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Red Reading Boots

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How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen 

by Melanie Heuis­er Hill I have writ­ten before about the need for longer pic­ture books in addi­tion to the short­er ones mak­ing up the cur­rent trend in pic­ture book pub­lish­ing. I want to stay on the record as say­ing there’s plen­ty of rea­son to keep pub­lish­ing pic­ture books that are longer than 300 – 500 words. I’m an advo­cate for 3000 – 5000 words — a sto­ry with details!… more

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The Betsy Books

by Melanie Heuis­er Hill My daugh­ter and I are fin­ish­ing what we call “The Bet­sy Books” — the won­der­ful series of books by Maud Hart Lovelace that fol­lows Bet­sy Ray and her friends as they grow up in Deep Val­ley, Min­neso­ta. When I first read the Bet­sy Series, I start­ed with Bet­sy and the Great World and Betsy’s Wed­ding and did not dis­cov­er the ear­li­er books until we moved to Min­neso­ta, where they were all gath­ered togeth­er on a shelf in the library.… more

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How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird

by Melanie Heuis­er Hill Our house­hold has been patient­ly (and not so patient­ly) stuck in a long sea­son of wait­ing for deci­sions around some impor­tant and excit­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. Every­one has some­thing up in the air. Appli­ca­tions, inter­views, tests, hopes, and dreams are all out there, and now we watch for the mail, check mes­sages com­pul­sive­ly, and try to make friends with the sus­pense….… more

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Princess of the Midnight Ball

by Melanie Heuis­er Hill My twelve-year-old daugh­ter is inhal­ing books these days — a stack at a time out of the library, every book­shelf in the house pil­laged, major insid­er trad­ing at school, etc. There’s no way I can keep up, but when I move a book from here to there I often flip through or ask her opin­ion.… more

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If You Plant a Seed

by Melanie Heuser Hill My deal­er (in books, my drug of choice) and I have a spe­cial rela­tion­ship. I send her emails of books I’d like to have as I have a need, and she gets them for me. I know that doesn’t sounds all that spe­cial, but because she keeps a run­ning tab for me and because I’m usu­al­ly not in a hur­ry, I some­times for­get what I’ve ordered by the time we meet on the street cor­ner for the hand-off.… more

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In God’s Hands

by Melanie Heuis­er Hill This week, I am read­ing (for the umpteenth time) what I think of as The Very Most Favorite Book of the chil­dren in my church. They call it That Book About Bread. The book is In God’s Hands by Lawrence Kush­n­er and Gary Schmidt and it res­onates deeply with these kids. I know how it will go.… more

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Library Lion

by Melanie Heuis­er Hill I recent­ly read about a series of get-to-know-you games to play with kids. One sug­gest­ed mak­ing a list of hard and fast rules that every­one could agree to — a series of sen­si­ble pro­hi­bi­tions, per­haps — and then tak­ing turns think­ing of the excep­tions to those rules. RULE:  No run­ning in the hall­ways. EXCEPTION: Run if the build­ing is on fire.… more

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Mother-Daughter Book Club

by Melanie Heuis­er Hill In a meta-move (we’re not usu­al­ly so cool), our moth­­er-daugh­­ter book club has start­ed the Moth­­er-Daugh­­ter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Fred­er­ick.  We read the first book last month and the sec­ond is sched­uled for our next meet­ing. I’m not sure we’ll be able to stop there. It was good we held them until the girls were the age of the girls in Frederick’s first books — the tim­ing is per­fect now.… more

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Reading With Older Kids

by Melanie Heuis­er Hill Our first-born turned eigh­teen this week. This prompt­ed many trips down mem­o­ry lane about his child­hood, as he is now an “adult.” I was rather tick­led to real­ize that so many of our fam­i­ly mem­o­ries have to do with books — all the cool books we’ve read, the cool places we read them in, and the times we’ve read when the oth­er par­ent­ing pro­to­cols didn’t quite seem to fit.… more