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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine
Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger Interview Anita Silvey Mary Casanova Knock Knock Two for the Show Tomi Ungerer Teach It Forward Lynne Jonell Page Break Lisa Bullard Driver's Ed Reading Ahead Melanie Heuiser Hill Kingfisher Treasuries

The Magic Valentine's Potato

Big Bob and The Magic Valentine’s Day Potato

Several years ago, a mysterious package arrived at our house on Valentine’s Day: a plain brown box addressed to our entire family with a return address “TMVDP.” The package weighed almost nothing. It weighed almost nothing because the box contained four lunchbox serving-size bags of potato chips. Nothing else. Or at least I thought there […]

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Three Wise Women

Three Wise Women

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. More than just an end to the season of Christmas, Epiphany is a Christian celebration all its own commemorating the revelation of God the Son in the humanity of Jesus Christ. There are various traditions observed around the world, but the story of the magi who came from […]

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Hannukah Bear

Hanukkah Bear

We celebrate Christmas at our house, but we live in a community in which many celebrate Hanukkah. As we light our Advent candles and string our Christmas lights, our Jewish friends and neighbors light the candles on their Hanukkah menorah and fry delicious potato latkes. Dear friends invite us to join them for one of […]

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Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree

Oh, wasn’t it grand to have a tree— Exactly like Mr. Willowby? My firstborn received Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree (by Robert Barry) from his best friend for Christmas 2001. I know this because their names are scrawled inside the front cover with the date. I probably could’ve narrowed it down to the right year, though. […]

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Quiltmaker's Gift

The Quest for the Perfect Thanksgiving Book

Each November I begin the search anew. I know what I’m looking for, and I really don’t think it’s too much to ask of a picture book: It must delve into the themes of generosity, abundance, gratitude. It should be beautiful. Compelling in its beauty, in fact. Ideally, I’d like it to celebrate our better […]

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Too Many Pumpkins

Too Many Pumpkins

I have a thing for pumpkins—their orangeness, their roundness…. I’m not sure what it is, exactly. They’re sort of a harbinger of autumn, my favorite season, so maybe that’s it. Really, I just find them satisfying somehow. Given my love of the orange autumnal globes, it’s a little odd, perhaps, that my favorite pumpkin book is […]

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Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming

There is a silly debate taking place about whether adults who read children’s books, including young adult books, are infantile and should have their driver’s licenses revoked because they’re obviously not mature enough to play dodge ‘em cars on the freeway and text while their two thousand pound vehicle hurtles down the road. Grown up, […]

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Read to Them

Three Things This Past Week

The beginning of the school year caught up with everyone last week, I think. My kids are exhausted, a little overwhelmed, a little crispy around the edges. The other kids in and around my life seem about the same. Fall transitions can be hard even when they go relatively smoothly. My youngest (age twelve) came […]

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Old Bear

Old Bear

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about our family’s obsession—I mean love—of Christopher Robin’s Silly Old Bear. Our family also has a deep and abiding love for Old Bear by Jane Hissey and I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about it. We’ve found that too many people do not know about […]

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Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh

Winnie-the-Pooh

There are a lot of “challenges” happening in the social media sphere these days—books, ice buckets, kindness, gratitude, etc. All great things—perhaps one of the better uses for social media even, though it doesn’t quite beat out birthday greetings and first-day-of-school pictures, in my book. Last week, a good friend and fellow reader “challenged” me […]

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Just Like A Baby

I’m missing a dear friend who died very suddenly this past spring. Liz was old enough to be my mother and my kids’ grandmother. She loved to give gifts and had an almost magical way of doing so. Her taste in books for kids was exquisite and she always found the most perfect, most unique […]

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On Flower Girls

A year ago this weekend, I had the honor of officiating at the wedding of dear friends. They’d planned a grand celebration—organ and trumpet, dramatic readings, fantabulous attendants, family and friends, and not one but two flower girls. In my experience, flower girls and ring bearers increase the “chance element” in a wedding ceremony. I’m […]

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Kuplink, Kaplank, Kuplunk!

We missed strawberry picking, and therefore jam making, this year. We were in the mountains, a dandy excuse to be sure, but now we’re in a bit of a pickle (no canning pun intended). We have a strong homemade jam habit at our house, and last year’s bounty is dwindling. We’re trying to figure out […]

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We Need Longer Picture Books, Too!

I’ve just read yet another article about the new length of picture books. Some say publishers won’t even consider publishing a picture book over five hundred words anymore. Others say they should be under three hundred words. Why? Inevitably, the shorter attention spans of children are cited somewhere in the reasoning. Rubbish, I say! As […]

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Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book in the Harry Potter series, came out a few months after Child #1 was born. In my sleep-deprived stupor, I didn’t notice for awhile; but it quickly became difficult to be a citizen of the world and not know about Harry Potter. Suffice to say, the […]

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This Vacation’s Audiobooks

Many have asked what our family listened to on vacation this year. We have recently returned and I can now report back. We had a lot of hours in the car—Minnesota through the Black Hills and into the Tetons and up through Montana etc. And back, of course. Good to have three drivers. Good to […]

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Keystones of the Stone Arch Bridge

Keystones of the Stone Arch Bridge

In downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, spanning the Mississippi River, there is a “Stone Arch Bridge” that resembles a roman viaduct with its 23 arches. Built at a time when Minneapolis was a primary grain-milling and wood-producing center for the United States, Empire Builder James J. Hill wanted the bridge built to help his railroad reach the […]

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The Ruby in the Smoke Audio-book

In our roadtrip/vacation van there are four very different readers—different interests, different reading interests, varying attention spans, etc. In addition to these differences and variances, the kids are five and a half years apart. Finding a book that keeps everyone entertained and is appropriate for all ages can be a challenge. Two years ago, The […]

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Gravity

Gravity

What is gravity? I have a notion (after many years of school) that it keeps my feet touching the ground. When I jump into the air, I am defying gravity. What is Gravity? A book. Written and illustrated by Jason Chin, who previously gifted us with Redwoods and Coral Island and Galapagos. He has a […]

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Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice

Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice

The woman who cuts my hair, Amy, had a particularly hard summer the year her boys had just learned to read. Their school asked that she keep them reading over the summer, but there were only so many Magic Treehouse books she wanted them to read. What other books would be suitable? The minutes flew […]

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The Borrowers (audio book)

One of the first books we listened to in the car was Mary Norton’s The Borrowers. We had one child and he was very small. But he’d been well-trained on audio books. He fell asleep to The Velveteen Rabbit (Meryl Streep and George Winston) or Winnie-the-Pooh (The BBC version) every night. So we popped in […]

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I Am Cow, Hear Me MOO!

I Am Cow, Hear Me MOO!

There has been a lot written about the bravery of cows (no, there hasn’t). Some of it has startled us with the sheer audacity of amazing feats of derring-do of which cows are capable (News at 10!). Young children everywhere are pinning up cow posters on their bedroom walls, hoping to one day be as […]

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All Different Now

All Different Now

Do you know how sometimes your hands hover over a book, wanting to open it, sensing that this will be an important book, and you hesitate, wanting to prolong your interaction? I did that, turning All Different Now this way and that, then examining the title page, the jacket flaps … and finally allowing myself […]

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The Fourteenth Goldfish

The versatile Jennifer L. Holm pens a fantasy this time around, but it’s a story suffused with humor and science, deftly asking a mind-blowing question: is it a good thing to grow old? So what happens when a 13-year-old boy shows up on your doorstep, arguing with your mom, who invites him in, and it […]

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Planet Kindergarten

Planet Kindergarten

Books about getting ready for kindergarten and the first day in that Strange New Land are plentiful, but I can’t recall one that has drawn me into the experience as fully as Planet Kindergarten does. Every aspect of this book, from word choice to story to the detailed and clever drawings, puts this book at […]

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Pulling Radishes, Thinking About Books

In the garden this week I am pulling radishes. Weeds, too, and maybe that’s why I appreciate the small, crisp, spicy little radishes. Pulling those rosy red globes out of the black dirt makes me think of one of my favorite books from childhood: Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.  I have especially vivid memories of my third grade […]

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The Scraps Book

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life

Sometimes I want to walk right into the pages of a book, know everything the author knows, share their lifetime of experiences, and be able to emulate their creativity. Scraps: Notes from a Colorful Life makes me feel that way. I’ve even enjoyed the feeling and texture of the paper because I want in! For […]

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Return of Zita the Spacegirl

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl

Ben Hatke can’t conceive of, write, and draw these stories fast enough for me—and a host of other fans. Just released, this book follows Zita the Spacegirl (2010) and Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (2012). Doing the math, I know I won’t be reading the next installment until 2016. Whahhh. I’ve read so many stories […]

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Fevered Reading

Let me be very clear. I do not ever want my kids to be sick. We’ve had run-o-the-mill childhood sickness and we’ve had serious sickness—I don’t like either kind. I would wish only good health, happiness, sunshine, and lollipops for my children and the children of the world. And we are fortunate and grateful to […]

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Touching the Reading Spot

About a year ago, I found myself at weekly appointments with a speech therapist who specializes in functional breathing difficulties. I was dealing with some breathing and voice issues and my allergy and asthma doctor thought I might benefit from “relearning to breathe.” The process was fascinating—we worked on posture, word lists, tongue placement, swallowing, […]

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An Ode To Beeswax

Back in the days of small children and little money, I regularly saved pennies for The Best Art Supplies that could be found. I’d read something terribly inspirational about giving your children real art supplies: gorgeous colors and textures that would help them produce fantastic works of art even if all they did was scribble, […]

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My New Hero

I am a fan of superhero comics. After reading about talking ducks, precocious teens at Riverdale High, and an equally precocious rich kid, I wanted something with a real story, not a situation. I wasn’t allowed to buy comic books, so I had to rely on the kindness of cousins. Whatever I could scrounge up […]

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The Privilege & Responsibility of Reading in Bed

The indomitable Gertrude Mueller Nelson gave our family the ritual of Birthday Privileges & Responsibilities. Each birthday our kids receive a scroll of paper festooned with ribbons. Inside, in the fanciest (and hardest to read) script our printer can manage, we have ceremonial language awarding the birthday child his/her next year’s Privilege & Responsibility. We started […]

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Space Taxi

Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight Wendy Mass and Michael Brawer, illus by Elise Gravel Little, Brown Books for Young Readers What a hoot! When eight-year-old Archie Morningstar gets up early in the morning for his first Take Your Kid to Work Day, he never imagines that his taxi-driving dad in their rickety cab is actually […]

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The Miss Rumphius Challenge

Henry was a regular. He was in afternoon kindergarten and he and his nanny had the mornings free to come to the storytime I did at the indie bookstores near his home. He was older than most of the other kids—a very wise and erudite six years. His eyes were black and luminous, his curls […]

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The Crossover

The Crossover Kwame Alexander Houghton Mifflin Harcourt From the moment I began reading this poetry collection, I knew it was a different type of book because the rhythms, the cadence, were infused with energy and awareness. The Crossover is primarily free verse, with a few hiphop, rhythmic poems that change up the action. The narrator, […]

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Seussical the Musical!

Darling Daughter has discovered the stage. She is in her first musical this spring and is having a ball. Ninety-four middle schoolers (with help from some wonderful teachers and staff, of course) are valiantly putting on Seussical. I say valiantly because it is a big project. It’s really a mini-opera—very few lines are not sung. […]

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A Time to Dance

A Time to Dance Padma Venkatraman Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Putnam Disclaimer: I’m a fan of Padma Venkatraman’s books. Each one has charmed me. I know I can always expect a reading experience unlike any I’ve had before. Her new book does not disappoint. In A Time to Dance, teenaged Veda has already dedicated […]

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Of Knitting and Books and Tattoos

I met her while knitting. She worked at the children’s bookstore next to the yarn store I frequent. I was knitting with the usual group gathered around the table at the yarn store when she came in. “Cat!” my tablemates called out that day. (I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know if she spells it […]

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My Son’s First Book

Seventeen years ago today, I became a mother. My water broke in the middle of the night and I called my husband, who was working the night shift, to come and get me. It was time. I was ready. More than ready. I had a bag packed with slippers and the new bathrobe my mother […]

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Gifted: Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac

Anita Silvey writes, among other things, books that help us find good books. And not only does she help us find more books that we or our children or our students will enjoy, but she tells us the story behind those books. Oh, what fun it is to know that Charles Dickens had to publish […]

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Gifted: Up All Night

My mother had the knack of giving me a book every Christmas that kept me up all night … after I had opened it on Christmas Eve. I particularly remember the “oh-boy-it’s-dark-outside” year that I received The Lord of the Rings and accompanied the hobbits into Woody End where they first meet the Nazgul, the […]

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Gifted: So, You Want to Be a Chef?

So, You Want to Be a Chef? How to Get Started in the World of Culinary Arts Be What You Want series J.M. Bedell Beyond Words/Aladdin, October 2013 Introduction If your child or teen is often caught watching cooking shows, they’re not alone. In 2010, Melissa Kossler Dutton on ParentDish.com wrote, “Every month, 12 million […]

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Gifted: The Matchbox Diary

When a young girl visits her great-grandfather for the first time, her imagination swirls with everything she sees in his antique shop. He asks her to pick out her favorite item and he will tell her a story about it. She chooses a cigar box filled with match boxes. As it turns out, this is […]

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Gifted: Under the North Light

Under the North Light The Life and Times of Maud and Miska Petersham written by Lawrence Webster foreword by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead Woodstock Arts, 2012 info@woodstockarts.com ISBN 978-0-9679268-6-5 My husband, Steve, and I have worked together for the last 25 years. We have been married for 32 years, so it took […]

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Gifted: Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin afterword by Will Allen Readers to Eaters, 2013 Introduction My second passion in life after books and reading is sustainable agriculture and organic farming. There are a few good books for children on this topic, but I’m always delighted […]

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Books Plus: The Goods by McSweeney’s

The Goods by McSweeney’s: Games and Activities for Big Kids, Little Kids, and Medium-Size Kids edited by Mac Barnett and Brian McMullen featuring Adam Rex, Jon Scieszka, and more Big Picture Press, an imprint of Candlewick Press, 2013 For your holiday gift-giving consideration … An oversized book filled with every imaginable distraction, this should be […]

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Gifted: Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs for Thanksgiving edited and with reflections by Katherine Paterson illustrations by Pamela Dalton Handprint Books / Chronicle Books, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-4521-1339-5 The season when we focus on giving thanks will quickly be here. If you are looking for a gift to take to your hosts, to give to […]

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