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)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Heavenly Protection for Libraries?

The day after All Hallows' Eve is known in the West as "All Saints Day",  a feast day celebrated on November 1st by Anglicans and Roman Catholics.  (Eastern Orthodox Churches observe "The Feast of All Saints" on the first Sunday after Pentecost.)

By the hand of Maria Ciucur, of Romania - source

Did you know there is a saint who has come to be celebrated in the West as the patron of libraries and librarians?  His name is Jerome, and you can read his full story here. He was born in 346, was a great lover of books, and a translator of the Bible into Latin. (View more beautiful icons of the saint, here)

There is an interesting legend about him that involves a lion.  Rumer Godden and Margaret Hodges have both written children's books about the legend, which takes place in Bethlehem - where Jerome lived as a monk...

Today I'd like to tell you about Margaret Hodges' re-telling, because her book was given years ago to my kids by my mom and dad.  It is beautifully illustrated by Barry Moser, as you can see in my photos below.

As in the story of Androcles, Jerome makes friends with a lion by removing a thorn from his paw.

The lion stays on, his job being to guard the monastery donkey. Then the donkey disappears. The other monks think the lion has eaten it, but Jerome refuses to condemn him; instead, he requests that the lion stay to do the donkey's work. 

Eventually, the lion finds the donkey and brings it home - together with the camels belonging to the merchants who stole it. 

Moser's elegant illustrations include some exquisite calligraphy detail in brilliant red, that compliments the strong yet tender portraits of the contemplative saint and the noble lion. 
(Copyright 1991, ages 5 and up).

Have you seen my other posts and book recommendations about saints? (click on the links below)
Stories of the Saints by Ruth Sanderson

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Counting Book and Shadow Play

I found this beautiful board book by Agnese Baruzzi a couple of weeks ago in the gift shop of the new San Diego Public Library, and couldn't resist buying it. With all the dark silhouettes, it seemed like a perfect book for fall (and Halloween)...

It will be a little while before my grandson can hold it by himself.  Though the pages themselves are sturdy, the die-cut illustrations are very intricate - making this book appropriate for ages 3 and up.
The "2 SQUIRRELS" page is one of my favorites...

source - you can view all the die-cut illustrations at
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

This unique book reminded me of a shadow box puppet theatre.  Your kids can make their own!  Go here or here for easy tutorials.

source: minieco.co.uk

All you need is a cereal box and some vellum (or wax) paper!

For some fun inspiration, watch this brilliant 1955 Jack and the Beanstalk shadow theatre that I found on Youtube...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Secret Giveaway Winner

Thanks to all who participated in my Giveaway!

Baby Peter chose Valerie Groh as the winner of The Secret Circus!  (well List Randomizer on Random.orghttp://www.random.org/ really picked the name, but Baby Peter was very excited.)

I have to share Valerie's fun comment from my facebook post.  She wrote: Oooh la la! A secret tiny circus in Paris sounds MAGNIFIQUE! Choose us to win, Pierre, S'il-vous-plait! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Come 1, Come All! It's a Birthday Giveaway...

I'm celebrating! Our grandson Peter just turned 1, and his creative Mommy hosted a cute circus-themed birthday party in our backyard. (Giveaway details coming...)

Dumbo is one of my daughter's favorite Disney films (can you watch the "Baby Mine" scene without crying? Alison Krauss has a beautiful rendition, here).  

Elephants and circus images grace Peter's nursery - so I wasn't surprised when his Mommy chose a circus theme!

And I found three unique circus books - two feature elephants - for Baby Peter that I'm excited to share with you...(Giveaway details at the end of this post.)

One book for NOW...
Of course, when I saw this cloth book of Dr. Seuss's Circus McGurkus 1-2-3 (based on If I Ran the Circus - a family favorite), I knew I had to get it!  [for 1-2 year olds]

It's fun and interactive, with a rattle on the page about the "Drum-Tummied Snumm" drumming away on his tumm-tumm. (Peter's favorite page.)  Stupendous! 

One book for SOON...
A new find,  The Secret Circus [ages 2-6], by Johanna Wright, is simply adorable!   I was immediately taken in by the quiet opening sentence: 
Somewhere, deep in the city of Paris, there is a circus that is so small, and so secret only the mice know how to find it... 

(Read this book in a whisper!)

One book for LATER...
Here is an incredible story that Peter will enjoy when he's a little bit older: The World's Greatest Elephant [ages 6 and up], by Ralph Helfer, based on the true story of an elephant and a boy born on the same day in a small town in Germany.  They grew up side by side in the circus (the boy's father was the elephant trainer).

I discovered this poignant book a couple of years ago on Anita Silvey's informative Book-a-Day Almanac website - you can read her post here.  The illustrations by Ted Lewin are gorgeous. 

Baby Peter and his Mommy.
(I think Peter is going to love all his new books...but right now, he'd rather play with his birthday balloons!)

Leave a comment and Peter might just share with you!

  • He'll help me choose 1 lucky winner...  
  • Which book will he be sharing?  The Secret Circus    
  • You can enter two ways: here on my post with a comment, and/or by leaving a comment on my Good Books Facebook page link to this post.
  • Giveaway ends Friday, October 18, 2013 at midnight, PST.   
  • Winner announced on Saturday, October 19, 2013.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Check out this Cheshire Cat Pumpkin!
(source:  Weiss Guys)

Each October I look forward to finding literary themed jack o'lanterns and bookish costumes to share with you for Halloween.  (And at the end of this post I've also included some pumpkin-themed treats!) 

Where the Wild Things Are Halloween

Wild Thing (from Alpha Mom)


Max (from Pottery Barn Kids)

Wonderland Halloween
I'm LATE! (from Weisse Guys)

One more: Alice grew! (from Misha Lulu)

Willy Wonka Kids' Costumes
An Oompa Loompa with Mr. Wonka

Peter Pan
Costume tutorial on Make it and Love it

Harry Potter
Cute (and easy!) - source

(from Spearmint Baby)

You'd have to be a professional to pull this one off!
source - Tumbler

So easy - tissue paper and floral tape!
(source here)

Tangerine Pumpkins (and Banana Ghosts)

Pumpkin Spice Buddies recipe

Mommies:  CrockPot Pumpkin Spice Latte
(recipe here, from Stephanie O'Dea)

More (Non Scary) Halloween Fun...If you've followed my blog for very long, you know I like to find ideas that are family friendly and book themed for Halloween -- like a "Storybook Pumpkin Patch", "Literary Themed Parties for 'Tweens and Teens",  "Book or Treat", and "Literary Pumpkins".

Go to my Pinterest Board for more ideas and recipes.  Happy Fall!

Monday, October 14, 2013

October's Party

(by George Cooper)

October gave a party; 
The leaves by hundreds came- 
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples, 
And leaves of every name. 
The Sunshine spread a carpet, 
And everything was grand, 
Miss Weather led the dancing, 
Professor Wind the band.

Friday, October 11, 2013

An Apple a Day...

Go to my past post, here, to read about this book that is
a geography and cooking lesson in one!

I hope you're all enjoying apples being in season as much as I am!  (Honey Crisp are my favorite variety.)

Try making one of these yummy apple treats this fall, and enjoy the Robert Frost poem at the end of my post.  (More recipes here).

Apple Peanut Butter Stack [source

Hollow out apples, bake with cinnamon, butter, and
sugar inside.  Cool.  Add ice cream and caramel sauce.
[source: Pinterest]

After Apple-Picking

by Robert frost
My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

A New Dome on the San Diego Skyline: It's a Library!

What does $184.9 million and 497,000 square feet of space get you?


A brand new nine-story library with a three-story atrium, domed reading room and terrace (8th floor), dozens of computer terminals, an art gallery, an auditorium, a special-collections wing, and a charter school!

The minute I entered the new Central Public Library in Downtown San Diego, I was struck by its vastness - you have to take an escalator to get up to the second and third floors!  After that, it's elevators (or the stairs, which we were relegated to because the elevators weren't working too well).

Three-story atrium with elevators greet you as you enter the library.

Not a bad view of the Coronado Bridge from the 8th floor Reading Room!

The 8th floor Reading Room, full of long tables and a pop of
 color from the BLUE chairs. [source for this photo here]

The ceiling and glass windows of the Reading Room

The area adjacent to the Reading Room houses Central Library's collection of baseball books. The collection is said to be second only to the baseball Hall of Fame's in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Life-size sculpture in the Baseball Book Collections area.
I ended my visit to the library with the Children's Library, which was back down on the first floor.
There were lots of fun Dr. Seuss murals in bright primary colors on the walls.  The low bookshelves, from a child's perspective, make the room more inviting than how I initially felt upon entering the very modern, basement-like area...

Honestly, it was kind of anti-climactic, with a very municipal feeling, despite the fun glass cases that met us, holding some of the library's special children's collections....

Mother Goose Vintage Collection

First Edition OZ books 
(I was surprised to see Ruby Slippers on the volumes. 
Maybe the kids who haven't read the books 
wouldn't have recognized Dorothy's Silver Shoes?)

Maurice Sendak Private Collection

Why are these cute green child-sized reading chairs empty?

Because all the kids are at the computers.  Sigh.  Well, hopefully they checked out some books to bring home!

But wait!  One little child liked the child-sized chairs.  My grandson, aka "Le Petit Prince"!