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



Illustrator: Christian Robinson


a Sunday in the inner city

sweet moments

special moments

A grandmother and grandson come out of church and board the city bus this Sunday afternoon, their regular time together.  Along the way, CJ asks why questions about things he wishes he could own and about things he wishes were different in his neighborhood.  He also sees things as ugly.  His wise Nana sees beauty all around her and sees provisions already at hand.  As Nana teaches CJ, she hopes he is learning a different and better way to see the world in which they live.

As the cover reveals, the art is bright and bold with simple shapes.  It is easy to look upon. Children can understand this story through the pictures alone if they are not yet reading words.

I love this book because it is so personal to the illustrator and the author in their individual ways.  It is real.  It brings inequality to the forefront yet sets it to the background in order to show that which lasts beyond that which is fleeting.  The beauty that Nana sees in the same neighborhood where CJ sees ugliness reminds me that all truly is in the eyes of the beholder.  I also love this book because both the author and the illustrator are humble young men as can be seen through their own words:  

Christian Robinson, the illustrator said, “Having ‘Last Stop on Market Street’ recognized by the Coretta Scott King, Caldecott and Newbery committees is truly unimaginable. The pictures in this book were inspired by memories of riding the bus with my grandmother, who raised my brother and me, and taught me to count my blessings. Today I feel deeply blessed and humbled to be a part of a book that is inclusive and honors the experience of children who share a similar story. Celebrating this moment with my Nana is the greatest gift.”  

Matt de la Peña’s official statement to the AP:  “I am humbled beyond words that “Last Stop on Market Street” has been awarded the 2016 Newbery Medal, placing it alongside so many seminal works which have long inspired my path as an author. It’s important to me that Last Stop’s illustrator, Christian Robinson, share in this honor as this is a picture book, and from the very beginning I’ve felt that his wonderful illustrations make this book what it is. I also want to acknowledge what a privilege it is to be the first Latino male author to receive the Newbery Medal. I hope all the brilliant Hispanic writers of the past and present view this as a recognition or our diverse community and that it inspires young Hispanics coming up to read their way through the world and consider a path in the arts.”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years


**Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal
**A 2016 Caldecott Honor Book
**A 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
**A #1 New York Times Bestseller
Four Starred Reviews
Finalist for the 2014 E.B. White Read-aloud Book Award
A Junior Library Guild Selection
A Winter 2014-2015 Kids’ Indie Next Pick
Best of Lists Include:
 – New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2015
– Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Books of 2015
– NPR Best Books of 2015
– Boston Globe Best of 2015
– A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
– A Winter 2014-2015 Kids’ Indie Next Pick
– Finalist for the E.B. White Read Aloud Award
– BookPage Best Picture Books of 2015
– Horn Book Best Book of 2015
– Atlanta Parent Best Books of 2015
– Raleigh News & Observer Best Children’s Books of 2015
– Miami Herald Best Children’s Books of 2015
– 2015 Horn Book Summer Reading List
– Scholastic Instructor “50 Best Summer Books”
– School Library Journal’s Top 10 Latin Books list
– Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Lit “Best Multicultural Books of 2015”


Matt de la Peña ~ This young author is an award-winning writer no matter what age-level book he authors.  He is the first Hispanic male author to win the Newbery Medal.

Matt de la Peña received his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship and his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University (my alma mater, by the way!).  Mr. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.  He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.  You can find him @ Matt de la Peña, on Twitter @mattdelapena


Christian Robinson is an illustrator of picture books. In 2008, he earned a BFA in Character Animation at the California Institute of the Arts.  He has worked at both Pixar Studios and Sesame Street Workshop.  While living in San Francisco, Christian seems to enjoy keeping a balance….he calls it “blurring the line between work and play.”  He used acrylic paints, collage, and a bit of digital manipulation.  Mr. Robinson can be found @ The Art of Fun




Book Information:

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (January 8, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399257748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399257742
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.3 x 10.9 inches
Posted in Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Middle Readers, Picture Book, Poetry, Reading, Young Adult

POEMS TO LEARN BY HEART by Caroline Kennedy


This is a collection of almost 200 poems, a companion to “A Family of Poems,” Caroline Kennedy’s New York Times #1 Bestseller from 2005.  This beautiful volume is filled with poetry of all sorts: about one’s self, family, friendship, and love.  There are poems about sports and games, about school.  Nonsensical poetry, poems about fairies, ogres, and witches are included too.  There are deeply touching poems about war, poetry about nature, Bible verses, and so much more are scattered together and throughout this fine book.

“Poets distill life’s lessons into the fewest possible words.  But those tiny packages of thought contain worlds of images and experiences and feelings.”  Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy writes about the importance of memorization of poetry in her introduction.  “If our circumstances change and things seem to be falling apart, we can recall a poem that reassures us. If we find ourselves in unfamiliar or frightening surroundings, a poem can remind us that others have journeyed far and returned safely home.  If we learn poems by heart, we will always have their wisdom to draw on, and we gain understanding that no one can take away.”

As a Bible verse is memorized and tucked into my heart, even if only in part, it will be there when I need it the most.  Poetry can be a similar strength in a weaker time.

This anthology has works of art by well known poets from the past such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  They remind me of poetry I once read, maybe even memorized for a class.  Geoffrey Chaucer’s General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales is even etched into this book. (I read the whole of The Canterbury Tales when I was in high school from the Old English translation, no less, each night for homework, translating it into “readable” English for Senior English class/Mrs. Lee!  I recall the assignment well.  I did not tuck any of that away for those weaker moments, I am afraid!)  Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, along with Ogden Nash, Carl Sandburg, and many others remind parents of poems they may have memorized or read.

Poetry by A.A. Milne, Nikki Giovanni, Shel Silverstein, Jane Yolen, and Jack Prelutsky represents some of the newer poets yet each stands tall among those of years gone by.

Caroline Kennedy worked regularly with the DreamYard Preparatory School in the Bronx who authored a lengthy poem (or more) in this book as well.  These young people are the DreamYard Slam Team.  She dedicates the book to them and their futures.

The watercolor paintings of Jon J. Muth are gentle and excellent for each and every page, each and every poem.  As one example, on page 35, the Bible verse, Micah 6:8, is written upon an array of blues suggesting the heavenly realm spread over the double-page:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Yes, Bible verses can also poetry.

This is another fine collection from Caroline Kennedy.  She is an advocate for poetry as she was brought up with it in her family.  They shared poetry at gatherings of the whole Kennedy clan as well as amongst their own smaller family.  Caroline said her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy, loved poetry and encouraged her children to engage with it, to memorize it.  Rose Kennedy, Caroline’s grandmother, was another encourager along this creative avenue.

Reading Level: Preschool and up


Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is a lawyer, author, education advocate, and lifelong supporter of the arts.  Ms. Kennedy attended Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, England from 1975-1976. She earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from Radcliffe College at Harvard University in 1980. Ms. Kennedy received her J.D. from Columbia University Law School in 1988.  She is the Ambassador to Japan from the United States of America.

She is the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis , sister to John Kennedy.

She has written many books and articles, subjects ranging from legal issues, family and children, the Kennedy family, and poetry.


Jon J Muth is an American artist, born and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He loved to draw as a boy, and he also painted. His mother was an art teacher and took him to museums all over the US.  He studied stone sculpture in Japan; paintings, prints and drawings in Austria, Germany, and England.  Most of his education as an artist came from an informal apprenticeship with fine artists.

“My work in children’s books really grew out of a desire to explore what I was feeling as a new father,” says Muth. “I was working in comics and that is a natural forum for expressions of angst and questioning one’s place in the universe. When the children came it became important to say other things about the world. With the birth of my children, there was a kind of seismic shift in where my work seemed appropriate.”

Jon Muth has illustrated (and written some) picture books of high acclaim.  They are beloved around the world.

Muth lives in upstate New York with his wife and four children. Jon can be found @ or on Pinterest or @ RMichelsonGalleries  or  for many paintings from this book.

Book Information

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; First Edition edition (March 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423108051
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423108054
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds



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



A slumber party…a first sleepover for Clement, the rabbit…with his friends, Jean, the elephant, and Alan Alexander, the bear.   They jump on the bed, dance, play hide-and-seek, eat, and so much more.  Just what we would want at our own slumber party!

At bedtime, finally, Maggie, the girl who lives with Clement, reads them bedtime stories and has them tell what they are thankful for.

This is a sweet, simple story that leaves you with a tug of happiness and a smile.  Nothing heavy at all and some humor tucked in around the edges makes this a perfect bedtime story.

The illustrations are done in pen and ink, pencil, and watercolor on handmade paper.  Each page is simple and uncluttered yet each is a page of colorful art.

Age Range:  3 – 6 Years


Patrick McDonnell

In 1994 Patrick McDonnell created the comic strip MUTTS, which now appears in over 700 newspapers in 20 countries. MUTTS comic strip has received numerous awards.

In 2005, McDonnell began a children’s book career. His first children’s book, The Gift of Nothing, quickly became a New York Times Best Seller.  To name just two others, in 2007, Hug Time was another New York Times Best Seller.  Me…Jane, a biography of the young Jane Goodall, was a 2012 Caldecott Honor winner.  Many more children’s books have been written and illustrated by Mr. McDonnell.

McDonnell also had a successful career as a freelance illustrator.  “McDonnell’s website,, promotes his animal- and earth-friendly philosophy. Consistent with McDonnell’s concern for the environment, all of the MUTTS books are printed on recycled paper. He and his wife Karen O’Connell are vegetarian and happily reside with Amelie, their rescue Jack Russell terrier, and Not Ootie, their formerly feral cat.” ***

Mr. McDonnell can also be found on Twitter @MUTTScomics, on facebook @





Book Information:


Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication date:10/06/2015


Product dimensions:7.20(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.50(d)


*** from his website section “About Patrick”