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1. Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Going to School?

Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Going to School. Bill Martin Jr., and Michael Sampson. Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant. 2013. 13 pages? [Source: Library]

First sentence: Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, it's time to go to school. What fun, Mother, my teacher is so cool!

Premise/plot: The Kitty-Cat in this one is a BOY, just so you know. Anyway, this book focuses in on ALL the activities at school throughout the day. And this Kitty-Cat is happy and content all day long. No fuss or frustration.

My thoughts: Unlike the previous two books, this one isn't so much a struggle or conflict as it is I'M REALLY EXCITED TO BE OLD ENOUGH TO GO TO SCHOOL AND PLAY AND LEARN ALL DAY. The focus really is on the school setting and all the activities one does all throughout the day. The star of this one is very easy-going and agreeable. Always content to just be a part of it all. Quite a change from the previous books in some ways. Though not all ways :) I like all three books actually.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat Are You Waking Up

Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Waking Up. Bill Martin Jr., and Michael Sampson. Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant. 2008. 24 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, are you waking up? Not yet, Mother, I'm a sleepy buttercup.

Premise/plot: Does this kitty cat have a hard time getting up out of bed and getting ready for school? Oh, yes! One of the reasons why this book may just be so easy to relate to for both children and adults.

My thoughts: Loved it. I think I liked it much more than Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Going To Sleep. I enjoyed the rhymes very much. My favorite:

Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, are you out of bed?
Not yet, Mother, I'm standing on my head.

And the illustrations are just so very, very sweet and precious.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed (2015)

Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed. Leslea Newman. Illustrated by Amy June Bates. 2015. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Love cats? Love music? Love sweet stories of animal rescue? If you do, then how could you possibly resist picking up a copy of Leslea Newman's Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed. Just spend a few seconds looking at the oh-so-precious cover. Don't you need to read the book now?!

Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed is a picture book based on a true story. The story is of Moshe Cotel and his cat, Ketzel, whom he found on the street one day. The two lived well together, quite a good pair, all things considered. One day when Moshe's inspiration was lacking, Ketzel, stepped in and composed music instead. Moshe was struggling with a contest entry: the challenge to write a piece less than a minute in length. A good piece of music. Moshe had no difficulty composing longer pieces, but, each attempt always ended up being too long. But Ketzel's stroll down the piano on her four paws was something SPECIAL to Moshe's ears. And the judges thought so too, though, her piece didn't win the contest, it was worthy of honor and attention. And it did go on to be performed for the public and later recorded on CD. And Ketzel did receive a royalty check :)

I really enjoyed this one. And I loved, loved, loved the illustrations by Amy June Bates.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. 4 Great New Kids Books for Halloween: Witches, Cats, and … Peanut Butter

These halloween books, or, perhaps, more aptly labeled as books perfect for Halloween, do an excellent job of evoking the Halloween spirit ... Read the rest of this post

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5. The Story of Diva and Flea, by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi | Giveaway

Enter to win a BONJOUR, AMI prize pack that includes The Story of Diva and Flea, written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi (Disney Publishing, 2015). Giveaway begins September 11, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 10, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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6. Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Going To Sleep?

Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Going To Sleep? Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson. Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant. 2011. Two Lions. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

"Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, the day is almost done."
"Not yet, Mother, I still can see the sun."

And so the book begins. The oh-so-familiar sometimes-tense "struggle" to put a child--in this case a kitten--to bed. The mom (a cat, of course) gently reminds the kitty cat that it is almost bedtime, that it is time to take a bath, etc. The Kitty Cat isn't eager by any stretch of the imagination, but isn't defiant either. There are hundreds if not thousands of bedtime books out there--picture books about the nightly routine of getting ready for bed, of getting sleepy, etc. This one happens to star two cats. So if you like cats, or, if you love, love, love cats and happen to need a bedtime book, this one satisfies.

I like the rhymes for the most part. And I like the repetitiveness of it.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. An interview with Ed Vere

Max at Night jacket250pxEd Vere has been an illustrator to watch from the start.

  • He won his first award with his very first book.
  • He’s been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Award and the Roald Dahl Funny Prize.
  • The award for largest single print run for a picture book in the UK goes to his wonderful Mr Big (one of the first books to be reviewed on Playing by the book!)

  • Ed’s most recently created character is one sure to win hearts: Max is a fearless, adventurous kitten, a kitten who will melt your hearts. We first met Max last year and now he’s back, ready to see what the night holds for him as he tries very hard to fall asleep.

    Once again packed with charm and laugh-out-loud moments, Max at Night reveals what the curious kitten gets up to when his bedtime routine doesn’t go quite to plan. To celebrate the book’s publication I’m delighted to bring you an interview with Ed Vere. I should have asked him about when his bedtime routine fails, but instead we ending up talking about Belloc and tractors, travelling and epic quests…

    Playing by the book: What’s the first book you were aware of? A book you loved? A book you hated? A book that baffled you?

    Ed Vere: I think probably Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary tales. I remember my father’s tone of voice as he read them aloud to me and my brother. He read them with great relish and theatricality. Belloc, has a particular teasing quality to his writing, which my father was very good at capturing. He also liked making use of the pregnant pause… ramping up the anticipation. I still love reading these tales, they make me laugh, and they remind me of a particular side of my father.

    For anyone who doesn’t know it, I would suggest searching out ‘Jim – Who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion.’

    An illustration of the dangerous lion in Belloc's Cautionary Tales

    An illustration of the dangerous lion in Belloc’s Cautionary Tales

    Playing by the book: If Ed the kid could see Ed the grown up, what would he make of where he is at now and what he is doing?

    Ed Vere: I wanted to be an artist from an early age, either that or a farmer… so I think the younger me (I’m thinking of me at about 7 years old) would be very happy that I make my living by drawing pictures and telling stories. The young me would also be highly impressed by all the pens and paints I’ve accumulated over the years. He might also think that I ought to be living on a farm, tending the cows, lifting hay bales and driving tractors… but I’d have to tell him that there’s only so much time in the day.

    Playing by the book: If Ed the grown up could go back to Ed the kid and give him some advice, or a book to read, what would Ed the Grown up say/give to Ed the kid?

    Ed Vere: I’d say draw and paint as much as you can… take it seriously sometimes, because there’s no reason why you can’t do serious things at a young age. I’d say learn to play an instrument, preferably the piano… and I’d also say, have fun with it all!

    I’d give the young lad the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I still haven’t read it but I think young me would have really enjoyed it.


    Playing by the book: If someone were to create an illustrated biography of your life, who would you like to illustrate it (or different periods in your life) and why?

    Ed Vere: Well, if I can shoot for the moon I’d say Art Spiegelman. Maus is a work of complete genius, and told so empathetically. If he told the story of my life, not that it’s interesting or significant enough, I’m sure I’d learn a lot I don’t know about myself.

    It would also be pretty good if Javier Mariscal could do a chapter for the years that I lived in Barcelona.

    Playing by the book: In what ways is Max like you?

    Ed Vere: Hmmm, that’s a tricky one. My friends tell me that all my characters have something of me in them. I guess Max must have too. I suppose the way he’s most like me is that we both like to find things out… we’re curious about life, and what might be around the next corner. I’m less bothered about chasing mice though.

    Max at Night - looking for the moon900px

    Playing by the book: I hear you’re working on Max No. 3, but what about other book projects? Do you like to have several things on the go at once, or do you tend to focus on a single book at a time?

    Ed Vere: That’s right, in fact I’ve just finished Max number 3… I loved making it… a lot of fun, and a story that’s a little more complex… with a bit of jeopardy thrown in! It’ll be interesting to see how it goes down.

    I have many ideas all bubbling away at the same time, too many. It takes a long time and a lot of thinking / procrastinating to find the right idea to go forward with. But I only ever work on one book at a time. I need to keep the focus and continuity going with one thing, so I can maintain the right energy through the whole project. I’m not a great multi-tasker.

    Playing by the book: So you’re here being interviewed on Playing by the book… what’s the last thing you did / place you visited / something you made having been inspired by a book you’ve read?

    Ed Vere: What a great question, and not an easy one to answer… There are so many books that have influence, indirectly, over your life… Thinking of one that had such a powerfully direct & immediate effect is hard. Possibly the answer would be more a way of thinking than a direct action, an approach to the way I live my life. The book is ‘The Songlines’ by Bruce Chatwin. It talks about our instinct for nomadism, which comes from pre-agrarian revolution times when we were wandering the plains hunting and gathering. He starts the book travelling to Australia to research the Aboriginal concept of Songlines… The routes walked by the ancestors who sang the world into creation and that are still traversed by Aborigines today, handed down generation after generation. Travelling was an essential part of life, for many reasons… to discover the world, to trade, to find food sources, to widen the gene pool. The second half of the book is a collection of writings by himself and others talking about Nomadism in different cultures and through the ages. It rang true in many ways for me, and I suppose it’s effect is an approach to life which is a little freer and less tied down. If that makes any sense?


    Many thanks to Ed for today’s interview. Here’s the US book trailer for the first Max story:

    You can catch up with Ed here:
    Ed’s website
    Ed on Twitter
    Ed on Facebook

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    8. Lisa Brown – Illustrator Interview

    I invited Lisa onto Miss Marple’s Musings because I fell in love with her art for her latest collaboration—MUMMY CAT, written by Marcus Ewert! As a feline-fanatic, I this memorable story within a story set in Ancient Egypt is one … Continue reading

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    9. Momo's Kitten

    Momo's Kitten. Mitsu and Taro Yashima. 1961. Viking. 33 pages. [Source: Bought]

    First sentence: Momo's family moved out West from New York City to Los Angeles, but Momo did not see any ranches or cowboys around her. Instead of these, on the way home from the nearby market one afternoon she found a miserable kitten under a geranium bush by the sidewalk. "If your father says it's all right, you may keep the kitty," Mother said. Momo made herself ready to cry in case Father should say it was not all right.

    Premise/plot: Momo, the heroine, finds a stray kitten and gets to keep it. To her surprise, but probably not to her parents' surprise, her cat, Nyan-Nyan grows up to have kittens of her own. She's not allowed to keep the kittens, but consoles herself, in a way, by making birth certificates for each kitten as they are given away. The illustration of the certificate I found quite charming. I would say this is a good, old-fashioned first-pet story.

    My thoughts: I love, love, LOVE Umbrella by Taro Yashima. I do. It's one of my favorite, favorite books. Momo's Kitten is another story starring Momo. So if you love Umbrella, you may just want to seek this out-of-print book out. Did I love it as much as Umbrella? Probably not. But I am glad I read it. I definitely enjoyed the text. Some illustrations I loved. Other illustrations not so much. I definitely found the illustrations for Umbrella to be more appealing.

    Text: 4 out of 5
    Illustrations: 3 out of 5
    Total: 7 out of 10

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    10. Neuroscience, Botticelli, and marizpan: Darra Goldstein on sugar and sweets

    When trying to gauge someone's personality, a few well-phrased questions are sometimes all it takes to light the fire of passions within someone. We had the pleasure of speaking with Darra Goldstein, Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, and asked her a number of questions that reveal what "bakes her cake."

    The post Neuroscience, Botticelli, and marizpan: Darra Goldstein on sugar and sweets appeared first on OUPblog.

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    11. I See Kitty, by Yasmine Surovec | Book Review

    I SEE KITTY is an adorable board book, perfect for preschoolers and younger.

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    12. Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat

    Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat. (Henry and Mudge #8) Cynthia Rylant. Sucie Stevenson. 1990. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages. [Source: Bought]

    One night Henry and Henry's father and Henry's big dog Mudge were watching TV.

    I enjoyed reading Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat. I don't remember ever having read any titles in the Henry and Mudge series. So this was my first. My first impressions of the series are good, I think.

    Henry's family takes in a stray cat; this stray cat is unique looking: it looks like mashed prunes. The family is happy to take the cat in--for a few days, a few weeks. But because having Mudge is like having five dogs--that they can't take the cat into their home permanently.

    The first chapter is about taking the stray cat into their home. The second chapter is about how happy the cat is in her new home, and, how much Mudge loves being mothered by the cat. Essentially the family does come to like the cat. The third chapter is "bittersweet" I suppose. The cat's original owner is found, and the two are reunited. But Henry's family misses the cat.
    In one week the shabby cat had become Mudge's mother. It washed Mudge all the time. It washed Mudge's ears. It washed Mudge's eyes. It even washed Mudge's dirty feet.
    Have you read the Henry and Mudge series? Do you have a favorite title?

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    13. Space Cat Portraits

    Today I drew people as Space Cats, as part of the Galactic Fete at Creation Space London.
    I especially enjoyed drawing families - I asked them to do a space pose. 

    I managed to forget my drawing pen, so I had to hack a writing pen by adding a pipette I happened to have in my brush roll as a reservoir for drawing ink. I also cut a nib from a beer can and used some correction fluid and a toothbrush for stars.

    Well, that was fun.

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    14. Twins

    I'm having a lot of fun doing portrait commissions.
    Here is a matching set of twin girls.

    Get a treat for someone while I still have the time to draw these! Once I'm getting into the next big picture book project I'll be too busy...

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    You can now commission me for portraits, as long as you're happy to be an animal in it.

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    16. How To Catch A Mouse (2015)

    How To Catch a Mouse. Philippa Leathers. 2015. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    First sentence: This is Clemmie. Clemmie is a brave, fearsome mouse catcher. She is excellent at stalking and chasing. She is patient and alert. She knows everything about how to catch a mouse. In fact, Clemmie is such a fearsome mouse catcher that she has never even seen a mouse. All the mice are afraid of me, thinks Clemmie. 

    Premise/plot: Clemmie is confident that she knows everything about how to catch a mouse. But does she know as much as she thinks she does? Could a mouse be right in plain sight and Clemmie not know about it? Perhaps! Hint: The illustrations are EVERYTHING to the story.

    My thoughts: I loved the story. I did. I thought it was wonderful. I loved how the illustrations tell so much of the story. The illustrations communicate a lot to the reader. In addition, the illustrations are just so precious and adorable. I loved Clemmie as a character as well. And I loved the "new trick" that she learned towards the end of the book.

    Definitely recommended to cat lovers!

    Text: 4 out of 5
    Illustrations 5 out of 5
    Total: 9 out of 10

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    17. Taiwan Trip Diary: Days 11 and 12

    Dharma words and stamps from our monastery stay.

    Here we are at the end of our trip. I've been dragging these posts out in the hope I'd never reach this point. But, yes, all good things must come to an end (I've never really known why) and we were sure to cram as much fun into the last two days as possible. Starting with breakfast at The One and these coffee cups. I loved them so much I had to buy a set for home:

    I don't think my husband is as impressed with them as I am, but I thought they were cute. And they're definitely a fine example of "splash ink" technique.

    After leaving The One, we headed back up toward Taipei and a village famed for its ceramic work. We were running a bit behind schedule so we decided to forgo a sit-down lunch in favor of exploring what the street vendors had to offer. They were especially plentiful thanks to the ongoing national holiday. My choices included a steamed spinach-green onion-and-cheese bun, a fried doughnut, and a huge cup of iced lemon tea that lasted me most of the day.

    Loved this tunnel kiln! I need one at home.

    Bought chopsticks for home, too. 
    Finally learned how to use them, LOL!

    The afternoon took us further into Taipei:

    Taiwan's "White House."

    Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial
    (unfortunately covered with

    . . . and the National History Museum. I thought this little pagoda was perfect painting material:

    Before studying any artwork we needed afternoon tea in the museum cafe:

    The view from the cafe windows:

    Someone actually gets to live in this building.

    These beads date from 403-221 BC.
    Still so modern. I'd buy them!

    After the museum we found ourselves in a busy part of downtown where I had the opportunity to investigate some of the backstreet shops. Thanks to having bought the pig teacups I needed a larger carry-on. I found just what I wanted in a small suitcase store: bright pink canvas and made in Taiwan. A great souvenir for future travels.

    Which store first??

    Dinner that night was once again "family style" when we met up with some of Ming Franz's cousins, former high school classmates, and teachers in a downtown restaurant. It was a genuine reunion for them all, and wonderful for us to be part of such a special evening.

    Then we were back to The Grand Hotel for our final night. By now we had traveled in a huge circle, seeing three coastlines and parts of the interior too. We also arrived back in time for  the start of "frog season." Right outside our windows: croak, croak, croak all night. As I noted in my journal: "These frogs are VERY disagreeable!"

    A grand entrance, indeed.

    Accompanied by the frog serenade, our packing lasted well into the early morning hours. We had become so spoiled in our big bus, a vehicle designed to sit 30-40 passengers when there were only 10 of us, that our daily habit was to load up the empty seats with our purchases from each stop and then forget about them. Now was the night of reckoning and everything had to find its place or get left behind. First to be discarded were all the beautiful shopping bags--so lovely but way too bulky. 

    The next morning, packed and ready for our night-time flight, we still had a full day to spend in Taipei. First stop was a visit with Welsh paper artist, Tim Budden, now a Taiwan resident, who led us to his studio through this interesting neighborhood:

    Hot spring water flows right through town.

    Mr. Budden explaining the
    intricacies of paper art.

    Following our studio tour, we were off to Taipei 101, regarded to be the world's highest completed building. We were booked for lunch on the ground floor at an Anthony Bourdain-recommended restaurant specializing in xiao long bao, steamed soup dumplings. Yum.

    Before lunch we had 30 minutes to ride up to the 89th-floor. 

    Next and final stop: The Eslite Book Store. The best bookstore in the whole world. Several stories high, filled with treasures I'll never see here in the USA, I could have moved in permanently. I bought more brush pens (black, forest green, gray, and rust red), a book on painting cats in the Chinese style, and a book on French shabby chic. In Chinese. Don't judge.

    And then we were off to the airport. Our superb and talented tour guide gifted us all with special little items to remember our trip. For me it was a wooden key-ring carved into the shape of horse complete with saddle, bridle, and tons of intricate detail. She told me she had chosen a horse so that I "may keep traveling, and go far." She also gave me a postcard of a Taiwanese kitten, "Because you love cats!" 

    On the way to the airport . . .

    After dinner on the plane I think I slept more soundly than I did at the monastery. I don't remember much about the flight home except for the movie I watched before falling asleep: The Crossing--a recent film set in Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War. It was excellent, and a real tear-jerker, but then it suddenly ended with the words 'To be continued." Apparently Part II comes out this summer, but I wanted to keep watching!

    Along with two of my travel companions, I had decided earlier to stopover in San Francisco before going home to Albuquerque, and I'm glad I did, but it sure seemed strange (and lonely) to be on our own without the group or my roommate.

    A room of my own.
    New pink Taiwan travel bag in the back there.

    My version of my cat postcard:
    "This kitty is sad to leave Taiwan."

    And then we flew into Albuquerque, and . . .  that's all, folks, 12 unforgettable days of Taiwan. I hope you've enjoyed reading my trip diary; I certainly enjoyed sharing it with you. May you one day travel far and wide, too!

    (Next post: A review of my travel sketch supplies, what worked, what didn't. Stay tuned.)

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    18. ELCAF: Catifying The Public!

    I did portraits of people coming to ELCAF today.
    Here are some cool cats who turned up:

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    19. Space Dog by Mini Grey: Out of this world playfulness!

    spacedogcoverOut in the depths of the Spooniverse Space Dog is getting read to return home following a long mission sorting out planetary problems in the Dairy Quadrant. Just as he starts to unwind a distress call comes through on his Laser Display Screen. Without a moment’s hesitation our super hero, Space Dog, jumps to and rescues the occupant of a flying saucer drowning in an thick ocean of cream on a nearby planet. But what’s this?

    It turns out he’s saved his sworn enemy: Astrocat.


    Will they be able to put aside their differences as another cry for help comes in over the space ship tannoy? Will teamwork triumph as they face terror together?

    Space Dog by Mini Grey is an anarchic, adrenalin-packed adventure of The Highest Order. Utterly and joyously playful, wildly and lavishly imaginative, this dynamic and delightful journey exploring space and friendship is sublime.

    Grey’s witty language, from the hilarious exclamations made by Space Dog (“Thundering milkswamps!”, “Shivering Stilton!”) to the deliciously outlandish names of rare alien life forms (the Cruets of West Cutlery, the Fruitons of Crumble Major) has had us all giggling time and again, even on the 15th reading of Space Dog. Her pacing is timed to perfection, with dramatic stretches interspersed with moments of great relief and humour, drawing readers, listeners, grown-ups, children ever more closely in to Grey’s fantastic, phenomenal universe Spooniverse.


    Grey’s illustrations are equally packed with panache. From the detailing given to brand labels and packaging (whether on space food or game boxes) to her powerful use of suggestion (look out for what is almost missing off the page on the spread immediately before Space Dog and Astrocat land on Cheesoid 12, or the shadow redolent with threat as they turn to leave the Cheesy planet), Grey’s illustrations richly illuminate the world she has built to share with us, giving enormous pleasure every time they are returned to.


    Although there are echoes of super hero comic strips and silent movies with their intertitles, dramatic soundtracks and expressive emotions theatrically mimed, Mini Grey’s visual and verbal style is truly unique. Spirited and inventive, Space Dog is an outstanding book and fortunately you can find it right here right now in our very own universe.


    Every single page turn of Space Dog was met with “Mummy, can we do that??!!”, whether it was making a planet out of cereal packets, coming up with a recipe for supper based on the Spaghetti Entity in the Pastaroid Belt, designing our own version of Dogopoly, rustling up Astrocat’s cake, making spewing tomato ketchup volcanoes, or playing with fondue. In the end we settled for making spaceships for the characters in the book, and flying them over our patio.


    Using this fantastic tutorial from one of my favourite library blogs as a starting point, we created spaceships using paperplates, plastic cups and stickers. Where Pop Goes the Page used toilet cardboard rolls, we used yoghurt pots instead, and aliens were replaced by Space Dog and other astonauts cut out from print-offs of these drawing pages created by Mini Grey.


    We dressed up as astronauts ourselves, making space suits from disposable painting overalls, decorated with electrical tape and completed with control panels from cardboard.


    Once appropriately attired we were ready to launch our space ships. Unlike Pop Goes the Page we used nylon bead thread rather than wire to make a zip line, partly because this is what we had to hand, but also because it’s extremely smooth and there are no issues with kinking. One end was tied to the bathroom window, the other to the end of the washing line in the garden.


    Soon spaceships were zooming all over our patio…

    Later we turned our hand to making hats for a fruit and vegetable parade, inspired by the hat competition which Space Dog has to judge:



    We used origami hat tutorials to come up with these millinery masterpieces, including this army cap and samurai helmet with plenty more hat ideas here.

    Whilst making our spaceships and competition-winning hats we listened to:

  • The bilingual song Los Planetas by Nathalia
  • Cheese Please by Chris Stapleton – essential listening for any cheese lover :-)
  • Sputniks and Mutniks by Ray Anderson & The Home Folks. I discovered this thanks to this interesting NPR article, Sputniks in Space.

    Other activities you could try inspired by Space Dog include:

  • Making space ships big enough for kids (and their grownups?) to fit in. A large cardboard box, a roll of tin foil and some plastic lids or moulded plastic from biscuit boxes is all you need to get you started. (Here’s one we made earlier).
  • Playing with your food. Mini is just so inventive when it comes to playing with food, but if you want even more ideas, you could take a look at Carl Warner’s A World of Food or The Art of Clean Up by Ursus Wehrli. Both of these books are massive hits with my kids.
  • Reading the extraordinary graphic novel Laika by Nick Abadzis. This is more for us grown ups than the kids (though my 10 year old has read it) but I can’t resist recommending it whilst I’ve got a chance.
  • Would you like to go into space if you had the chance?

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of Space Dog by the book’s publisher.

    2 Comments on Space Dog by Mini Grey: Out of this world playfulness!, last added: 5/7/2015
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    20. #693 – When I Grow Up I Want to be . . . a Veterinarian by WIGU Publishing

    When I Grow Up I Want To Be…a Veterinarian!: Sofia’s Dream Comes True!

    Series: When I Grow Up
    Written and illustrated by WIGU Publishing
    WIGU Publishing        12/08/2014
    56 pages            Age 7—12
    “Sofia wants to care for all the animals in the world. But Mom does not think Sofia is ready for the responsibility of even one pet. Ready or not, when a hungry and sick-looking cat appears at the family’s back doorstep, Sofia takes action. When Sofia is found feeding the cat, Mom gives in and agrees that a trip to the vet will tell them if the cat is healthy and not someone’s lost pet. As the veterinarian introduces Sofia and readers to the important and wide-ranging work of animal doctors, Sofia learns how she might help all kinds of animals, including a little stray cat!” [back cover]

    Like every kid, at some time in his or her life, Sofia desperately wants a pet. Mom sternly responds, “No,” after every plea. I suspect many kids will relate to this situation. Dad tells Sofia gets her love of animals from Mom, which made mom’s stern and resolute rejections surprising to me,


    “. . . the answer was always ‘No. And I mean it, Sofia!’ . . . and she meant it.”

    Mom’s reluctance must be due to something she went through as she has some definite opinions about caring for pets. While looking outside at the soaking wet cat, mom says:


    “People should be more responsible about animals.”
    “There are too many unwanted animals running around.”

    Veterinarian does not delve into the reasons behind the above statements; instead letting Sofia remark that she cannot believe any pet could be unwanted. I agree with Mom and Sofia. Bringing a pet into the family is a big decision, and includes much more than housing and feeding. But Veterinarian is about the career, not the social issues. Continuing with the story, mom finally tells Sofia her reasons for saying no: she does not think the family is ready for a pet. But then it rained.

    “It rained cats and dogs.”


    That night it really did rain cats . . . one little, hungry, “sorry-looking,” water-soaked cat. To Sofia’s amazement, her mother was also upset and concerned about the cat. With dad taking the lead, mom agrees to take the cat—now called Samantha—to Dr. Helen, a veterinarian.

    Dr. Helen looks for a microchip, listens to Samantha’s heart, weighs her, and then tells Sofia, there are an estimated 10 million different kinds of animal species on Earth . . . that we know of. Much of our planet is unexplored—mostly underwater—and there are animals we have not seen, and some we never will. I did not know this, which is why I love the WIGU series—I learn something with each edition.


    Dr. Helen gives a short history of cats and dogs. Cats first became household “pets” 3,000 years ago in Egypt, where they were worship (cats kept rodents out of the grain and hunted dangerous snakes, including cobras). Dogs, as pets, began roughly 33,000 years ago. Dogs were valued for their companionship and keen senses—hearing, sight, smell—that helped protect humans. Dr. Helen told Sofia cats are the most popular pet (2:1 dogs), yet veterinarians treat more dogs than they do cats. No explanations are given.


    As with the other When I Grow Up editions, Veterinarian is loaded with useful information kids will enjoy reading, can use as a reference, or when exploring possible careers. Teachers can use this series as adjunct texts. In Veterinarian, Dr. Helen describes many areas of specialization and the road to becoming a veterinarian. The illustrations are a combination of actual photographs and digital images. On the cover, I adore Samantha’s contented look on her face as Sofia hugs her.

    contented cat samantha

    In the end, Sofia decides she wants to become a veterinarian. The family decides to keep Samantha, even with the funny, unexpected twist. Veterinarian’s tone is positive and it highlights the best about being a vet. This is my favorite edition thus far. Wigu Publishing is planning to explore more careers for the When I Grow Up series and is working on Spanish versions. Every school should have this series, keeping room for new editions. The When I Grow Up series might go on forever.


    WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE A . . . VETERINARIAN. Text copyright © 2014 by Wigu Publishing. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Wigu Publishing. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Wigu Publishing, Sun Valley, ID.

    lg span vet

    Purchase WIGU I Want to be a . . . Veterinarian at AmazonBook DepositoryWIGU Publishing.

    Learn more about WIGU I Want to be a . . . Veterinarian HERE.
    Meet the author/illustrator, Wigu Publishing, at their website:  http://bit.ly/WIGUTeam
    Find more picture books at the Wigu Publishing website:  http://whenigrowupbooks.com/

    .Spanish Edition

    When I Grow Up . . . Books


    span army



    in the U. S. Army [review here]




    a Teacher [review here]




    a Firefighter  [review here]




    in the U. S. Navy  [review here]




    a Nurse  [reviewed soon]


    Review Section: word count = 543

    Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved


    Filed under: 5stars, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: adopting pets, animals, care of animals, cats, dogs, relationships, When I Grow Up I Want to be . . . a Veterinarian, WIGU, Wigu Publishing, wildlife vets

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    21. Feline Friday: "The Difference Between Dog's And Cats"

    Happy Feline Friday! Feline Friday is fun meme my friend Sandee at Comedy Plus posts every Friday. The meme was created by Sandee's buddy Steve, at Burnt Food Dude because he wanted his friends and readers to know he likes cats. I'm not sure why everyone thought Steve disliked cats, but it's been my experience that you have to own a cat to understand them. I've always been a dog lover, and never expected to own a cat, not because I disliked them, I just preferred dogs, and had never raised a cat. If you have never owned a cat this video will give you an idea about how cats and dogs love and learn to trust in their own way, plus it's fun to watch.

    Thank you for visiting, and feel free to leave a comment, or check your "Reaction" in one of the boxes below this post.  To participate in this meme, just read Sandee's post at Comedy Plus  for more information and fun.

    Oh, and if you have time, let me know "What Song Is In Your Head Today," the song in my head is posted on the sidebar.

    Have a terrific day! Follow your bliss- :)

    Special thanks to YouTube  and Arnabkacakstudio for the "Cat Versus Dog" video.

    Ann Clemmons

    0 Comments on Feline Friday: "The Difference Between Dog's And Cats" as of 5/22/2015 3:47:00 PM
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    22. My Furry Companion is Back!

    No, I don't mean John (who is actually getting less furry every year, though don't tell him I said that), but Maddy, my friend's cat. We have been 'babysitting' her for years, including on the occasion of my friend's honeymoon, when Maddy nearly plunged to her death by trying to jump out of the velux in the studio. I only just grabbed her back legs in time.

    These days she is a very old lady, so is far less trouble. She is not above stealing my chair as soon as I get up to make a cuppa though:

    Even though she just sleeps all day, it's kind of nice to have her in the room with me. I do miss having an animal, but John and I are too keen on gadding about, so it wouldn't be fair. 

    Our friends all know we are a soft touch with pets though, so don't need much persuading to act as kennels. One friend got stuck in temporary accommodation some years back, so we had her two cats for months. That turned into quite a challenge: poor Clyde expressed his disorientation in pee, on almost every carpet in the house. I expressed my feelings about this in an illustration:

    We did have our own cat once. We stole Smudge from a neighbour. Well, not quite literally, but she came into our house more and more, so we put a collar on her with a message, asking who owned her. The man round the corner turned out to be allergic to cats (Smudge had been his wife's, who had moved to Ireland), so he was very pleased to officially hand Smudge over.

    Unfortunately she wasn't an ideal addition to the studio. She once nearly ruined one of my pastel illustrations, by jumping up on my desk. I think Maddy's days of leaping across the room are behind her, so that's reassuring.

    0 Comments on My Furry Companion is Back! as of 5/29/2015 5:15:00 AM
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    23. Picture Book Roundup - June 2015 edition

    Enjoy a slide show version of this month's picture book roundup - a sampling of my new favorites!
     If the slide show doesn't work for you, I've listed the books below with links to my reviews on LibraryThing.


    0 Comments on Picture Book Roundup - June 2015 edition as of 6/8/2015 7:18:00 AM
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    24. Good Morning to ME! – Perfect Picture Book Friday

    Title: Good Morning to ME! Written and illustrated by: Lita Judge Published by: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015 Themes/Topics: exuberance, indoor voices, pets, parrots Suitable for ages: 3-6 Opening: Early one morning in a little cottage, Beatrix was wide AWAKE. She knew it was … Continue reading

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    25. Bath Kids Literature Festival Fundraiser

    I just sent off my artwork to be auctioned off for this excellent fundraiser in aid of Bath Festivals:

    This is your chance to own a unique piece of original art by one of the UK’s best and most popular illustrators. Come along on the night to bid on one of several framed pieces of art – each depicting the famous Bath Children’s Literature Red Chair.
    Amazing artists including including Chris Riddell (Goth Girl), Ben Cort(Aliens love Underpants), Nick Sharratt (The Story of Tracey Beaker),  Korky Paul (Winnie the Witch), Alison Jay (Welcome to the Zoo), Michael Foreman (War Game) and Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo) have all donated pieces featuring their own, entertaining interpretation of the Festivals’ iconic red storytelling chair.
    Help secure the future of the Bath Festivals internationally renowned programme of popular Festivals and be in with a chance of acquiring a piece of artwork to treasure for your family, school or business.
    An Online Auction of many more Artworks will be launched on the night.
    My picture is painted using all materials I have picked for the art lessons and workshops I'll be giving soon via The Kraken Studio - all cheap stuff but really nice.

    Go and admire the rest, there are some Mighty Fine Red Chairs to be had.

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