Monday, October 13, 2008

Long Delay

Sorry for the long delay!

Phone conversation between G and Dad.

G: Daddy, I went poo-poo!

T: Wow! Where did you go poo-poo?

G: On the potty!

T: I'm so proud of you Buddy, good job!

Pause for G's heavy breathing into the reciever

T: Did you go pee-pee, too?

G: Uh-huh, I go pee-pee!

T: Where did you go pee-pee?

G: On the rocking chair!

Haven Kimmel

I admit it, I love Haven Kimmel. I can not get enough of her memoir.
A Girl Named Zippy is in my all-time top 5, if not top 3.

I mean, come on, how could you resist this baby? If I had more time and brain power, I could list for you all the ways in which I love her writing. Just trust me here, go and buy this book. I would lend you my copy, but it is ALWAYS being read by a friend...I literally get it back from one person and pass it on directly to the next. Her writing is so believable, so authentic, that I am absolutely and completely transported into her life. I walk around in her shoes. I sport her crazy hair. Even after putting the book down I think like Zippy, in Zippy-isms like "speedy-quick." I am so attached to this family.

Next comes She Got Up Off the Couch.

Love it just as much. Again, how can you resist this picture? Like people say happens with a second child, instead of spreading my love for Zippy thinner, it just became bigger! Do I sound freaky? If I do then you have not read these because everyone I know who reads them feels the same way about Zippy and her family.

This past weekend, I read Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House, a middle grade reader by Haven.

I loved it, of course. I fear kids will have a hard time with the first 2-4 pages, but if they can get into the groove they will find a great reward. I highly HIGHLY recommend reading this aloud with your child. I'm thinking for read-aloud a precocious (or end-of-the-year) second grader would enjoy listening. All the way up through some middle school will love it. Parents will, too.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Haven Kimmel. Jump in with both feet!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Have you seen these awesome and intricate pop-up books? Robert Sabuda it a flippin' genius.

There are 3 in this series, but these are the 2 we have:

Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs: The Definitive Pop-Up


Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters

There is no way to describe how incredible these are. They are serious pop-up books. You as an adult will be amazed. Each book has over 30 pop-ups and I swear they are amazing.

These are top-shelf books, figuratively and literally. They are not for little hands or they will be ripped before you can blink an eye. But as a lap read, it kicks butt. Greyson actually screamed and laughed when I got to the page where the T-Rex jump right out at you and chomps its jaws.

While we're on the topic of rockin' pop-up books, I can't neglect to mention Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: A Pop-up Adaptation

Good god this is cool. Awesome collectible gift and let's be honest - any college student you know would love this one. (What? You know it's true, you goody-two-shoes!)

Have I said that these are awesome? They blow my mind. The biggest problem for you is that the library (if they even have copies) probably have ripped up ones. The bookstore likely has them plastic wrapped.

OMGOMGOMG! I just saw that there's a Wizard of Oz one, too!!!

Okay, I wish I had never looked at all the books he has because I will now be even more broke than I am now.

Totally worth it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Peaceful Piggy

I have found another book to LOVE. It is the only one that I went a little psycho-librarian to get to at the library conference (hey, they only had TWO!).
Peaceful Piggy Yoga by Kerry Lee MacLean

Can this book be any cuter? I think not. It talks about how you may already be doing yoga and how you can use yoga to help you. Stressed out at school? Try the lotus position right at your desk. The coolest thing about the book is that it shows how to do some basic poses. Even my toddler likes to give them a shot. This would be priceless to use with young elementary kids who are maybe scared about school or find themselves nervous.

The author also has Peaceful Piggy Meditation.

This book is also AWESOME. It has great concrete suggestions that will help the preschool or school age child to cope with frustration and stress. For example it says to imagine a jar of muddy water all shaken up. Then imagine all of the mud and dirt particles slooowly settling to the bottom of the jar. Relaxing, huh?

I love that the author speaks directly to the children in a way that they can understand but at the same time is not condecending.

One of my favorite things about surfing on Amazon is seeing what other books people who looked at this bought. On the bottom of these pages, I saw Baby Buddhas: A guide for teaching meditation to children

I haven't read this (YET), and I had never really thought about starting to teach this skill now. But it really does make sense to start instilling the foundation in our toddlers to help them cope with that part of their little lives. You can bet your butt that I'm adding this book to my reading list!

Go forth and relax!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

American Born Chinese

So this is American Born Chinese by Gene Yang.

It's a graphic novel. It is awesome. It has interweaving storylines all eventually about the struggles of a Chinese American high school student. Should he conform to the great white standard? Understand from the start - it's not a light topic, though the novel has its funny moments.
There are some sections that people find offensive - specifically the thread about cousin "Chin-Kee." But Mr. Yang intended to bring the stereotype right out into the open.
Yes, this is for a mature high school reader (not sex or violence wise - but in the ability to understand the overall message and the purpose of using stereotypes to fight stereotypes).

This book is on so many lists and won so many awards that I need to find a place to copy-paste...finalist for the National Book Award in young people's literature...Winner of the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award for young adult literature (first time a graphic novel has won)...etc., etc.

So get it for your high school or very mature middle school reader and make sure to discuss.

The only thing that was a little weird for me was the random Christian imagery. Monkey King as one of the Three Kings? What on Earth does that have to do with the rest of the story? It's all fine and well, but it was oddly out of place and sort of stuck in the middle of the Chinese Monkey King legend. I was like...what? But then I read that Gene Yang teaches at a Catholic high school...ah-ha! No biggie, and certainly not a deal-killer, but kind of a non sequitur.

By the way, I met Gene Yang at the library conference and he was totally nice. We got the chance to chat with him for quite awhile and he seemed very down to earth. He even sketched (and then inked) the Monkey King meditating in my copy of the book!


Friday, April 18, 2008

Got Some Extra Time?

Here, my friends, are 120 titles that have been chosen by librarians in Texas for the various "lists" we use in library programs from age 2 through grade 12:
Texas 2x2 Books - ages 2(I say younger)through second grade
Texas Bluebonnet Books - third through fifth grade
Texas Lone Star Books - sixth through eighth grade
Texas TAYSHAS Book - ninth through twelfth grade...This is the only list that isn't annotated yet, but it will be soon...

I can not personally vouch for all of these books, but I will tell you these things:

I will be reading all of the 2x2 and Bluebonnet books for 2008-2009 before the end of the summer. I will certainly get back to you with any standouts or stinkers.

I have enjoyed everything I have read on the Lone Star List in my past two years at middle school, even if I really didn't think I would.

I regularly peruse the TAYSHAS list for my own pleasure reading material. I swear that most young adult literature from this list is better than the adult fiction I've been reading lately. And some so called "adult" books are included on this list. In the past TAYSHAS has led me to some of my all time favorite books for me, such as Stiff by Mary Roach.

Now the ages are only recommendations - the reading and certainly the content levels vary wildly within lists. If you have any questions about specific titles or about a reader you are trying to match with a book, PLEASE ask me - you can comment or e-mail me.

Happy browsing!!


I'm just back from a 4 day library conference and my head is about to explode with things I want to share with you. I have no clue where to start. I bought over 50 books for the library, got like 5 signed books for G, and scored over 20 free advance copies! It. Was. Awesome.

Before I start I did want to stress that even though I have focused on picture books so far, I do plan on discussing literature from board books through middle readers (mostly). But do check back no matter the age of your readers, because when I run into awesome teen lit (which I TOTALLY did this week), I will also talk about it here.

Stay tuned in a big way over the next week or so!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Todd Parr

Another author I just love so much is Todd Parr. I don't even know where to begin with him, so I will TRY to choose only two (this time).

As far as board books, The Feelings Book rocks our world.

Not just your ordinary parade of happy and sad, this book covers serious and silly feelings. "Sometimes I feel like eating pizza for breakfast." Me too!! "Sometimes I feel like kissing a sea lion" has had Greyson and I racing to smooch the grubby last page of this book for a long time now. In fact, when I read one of Eric Carle's books to Greyson and I got to the sea lion, he kissed it! At first I had no idea what he was doing, but then I just about puked from the cutenesss of it all. :)

Now on to the picture book, which is really the same format and level, just longer (and bigger of course). We have been enjoying The Feel Good Book

This books is (obviously) all about things that feel good! Rubbing noses feels good. Crying when you are sad feels good. Making monkey noises feels good. All of these things do feel good! Especially when you do them with your kiddo.

Trust me, Todd Parr rocks.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I have to start with one of my favorite children's authors, Mo Willems.

I absolutely ADORE the Pigeon books. I lovelovelove them and kids do, too. On April 1st, the new Pigeon book - The Pigeon Wants a Puppy - came out.

I feel like a total traitor for saying this, but (deep breath) I do not love it as much as the other Pigeon books. There, I said it...but it's still really good!! The thing that made me sad, I think, was that there was no double-page begging spread like there had been in the previous books. That was always my favorite part and the part where the kids really got into it. Why wouldn't they do it? Oh well.

I still say buy the book WITH all of the rest of the Pigeon books. NOW!

I feel like the word pigeon looks misspelled now after typing it so many times. Hmmm...
Here are the rest.

The funny thing about this website is that I don't really like to share it with the kids because the Pigeon has a specific voice. I find that children create their own voice for Pigeon. I have my own as well, and I was kind of bummed to hear what Mo must think he sounds like (Not like me? What was he thinking?).

As you can see, I am emotionally attached to Pigeon. You MUST read it with your children.

P.S. I will certainly be talking about Mo's other great books in time, but know that they are all really great - we are really digging on Elephant and Piggie around my house right now..

P.P.S. I had to look up how to spell pigeon, just in case...

Welcome to Storytime!

Welcome to Storytime with Mel! I plan on blogging some of the wonderful (and not so great) books that I come across in my life as both an elementary school librarian and a mother to a toddler. I predict that my focus will fall in those areas, but I also enjoy young adult literature so I may venture there. And what the heck, if I come across adult literature I just have to talk about I may post it here as well. Keep checking back!