Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A New Chapter: Shepherding Stories

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me...
John 10:14

This past weekend began another chapter in our daughter's family's life journey. There is a lot going on for this little family as they follow God's call!  Just a couple of weeks ago her husband was sworn-in as an officer to the US Navy Chaplain Candidate Program, and on Sunday he was ordained as a deacon into the Orthodox Church. 

Our son-in-law will be ordained as a Priest when he finishes seminary.  I love the parallel foreshadowing seen in this photo - my youngest grandson, like a little sheep, is rushing up to hug and greet his newly ordained Deacon Daddy, while at the same time glancing tentatively towards one of the Priests. 

A Priest is a shepherd after all, called by God to encourage us in our lives. Today I'm doing a giveaway to celebrate shepherds and sheep: one about a rather unconventional shepherd, the second about sheep and other farm animals.

The first book I'm giving away is a brand new chapter book from Ancient Faith Publishing:  Shepherding Sam by Melinda Johnson.

Aimed at early elementary readers, this book will find a niche with 8-10 year olds (although it would make a good story for parents to read aloud to younger children as well).

The central characters in the story are a Corgi dog named Saucer and a hurting, troubled 10-year-old boy named Sam.

Have you ever had the chance to visit an Orthodox monastery?  I highly recommend it, and a monastery farm is the unique setting of this book! It is the happy home to some sweet nuns and their quirky animals, one of which is Saucer.  

Melinda Johnson's engaging storytelling - at once humorous and tender hearted - is just plain fun. I appreciate that the children in the story are typical kids, very relatable to young readers.

As the action moves through the chapters, Saucer is searching for a herd to shepherd, and a lonely and angry Sam is trying to push love (and anything that resembles it) away.  Tenacious Saucer won't give up on his herding or on Sam. In an exciting ending, Saucer takes charge and finally finds his purpose.

According to Melinda in this podcast interview, Saucer has a message for us: God will show you what he wants you to be, if you never give up.  And it can happen in unexpected ways (just ask my daughter and son-in-law)!

Now on to the second animal-themed book I have to giveaway today: a new offering from Animal Planet, Animal Bites: Farm Animals (for ages 4-8).

 This large format, soft cover book is full of stunning photographs of farm animals in the barnyard, coop, and pasture.

Your young children will have fun while they learn about how animals survive and thrive on busy farms.

In many ways, farm animals are just like us.  They need loving caregivers and shepherds.  But we need animals too - like Saucer, they can help us heal and feel loved!

To enter for a chance at this giveaway... 

  • Please leave a comment with your first name and last initial.  
  • Tell me who you'd like to share these books with, or how an animal has had a healing influence in your life.  
  • Giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, October 26, 2016. Winner announced a week from today on Thursday, October 27, 2016.

Monday, October 10, 2016

An Orthodox Boardbook: "Goodnight, Jesus"

I am so delighted that Ancient Faith Publishing has put out an Orthodox board book for toddlers!! Goodnight Jesus, written by Angela Isaacs, with illustrations by Nicholas Malara, is about as sweet and simple as a bedtime story can get...
The sturdy format makes this bedtime board book a huggable companion for little ones who are just beginning to eagerly bestow goodnight kisses not only upon Mommy, Daddy, their siblings and a picture of grandma, but also upon icons of Christ and the Saints.

A kiss for Jesus, Savior and Lord, 
 A kiss for Mary, His mother, 
 A kiss for Andrew, the first He called, 
 A kiss for Peter, his brother...

Angela Isaac's gentle rhyming text, and iconographer Nicholas Malara's colorful illustrations pair together perfectly as they beautifully communicate the tender innocence of goodnight kisses given to those we love.
Goodnight Jesus is a sweet treasure.  I predict my 17-month-old grandson and his preschool-aged big brother will ask to have this bedtime story read to them over and over again!  (It's not too early to think about Christmas, is it?  I know I'll be giving this book to lots of special little somebodies in December!)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Oh, Stuff and Fluff! Winnie-the-Pooh and His Friends are Back!

Back Where?
At The New York Public Library Children's Room.

Where were they?  
Out for for a year-long conservation/refurbishment with a textile restoration expert.

To get them all spruced up! Winnie-the Pooh, aka Edward Bear,  turned 95 this year!  (In 1921, on August 21, A.A. Milne gave the teddy bear, purchased at Harrods Department Store in London, to his son, Christopher Robin, for his first birthday.)

How long have they been in New York City?
Winnie and his friends Tigger, Eyore, Kanga, and Piglet (all former well-loved toys of Christopher Robin Milne) have resided at the New York Public Library since 1987.

Who are the two little boys looking at Pooh and Friends on display?
My grandsons! In August their Mommy took them to the NYPL to make and mail birthday cards for Pooh's 95th!  And, better late than never, I'm finally posting about it here on my blog.

Can I visit Pooh?
Anyone can visit Winnie-the-Pooh and his pals. Every year thousands of children and their parents come to see them in their grand quarters in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (NYPL). Pooh and his friends are as happy as when they lived in the Hundred Acre Wood.

What if I can't visit, but I want to send Winnie-the-Pooh a card?
You can send a card online, by clicking here.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Leaf Man Is On The Move!

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert is a perfect read aloud choice for October. It is an imaginative picture book that both toddlers and preschoolers will love...
My daughter recently found it at the library. After she read it to my almost-four-year-old grandson, he couldn't wait to make his own Leaf Man (his little brother even joined in)!
He's got to go where the wind blows...
When the fall wind hits a pile of leaves, Leaf Man is on his way to an adventure.  He has no travel plans as he is blown aimlessly past leaf chickens, 
and turtles and fish in a lake.
The creative illustrations and playful text will put you and your child right there on the breeze with Leaf Man!  And I can guarantee that Lois Ehlert's colorful leaf collages will inspire your child to create his or her own beautiful nature collage!

Check out the Youtube below - it's a sweet reading of the book by a precocious four-year-old boy name Jonah...


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Children of Bookworms Get...Books!

Happy First Day of Fall!
I've been spending a lot of time doing Fall Cleaning because we are getting ready to do some remodeling.  I'm getting a home library!!!!

Wish it could look like this...
Haha!  Just kidding.  This is the Los Angeles Central Library Children's Literature Room.  You can ready my past post about my visit there by clicking here.

Below are a couple of photos I found on Pinterest.  I'd be really happy to style my home office/library after either of them! First, a very chic look...
This next one would be nice because my house is Cape Cod style...
Anyway, back to Fall Cleaning.  It's been exhausting going through and trying to organize all the mementos I've kept over the years! Birthday cards, Christmas cards, family letters...

And of course, I'm trying to sort through books.  I sent off four grocery bags of old paperbacks already.  

I. Have. So. Many. Books.
Many of them were in our sunroom - not a great place to store books. And now they're getting all packed up.  

Some are getting sent off to my kids, who have inherited (and will continue to inherit) their childhood favorites.
The children's books I'm keeping (as much for me as for my grandchildren who visit), and our grown-up books, are going into bins and boxes.  I've packed up six long bins and five boxes so far!!!
They'll be unpacked and put back onto shelves, once the library is finished. I can hardly wait! Any tips??

In the meantime, I'm bringing autumn inside, since there's not much evidence of it outside, here in Southern California!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Giveaway Winner...

The randomly chosen winner of Mary T. Wagner's cute chapter book, Finnigan the Circus Cat, is Theresa M. (I use List Randomizer on random.org to choose my winners.)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Don't Miss Out On Finnigan the Circus Cat!

Today I'm reviewing and giving away a fun little chapter book geared toward 7-10 year olds. Finnigan the Circus Cat is about a tiny foundling kitten who finds a home in a barn that also houses a former small town circus museum. There he meets a pair of "circus mice" cousins who become his closest companions.

The author (and illustrator), Mary T. Wagner, says she was inspired to write this book because of her own family's experience with a rescue kitty named Finnigan.  

Much of the story is closely modeled after that cat and his antics; and the fact that the author's younger daughter is a contemporary circus aerialist certainly didn't hurt the inspiration for this story either!  (You can read more about the "real Finnigan" here.)

This adorable tale (pun intended) is full of action and humor.  It reminded me a little of Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle, where the comings and goings of a human family just serve as a backdrop for the real excitement that's going on between the animals.  

Lots of good old fashioned fun!  (Go here for some of my other favorite cat and mouse books.)

And, honestly, what child doesn't love a circus story?

Maximillian and Leroy are two circus mice cousins who think they've got it made at the old Farnsworth Circus Museum...no dogs, a safe path to a full pantry in the empty house, and a barn full of dry hay and old circus wagons to hang out in.

But when a new generation of Farnsworths move in, things start to shake up a bit. And when eight-year-old Lucy Farnsworth brings home a tiny rescue kitten and hides him in the barn because her dad is allergic to cats, Max and Leroy need to think fast if they're going to be able to stick around.

With the help of Boomer - the strangely silent family dog - Max and Leroy take the new kitten under their care and show him the ropes - figuratively and eventually literally...in the end it's Finnigan to the rescue!

You can find this book on Amazon (paperback or Kindle edition), here.  It's the first of a coming series, and I can't wait to read the others.

Today I'm giving away a paperback copy, signed by the author!  To enter for a chance to win, please leave a comment on this post.  Be sure to include your first name and last initial.

  • Giveaway ends at midnight, Friday, September 16, 2016.  
  • Winner announced Saturday, September 17, 2016.
  • The winner will have a week to contact me with a mailing address, so I can send the book off to you!