Tuesday, October 6, 2020

How Creative Are Your Kids?

 My favorite part of Halloween has always been the creative costumes kids make on their own. Halloween 2020 is a little different, but not in the costume department.

 EENIE MEENIE HALLOWEENIE by Susan Eaddy, illustrated by Lucy Fleming, Harper, 2020

 What to wear? What to wear? A little girl with a dress up trunk full of inspiration has important decisions to make. Her imagination is off and waddling like a penguin or running like a pink polar bear. Could she be an ocelot? Giraffe or kangaroo? Eenie Meenie—at last, she knows what to do.      

Your little trick or treaters will love turning pages. Then turn them loose with “finds” around the house. Old curtains or sheets? Scraps of trim and fabric from your last burst of sewing? Don’t forget the kitchen. My daughter used a roll of aluminum foil to turn her 7 year old self into the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

Susan Eaddy is an author and illustrator who sculpts in clay. For her young readers and their moms, she has thoughtfully provided crafts on her web page to help extend this book’s fun way beyond Halloween. Keep scrolling down until you find out how to make a tree for a smiling little monkey. http://www.susaneaddy.com/teachers-kids

 Illustrator Lucy Fleming has peppered the pages of this charming book with surprises for sharp eyed readers. Tissue boxes? A bow tie? Lots and lots of tape and glue.

 Let’s get going!

 Switching gears, I’ve added a new feature to Book Log. How do creative folks keep their spirits up in this time when school visits, book launches, and book store gatherings have been reduced or cancelled?

 So I asked Susan Eaddy, how are you and what lifts your spirits these days? 


A tip from Susan Eaddy for lifting one’s spirits:

One of the things I have been thinking about is how the inability to travel has led me to discoveries in my own neighborhood. I have always been a walker for exercise, but usually limited my walks to 30 minutes in the blocks nearby. By necessity this led me to a predictable loop so I could be back home in 30 minutes. 

But now... I set out my front door and have no plan other than seeing up close a street that I've never explored. I've lived in the same neighborhood for 25 years and surprised myself by realizing that I'd never actually WALKED on the streets that are a less than a mile from my house. My curiosity keeps me walking further, and my 30 minute walks have become an hour or more as I indulge that curiosity to see what is around each corner. Every day is a new discovery of homes, tidy or unkempt, manicured gardens, or lawns bare with kids’ foot traffic.

Every home has a story I had never stopped to consider. And I make a point of making eye contact & saying hello with a big smile to every neighbor, walker or runner I encounter. It surprises people, and more often than not, they smile back. With genuine warmth.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Mirror? Window? Sliding Glass Doors?

EVERYTHING SAD IS UNTRUE: (a true story) BY Daniel Nayeri, Levine Querida, 2020

How do you want the readers you care about to benefit from the books they read?

This is my take-away from “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.” By Rudine Sims Bishop, from READING IS FUNDAMENTAL 1/3/2015, Multicultural Literacy

If you give children books that are mirrors, they see themselves, the readers.  When you were a young reader, did you see yourself in books? Do you want your children to identify with characters in the books they read?   

Books that are windows give readers a glimpse of the world that is different from theirs.

What is it like to live in another country? Do families whose language is different from ours love each other like our families do? Do siblings fight and make up?  Do kids want to make friends in their classrooms whether the classroom is on an island or in a mountain community or inside a city building?

Sliding glass door books invite readers to step outside. What kind of world will they enter? Who will be their friends?    

Daniel (birth name Khosrou), the main character in EVERYTHING SAD IS UNTRUE: (a true story) escapes from Iran with his mother and sister, running for their lives because their mother is a new Christian who meets in secret with other Christians. Her identity is uncovered, and the secret police give her a week to reveal the names of her Christian group members or she and her children will be killed. She finds a way to escape, taking her daughter and young son with her.

Daniel recalls how they are treated and how they respond to each sometimes life threatening and sometimes long, boring, and wearying stop on the way from the UAE to Italy to being granted asylum in the USA in Oklahoma.

In a manner that evokes Scheherazade, Daniel tells his classmates about his family, his country, and Persian culture.  His classmates are skeptical and derisive. The reader learns about Daniel’s humiliating trips on bus 209, his Oklahoma neighborhood, and his family’s loneliness. Like his classmates, the reader may or may not believe this foreigner’s tall tales. (Not my description of Daniel who sometimes made me cry.)

Mirror? Window? Sliding Glass Doors?

Author Daniel Nayeri was born in Iran, spent two years as a refugee, and emigrated to Oklahoma when he was eight. This autobiographical middle grade novel is a tribute to his mother, a dedicated practicing physician before her escape from Iran, whom he says is “unstoppable.” You can meet her, and Daniel, the author, too. 

Go to https://www.levinequerido.com/everything-sad-is-untrue

Scroll all the way down to the full document short.

You will wish you could open a sliding glass door into Daniel’s mother’s kitchen to sample a  cream puff. Have you ever tasted a pastry flavored with rosewater?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020


Today begins the second half of a year riding on a roller coaster we can’t seem to exit. Just when we think the thing has stopped, it takes off again, and we haven’t had time to re-buckle our seat belts. I’ve been looking for something to hang on to, and I’ve found something to share.


DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z, by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, Carolrhoda Books, 2020.

If every home had a copy of this book and used it in conversation often enough to make it “theirs”, we would definitely have a better world. One alphabet letter can start everyone in the family thinking until the next chance to sit and talk or stir dinner together or whatever you are doing to ward off your own brand of cabin fever.

Each alphabet letter has its own quote, its own poem about the topic title of the letter; and each poem is written in a different poetic form. Insights from “Irene Says” or “Charles says” are followed by “Try It” encouraging readers to get out of their comfort zones.

One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa, paired with B for “belonging”: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” 

Irene, who lives her poem, is the winner of the 2016 Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award. Enjoy her warmth and wisdom at www.irenelatham.com.

Charles co-authored Can I touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship with Irene.  He is a poet and professional actor. Find out more about Charles at  www.charleswaterspoetry.com

Mehrdokht Amini, an Iranian British children’s book illustrator, 
 www.myart2c.com  lives in London. She created the illustrations in this book with collage, photography, acrylic, and digital painting. They work together and separately to create an emotional range and set the tone for each new conversation.       

Irene’s thoughts inspire me. Charles gives me reasons to persevere. Mehrdokht's artwork is an invitation to explore.

Their book speaks to all ages.

Hillview School Library