Bedtimes Stories, children's books, picture books, reading, reviews, Young Readers

Three books by Sarah Stewart

I learned from the last read-a-thon that a great way to pass time and feel like you’re accomplishing something is to read children’s books. They help to settle your mind between the readings of bigger, more intense stories. Within a small amount of time children’s books can give you a glimpse of someone’s life and story without weighing you down.

stewart-moneyThe Money Tree (1991)
Illustrations by David Small

The Money Tree tells the story of Miss McGillicuddy and the unusual tree that suddenly starts to grow into her backyard one January. As the seasons change the tree grows larger and larger. When Miss McGillicuddy realize that the tree’s strange leaves is paper money, she starts giving them away. Soon crowds of people are coming to pluck the money off the tree. Will it ever end?

The was a great book to read. Simple and perceptive, The Money Tree shows kids and adults what’s really important in life.

stewart-libraryThe Library (1995)
Illustrations by David Small

I found out about The Library from my kids. Told in rhyme, The Library is the story of  Mary Elizabeth Brown’s life from a child to an elderly woman. Brown loves books and would rather read than do anything else. Does that sound like anyone you know? One of my favorite passages from the book,

Books were piled on top of chairs

And spread across the floor.

Her shelves began to fall apart,

As she read more and more.

I wish I could show you the beautiful illustrations by David Small, Stewart’s husband. They compliment the story perfectly. My favorite illustrations of the story are a two-page spread that has the illusion that Mary Elizabeth Brown has so many books they’re about to fall off the page.


The Gardener (2007)
Caldecott Honor Medal

Out of all three of the books I’ve read by Stewart, The Gardener is my favorite.

Lydia Grace Finch is a little girl living during the Depression who loves to garden. After her father loses his job and money stop coming in, Lydia Grace is sent to the city to live with her Uncle Jim.

Jim owns a bakery and never smiles. He allows Lydia Grace to grow flowers and vegetables around the bakery. A transformation takes place and no one is the same in the year.

Told in letters to uncle Jim and her family back at home, readers get to see Lydia Grace’s life and the resilience of a little girl to make the things she touch beautiful.

Bedtimes Stories, children's books, Dewey's weekly geeks, meme., picture books, Young Readers

Weekly Geeks: Your inner child and poetry

This week’s Weekly Geeks is the brainchild of Becky. I have to say this week’s assignment is tied with my absolute favorite assignment which is a quote a day.

Option A: Be a kid.

  • You could read a picture book (or two or three) and share what you read.
  • Write up a post sharing your favorite books from childhood.
    Write up a post about reading together with your child(ren).

Option B: Be a poet.

  • Write your own poem and share with us!
  • Write bookish ABC poems–ABC’s of favorite authors, favorite books, favorite characters, favorite book blogs, or any combination of the above. Maybe even an ABC’s of a bibliophile or book addict. (A is for…B is for…etc.)(For example, ABC’s of Dr. Seuss)
  • Review a book you’ve read recently in haiku. (It doesn’t need to be a poetry book you’re reviewing, any book will do.) See Emilyreads for an idea of what I mean.
  • Read a poetry book and review it.
  • Participate in Poetry Friday (This week’s host will be Carol’s Corner.)

Isn’t this a great assignment? I think throughout this week I’ll attempt to do every idea.


About two years ago I came up with the idea to start a book club in my home. Mind you the only members are everyone who lives here but the kids loved the idea.  So we came up with a name and agreed or I decided that every night, right before bedtime, we would get together and share our favorite books and read to each other. Even the boys, who are the youngest, could pick out a book to share and read. I thought it would be nice to share with everyone our favorite picks of the week.

Van’s pick is Princess Peepers by Pam Calvcalvertert (2008). Illustrated by Tuesday Mourning. 40 pages.

Princes Peepers is a girl who knows who she is. She loves wearing glasses and has one for each of her favorite outfits. But when she starts a new school and gets laughed at, she throws every pair of glasses into her trunk and promises never to use them again.

The story started out great until the end when the princess meets Prince Peerless and go away with him. Van loved the book but I felt the end wasn’t necessary. Don’t we have enough books with princess riding off with princes? Princess Peepers didn’t find confidence with herself until she met the prince.  What really kills me is the fact that both prince and princess look like they are no older than ten. *sigh* This is one that won’t be added to our home collection.

spinelli-eVal’s pick is Someday by Eileen Spinelli (2007). Illustrated by Rosie Winstead. 32 pages.

Someday is about a little girl’s longing for more than what she has in her life presently. One of the things she longs for us to be a great artist who paints by the sea but instead she’s helping her dad paint the shed. At the end of the book, the little girl finally thinks it’s okay to be mindful of the present.

Av’s pick: Dinosaur vs Bedtime by Bob Shea (2008). At three sheayears old, Avi’s the baby of the family but don’t tell him that. He won’t believe you. For the last two weeks I have been reading Dinosaur vs. Bedtime every morning, noon, and night. Imagine my surprise when Avram read the book to me yesterday. I’m surprise I didn’t cry.

martin-claudia-and-mean-janinePip’s pick is The Baby-Sitters Club: Claudia and Mean Janine(2008). Written by Ann M. Martin. Illustrated by Raina Telgemeiser. 176 pages.

One of the funny things that never fails to surprise me is that motherhood makes you go full-circle in your life. I was the same age as Pip (7) when I discovered this series.  Claudia and Mean Janine is actually book seven in the original series.

Claudia and Janine are sisters who can’t get along. Janine is a genius who lives at her computer desk while Claudia is the artist with a passion for junk food. When their grandmother has a stroke after having an argument with Claudia, Claudia blames herself. The sisters come together to help their grandmother get better.

Oli (age 5) doesn’t have a favorite  pick. I think it might bepattou because he’s been going to sleep earlier than everyone this week, so I’ve been reading to him from my own reads. I read the first several chapters of East by Edith Pattou and several poems from various poets like Raymond Carver, Langston Hughes, and Christina Rossetti. I haven’t bored him yet so I’m calling it a success.

Bedtimes Stories, reading, reviews

Bedtime Stories

More than a year has passed since the kids and I started a book club. The kids’ ages range from three to nine. At the time only the oldest (the girls) were readers. The boys were just starting to learn their letters. I wanted to start something that would be fun for the kids and not feel like school: no lessons or homework, just listening to a good story.
We usually get together every day and read. On the weekends we visit our local library, checking out too many books. We also watch movies based on books like The Velveteen Rabbit, Stuart Little, Harry Potter, and many more. The kids enjoy themselves while unknowingly adding new words to their vocabularies and enriching their love of books.

This week we are reading some great finds from our library:

Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Carin Berger (2006)
Ages 4-6
40 pages

As a group we never read poetry. The kids, with very different interests, would rather not. But after reading some great reviews about this book, I checked it out for myself and ended up reading it to the group every night. The book is about imaginary creatures that are part inanimate object and part animal. So far the kids’ favorite is the toadster, an animal that is part toad and part toaster who loves popping out toast from the top of its head.

Owl at Home written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel (1982)
Ages 4-8
64 pages

It’s amazing how even as an adult you can rediscover your childhood by falling in love with children’s books. This was published the year I was born but I’ve never encountered books by Lobel until now.

Owl at Home is a collection of five stories about the adventures of Owl in his home. The kids loved reading about the silly character as he welcomed winter into his warm and cozy home one night, walked home with the moon, and others.

Owl at Home has been such a good fit with my family, I am finding as many books as I can by Lobel.