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Results 1 - 25 of 189
1. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

mr tiger goes wild*Picture book for preschoolers through 2nd graders
*Mr. Tiger as the main character

*Rating: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is a super, cute picture book that sends the message to children that they need to listen to their heart and become individuals. It’s also okay to miss your friends and love them for whom they are! :) I was lucky enough to see Peter Brown in person in St. Peters, MO, at a library presentation. He is a very funny speaker and a talented artist. It was a great night. Although my husband said to him at the book signing: “Now my daughter is going to want to take her clothes off and run wild in the jungle.” Oh, so not true–but Peter did apologize. :) My daughter is now in love with this very cute book.

Short, short summary: Mr. Tiger is bored and grumpy in his regular outfit and acting prim and proper in his village all the time. He decides to go WILD one day and walk on all four legs instead of on two legs. Then he decides to go swimming and shed the clothes–now he’s like a real tiger! So Mrs. Elephant tells him to go be wild in the wilderness, and off to the jungle he goes. At first, he is having a marvelous time, but he misses his friends-even the prim and proper ones. So, he goes back to his village, and he realizes that he can be an individual there, too, and his friends will still love him. And his uniqueness might just have worn off on an elephant or two. :)

Buy Mr. Tiger Goes Wild!

So, what do I do with this book?

1. What do children think about what Mr. Tiger did? Do they think he acted in the right way? How do they feel about Mr. Tiger’s friends? Why do they think he got lonely? These are the types of discussion questions you can have with young children when you are reading this book with them.

2. You can do an easy sequencing activity with this book. You or even children can draw Mr. Tiger at different stages of the book–each on a separate sheet of 8 1/2 “  x 11 ” paper. So, you would have a drawing of him at the beginning grumpy and bored, then on all fours with his clothes on, then swimming, then no clothes, then in the jungle, etc. As a whole group activity, mix up the order and have children come up and put the drawings in the right order to retell the story.

3. Ask children to draw an illustration of themselves “going wild” and write a sentence about it. You should probably discuss this first–so you don’t get too many naked pictures. :) HA! :) But you can make a list like: they could dress up in funny costumes, do a silly dance, wear clown makeup, etc.

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2. Two Cute Valentine’s Day Books For Elementary Students

roses are pink Roses are Red, Your Feet Really Stink is one of my favorite Valentine books–especially when I was teaching. I read it to my class every year! Diana deGroat illustrated and wrote the book–such a talent. Here’s a summary of the story: “When Gilbert writes two not-so-nice valentines to his classmates, his prank quickly turns into pandemonium. But there’s always time for a change of heart on Valentine’s Day. This warm and funny book about a favorite holiday also provides a subtle message about forgiveness and being a good friend. Ages 5 up.” Besides using this book around Valentine’s Day, you can also use it to talk to children about how words can hurt and how to be a good friend. An activity you can do with this book is to exchange names among classmates and have students write a “nice” Valentine to the student whose name they received. You can talk to them about finding specific things, instead of general things, like, “I really like how you always help me with my math problems.” or “You are so good at kickball–you always kick a homerun.” Students can write their messages and decorate them before passing them out.

yuckiest-valentine-275 The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever written by Illinois author Brenda Ferber and illustrated by Tedd Arnold is a new picture book that is a real treat! If you are familiar with Tedd Arnold (Parts), then you know he is an illustrative genius. Brenda is a wonderful writer, and the two together make a terrific team. Here’s a summary of the story: “Leon has a crush. A secret crush. A dreamy crush. A let-her-cut-in-line-at-the-water-fountain-crush. And he’s made the perfect valentine. But the valentine has other ideas. ‘Love is yucky, kid! Valentine’s Day is all about candy!’ The card yells before leaping out the window and running away, leaving Leon to chase it across town, collecting interested kids along the way. Saying ‘I love you’ has never been so yucky or so sweet.” Brenda provides all sorts of resources on her blog for how to USE her book. She has a Q and A with her about things like why she wrote the book, how she named her character, and more. She also has an ACTIVITY KIT you can download for free (love this!). You can find all of this at this link: http://www.brendaferber.com/yuckiest-stinkiest-best-valentine-ever.php

Here’s a link to both books on Amazon! Have fun this Valentine’s Day and hug someone you love!

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3. Social Networks for Teachers and Finding My Place Speaking Engagements

Smarter Cookie, a site for teachers, logo

Smarter Cookie, a site for teachers, logo

It has happened again–I forgot to blog yesterday. It always seems to happen when there’s a holiday weekend. Then I can’t keep track of what day it is. SO, I am going to combine two posts–the one about Finding My Place that was supposed to be yesterday will just be a quick post about a couple of speaking engagements I am doing–in case you would be interested in having me at your school or group. AND then I am going to share a really great article written by my friend, Carole Di Tosti, PhD about social networking sites for teachers.

  • Speaking Engagements: I will be going a lot of places in February, but the three I wanted to point out are: Columbia, MO; Savannah, MO; and Wentzville, MO. In Columbia, I will be speaking to two community groups about writing a novel, researching historical fiction, and finishing a project to its end–the groups are COSMO (diabetes group) and Pachyderms. Both groups needed a speaker, and they are allowing me to sell copies of my book after I speak! So, if you need a speaker for your community group, let me know. Then in Savannah, I will be doing a workshop for TEACHERS! This is near and Final Finding My Place Cover dear to my heart, and my topic is 6 traits of writing! I can’t wait to share ideas with teachers and help them figure out how to use the 6 traits in the classroom. I can come do professional development at your school, too! Then in Wentzville, I get to talk to fourth and fifth grade students, who are currently doing a unit on historical fiction. I love to share writing and my story with children, and I have many different programs that I can present. They are on my website, under SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS, or I can send you a brochure if you e-mail me (margo@margodill (dot) com). In other words, I love speaking and can accommodate almost any group.
  • Social Networks for Teachers: Have you ever been worried that your students and parents of your students would find you on Facebook or Twitter? Worrying about whether you should post certain things? Well, Carole solves these problems with a list of social networks for teachers/educators only. This is a must-read article for teachers and even children’s authors who are trying to reach teachers. Read here: http://technorati.com/social-media/article/teachers-social-networking-increases-with-the/ .

I hope you find this information useful! I am going to be featuring two great books next week, so stay tuned.

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4. Sola Olu: The Summer Called Angel, A Memoir About A Preemie


When I found out WOW! Women on Writing was hosting a blog tour for Sola Olu, the author of The Summer Called Angel, I knew I wanted to be a part. One reason is because this blog is about children’s books AND about books and people who help women and children around the world–after all women hold up HALF THE SKY! But the other reason is because the subject of preemies and NICUs are close to my heart after I had my daughter at 33 weeks, and she spent a month in the NICU.

Sola’s book is excellent. You will be captivated by her story of how she had her daughter, Angel, at 28 weeks due to a severe case of preeclampsia. Angel was a very sick, baby girl, who had to have multiple surgeries and procedures, who spent time in two different NICUs, and who didn’t get to come home until the seventh month of her life. Sola shares the story of she and her husband and their little daughter fighting for her life with honesty and grace. She does not sugarcoat the bad times–the times when she thought she was going to lose her daughter, the times when she didn’t want to go to the NICU any more, the times when she and her husband had a difference of opinion.

My daughter, 33 weeks, 5 lbs. 2 ozs, A few hours old, holding my hand

My daughter, 33 weeks, 5 lbs. 2 ozs, A few hours old, holding my hand

If you have had a baby in the NICU, you will see yourself in her book. One thing that reminded me so much of my experience is when the doctors kept telling Sola and Chris that Angel was feisty. The doctors in the NICU in St. Louis would say the same exact thing to my husband and me, and they would always say it like they were so proud of how feisty she was–that made me proud, too. (And she is still that feisty today at 2!) The other thing that struck a chord with me is how often Sola called the NICU–I did the same thing all the time in the middle of the night AND how Sola and Chris just couldn’t wait for their little girl to poop. I remember asking nurses all the time. . .did KB poop yet?

In the back of the book, Sola shares some resources for pregnant women or for women who have a baby in the NICU. This is a great resource. She loves to hear your story if you had a baby in the NICU or if you are pregnant and on bed rest or anything really–she loves to help and listen. ANYONE who leaves a comment on this post will be entered to win either a print copy or e-copy of The Summer Called Angel. You can leave a question or a story or a well wish by Sunday, February 3 8:00 pm CST to be entered into the contest.

I was also lucky enough to interview Sola, and I asked her a few questions that may help high school/college writing teachers as well as writers wanting to write their own difficult stories–whatever those may be!

Margo: Welcome, Sola, thank you for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. Your story is so gripping and honest. How did it help you to write about this difficult time in your life?

Sola: It helped to heal. I love to write, and I’ve always been better at expressing my feelings by writing rather than speaking. I started writing at the hospital, even though it didn’t start out as a memoir. I guess it was therapeutic in some way.

Margo: That’s why your memoir is so honest and gripping–you were writing while you were living it! How did you deal with the emotions that had to arise while you were reliving these events (through your writing) with your preemie daughter?

Sola: Everything took time. Initially, I couldn’t talk about the details without

Sola Olu

Sola Olu

shedding tears, but gradually the pain lessened, and it was more wonder–how did we live through this? It didn’t help that I cry easily anyway. At the same time though because we stayed at the hospital for so long (two hospitals), I saw cases worse than mine, so I would always have that at the back of my mind to just be grateful it wasn’t worse, and that our outcome was good. Also because I stopped and started the book many times, I had my son as well; and by the time you have two kids, you’re too busy to mope. It was very difficult initially I won’t lie…even with the birth of my son. But with time, there’s healing.

Margo: I agree with the time factor. I have a terrible time writing about things that have just happened. It was even hard for me to write the Facebook updates while our daughter was in the NICU. Do you recommend women writing about hard times in their lives? Why or why not?

Sola: I would–it helps, at least it helped me; but for me, writing has always been my go-to remedy. It’s always been therapeutic. I remember as a teenager I would write to my parents when I had something difficult to discuss.

Margo: What are some good resources you can recommend for teenagers on up to adults for writing about their own lives and difficult events?

Sola: I belong to the National Association of Memoir Writers, and I love the resources they have to offer including webinars; but of course, there are more out there. There are a lot more resources out there on the Internet. My advice to myself for my next book is research, research, research, and more research.. .I think I can pass that along.

Margo: I’ve heard great things about NAMW, too. Thank you, Sola, for your honesty and sharing your story with families!

Don’t forget you could win a copy of this book by leaving a comment or question! Also, you can check out Sola’s book on Amazon.

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5. Hippo and Gorilla: Interactive Picture Books for Your E-Reader

hippo and gorilla Hippo and Gorilla are two loveable characters, (remember The Odd Couple?) who face problems children will be all too familiar with–things like crashing model airplanes (Airplanes), eating too many donuts (Donuts), and a rainy day birthday (Bathroom Beach) . Illustrator and author Bryan Langdo has created cute, humorous picture books for children. But what makes these different than the thousands of picture books at your library?

These are made for your e-readers! Right now, they are best for an iPod Touch or iPhone or iPad with the program iBooks. I didn’t have this (my iPod Touch is a 2nd generation–I can’t get iBooks on it, oh my!), and so Bryan sent them to me for my Kindle and then the MP3 files, so I could listen to the wonderful readings of the stories by Billy Bob Thompson (he does great voices for Hippo and Gorilla!). I listened to them at Panera Bread, and I found myself giggling out loud. What are the people around me thinking?

Okay, so as a preschool/kindergarten/first grade teacher or parent, what should you know about these cute books and how you can use them with children?

1. Brian and I exchanged a few e-mails, and here is what he said, “The bells and whistles are basically the audio narration, sound effects, incidental music, and read-along feature.” (Kids will LOVE this–my daughter at 2 loves ANYTHING on the iPod Touch or Kindle. She actually says this sentence, “I need the iPod Touch.” I’m not sure if I should be proud? :) )

2. Here’s what Brian said about his own series (and by the way, I COMPLETELY agree with him!): “I’m hoping to share with you and your readers my new series of early readers titled Hippo & Gorilla. It’s about two best friends who are total opposites. Hippo is a great friend, but he has a tendency to make bad decisions. He breaks things, he eats too much, and he makes big messes. Gorilla, however, doesn’t do enough of those things. Together, they make a great team!

These eBooks for young readers explore the joys—and the pitfalls—of friendship, using simple vocabulary and sentence structure. Each book contains audio narration along with original music and sound effects. They’re available for iPad, Kindle, and Nook.”

Donuts cover revised3. GET HIPPO AND GORILLA IN DONUTS FOR FREE! Go to this link. This will only work if you have access to iBooks on your iPad or other Apple device. But here’s the link if you are lucky to have one of these: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/donuts/id585686738?mt=11

4. There are 5 individual books about Hippo and Gorilla. One is free as stated above, and the others are only 99 cents (again, right now for Apple devices). All 5 stories can be purchased together for $1.99!

5. These are the perfect books to start important conversations with our little ones–in the classroom or at home. You can ask questions like: Was Hippo a good friend? Should Gorilla fly his airplane again? What else could Hippo and Gorilla do on Gorilla’s birthday? How can Gorilla and Hippo compromise? and more.

6. Bryan has a website and blog for you to check out more details. You can see these at: http://www.hippoandgorilla.com OR http://www.hippoandgorilla.blogspot.com/ .

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments–Bryan can stop by and answer them!

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6. LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

lmno peas

* Concept book (ABCs) for preschoolers through first graders
*Peas as the main characters
*Rating: LMNO Peas is a cute book, going through the ABCs with the peas doing different jobs is clever. Some of the jobs were a little strange, and I wanted more of a play on the LMNO Peas idea, but my 2-year-old loved it–that’s whom it’s for anyway!

Short, Short summary: Keith Baker has created little peas characters who have all sorts of jobs throughout this ABC book. For example, the first two pages state: “Acrobats, artists, and astronauts in space, builders, bathers, and bikers in a race.” Each letter of the alphabet is written in large, colorful font, and the peas use the letters as ramps, buildings, and more–the letters become a “stage” for the peas. This is a popular book if you haven’t heard of it before. There’s a sequel with numbers titled, 1-2-3-Peas, and it got all kinds of starred reviews! You can look inside both these books on Amazon. Use the link right here. . .

So what do I do with this book?

1. Come up with other professions that the PEAS could do starting with that letter that weren’t mentioned in the book. Ask students to create an illustration for that letter and word, in a similar style to Keith Baker’s.

2. Which pea (job, profession, hobby) does your child or your students relate to the best? What do they want to be when they grow up? Do they see your job in the book? Do they know what each job is? This is a great book for a career week/career day and to start talking about jobs/careers.

3. Each pea is different! Just like each child and grown-up are different. How are the peas different? How are they the same? Ask children if they are fond of any certain pea. Have fun with this concept while talking to students about how each of us being different helps the world to go around!

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7. Monsters Aren’t Real by Kerstin Schoene

*Picture book for preschoolers through second graders, fantasy
*A monster as the main character
*Rating: Monsters Aren’t Real is a cute picture book that will help children who are worried about monsters in the dark to see them as a little less scary. Children who love monster stories will also enjoy this. The illustrations are definitely the best part of this book!

Short, short summary:

The main character, pictured on the cover, is bombarded with the words, “Monsters aren’t real,” in the beginning of this darling picture book. But he feels like he is VERY real–isn’t he? He goes around trying to scare people and show that monsters are real, but nobody seems to notice him AT ALL (and he does some very funny and obvious things. . .). So, in the end, he decides that maybe he’s not real, until he meets another monster.

***To buy Monsters Aren’t Real, go here!

So, what do I do with this book?

1. This is a great book to introduce young readers to contractions and what these stand for. Monsters ARE real is written at one time, and then someone turns it in to: Monsters Aren’t Real–by adding the n’t. You can talk about what the n’t means and how it is added to many words to create contractions.

2. The illustrations in this story make it complete. Without them, readers would be lost. So to celebrate these drawings, allow students to draw and create their own monsters. If monsters are real, then what do they look like? To extend the activity, let them write a paragraph about the monster, describing him or her.

3. Start a discussion with children: what do you think? Are monsters real? Why or why not?

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8. Macy’s Shop for a Cause: Don’t Miss It!

My regular book post will actually be TOMORROW because I am taking part in a blog tour with WOW! Women On Writing for The Divorce Girl (which is a WONDERFULLY written book!). So, today, I thought I’d post about something near and dear to my heart and encourage you to take part if you feel moved.

My high school friend, Kelly Ellison, has Scleroderma (skleer-oh-DUR-muh). If you are not familiar with this disease, it is “a chronic autoimmune disorder which means the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system. In the simplest of terms, Scleroderma is an overproduction of collagen that can result in thickening or tightening of skin and scarring of internal organs.” (From The Relief Foundation website) As with anything in her entire life, Kelly faces this disease with determination, and she does not let it get her down. She continues to have enormous faith in God when others would have been cursing his name for their pain. I love Kelly, and now she is committed to helping others with the same disease. That’s her spirit. That’s her!

Kelly founded The Relief Foundation, which is committed to helping Scleroderma patients with financial assistance. Here’s what Kelly says on her website: “The Relief Foundation was birthed out of my frustration in dealing with the limited information regarding the disease, emotional challenges due to changes in my physical appearance and limitations, not being able to work and resulting loss of income, medical processes, trial treatments, and the high cost of healthcare.”

Kelly recently underwent stem cell transplant therapy, and it is making a huge difference in her life. On Facebook at the end of May, she mentioned that the pigmentation in her skin is returning, she can bend over to put on her socks, and open her mouth wide enough to brush her teeth. Can you imagine NOT BEING ABLE to open your mouth wide enough to brush your teeth? Imagine how eating would be. These were all things she was struggling with BEFORE her procedure. But as you know, therapy, medication, doctors visits, traveling to doctors and hospitals, and more aren’t cheap; and even if insurance covers some, you still have a lot of expenses that go with a disease, including loss of wages from not being able to work.

So, how can you help? OH MY GOSH, it is so simple. Purchase for only $5.00 a one-day Macy’s 25 percent off shopping pass (the date to use the pass is August 25!). Yes, you heard it, for just $5.00, which helps the Relief Foundation help patients with Scleroderma, you can then go and save EVEN MORE MONEY at Macy’s on August 25–just in time for back-to-school shopping! You are helping a good cause AND you get to go shopping AND save money. What could be better than that?

Purchase your passes here: http://www.freewebstore.org/relief-foundation—shop-for-a-cause/index.aspx?pageid=1518514

For questions, leave a comment! I will answer or ask Kelly to stop by and answer.

Please share and tell your friends, or better yet, buy them one, too. You can use these at any Macy’s in t

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9. Back to School Tortoise by Lucy M. George; Illustrated by Merel Eyckerman

*Picture book for preschoolers through first graders
*Tortoise as main character
*Rating: Back to School Tortoise has few words, but it is a super cute story with great illustrations. It’s clever and bright and cute!

Short, short summary:

Summer is over, and it is time for Tortoise to go back to school. But he imagines all these scenarios of what could happen–good and bad. So, he can’t decide whether or not to go in. Hint: There’s a twist at the end–the illustrations help tell the story as good picture book illustrations should do.

So what do I do with this book?

1. Take some time to check out the fun at the end of the story. Are there any clues before that last illustration?

2. Perfect book to discuss anxieties and fears over going back to school. Students can make a list of things they are worried about and share with the class. Or students could write in journals and then share and read these entries out loud.

3. In the book, Tortoise asks several what if questions. Can students pose some of their own what if questions? Students can engage in conversation using these questions as guidelines.

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10. Reader Appreciation Award

Thank you, thank you to Carole Di Totsi, PhD, for giving me this reader appreciation award. If you don’t know Carole, you should! She writes a few amazing blogs (see below) and is a wonderful promoter of her friends and colleagues at her Twitter handle: mercedeskat45. I first met Carole when she took an online class from me through WOW! Women On Writing. She has now taken a few, and we have become cyber friends. I keep threatening to go to NYC and visit her! :)

The Reader Appreciation Award is given to writers who have supported other writers’ blogs. Happily, I’ve received the award from Carole, who has three blogs: The Fat and the Skinny, All Along the NYC Skyline, and A Christian Apologist’s Sonnets. All three are totally different because she blogs about health and wellness issues, NYC events, and her own sonnets respectively. But check them out and leave a comment!

There are a few guidelines for accepting this award:

l) Acknowledge the giver of the award and provide a link to his or her blog. (check!)
2) Copy and paste the award to your blog. (check!)
3) Pass the award on to up to ten bloggers. (see below!)
4) Notify the selected bloggers that you have nominated them.

I am happy to nominate these bloggers and their blogs for the Reader Appreciation Award:

1. Donna Volkenannt (Donna’s Book Pub)

2. Becky Povich (Writer-Humorist-Bliss Follower)

3. Cathy C. Hall (Writing is Easy. Rewriting is a whole ‘nother story.)

4. Penelope Anne Cole (Penelope Anne Cole)

5. Sarah Butland (Sarah Butland: For Writers, For Readers, For You)

6. Sharon K. Mayhew (Random Thoughts)

7. Camille Subramanian (A Day In My Life)

8. Erin (In Step With the Spirit)

9. Patricia (PM27′s BLOG: Notes and Observations)

10. Holly Helscher (Becoming Bookish)

These 10 ladies are super supportive of my blog and the authors I host here. I know I probably missed someone–I’M SORRY!–it’s like when you give your Oscar speech, and you forget to thank your spouse. . .

I hope you have some time to check out their blogs. Thanks, ladies, for your support. You are all well-deserving of the Reader Appreciation Award!

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11. Children’s Books That Teach Tolerance (Guest Post by Brian Burton)

+Brian Burton loves reading children’s books and running the blog at childrensbookstore.com. He often writes on the topics of kids books and parenting.

It’s never too early to begin instilling positive attitudes about acceptance and tolerance in your children. The important thing is to expose your child to those who might be different than him or her, and children will often sympathize with others that they’ve become familiar with. It’s also important, however, to simply encourage the idea that accepting differences is important and that hateful behavior is not beneficial for anyone. Here are some books that do both: expose children to differences in others that they might not even know exist and show that tolerance and kindness can benefit not only the one who needs it, but also the one who gives it.

How Willy Got His Wheels
Full of lovely, full-page watercolors, How Willy Got His Wheels by Deborah Turner is the funny and inspirational children’s book about a disabled Chihuahua and the woman who tries to help him walk. Based on a true story, the book is an easy but touching way to introduce children to the value of helping others and how fun helping others can actually be.

Little Blue and Little Yellow
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni is a highly imaginative, inventive work, full of stark, solid colored shapes that tell a surprisingly complex and appealing story. This simple picture book is a wonderful way to introduce very young children to the idea that people are different, that there’s value to our differences, and that when our strengths are combined, we can become something more than we were by ourselves, something special.

I Wish I Had Glasses Like Rosa
This bilingual book shows with cute, humorous watercolor illustrations the bond between two young friends that goes beyond skin color. As they try to emulate each other and play together through the simply written book, the reader can learn what is important about friendship, and what is not.

In her delightfully illustrated book, Leslie Helakoski and illustrator Lee Harper tell the story of Woolbur, a “black sheep” who runs into trouble when he wants to play with the dogs and refuses to cut his wool. A book that encourages being yourself and accepting the differences of others, Woolbur is a great book for any mother or father trying to teach their children tolerance, creativity, and kindness.

Whether you’d like to teach your child that disabilities do not mean a person can’t do things like everyone else, or that it’s okay (and good!) to be different, or the importance of friendship, there are many lovely children books that will help you with the task, of which these four are just a few of my personal favorites.

Thank you, Brian, for this insightful post! Readers, please check out these books on Brian’s site!

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12. Who Peed On My Yoga Mat? by Lela Davidson

I’m so happy to welcome back my writing friend Lela Davidson (Blacklisted from the PTA) with her second book with another hilarious title, Who Peed on My Yoga Mat?. Need a Christmas present for a mom who needs a good laugh–look no further because you have found it right here. I have laughed as hard at this second book as I did the first one! And I got the chance to talk to Lela a bit about her book. Here’s what she said:

Margo: Welcome, Lela. I’m so glad to have you back with your second book on what it’s really like to be a parent and being able to laugh about it! How would you say this book is similar to Blacklisted from the PTA? How’s it different?

Lela: Thanks for having me! Yes, this book is very similar to my first book in that it is made up of short essays that can be read while you are sitting in the carpool line or pretending to do yoga. The kids are older now, so there are fewer stories about babies and toddlers.

Margo: It’s funny how we forget those baby and toddler times–I think that’s why people have more than one child. . . If readers accidentally missed the chance to read Blacklisted from the PTA, can they start with Who Peed On My Yoga Mat? Do they have to be read in order?

Lela: No, they are fully independent! All of the essays in both books are stand-alone reads. I hope new readers will want to go back and discover my first book.

Margo: I’m sure they will! Do you have a favorite essay or section in your new book? If so, which one and why?

Lela: I have a few pets, and most of them are the ones that star my husband. Marriage is just so hard. It’s easier when you laugh about how hard it is.

Margo: That is such a nice way to say it: “starring my husband!” Not only do you talk about parenting, but you also discuss what it’s like to be married and a parent in the section, “Marital Bliss.” Based on your essays, communication is key (along with calendar scheduling!). What are a couple tips you can share with readers about how to handle your spouse and your kids?

Lela: Oh, my. I don’t think I handle them. I think they handle me. Everyone in the family is good at something different; so, yes, I keep the calendar. I keep food in the house and the kids on their dental schedule. I do 643 loads of laundry every week. These are the basics. Everything else is over-achievement.

Margo: Completely agree! For my readers that are also writers, what tips do you have for getting a series of essays published–whether they are about travel, parenting, teaching, etc?

Lela: It’s just like money: “Watch you pennies, and the dollars will watch themselves.” Work on publishing one essay at a time until you have enough with a common tone that can be called a collection. I have been published hundreds of times in parenting magazines all over the US and Canada. Write an essay, and then get it out into the world. Over and over and over.

Margo: Great advice! Thanks for stopping by. Now let’s clue readers in on the important stuff–where can they get a copy of Who Peed On My Yoga Mat? And where can they find out more about you?

Lela: Thank you! This is fun. Who Peed on My Yoga Mat? is available on Amazon and my website, www.leladavidson.com. My website is a great place to find out more than you ever wanted to know about me, watch my book trailers, and read my blog. Thanks!

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13. Harry Goes to Dog School by Scott Menchin

*Picture book, preschool through 2nd grade, humorous
*Harry, a little boy, as main character
*Rating: Harry Goes to Dog School is right up my family’s alley. My 2-year-old LOVES “woof-woofs,” and this book teaches a lesson in a subtle way–the grass is not always greener on the other side. Although for just one day, I wouldn’t mind laying around, chewing on my bone. . . (smiles)

Short, short summary:

Harry wants to be a dog. He is driving everyone crazy in the family by licking his sister instead of kissing her good night, growling and chasing a cat up the tree, and growling at his oatmeal. His parents decide to send him to dog school. At first, he loves it. He is the star of the class–rolling over and fetching. However, he isn’t so crazy about lunch or nap time. His dog teacher says she can use some help, and he likes that but it is exhausting. He soon misses all the things that boys love to do–play baseball, watch TV, and eat chocolate ice cream! He decides, on his own, that he would like to be a boy and go to regular school–most of the time. . .

So, what do I do with this book?

1. You can teach children to make a pros and cons list with this book. What are the pros of being a dog? What are the cons? What about the pros of being a kid? The cons? Then talk about how people use pros and cons to solve “real” problems–like what to play at recess. You can use this to solve a problem in your classroom or school.

2. Because the text doesn’t come right out and tell students why Harry decides he wants to be a boy again, this is a good discussion point. Students have to infer! from the illustrations and text what is going on in Harry’s mind and even in his parents’. This is a great way to introduce inferring to elementary-aged students.

3. Do your students/children ever wish they could be someone else? Start with this “story” starter: If I could be someone/something else for one day, I would choose . . . (Examples: the President, a dolphin, my mom, a teacher, my baby brother, a cat, etc.) Then they copy their sentence down on their paper (older students can write a few detail sentences, too) and draw an illustration to go with it.

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14. Protect our Children: How?

photo by armin_vogel from Flickr

When the news started coming out about the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, many of us have been reacting strongly on social media sites and sharing in the disbelief that something so horrible could happen in an elementary school in an idyllic New England town. We have watched the stories of sadness and heroism on the news. We know that children at Sandy Hook Elementary, who should never ever witness terrible violence, saw things that as adults we cannot even imagine. People have started debating gun control and mental health care. I decided that what I wanted to say was too long for a Facebook post; and I wanted to share it with the teachers, librarians, and homeschoolers who read my blog, so here are some thoughts on this unusual Sunday post.

After 9/11, we didn’t feel safe. How could we? People didn’t want to fly. They didn’t want to go on a subway or train. Even a bus seemed frightening. People didn’t want to leave home or go to national monuments. But somehow, we got over it; and now we do all of these things again and most of them without fear. Why? I believe it’s because of the security that we now have at airports–the very security we complain about when we are running late for our plane or traveling with a tired and hungry toddler. But it’s the very security that makes me feel safe to travel. When I go to the Arch in my hometown of St. Louis, I’ve complained about standing outside in the heat or cold, while waiting to go through the metal detectors or have my purse AND diaper bag checked. But I am thankful that the security now exists. I can go to the Arch and have fun with my family.

We need to feel like our schools are safe–just like airports and national monuments. To me, a new security system and REQUIRED safety policies are what we need to implement in EVERY SINGLE SCHOOL as well as money for more counselors–especially in the high schools. To feel safe in schools, we need new policies, and they need to be strict like airport security. Stop debating gun control (although I do question why any American needs a permit for a semi-automatic weapon?) and mental health care (although I agree it is extremely expensive to get help for mental illness), and start focusing on new policies. REGULATE and GIVE MONEY to schools, so they can protect our children.

EVERY school needs an entrance where after school starts, a person–teacher, parent, custodian, principal, student–has to be LET IN by someone already in the school. I’ve been at schools who have been able to do this. You open the front door and a camera greets you as well as a locked door. You push a button. The secretary sees you, and you state your purpose. If the secretary thinks you are all right, then she lets you into the school. And obviously one thing we are learning from Newtown, where something like this was in place, is that the glass needs to be thick and hard to break at the entrance, if possible.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not blaming any school security. I worked in schools. I was briefed on what to do with my students if a shooter came into the room after Columbine. We had a code word if we needed to protect our students. I still go into schools as a children’s author; and most of the time, only one door is unlocked. But I can walk in that door and walk right past the office where I am supposed to check in as a visitor. These schools are doing the best they can to protect their students, and they need MONEY to create more security, which is what we are going to need. I think at least all middle schools and high schools need to put in metal detectors–again we need money for this. I know we don’t want to go to school in a “prison,” but we are beyond that now. Did you watch the news this morning? Besides Newtown, there was another man shooting bullets in a busy mall parking lot and an 18-year-old arrested for planning a shooting at his high school.

We can’t let this tragedy stop us from going places. Our children still need to go to school. We need to go shopping at a mall. We need to watch our kids at their basketball game or gymnastics meet. But we need to stay safe, and I think the only way to do that is to implement policies in our schools like officials and legislators did in our airports after 9/11.

One last thought–I remember being scared to death to go to school and teach on 9/12/2001. The faculty had a brief meeting with our counselor before we were turned loose to our students. I taught fifth grade at the time, and these students WANTED to talk about what happened. They NEEDED to talk about what happened. The way I approached it was I put on the board when they walked in: Something terrible happened yesterday. If you would like to write about it in your journal, please do. If you would like to write about something else, feel free. If you would rather read, that’s a great choice. Then when I started class, I asked students to tell me what they knew or if they had any questions. This started a wonderful discussion that I will never forget, including this question, “Is a plane going to hit our school and kill us?”

Imagine what kids are thinking about tomorrow then–I encourage you to let them talk if they need to and use the resources around the web to figure out how to talk to them. Here’s a link I found: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/12/newtown-school-shootings-kids-fears

Peace to you.

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15. Adelita and the Veggie Cousins by Diane Gonzales Bertrand; Illustrations by Christina Rodriguez

*Picture book, contemporary, preschool through second graders
*Young girl as main character
*Rating: This is a cute book for young children. It can help them learn about different veggies and about making friends. The illustrations are FANTASTIC!

Short, short summary:

Adelita is starting school and wants to make friends, but she’s worried and nervous as all children are when they start school. Her teacher begins class with a basket of vegetables. Each student takes one–some are familiar such as sweet potatoes and cucumbers. Others are less familiar such as calabacitas, cassavas, and malangas. Each child in the class chooses a vegetable out of the basket, and they talk to each other about them. Adelita finds a girl who also has a squash, and they eventually become friends. Then they talk to other children in the class about their vegetables, and everyone feels better in the end. This book is bilingual, as it has a full English and Spanish text (from Pinata Books).

So, what do I do with this book?

1. Re-enact the book. Bring in a basket of veggies–some well-known and some lesser known. Have each child choose one. Then do different activities. For example, have any student with a green vegetable stand by the door and a brown veggie by the window. Students could try to find out more about their veggie also–a mini research project.

2. Make a Vegetable A to Z book with students. In a shared writing activity, make a list from A to Z of different veggies. Each student gets at least one veggie to make a book page with. They can draw a picture, write a sentence, or even a fact like where they grow.

3. What makes a good friend? How do you make friends? Have you ever felt like Adelita when you started at a new place? You can ask students these questions and more with this book. It’s a great discussion starter.

(BONUS: There’s a recipe for vegetable soup at the back of the book you can make with children!)

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16. Joy the Jellyfish by Kristen and Kevin Collier

*Picture book for preschooler through second graders (fantasy–talking animals ;)
*Young jellyfish as main character
*Rating: Super cute illustrations make this sweet picture book appeal to kids. Even better, if your children/students love this book or sea creatures, Kristen and Kevin Collier have a website where you can meet each character closer and download FREE activity and coloring pictures with Joy and her friends. A DVD is coming soon, too, according to the website. Check it out here:

Short, short summary: Joy the Jellyfish is swimming around the Great Barrier Reef. All she wants is a friend. But since she is nearly invisible, the other creatures have a hard time seeing her. Joy doesn’t understand what she is doing wrong. She finally gets some advice from a little white whale–”You have to be a friend to make a friend.” Joy and Bella become friends, but they can’t live in the same place due to that darn water temperature. However, Bella gives Joy the confidence she needs to learn to make new friends! This is the perfect book for our little guys who are shy and want to make friends. It’s always easier to see these cute creatures struggle and overcome their fears than humans doing it. :)

So, what do I do with this book?

1. This is a great introduction to different sea creatures. You could even do a KWL chart with students before reading it about animals they know live in the sea, animals they wonder about, and then animals they learn about. You could also find real photos of these animals to compare to the illustrations.

2. What is a friend? How do you make friends? How does Joy finally make friends? These questions and more can be discussed after reading the book. However, you should realize EVERY child will want to share a story about their best friend. So, have plenty of time for this discussion!

3. This is also a great book to talk about problem and solution because it is very apparent what the problem in the story is: Joy wants a friend but doesn’t know how to make friends. Solution: she learns she has to step outside her comfort zone/shyness. There aren’t a lot of subplots or anything in the way of these important story elements. :)

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17. Who’s in the Forest? by Phillis Gershator; Illustrated by Jill McDonald

*Concept book, preschool to kindergarten
*Forest creatures as main characters
*The layout is one of the best parts of this concept book. It’s a cute idea and well executed!

Short, short summary:

Each pair of pages asks, “Who is in the forest, dark and deep?” and then there is a circle cut-out previewing the next page and animal. For example, there’s a bird, squirrel, and fox. Each animal has a page with a rhyming answer, such as: “Foxes on the prowl–creep, creep, creep.” The end talks about nocturnal animals. There’s a lot to look at and explore with this book–especially for young children.

So what do I do With This Book?

1. You can talk to young children about the forest habitat and what plants and animals they would find there. You can also ask questions like, “Would a penguin belong in this book?” You could even do a KWL (Know, Wonder, Learn) chart if you wanted to further the study of this habitat.

2. Ask children to predict what the next page will say based on the cut-out circle pictures and the predictability of the repeating text and rhyming words.

3. Talk about the difference between nocturnal and diurnal animals after reading the last page of the book. What animals do children see in the last illustration? Are all of those nocturnal animals? What does this mean?

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18. Scooter in the Outside by Anne Bowen (illustrated by Abby Carter)

*Picture book, contemporary for preschool through first graders
*Scooter the dog as main character
*Rating: Kids will love Scooter in the Outside and see a bit of themselves in this dog without knowing it. That’s the best kind of picture book. Scooter is exploring his independence–something children are doing all the time with mixed results!

Short, short summary: Scooter the dog belongs to Lucy. He loves to go for walks, but they only go so far each time–to the corner. Scooter wants to go farther (Editor’s note: My 18-month-old daughter can really relate to this; we are constantly stopping her from doing all sorts of dangerous, independent things!), but Lucy won’t let him. One day, the front door is left open, and Scooter goes out and GOES AROUND THE CORNER! Then, he becomes a bit scared at what he encounters. Luckily, he also encounters Lucy, and she brings him home. It’s a rather sweet ending, especially for anyone who has a dog that is a member of the family.

So, what do I do with this book?

1. Scooter in the Outside is definitely a fun read. Bowen has included some onomatopoeia: “Ba-Dump” is Scooter running up the stairs. “Thwappa” is wagging his tail, and so on. Plus the illustrations are lovely, and children will like to look at them and discuss what Lucy and Scooter are doing in each. I highly recommend reading this to a class or as a bedtime story.

2. Discuss with children how Scooter felt once he went to THE OTHER SIDE. Why did he feel that way? Why did Lucy put limits on him? See if they can make the connection between Lucy and Scooter and what you do for them either as their parent or teacher. Why is it important to have limits/boundaries?

3. The bond between a pet and his owner is something special. Children will want to share information about their pets after reading this book. Allow them to draw and write a sentence or two about something they love to do with their pets. If students do not have a pet, they can draw an activity they like to do with a friend OR you can visit a humane society OR have some guest dogs come into the classroom–then all children can draw about pets.

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19. It’s Children’s Book Week. Celebrate With Favorites!

It’s National Children’s Book Week, a week to celebrate children’s books. There are no better! This week, I am taking part in a blog hop with other children’s bloggers from my publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing. (They are publishing one of my picture books, release date still to be determined.) Anyway, you can visit each blog this week for exceptional posts and a chance to win fabulous prizes! To enter, visit any of the blogs listed below and participate in the RAFFLECOPTER contest. If you’ve never done RAFFLECOPTER before, it is so easy–don’t be scared. :) You just do each step and then click the + points button to get credit for it. It is really important that you give yourself credit because Rafflecopter is collecting all the entries for us from all the blogs. If you don’t push the button, you won’t get credit, and you can’t win the fabulous prizes.

What are we giving away? (You can win either one.)
• One FREE Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Margot Finke
• One FREE tote bag of children’s books from the participating authors

Visit May 7-13, 2012 and automatically enter for a chance to win by commenting, become a GFC Follower, and/or become a Facebook fan or friend at each of the author blogs listed below.

Here’s who is participating:

Guardian Angel Publishing Author Blogs:
Mayra Calvani – www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com
Margo Dill – www.margodill.com/blog
Margot Finke – www.hookkidsonreading.blogspot.com
Donna McDine – www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com
Nancy Stewart – www.nancystewartbooks.blogspot.com
Kai Strand – www.kaistrand.blogspot.com
Nicole Weaver – www.mysisterismybestfriend.blogspot.com

So visit these each day for a new entry! :) You can win children’s books during CBW!

I’d like to kick off this week by talking about a new favorite at our house–my toddler LOVES this book. She wasn’t so sure it was great when I first brought it home from the hospital, but. . .I won her over, and it is now almost as popular as Brown Bear, Brown Bear. SO, the title is Farmyard Beat by Lindsay Craig. It starts out with the chicks who have the beat. Peep! Peep! Peep! So, of course, they wake up. . .SHEEP. . .who also have the beat–and they wake up cat, and so on. Soon, Farmer Sue hears the racket, and she comes to investigate. But those chicks, they just can’t help themselves. This book is so catchy that I walk around the house now singing it. I have it practically memorized, and my daughter claps to the beat. I think it’s appropriate fo

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20. Special Children’s Book Week Post: Why Use Children’s Books

Of course, Children’s Book Week is special to me–I am a children’s author, I blog about children’s books, and I am a parent (as well as former elementary school teacher). I think I love children’s and YA books better than adult books some times! And I know that I am not alone.

But why are children’s books so important? I believe it is not ONLY because they help us to learn to read and comprehend OR because they remind us of a special time in our childhood when our moms read to us or when we went to library programs or even read 100 books over the summer. Children and YA books are meant to be used.

That’s what my blog is all about. I’ve covered using children’s books (and some adult books, too) since August 2008. You can see by my categories in the sidebar that I’ve covered YA, middle-grade, and picture books, and you can see the many authors I’ve read and wrote about, too. One of my favorites for middle-graders is pictured here–the “Al Capone” books–these books help children who are struggling with a special family situation, such as a sister with autism. It’s a great read, too, with a loveable main character, and children won’t even realize they are learning family dynamics or about children with special needs. That’s why I love children’s books–they are so good at disguising the lesson.

You can use children’s books and YA novels to teach history, social studies, science, writing, reading skills–almost any curriculum objective in the classroom or home school can be covered with the right book. I have included three activities to go with most of the books listed here on about 80 percent of the posts in almost 4 years–these activities are easy and ready to use in the classroom or at home.

The best thing, though, is children’s books can be used to talk about things that are hard for children–from potty training with Elmo to dealing with suicide with Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why. Children can discuss joys and concerns through characters in books–that is a lot easier than talking about themselves.

So my hope for you is not just to read children’s books this week/summer/year, but to use them with a child or teen, too. You won’t be sorry!

And don’t forget to leave a comment below AND record that you did this in the Rafflecopter box to be entered to win a picture book critique or a bag of books from Guardian Angel Publishing.

PS: If you are interested in writing for children in magazines, picture books, middle-grade novels, or YA novels, check out WOW! Women On Writing’s classroom page. Our classes are economical and the teachers are professionals! Here’s the link: http://www.wow-womenonrwiting.com/WOWclasses.html. All classes are online and run this summer!

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21. School’s Out For Summer: What Are You Doing?

By the end of next week, most of the schools are out for summer. My stepson has his last day TODAY! One of my best friends and her kids are already on their way to Disney World. So what are you doing this summer?

I’m hoping, especially if you are a teacher/parent reading this blog, that your plans include reading. I was just thinking today about what we are going to get my stepson to read this summer. He is a bit of a reluctant reader, and I may just grab graphic novels at the local library. This way, he can read, and we can still discuss story elements–but it won’t be a battle each time. How many of you are doing a summer reading program? For your kids? For yourself?

One REALLY cool program that actually doesn’t have to do with books, but I think it is super cool AND EDUCATIONAL, so I am sharing it here anyway is. . .Blue Star Museums. From the website about BSM: “What is Blue Star Museums?”

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment of the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 1,500 museums across America to offer free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day, May 28, through Labor Day, September 3, 2012.

Yes, you read that correctly–if you are currently active duty, you can go to any of these museums and pay NO ADMISSION for up to 6 people (military and five family members–including grandparents, aunts, uncles). That is amazing and quite a savings. This means children’s museums, fine arts museums, history and science museums, zoos, and more. For more information, go to the website: Blue Star Families. You do need a military ID to take advantage of the discount.Please pass the word on to any military family you know!

Even if you are not military, consider taking your children or summer school class to these types of places a few times this summer. GO ONLINE before you go–to the website or do a Google search–and find discounts. Often, children’s museums, zoos, science centers, etc will have certain days or hours with free admission or even coupons for special exhibits/parking and so on.

I’d love for you to come back and share with us here anything you do, any opportunity you find, and so on–anywhere in the US. I have readers across the country!

So, this summer–happy reading and happy museum-going!

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22. Chickadees At Night by Bill O. Smith; Illustrated by Charles R. Murphy

*Picture book for preschoolers through 2nd graders
*Sweet, little chickadees as main characters
*Rating: Chickadees At Night is a super cute picture book, where author Bill O. Smith wonders what those little, secretive chickadees are doing. I love the creativity and illustrations, too!

Short, short summary:

Bill O. Smith asks “Where do chickadees go at night?” He goes on with a beautiful and cute poem that answers this question–wondering: “Do they climb to the clouds? Do they scrub in the showers?” He wonders if they play, such as using a spider web as a chickadee trampoline, or maybe they play hide and seek? (BY the way, there is a full two-page illustration with no words, where children can search for the chickadees playing hide and seek! So cute!) The book goes on asking questions about what chickadees do–some of them are personification if you are looking for good examples of this literary technique. :) Smith wonders what they do in different seasons, too. At the end of the book, he includes “Chickadee Nuggets,” which are several true facts about chickadees that answer many of the questions raised during the rest of the book. Kids will LOVE this book–my daughter LOVES birds and ADORES books, so this is a perfect combination for her.

So, what do I do with this book?

1. Why not do a KWL chart with this book? What do children know about chickadees before you begin reading this book? What do they wonder? What did they learn when you finished?

2. Assign one fact to each child in your class (or at home, let children choose which facts they want to do). Students should copy the fact and illustrate it. Bind these into your own class book or hang them on the wall for a display. For further research or older kids, let them research a different species of birds, such as cardinals, and compare/contrast cardinals and chickadees.

3. Let children answer the question: “What do chickadees do at night?” themselves–either before or after reading Bill O. Smith’s ideas. Encourage them to be as creative as possible! :)

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23. Do You Have a Dog? by Eileen Spinelli; Illustrations by Geraldo Valerio

*Picture book for preschoolers through third graders, history?–you’ll see what I mean. . .
*Man’s best friend as main character/topic
*Rating: Do You Have a Dog? is one of those books I wish I would have written. Brilliant!

Short, short summary:

This book starts out asking the reader if he/she has a dog and lists (in poem/rhyme) some qualities dogs might have. Then it goes on to tell about famous historical figures and their dogs. I love this idea. Included in the book are the dogs of Empress Josephine Bonaparte, Annie Oakley, Orville Wright, Billie Holiday, Admiral Richard Byrd, and of course that famous dog, Seaman who belonged to Meriwether Lewis (and more!). Each page gives a few facts about the dog and the person–the illustrations also help immensely to tell what each person is “famous” for and to show us their dog.

So what do I do with this book?

1. Use the poems and illustrations in this book as a starting point for students to research more about each individual. Give them extra points or some kind of bonus if they can find out any more about the person’s dog or other pets.

2. Try to find out other famous people–either historical or contemporary–and their dogs. When students find someone and do a little research, have them write up a page about the person and their dog. They can also illustrate it. Or do pets of presidents–our current president has a dog.

3. For younger children, talk about the characteristics of a dog. Compare and contrast dogs and cats using a Venn diagram. Allow children to choose which one they would rather have for a pet.

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24. Poopendous! by Artie Bennett; Illustrations by Mike Moran

*Picture book, non-fiction, humorous, rhyme for preschoolers through 3rd graders
*Topic is Poop! :)
*Rating: Poopendous! is a hysterical look at a bodily function everyone can relate to from the smallest bird to the largest human. It’s a clever way to show children that pooping is no big deal and can actually be quite helpful.

Short, short summary:

Artie Bennett, author of The Butt Book, has written a new book, in rhyme about poop! He starts out acknowledging that poop is gross, especially when we step in it. But then he shares that everyone poops from “aardvarks to the humped zebu” and that it is “simply part of life’s routine.” After assuring readers that it’s natural to poop, he goes on to state all the ways it is used–this is the best part of the book and surely to get some “EWWWW!” out of readers. He talks about manure, which most of us know, but what about people in other countries that actually build their houses out of it? Love it! :) In the end, he sums up his feelings on poop–it’s, of course, “Poopendous!” Mike Moran’s illustrations are super cute. If you have a preschooler who is reluctant to go number 2 in the potty, get this book!

So, what do I do with this book?

1. There are sure to be giggles abound when you share this book in a classroom. It goes perfect with a unit on digestion with a health curriculum or even in science with a plant unit. You can try to answer questions after reading the book and do further research, “Why does manure help plants grow better? Why does everyone poop?” This book will catch children’s attention; and from it, you can teach these objectives in health and science!

2. For younger children, you can list all different materials that houses are made out of and you could create a “house” book. Start with the materials listed in Poopendous, and this sentence for a shared writing activity: “Houses can be made out of ___________________.” You can even bring the story of the three pigs into the discussion and ask children if they think a house made of poop could be blown down. :) (In Bennett’s book, he shares that a Mongol yurt (shack) is often sealed with yak dung and that a Masai tribesman has cow-dung huts.)

3. For a very silly activity at home or school–what other words could you make into “poop” words like the author did with stupendous? Poop-riffic, etc. :)

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25. Dan, the Taxi Man by Eric Ode; Illustrations by Kent Culotta

*Picture book, contemporary, for preschoolers through 2nd graders
*Dan, the Taxi Man and a band as main characters
*Rating: Dan, the Taxi Man (Publisher: Kane Miller) follows a classic children’s book form that I happen to love. There’s sound effects that are easy to read aloud AND there’s repeating text. Think The House that Jack Built crossed with Charlie Parker Played Be Bop.

Short, short summary:

Dan, the Taxi Man is picking up the band. Beep! Beep! He picks up Maureen with her tambourine. Shake-a shake, crash! Shake-a shake, crash! Next comes. . .Tyrone with his saxophone. Squeeba-dee dee, squeeba-dee doo! And so on. Once the entire band is in the taxi, Dan delivers them to their gig on time. But something is missing from a stellar performance. Find out what it is in this cute picture book.

So, what do I do with this book?

1. Dan, the Taxi Man begs to be read out loud! Once Dan picks up a musician, that person’s instrument sound is repeated on each page. So, children can repeat the sound with the reader. If you have a large classroom, you can have children divided into groups, and each group can be a different instrument. Have fun reading this book aloud.

2. Before reading the ending to children, ask them to predict what is missing from the band’s performance. Ask children to explain their prediction based on the text or other books they have read.

3. If possible, bring in real instruments or real musicians and have them play the instruments that are mentioned in the story. This is actually a great book for a music teacher to use with young children!

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