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26. 48 Hour Book Challenge: Prizes and Heroes

Like many causes of equality, the issue of diversity in children's literature is nothing new, though I am hopeful that the rising voices across multiple platforms can affect change. But it's also a great time to acknowledge some of the heroes of the cause along the way... or at least those that somehow are connected to the 48 Hour Book Challenge.

Thank you to Reading is Fundamental, who will contribute their Multicultural STEAM Book Collections sponsored by Macy's to be donated by winner to a school or other child serving organization where they will be used. These wonderful collections have been part of the RIF initiative for a while, bringing diverse books to kids who need them. I will award one collection to a random selected winner from all 48 Hour Book Challenge finishers who complete twelve hours or more during the weekend. Thanks again to RIF for their support.

Thank you to A Year of Reading who made me teary-eyed with this:
In honor of all of the reading Pam has inspired over the years with her blog and with 48HBC, and especially because of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks focus this year, we are making a donation in her honor to First Book, a non-profit organization that provides access to new books for children in need.
I am not only touched by the gesture of Franki and Mary Lee, but am so excited that they would donate to another hero of the cause, as First Book stepped up with a commitment to purchase 10,000 copies of diverse books it selects to distribute. And that's just another step for an organization already devoted to the cause of Stories for All.

Another note of appreciation goes to Lee & Low Books, who've continued to send me review copies even as I've been less than great about getting reviews published. But for me, they've exposed me to a world of titles that I've been able to ask my public library to acquire. For you, they've now contributed a collection of books that I'll be giving out as prizes to 48 Hour Book Challenge winners. I'd also like to thank them for just being there, publishing books that are so very needed. I suspect it is not the most profitable business model that could be conceived in an industry that always seems to be chasing the next Harry Potter or Wimpy Kid or Twilight series, but it's honorable and admirable. Thank you Lee & Low Books, for being a leader in diversity.

Thanks go out to my KidLitosphere buddies who have been promoting the 48HBC through blogs, tweets, and listservs so that we can have a weekend reading and sharing titles for all kids. Thanks to #WeNeedDiverseBooks as a movement and website, which invigorated me to take my weekend off work and give it back to books.

An official 48 Hour Book Challenge sign-in goes up tomorrow morning, but I'd love to see your comments or book lists on the original post or here. Thanks!

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27. 48 Hour Book Challenge More Prizes

Last year the indomitable Ms Yingling ran the challenge, and she's not slacking this year either contributing yet another stack of books for prizes. There are at least two titles here that I would snatch right up, so I better have them sent directly to winner or I can't be held responsible for my behavior. (Note: I had to look up indomitable both for spelling and meaning, and I nailed it.)

Perhaps you'll be putting your haul in a lovely tote bag designed and donated by Tiffany Gholar.

I'm excited to share a title written and contributed by Robin Brande, Doggirl a great story featuring the perfect intersection of dogs and drama and time-limited challenges. There's more, but I promised a piecemeal approach to prizes. Plus I have to take the Kid to pointe class. So stay tuned...

(I mean stay tuned unless you're writing me to offer prizes, in which case you can do so anytime at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com.)

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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28. 48 Hour Book Challenge Prizes

Ack! I had a whole post to do about 48 Hour Book Challenge prizes, but it's been one of those mornings. And by that I mean specifically one of those mornings where I sort of forgot that I have to get to work today for a meeting at 1:00 p.m. So, I'm going to do this in pieces and it won't be thorough and I'll remind everyone that 48 Hour Book Challenge isn't about the prizes, but an opportunity to share an experience as a community from the comfort of our own homes doing what we love to do, i.e. read, while also advocating, promoting, and otherwise celebrating diversity in children's and young adult literature in this year's connection to #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

Meanwhile, I'll be going back to my email later this afternoon to pull together the prizes that I know are there but don't have time to write about this very instant. But hey, how about the timing on this lovely package from Abrams Books today?

It's now a prize! See how easy it is to become a prize in the 48HBC? Have something you'd like to contribute? Drop me a line at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com.

Oh, and sign up to participate in the 48 Hour Book Challenge!

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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29. 48 Hour Book Challenge: Call for Diversity

With this year's 48 Hour Book Challenge devoted to the cause of diverse books, I started pulling together my own reading pile for this weekend. It's been more than a little sad. I haven't been requesting review books for a while, so I turned to my public library to find something current. I could only find two middle-grade titles.

Now, I know that it takes months for titles to show up at the library, and these just happened to be on the shelf. So I searched the catalog and eyeballed covers finding a total of four recent books in a large public library system that serves a broad and very diverse community. Granted, this was in no way a detailed examination of our collection, but it gives me another reason to ask for your participation in the 48 Hour Book Challenge. I need your book reviews so that I can make collection requests to my library.

You know what, you need book reviews so that you can make requests to your public library.

Many kid lit folk are working hard to promote titles, and that excites me. Our writers and illustrators can create them, and we can continue to put pressure on publishers to acquire them. But at the heart of it all, bookstores and libraries need to buy these books. We can help with that too by asking our public and school libraries to add these titles to their collections.

But we can't do that if we don't know what they are. So let's keep up the steps that created outrage at BEA and yet also featured strongly at the same setting with an excellent BookCon panel. Something that started as a hashtag and moved to an online home at WeNeedDiverseBooks. Let's show each other and anyone else who will see all the great titles that are out there. I hope you'll participate in the 48 Hour Book Challenge - even if you can't commit the weekend, or even much of it, to read and promote books. We need you and We Need Diverse Books.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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30. Countdown to 48 Hour Book Challenge

With the 48 Hour Book Challenge at the end of this very week, it is time to get prepared. That admonishment was certainly less for my readers than for me, as I have been trying to get it together while navigating a minefield of end-of-school madness added to my usual run-of-the-mill madness. But I'll start with a tease of prizes donated by Ms Yingling and continue with more during the week. So these look pretty pretty good:

There's more to come, for sure. Stay tuned! I'd also like to collect some suggestions for diverse books to explore in our collaboration with #WeNeedDiverseBooks. So if you have a list, post, Pinterest board, or interpretive dance that you can share, well that's what comments are for. (Though obviously, their tumblr page is a pretty pretty good place to start too.)

The official sign-up will go up on Friday, June 6th but you're invited to pop into the comments of the 48 Hour Book Challenge opener for a pre-commitment support group. Remember that you don't actually have to read/blog for 48 hours to participate. Just look to reading a bit more and perhaps a bit differently than you would otherwise and we'll all have a bit of fun together.

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31. 48HBC Prep and BEA Angst

48 Hour Book ChallengeWe're coming up on the 48 Hour Book Challenge! Yay!!! And Book Expo America is this week! Yay!!! But I'm not going... booooooo. I'm really struggling with my non-attendance this year as it looks to be exciting and I always enjoy my time at BEA, which combines my favorite things: books, socializing, and New York City. In my mind it's also linked to 48 Hour Book Challenge because I generally spent a great deal of my time at BEA standing in line for author signings to collect prizes for the 48HBC. For me, it was another win-win. I got a signed book to give away and I got to meet the author in person, which is always nice. Okay yeah, I did keep some of the books. I'm not made of stone, people.

If you're going to Book Expo America and would be willing to collect a signed book or two for 48 Hour Book Challenge prizes, I'd be ever grateful. And not even the least bit jealous that you were there meeting Shannon Hale, Jarrett Krosocaka, Melissa de la Cruz, A.S. King, and/or Laurence Yep while I was not. Okay, maybe ten percent jealous and ninety percent grateful. (Actually, as those names were selected from a quick skim of the signings on just Thursday morning, maybe it's more like 20/80.)

My work life has also tied these two events together, as I couldn't get the time off for both. We've been short-staffed at the library, forcing us all to make accommodations. I suspect others in public library systems will understand. Easier to clear the Saturday for 48 Hour Book Challenge than take off mid-week, and I don't regret that decision at all. Nope. Not me.

So have a fantastic time at Book Expo America! Grab a spare book for 48HBC if you get a chance, make time for lunch with friends, and keep an eye out for the good swag - which sometimes includes glasses of champagne. (If you hang around until the publisher reps are distracted, you can usually grab a second drink - so I've heard.)

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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32. Thursday Three: Diverse Picture Books

Everywhere I go online I am happily seeing references to the cause of diversity in our books. Fantastic! We're going to continue that focus during our 48 Hour Book Challenge coming up on the weekend of June 6th, so please sign-up to participate. I'm hoping in the lead-up to that weekend to share some of the titles I've come across in the library, starting here with three picture books that feature African-American children in stories that have nothing to do with racial issues. I know, what a concept. Enjoy!

Here Comes Trouble!
by Corinne Demas, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Scholastic, 2013
Emma’s dog didn’t like cats, but it seems for good reason as the cats were never in trouble, but Toby was. The neighbor cat was especially irritating, so when she came to stay for a while, well it was a challenge. The cat does things that Toby gets blamed for, so you can see why he’s mad. But when Pandora gets herself stuck in a tree, it’s Toby’s trouble-making ways – and sudden ability to write out words with mud – that save the day. Cartoon illustrations with bright colors make it an easy choice to share in storytime, and there's bits of humor in the background for closer inspection. It's a good story that shows friendship and problem-solving, but honestly my favorite thing is that it features an African-American family for no reason related to their race. Just cause.

Ruby’s Sleepover
By Kathryn White and Mirian Latimer

Barefoot Books, 2012
Two girls are having a sleepover in a backyard tent, and as they hear noises in the night, one of the girls solves their worries with her “magic” items. Magic beans to grow a stalk to take a giant back home. An egg that the dragon might be seeking. And rings to wear to sleep to “keep danger at bay.” The focus on imagination and the idea of using your own thoughts to face your fears is a great lesson gently delivered. Nice rhyming couplets with a good rhythm, bright, cheerful illustrations and diverse characters make this a wonderful book to share.

by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Christian Robinson

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013
It’s raining in the city, and two different people – an old man and a child – have entirely different outlooks on the wet weather. The Boy delights in the day with excitement, putting on his green rain gear and froggie hat. The Man frowns and complains as he too ventures outside. At the coffee shop, the two meet accidentally and a good deed by the child clears the Man’s grumpy mood, reminding him of a pleasant way to be. The cute paper illustration is perfect in combination with the subtler paint composition. Excellent diversity in the book, representing a city very well, and featuring a child of color. Simple in language, but great in the message of the power of a positive outlook.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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33. Existential Emptiness in The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Feeling down and reflective today. Everything seems slow. The morning has moved by me with no effort or action on my part, aside from a writing part of song that has long been tickling the inside of my brain. The Internet is sluggishly loading, my email seems stuck, and even as I'm writing this post I'm reading above the ominous "An error occurred while trying to save of publish your post. Please try again."

Oh I'm trying. Lord knows, I'm trying.

I planned to start the week off with a review but it feels more like a quoting sort of day. And not even from a title that needs to be shared, as it's old news online, but it was a book that truly moved me in an unexpected way. See, I have issues with the darkness of Neil Gaiman's tales where I respect the artistry of his craft but often find it isn't for me. Not so with The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I was hooked from a haunting description of childhood that felt much like mine:
I was not happy as a child, although from time to time I was content. I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.
Isn't that ridiculously telling for two sentences? The story itself is not like my life, as it then moves into an allegorical fairy tale slash horror story that kept me enthralled slash quaking. Beautifully done and leading to one of the most moving descriptions of the existential emptiness that I've ever read. Though it's towards the end of the book, I don't think it gives away anything - except maybe the heart of the book. But you've probably all read it anyway, so here:
How can you be happy in this world? You have a hole in your heart. You have a gateway inside you to lands beyond the world you know. They will call you, as you grow. There can never be a time when you forget them, when you are not, in your heart, questing after something you cannot have, something you cannot even properly imagine, the lack of which will spoil your sleep and your day and your life, until you close your eyes for the final time...


Okay, maybe I need to take a walk or pet a puppy or something.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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34. BACA Alert! Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Author of the Year

BACAAs Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors founder and let’s say president, I see it as the kid lit equivalent of the four horsemen of the apocalypse when the Children's Choice Book Awards Author of the Year is Rush Limbaugh. I'm sure that there are and will be many thoughtful articles about what happened to make the winner of a prestigious children's literature award for Rush Revere and The Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures With Exceptional Americans. But all I can say is, "Dear God, what have we done?"

The power of the bestseller was a slippery slope for children's literature awards. Certainly the power of the celebrity author - with their top budget promotions and guaranteed WalMart shelf space - was enough for a snarky online cause like Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors. But now, we've added to this mixture the nebulous and sometimes nefarious power of the Internet, which allows anyone to vote for this now-less-prestigious award. There is no way - NO WAY! - that children voted for Rush Limbaugh over Rick Riordan or Veronica Roth.

I'll let cooler heads prevail on what happens next, but for what it's worth BACA's back!

Though perhaps, a little too late.

Rush Limbaugh? Are you kidding me?

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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35. Theatre Mom Life

With every thing that the Teen finishes up, I'm all, "thank God that's done." And then the next day, "ohmigod, that's DONE!" College decisions, made. AP tests, taken. Prom dress, selected. And the killer, last high school performance, completed.

Performing Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra was an incredible undertaking for a high school. I'm not usually one to comment on how many lines are memorized - actors know that's the easy part - but in this case, let's give credit where credit is due. For A Midsummer Night's Dream, the leads Oberon, Puck, and Titania each have in the neighborhood of 250 lines. In this production - with a few cuts to the play - Antony and Cleopatra have about 700 each. So, yeah.

Top off that incredible bit of memorization in about two months with incredible, emotional performances by both leads. Of course I'm extremely proud of my Teen, but I have to give credit also to her Antony without whose commitment she couldn't have shined so brightly. The student critics described their chemistry as impeccable, excellent, impressive, intense, dynamic, and unfaltering. And from someone who clearly needs a hug, “fairly believable.” Not too shabby for two teens who aren't dating but need to present one of the most passionate couples in history.

Back to that critic thing. Our area participates in the Cappies program where student critics attend each other's plays and submit reviews for local publication and for local theatre awards. Teen's reviews came in with wonderful acclaims that pass a parent's glowing accounts. She was noted highly in just about every review (with the exception of one where the critic seemed to find the actors a necessary focal point for the lighting) described as a "driving force" with "vibrant physicality,"and "amazing, both sensual and insane," with "constant energy" and a "broad range of emotional acting." And the line that sums it up, "Possessing both a vice-like grip on the audience and a brimming amount of confidence, Coughlan held the audience’s attention from her extravagant entrance to her tragic end."

So yeah again, I'm proud. And glad the practice and performance is over, because it was intense. And sad that it's over too. It's hard being a mom of a Senior, but especially of a theatre kid. She plans to do some Shakespeare in college, but who knows how she'll be able to compete there. But honestly, if this was the last thing she did in theatre, it would be such a high note that I'd take it.

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36. Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge FAQ's

As we count down to reading as a marathon sport on June 6th, let's go over a few points. More questions? Ask them in the comments.

Why does the 48 Hour Book Challenge actually takes place over more hours in the weekend?
With time zones, work schedules, and "having a life," a broader window of opportunity gives more people a chance to participate.

I can't read the whole time because I have a wedding/graduation/recital/monster-truck rally to attend. Is that okay?
Yes. Once you start your hours they are continuous, but that doesn't mean that you won't have breaks - maybe even truly significant breaks - in your time. Though I'd gently suggest that if it is your wedding, you might reassess your priorities.

Like, I have a LOT going on that weekend. How can I participate?
Twelve hours is the minimum for the 48HBC, so if you read for four hours Friday evening, four Saturday afternoon, and four Sunday morning, you've officially participated. I don't know about you, but that's awfully close to a normal weekend at my house. ;)

Do I need to have a blog to participate?
Pretty much. But if you set one up just for this challenge, you wouldn’t be the first to do so. You might find that the 48HBC kicks off a new hobby for you.

Do we have to read diverse books?
I won't be policing participants' reading, but since we are not doing a readathon for monetary contribution, this is our social cause for the challenge. It is not required, but strongly encouraged.

Can I count time reading to my child? Can my kids join in?
You can certainly count time reading aloud to your child. Kids can always play along for the fun of it, but no prizes are offered. However, that doesn't mean that you couldn't give your own prize to your kid.

Can I count hours spent writing reviews during the 48HBC even if I schedule them to post after the challenge? That is so adorably organized. Yes, feel free to write reviews that will post later, though you might note that in your final summary.

How can I contact you to donate prizes?
Write me at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com and let me know what you’d like to donate. I usually pull together a bunch of things — books, jewelry, notecards, T-shirts, etc. — to make prize packages for the winners. I also like to have a few authors who’d be willing to send a personalized, signed book to a blogger for a few randomly selected “door prizes.”

I love this idea! How can I help?
Blog it. Tweet it. Share it. Tell friends. Tell frenemies. Most of all, sign up! Being part of this community event is helping in a big way.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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37. Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge

48 Hour Book ChallengeYup, it's the Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge — that weekend readathon of legend. Last year, Ms. Yingling graciously hosted this challenge as I had multiple conflicts. Of course, now this year I've ended up busy and distracted with the remarkable adventures of two teenage girls. But then something was percolating around the Internet that inspired me and gave me a reason to engage. So in solidarity of the cause of WeNeedDiverseBooks, this year's 48 Hour Book Challenge is dedicated to reading, sharing and reviewing books that show diversity in all ways.

I'm hoping with lots of participants over the weekend, that we can saturate the blogosphere with dozens - nay, HUNDREDS - of titles that show the beautiful range of the human experience. That's our challenge. And saying that may be a good time to reminder readers that while the window of reading allows 48 hours, you could read for much less and STILL participate. Twelve hours - and not even in a row - qualifies you as an official participant who can join in reading and sharing diverse books for one wonderful weekend. So please consider coming on board. Here are the basics:

  1. The weekend is June 6-8, 2014. Read and blog for any 48-hour period within the Friday-to-Monday-morning window. Start no sooner than 7:00 a.m. on Friday the sixth and end no later than 7:00 a.m. Monday the ninth. So, go from 7:00 p.m. Friday to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday... or maybe 7:00 a.m. Saturday to 7:00 a.m. Monday works better for you. But once begun, the 48 hours do need to be in a row. That said, during that 48-hour period you may still have gaps of time in which you can’t read, and that’s fine.
  2. The books should be middle-grade, young adult, or adult books. If you are generally a picture book blogger, consider this a good time to get caught up on all those wonderful books you’ve been hearing about. Graphic novels can be included in the reading. One audiobook can also be included in your time and book total — helpful if you have somewhere to drive to or need to prepare dinner, etc.
  3. Three winners will be chosen at random from each of three levels of reading commitment - 12 to 23 hours, 24 to 35 hours, and 36 to 48 hours. Since each level will progressively have less participants, the more you read the better your chances. Top readers will still win individual prizes. International winners may be given gift cards instead of books due to mailing costs, unless a U.S. address is provided.
  4. It’s your call as to how much you want to put into it. If you want to skip sleep and showers to do this — and some people do — go for it. If you want to be a bit more laid back, fine. But you have to put something into it or it’s not a challenge. Twelve hours is the benchmark for winning prizes.
  5. The length of the reviews or notes written in your blog are not an issue. You can write a sentence, a paragraph, or a full-length review. Up to you. The time spent reviewing counts in your total time.
  6. You can include some amount of time reading other participant’s blogs, commenting on participating blogs and Facebook pages, and Tweeting about your progress (remember the #48hbc tag!). For every five hours, you can add one hour of networking. This time counts in your total time.
  7. On your blog, state when you are starting the challenge with a specific entry on that day and leave the link to that post at the Starting Line post at MotherReader on June 6th. And please link to the contest on your post.
  8. When you finish, write a final summary that clearly indicates hours — including partial hours — you spent reading/reviewing/networking, the number of books read, and any other comments you want to make on the experience. It needs to be posted no later than noon EST on Monday, June 9th. Also, check in at the Finish Line post on MotherReader that will be posted Sunday and please link to that post from your final summary post.

I’m always looking for donations for winners’ prize packages and other “door prizes” to be awarded to participants selected at random. Past prizes have included original sketches from Mo Willems and Matthew Holm, signed and sketched books from Adam Rex, loads of signed books, t-shirts from Threadless, artistic blank journals, jewelry, gift cards, notecards, and more. Good stuff. If you’d like to contribute to the prizes this year, shoot me an email at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com.

Sign up now in the comments and block of the dates on your calendar. Questions can also go in the comments, and I will respond in the comments and add a FAQ soon. Talk this up, people! Let's have some fun!

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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38. Decisions, Decisions...

It's been an intense, soul-searching time for the Teen and I as we analyzed, compared, deliberated and ruminated on colleges. I'm excited to say that she's decided on George Washington University!

It fits everything she is looking for in a college, put together in parts. It's an urban campus offering the city of Washington, DC to explore. Yet, it also has a smaller, greener campus that is mostly residential and a short shuttle ride away from the main campus, four blocks away from the White House. It offers the resources and variety of a large university, but being admitted to the honors program gives her a small, nurturing community of advisors and intellectual challenge. There are great programs in political science and public policy, which is where her interests are leaning, and several combined programs for earning a Masters degree. She was offered a large scholarship that puts the school in our price range, plus they'll take enough of her AP credits that she may be able to knock out a semester. The school is very focused on internships and since she lives near, she may be able to turn one into a summer job. She'll be close to home, but the environment is completely different from the suburban area where we live.

And omigod the dorm! The honors program offers housing in a dorm that has four single rooms that open into a common area with shared bathroom in a hall with a full kitchen and laundry in a building that houses the dining area and - I swear it's true - a black box theatre space. Could it be more perfect? Oh yeah, the Shakespeare learning community is housed in the same campus.

Okay, that long description was indulgent, but it's for the five or six people who may be interested in the decision process. I'm available for personal college consultation on request. I also do children's parties.

I'm happy that things look so ideal for her, and also that we're done. Honestly I'm ready to have my brain back from thinking about colleges and you know, her "future." It's tiring. Deciding whether to read the new teen book OR the adult bestseller is more my speed. (Answer: duh, both.)

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39. College Update

March has been an anxious month waiting for college acceptances to arrive, and I suppose I don't write when I'm anxious. I can't say what else I was doing, besides churning over the same college information and cleaning out the computer/storage room. Oh, and shoveling snow, which was flippin' weird in March.

But the results are in, and they are good for the Teen. She didn't quite make her reach school Columbia, but was admitted to its sister school Barnard. She swept our Virginia colleges with acceptances from University of Virginia, University of Richmond, and William & Mary, along with UNC at Chapel Hill. A last minute addition of George Washington University is looking promising with an admittance to a selective honors program and a large scholarship.

With such a variety of good schools to consider and such a big decision to make, I can't say how present I'll be online this month either. Though there is a significant difference in the tension of not being able to move forward because you have no idea what to decide among, and the tension of having many good choices to decide among. If it's any indication, this nagging lower back pain I've had for weeks is suddenly gone.

If you have anything to share about the schools, I'd love to hear. Especially about GWU or Barnard, where I don't have any insider view. William & Mary is safely covered by its two alumni in this very house - which is probably killing Teen's view of it - and Richmond is too expensive.

All right, I'm going to move on because I could write for hours comparing what we know of those schools and how they fit my daughter and what that could eventually mean for her future and if any will affect her potential as President...

Oh, yeah everything else is fine. The Kid is on a chorus trip to DisneyWorld and auditioned for a summer theatre program of Legally Blonde, which should be fun. My mom is doing fine from her recent follow-up appointment and got a new kitty friend. The husband and I are coming up on our twentieth year anniversary, and will likely have to pretend that it is actually occurring at a more convenient time to celebrate. Like 2016.

If you're reading this, thanks for staying around. I haven't been a great citizen of the KidLitosphere, but I love my friends in it too much to disappear entirely. Just sometimes, for odd stretches of time. Be well!

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40. Thursday Three: Hide and Seek

Some library books I liked that helpfully fit into a theme of hide and seek. But they all also have classroom or home use for demonstrating values like working together, gratitude, and acceptance without being heavy-handed.

Come Back, Moon
by David Kherdian, illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian

Beach Lane Books, 2013
Come Back, Moon
When Bear is bothered by the light of moon and can’t sleep, he steals the moon. Under the clever leadership of fox, the forest animals work together to get it back. Simple text makes this ideal for younger storytimes or even as a beginning reader book. The soft, watercolor illustrations bring to life a serene forest scene, with special acknowledgement to the orange fox — who looks so darn cute and cuddly. The book would also be useful for themes of working together and conflict resolution.

Never Ever
by Jo Empson

Child's Play, 2012
Never Ever
A girl complains that nothing exciting ever happens, yet as she walks with her stuffed bunny a world of excitement is going on around her. Flying pigs, a flower-loving gorilla, and a brave lion join her on her walk — right into a dragon’s mouth! But she continues to be unimpressed, even with one more surprise in store. The illustrations in watercolor and pencil depict a world both gentle — with the soft blues of the girl’s dress and pink of the pigs — and lively in the yellow flowers and bright green dragon. Simple in words and concept, but high in imagination, this book is an invitation to play and think about what is right in front of us.

How to Hide a Lion
by Helen Stephens

Henry Holt, 2013
How to Hide a Lion
The book sets it up nicely: “One hot day, a lion strolled into town to buy a hat. But the townspeople were scared of lions, so the lion ran away.” A little girl find the lion, and decides to help him out with a bandage, a comb-out, and mostly by hiding him. But her mom finds him, screams, and the lion runs away. Hiding himself in town, he finds an opportunity to save the day and is accepted by the townspeople. Fun story that has an actual plot line to it. The bright yellow lion is visually captivating, and the relationship with the girl is adorable. The book would also be a good example for not judging someone too quickly.

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41. Boardbook Bonanza

Since I haven't been reviewing much, I don't get much to review. That's totally fine and in fact preferred as I don't want to waste anyone's review copies and I can get much of what I want at the library where I work. But occasionally a package comes my way, as with a little collection of 2014 boardbooks from Chronicle. Now I don't actively look for boardbooks or tend to review them, so let's call this a set of "reactions." Because it sounds less formal.

by Andrew Zuckerman

CreatureI received both Numbers and Colors from the set, which also includes Sounds and Baby Animals. I am familiar with Andrew Zuckerman's photography of animals, and I love the idea of bringing his work into young hands. My nagging complaint about the set is that I wanted the pictures bigger. Partly because the books are small, meaning the pictures get smaller still. But also because I don't think babies are as invested in the concept that Zuckerman's work highlights the animals with plenty of white space. They just want to see the green frog. But you know these kids are going to get books of colors and numbers anyway, so it's a great idea to enhance the experience for both child and parent reader with some artistry. That you'll get.

You Are My Baby
by Lorena Siminovich

You Are My BabyI received both the Ocean and Garden from the set, which also includes Safari and Farm. Boardbooks are pretty basic, so when someone comes up with any new idea, it's worth a mention. These books have a smaller book embedded within, so that you can turn the pages of the little book - which focuses on the baby - separately from the larger book. While obviously related, you could read each "book" alone. (Big book: "You sing a happy song in our leafy tree." Little book: You are my baby, little hatchling.") The illustrations are cute, bright and friendly. I wonder how the book will hold up physically, but I also think it would be fun to share with a little reader.

Going to the Farmers' Market
by Stefan Page

Going to the Farmers' MarketI shouldn't fault the concept - at least it's something different - but it got a little eyeroll out of me. I certainly can't fault the illustrations, which are cool in a retro, Charley Harper way. (Now you can roll your eyes.) But the text misses the mark. Overall it covers from market to meal, but not as cohesively as it could have. Parts of it go for the "to market, to market" rhythm, but not all. Parts of it detail the foods, but not all. Maybe it seems picky, but I want a boardbook to have internal consistency, whether it's with story, rhythm, or learning concept. But hey, if you need a gift book for the hipster parents in your circle, this is perfect.

Daddy Wrong Legs
by Nina Laden

Daddy Wrong LegsThis is one of the books where you can turn the bottom pages separately to mix up the tops and legs of the creatures. I'm sure that lots of parents and kids love this idea. It. Freaks. Me. Out. I'll admit that I have a low creep-out threshold, but this is the kind of book that would have given me bad dreams. ("Daddy has spider legs!") But look, I like this author (see below) and her illustration style. So for those who like the concept of funny animals and people with the wrong legs, here's your book.

by Nina Laden

Peek-a-Zoo!I consider myself an explorer of the new and different, but it was the most traditional boardbook of the bunch that won me over. Very simple in concept, with the words "Peek a" on one page facing a page with a hole through which you can guess at the animal behind. Thus the black and orange stripes turn to a tiger, where now "Peek a" is viewed through the hole and added the word "MEW!" So simple, but a nice twist on traditional Peek-a-boo. The whole thing ends with a mirrored page for "Peek a YOU, TOO!" The fun illustrations have a woodblock-print look to them, and feature lots of bright colors from a secondary pallate of purple, orange, turquoise and pink. Also a nice size for little hands. This is one I'll recommend to my library system, especially for mother/baby program kits.

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42. Poetry Friday: Forest Has a Song

So excited to share the winning poetry book for the Cybils Awards!

Forest Has a Song
by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, illustrated by Robbin Gourley

Clarion Books, 2013
(review copy received)
Forest Has a SongPoems document the seasons in the woods with sensory reflections on everything from the spongy feel of a dead branch to the sound of a proposal in a tree frog's song to the taste of a wintergreen plant. The beautiful watercolor illustrations capture the gentle feel of the forest and the poetry itself. Simply a lovely book to enjoy and share. So with the sharing in mind, here is one small sample poem. And yes, I am showing my weariness of winter in selecting one about spring.

April Waking
Ferny frondy fiddlehead
unfurl curls from dirty beds.
Stretching stems they sweetly sing
greenest greetings sent to Spring.
-Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Karen Edmisten.

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43. Personal Update

Ahhhhhhhhhhh! That is the sound of me relaxing for the first time in... I want to say... years?

Maybe it just feels that way, and certainly everything in my life hasn't reached a positive plateau. However, two big things are squared away. My senior was basically accepted into an excellent, affordable college, and while she hasn't decided on William & Mary, it's a relief to know that it's there as an extremely attractive option. She also just got the part of Cleopatra - the role she's been wanting and working towards, in a way since she starting acting. She's put a lot of time into this theater department and has truly earned this part with both performance skills and hard work.

Also the kid - who is really a teen - is settling into high school quite nicely. She's finding her own place in theater and chorus with parts and solos, both well-deserved. She's really shined in Unplugged with an original song and a beautiful cover, and that venue has given her incentive to keep working on her guitar. We watch American Idol together with an analytical approach to what she should do when she auditions.

And they get good grades, have friends, enjoy each other, and still hang out with me.

I've hit the parenting jackpot, and I'm so proud and happy.

So, time to breathe and figure out what is next.

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44. Cybils Awards!

Today in the KidLit community we celebrate Love... of books with the announcement of the Cybils Awards! Some wonderful titles across the board, but I'll give a special shout-out to my committee of Picture Books. From an incredible list of finalists, the judges selected a book that I would have personally chosen myself to win. The perfect Cybils selection:

Mr. Tiger Goes WildMr. Tiger Goes Wild
Peter Brown

Little, Brown and Co., 2013
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild opens to muted tones of a proper Victorian society of well-mannered animals, living in houses and walking on two legs. Surrounded by an abundance of subdued suits, ties, dresses and tea, the daily hum-drum pushes Mr. Tiger outside the city limits to a place where he can ROAR! But first he undergoes the drama and surprising silliness of life on four legs, a swim in the water fountain and *gasp* a view of his magnificent, naked self. Confident artistic elements start on the decorative endpapers, capitalize on the freedom of double page illustrations, built intensity with the color palette, and combine seamlessly with the lean text of most carefully selected words. With great comedic timing and a light-handed touch on message, Peter Brown has written a clever, compelling invitation to self-discovery.

Congratulations to all the Cybils winners!

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45. Poetry Friday: "The Snow Man"

I haven't done a pure Poetry Friday entry in a while, but I came upon this poem during this past week of bitter cold and it felt just right.

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
to regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
-- Wallace Stevens
For more verse, look to our Poetry Friday host, Mainely Right!

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46. Picture Book Donations

In December a local organization here sets up a Christmas shop for their needy clients to find presents for their children. For the past several years I've brought them books that I received as a reviewer and Cybils panelist. Now, since I haven’t been serving on the Cybils panel or receiving much for review, I’ve been weeding my shelves of older copies I didn’t give the first time around.

It always makes me feel bad that I can't review so many of the books that I have received, but I am grateful to the publishers who have sent me books over the years and allowed me to pass them on to others. Thank you, and know that your books went to a child in need

 All the Way to America All the Way to America
by Dan Yaccarino; Knopf Books, 2011

Story of a legacy of an immigrant and his little shovel.

Beaver is Lost
by Elisha Cooper; Schwartz & Wade, 2010

Beaver floats down the river to New York City.

Because You Are My Baby
by Sherry North, illustrated by Marcellus Hall; Abrams, 2008

Gentle imagining of all the things mom would do with her baby.

Big Words for Little People
by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell; HarperCollins, 2008

Words to learn, like Privacy, Celebrate, and Different, with context.

TITLE Black Beauty
retold by Sharon Lerner, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
Random House, 2009

Classic story made simpler with pretty pictures.

The Boat in the Tree
by Tim Wynne-Jones, illustrated by John Shelley
Front Street Press, 2007

Story of getting along with a new adopted brother, and of finding a boat in a tree.

Born to Read
by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown; Knopf Books, 2008

A baby is born with a love of reading, which saves the day.

A Carousel Tale
by Elisa Kleven; Tricycle Press, 2009

A carousel dog’s tail is turned into something special.

The Day Leo Said I Hate You!
by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Molly Bang; Little, Brown, 2008

Sometimes we all say mean things – and things we don’t mean – but it can be all right.

 Do You Have a Cat?</ Do You Have a Cat?
by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Geraldo Valerio
Eerdmans Books, 2010

Different historical figures with their clever cats.

Dog Loves Books
by Louise Yates; Knopf Books, 2010

Dog opens a bookstore to read and share great books.

Drum City
by Thea Guidone, illustrated by Vanessa Newton; Tricycle Press, 2010

An impromptu parade with makeshift drums and lots of noise through the city.

Ella May and the Wishing Stone
by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Genevieve Cote; Tundra Books, 2011

A wishing stone can’t always bring you what you want. Friends are better.

 The Firehouse Light The Firehouse Light
by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Marie Lafrance
Tricycle Press, 2010

A century passes around a firehouse, but the light never stops burning.

How to Clean Your Room in 10 Easy Steps
by Jennifer LaRue Huget, Edward Koren
Schwartz & Wade, 2010


Huff & Puff
by Claudia Rueda; Abrams, 2012

Very simple three little pigs story.

It’s Picture Day Today!
by Megan MacDonald, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson; Atheneum, 2009

Making pictures to take a picture.

 The Longest Night The Longest Night
by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ted Lewin
Holiday House, 2009

Animals in the coldest, longest winter night want to bring back the sun.

Ma! There’s Nothing to Do Here!
by Barbara Park, illustrated by Viviana Garofoli
Random House, 2008

A baby soon to be born is bored with the womb.

Mail Harry to the Moon!
by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley; Little, Brown, 2008

Little brothers are annoying.

Mother Goose’s Little Treasures
by Iona Opie, illustrated by Rosemary Wells; Candlewick, 2007

The old rhymes you never knew you never knew.

 Mr. Pusskins and Little Whiskers Mr. Pusskins and Little Whiskers
by Sam Lloyd; Atheneum Books, 2008

Mr. Pusskins and the new kitten work things out.

by Norton Juster, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Schwartz & Wade, 2011

A lonely boy in a new home ends up making friends.

Night Lights
by Susan Gal; Knopf Books, 2009

All kinds of lights at night.

Orangutans Are Ticklish
by Steve Grubman with Jill Davis; Schwartz & Wade, 2010

Fun facts about animals, with photos.

 POP! The Invention of Bubble Gum POP! The Invention of Bubble Gum
by Meghan McCarthy; Simon & Schuster, 2010

Fun story about bubble gum, with bonus facts pages.

Princess Baby
by Karen Katz; Schwartz & Wade, 2008

Some babies are just born to wear a golden crown.

Samuel’s Baby
by Mark Elkin, illustrated by Amy Wummer; Tricycle Press, 2010

A kindergarten class practices babies.

Seasons Seasons
by Anne Crausaz; Kane Miller, 2010

Nice things happen in all different seasons.

Seed by Seed
by Esme Raji Codell, illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins
Greenwillow, 2012

Story of Johnny Appleseed, with lessons for us all.

Small Sister
by Jessica Meserve; Clarion Books, 2007

Sometimes it’s hard to be the small sister, but small people can do big things.

Snow Happy!
by Patricia Hubbell, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata
Tricycle Press, 2010

Fun in the snow!

 Splash! A Little Book About Bouncing Back Splash! A Little Book About Bouncing Back
by Maria Van Lishout; Fewel & Friends, 2008

When we’re feeling bad, giving a lift can help everyone feel better.

by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Kids Can Press, 2010

Spork finds his place among the utensils when a baby starts eating.

Thunder - Boomer!
by Shutta Crum, illustrated by Carol Thompson; Clarion Books, 2009

Out in the countryside, a big storm comes in and cools off the summer day.

 Twelve Dancing Princesses Twelve Dancing Princesses
by Brigette Barrager; Chronicle Books, 2011

The fairy tale made lovely.

Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant,
by Leslie McGuirk, Alex von Bidder; Candlewick, 2009

Going out to dinner has a lot of rules, particularly for dogs it seems.

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47. Cybils Finalists 2013

It’s New Year’s once again — and that means it’s time for the 2013 Cybils Finalists! A lot of great books on this year’s shortlists, but I want to take some time to call out the ones from my Fiction Picture Books committee:

Count the MonkeysCount the Monkeys
by Mac Barnett

Disney Hyperion, 2013

Looking at the troop of monkeys on this cover, young readers may be in for a bit of a surprise as they begin to turn the pages. Where did all the monkeys go? No need to fret, though, for each page brings a new (and increasingly ridiculous) possible factor in their disappearance. Expect a rowdy story time experience with this hilarious, unique addition to the counting book genre.

If You Want to See a WhaleIf You Want to See a Whale
by Julie Fogliano

Roaring Brook, 2013

There’s a lot going on beneath the peaceful surface of this slow-building, contemplative deep blue sea of a picture book. As a small boy meanders toward his goal of seeing a whale, he must decide whether or not to pause in order to investigate insects, roses, smiling pelicans, or other things that are not whales. The deliberate pace, simple word choice and list-like structure mimics process writing, but unpredictable, stuttering line breaks undermine the authoritative tone with a jazzy rhythm. Charming, textured illustrations by Caldecott Medal winner Erin Stead subtly rock the boat — balanced, yet always with an off-kilter, asymmetric element, and sometimes revealing the boy’s actions to be at odds with the prescriptions of the text. Is this book about achieving a goal? Or about observation? It is certainly fertile — and beautiful — ground for conversation.

by Aaron Becker

Candlewick Press, 2013

With a subtle nod to Harold and his purple crayon, a bored young girl draws herself a door into a magical world using a red crayon she finds on her bedroom floor. Lush and detailed double page spreads draw the reader into the imaginary world, while well placed panels of action sequences along with picture clues lead the reader through this wordless adventure. Like the magic in the story, additional details seem to suddenly appear on re-reads, rewarding readers who are sure to take the Journey again and again.

Mr. Tiger Goes WildMr. Tiger Goes Wild
by Peter Brown

Little, Brown, 2013

Claiming Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is, perhaps, his most autobiographical book to date, Peter Brown shares a story about a tiger, growing up in a prim and proper place, who looks for that appropriate place to release his wild side. Once sent into the wilderness where being wild is most appropriate, Mr. Tiger feels lonely, misses his friends, and makes the decision to return and settle in to his own unique style. He decides to be himself. This story resonates with readers and celebrates an author-illustrator who is fully in charge of both brush and pen. Brown writes slim, allows art to support and carry the story, and paces this story well. Rhythm, repetition, and dramatic, comedic action on each and every spread beg for interactive attention to the details of story. Parallel house images, parallel text in the before and after of his “wild” and the repetition of one word: ROAR! make this book a performance kids will scream to experience again and again.

Open This Little BookOpen This Little Book
by Jesse Klausmeier

Chronicle Books, 2013

In an era of enticing digital media, here’s a book that celebrates the magic of paper and ink. A ladybug opens her little red book, and inside is nested a frog’s even smaller little green book, and so on through a series of quirky creatures until we arrive at the tiniest book of all — which happens to belong to a friendly giant, who will need a reader’s help to turn the itty-bitty page. With gorgeous, whimsical, richly detailed illustrations, this charming story pulls young readers right into the action, and may very well inspire them to create little books of their own. The final drawing of the animals curled up among stacks and stacks of books is an irresistible invitation to dive into another tome — or to turn back to the beginning and enjoy this one all over again.

Sophie’s SquashSophie’s Squash
by Pat Zietlow Miller

Schwartz and Wade Books, 2013

Which came first, the text or the illustrations? It’s difficult to tell in this picture book because the two work so well with — and off — each other. The story (created by both text and art) is tender and funny with a big dose of comfort. Kids, who so easily grant inanimate objects the ability to feel emotion, will relate to Sophie’s attachment to a butternut squash with a magic-marketed face. Parents will love the inside jokes (ex., mom prepares to make squash for supper, but after learning Sophie has named her squash Bernice, says she’ll “call for pizza”). The story smoothly transitions over time as Sophie’s fresh squash begins to soften, becomes planted, sprouts in spring, and grows two new butternuts that, as Sophie declares, “look just like your mom.” It’s a contemporary book with an old-fashioned storytelling feel that can be read again and again with pleasure.

The Bear’s SongThe Bear’s Song
by Benjamin Chaud

Chronicle Books, 2013

First sight of this book hints at its uniqueness with the large format bathed in deep colors and intricate illustrations. The Bear’s Song, by Benjamin Chaud, is a gorgeous French import with spare narrative text and humorously packed illustrations that have an almost Where’s Waldo? characteristic in a more sophisticated flair. Chaud’s lightly clever narration follows Papa Bear as he attempts to track down his bee-following Little Bear through forest and city, busy streets and bustling opera house; until a final hilariously misunderstood, climactic performance by Papa Bear clears the stage for an endearingly cuddle-worthy ending. The Bear’s Song begs for rereads; moves with powerful, yet lilting pacing; and invites lingering over each scene to relish the many added details as well as help spy on the trail of that adventurous little bear.

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48. Tuesday Ten: 2013 Picture Books

Over the last year or two, I've backed off from receiving review copies. Between working at the library and attending events like Book Expo America, I have books galore. But I do still get some books, and like to pass them at the holiday season to a family shelter. Here are some books that are finding a new home this December:

999 Frogs Wake Up999 Frogs Wake Up
by Ken Kimura, illustrated by Yasunari Murakami

North South, 2013
A whole lot of frogs wake up in the springtime and set out to wake up all sleepyheads, including one who should be left alone!

How Far do You Love Me?
by Lulu Delacre

Lee & Low Books, 2013
A mother expresses her great love against the terrains of the world, from tops of mountains to depths of caves, from desert sands to blue glaciers.

I Can See Just Fine
by Eric Barclay

Abrams, 2013
Even though she insists she can see just fine, a little girl gets glasses that make things much clearer.

I Scream, Ice Cream!I Scream, Ice Cream!
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Serge Bloch
Chronicle Books, 2013
Interesting wordplay as similar sounding words and phrases are illustrated with humor.

Ol’ Mama Squirrel
by David Ezra Stein

Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013
Ol’ Mama Squirrel takes care of her babies, no matter what it takes!

Peace, Baby!
by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Chronicle Books, 2013
Lessons in letting go of little conflicts and bad times with an attitude of peace.

Rainbow StewRainbow Stew
by Cathryn Falwell

Lee & Low Books, 2013
A family of color works together at grandpa’s house to make a vegetable stew.

Someone’s Sleepy
by Deborah Lee Rose, illustrated by Dan Andreasen

Abrams, 2013
A little girl gets ready for bed in all her sleepy sleepiness.

Steam Train, Dream Train
by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Chronicle Books, 2013
In the nighttime, a train is loaded up by a busy animal crew.

There’s No One I Love Like You
There’s No One I Love Like You
by Jutta Langreuter, illustrated by Stefanie Dahle

North South, 2013
A little rabbit, annoyed at home and mom, gives another homes a try. But of course, home is where the heart is.

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49. What Does the Fox Give? Books!

I’ll continue to plug my 150 Ways to Give a Book throughout December, but with some new ideas, twists, and commentary. For instance today, I’ll be connecting the concepts of three separate posts. I know, radical.

When I discussed a certain book born from the success of a viral video, I was ambivalent. Is this the very thing BACA should rail against, or was it an insightful marketing campaign? And what can I even say when the whole thing is just too perfect.

“WhatSay you choose to give the book What Does the Fox Say? for Christmas this year. Well, your gift pairing options are wide open. You could go with the simple, yet classic, cute plush fox. An excellent choice, sure to appeal across a wide age range.

You could pull together a collection of recent fox-themed books, like Come Back, Moon and OutFoxed. Tie the whole thing together with a little felt fox ornament. I’ve seen cute ones at Target and Kohl’s, but you can’t go anywhere now and NOT find a fox ornament. Yeah, this trend is big.

fox hatYou could give a little fox necklace or a little fox hat. Both so cute. If you're the crafty type, you may be able to make the hat. Or search for the many choices for either on Etsy. Or going another way, you could give the book with the movie The Fantastic Mr Fox especially if you make extra time to watch it together.

If you’re rewarding the adult in your life for their excellent taste in viral videos, you might consult the Land of Nod post noting the fox trend in various household items. Or just keep it simple and give fox socks, if only so you can say ‘fox socks’ over and over again. Fox socks fox socks fox socks. So fun to say!

Or you could go creepy and dark and give an actual fox tail. Yup, you can buy actual fox tails through Amazon. On one hand I’m appalled. On the other, disappointed that I didn’t know this sooner before I destroyed the hood of a thrift store coat to retrieve the fox fur lining for my daughter’s theatre costume. By the way, I wouldn’t suggest the actual fox tail as a children’s gift. Though a simple costume could be fun, I’m having trouble searching for it online without getting either terrible costumes where the tails are like rolled up felt or some variation on “foxy” costumes, which is NOT what I want.

So there you have several - let’s say inspiring - ways to give just one selected picture book titles. For more pairings and ideas, shop 150 Ways to Give a Book.

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50. 150 Ways to Give a Book

For all of your holiday shopping needs, here are 150 Ways to Give a Book, grouped by (approximate) age. They are all MotherReader-approved titles — i.e., Good Books. There are a lot more choices for younger kids, as that’s the group we adults most fear disappointing with giving “only” a book. And picture books are my specialty. After the book and gift selections, I’ve also included ways to wrap a book, and book-themed gifts to include for a variety of ages. There are new 2013 titles mixed in with older ones — though there aren’t many classics, as I’ve tried to select books that kids would be less likely to have on their shelves.

Sometimes I choose the hardback when the paperback is also available, so check if that is important to you. I’ve also linked to the fun extras through Amazon, for example, to save you shopping time, and because I get some small credit for your purchases through the Amazon Associates program. But know that you can find cheaper alternatives for some small things — paints, pens, journals, etc. — at a local discount store. On the other hand, doing all your purchases online and having them sent to your door is priceless.

Leave suggestions for titles in the comments, as I'm always looking for new ideas. I hope you'll share this link as you promote giving books as gifts for the holidays and that you find some great ideas for your own friends and family. Enjoy!


  1. Give an experience like a trip to a zoo, aquarium, museum, aviary, arena, or city. Put the passes, tickets, or homemade gift certificate with a relevant book to make it feel more tangible.
  2. Take a road trip with Ask Me so you can use the driving time to ask each other the interesting questions from the book.
  3. Give a book with a movie theater gift card to see the upcoming film.
  4. Give a book with a gift card to rent the movie. Include a box of microwave popcorn.
  5. One Hen - How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference
  6. Give One Hen — How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference with a loan to Kiva or a donation to Heifer International to buy chicks. For more charity and book matches, look to this list from Abby the Librarian.
  7. Pair any book with another book from the bargain section, maybe something silly or crafty or gimmicky.
  8. Pair a detective book with a magnifying glass.
  9. Match poetry books with word beads or magnetic poetry.
  10. Pair a picture book with a related stuffed animal.
  11. Give an interesting, insightful book with a restaurant gift card and a date to discuss the book together over a meal.
  12. Honor the book enthusiast with necklace along with a new title.
  13. Celebrate writing too with special journals from Tara Books, an independent press based in India.
Picture Books
  1. Learn letters with ABC, Baby Me! board book or The Sleepy Little Alphabet and letter links.
  2. Or work with numbers (and colors) with 10 Hungry Rabbits and magnetic numbers.
  3. Or let them battle it out with 123 vs ABC and bath toys
  4. The Day the Crayons Quit
  5. Give The Day the Crayons Quit with a pack of fat crayons and a stack of copy paper from an office supply store.
  6. Or go with Art and Max or Blue Chicken with a paint set.
  7. Pair The Curious Garden with gardening tools and seeds.
  8. It’s almost dessert when you give The Cow Loves Cookies with a cookie counting game.
  9. What else can go with Extra Yarn but extra yarn? Well, and knitting needles and instructions.
  10. Pair Kite Flying and/or Kite Day with a new kite.
  11. Give Bats at the Ballgame with a bat and ball. You can throw in a coupon book for practice sessions.
  12. Take a bedtime book like Little Owl’s Night, A Bedtime for Bear or Sweet Dreams and add a night light.
  13. Or choose A Full Moon is Rising or Moonlight with glow-in-the-dark moon and stars — or go high tech with this Moon in my Room.
  14. Giant Dance Party
  15. Get moving with Giant Dance Party with Kids Dance Party CD.
  16. Keep up the music by giving Drum City with an old-time tin drum.
  17. Pair Bubble Trouble with touchable bubbles.
  18. Ballet dancers will love the classic Angelina Ballerina or the slightly edgyVampirina Ballerina (or both) with a fancy tutu or two… two.
  19. Give little superheroes SuperHero ABC along with a superhero cape.
  20. Encourage a future Iron Chef by giving Rainbow Stew or Oscar and the Very Hungry Dragon with a cooking set.
  21. Silliness ensues with Pigs to the Rescue and the Pass the Pigs game.
  22. Take it outside with Chalk with 3-D sidewalk chalk.
  23. The Monstore
  24. Pair Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site or Building with Dad with toy construction vehicles.
  25. Give The Monstore with the monster game.
  26. Who can resist that match-up of Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek with Lincoln Logs?
  27. Give your little dragon-lover Hush Little Dragon or Guess What I Found in Dragon Wood with a cute dragon.
  28. Is there a doctor in the house? There will be with picture book Doctor Ted along with a doctor kit.
  29. Future firefighter instead? Give Fire! Fuego! along with Firefighters A to Z and firefighter gear.
  30. Pair picture book Crafty Chloe with a selection of craft supplies.
  31. What else can go with Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum other than lots of bubble gum.
  32. Cat lovers can enjoy picture books I Don’t Want a Cool Cat, Katie Loves the Kittens, and Won Ton with a cat card game.
  33. Here Comes Trouble!
  34. Or let the dogs out with Dogs, Here Comes Trouble!, and If You Give a Dog a Donut and dog themed dominoes.
  35. Add a car to a child's train set, but include Steam Train, Dream Train or Elisha Cooper's Train.
  36. Nature lovers will enjoy Birdsongs along with a guidebook like Backyard Birds and some binoculars.
  37. For more nature, pair A Butterfly is Patient with a butterfly garden kit.
  38. Give your favorite girly-girl Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy with dress-up jewelry and/or a fancy poodle.
  39. Give your rough little boy Pirates Don’t Change Diapers along with genuine pirate gear.
  40. Another nighttime choice is Goodnight, Little Monster with an Ugly Doll.
  41. Give picture book The Moon with a special flashlight and a promise for a nighttime walk or two.
  42. Blackout
  43. Or for a different angle with that flashlight, pair with Blackout and prepare for indoor fun with the lights out.
  44. Take sweet picture book Lissy’s Friends and pair it with an origami kit.
  45. Picture books A Sick Day for Amos McGee or Pssst! would be perfect with a zoo animal collection or game.
  46. Or head down to the Farm, adding a Lace and Trace Farm Set.
  47. 999 Frogs Wake Up goes nicely with Flingin' Frogs game.
  48. For a western theme, give A Night on the Range or Every Cowgirl Loves a Rodeo with a cowboy hat.
  49. Take a special book, like Wow! It Sure is Good to Be You (which is about an aunt loving her far-away niece), and make a CD recording of you reading it.
  50. Pair Duck and Goose with a bright ball.
  51. Dusk
  52. Celebrate the season with the beautiful Dusk and appropriate lights or decorations.
  53. The funny wordless book Once Upon a Banana is a perfect fit with a stuffed monkey — but show your sense of humor by throwing a banana into the gift bag.
  54. Another wordless book choice is the visually stunning The Tree House, which works surprisingly well with Littlest Pet Shop brown bear and polar bear.
  55. Give The Snow Globe Family with a snow globe.
  56. Pair Lilly’s Big Day with dress-up clothes.
  57. Or another dress-up option is the Ladybug Girl books with wings and antennae.
  58. Pair Bubble Bath Pirates with a cool rubber duck.
  59. Give the wonderful The Day the Babies Crawled Away with a baby doll.
  60. Everyone needs Mo Willems’ book Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, maybe adding a toy bus and a cargo truck.
  61. Pair classic A Bargain For Frances with a tea set.
Early Elementary
    Boy! Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs
  1. Pair a nonfiction book about dinosaurs, like Boy! Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs, with a bunch of plastic ones.
  2. Give Instructions with a book of classic fairy tales, and make time to read them together.
  3. Introduce a folktale with Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat and giving lucky cat bank.
  4. Pair silly beginning reader book The Monster in the Backpack with a cute backpack (monster additional).
  5. Give beginning reader books Amazing Sharks! and National Geographic Readers: Sharks! and throw in a shark on a stick.
  6. Take to the ice with book choices Katie Kazoo, On Thin Ice and passes to the local ice-skating rink.
  7. Soccer Cats
  8. Give a title from the Soccer Cats series with a soccer ball.
  9. Pair Toys Go Out with a red bouncy ball, or a plush stingray or buffalo.
  10. Pair Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs with a kazoo.
  11. Give early chapter book series books Rainbow Fairies or Flower Fairies with lovely little fairies.
  12. Blooming fashionistas will appreciate Paper Fashions (Klutz) (all thirty-five Amazon reviews gave five stars!) along with Fashion Kitty.
  13. Combine sweet Jenny and the Cat Club with a red scarf (don’t worry if it’s too long — so is Jenny’s) and a black cat.
  1. Satisfy a sweet tooth with The Candymakers with a candy making kit.
  2. Pair Operation YES! with green army men.
  3. Be a hero and give Percy Jackson and the Olympians Boxed Set with Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the Greek Myths.
  4. Pair fantasy book The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda with a Stars Wars 'Ask the Force' top.
  5. Give What the World Eats with a promise for an international dinner out or in.
  6. Pair Every Soul a Star with The Kids Book of the Night Sky and plan a date to look at the stars together.
  7. For business-minded kids, pair The Lemonade War with a coin counter bank.
  8. Expand the idea of giving with The One and Only Ivan with an adopt-an-animal program at your local zoo.
  9. All the elementary school kids will love The Invention of Hugo Cabret, but you can pair it with tin wind-up toys for extra flair.
  10. Give Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little with um, Stuart Little.
  11. Frankenstein
  12. You can’t go wrong with the funny poems and outstanding art in Frankenstein Takes the Cake along with a cake-baking session, followed by reading the book together. As a matter of fact, throw in Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and make a whole day — and meal — of it.
  13. Speaking of the amazing Adam Rex, give the hilarious book The True Meaning of Smekday with a the related T-shirt Regarding Stickyfish Teams, I Favor the Bigfield Fighting Koobish.
  14. Give Kimchi & Calamari with a promise for a dinner out Korean style, or Italian style, or both.
  15. Wrap up A Crooked Kind of Perfect with excellent toe socks.
  16. Perhaps Fabulous Hair with a collection of hair accessories will make someone smile.
  17. Pair a diary-format book like Lucy Rose: Big on Plans (3rd/4th grade), Amelia’s Notebook (4th/5th grade), or The Princess Diaries (6th/7th grade) with a journal and fun pens
.Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck
  • For a boy, how about the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck with the Do It Yourself Journal?
  • Have fun with Clarice Bean Spells Trouble and a game of Scrabble.
  • Pair Phineas MacGuire... Erupts! with a science kit, or the next book in the series, Phineas MacGuire... Gets Slimed! with the slime science kit.
  • Look to fantastic nonfiction, giving Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon with a homemade coupon for a visit to the Air and Space Museum (okay, this might only work around Washington, D.C.) or astronaut ice cream.
  • Give a drawing book like Draw 50 Aliens or Draw 50 Animals with a couple of nice sketch pads.
  • Pair a spy-themed book like Harriet the Spy (chapter book) or The Real Spy’s Guide to Becoming a Spy (nonfiction) with rear-view sunglasses and/or a fingerprint kit.
  • Bigger girls like stuffed animals, too. How about Hoot with an owl or The World According to Humphrey with a hamster?
  • Select a magic book and fun magic tricks.
  • Pair D.I.Y.: Kids with a gift card to a local craft store, and maybe some shopping and crafting time together.
  • Book of Animal Poetry
  • Match the book and the movie, like The Spiderwick Chronicles with the DVD.
  • Pair a theme book like Katie and the Mustang with a horse charm and a satin cord from a craft store.
  • Or maybe Fairy Realm with a charm bracelet.
  • Give the first books of The Series of Unfortunate Events with a brass telescope.
  • Pair The Art Book for Children with watercolor paints or an art set.
  • Give National Geographic's Book of Animal Poetry, Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart or Poetry Speaks to Children with hot chocolate, a mug, and a gift certificate for time to read it together.
  • Teen
    1. Give the companion books Goth Girl Rising and The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl , and throw in How to Draw Comic Book Heroes and Villains.
    2. Pair a book that you and a teen can enjoy with a gift card to Starbucks and a promise to talk about the book over coffee. Some suggestions? Liar, Candor, or The Adoration of Jenna Fox have interesting issues.
    3. Beauty Queens
    4. Give Beauty Queens with a small makeup kit, and a healthy dose of irony.
    5. Rock out with Beige along with a mix CD of the songs in the chapter titles (or an iTunes gift card).
    6. Buy a teen Dramarama along with tickets to a show.
    7. Pair House of Dance with ballroom dance lessons.
    8. Give delicious book A La Carte with personal cooking lessons.
    9. Match casino gambling themed Drop with a deck of cards and a family game of penny poker or blackjack.
    10. Pair King Dork with a CD of The Mr. T Experience.
    11. Treat a tween to
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