“Hey! Unto you a child is born!”
I think of this line each and every Christmas Eve when the Christmas story according to Luke’s Gospel is read. If I’m the one doing the reading, and you were to pay close attention, you’d probably notice that I have to take a nano-second pause so as to drop the “Hey!” and read it “straight.”
The line is from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.… more
In my storytime bag this past month I’ve been carrying The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I don’t always use it, but I like having it with me — I know it will always work. When I pull this book out of the bag, there are smiles, clapping sometimes, and always a chorus of “I have that book!”
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is fifty years old this year.… more
I’ve been on the storytime circuit this last month as I have a new picture book of my very own. Readers of this column know how much I adore storytime, so wherever I’ve gone to read my book, I’ve asked if I can do a whole storytime, the better to read other picture books, as well.… more
Many momentous things have gone down in our house this summer. #1 Son graduated from college in May, is gainfully employed (locally!) as a software engineer, and has recently moved to an apartment. Darling Daughter started her senior year of high school last week and is busy working on college applications. It makes me a little light headed to think of it.… more
It had been one of those news days…. Actually, there had been a string of such news days — hate-filled headlines, bombastic egos, dangerous threats. The world seemed extra prickly and dangerous. It’s at these times that I especially like reading with kids. Fortunately, I had a reading gig all lined up at an elementary school — it was the week leading up to Read Across America.… more
Last week I was a teacher-presenter at a young authors and artists conference for a couple of days. Tremendous fun — the kids who come to these things want to be there and want to learn. They’re readers, writers, artists! They are an engaged, engaging, and exuberant lot, which I enjoy immensely.
I taught six sessions on bringing conflict to your stories — “Making It Even Worse” was the title of my session.… more
Our Books & Bagels book group met a couple of weeks ago to discuss The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon. When I pick the books for this parent-child bookclub, I’ve usually read them in advance and know they will be good for discussion. This one I picked before I’d read it. I’d read reviews and whatnot, of course, but I think it was actually the cover that made me sure this would be a great book for our group.… more
Poor Oona — she’s always the last duck to the pond…. But then her frog friend Roy reminds her: you’re good with gizmos… And so Oona the duck goes to work in the barn on her gizmos, pouring her creative and determined self into getting to the pond before the faster ducks. Along the way, she learns there is more to life than just being fast and getting somewhere first.… more
I’m writing this on the birthday of my dear friend, Molly. She is one of my bestest friends from college days. It’s a big birthday — well worth celebrating, which she’ll do next week with a rollerskating party complete with musical hits from the 1980’s. This is very Molly — the kids immediately said, “Only Molly!”
Molly is, quite possibly, the coolest of our friends.… more
When our kids were small and we were building our Christmas book collection, the night on which we brought out the holiday books that had been in storage since the previous year was always a very special night.
With #1 Son, this was but a handful of books at first; but once we added Darling Daughter to the family, and St.… more
Earlier this week I pulled out our small stash of Thanksgiving picture books. The kids are older now, but they seem to like it when the old favorites come out. I got lost, as I always do, in The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau, illustrated by Gail de Marcken. I’ve written about that book for Red Reading Boots — you can find that here.… more
Last week, I was working on my WIP, a sprawling mess of a novel. I’d hit a rough patch and I set myself the assignment to just type away for ten minutes — ten minutes of nonstop typing just to Get Words Down — I wouldn’t let my fingers stop. I simply needed some words to work with, I told myself.
I do not usually resort to this, but it was not a particularly good writing day.… more
I am extraordinarily lucky in that I have a group of wee ones who join me for storytime most weeks. They’re little — age three and under, with several babies in the mix — so we don’t tell long stories or read great doorstopper books. But with picture books, some of the best ones are pretty spare in terms of words.… more
I have a mixed history with The Penderwicks books by Jeanne Birdsall. The first book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale Of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy came out in 2005 when #1 Son was eight and Darling Daughter was three. It won the National Book Award that year and there was much flurry over it.… more
I’ve been anxiously awaiting the book birth of The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes. I heard the text a year ago and forgot to breathe while the author read it out loud. And then I heard who the illustrator was. Let’s just say, what a pairing!
When I opened my much anticipated copy — after oohing and aaahing over the cover — and read the first page, I heard cello.… more