Chicken Joe

To continue the thread I had going about names, I came across a great little book at the library the other day. It’s really a song performed by one of my favorite musical duos, Trout Fishing in America. And now I find that the song has become a book!

IMG_4846My Name is Chicken Joe, songs by Trout Fishing in America – (Ezra Idlet and Keith Grimwood). Illustrated by Stephane Jorisch. A storybook CD published by Folle Avoine Productions in 2009.

The title song, Chicken Joe is about unlikely names. What do names really mean? Chicken Joe is a cat who sleeps with the chickens when the weather gets cold. He’s not a chicken, just a cat named Chicken Joe. I never sleep with our chickens, but I sometimes dine with them.

121311081934Next comes a dog named Miss Kitty who lives in a big city. Then there’s a parakeet named King Kong who has quite a temper, and a mule named Mister.

So, do names define who we are? Do we become our names? What do others see when they hear our names? Are you happy with the name that you have? Or do you dream of something more or less exotic?

This book, My Name is Chicken Joe, is a storybook CD, which means that it comes with a CD with lots of songs on it. And the other song lyrics are included in the book.
My Best Day
I Can Dance
Something Sweet
It’s a Puzzle
Fill it Up
Why I Pack My Lunch
La La Land
Boiled Okra and Spinach
Hard Ball
Count On Me

The illustrations are a little quirky, just like Trout Fishing in America. They fit quite nicely with the songs. That Chicken Joe is a pretty cool cat!

IMG_4848You can find out more about Trout Fishing in America at their website HERE.

Book Trailer and song by Trout Fishing in America —

What’s behind YOUR name?

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Voices in the Park

Parks are wonderful places. We have some parks in Glen Rose that we visit sometimes. No dog parks, but dogs are allowed at the parks. One of the parks is kind of a historical place. There are buildings there from hundreds of years ago. This park is by the river and there is a nice walkway that meanders along beside the water. There is a playground and picnic tables and benches – places to let some wildness out or just to sit and contemplate.

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Another park is the soccer park. All the soccer fields are there and it can be a pretty busy place. There is also a playground for the kids and a track that meanders around the whole park for walkers and joggers. We go here often to walk with friends. This park is next to a big place where they have horse shows and rodeos and dog shows, so there are always interesting smells and sounds.

Parks are great places for all kinds of activities – running and playing, meeting up with friends, making new friends, having picnics, enjoying nature, reading a book or just enjoying some quiet moments all to yourself.

IMG_4777Anthony Browne wrote a great book about a park – Voices in the Park. It was published in 1998 by DK Publishing, Inc. That year it won the Kurt Maschler Award for a “work of imagination for children, in which text and illustration are integrated so that each enhances and balances the other.”

This is an incredible book on so many levels. It’s a story about how differently people see the world around them. It’s about how things may look one way on the outside, but be very different on the inside. It is the story of a day at the park from four different points of view. It begins with the Mother, an upper class, snobby gorilla lady who decides to take her son, Charles and their pedigree Labrador, Victoria to the park. She is not happy about anything at the park. Victoria is chased by a scruffy mongrel. There are frightful types in the park, and Charles disappears. She sees him talking to a rough looking child and orders him to come back to her. They walk home in silence. There are no smiles.

The Second voice belongs to a Father who decides to take his child, Smudge and their dog to the park. He spends his time sitting on the bench with the grumpy Mother looking through the newspaper for a job. Smudge is happy, the dog is happy, they all enjoy their time at the park and chatter together all the way home.

The Third voice is that of Charles. He seems a shy, reluctant boy but makes a new friend in Smudge. He hopes that she will be there the next time he goes.

The Fourth voice is that of Smudge. Smudge is the essence of joy.

IMG_4779In all of the illustrations, you see all the other characters and how they interact in the story. The two dogs are having a grand ole time running and chasing each other. The kids have a grand ole time playing together. But there is so much more going on in the pictures! When the Mother is shouting for Charles, the trees are shouting too. When the Father and Smudge are walking to the park, their neighborhood is dark and dreary with homeless people on the sidewalk. When they walk home there are cheery lights in the trees and buildings and the homeless people are dancing. In one picture of Smudge and Charles sitting on a park bench, Charles’s half of the picture is dark and dreary and Smudge’s half is sunny and bright.

Each voice is also presented in a different font. The Mother’s is a rather formal font, The Father’s is big and bold. Charles’s font is thin and almost invisible. The font for Smudge is happy-go-lucky.

Mr Browne is an absolute genius! We read this book with some 4th graders and they were mesmerized – searching for all the little subtleties in the pictures. A very engaging tale!

I have written about Mr Browne before HERE, HERE, and HERE, if you are interested in seeing more of him.

I wish for you a lovely day in the park! Keep your eyes and ears open to all around you!


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Going on Safari

Well, I’ve wrapped up 2013 and tucked it away. Now it’s time to move on down the trail.

IMG_4718I’m going on Safari with Bruce the Gargoyle over at The Bookshelf Gargoyle.

Bruce is hosting the Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge. And I have taken up the gauntlet. Click on that blue link to get all the scoop about this one. I think it’s going to be a fun piece of cake!

These are the categories that I must complete –

A book with something related to Safari in the title

A book with a piece of furniture in the title

A book with a specific time in the title

A book with someone’s name in the title

A book with something that comes in pairs in the title

A book with something precious in the title

A book with something unsightly in the title

A book with some form of wordplay in the title

So I am now off to tackle the jungle of the library!

Wish me luck! And feel free to join in!

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The Reckoning and Movin’ On

2014 — Hmmmm. What does that mean exactly?

The Ghost of Christmas Presents has come and gone

IMG_4706The New Year Balls have dropped from the sky

IMG_4711Life seems to be pretty good! What now?

Well, I guess it’s time for a reckoning. Looking backwards at what was and where we are now. About this time last year, I entered into a challenge put forth by Shar Mohr at My Picture Book Writing Journey. She challenged readers to read 300 books in 2013. I accepted the challenge and began my quest. Sadly, I fell short of the goal. I read 191 books in 2013. That’s not a bad number. It’s really a good number. And I sure had fun along the way.

We read a LOT of good books in 2013. After some tough deliberation, I have picked out my 15 favorites of those 191 and I’ll give you the list – in the order that I read them.

IMG_0819The Golden Rule
written by Ilene Cooper
illustrated by Gabi Swiatowski
published by Abrams Books in 2007
Review here.

IMG_1067This Moose Belongs to Me
written and illustrated by
Oliver Jeffers
Published by Philomel Books in 2012
Review here

IMG_1131The Night I Followed the Dog
written and illustrated by
Nina Laden
Published by Chronicle Books in 1994
Review here

IMG_1377The Incredible Book Eating Boy
written and illustrated by
Oliver Jeffers
Published by Philomel Books in 2006
Review here

written and illustrated by
Anthony Browne
Published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1991
Review here

IMG_1684Dog Loves Books
written and illustrated by
Louise Yates
Published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2010
Review here

img334Painting the Wind
written by
Patricia and Emily MacLachlan
illustrated by Katy Schneider
Published by Harper Collins in 2003
Review here

IMG_2583Bub or the Very Best Thing
written and illustrated by
Natalie Babbitt
Published by Michael di Capua Books in 1994
Review here

IMG_3102Black Dog
written and illustrated by
Levi Pinfold
Published by Templar Books in 2011
Review here

IMG_3745The Dancing Tiger
written by Malachy Doyle
illustrated by Steve Johnson and
Lou Fancher
Published by Viking in 2005
Review here


written and illustrated by
Kathryn Otoshi
Published by KO Kids Books in 2008
Review here

A Ball for Daisy

written and illustrated by
Chris Raschka
Published by Schwartz and Wade Books in 2011
Review here

Infinity and Me

written by Kate Hosford
illustrated by Gabi Swiatowska
Published by Carolrhoda Books in 2012
Review here


written and illustrated by
Jo Empson
Published by Child’s Play in 2012
Review here

Flo & Wendell

written and illustrated by
William Wegman
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2013
Review here

2013 was a truly good year for good books! Now it’s time to move on and see what 2014 has in store for us! I am looking forward to some magical moments!

Thanks for reading along with me!
Your friend

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National Day of the Cowboy

Today is National Day of the Cowboy. I was unaware of this special day until this week! But I have learned that Glen Rose is celebrating in a big way today. It seems that in 2005 “President George Bush declared the fourth Saturday in July as the National Day of the Cowboy to honor the heritage of those who came west after the Civil War and ultimately became known as the American Cowboy.” Bush stated that ” We celebrate the Cowboy as a symbol of the grand history of the American West. The Cowboy’s love of the land and love of the country are examples for all Americans.”

To go along with this I give you Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code.


1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2. He must never go back on his word.
3. He must always tell the truth.
4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals
5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6. He must help people in distress.
7. He must be a good worker.
8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.
10. The Cowboy is a patriot.

Now, I’m kind of a farm dog and I spend a lot of time with kids who have horses and cows so I guess I know some cowboys. I do know quite a few people who seem to live up to that code. It seems to be something good to strive for.

When my Mom Person was a wee young thing a long time ago, she was a girl of the suburbs who dreamed of being a cowgirl. She had a horse, but no cows. It’s hard to be a real cowgirl without cows. But she lived in her world of books. And her favorite author in those days was a gentleman by the name of Will James (1892-1942). He was a real cowboy and a writer and an artist. Her favorite book was one called Smoky the Cow Horse. She read it to me when I was a wee young pup.


But today in honor of Cowboy Day, we read another Will James book that was written for younger kids called Young Cowboy. It’s actually kind of a mash-up from a couple of other books, but it was originally published in 1935 by Charles Scribner’s Sons. The book that we have was published in 2001 by Mountain Press in conjunction with the Will James Art Company. They have reprinted all of Will James’s books under the name the Tumbleweed Series.


Young Cowboy is the story of a boy, Billy Roper, and a horse, Big Enough, who are born on the same day and grow up together learning how to be good cowhands. The horse “breaking” methods are pretty out of date and style, and made me cringe a little, but the story is a good one and it is true to the times. It’s a pretty good history lesson about cowboy life. The book is filled with Mr James’s artwork and is quite stunning. It’s probably suitable for 3rd grade and up. Younger cowpokes might like to listen to the story and would surely enjoy the pictures.

So y’all head on out today and find a rodeo, or shop at a western store, or watch a good western movie on TV. Or just enjoy a good steak for dinner! And think about cowboys! YeeHaw!!!

For more on Will James you might visit the Will James Society website here.

There is a National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Ft Worth, Tx that is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area. And there seem to be other cowgirl museums in other states. You might check that out.

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is in Oklahoma City. I’ve never been there. But again, there are Cowboy Museums in lots of states. Our Texas Cowboy Museum is in Ft Worth.

And if you would like to read other Cowboy Codes you can visit this website.

And for your listening and viewing pleasure here is Mr Roy Rogers singing a tribute to cowboys – Hoppy, Gene, and Me –

And Y’all come back now!

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A Rather Fowl Day!

There are several varieties of domestic critters who call the 7 Acre Wood home. One of the more interesting is our little flock of chickens. I’ve written about these chickens before. I find them quite fascinating. They spend their days wandering all over eating bugs and scratching up the flower beds. They take sand baths (which I can relate to) and love mud (which I also can relate to). They lay eggs (which I like!). But not always where they’re supposed to, so we have Easter Egg Hunts every day. They have a chicken coop that they are supposed to sleep in at night so they won’t get eaten by raccoons, but some of them prefer sleeping in the trees. Even in the rain and snow!! I have spent a lot of time studying our chickens and can’t decide if they are really dumb or really smart. We can all be out enjoying a nice day in the yard and POOF! the chickens have disappeared! One minute they’re there scratching around, the next they’re gone! Under the bushes. Then I realize a big vulture or hawk has flown over. If nothing else, the chickens are entertaining.

Now I tell you all this because I have a couple of outstanding chicken books to share with you!


the problem with chickens The Problem With Chickens is by Bruce McMillan and illustrated by Gunnella. It was published in 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Co. It’s a story that takes place in Iceland where the illustrator is from and the author has spent summers. In a small village the ladies would collect eggs from some wild birds that live on cliffs. But it was very difficult to get these eggs so the ladies traveled to the city and got some chickens. Everybody was very happy for awhile – until the chickens started acting like the ladies! The pictures of the chickens doing what the ladies do are hilarious!! Silly chickens! And then the chickens stopped laying eggs! Now I’m not going to tell you how the ladies solved this problem! You’ll have to read the book to find out! But trust me — you will like this whimsical book! It is a funny, thought provoking read. And tells you a lot about chickens!

Big ChickensBig Chickens is by Leslie Helakoski and illustrated by Henry Cole. (Mr Cole is responsible for another book I did recently – Unspoken). Big Chickens was published in 2006 by Puffin Books. It is another really funny book! I wonder if it is possible to write a serious book about chickens? This is the story of four BIG hens who are scared out of their coop by a wolf and run into the woods. They encounter several obstacles in the woods that scare them crazy, but they manage to surmount these obstacles and go on their way. It’s a tale of facing your fears and marching ahead. And in the end they prevail. A funny, funny read aloud with silly, silly pictures. And this book also tells you a lot about chickens!

IMG_1776So the next time you’re out hunting or shopping for eggs, give some thought to those strange creatures that laid those eggs.

Here is a link to some pretty good chicken jokes (if you are so inclined) – click HERE.

And a little musical entertainment –

Have a nice day!

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Eating out

The other day I told you all about some fine “eating out” opportunities in Glen Rose. While doing that post, we did a lot of reading at the library of books about eating out at restaurants and just eating in general. The fine Library Ladies did some research and came up with a big stack of books. Whew! You would not believe how many picture books there are about eating out!! I picked out my favorites to share with you.


img407The Berenstain Bears are always a fun read. And a favorite with most kids. The Berenstain Bears Go Out to Eat is a nice story about a nice family who does their chores without whining, they work hard, and are considerate of one another. It was written by Jan & Mike Berenstain and published by Harper Festival in 2010. The family decides to take Mama out to dinner because she works hardest of anyone. The dinner out does not go completely smoothly, but no one complains or gets upset. They enjoy each other’s company and the kids even eat their broccoli! And Mama says it’s just what she needed!!

froggyFroggy Eats Out is by Jonathan London with illustrations by Frank Remkiewicz. It was published by Viking in 2001. Froggy is another favorite. He is such a joyfully enthusiastic critter! In this story, Froggy is hungry and dreaming about burgers and flies. Flies! His mother tells him that they are going out to eat at a fancy restaurant to celebrate their anniversary. Froggy has to put on his nice clothes – zip, zut, zoop! Then they’re off to the fancy restaurant where mother says he has to “be neat, be quiet, and don’t put your feet on the table.” Froggy has a hard time being still and does a lot of silly things and ends up making a big embarrassing mess. So they decide they need to go eat at a fast flies place instead and there they have a wonderful time. Happy ending!

img406On Top of Spaghetti was written and illustrated by Paul Brett Johnson and based on the song with lyrics by Tom Glazer. It was published by Scholastic Press in 2006. This is a really cute, funny book. It’s the story of Yodeler Jones who has a spaghetti restaurant and decides he needs to come up with the most dee-licious meatball around. But his helper mouse SNEEZED! and the meatball rolled out of the door — and the chase is on! The meatball flies down the street ricocheting off people’s heads until it lands under a bush and turns into mush. And if you know the song — you know what happens next! Words and music for the song are at the end of the book. And recipes are on the back. An all around yummy book!!

princess pickyPrincess Picky is by Marjorie Priceman and published by Roaring Brook Press in 2002. It’s about a princess who refuses to eat her vegetables. Her worried dad, the King, orders his staff to come up with fantastic bribes to entice her to eat. The bribes are all pretty silly until the wizard asks her what she wants and then gives her some magic seeds that will surely bring her all of those things. It’s a cute book with some wacky, fun illustrations.

dinosAnd since I live in the Land of the Dinosaurs, of course I have a dinosaur book for you! How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? is by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague. It was published by Blue Sky Press in 2005. This duo makes for great books. There is a whole series of these books about how dinosaurs do things — like say good night, and get well, and count to ten and ….. I love all of these books and you need to check them all out because they are guaranteed to tickle your funny bone!!

neverAnd I think my favorite of this bunch of books is a Charlie and Lola book titled I Will Never NOT EVER Eat a Tomato. I LOVE Charlie and Lola, and so do the kids at the library. This is another series of fun books by Lauren Child. I love the pictures in these books — they’re kind of collages with real photos mixed in with simple artwork. This story is kind of like the picky princess. Here, Lola is the picky princess. She won’t eat anything until Charlie figures out how to trick her into eating. He’s very clever!!! And you’ll have to read it to find out what he does!!

Here is the official website for the Berenstain Bears

A video interview with Mark Teague

And a special TREAT!  Little Richard sings On Top of Spaghetti!