but couldn’t remember how to use the credit card scanner.

Overall, I’m impressed with her progress. Physically, she’s coordinated and competent. Her speech is understandable almost all of the time, and her memory is good. She works hard to stay upbeat and challenges herself to learn new things. Or rather, to relearn old things. At the same time, I can see how far she has to go in regaining competence for tasks that were once familiar and recognition for words that were once easy. It’s a bit daunting.

I’m not sure what’s next, exactly. I’m going home tomorrow and trying to figure out how and when I can get back. And we’re not done, either in this particular recovery or the one to come, when the doctors investigate the very likely possibility of brain surgery. The only way we can deal with that prospect is to not deal with it at all right now.

Anyway, I’m hoping to get back on blog next week, because I think that I need that distraction and routine. It’s also time to look at the 48 Hour Book Challenge and Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Oh, and normal life — whatever that is. I wrote down this quote from the speech therapist’s office, and am keeping it at the top of my calendar for May: “Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.”

Hello, Spring 2010? Watch my samba.

Getting Personal

When I talked to members of Mid-Atlantic chapter of SCBWI on Wednesday about blogging, I weighed in on the need to have a blog be personal, but not too personal. People want to read about the writer or illustrator or blogger as a real person. Someone who worries about her plants or lets his hamster scamper on his drawing. Those little views into your world are gold, without exploiting your privacy or your family’s privacy.

And today I’m breaking with that entirely, because I’ve known you all for a while and because I feel the need to share and because what’s going on in my personal life may affect my blogging presence and because maybe I’ll get some advice that will help me with this step.

This week my mother had a small stroke. Small in that she is completely in control of her physical self and her thoughts and mostly in control of her speech. In fact, in talking to her over the phone (my brother is there with her), I had a more optimistic picture of her than was probably accurate. She is talking well, with occasional struggles to get out the right word. What I didn’t realize until yesterday is that she can’t read or write at all, because she can’t make that translation back to her brain. She also mentioned that she went to brush her teeth, and couldn’t figure out the toothpaste. She knew what to do, but couldn’t signal her hands to comply. She’s laughing about it and staying upbeat, which is good. She’s also on track for a therapy program to help her build new pathways in her brain to replace the broken ones.

But this is more serious than I originally thought, and I’m going to be making some back-and-forth trips to Virginia Beach to help out. We may also be making some hard decisions about where she is going to stay — maybe even about where she is going to live. They will be particularly difficult given the economy and the housing market and the connections that we have with two cities, two families, two hundred miles apart.

So I’m not sure what I’ll be doing here online. Things may not change much, as I may have just as much free time to dash off a post here and there. I still plan on going to BEA and the Book Blogger Convention at the end of May. I hope to see some of you there. I still plan on doing the 48 Hour Book Challenge over the June 4th weekend. I have any number of kid, scouts, and family obligations that I plan to meet. But things could be different for a while.

Personally, I’m feeling mostly... okay. I have a kind of peaceful sense that we will all just do what we need to do as we figure out what that is. I guess I didn’t really need to say anything here, but I wanted to tell you because it felt like I was holding back something otherwise. In a way, it comes back to the presentation that I gave at the SCBWI session. I talked about not looking at your blog as something you need to do for promotional purposes, but seeing it as an opportunity to share of yourself, and in doing so building relationships and connecting with people. So here I am, sharing, and I’m glad to have you there to listen. Thanks.

Booklights, Operation TBD, and Speaking Engagements

Today at Booklights I’m sharing three of my favorite poetry picture books. Three is really the tip of the iceberg, so I’m counting on you to head over and add your favorites to the comments.

Also today, I’ll be leaving a YA book on the bench at my daughter’s dance class as part of Operation Teen Book Drop. On the site are special bookplates that you can download, print, and place in the book that you release. You can follow the fun with the readergirlz all day. Oh, and don’t forget about the wish lists for Ojo Encino Day School and Alchesay High School as organized by Colleen at Chasing Ray.

Yesterday I spoke at a SCBWI Mid-Atlantic PROtrack program about the world of kidlit blogging and a writer’s place within it. I believe that I was helpful and amusing, if a bit wordy. But I know that I had a blast! It’s making me think more seriously about speaking on this topic at other places and, like, how one gets to do that. Any suggestions on doing so — or outright invitations — would be most appreciated. Seriously.

ABC Storytime: U is for...

Usually I go though my old storytime programs to update them with new books and add alternatives. But I have left myself way too much to do today — starting with baking birthday brownies for eleven-year-old’s class, moving on to taxes (yes, I put it off), filling out a camp application, reviewing notes for tonight’s talk, finding a lost school form, planning a Girl Scout trip, and calling a sick mother. Also on the agenda are a worry, a concern, and a random aggravation. So if you want to add in some U books in the comments, be my guest.

The Letter U

Book: The Umbrella Party, by Janet Lunn

Song: “Rain, Rain”
Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day
Little Anna wants to play
Rain, rain, go away.
Book: What’s Up, What’s Down? by Lola M. Schaefer

Rhyme: “Up and Down”
Put your arms up
Put your arms down
Put them through the middle
Move them all around
One arm to the left
One arm to the right
Give someone a hug
And hold on tight.
Book: I Wished for a Unicorn, by Robert Heidbreder

Rhyme: “Five Little Unicorns”
Five little unicorns playing in the sun
The first one said, “I’m having lots of fun.”
The second one said, “See my shiny horn?”
The third one said, “Of course, you’re a unicorn.”
The fourth one said, “I am as white as snow.”
The fifth one said, “So are we, you know.”
Book: The Ugly Truckling, by David Gordon

Song: “What Begins with U?”
(to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)

What begins with U?
What begins with U?
We all know, we’ll tell you so.
What begins with U?

Umbrella begins with U.
Umbrella begins with U.
We all know, we’ll tell you so.
Umbrella begins with U.

Unicorn begins with U…

Up begins with U…
Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Top 100 Children’s Novels

Oh, I love this game. Thanks, Teacherninja.

So which of the Top 100 Children’s Novels have you read? I put the ones I’ve read in bold and put asterisks by the ones that I submitted to the poll. Nine out of my ten are on the list, but I’m far less proportionately represented in the books I’ve read from the list. There were a fair number that I wasn’t sure about, but my best guess puts me at 66/100. I feel like I may have some reading to do.
  1. The Egypt Game — Snyder (1967)
  2. The Indian in the Cupboard — Banks (1980)
  3. Children of Green Knowe — Boston (1954)
  4. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane — DiCamillo (2006)
  5. The Witches — Dahl (1983)
  6. Pippi Longstocking — Lindgren (1950)
  7. Swallows and Amazons — Ransome (1930)
  8. Caddie Woodlawn — Brink (1935)
  9. Ella Enchanted — Levine (1997)
  10. Sideways Stories from Wayside School — Sachar (1978)
  11. Sarah, Plain and Tall — MacLachlan (1985)
  12. Ramona and Her Father — Cleary (1977)
  13. The High King — Alexander (1968)
  14. The View from Saturday — Konigsburg (1996)
  15. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — Rowling (1999)
  16. On the Banks of Plum Creek — Wilder (1937)
  17. The Little White Horse — Goudge (1946)
  18. The Thief — Turner (1997)
  19. The Book of Three — Alexander (1964)
  20. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon — Lin (2009)**
  21. The Graveyard Book — Gaiman (2008)
  22. All-of-a-Kind-Family — Taylor (1951)**
  23. Johnny Tremain — Forbes (1943)
  24. The City of Ember — DuPrau (2003)
  25. Out of the Dust — Hesse (1997)
  26. Love That Dog — Creech (2001)
  27. The Borrowers — Norton (1953)
  28. My Side of the Mountain — George (1959)
  29. My Father’s Dragon — Gannett (1948)
  30. The Bad Beginning — Snicket (1999)**
  31. Betsy-Tacy — Lovelae (1940)
  32. The Mysterious Benedict Society — Stewart ( 2007)
  33. Walk Two Moons — Creech (1994)
  34. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher — Coville (1991)
  35. Henry Huggins — Cleary (1950)
  36. Ballet Shoes — Stratfeild (1936)
  37. A Long Way from Chicago — Peck (1998)
  38. Gone-Away Lake — Enright (1957)
  39. The Secret of the Old Clock — Keene (1959)
  40. Stargirl — Spinelli (2000)
  41. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle — Avi (1990)
  42. Inkheart — Funke (2003)
  43. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase — Aiken (1962)
  44. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 — Cleary (1981)
  45. Number the Stars — Lowry (1989)
  46. The Great Gilly Hopkins — Paterson (1978)
  47. The BFG — Dahl (1982)
  48. Wind in the Willows — Grahame (1908)
  49. The Invention of Hugo Cabret — Selznick (2007)
  50. The Saturdays — Enright (1941)
  51. Island of the Blue Dolphins — O’Dell (1960)
  52. Frindle — Clements (1996)
  53. The Penderwicks — Birdsall (2005)
  54. Bud, Not Buddy — Curtis (1999)
  55. Where the Red Fern Grows — Rawls (1961)
  56. The Golden Compass — Pullman (1995)
  57. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing — Blume (1972)
  58. Ramona the Pest — Cleary (1968)
  59. Little House on the Prairie — Wilder (1935)**
  60. The Witch of Blackbird Pond — Speare (1958)
  61. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz — Baum (1900)
  62. When You Reach Me — Stead (2009)
  63. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — Rowling (2003)
  64. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry — Taylor (1976)
  65. Are You there, God? It’s Me, Margaret — Blume (1970)
  66. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — Rowling (2000)
  67. The Watsons Go to Birmingham — Curtis (1995)
  68. James and the Giant Peach — Dahl (1961)
  69. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH — O’Brian (1971)
  70. Half Magic — Eager (1954)
  71. Winnie-the-Pooh — Milne (1926)**
  72. The Dark Is Rising — Cooper (1973)
  73. A Little Princess — Burnett (1905)**
  74. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking-Glass — Carroll (1865/72)
  75. Hatchet — Paulsen (1989)
  76. Little Women — Alcott (1868/9)
  77. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Rowling (2007)
  78. Little House in the Big Woods — Wilder (1932)
  79. The Tale of Despereaux — DiCamillo (2003)
  80. The Lightening Thief — Riordan (2005)
  81. Tuck Everlasting — Babbitt (1975)
  82. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — Dahl (1964)
  83. Matilda — Dahl (1988)
  84. Maniac Magee — Spinelli (1990)
  85. Harriet the Spy — Fitzhugh (1964)
  86. Because of Winn-Dixie — DiCamillo (2000)
  87. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — Rowling (1999)
  88. Bridge to Terabithia — Paterson (1977)
  89. The Hobbit — Tolkien (1938)**
  90. The Westing Game — Raskin (1978)
  91. The Phantom Tollbooth — Juster (1961)
  92. Anne of Green Gables — Montgomery (1908)
  93. The Secret Garden — Burnett (1911)
  94. The Giver — Lowry (1993)
  95. Holes — Sachar (1998)
  96. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler — Koningsburg (1967)
  97. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe — Lewis (1950)
  98. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philsopher’s Stone — Rowling (1997)**
  99. A Wrinkle in Time — L’Engle (1962)
  100. Charlotte’s Web — White (1952)**
Category: 10 comments

So Much Stuff Going On

I haven’t been that engaged online lately, so I feel like I’m getting back up to speed anyway and then there’s all this stuff going on. So let’s knock this out in one post, shall we?

Over at Booklights, Jen is talking about Drop Everything and Read Day (known as D.E.A.R. Day) held every year on April 12th in honor of Beverly Cleary’s birthday. Makes me want to put off the housecleaning today and pick up a book. But to be fair, pretty much everything makes me want to put off the housecleaning and pick up a book.

Today also begins National Library Week, which is bittersweet this year. Personally, because I was laid off from my own library job that I loved and now miss. But more broadly, because all over the country libraries and their staff are on the budget chopping block. Very sad. Let’s hope our love of libraries can help government officials see their value.

Fortunately, we have great news coming in from Chasing Ray about the Operation TBD wish lists: “Neil Gaiman tweeted about them on Friday and sent our visitor number into the stratosphere which was very very cool. Over 300 books have been bought thus far which gets us close to the halfway point.” Keep those contributions coming!


Celebration of National Poetry Month continues with the schedule posted at KidLitosphere Central. I know that I’ve seen some wonderful features so far, and I’m looking forward to more. If anyone is taking requests, I’d like a poem about allergies to commemorate this record-breaking pollen count. Thanks.

Hey, I’ve got a speaking gig on Wednesday for SCBWI Mid-Atlantic talking to published authors and illustrators about KidLit blogging. I’d love to see you there. Yes, you.

Save the Date for the 48 Hour Book Challenge on the weekend of June 4–6. More information will be coming, along with a sign-up page and prizes, so stay tuned. Oh, and if you have prizes you’d be willing to donate, let me know at MotherReader AT Gmail DOT com.

Speaking of all-weekend events leads me to announce Tohubohu’s next participation in the 48 Hour Film Project on the weekend of April 30th. We’ve engaged the fabulous Robin Brande as our writer (Hooray!), and have a great team of actors and crew ready to go. Now all we need is the genre, and required character, prop, and line of dialogue to make a seven-minute film. Easy, peasy.

Uncertainty PrincipleWe can also finally release access to our last movie, done as part of the International Shootout. For that competition we were given a simple theme: The End of the World. We went for a family drama, featuring our two daughters along with other fine actors. The visuals at the end always get to me, and well, the singing there is my younger daughter and me. Check out “Uncertainty Principle.” Hope you like it!

Blame, Booklights, Countdown, and Operation TBD

For two weeks I’ve been trying to keep my blog work to a minimum, with the idea being that I would focus on the other areas of my life that need some TLC. So far, while I’ve been a relative success at staying offline, I’ve been pretty bad at tackling the house and catch-up chores that I needed to address. I blame my bad back. Mostly because it’s easy to blame back problems. I could also blame the heat. Seriously, I love summer — but not in early April. We’ve been breaking records around here for both heat and pollen. So, I guess I could blame my allergies too.

But in any case, I’ve popped online today to post my favorite poetry collections over at Booklights, with the plan to post some favorite single-author titles in the next weeks. If you have a great collection book to share, head over and add it to the comments.

Trying to stay offline is not being helped by the continued countdown of the Top Children’s Novels by Fuse#8. Today we are at number three and it’s the first Harry Potter book, so what’s left for the next two spots? Charlotte’s Web, for sure, but what else? And since it is Thursday, does that mean we’re going to have to wait all weekend to find out? Curses! Hold it. Has Diary of a Wimpy Kid been mentioned yet? Or The Lightning Thief? Did one of them beat the first Harry Potter? (Which is possible if you think that people may have picked a different Harry Potter to put on their list.) You see, there goes my day as I figure out which book it could be instead of simply waiting until tomorrow to find out. I say again, curses!

In other news, I’ll let a post title sum it up: Making a Difference, One Book at a Time — the Guys Lit Wire & Operation Teen Book Drop Event for Navajo & Apache Teens. And since to explain would require me to keep coding the links, I’m going to let Colleen Mondor from Chasing Ray do that, along with the explanation of Operation TBD by readergirlz. But I will say that here’s an opportunity to change a life by giving a book. Or to participate in a random act of kindness by dropping a book. Cool stuff.

And now for me, on to laundry, general cleaning, and finding my living room floor.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

ABC Storytime: T is for...

With trucks and trains and turtles and tigers and teachers and teapots, there are just so many kid-friendly themes that start with the letter “T.” Here’s a sampling for our ABC Storytime.

The Letter T

Book: Duck in the Truck, by Jez Alborough, or The Old Blue Pickup Truck, by Candice Ransom

Book: Night Train, by Caroline Stutson, or Train Song, by Diane Siebert, or for a totally different take, Shark vs. Train, by Chris Barton

Song: “Down by the Station”
Down by the station
Early in the morning
See the little pufferbellies
All in a row
See the station master
Turn the little handle
Puff, puff, toot, toot
Off we go!
Book: Turtle Splash: Countdown at the Pond, by Catherine Falwell, or Emma’s Turtle, by Eve Bunting

Action Rhyme: “There Was a Little Turtle”
There was a little turtle,
He lived in a box
He swam in a puddle,
He climbed on the rocks.

He snapped at a mosquito,
He snapped at a flea,
He snapped at a minnow,
And he snapped at me.

He caught the mosquito,
He caught the flea,
He caught the minnow,
But he didn’t catch ME!
Book: Miss Spider’s Tea Party, by David Kirk, or The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr

(This review from the Publishers Weekly of the now-famous Kirk made me laugh: “First-time author Kirk’s rhyming text, with its singsong rhythm and counting motif is slack and predictable, but his illustrations are thoroughly original.”)

Song: “I’m a Little Teapot”
I’m a little teapot, short and stout.
Here is my handle, here is my spout.
When I get all steamed up hear me shout.
Tip me over and pour me out.

I’m a special teapot, yes it’s true.
Here let me show you what I can do.
I can change my handle and my spout
Tip me over and pour me out!
Book: The Teeny Tiny Teacher, by Stephanie Calmenson, or This is the Teacher, by Rhonda Gowler Green

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Booklights, Poetry Month, and More

I was going to post yesterday, but was floored by the number of options available given the day. I mean, you had April Fool’s Day, the first day of Poetry Month, Passover, Easter weekend, my Booklights day, and my Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie viewing. Too much!

So let’s knock this out here. Fuse#8 got me with her April Fool’s Day joke, but I’ll just focus on the laughing and direct you the hysterical book I’ve been reading lately. It’s not for kids, and may be a little blue for many adults, but boy is it funny. If you like comedy — and who doesn’t — check out I Killed: True Stories from the Road from America’s Top Comics.

Poetry Month is off and running among the blogs, and the schedule is available as its own page at KidLitosphere Central. Nice School Library Journal write-up, too.

I was dying to embed the Steven Colbert video where he shows off the new Passover Plague puppets. Watch it at the thirteen minute mark (the second segment) below. We’ve been laughing about it all week. “I don’t know... be alive.”

For Easter, I was going to write about back-up bunny books that you could pick up if you missed your holiday grab at the library. Then I realized that there were over three hundred picture books featuring rabbits at my local library, so I’m going to point to Beatrix Potter and leave it at that. I reserved my Booklights post for a shout-out to poetry month.

Also, I saw Diary of a Wimpy Kid with my thirteen- and ten-year-old daughters, and we all loved it. I laughed a lot and throughly enjoyed myself. The casting is excellent, and the film captures the feel of the book while expanding on it and making it feel stunningly realistic. The kids look like real kids. What kind of way is that to make a movie? (Pssst! Hollywood? An excellent way.)

I’m offline for a few days to enjoy the pleasant holiday weekend. Hope you have the sunshine that we have here. It’s beginning to feel like... spring.

Note: Edited to embed the Colbert clip.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.