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, September 29, 2011


THIS IS THE LAST DAY YOU CAN ENTER MY SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY - be sure and leave a comment or click here for details about my drawing for BOB BOOKS SIGHT WORDS. Contest ends at midnight tonight - winner announced tomorrow, Sept. 30, 2011. CONTEST OVER.  Giveaway winner: Theron Mathis!  Congratulations, Theron, send me an email with your address so I can mail you the sets. 

Today I'd like to showcase a unique book, THIS IS THE WAY TO THE MOON, by M. Sasek.  It's one of those books that grabs your attention with its bold, retro artwork. This title was first published in 1963 as This is Cape Canaveral, then later as This is Cape Kennedy. It was reissued in June 2009 as This is the Way to the Moon. Why so many titles?
Cape Canaveral was renamed Cape Kennedy after the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. However, since the new name wasn't popular with local residents, the former name was restored to the area of Cape Canaveral in 1974. But the NASA installation base there goes by the name Kennedy Space Center, so you can see why this gets confusing!  The new title is a neutral way of describing the space center and the surrounding area.

Miroslav Sasek (born in Prague in 1916, died in 1980) was a Czechoslovakian author/illustrator of nonfiction for children.  From 1959-1974, he published his THIS IS... series.  These wonderful books are full of nostalgia and introduce children to great countries, cities, and landmarks in an entertaining and understandable way. (More about the other titles from his series in a future post).

But back to today's book, THIS IS THE WAY TO THE MOON... it is an awesome historical record of the perceptions and attitudes during the '60s about space (included in this edition are footnotes of facts and figures that have changed since they were first printed).

Kids of all ages (but especially 4-8 year olds) will enjoy the bold, colorful illustrations of giant missiles, huge antennae, astronauts (human and non-human) and even a chocolate space shuttle, all recreated with amazing detail. THIS IS THE WAY TO THE MOON will also jog the memories and delight the souls of those adults who may remember it from their own childhoods.

If your kids love space and the cosmos, you can find more fun book recommendations (fiction and non-fiction) from my past post HERE.

Have you ever wanted to make a child's quilt with a space theme? Check out the adorable fabric at the FAT QUARTER SHOP.

Don't sew? Don't worry - go to The Pat a Cake Baby to order RETRO ROCKET RASCALS themed baby gear HERE.

What about throwing a rocket/astronaut themed birthday partyCLICK HERE for ideas and a DIY tutorial for making jet pack favors for the attendees. Of course you'll need a rocket ship birthday cake - find a step-by-step recipe HERE from Parenting.com.

Invitations? How about these nifty printable retro rockets from Etsy...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Cover of a Swedish school reader, Vill du läsa? (Do You Want to Read?)
Autumn is officially here, and what better illustration to post than this beautiful offering by one of my favorite children's book illustrators than Elsa Beskow (1874-1953).

In 1894 Beskow started to contribute to the Swedish children's magazine Jultomten. She went on to publish forty children's books with her own text and images. In her books Beskow used her own childhood experiences as a source for ideas. Her six children also inspired her work. Many of her books focus on nature, the relationships between children and adults, and children's independent initiative. She frequently combined reality with elements from the fairy tale world. In her stories and artwork, children meet elves, goblins, or fairies, and farm animals who can talk with people.

From Peter in Blueberry Land

Elsa Beskow is one of the most well known of all Swedish children's book artists (she's been called the "Beatrix Potter of Scandinavia"). Many of her books became classics and are continually reprinted. Beskow also illustrated ABC books and songbooks for Swedish schools. Her beautiful book pages are often bordered by decorative framework of the Art Nouveau style.

From Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip

AROUND THE YEAR - Delightful verses and delicate, playful illustrations that take young children through the special joys of each month of the year, from icy February to the green shoots of April, the red poppies of July, September’s apples, and the delights of December.

CHILDREN OF THE FOREST - Deep in the roots of an old pine tree live the children of the forest. Playing hide-and-seek with the squirrels, and snowballing in winter, each season brings its own adventures.

PELLE'S NEW SUIT - Pelle shears his lamb and gets the wool carded, spun, dyed, woven and made into a fine new suit.

PETER IN BLUEBERRY LAND - Peter is looking for blueberries for his mother’s birthday and he can’t find a single one. Suddenly he feels a light tap on his shoe, and a strange and magical adventure is about to begin.

WOODY, HAZEL AND LITTLE PIP - Woody and Little Pip Acorn have an unexpected adventure when they take a ride on an oak leaf. Mr. Squirrel and their friend sweet little Hazel Hazelnut go searching for the acorn boys, and they meet gnomes, trolls, a salamander and other woodland creatures along the way. A wonderful, fun story with beautiful illustrations that capture children's imaginations beautifully.

Just a few more days to enter my SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY!  Bob Books SIGHT WORDS set for Kindergarten and First Grade is the gift.  To enter, leave a comment, start following my blog, or "like" my Facebook page by September 29th.  Winner will be announced on September 30, 2011.  CLICK HERE for more info. CONTEST OVER.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Here in Southern California, if it weren't for our "Liquid Amber" trees, we wouldn't get much fall color. When I catch a glimpse out my front window of the leaves beginning to turn red and gold, I can't help but harken back to the days when my kids were still at home...

pumpkin patches, hot cocoa with marshmallows on Saturday mornings, planning Halloween costumes, cooler nights...

My son, Jonny (second from the right with sunglasses)
...and as they got older, marching band practice, and high school football games

and even a few trips to where we could REALLY find fall!
My daughter in NY City's Central Park.

I miss those days, but now I have more free time with my hubby, for fall wanderings, pumpkin lattes, and Autumn Breakfasts out on the patio...

...and more time to search out fun children's books and poems to share with you on my blog.  This poem is perfect for the beginning of fall, and is simply titled:


One day I found two pumpkin seeds.
I planted one and pulled the weeds.
It sprouted roots and a big, long vine.
A pumpkin grew; I called it mine.
The pumpkin was quite round and fat.
(I really am quite proud of that.)
But there is something I'll admit
That has me worried just a bit.
I ate the other seed, you see.
Now will it grow inside of me?

(I'm so relieved since I have found
That pumpkins only grow in the ground!)

(From: The BIG Book of Reading, Rhyming, and Resources: Programs for Children, Ages 4-8, Authors:  Beth Maddigan, Stefanie Drennan, Roberta E. Thompson)

Friday, September 23, 2011


Just a few more days to enter my SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY!  Bob Books SIGHT WORDS set for Kindergarten and First Grade is the gift.  To enter, leave a comment, start following my blog, or "like" my Facebook page by September 29th.  Winner will be announced on September 30, 2011.  CLICK HERE for more info. CONTEST OVER.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I discovered BOB BOOKS years ago, through homeschooling, when I used the BEGINNING READER FOUNDATION SETS as a supplement to the phonics curriculum we were using.  

These awesome little books helped me guide my children, step by step, to the next level: actually reading books by themselves! Which is the reason I am so enthusiastic to I announce that Scholastic has graciously agreed to sponsor my SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY by offering this double set of Bob Books Sight Words - the newest set of the series - to the lucky winner of my drawing.  (More about that at the end of my post.)

BOB BOOKS are such an important piece in the learning-to-read puzzle. They give new readers confidence as they're discovering word recognition and beginning to put letter sounds together. You can learn more by visiting their WEBSITE HERE, or...
WATCH this helpful video about BOB BOOKS from Scholastic:

Sight Words are words that are recognized by sight rather than sounded out, in order to achieve reading fluency. They are the most frequently used words in the English language, and are often unable to be read phonetically (“was”, “are”, and “out” are examples). Sight Words are words that are recognized by sight rather than sounded out, in order to achieve reading fluency. They are the most frequently used words in the English language, and are often unable to be read phonetically (“was”, “are”, and “out” are examples).

I love the subtle humor these books use to get sight word recognition across!  For example, in "THE JET" (from the Kindergarten Sight Words set), one of the words your child will learn is "fly"...as in "A bug can fly" (and of course the bug shown is a fly).  They will learn that a bird can fly, a car cannot, a jet can fly, and you can fly in a jet.
Bob Books Sight Word Kindergarten Set contains stories with basic three letter words, consistent vowel sounds, and simple stories. Children are challenged by sight words that must be memorized, but encouraged because all of the sight words in this set are less than four letters.  The Sight Word First Grade Set continues with simple words and stories, but introduces longer and more complex sight words. This set builds fluency in the more demanding sight words and reinforces decoding skills.

Sight Words - Kindergarten
Sight Words - First Grade
Each Sight Words box includes 10 original books that are about 12 pages each, 30 flashcards, and a parent guide.  My GIVEAWAY consists of BOTH sets.

1 - Leave a comment after any of my blog posts dated between September 20 and September 29, 2011.
2 - "Like" my GOOD BOOKS FOR YOUNG SOULS FACEBOOK PAGE by September 29, 2011.
3 - Post a comment on my FACEBOOK page between now and 9/29/11.

4 - Comment as many times as you like, your name will be entered for each comment.

ONE GIVEAWAY NOT ENOUGH?? Visit the Bob Books BLOG, to enter their Giveaway for their Reader Sets 1 & 2.  Hurry - it ends Sept. 23, 2011. CONTEST OVER

Full disclosure: I was provided a set of books at no cost to review and the prizes for the giveaway, but no compensation for this post, nor was I influenced, directed or told what to post.  This review is based on my actual experiences with the product.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


That declaration is music to a parent's ear.  Especially if you have a child who has struggled with learning to read.  As a parent who home-schooled my children, hearing that phrase elicited feelings of not only relief, but gratification.  I was very lucky to have been directed to some wonderful little readers that got my kids off on the right foot...they're called "BOB BOOKS".

"Bob Books" were first introduced 35 years ago.
I'm excited to announce that BOB BOOKS and SCHOLASTIC Publishers have graciously agreed to sponsor my SEPTEMBER GIVE-AWAY!  Stay tuned to see what the free gift will be.  The post review will go up in the next few days.  TELL YOUR FRIENDS!  The drawing will be on September 30, 2011.

You can enter my SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY by:
1 - Leaving a comment here on any of my blog posts dated between today (9/20) and September 29, 2011.
2 - "Liking" my GOOD BOOKS FOR YOUNG SOULS FACEBOOK PAGE between today and September 29, 2011.
3 - Posting a comment on my FACEBOOK page between today, 9/20/11 and 9/29/11.

These fun little books were created by Bobby Lynn Maslen for her preschoolers when she discovered she couldn't find early readers that were interesting.

The first BOB BOOKS were individually hand-drawn. When it became too cumbersome to make books for each child, Bobby Lynn persuaded the school to print 300 copies. This eventually led to more sets - starting a cottage industry and self-publishing.  Bobby's husband, John, illustrated them. The series, first adopted by homeschoolers and Montessori teachers, was picked up by Scholastic.

Today, BOB BOOKS are still very much a family-run business with management being handed down to the eldest daughter, Lynn, who has been involved with the BOB BOOKS right from the beginning. She started out with paste-up and lettering of the first edition in the 1970’s, but later spent several years in other ventures. Lynn then returned to the family business as her own daughter was beginning to read. That was when she gained true appreciation for the simplicity, fun, humor and easy success of Bob Books. Her daughter now joins the millions of kids that happily exclaim, “I read the whole book!”® Lynn lives in Seattle with her daughter and husband.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


. . . people read mystery stories for a diversity of reasons. Some, for the intellectual challenge of the puzzles they present, others for the vicarious pleasure of the chase. Others believe . . . that the vast popularity of the genre lies in the fact that, in a disorderly world, it represents one of the few fixed points of order and morality, where justice may be counted on to emerge triumphant. -Howard Haycraft ("A Treasure of Great Mysteries")

On this day in 1890 English mystery writer Mary Clarissa Agatha Miller, later known as Agatha Christie, was born in Torquay, England.  (I was privileged to visit this beautiful seaside town in the county of Devon with my family the summer after my high school graduation. Not sure if I was aware at the time that this gifted writer was born there.)

Anyway - I've discovered some interesting trivia about Dame Agatha that I'd like to share with you before I move on to some fun mysteries for kids...

- She was educated at home.
- At sixteen she was sent to school in Paris where she studied singing and piano
-In 1914 she married Colonel Archibald Christie, an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps. The couple had one daughter, Rosalind.
-In 1926, Archibald announced that he had fallen in love with a younger woman, Nancy Neele. That same year, Agatha Christie's beloved mother died and Agatha experienced her own real life mystery: she disappeared for a time and lived in a Harrowgate hotel under the name 'Mrs. Neele'. Agatha and Archibald divorced in 1928.
-Christie worked as a nurse during WWI, which helped her learn about prescriptions and poisons -- something which figured strongly in her writing career.
- Influences: Anna Katherine Green, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, GK Chesterton.
- Christie is the Guinness World Record author: her work has been translated into more languages than Shakespeare.
- Agatha Christie never wrote a novel or short story featuring both her sleuths, Poirot and Miss Marple. Christie revealed the reason for this: "Hercule Poirot, a complete egoist, would not like being taught his business or having suggestions made to him by an elderly spinster lady".

I remember reading Agatha Christie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE in high school, but I was first introduced to her popular sleuth, Hercule Poirot, through the PBS Masterpiece MYSTERY! series. I love David Suchet's brilliant portrayal of Christie's Belgian detective.  If you've ever watched any "POIROT" on PBS, I'm sure you've noticed the macabre, yet merry world that illustrator Edward Gorey has created as the backdrop for MYSTERY! (ever since the series began in 1980).

Gorey illustrated the covers for some of my son's favorite "juvenile reader" Gothic mystery novels by John Bellairs, featuring amateur sleuth Johnny Dixon and his elderly friend Professor Roderick Childermass.
The Curse of the Blue Figurine by John Bellairs
Which brings me to...KIDS AND MYSTERY STORIES:
According to Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute"The mystery story can be an excellent stimulus for utilizing study skills needed to be a good critical reader, such as cause-and-effect, logical deduction, and assessing vital information and facts. These same skills are also valuable in forming a “budding” writer.... the devices of the mystery story... are the hallmarks of all storytelling: the problemthe characters needed to make the reader care about them, the events that occur in their solving of the problem and, in the end, the reader feeling a satisfaction in being included in the solution."

Most of us remember Trixie Beldon, Harriet the Spy, Nancy Drew, and The Hardy Boys; but here are some mystery/detective books for kids you may have missed...

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, by Herge. These are great mysteries for reluctant readers, in comic book format.

THE HOUSE OF DIES DREAR, by Virginia Hamilton (A historical mystery) From Amazon: A huge, old house with secret tunnels, a cantankerous caretaker, and buried treasure is a dream-come-true for 13-year-old Thomas. The fact that it's reputedly haunted only adds to its appeal! As soon as his family moves in, Thomas senses something strange about the Civil War era house, which used to be a critical stop on the Underground Railroad. With the help of his father, he learns about the abolitionists and escaping slaves who kept the Underground Railroad running. While on his own, he explores the hidden passageways in and under the house, piecing clues together in an increasingly dangerous quest for the truth about the past. Newbery medalist Virginia Hamilton creates a heart-pounding adventure with this absorbing classic for older readers.

GREAT BRAIN SERIES, by John D. Fitzgerald. Hilarious adventures of an Irish-Catholic family in Mormon Utah in 1896. Tom - a.k.a. The Great Brain - is a 10-year-old genius con man, always interested in making a profit (and always learning a lesson.)

BOY'S BOOK OF GREAT DETECTIVE STORIES (compile by Howard Haycraft) A collection of detective stories by well-know authors emphasizing deduction, not crime.

DETECTIVES IN TOGAS by Henry Winterfield (also: MYSTERY OF THE ROMAN RANSOM).  Read about these in my previous post HERE.

VESPER HOLLY BOOKS by Lloyd Alexander.  Think: Nancy Drew meets Indiana Jones. Vesper Holly never travels alone; her bumbling guardian, Professor Brinton Garrett is by her side, ready to be dragged through jungles and prisons for her sake.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Have you ever wondered what happened to the Cross of Christ, after his crucifixion? Well, the answer involves a queen named Helena, who was the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great.  In the twentieth year of his reign (326), the Emperor sent his mother to Jerusalem to find the site of the Holy Sepulchre and of the True Cross (a story in itself). After finding the Cross in Jerusalem, Queen Helena travelled to Cyprus to gift a small piece of the Cross to the church there. Too much for kids to comprehend?  Not in this new children's book, THE QUEEN AND THE CATS: A Story of Saint Helena, by Calee Lee.  It debuts today, September 14, which for Orthodox and Catholic Christians is a special "feast day" commemorating the finding of the Cross of Christ...

Told through the eyes of a young girl, the story begins as Queen Helena arrives to bring the greatest of gifts to the people of Cyprus. But when she tries to present the treasure, the Queen discovers that the local churches have been infested with a deadly problem: snakes! It’s up to Queen Helena and the little village girl to come up with a solution that will make the churches safe once more.

As Calee describes it, “this story brings Saint Helena to life in a way that is both accessible and enjoyable for little ones. The lives of the saints provide so many rich stories for our children. I’m thrilled to have partnered with illustrator Turbo Qualls to bring this story to Catholic and Orthodox families around the world.”

While this captivating picture book is geared towards kids ages 4-8, older siblings will be quick to take over the read-aloud duties and littler ones won't be able to resist Turbo's 24 full-color graphics. This is the first story of its kind to be available in ebook format (the Kindle version is less than $5 and works on phones, tablets, laptops and more).  But not to worry, all you "traditional book" people (like me) can preview and purchase a print copy from Amazon by clicking HERE.

Calee M. Lee visited the island of Cyprus for Holy Week in 2009 and fell in love with the country’s beautiful scenery and friendly cats. A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Calee has worked extensively as a freelance writer, editor and video producer. She attends Saint Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, California with her husband and two children. You can read more about Calee on her BLOG.

Turbo Qualls is an accomplished artist and illustrator in the Southern California area. Along with his wife and four children, Turbo attends St. Barnabas Orthodox Church in Costa Mesa, California.

And just in case you were wondering...Saint Helena really did send cats to the island of Cyprus. There’s even a breed of cat called the "St. Helen" that is traced back to her gift. Click here to read more...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


September 13 is "Roald Dahl Day", celebrated every year on what would have been the author's birthday. This year also marks 50 years since Dahl's classic tale James and the Giant Peach was first published.  Your child can celebrate by sending a Peach-gram to a friend!

illustration by Jed Alexander

According to his biographer Donald Sturrock, in Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl (2010), Dahl was "a conundrum". Certainly, by any standards, he led a strange and complex life. Born to Norwegian parents, brought up in Wales and in England, he crashed in a plane in the desert in the second world war, and then became a spy in America, befriending the great and the good, before eventually settling back down in England, where he overcame three great tragedies: an accident that caused his baby son, Theo, brain damage, in 1960; the death of his daughter, Olivia, aged only seven, in 1962; and his wife's stroke in 1965. (A fourth tragedy occurred in 1990 when his stepdaughter, Lorina, died of a brain tumour.)

Dahl's daily retreat from the world was his famous writing hut. "I go down to my little hut, where it's tight and dark and warm, and within minutes I can go back to being six or seven or eight again," he said. In the hut, snuggled up in a sleeping bag, with his famous green baize writing board across his armchair, his lined yellow legal pads and his Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, he wrote, pausing only for lunch, The World at One, and then dinner, drinks and a game of snooker.
Click here to explore Dahl's writing hut, 
"Gipsy House", Buckinghamshire, England.
Photo: Eamonn McCabe

The interior has been left unchanged, since Dahl's death
from Leukemia in 1990.

Photo: Eamonn McCabe 
To read my 2010 birthday post for Roald Dahl, click HERE.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


(Stay tuned for my September GIVEAWAY! In the meantime, bear with me as I blog about food...)

"What can I eat?" Ah, the never-ending quest for food.  Ask my son, who just left for college last week. When I dropped him off, we quickly stocked his apartment kitchen; but he called me yesterday and is already running out of ideas: "Mom, if you could email me some-good-and-quick-and-easy-with-maybe-three-ingredient-recipes, that would be great".  Sigh.

I started googling around and found a blog, called STONE SOUP ("delicious meals in minutes"), with 5-ingredient recipes. That got me thinking about the children's book, Stone Soup and some of my favorite picture books about food...

Stone Soup (Favorites on CD)1. STONE SOUP by Marcia Brown. Three soldiers came marching down the road towards a French village. The peasants seeing them coming, suddenly became very busy, for soldiers are often hungry. So all the food was hidden under mattresses or in barns. There followed a battle of wits, with the soldiers equal to the occasion. Stone soup? Why, of course, they could make a wonderful soup of stones...but, of course, one must add a carrot or tow...some meat...so it went.
Blueberries for Sal2. BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL, by Robert McCloskey. (CLICK HERE to read my review).
Very Hungry Caterpillar3. THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, by Eric Carle. Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a perennial favourite with children and adults alike. Its imaginative illustration and clever cut-out detail charts the progress of a very hungry caterpillar as he eats his way through the week. (My post about Eric Carle can be read by CLICKING HERE.)
Jamberry [Deluxe Edition] Publisher: HarperCollins4. JAMBERRY, by Bruce Degen. (My previous post about this book can be found HERE.)
The Carrot Seed 60th Anniversary Edition5. THE CARROT SEED, by Ruth Krauss. (CLICK HERE to read about this book in my "Time for Gardens" post.)
The Duchess Bakes a Cake6. THE DUCHESS BAKES A CAKE, by Virginia Kahl. (CLICK HERE to read my review.)
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World (Dragonfly Books)7. HOW TO MAKE AN APPLE PIE AND SEE THE WORLD, by Marjorie Priceman. The world becomes a young girl's grocery store, as she goes on a global journey to find ingredients for an apple pie.  (And yes, there's a recipe at the back of the book!) 
8. I WILL NEVER NOT EVER EAT A TOMATO, by Lauren Child. Lola is a fussy eater. A very fussy eater. She won’t eat her carrots (until her brother Charlie reveals that they’re orange twiglets from Jupiter). She won’t eat her mashed potatoes (until Charlie explains that they’re cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji). There are many things Lola won’t eat, including - and especially - tomatoes. Or will she? (To read my past post about Charlie and Lola books, CLICK HERE.)
Sun Bread9. SUN BREAD by Elisa Kleven. Winter’'s gray chill has set in and everyone misses the sun—. So a baker decides to bring warmth to the town by making a "sun" bread. As the bread bakes, rising hot and delicious, everyone comes out to share in its goodness. Everyone, including the sun itself. Kleven offers a lilting, rhyming text, colorful illustrations, and a recipe for baking your own sun bread!
The Popcorn Book10. THE POPCORN BOOK, by Tommie dePaola. Brothers Tiny and Tony are hungry for a snack, and their mother allows them to make some popcorn. The two boys learn about the history of popcorn in the Americas, how much popcorn is eaten on an annual basis, and methods of popping corn. Two recipes to pop corn are included in this book.

Did I leave your children's favorite off my list?  Ask them, while you all munch on some yummy, healthy, quick-and-easy after-school snacks that I found HERE (Lady and the Blog) and HERE (Family Fun). Hmmm, maybe I should send these links to my son. You're never to old for fun snacks, right?