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Red Reading Boots

Santa’s Favorite Story 

Ver­i­ly, as if on cue, I have field­ed the year’s first parental ques­tion about San­ta Claus. It is the whis­pered earnest­ness of the askers that keeps me from rolling my eyes. What role, if any, should San­ta have in a Chris­t­ian fam­i­ly….? they whis­per lean­ing away from the baby on their hip, lest that babe be tipped

Wish 

I did not grow up in the south, but my par­ents did, so I like to claim a lit­tle south­ern her­itage. When my kids were younger, I loved read­ing them books set in the south — will­ing into their souls the humid­i­ty, bar­be­cue, iced tea with lemon, and accents that have the rhythm of rock­ing chairs found on great big

The Tapper Twins Run For President 

My own flesh and blood accused me of steal­ing the oth­er day. When it was I, not she, who pro­cured the book, and I, not she, who was part way through it…and then she stole it from me! Hid it, real­ly, inten­tion­al­ly or un- beneath her bed. I prac­ti­cal­ly had to clean her room to find

Thomas the Tank Engine: The Complete Collection 

Once upon a time, we had a lit­tle boy who was com­plete­ly enthralled with all things hav­ing to do with trains. When he fell for Thomas the Tank Engine, he fell hard, and he was not yet two. We have an exten­sive col­lec­tion of Thomas and friends (thanks to the grand­par­ents) com­plete with a liv­ing room’s miles worth

Kingfisher Treasuries 

There was a time — although it seems like it’s becom­ing a tiny dot in the rearview mir­ror — in which one birth­day child or the oth­er received the birth­­­day-appro­pri­ate book in the King­fish­er Trea­sury series of Sto­ries for Five/Six/Seven/Eight Year Olds. Those beloved paper­backs reside on my office shelves now, but it was not so long ago that they were

Raymie Nightingale 

Dar­ling Daugh­ter and I host/participate in an occa­sion­al par­ent-child book­group for mid­­­dle-grade read­ers and their par­ents. We call it Books & Bagels and we meet at the bagel shop down the street from church and nosh on bagels while talk­ing about books. I think we can safe­ly say the bagel aspect of things increas­es par­tic­i­pa­tion — but all the kids

Calvin Can’t Fly 

When I was doing sto­ry­time week­ly, a book about a book­worm star­ling was in my reg­u­lar rota­tion. Yes, you read that right — a Book­worm Star­ling. That’s exact­ly what Calvin (the star­ling) is — a book­worm. And that is his shame — his cousins call him “nerdie birdie,” “geeky beaky,” and “book­worm.” Unusu­al (gen­tly deroga­to­ry) labels for a star­ling. Not that it deters Calvin — he mostly

Cook-A-Doodle-Do! 

I’ve got dessert on my mind — berry short­cake, to be pre­cise. I’ve already done the straw­ber­ry short­cake dur­ing straw­ber­ry sea­son. My rasp­ber­ry bush­es are pro­duc­ing at a rate that might call for short­cake in the near future, how­ev­er. And when­ev­er I make short­cake — or even think of it — I think of Cook-a-doo­­­dle-doo by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crum­mel (who

Bink & Gollie

Bink and Gollie 

Ear­ly this morn­ing I read Bink and Gol­lie books to my nieces. We were killing time while their par­ents picked up the rental car for their Great Amer­i­can Sum­mer Road­trip. To say that the lev­el of excite­ment was pal­pa­ble is an under­state­ment — it was a wave that near­ly knocked me down when they opened their door. They talked — both

How To Make An Apple Pie and See The World

How To Make An Apple Pie and See The World 

A cou­ple of years ago, I decid­ed I want­ed to learn how to make a real­ly good pie. I asked around — bak­ers, cater­ers, cook­ing store own­ers etc. and the book The Pie and Pas­try Bible by Rose Levy Beran­baum came up con­sis­tent­ly. One per­son men­tioned How to Make An Apple Pie and See The World  by Mar­jorie Price­man. I pur­chased both — one

The Sandwich Swap

The Sandwich Swap 

Nor­mal­ly, I spurn pic­ture books writ­ten by celebri­ties, be they actors or roy­al­ty or what have you. If it’s a per­son in the head­lines, I quite assume they could not pos­si­bly write a wor­thy pic­ture book. The only excep­tion on my shelves, I believe (and I real­ize there are oth­er excep­tions! Feel free to leave titles in the com­ments.) is The

One Day at the Farmers Market 

Sat­ur­day was gor­geous, and (Oh joy! Oh rap­ture!) the open­ing day of the Mill City Farm­ers Mar­ket, one of my favorite mar­kets here in the Twin Cities. I got up and out the door in such a hur­ry I for­got my mar­ket bas­ket, but no mat­ter — there were just the ear­li­est of crops avail­able: aspara­gus, spinach, rhubarb…. I could carry

The Odious Ogre

The Odious Ogre 

I’m a big fan of Phan­tom Toll­booth by Nor­ton Juster, illus­trat­ed by Jules Feif­fer. I can remem­ber read­ing it as a kid and think­ing it both hilar­i­ous and clever. And I loved the words! So many words! So when the Juster-Feif­fer team came out with The Odi­ous Ogre a few years back, I leapt at it. A pic­ture book! A long pic­ture book! My

Books as Therapy 

I con­fess to using books ther­a­peu­ti­cal­ly. When my kids were lit­tle and the day had gone wonky and none of us were at our best, a pile of pic­ture books was a sure-fire way to reset us all. It was part­ly the snug­gles, but most­ly the shared expe­ri­ence of read­ing the sto­ries we loved. As they’ve grown,

Beverly Cleary, 1971

Beverly Cleary 

For the last month I have been read­ing arti­cles, toasts, essays, and inter­views with one of my favorite authors of all time: Bev­er­ly Cleary. She turned 100 years old this week. Every­thing I read about her makes me misty-eyed — the birth­day plans in her home state of Ore­gon … her mem­o­ries of being in the low­est read­ing group,

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