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)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


We could hardly wait to try this recipe from For the Love of Cooking.
I just spent a couple of days with my sister's kids (while she and her husband took a little get-away trip in celebration of her birthday).  My niece Tatiana loves to bake, and she and her younger brother are avid readers, so we had plenty of fun of our own...baking blueberry scones, making bookplates, and - of course - talking about what we are currently reading.
What could be better than homemade scones and morning sunshine?
While the scones were cooling, Tati and I downloaded some cute bookplates as part of a birthday gift for her friend.
We downloaded the pdf for these fairy bookplates, by Valerie Greeley,
from her Etsy website ACORNMOON.
Are you curious to know what good book recommendations I came back with? My nine-year-old nephew, Peter, handed me two, as he gushed, "Aunt Wendy, you have got to read these and write about them on your blog!"
Two new friends...
I immediately started the first, Summer of the Monkeys, by Wilson Rawls. Tati informed me it's by the same author who wrote Where the Red Fern Grows.  Peter said that boys, especially, will love it.  The second one is A Tree For Peterby Kate Seredy, which - according to Peter - "might make you cry".  I'll report back about these two new friends as soon as I finish them.

Oh, and if you're wondering:
"Tatiana's Fresh Blueberry Scones with Lemony Glaze" were as good as they look! She adapted the recipe a bit:  she added an extra tablespoon of sugar to the dry ingredients, and lemon zest to the scone dough (instead of putting zest in the glaze).  She also substituted half & half for the "heavy cream" called for in the scone recipe above. [hint: if you can get Meyer lemons, they are a great compliment to the blueberries]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Passing Along the Liebster LOVE

Thank you to the talented, Route 19 Writers, for honoring Good Books For Young Souls with the LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD.  [Readers: I'm sure you're asking yourself what exactly that means.  Well, the Liebster Award originated in Germany.  The word “Liebster” is a term of endearment: “beloved” or, also, "favorite".  The idea behind the award is to bring attention to bloggers who have less than 200 followers in order to create new connections and bring attention to these wonderful blogs!]

So here we are!  I'd like to bestow the AWARD to five of my favorite/liebster blogs.  Keep writing!

1.  Kinder Days
2.  The Scrumptious Life
3.  Brian Sibley: His Blog
4.  Sewing by Stephanie
5.  Saints and Spinners

These are the rules in accepting the award:
-Add the award image to your blog.
-Thank the giver with a link back to them.
-List your top 5 picks and let them know they've been given an award by leaving a comment on their blog.
-Hope that your followers will spread the love to the blogs you've spotlighted.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Illustration by Grace Lin, from Bringing in the New Year
Gong Xi Fa Ca! is the traditional Chinese New Year greeting that means “wishing you prosperity” in Mandarin.  The celebration begins today, on January 23, and lasts for 15 days total, ending with a Lantern Festival.  Each year is associated with one of twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac: 2012 is the "YEAR OF THE DRAGON".

Want to read some Dragon Tales?  Click here for my past post.

Traditional Chinese Dragon used in the dragon dance. Image credit: Caseman via Wikimedia Commons.
Chinese children are given red envelopes with money for luck in the New Year.
Red envelopes Image credit: BCody80 via Wikimedia Commons.

Read aloud recommendation: 
BRINGING IN THE NEW YEAR by Grace Lin.  Follow a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. They all lend a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to put on new clothes and celebrate with family and friends. The celebration will include fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade to help bring in the New Year. (The dragon parade at the end book is extra long–there's a surprise fold-out page.) Go to Grace Lin's website.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I hope you'll consider the exciting children's novel The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, (published 1962) by Joan Aiken, for your next read aloud this winter.

Most of the action of this Gothic-era story takes place inside a grand English manor house, "Willoughby Chase" (oddly enough, the wolves are mainly in the background of the story); add a wicked governess, two cousins (a plucky rich girl and a penniless orphaned girl) and a kind country gooseboy, and you've got characters and drama that would rival any Frances Hodgsdon Burnett story (with some abusive Roald Dahl-style authority figures, Agatha Christie twists and turns, and a Charles Dickens prison-like-school thrown in)...can you resist that for a cold winter's night?

Young Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia are threatened not only by wolves, but by a new governess - their distant relative "Miss Slighcarp" - who is sent for when Bonnie's doting parents leave Willoughby Chase for a healthful sea voyage.  Simon the gooseboy tries to help the girls escape the trials and misfortunes as things go from bad to unbearable, thanks to their grim governess.  But it's not all darkness and drear.  The cruel adults in the story are balanced by kind and caring ones and, in the end, good overcomes evil.

My niece and nephew recommended this book to me - I wish I'd read it as a child!  Your child will like it, especially if he or she enjoyed The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy,  James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, or Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.  If you are the designated adult reader, you will like it if you enjoyed Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, or any of the Agatha Christie mysteries.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is the first in a series of books by Aiken. Click HERE to read more about Joan Aiken's 12 fantasy books that make up the Wolves of Willoughby Chase Chronicles. (Disclosure: I have not personally read the whole set.  The first book stands alone just fine). Ages 10 and up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Happy Winnie-the-Pooh Day!  Today marks the anniversary of the birth of author A.A. Milne in 1882.   Christopher Robin's "Silly Old Bear" holds a special place in my heart, being one of the early favorite characters I introduced my children to during our read aloud time.  I enjoyed Milne's books as much as they did - and there's a reason for that...

Peter Dennis, an English actor who for many years performed a one-man-show, "Bother!", and lent his vocal talents in recording all of Milne's stories and verses (available HERE), said:  For too long, Winnie-the-Pooh has been relegated to children's bookshelves and Disney children's cartoons. But A. A. Milne didn't write the stories and poems for children. He intended them for the child within you – and me – and countless millions of others. Milne rarely read the stories and poems to his son Christopher, preferring rather to amuse him with the works of P.G. Wodehouse. In a letter to me, Christopher wrote, "My father did not write the books for children. He didn't write for any specific market; he knew nothing about marketing. He knew about me. He knew about himself..." [source: Pooh Corner]

Piglet, Tigger, Kanga, Winnie-... Digital ID: psnypl_ccr_001. New York Public Library
photo source: nypl.org
If you're ever in New York City, be sure and stop by the Public Library's Children's Center (their home in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street), where you can see Christopher Robin's beloved bear and other treasured toys preserved for viewing in a glass cabinet.  Below are some "Fun Facts" from the NYC Public Library website...

-The curious name of "Winnie-the-Pooh" came from Christopher Robin, from a combination of the names of a real bear and a pet swan. During the 1920s there was a black bear named "Winnie" in the London Zoo who had been the mascot for the Winnipeg regiment of the Canadian army. "Pooh" was the name of a swan in When We Were Very Young [Milne's first book of poems].
-Pooh was purchased at Harrods department store in London and given by A.A. Milne to his son Christopher Robin on his first birthday, August 21, 1921. He was called Edward (proper form of "Teddy") Bear at the time.
-The rest of the toys were received as gifts by Christopher Robin between 1920 and 1928.
-Not only Christopher Robin played with the toys; so, apparently, did the family dog, which may have contributed to their well-worn appearance.
-The baby kangaroo stuffed animal (named Roo) was lost in an apple orchard during the 1930s.
-Winnie-the-Pooh had adventures with Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Rabbit, and Tigger in the 100 Aker (Acre) Wood (based on the Ashdown Forest in southern England, located near the Milne family home).
-Owl and Rabbit were brought to life to join Pooh and pals Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger, by Milne and illustrator Ernest H. Shepard.
-The stuffed animals range in height from 25" (Eeyore, the biggest) to 4 1/2" (Piglet, the smallest).

Want more information?  You can also see NYP Library's A REAL POOH TIMELINE, here.

Make a Honey Cake, to celebrate the day: Click HERE for the recipe, from my past post, "Proper Tea with Winnie-the-Pooh".

My book recommendation for today: Three Cheers for Pooh, by Brian Sibley. You'll love Brian Sibley's richly detailed account, with lavish illustrations of Ernest Shepard's full-color artwork and original sketches (as well as photographs, newspaper reports, and manuscript pages in Milne's own handwriting). This creatively designed book is perfect for both seasoned Pooh admirers and those eager to get better acquainted with Edward Bear - known to most as: Winnie-the-Pooh.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Founder of America's First Lending Library...

Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts. Franklin is probably best known in the library community for founding the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731. It was America's first lending library and can lay claim to being the predecessor of the free public library. For a brief period (Dec. 1733-Mar. 1734) Franklin actually served as the librarian for the Library Company. He also served as its secretary from 1746 to 1757. Franklin considered the Library Company to be the "Mother of all N. American Subscription Libraries ....". [Source: The Library History Buff]

Friday, January 6, 2012

ONE MORE GIFT...for the 12th Day of Christmas

January 6th is the Feast of Epiphany, also known as Theophany. It was one of the first "feast days" of the early church, and originally included the celebration of the Birth of Christ, the Adoration of the Magi, and Christ's Presentation into the Temple. Separate feast days for each of these events were not adopted until the fourth century. [source]

Have you ever wondered about the significance of the gifts the Magi brought to the child Jesus, in honor of His birth?
"And when they [the Magi] had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2:11 NKJV)

Linda Sue Park wondered about it - especially the last gift,  myrrh - and it led her to write the tender story, THE THIRD GIFT, with captivating illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline. A boy helps his father harvest the resin ("tears") of shrub trees native to the Arabian Peninsula...
"The tears are used for many things. They can be ground up as medicine for headaches...used to flavor wine.  The best tears, the most expensive ones, are used for funerals...when you smell the tears at a funeral, you know that someone truly beloved has died."

One day the boy finds "the biggest tear yet."  When he and his father go to the marketplace, the merchant tells them he has some important customers waiting for them.  These three brightly robed strangers are looking for a gift to bring to a special baby. They already have gold and frankincense, but are looking for a third gift.

In the Author's Notes at the end of the book, Linda Sue Park wonders about the connotations of Christ's death in connection with the Wise Men's gift of myrrh, brought to Him as a baby.  She cites a reference to this foreshadowing as noted on a curator's label of the 16th century Brueghel painting, The Adoration of the Kings, hanging in the National Gallery in London.

What the author may not be aware of is that St. Irenaeus (a 2nd century Bishop from Lyon, France) also wrote about the gifts of the Kings to the Christ Child:
Matthew says that the Magi, coming from the east, exclaimed "For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him;” and that, having been led by the star into the house of Jacob to Emmanuel, they showed, by these gifts which they offered, Who it was that was worshipped: myrrh, because it was He who should die and be buried for the mortal human race; gold, because He was a King, “of whose kingdom is no end;” and frankincense, because He was God, who also “was made known in Judea,” and was “declared to those who sought Him not". [source]

image source
To this day, in every Orthodox Church at Christmas, the significance of the Magi’s gifts is revealed in a hymn sung at the Compline of the Nativity:
When the Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, the Magi came from the east and worshipped Him as incarnate God. Eagerly they opened their treasures and offered Him precious gifts—pure gold for that He is King of the ages; frankincense in that He is God of all; and as dead for three days they offered myrrh to the deathless One. Wherefore, come, all ye nations, let us worship Him Who was born to save our souls.

Why is this hymn not sung in Orthodox churches on the feast of Epiphany? In Eastern Orthodox tradition, the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child is commemorated on Christmas Day.  Epiphany commemorates Jesus' baptism.  The word Epiphany in Greek means "to show forth" and is used interchangably with the word Theophany, which translates from Greek as "appearance of God".

The feast day is called Theophany because at the baptism of Christ the Holy Trinity appeared clearly to mankind for the first time -- the Father's voice is heard from Heaven, the Son of God is incarnate and standing physically in the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descends on Him in the form of a dove. (You can see last year's post and book recommendation for Theophany HERE.)
image source

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


A recent report from Ontario, Canada, published by the research group People for Education, found that fewer school age children actually enjoy reading.  Below are some of their findings...

     "Literacy – alongside writing and math – has been at the centre of Ontario’s educational agenda for more than a decade. And while Ontario students’ literacy scores have improved during that time, something unexpected has also happened: There has been a dramatic decline in the percentage of Ontario students who report that they “like to read.”
     While the increase in Ontario’s students’ reading scores is to be applauded, the decrease in their love of reading is worrying. It is possible that our focus on targets for test scores and on the “mechanics” of literacy have had an impact on students’ attitudes.
     Regardless of form, reading for the joy of it, for its capacity to broaden our horizons, use our imaginations, think creatively, understand ourselves and others better, and feel engaged as citizens in the world – reading for all those reasons must be a vital component of what we encourage in our schools." [You can read the whole report, with statistics, HERE]

What can help stop this worrying decline?  According to the study, educators need to
1- give kids access to school libraries and librarians, and
2- encourage parents to "read with their children for pleasure" at home.

This is where I insert one of my favorite resources - for read aloud books that kids will ENJOY:
You can also visit Jim Trelease's website: Jim Trelease on Reading. It's a helpful resource for parents,  teachers, and librarians.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Last year I Spent My New Year's Day With Roses (literally, while viewing the Rose Parade floats with my husband.)  This year, I'm also with roses - but they've been cut from my backyard and are in a vase!

We watched the parade on t.v. this morning - since my youngest son was on drumline in his high school  band and was priviledged to perform in the Rose Parade two years ago, we really enjoy watching the marching bands.  Did anyone see the float with the surfing dogs?

If you don't live close to Pasadena or in a climate conducive to roses in January, you can always make a trip with your kids to your library and find the book Bobbsey Twins: The Rose Parade Mystery. The Bobbsey Twins search to find the culprit who is sabotaging the floats for the famous Rose Parade in Pasadena, California (this book is a newer one, published in 1981)

The Bobbsey Twins series was probably the longest-running juvenile book series of all time. The first book was published in 1904 and new volumes were added as late as 1992. Who wrote the Bobbsey Twins books? Click HERE.