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I’m Judging the Cybils!

I’m really excited to be judging Graphics (as in graphic novels) for the 2013 Cybils! What am I excited to read? Graphic novels that tell a great story, get kids excited to read, and have beautiful illustrations doing some of the heavy lifting of storytelling. I’d also love to discover more graphic stories for younger kids and especially some geared for girls. Graphic novels are my secret weapon for reluctant readers. I’ll be excited to share them with you … eventually!

Please meet my esteemed colleagues for round two. You can also follow them on Twitter. We are not allowed to blog on the short list that Round 1 judges will come up with until after the awards are announced but expect to hear more about great graphic novels from me shortly after that.

Want to nominate a children’s book for the Cybils? That will be coming up shortly!


2013 Graphics Judges

Second Round

Emily Mitchell, Emilyreads

Debra Touchette, Adventures in Reading (Also blogs at Guys Lit Wire)

Michael Kahan, No Flying, No Tights

Mia Wenjen, Pragmatic Mom

Maria Selke, Maria’s Melange
@mselke01 Read more…

Picture Book of the Day, The Dark by Lemony Snicket

Monsters In the Closet Picture Books: The Dark

I started haunting our local bookstore to read picture books but I always feel guilty using it like a library so I make sure to buy a small stack. When it comes to picture books, I am the pickiest purchaser ever because I am buying for myself! The Dark made my purchase pile. I had heard wonderful reviews about it and I have long admired Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen.

Other Monsters In the Closet Picture Books also delight us:

There’s  Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Myer

We love this sweet monster picture book in which a little boy bravely confronts his “nightmare in his closet.” It turns out that his nightmare is a good snuggler! I love the reading by Billy Crystal too! In fact, I always picture him reading it to my kids, even as I read it.

Read more…

Happy Birthday to My Mom: 90 Years Young!

Today my mom turns 90 years old! Oops, I mean 90 years young!

Happy birthday mom! She was born in San Francisco’s Japantown in 1923. Her parents immigrated from Japan and I have that story here along with our Japanese family crest.

During WWII, she was forced to relocate with her family. She ended up in a remote part of Utah where she had relatives but it was near an underground nuclear weapons testing station. All her siblings died of cancer and I suspect there is a connection there.

My mother, a breast cancer survivor, is the lone member of her family who was able to claim WWII restitution. She used the money to buy a new car and she’s still driving it. In fact, she still drives, but only during the day and only in her neighborhood.


 My mom Read more…

My Son’s 2nd Grade Hopes and Dreams

PickyKidPix and I had a good laugh when we reflected on the summer camp choices that her siblings made. I let each of them pick one inconvenient (and overpriced) week of day camp.

  • Grasshoppper and Sensei picked Hot Glass Blowing.
  • PickyKidPix picked a week of soccer camp run by FC Barcelona, our favorite professional soccer team.
  • My son picked a week of Minecraft computer camp.

They all loved their special week of camp but what made us laugh was the thought of one kid’s heaven is truly their sibling’s hell.

This would be the worst camp schedule EVER according to my kids: Read more…

Roald Dahl Day, September 13 Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl Day is Today, September 13!

Grasshopper and Sensei and PickyKidPix both discovered Roald Dahl in third grade. I think it was the first chapter book author they really fell in love with. Now that my youngest is in third grade, I hope that the magic of Roald Dahl happens again for him and his class.

In honor of Roald Dahl day today, I’m revisiting posts that I’ve done in previous years.

Roald Dahl Day and Our Favorite Roald Dahl Books

These were PickyKidPix’s favorite Roald Dahl books. If you asked her now, she would say that her favorite was:

George’s Marvelous Medicine

George’s Marvelous Medicine is also highly recommended by the kids in her class. She and I thought it was very, very funny too! Afterwards it inspired her to make a big messy mix up of potions and lotions. Fun stuff! It would make for a very fun children’s book club! Read more…

best books for kids set in Boston

Top 10: Books for Kids Set in Boston

If you have ever been to Boston (and everyone should go there at least once), you will  know that as a city it is a bewildering mixture of modern improvements and the relics of antiquity, and it is interesting, for example, to come out from buying plastic clothespins and chocolate-strawberry-marshmallow-banana splits in a department store glittering with neon, and find yourself face to face with the Old South Church. And the streets have wonderful old names like Milk and Pump. The Time Garden by Edward Eager (from the Half Magic series)

The wonderful thing about living in a historical city is sharing it with friends. I thought I’d round-up ten of our favorite picture books, early chapter books and chapter books for kids set in Boston and environs. And we hope you will come visit one day as well!

What are your favorite books for kids set in Boston? Please share and I’ll add to the list! Thank you!


Top 10 Books for Children Set in Boston

10. Vanished by Sheela Chari is set in Arlington and Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts (and also India).

Chari’s contemporary chapter book is both multicultural and award-winning. I love that it’s set in an area that we frequent for soccer games and shopping: Arlington and Harvard Square in Cambridge (they are adjacent cities). When 11-year-old Neela’s veena goes missing, she suspects there is more afoot than just a musical instrument. Could the rumors of a curse be true? [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Read more…

Karen Day, author

Writing Revision Tips for Kids: Why Writing is All About Revising

Please welcome my guest blogger today, middle grade author Karen Day. She happens to live in my town and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her at the dog park as well as on the soccer field when Grasshopper and Sensei was in 3rd grade — her youngest daughter was on the same team.

She’s been twice to our book clubs for kids. She taught my daughter, then in sixth grade, to write a Show Don’t Tell.

We also learned about the origins of her second book, No Cream Puffs. Indeed, it WAS Karen who was a star baseball player!

Her first book, Tall Tales, won a Texas BlueBonnet award.

Today, she’ll be covering Writing Revision Tips for Kids. Read more…

Tinkertoy Win in a Snap game

This Looks Fun! Tinkertoy Game to Win $1000!

In the TINKERTOY Win-in-a-Snap Game, parents and kids can play every day for 6 weeks to guess what TINKERTOY creation is being built. Solve the puzzle faster and get more entries to win one of 100 instant win TINKERTOY prizes or the $1,000 Grand Prize! Game play is exclusive to Facebook, so be sure to “like” TINKERTOY on Facebook to be notified about the Win-In-A-Snap game. Sweepstakes runs September 9th-October 20th. Access the Facebook game here starting Monday.

Tinkertoy Win in a Snap game

This is not a compensated post. We love K’NEX because it helps to keep my son off screens. I met Kate Loffio at BlogHer12 and she sends me K’NEX toys from time to time to review. We’ll be playing this Tinkertoy game on Facebook just for fun. My son would love guessing the structure and that might cause him to break out his Tinkertoys to build something!

best books for kids set on a farm, farm chapter books for kids, farm picture books for kids

Top 10: Old Fashioned Children’s Books Set On a Farm

We are lucky to have farms in our suburban town as well as nearby but these local farms have morphed into U Pick or teaching centers. I guess I’ve always fantasized about life on a farm. Self-sufficiency and all that. I only know one person who grew up on a farm. His friends say that he’s the go to for any kind of fix it jobs. If you live on farm, you learn to do everything and anything!

My own garden plot in my tiny backyard is too shady and small to grow anything except hardy herbs like mint and oregano. I have to farm vicariously these days though books so I’ve rounded up my favorite old fashioned children’s books set on a farm. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane!

What are your favorite picture books and chapter books set on a old-fashioned back in time farm? Thanks so much for sharing!


Best Old Fashioned Children’s Books Set on a Farm

10. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Set in 1899 in Fentress, Texas near Austin, 11-year-old Calpurnia Tate lives on a bustling farming enterprise set up by her forward thinking and scientific minded grandfather along with her 6 brothers and parents. While this Newbery Honor chapter book focuses on Calpurnia’s evolution into a scientist — one hopes that she will be the first female to attend the University in Austin — I also loved the vivid descriptions of growing up on a Southern gentleman’s farm. Her grandfather owns the cotton gin mill as well as vast acres of pecans and cotton and the relationships between servants, locals and her family are also colorfully depicted in this strict social ladder of etiquette and status. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

Read more…