Artie and Julie

We recently came across a rather unique little book. Two stories in one!

IMG_1944Artie and Julie
by Chih-Yuan Chen
published by Heryin Books in 2008

suitable for ALL ages

themes – friendship

it begins –
Artie was a happy little lion.
Julie was a happy little rabbit.

I love when I find a book with a big surprise inside! This little book is about Artie, a lion, and Julie, a rabbit. It has a cute, smiley cover and we have a rather special Julie in our family so we couldn’t pass this one by! And what a surprise inside! The stories of Artie and Julie are told separately by splitting the pages in half! Artie’s story is on top and Julie’s story is on the bottom. The stories run kind of parallel and intersect at the end. Much like in our recent read – Wonderstruck.

IMG_1946Artie and Julie are happy little babies who must learn important life lessons. Papa Lion hoped that Artie would grow up to be a ferocious lion who would be able to catch his own delicious rabbits. Papa Rabbit hoped that Julie would grow up to be a clever rabbit who could find her own good grass on the grasslands and be able to escape the ferocious lions.

Soon it was time for the two to head out on their own to find their own food in the lush grasslands. But when they encountered each other in a dark wet cave, Lo and Behold! All their lessons went by the wayside and Surprise!! They became instant friends!!!

A lovely, charming, feel good story with a happy ending!! Excellent! And it COULD happen! There are some really unlikely friendships that happen in this world!

I hope your week is filled with love and friends!
Your friend indeed –
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A Gift of Nothing

It’s almost Christmas!!! What will you be finding under your Christmas tree? Exactly what you always wanted? A surprise? Christmas is full of Wonder and Mystery. It’s all a little beyond my small canine brain, but I know that it’s a time of year full of excitement and activity. There is tension in the air all around. Some good and some not so good. The Mom Person always seems to be scurrying around here and there. The house fills with boxes and paper and gifts and cards and all kinds of Christmassy stuff all over the house. We see a lot more of the mail lady, bringing packages and more packages. It all makes my head spin. I want to tell everyone to slow down and chill!! Settle. Like my Mom Person is always saying to Electra. Just settle. Quiet.

I shared a couple of little quiet books with some 2nd graders recently. It was a nice quiet morning listening to happy voices. Both books are by Mr Patrick McDonnell. He, and the characters in these books are quite famous in the funny papers. You might have seen his comic strip – MUTTS. It’s a favorite around here. And Mr McDonnell has created several fabulous picture books as well. I have mentioned a couple of them HERE and HERE.

IMG_1953First book up is
A Shtinky Little Christmas
by Patrick McDonnell

Published by Andrews McMeel in 2012

This is a very small book – as you might can tell from the pictures. My Mom Person has a big thing for little books. This one is written much like a comic strip. It’s a story about the stars of the MUTTS comic strip, Earl – a dog, and his best friend, Mooch – a cat. In this tale, Mooch finds a new friend in the garbage can. A little lost kitty. They decide to call the kitty Shtinky Puddin and they go in search of the owner. When it starts to snow, they all three head back to Mooch’s house. Much mayhem ensues after this. They all get lost in a blizzard and found by SANTA!! Then the owner is found and rewards are rewarded and everyone lives happily ever after!

IMG_1954It’s a heart-pounding tale! With tension and mystery and OH My! what is going to happen?! All in this tiny little book! It’s all about being a good friend and taking care of each other. It’s a lovely tale with a big heart. A Christmas tale of giving and loving.

IMG_1950The 2nd book is
The Gift of Nothing
by Patrick McDonnell
published by Little, Brown and Company in 2005

It’s a special day. It might be Christmas, or a birthday, or Wednesday. We just are told that it’s a special day. And Mooch wants to give his best friend Earl a gift. But Earl already has everything that he needs. What do you get someone who has everything?! That can be a big problem.

IMG_1951Mooch decides that if Earl has everything – Mooch will get him Nothing! And he goes in search of Nothing, which is actually very hard to find! His pursuit is quite hilarious and profound. But eventually he gets a big box and fills it with Nothing and presents the present to Earl. Earl is quite surprised by all his Nothing!! So now they both have Nothing except their friendship. And that is Everything! I don’t think my little readers quite “got” this story, but they thought it was kind of funny and cute. I thought it was brilliant!!

So, you should go check out both of these little books and spend some of your holiday time doing Nothing with your family and friends. Taking some time to be still and quiet.

And here’s a little treat for you – It seems that The Gift of Nothing has been made into a play!! How cool is that! And if you happen to be in New York you can go see it at the Kennedy Center! Right now!!

Here’s a little preview for you –


 I hope that you find a bit of Nothing under your tree this Christmas!
Your wishful friend
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Tyler Makes Spaghetti

Mr Tyler Florence is a famous chef. That’s a fancy word for a cook. He has a TV show and everything. I know him through his books. His picture books. Mr Florence has done several such books starring a young man named Tyler. They are a great platform for teaching kids about food and cooking. And I’m all for food, cooked or not!!

IMG_1938Tyler Makes Spaghetti
by Tyler Florence
illustrated by Craig Frazier
published by Harper in 2013

suitable for ALL ages

Themes – cooking, food, spaghetti!

It begins
Tyler and his family were at their favorite restaurant. The chef came by to say hello.
“Buon giorno. Welcome back!” he said. “Tyler, I see you’ve ordered your usual.”
“Spaghetti and meatballs is my favorite, Chef!” said Tyler. “I could eat it every day!”

The Tyler in the book loves spaghetti! Chef Lorenzo takes Tyler and his dog, Tofu, on a trip around the world to learn about making spaghetti and sauce from scratch. Not from a box and a jar! We all get to learn how pasta is created and where all the lovely, smelly herbs come from that make the sauce superb. We visit an olive farm to see how olive oil is made. And a cheese factory! It’s a fun adventure! That Tofu is one lucky dog to get to go along. Mmmmmmmm. A spaghetti factory. And a cheese factory. Heaven.

IMG_1939The illustrations are simple and bold. And hilarious! Great style! At the end of the book is Tyler’s recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. Yummmmmmmm! And some factual stuff about all the ingredients. A GREAT little resource of a book! And you even get to learn a little Italian!

Now I’m off to make some spaghetti!

IMG_1942And here’s an interesting little eating competition – you could equate Golden Retriever with Labrador Retriever. I wonder what the prize was for winning?!

Your hungry friend
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Wonderstruck. That’s an interesting word. Wonderstruck. The dictionary says it means – struck with wonder; feeling admiration, surprise, etc. I like this word. I don’t believe that I have ever been struck before. But I like the idea of being struck with wonder. I think that I am Wonderstruck over Mr Brian Selznick. His books fill me with admiration and surprise. We’ve been kind of on a roll lately with his books. The latest to cross our threshold is called Wonderstruck.

by Brian Selznick
published by Scholastic Press in 2011

suitable for grades 3-7

themes – deaf culture, museums, chasing your dreams

it begins –
(The book actually begins with several pages of illustration of wolves running toward the reader.)
The first text begins on page 16 –
Something hit Ben Wilson and he opened his eyes. The wolves had been chasing him again and his heart was pounding.

This is another really BIG book by Mr Selznick. 637 pages! Another really BIG mostly picture book that can be read in a short amount of time. I’ve noticed that a lot of my readers in 3rd and 4th grade like to check out BIG books. I think they like the look and feel of BIG books. But most BIG books are a little much for some of them to handle. Mr Selznick’s BIG books are delightful! Lots of great illustrations that are filled with story.

This book – Wonderstruck – is actually TWO stories being told at the same time! One in text and one in pictures! Both stories kind of parallel each other throughout the book, but then in the end they intersect. Ben Wilson’s story begins in words in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota in 1977. His mom has recently died, he doesn’t know anything about his father, and he is living with his aunt and uncle. He was born deaf in one ear.

IMG_1936Rose Kincaid’s story begins in pictures in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1927. She seems to be obsessed with an actress and has a scrapbook of stories and pictures about her. It turns out that Rose is deaf and unhappy. Ben gets struck by lightening and becomes totally deaf. Both kids run away from home and venture to New York City. Rose, in search of her mother and brother. Ben in search of his unknown father. Their lives intersect at the Natural History Museum. And that’s as much as I’m going to tell you!! You’ll have to solve the mystery yourself!

This book is a thrilling mystery filled with Wonder. The wonder of a museum and all that is in it. The wonder of the universe. The wonder of being deaf and learning to get along in a hearing world. The wonder of friendship. The wonder of finding yourself.

Mr. Brian Selznick is a Wonder.

Ben kept a treasure box full of wonders that he found around him. Rocks and bones and fossils, twigs, a baby tooth, a game piece, My Mom Person is a collector like this. She doesn’t have a special box – she just kind of makes little shrines all over the house. But I think that kids might like to make a treasure box like Ben’s. What kinds of things would go in your treasure box? Do you keep a box like this?

A trip to a Natural History Museum would be in order after reading this book. And a planetarium! I’ve been to a Natural History Museum. There were BIG animals behind glass that were kind of scary. They looked real, but they could sure stand really still! I’m sure that there is probably a Natural History Museum in your area. If you would like to learn more about the one in New York that is talked about in the book you can visit their website HERE.

HERE is a link to information and teacher resources about American Sign Language.

This happens to be Friday. Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday. It’s USUALLY PPBF. But today, Ms Hill is announcing the winners of her writing contest. So you might want to venture over her way and check that out.

This is a song that plays a big part in Ben’s story. It was his mom’s favorite song and Ben liked to pretend that Major Tom was his dad. The song is Space Oddity by David Bowie — I think that Ben may have been a little odd.

I hope that you find Wonder in this holiday season.
Your Wonderstruck friend
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The Perfect Christmas

Well, The Great Thanksgiving Feast of 2014 has come and gone. I hope that yours was PERFECT. Lots of PERFECT turkey and carrots and sweet potatoes and pumpkin. Lots of PERFECT fun with your family and friends. Maybe a PERFECT game of tennis? or football? Full tummies and smiles on faces. PERFECT?

Well, as I said – that’s all come and gone. It’s history. It’s now time for —-

IMG_1850The Perfect Christmas
by Eileen Spinelli
illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi
published by Christy Ottaviano Books with Henry Holt and Co. in 2011

suitable for ALL ages!

Themes – Christmas, family, traditions

It begins –
Abigail Archer’s family
is perfect as can be.
They drive into the countryside
To chop down their Christmas tree.

Back around that PERFECT Thanksgiving time, I reviewed another book by Ms Spinelli titled The PERFECT Thanksgiving! You can check out that post by clicking on that title – right there! And guess what?! Ms Spinelli herself actually read my review! Wag my tail!!!! And she thought that I might ought to read the companion book – The Perfect Christmas! Of course I needed to do that very thing!! So she had her publisher send me my very own copy of The Perfect Christmas! Now isn’t that PERFECT?! What a nice lady, right?! I think that she deserves a standing ovation! I’m standing! How bout you?!

Well, ok, now, back to the book!

The Perfect Christmas brings us the same families that we met in The Perfect Thanksgiving. The Archer family is still Martha Stewart PERFECT. Candles on the mantel and bowls full of silver balls! The narrator’s family is still eclectically PERFECT with macaroni reindeer and dented fruitcake tins! Abigail’s family enjoys PERFECT Christmas treats and sweets – they even have a poodle that eats on a PERFECT Christmas mat! While the narrator’s Christmas cookies would “bounce to Mexico”

IMG_1852Each family has their own unique style and traditions. And each family has their own version of a PERFECT Christmas! This little book shows, in a big way, that what makes Christmas PERFECT is the love that is shared with family and friends. That’s what it’s all about! A PERFECT Christmas book to share!!

My family is very much like the narrator’s family. A bit crazy. But PERFECT in all the ways that matter to them – and me! It’s a BIG family and they like to party and have a good time. They always have a theme for their get-togethers. They dress up and have appropriate food and gifts. I just wag my tail and laugh. My favorite part is the cookie bake. I get to help with clean-up! I love being a janitor!

IMG_1833What kind of traditions does your family have? Do you have a “real” tree that smells like the woods? Or do you have one that comes out of a box? Do you have fancy decorations that all match like Martha Stewart? Or do you have homemade macaroni reindeer? Do you sing Christmas songs? Do you go to church? Maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas at all!

If you are inclined to make your own PERFECT Christmas Cookies, HERE is Martha Stewart’s recipe!

And HERE is a link to some fantastic ornaments that you can make with the kids!

Whatever and However you celebrate – I hope it’s PERFECT in every way!

Whatever you might be doing this time of year
I wish you GREAT JOY!

JOYYour JOYful friend
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Dog Breath

Today I post my last entry for the 2014 Small Fry Safari KidLit Readers Challenge! Whew! Just under the wire so to speak!

The challenge was to read and review books in the following categories –

1. A book with something related to Safari in the title.
My entry was Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham


2. A book with a piece of furniture in the title.
My entry was Dogs on the Bed by Elizabeth Bluemle


3. A book with a specific time in the title.
My entry was It’s Milking Time by Phyllis Alsdurf


4. A book with someone’s name in the title.
I had two entries for this one! — Sweethearts of Rhythm by Marilyn Nelson and
    You Are My Cupcake by Joyce Wan


5. A book with something that comes in pairs.
My entry was My Feet are Laughing by Lissette Norman


6. A book with something precious in the title.
My entry was Water in the Park by Emily Jenkins


7. A book with some sort of wordplay in the title.
My entry was A Poke in the I by Paul B. Janeczko


8. And my last one! A book with something unsightly in the title.

And my contribution here is —


Dog Breath
the Horrible Trouble
with Hally Tosis

by Dav Pilkey

published originally by Blue Sky Press in 1994
My copy is published by Scholastic in 2004

It begins –
There once was a dog named Hally,
who lived with the Tosis family.
Hally Tosis was a very good dog,
but she had a big problem.

Now I believe that poor Hally’s problems started with her name! I have a fascination with names. Names can foretell your destiny. This might have been a whole different story if this little dog had been named Molly or Susie or something.

But she wasn’t. She was named Hally. And her destiny was BAD BREATH. Her breath was so bad that when she opened her mouth, horrible things happened. Trees shriveled, wallpaper peeled off the walls, folks crossed to the other side of the street. Even skunks avoided little Hally. But Hally didn’t notice any of it. She was a happy little dog with a smile and a wagging tail.

IMG_1870But one day, Grandma came for a visit and was knocked out cold! Mr and Mrs Tosis decided that Hally had to go! Oh No!! But now comes the funny parts!! The Tosis Tots try to do something about Hally’s bad breath. They go to a mountain with a breathtaking view, and a movie and a roller coaster that are supposed to take your breath away. None of it worked. But that night, Hally became the super hero! Burglars broke in the Tosis house and Hally knocked them out cold!! Yay! Bad Breath wins the day!!!

And they all lived happily ever after!! Yay!!

Now I understand that lots of dogs have Bad Breath. I believe that that is a subjective assessment. I have found that what smells offensive to my Mom Person is usually quite pleasant to my nose. The Mom Person doesn’t like for me to have Bad Breath so she brushes my teeth pretty regularly. That’s ok by me because that chicken toothpaste stuff is really yummy! mmmmmmmm! And she says that having nice clean teeth without all the bits of goat and chicken candy will keep me healthier. Whatever.

IMG_1859Anyway, I have now completed my Quest! Yay for me! And Yay for Bruce the Bookshelf Gargoyle who initiated this Quest! You might want to go visit him on his bookshelf HERE. I don’t think he gets out much and he might like some visitors.

Stay safe and healthy – and watch your Breath!!
Your library friend with sparkling Breath
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The ABCs of Oliver Jeffers

A is for AWESOME

I have GREAT Admiration for Mr Oliver Jeffers, a Brilliant Picture Book Genius Extraordinaire. His Cleverly Crafted stories are Dynamically Engaging Fables Garnished with Handworked Illustrations that take the reader on Journeys Keenly Loaded with Multitudinous Novelities Offering Peeks into Quirky Realms where you must STOP and THINK Until you realize the Veritable Wonders that eXist in these Yarns from “The Jeffers Zone!” Whew!!

I present to you Mr.Jeffers latest tome –

IMG_1815Once Upon an ALPHABET
short stories for all the

by Oliver Jeffers

published by Philomel Books in 2014

suitable for ALL ages
this is a BIG book – 112 fabulous pages!

Themes – The Alphabet!!!

It begins –
If words make up stories, and letters make up words, then stories are made of letters.
In this menagerie we have stories, made of words, made FOR all the LETTERS.

An Astronaut

A is for an Astronaut named Edmund who is afraid of heights. Oh my.

This book is exactly what it claims. Very short, quirky stories for each of the letters of the alphabet. All of the stories can stand on their own, but they also intermingle with each other. They are all quite humorous. Some in a rather dark way. A little reminiscent of Mr Edward Gorey. Some in an “oh my!” kind of way. Some you have to stop and think about. Ponder for a bit. You can’t read this book just once! You have to go back and read it again and again. It is a Veritable Wonder!!!!!

IMG_1819I think everyone, young and old should have to write sentences using all the letters of the alphabet. And write your own stories with all the letters of the alphabet! It makes you appreciate all those letters just a little bit more!

Orange Marmalade recently did a fun review of this book if you would like to see more HERE.

Mr Colby Sharp has some 3rd graders who actually interviewed Mr Jeffers!!! Check it out HERE!

Mr. Jeffers has a website with lots of fun activities and things to do. You can visit it HERE.

Today happens to be Perfect Picture Book Friday over at Susanna Hill’s. You might want to travel over there to see her list of Perfect Picture Books and all the fun resources to go with! You can get There from HERE!

 And here is Mr Jeffers himself!

I wish you a Picture Perfect weekend
Your Library Friend who knows the Alphabet well!
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