Category Archives: Childrens

Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley

“I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise….”

The images I have of Walt Whitman come from a very cathartic reading of Leaves of Grass after a good friend died and I learned he was reading it. I have always felt pushed and challenged by his words and the life he lead. But in all my readings and musings, I never really paid attention to this part of Whitman’s story.

A short biography of Walt Whitman geared towards younger elementary school children; this novel focuses on the impact the Civil War had on Whitman who was too old to fight. Instead he dedicated himself to caring for and visiting soldiers in hospitals in Washington D.C. It was also at this time that he gained a strong respect for Abraham Lincoln. Beautifully illustrated with snippets of poetry throughout (full text included in the back), this is a good introduction to Whitman. It is in no way thorough and there is much more to learn about the man and poet who helped shape American poetry. 2004, 56 pages.

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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Childrens, Nonfiction, Poetry


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Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume

My parents never censored anything I read when I was growing up.  I never realized how unique that was until I’d spend the summers with my Oma & Opa in Kansas City. Not only was my reading censored, I wasn’t even allowed to go to the KC Public Library. It was Mid-Continent or nothing baby.  I loved Judy Blume growing up and purchased Then Again, Maybe I Won’t with my own money one summer. I made it two pages in before it was confiscated until I got home.  With all the banning of books flying around I decided to revisit an old friend.

At thirteen, Tony has an established life with his family and friends in Jersey City. They don’t have a lot of money but the community is a close-knit one and folks look out for each other. It is very easy to hear the Italian accents in characters voices. When one of his dad’s inventions hit the big time Tony finds out that money can really change people-even those the closest to you-in ways you never imagined. Not only does Tony have to deal with moving away from the community but also maneuvering new things such as girls and other embarrassing things that can happen to a guy going through puberty.   Blume writes with the voice of a teenager and the wonder of figuring out all this new stuff in life. The story is old enough to feel dated in some aspects but the emotions and situations ring true. 1971, 164 pages.

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Posted by on January 31, 2011 in Childrens


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Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern

There are a few authors out there that I can count on for a really enjoyable read. My criteria for this is pretty simple-lots of laughs, characters I can believe in or relate to and a good well-written story. Not a lot of details, please. I know that about myself and I’m ok with that.

Cecelia Ahern is one of those authors with the exception of she’ll often make me laugh AND cry. I heart Cecelia Ahern.  She does all of the above and she also has a way of pulling on your heart strings without you realizing it until you are knee deep in tissues and laughing out loud as you blow. Geez, I am a mess.

Joyce Conway is haunted. After a terrible accident in which she loses a most precious gift, her already unhappy marriage falls apart and she finds herself moving back in with her father. When she starts spouting off facts and figures that she has no way of knowing and when memories come that are not her own she wonders if she’s finally cracked.

Justin Hitchcock is an American architect who moves to London to be close to his daughter. When in Dublin teaching a class, he is persuaded to donate blood to impress a woman. He goes on and on about how precious his blood is and how he would hope the recipient would shower him with gifts galore.

Where does it go from here? Ahhh, you must read the book! I can’t give away all the good dirt. The pacing is fast. The story is set in London and Dublin but for the most part this is not integral to the story. Ahern is from Ireland, so there are a few terms that can be confusing to American readers. The tone of the book bounces back and forth between despair and hope, grief and chaos. It is an emotional roller coaster that most readers will enjoy. There is a touch of magic in Ahern’s books and my suggestion is to just sit back and let it flow.  2009, 371 pages.

P.S. The audio book is read with an Irish accent. It adds greatly to the authenticity of the experience.


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Ahwoooooooooo! by Yannick Murphy

Little Wolf wants to learn to howl more than anything and with the moon bright and high in the sky-what could be more exciting? But Mother Wolf and Father Wolf are too busy to teach him how to howl this night so Little Wolf turns to his friends Owl, Frog and Whipporwill to teach him. None of his friends know how to howl and they try in vain to teach Little Wolf how to hoot or ribbit. Cold and ready to give up Little Wolf happens upon Grandfather Wolf who teaches him the magic and beauty of learning how to howl.

A sweet intergenerational story that kids and adults will both relate to. 2006, 31 pages.

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Posted by on October 2, 2007 in Childrens


Castaway Cats by Lisa Wheeler

What would you do if you were a cat lost on a deserted island after your ship sank? In Castaway Cats you would do what anyone would do, try to survive. Each of the 15 cats and kittens in this story has a distinctive personality that is shown through rhyming verse. As the story progresses the cats on the island move from anarchy to learning to work together to create a new home that everyone loves. A simple tale with fascinating detailed pictures. The rhyming words make this picture book fun to read out loud. Children will love the idea of kitties in paradise drinking coconut milk! 2006, 32 pages.

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Posted by on October 2, 2007 in Childrens


Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems

In the same fashion as previous books, Pigeon is left to the charge of the reader and this time, Pigeon wants to stay up late! How are we going to handle pigeon this time?

A fun read that will have children giggling at Pigeon and Pigeon’s crazy tricks. The quick pace and opportunity for crazy behavior and wild expressions make this a great storytime book. 2006, unpaged.

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Posted by on October 2, 2007 in Childrens


The Wright Sister-Katherine Wright and Her Famous Brothers by Richard Maurer

The interesting story of Katherine Wright-sister to Orville & Wilbur. Katherine had dreams of her own, but sacrificed always for her family. She became the brother’s social manager and third member of the team. She entertained clients, friends and admirers but in the end, chose love.

Actually a children’s book, I highly suggest reading for any age level due to the well-researched wealth of information provided in the book. Nicely illustrated. 2003, 119 pages.

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Posted by on September 27, 2007 in Childrens, Nonfiction