Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading


6584013_origOh my!  The creativity that I found in this book is absolutely amazing!  For a mind to think up this fun and unique story, to illustrate with such delightful intention, is just beyond my imagination.  Yet it made every creative juice I have begin to flow!  This book reads vertically, horizontally and vertically again.  It is in browns, grays, sepia tones at first, then gradually adding colors to dominate the pages.

“Once upon a time there was no alphabet.  Only numbers.   Everyone liked numbers.  They had nice shapes and kept things orderly.  Everything added up…so life was sort of…numberly.”  The book is read on the vertical at this point.

But five elf-like friends thought they needed “MORE.”  They were “TIRED OF THE SAME OLD THING.”  In trying to create something “DIFFERENT,” they struggled.  They did not give up though; their creativity just increased.  The book turns to the horizontal now.  Letters began to take shape.  Color comes into their world.  The more alphabet, the more color…then the book goes vertical again.  New and fun things begin to happen.  And I must, oh I must! leave you on that note because you really HAVE TO read and devour this book!  Such a cool, imaginative book!  I just love it!

Reading Level: 3 – 7 Years

William Joyce is a busy man…creating films, apps, even participating in Olympic curling, but he really loves children’s books (The Numberlys, The Man in the Moon, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, Toothiana, and the #1 New York Times bestselling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also an Academy Award–winning short film).  He has written and illustrated over fifty children’s books.  He lives with his family in Shreveport, Louisiana.  He and his creative passions can be found @

Christina Ellis is an illustrator, telling fantastic stories through her characters and their worlds. Christina joined Moonbot Studios after studying illustration at Ringling College of Art and Design. She lives in Shreveport, Louisiana also.  The Numberlys is her picture book debut.   She has a website @

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9781442473430
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Moonbot Books
  • Publication date: 5/27/2014
  • Pages: 56
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 11.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

9479722_orig1514005_origOriginal review 9-24-2014

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading


3721507A library which opens for the night only is run by a young girl who is the librarian, of course.  Not your ordinary library, I must admit!  This special librarian is also not ordinary.  She is a girl and has three assistants who happen to be owls, those birds who just happen to love the night hours!  Animals are the patrons who want books, of course.  The four staff members help each one find just the “perfect” book, just to their individual liking.  Each patron would stay and read in this open-all-night peaceful and quiet library.

(BEWARE!!  This review is filled with spoilers!!)

One night, though, a “band of squirrels” came in, set up, and began playing loudly, disrupting the patrons.  But our little librarian knew the answer to the problem.  Rather than kick them out, she took them upstairs to the activity room where they could play and find a “good song” for their next concert.  So the night library returned to its peaceful and quiet self.

Later, as the librarian put books back on the shelves, she thought it was raining inside, but it was a wolf in the library which could not contain his tears when he got to a very sad part in his book, leaving him unable to finish reading.  The librarian took him to the storytelling corner where the owls finished reading the book (knowing that he needed to hear the tale completely because it had a happy ending).

Preparing to close the library, one patron would not leave because he, the tortoise, wanted to finish his book, but he read as slowly as turtles walk across streets.  The librarian made him his own library card so he could check out the book in order to read it at home, making him so very happy.

The little librarian had an answer for everything!  And upon closing, she and the owls prepared for bed where she read a bedtime story to them for a good day’s sleep before another night at the Midnight Library.

I loved this book.  Not only is it an original story filled with imaginative characters, events, and outcomes, but it is done in three simple colors (gold, black, blue) making it easy on the eye.  Being a retired children’s librarian, I highly recommend this book as a bedtime story and as a story about libraries and books.  You will love it!!

Reading Level: 3 – 6 Years

Kazuno Kohara  grew up in Japan and went to the United Kingdom as a student, where she studied printmaking at Anglia Ruskin University, graduating in 2007 with her Masters in Art.  Kazuno currently lives in Cambridge, England.  You can find her @

She has written three other books:

  • Ghosts in the House!, Roaring Brook Press, 2008  Her book Ghosts in the House was named a Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2008 by The New York Times.  (The Haunted House was also the title of what looks to me to be the same book, but a different publisher, but could not find any information comparing the two.  The covers are the same but maybe I am missing something.  Both are described as her first book.?)
  • Here Comes Jack Frost, Roaring Brook Press, 2009
  • Little Wizard, Roaring Brook Press, 2010

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9781596439856
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 6/17/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Original review 7-6-2014

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Picture Book, Reading



Can I say it any more emphatically?  This is truly a classic and one that continues to be read to the young, lessons learned by all.  Don’t let the original publication date of 1930 fool you or scare you away as the book holds its story so well.

There have been many editions, even some before 1930.  Sunday school lessons, stories entitled “The Pony Engine,” “Thinking One Can,” “Story of the Engine That Thought It Could,” “The Royal Engine,” and more were published in magazines, newspapers, as a small book, even the first title in a series that were sold door-to-door.  Roy E. Plotnick (of the University of Illinois @ Chicago) did some extensive research on the history of this little book.  Rather than go into detail here, I will refer you to if you are interested in that history.

The little train, filled with toys, stuffed animals, dolls, and even food (candies and nutritional fruits, milk, and greens), has to get to the other side of the mountain.  It just doesn’t have the ability so some of the toys disembark along the tracks.  The clown begins asking other engines passing by if they can help.  There is a “Shiny New Engine,” a “Big Strong Engine,” and a “Rusty Old Engine” which all answered that they could not, would not because they were a passenger train or a freight train or just too tired.  These excuses led to a sadness amongst the toys until a little blue engine came along.  When asked for help, she told them that she had never been over the mountain plus she was little.  But she decided to try.  She hooked the cars of the train to her engine and began the journey up over the mountain with an attitude of “I think I can.  I think I can.”  And she did.

“The Little Engine That Could” continues to teach the reader and listener the value of hard work and optimistism.   This little engine keeps right on chugging!

Reading Level: 3 – 5 Years

Arnold Munk is the real name of the author.  “Watty Piper” was his pen name as an author of children’s books and as the editor (and owner) of many of the books that Platt & Munk published.  He was born in Hungary, and as a child, moved to the United States with his family, settling in Chicago, and later, New York.

The illustrator for his original version in 1930 was Lois Lenski.  In 1954, Platt & Munk published another version of The Little Engine That Could, with slightly revised language and new, more colorful illustrations done by George and Doris Hauman.  “It was the work of George and Doris Hauman that earned The Little Engine the title of being worthy to sit on the same shelf as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” **  Since then, the tale has been re-illustrated by Ruth Sanderson in 1976, and Loren Long in 2005.  The version I am reviewing is the one illustrated by the Haumans, republished by Penguin in 1976.  I recommend looking at the version done by Loren Long for his art is wonderful.  You can find him at 

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780448405209
  • Publisher: Platt & Munk, Publishers, a division of Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1978
  • Edition description: Original Classic
  • Pages: 48
  • Product dimensions: 7.06 (w) x 11.06 (h) x 0.35 (d)

**  Bernice E. Cullinan, Diane Goetz Person. The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. Continuum International Publishing Group, Aug 1, 2003.  Pg. 634

I originally reviewed this classic book on 7-31-2014.

Posted in Adult Fiction, Book, Book Review, Classic, Reading


51zRzieodBL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_In my mid sixties, I have finally read this classic.  It was never a required book in my years of high school nor college, but I am glad I have been desiring to read some classic literature now.  It truly is “literature” –  written works, esp. those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.”   The Good Earth was published in 1931, written of a time around the 1920s in China when the last emperor reigned in China.  Pearl Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel.

Wang Lung is a farmer.  The land is his security.  The land becomes more and more important to him as he ages.  He begins small, but fears, life’s upheavals, social and political changes, destitution, lust and greed factor into how Wang Lung lives each new day.  Wang Lung has a faithful, selfless wife, O-Lan.  She has known hard times, struggling since she was a girl for she was sold to the “Great House of Hwang” as a girl slave.

The Good Earth is about this couple, their country, China, and the sweeping changes of both the man and the country over his lifetime.  The book traces the slow rise of Wang Lung from humble peasant farmer to great landlord.  He achieves this feat by gradually adding to his lands and making enormous sacrifices to retain them through hard times.  Fortunes were gained and lost, horded and stolen.  Times of fear, hard living, hard work, lives filled with passion, ambitions, and rewards, times of sorrow and weakness fill this novel to overflowing.  The country of China then was an agrarian country so times were different.  The people lived on the land and worked it to live or they lived in the towns and cities making life there.  There were the poor and the wealthy with very little in between.  China certainly was not a world power as it is today.

I found this to be a fine novel of its eighty-three years.  It is beautifully written as the characters feel real, the emotions sadly authentic, and the life cycle ringing true no matter what country or time period we face.  This family struggles falling into bad times, regains their footing, experiences poverty and wealth.  There is anger between family members, love and appreciation for others.  Some use others for their own gain, and sense fear and jealousy of many, be they family members or neighbors in the nearest town.

So much is encompassed in this classic novel.  It is a fine piece of literature.

Bestselling book – both 1931 and 1932
Pulitzer Prize – 1935
Howells Medal – 1935
Nobel Prize in Literature – 1938  (first American woman to win this award as well)

Pearl S. Buck was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia.  She began to publish stories and essays in the 1920s, in magazines such as The Nation, The Chinese Recorder, Asia, and The Atlantic Monthly. Her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, was published by the John Day Company in 1930.  In 1931, John Day published Pearl’s second novel, The Good Earth.  By the time of her death in 1973, Pearl had published more than seventy books: novels, collections of stories, biography and autobiography, poetry, drama, children’s literature, and translations from the Chinese. She is buried at Green Hills Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780743272933
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2004
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)


Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading


simple drawings…
few colors…
a story of persistence…
harkening back to the 1940s & 50s of my childhood…
with a fun conclusion to the story.

The girl has her younger brother with her when she sees a new green two-wheeled bicycle in the store window.  She needs money in order to buy this bike so she empties her piggy bank, checks her pockets, the dryer, under the couch pillows, only to find that she hasn’t enough.  She contemplates her options as seriously as a young girl can.
She decides to find work raking leaves.  After several disappointing attempts, she is hired.  She works, not only raking leaves but any other chore the woman can find for her to do around her home.  Finally, the girl has enough money to buy the bicycle.  With money in hand, she heads to the store only to find it gone.  Surprisingly, she decides to buy her brother a tricycle instead.  Without giving the ending away, there is more to the story…and that is all I am willing to say!

The illustrations are simple and so perfectly clear, filled with expression and emotion in a quiet sort of way.  Mark Pett has given us a sweet story filled with thoughtfulness, persistence, and love.

Reading Level:  4 – 8 Years

Mark Pett is the “authorstrator” of The Boy and the Airplane and The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes. He is creator of the syndicated comic strips Mr. Lowe and Lucky Cow. He lives in Salt Lake City. You can find more about him and his books @

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9781442483194
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/29/2014
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

I originally reviewed this book 6-7-2014.

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading


9365438_orig“This is a book with no pictures.  It might seem like no fun to have someone read you a book with no pictures.  It probably seems boring and serious.
“Here is how books work:
“Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say.

“No matter what.
“That’s the deal.  That’s the rule.”

Thus this book begins…
Silly words to read and sentences to make the reader seem silly are at each turn of a page.  The reader talks back to the words with a notion not to read anymore.  PLEASE!  But the reader must go on for the children listening will want to hear it all and hear it all from YOU, the reader.
It’s fun, silly, and “preposterous.”

I smiled as I read it to myself.  I couldn’t help it. : )

“ma GRUMPH – a – doo
“Aiiee!  GLIBBITY-globbity….”
And I called myself a monkey and have a hippo friend named “BOO BOO BUTT.”

“Warning on the back to the adult being asked by a kid to read this book.  Beware.”  

It is just silly fun and kids will love to hear you read it again and again.

Reading Level: 5 – 8 Years

New York Times bestseller

“B.J. Novak is well known for his work on NBC’s Emmy Award-winning comedy series The Office as an actor, writer, director, and executive producer. He is also acclaimed for his standup comedy, his performances in motion pictures, and his New York Times bestselling book of short stories, One More Thing. A graduate of Harvard University with a degree in English and Spanish literature, B.J. lives in Los Angeles, California.”
There are several places you can find Mr. Novak:  (@bjnovak)

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780803741713
  • Publisher: Dial
  • Publication date: 9/30/2014
  • Pages: 48
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

My original review of this fun book was done 11-30-2014.

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading



Tadeo (TAHD-ay-OH) Turtle seemed content until he met Sammy Squirrel.  Sammy could climb trees and run.  Tadeo could not.  He has a dream where he lets the shell on his back go, giving him free range of movement.  He, then, becomes vulnerable to the attack of Cat.  He no longer has his shell to hide under and within.  The dream stirs him to think about the way God made him and why it is important to accept himself the way he was created.  God makes us each in His image and for His purposes.  May we accept this beautiful gift as Tadeo learned to do.  

This short book has a lesson for children and adults alike.  How often do we wish we were like someone else or had things that others have?  Tadeo Turtle is a simple rhyming story for the young.  Janis Cox illustrated the animals and scenes in luscious, colorful watercolors.  They are so beautifully painted.  It is a delightful book to read and to look upon.

At the end of the book, there are activities to do with children: a paper plate turtle, a rock turtle, a clay turtle, and even a felt board activity.  There is a page for researching turtles, such as the many types, or endangered turtles, with websites from which to begin a study.  Janis Cox has also written a twenty-page curriculum entitled “Tadeo Turtle Curriculum JK – Grade One and Grade Two.”  She includes activities for math, language arts, music, Scripture study, science, art, and physical education.  From one small and sweet book, there is so much included to do with children.

Reading Level: 4-8

Living along the Gulf Coast of Texas, I can imagine this book being used easily with children during our early summer release of the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles, an endangered species being cared for by the National Seashore.  The public always play a large role in the assistance of this release.


from her BIO SKETCH:
Janis is a wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend. Her adult career has consisted of stay-at-home-mom, small business owner, public school teacher, painter, and writer. She also has tried pottery making and is currently relearning how to play the piano. She enjoys trying anything at least once (but maybe not bungee jumping!).
Her writing and painting careers started simultaneously and that meant dividing her time between two loves.
Janis is passionate about prayer. She has taught Bible Studies on prayer and talks about how it is just as important to listen to God as to talk to Him.
Janis has a blog ( where she writes about her life and how God speaks to her.  You can join Janis @ where she posts turtle related themes and crafts.

Book Information:

  • Paperback: 28 pages
  • Publisher: Word Alive Press (October 9, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1770696954
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770696952
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.1 x 8.5 inches

A digital copy of this book was given to me by the author for an honest book review which I have done.

Photo: Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles release, June 1, 2013 Channel 3/KIII/Corpus Christi, Texas @

Originally reviewed on 4-5-2015

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Picture Book, Reading

SWIMMY by Leo Leonni

5126507As a 50th Anniversary edition, you know it’s got to be a classic.  Indeed, it is.

Swimmy is a little black fish.  He swims the big sea alone much of the time and is lonely.  He does find other small fish to be fearful of those big fish, the predator fish.  Swimmy comes up with a wonderful teamwork plan to keep them safe and yet able to swim in their ocean rather than staying huddled up inside a cavern or behind a rock.  It is their home too, you know.

This is a book filled with great illustrations that takes the reader below the surface of the sea.  Through discovery in this big wide ocean, Swimmy finds that a little bit of community and working together to overcome danger and releasing fear turns loneliness into fresh expansive living by being open to what is before you.  We can take this lesson and use it whether under water, in the air, or on the earth.  You will love this book if it is new to you or if it is time to break it out for the grandchildren.

Award:  Caldecott Honor Book – 1964

Reading Level:  Age range: 3 – 7 Years

LEO LIONNI wrote and illustrated more than 40 picture books, including four Caldecott Honor books–Inch by Inch, Swimmy, Frederick, and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse.  He was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1910.  He attended schools in Europe and the United States, eventually earning a PhD.  He spoke five languages.  In 1939, he immigrated to the United States, and was naturalized as a citizen in 1945.  He worked as a design director, artist, author, and sculptor. His work has been shown throughout Europe and America.  He died in 1999 at the age of 89.

Random House has devoted a page with links to learn more about Mr. Lionni @  It includes activities, videos, and all the books that they have published of Mr. Lionni’s.

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780385753586
  • Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
  • Publication date: 6/11/2013
  • Edition description: Anniversary
  • Edition number: 50
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Originally reviewed 3-23-2014

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

SPARKY by Jenny Offill

4739756Sparky is written in the first person, thus I do not have a name for the little girl, but she wants a pet.  Her mother is not fond of the idea at all, but listens to her daughter giving various options for what this pet could be.  Mom turns her down again and again, but, finally, gives in, only to list some serious stipulations: “You can have any pet you want as long as it doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed.”   (Right!, I say out loud while reading this delightful book in the bookstore!)  The girl goes to her school librarian (“who knows everything in the world”) for help.  (Of course, I love this description of the librarian having been a children’s librarian in the public library!)  The girl is given the Animal Encyclopedia “S” and finally turns the page to a sloth.  She decides this animal fits Mom’s stipulations and orders one through the mail.  When it arrives, she names it Sparky.  She observes its ways:  it sleeps A LOT!, eats leaves, and drinks the dew that collects in the leaves.  No need to walk it, bathe it, nor feed it!  Expecting Sparky to do tricks, she sets a training regimen for Sparky.  Her expectations are very high.  Sparky’s are not!  He just is not into tricks nor much of anything else.  With a show coming upon them quickly, the training heats up.  Sparky is not learning as she had hoped but the show must go on.  And it does!

The drawings are simple yet express emotion so well.  The artist is Chris Appelhans.

Here is a link to the Book’s Trailer on YouTube:

Just thinking about this book is making me smile!  You will too.

Reading Level: 4 – 8 Years

Award: A Junior Library Guild Selection 2014

Jenny Offill is the author of 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore, a Parenting Magazine Best Book of the Year and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year, and 11 Experiments That Failed, also a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year.  She has written two novels.  Last Things was a New York Times Notable book of the year and a finalist for the L.A. Times Art Seidenbaum award.  Dept. of Speculation, her second novel, receives wonderful reviews.  She co-edited two anthologies and contributed to a book of short stories.  You can find Ms. Offill @

Chris Appelhans has worked on several films. He was an illustrator and production designer for Coraline, an environment designer Fantastic Mr. Fox, and a visual development artist for The Princess and the Frog. This is his first picture book.   He can be found @ and

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780375870231
  • Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
  • Publication date: 3/11/2014
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 9.60 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Originally reviewed 4-5-2014

Posted in Adult Nonfiction, Book, Book Review, Christianity, Reading

WALK ON WATER FAITH by Catherine Martin


Discovering Power in the Promises of God

A Quiet Time Experience

A fine Bible study on faith.  Catherine Martin writes studies with such depth and insight.  Through God’s promises seen in the lives of many who walked in faith (shown to us in Hebrews, the Gospels,and Romans), this study is so rich and filled with God’s promises, not only to and for them, but to and for us today.

I love Catherine’s studies as she poses questions and gives Scripture to look up in relationship to the questions.  She loves the old generations of Christian writers, theologians, missionaries, and others, quoting their words in short devotionals on each day’s study. The study is eight weeks long, but you can take as long as you desire.  Each day follows a pattern: Prepare Your Heart, Read and Study God’s Word, Adore God in Prayer, Yield Yourself to God, Enjoy His Presence, and Rest in His Love….PRAYER.  Each week has five days in this pattern of study, and then the weekend is one day of reading a devotional and pondering the week’s journey that you have just completed.  There is plenty of room for making notes and plenty of depth to touch the heart of God, should you be quiet and ready to hear Him.  I have done many of her studies and find each one to grow me a bit more in one direction or another towards God.  There have been several that I have done twice.  I highly recommend any one of her studies.

Catherine Martin, Summa Cum Laude, Faculty Award graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary, Master of Arts in Theological Studies, Founder of Quiet Time Ministries, prolific author, and a Director of Women’s Ministries at her local church, has been a popular keynote, conference, and retreat speaker for more than twenty years.

We have recently completed this study @ Google+ where a number of women joined Catherine each week to share our insights and read the week’s lesson from Catherine.

Book Information

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Quiet Time Ministries Press; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0990582108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0990582106
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches

Originally reviewed 4-5-2015