Saturday, October 24, 2020

Tricks, Treats, and Treasured Titles


When you were a kid, did you read some books over and over? I had a whole closet of books like that. Summertime was my favorite time of the year because I could pull out these old friends, head for the closest climbing tree, and read hidden in the branches until I was missed. And that always happened too soon.


 THE SHERLOCK FILES by Tracy Barrett

THE 100-YEAR-OLD SECRET, by Tracy Barrett, Henry Holt & Co., 2008                                      A Junior Library Guild Selection

THE BEAST OF BLACKSLOPE, by Tracy Barrett, Henry Holt & Co., 2009

THE CASE THAT TIME FORGOT, by Tracy Barrett, Henry Holt & Co., 2010

THE MISSING HEIR by Tracy Barrett, Henry Holt & Co., 2011

      Armed with the casebook of their famous ancestor, 12 year old Xena and her younger brother Xander set out to solve cases their great-great-great-grandfather, Sherlock Holmes, did not.   

     Author Tracy Barrett weaves a tantalizing tale about this brother and sister detective team with cliff hangers dropped in all the right places. While they set about discovering London during the family’s year of residence there, the kids are normal enough to be curious and risk nail biting adventures, but smart enough and respectful enough to keep themselves out of the greatest danger to their freedom, parental interference (aka grounded.) Sherlock Holmes would be proud of these smart sleuths.     

     One of the nicest parts of this series is that all four are already available in libraries and book stores. Your enthusiastic young readers won’t  have to wait until the next one is published. They can indulge themselves during this spooky Halloween season and store them away for summer reading. Climbing tree recommended.

      In keeping with the new feature on Book Log, I asked Tracy Barrett how she is keeping her spirits up during this year of Covid.

      Her response:

      "I’m having a hard time with any sustained activity. That pretty much leaves writing out of my daily routine, but I itch to be creative. So what am I doing?

·      I’ve delved deep into my “recipes to try” file and have found some winners (some real losers, too!).

·      My one packet of elastic turned out to have about only a yard of elastic in it. This was before stores had figured out curbside pickup, so I found a pattern for face masks without elastic ( and sewed about 50 to distribute to friends and family. I used up a lot of scraps of fabric that were too nice to throw out but too small to do much of anything with!

·      I spent many happy hours creating a felt “Quiet Book” for my toddler granddaughter.

·      I’ve been knitting, knitting, knitting. I buy yarn online from my local yarn shop and pick it up from a rack outside their door.

·      And I haven’t neglected the writing world, either. I’m revising a manuscript I wrote a few years ago, and critiquing other people’s work. I’ve attended some of SCBWI’s* excellent webinars and learned a lot in areas I haven’t delved into before.

     I hope these activities are keeping my creative side alive until I’m ready to sit down at my computer and plot a new book!"


*Society of children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

                                                                           🌳  📚

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.

 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.

Hillview School Library