A blog for kids (and their parents) who love books, words, and dreaming big...
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The next time you hear a harsh, jarring mixture of sounds, impress those around you by saying, "What a cacophony [kuh-kof-uh-nee]!"

Here are a few more examples using this week's word:

He exited the library, his refuge, and stepped out
into the cacophony of the busy city once more.

Her head pounded from the cacophony of
screams, shrieks, and beeping video games
at Chuck E. Cheese.

The political argument quickly
turned into a cacophony of insults.

What sentences can you come up with, using "cacophony"?  I'd love to see them!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pasta Parade

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Pasta Parade

Ziti marching in row --
then capelli d'angelo --
ravioli --
tortellini --
wide lasagna --
slim linguine --
itty bits of pert pastina --
piles of penne mezzanine--
ditali and ditalini --
teeny, weeny tubettini --
farfalle --
and capellini --
nests of woven fettuccine --
That's enough already,
Fill my bowl up with spaghetti!
And while you're at it, will you please
pass along the grated cheese.

~ Bobbi Katz

Monday, November 28, 2011

Are you on Facebook?

In September, I created a Blue Sky, Big Dreams Blog Facebook page, where I share links to my (almost) daily posts here.  At the time, I let all my Facebook friends know about it.  Until recently, however, I never thought to post the link here, for any fellow BookWyrms out there who I don't know personally.  If you would like to be reminded about new Blue Sky, Big Dreams posts on Facebook, please click on the link above and then "like" my page!  And feel free to share the link with anyone you think might be interested. :)  Thank you!

It had called him...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

An excerpt:

     Yet Bastian knew he couldn't leave without the book.  It was clear to him that he had only come to the shop because of this book.  It had called him in some mysterious way, because it wanted to be his, because it had somehow always belonged to him.

~ from The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What I like in a good author...

My boys, Nov. 2011

"What I like in a good author
is not what he says,
but what he whispers." 

~Logan Pearsall Smith

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hug O' War

My kids, Nov. 2011

Hug O' War

I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war.
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.

~ Shel Silverstein

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net


Thank You
  for all my hands can hold--
    apples red,
      melons gold,
        yellow corn
          both ripe and sweet,
            peas and beans
              so good to eat!

Thank You
  for all my eyes can see--
    lovely sunlight,
      field and tree,
        white cloud-boats
          in sea-deep sky,
            soaring bird
              and butterfly.

Thank You
  for all my ears can hear--
    birds' song echoing
      far and near,
        songs of little
          stream, big sea,
            cricket, bullfrog,
              duck and bee!

~ Ivy O. Eastwick

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

In classical mythology, a cornucopia [kawr-nuh-koh-pee-uh] is a horn containing food and drink in endless supply.  Representations of this horn, a symbol of abundance, are often seen at Thanksgiving time, as in the photo above.  Cornucopia can also be used in a more figurative way -- as a noun meaning "a plentiful, overflowing supply".

She set the cornucopia on the table for a festive centerpiece.

The room contained shelf after shelf of books
on every subject, a cornucopia of knowledge.

What ways can you think of to use the word "cornucopia"?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Other people's snapshots...

"Poems are other people's snapshots
in which we see our own lives."

~ Charles Simic

Monday, November 21, 2011

Smell like nutmeg...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

An excerpt:

     Faber sniffed the book.  "Do you know that books smell like nutmeg or some spice from a foreign land?  I loved to smell them when I was a boy."

~ from Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Endless, incredible loot...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainImages.net

"The richest person in the world --
in fact all the riches in the world --
couldn't provide you with anything
like the endless, incredible loot
available at your local library." 

~Malcolm Forbes

Saturday, November 19, 2011

CD a Poem

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

CD a Poem

CD a poem.
Revolve it around.
Hear its bouncy rhythm
blare, blast, pound.

Let it clang,
rumble through
a city

Listen to it
thunder --

the volume

~ Lee Bennett Hopkins

Friday, November 18, 2011

Celebrating Thanksgiving with books...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

I always enjoy finding and reading books for each holiday.  Thanksgiving is no exception!  I came across several good Thanksgiving-themed books at the library earlier this month (along with one book that was on our shelf at home).  Here are a few of the fictional picture books I found and recommend:

Duck for Turkey Day, written by Jacqueline Jules and illustrated by Kathryn Mitter, 2009... Tuyet learns about Thanksgiving at school.  As the class leaves to go home, her teacher calls, "Have a great Turkey Day!"  When Tuyet discovers that her Vietnamese American family will be having duck for Thanksgiving, instead of turkey, she worries.  Can it really be Thanksgiving without turkey? 

I found this to be a sweet book that celebrates the differences between cultures and family traditions. 

How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Beth Peck, 1988...  A family flees its Caribbean island home with other refugees.  They take a boat to America and land at their new home on Thanksgiving Day. 

We always hear about the Pilgrims at Thanksgiving time, but they were not the only immigrants who came to America.  People have come from all over the world to make their home here, and new immigrants continue to arrive every year.  This story reminds us that we have much to be grateful for here.

Over the River and Through the Wood, written by Lydia Maria Child and illustrated by Christopher Manson, 1993...  The famous song "Over the River and Through the Wood" was adapted from a poem written by Child in the 1840's, about traveling to her grandparents' on Thanksgiving Day.  I remember singing it in the car (over and over again) on the way to my own grandparents' when I was young!  This book includes the music that goes with the words, as well as Manson's beautiful woodcut illustrations.

Sometimes It's Turkey -- Sometimes It's Feathers, written and illustrated by Lorna Balian, 1973... Mrs. Gumm finds a turkey egg in the forest one spring.  She takes it home where she hatches the egg and raises the young turkey, anticipating a tasty Thanksgiving dinner.  When the big day finally arrives, however, Mrs. Gumm has second thoughts about eating the bird she's cared for all year! 

I enjoyed the gentle humor of this book, and the surprise ending.

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons', written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Megan Lloyd, 1982... The Tappleton family is planning a big holiday feast, but when one amusing mishap after another occurs, they discover that the most important part of Thanksgiving isn't the food, but spending time together. 

This is a fun book to snuggle up and read with loved ones!

The Thanksgiving Door, written and illustrated by Debby Atwell, 2003...  An elderly couple goes searching for an open restaurant on Thanksgiving when their dinner is accidentally burnt.  They find the door of the New World Cafe open, and go on in.  Meanwhile, the immigrant family who owns the cafe is surprised to see customers ~ the door was supposed to be closed and locked.  The children want to scare the strangers away, but Grandmother insists on inviting them to dinner, and it turns out to be a memorable holiday for all.

I really liked this heart-warming story with its colorful, cheery artwork.

Turk and Runt, written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Frank Ansley, 2002... Turk's parents are so proud of their oldest son, the biggest, strongest, most graceful turkey on Wishbone Farm.  His younger brother Runt, however, is worried.  He's figured out why people come to the farm in November, and doesn't want anyone taking his brother away.  What follows is utter silliness. 

This zany book had me laughing out loud on almost every page!

The Greatest Table: A Banquet to Fight Against Hunger, written by Michael J. Rosen and illustrated by Victoria Chess, Richard McGuire, Floyd Cooper, Guy Billout, Brian Pinkney, Diane Goode, David Wiesner, Dena Schutzer, Kevin Hawkes, Eve Chwast, Anita Lobel, Robert Sabuda, Chris Van Allsburg, Lois Ehlert, Lisa Campbell Ernst, and Patricia Polacco, 1994...  I bought this 12-foot-long accordion book back when it first came out (proceeds benefited Share Our Strength, an anti-hunger group), and re-read it every year.  A poem about ending world hunger is accompanied by 16 artists' images of "the greatest table", the world's dining room, all united by the common theme of people sharing food with others. 

I also found some interesting non-fiction books about Thanksgiving:

Celebrate Thanksgiving, written by Deborah Heiligman, 2006... This book is filled with stunning photographs, fun facts about this national holiday, a list of resources, and even a Native American prayer and a recipe for cranberry & peach preserves.

The Story of Thanksgiving, written by Robert Merrill Bartlett and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport, 2001...  This book provides the history behind Thanksgiving, as well as the music for "Over the River and Through the Wood" and a recipe for pumpkin muffins.  The rich illustrations help bring the words to life. 

Thanksgiving Crafts, written by Amy Bailey Muehlenhardt and illustrated by Nadine Takvorian, 2011...  From Pilgrim hats to a fall wreath to a turkey tamborine, this book is filled with fun and easy-to-make Thanksgiving crafts for kids.

Gobble! The Complete Book of Thanksgiving Words, written by Lynda Graham Barber and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, 1991... This middle-grade book describes almost 40 Thanksgiving-related words, offering entertaining information and unusual stories in addition to the etymology of the words.

Have you read any of the books above?  What did you think of them?  Do you have any favorite books for Thanksgiving?  I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A pleasure beyond compare...

"To sit alone in the lamplight
with a book spread out before you,
and hold intimate converse with men
of unseen generations --
such is a pleasure beyond compare." 

~Kenko Yoshida

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


When someone mixes up the beginnings of two or more words (usually on accident), the result is called a spoonerism.  The term comes from the name of William A. Spooner (1844-1930), an English clergyman and educator, famous for all of his spoonerisms.

When I was a little girl, up until the age of ten or so, I always called window sills "sindow wills".  Even when people corrected me, I insisted that I had said it the right way.  (I think now that I was confusing the words with "spindle wheel", from one of my favorite Disney films, Sleeping Beauty.)  I still catch myself about to say it as an adult!

Here are a few other examples of spoonerisms:
  • a lack of pies...instead of a pack of lies
  • chew your doors...instead of do your chores
  • plaster man... instead of master plan
  • go shake a tower... instead of go take a shower

While spoonerisms are often accidental, sometimes people say (or write) them on purpose, usually for laughs.  Shel Silverstein even wrote an entire story out of spoonerisms called Runny Babbit, a very silly book! (Or should I say billy sook?)

Have you ever accidentally made a spoonerism?  Have you ever made one on purpose?  If so, I would love to hear them -- please share! :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Something Told the Wild Geese

Photo courtesy of Public-Domain-Image.com

Something Told the Wild Geese

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, "Snow."
Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned, "Frost."
All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly --
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

~ Rachel Field

Monday, November 14, 2011

Put into words...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

An excerpt:

     "Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales.  We're in one, of course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards.  And people will say: 'Let's hear about Frodo and the Ring!'  And they'll say: 'Yes, that's one of my favorite stories.'"

~ from The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkein

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I might be...

"If I fall asleep with a pen in my hand,
don't remove it -
I might be writing in my dreams."

~Terri Guillemets

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

A Child's Calendar: November

The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The ghosts of her
Departed leaves.

The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.
And yet the world,
In its distress,
Displays a certain

~ John Updike

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spotlight on Jon Sciezka: Author

My mother-in-law first introduced our family to Jon Sciezka's work when she gave us a copy of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, which we all loved.  Many, many years later, my son Ben and I stumbled across Sciezka's Smash! Crash!, the first book in his Trucktown series.  Ben became an instant fan.  While looking for more Trucktown books at the library, I discovered a whole shelf full of Sciezka's other work and began checking it out.  He has since become one of our family's favorite authors.

Sciezka's work is often wacky or off-beat, and is always filled with humor!  Here are a few of his books:

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, illustrated by Lane Smith, 1989... Everyone knows the story of the three little pigs.  But do you know the true story?  (Or, at least, the story according to the wolf?)  Alexander T. Wolf shares his side of the story, claiming the whole fiasco with the pigs was just a big misunderstanding.  This silly book is one we love to read over and over again!

The Frog Prince, Continued, illustrated by Steve Johnson, 1991...  This is another of my favorite books by Sciezka.  In this one, we find that "happily ever after" might not be all it's cracked up to be.  The honeymoon is over for the frog prince and his princess, and they are finding it difficult to handle their differences.  The prince decides he was better off as a frog.  He heads out into the world, looking for a witch to turn him back into one -- easier said than done.  Along the way, the frog prince realizes that he does love the princess.  The story ends unexpectedly, but happily, once again.  I love the hilarious illustrations as much as the story!

The Book That Jack Wrote, illustrated by Daniel Adel, 1994... With a blend of twisted humor and parody, this is what happens when nursery rhymes go awry. 

Math Curse, illustrated by Lane Smith, 1995...  A young girl's teacher tells her class, "You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem."  And so it begins.  Soon the narrator is seeing math problems everywhere -- some logical and others utterly nonsensical.  Even readers who hate math will find this book amusing!

Squids Will Be Squids, illustrated by Lane Smith, 1998...  I checked this book out from the library for the first time just a few weeks ago, and laughed out loud as I read it to myself.  Later, my son Nick read it aloud to his little brother.  As I worked in the next room, I could hear them both giggling and guffawing at every page.  This book is filled with the goofiest (yet insightful) fables and "morals of the story" that I've ever heard.

Baloney (Henry P.), illustrated by Lane Smith, 2001...  A young alien must come up with a good, believable excuse for being late to szkola.  Sciezka combines over 20 different Earth languages (including Finnish, Swahili, Latvian, and Inuktitut) to create Henry P.'s alien language.  A decoder at the end of the book reveals each word's origin and meaning, but contextual clues help readers to make sense of the story without use of the decoder.

Science Verse, illustrated by Lane Smith, 2004...  In this companion to Math Curse, a boy's teacher tells his class that "if you listen closely enough, you can hear the poetry of science in everything."  This book is filled with hilarious science poems, parodying the styles of Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Frost, Lewis Carroll, and many others.  A CD accompanies this book, featuring Sciezka himself, along with illustrator Lane Smith.  The two recite the poems in the book and banter back and forth -- it is a delight to listen to, just as the book is to read.

Seen Art?, illustrated by Lane Smith, 2005...  A boy looks for his friend in New York City, asking passersby, "Have you seen Art?"  Not understanding what he means, the strangers direct him to MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art.  Here he finds art in all different media (miniature reproductions appear on every page), and by the end of the book, he has found Art, as well.

Smash! Crash! (also published as Welcome to Trucktown!), illustrated by David Shannon, Loren Long, and David Gordon, 2008... I have already written about this book and the Trucktown series here.

Robot Zot, illustrated by David Shannon, 2009...  One of Ben's all-time favorite books, this one cracks us up every time we read it!  A robot from outer space is determined to conquer Earth.  The only problem is his height --  he's barely a few inches tall.  He lands in the kitchen of a house, where he bravely battles a toaster and other appliances.  When he meets a pink cell phone toy (who he believes must be the Queen of All Earth), he heroically comes to her rescue.

In addition to all of his picture books, Sciezka has also written several books for middle grade readers, most notably The Time Warp Trio series: Knights of the Kitchen Table (1991), The Not-So-Jolly Roger (1991), The Good, The Bad, and the Goofy (1992), Your Mother Was a Neanderthal (1993), 2095 (1995), Tut, Tut (1996), Summer Reading is Killing Me (1998), It's All Greek to Me (1999), all illustrated by Lane Smith, and See You Later, Gladiator (2000), Sam Samurai (2001), Hey, Kid, Want to Buy a Bridge? (2002), Viking It and Liking It (2002), Me Oh Maya (2003), Da Wild, Da Crazy, Da Vinci (2004), Oh Say, I Can't See (2005), Marco? Polo! (2006), all illustrated by Adam McCauley.

The Time Warp Trio revolves around three friends, Joe, Sam, and Fred.  Joe's magician uncle sends him a mysterious book for his tenth birthday.  The boys quickly discover that The Book has the ability to transport them to various places and times throughout history and literature.  So far, I've only read the first four books in the series, but it's easy to see why this series appeals to so many young readers, especially boys -- these short volumes are entertaining and action-packed.  In 2005, a television show based on the books debuted on Discovery Kids.

For more information about Jon Sciezka and his wonderfully wacky books, please check out the following websites of his:  Jon Sciezka Worldwide, Guys Read, Time Warp Trio, and Trucktown (the latter two sites also contain fun games for kids).  Also, don't forget to look for Sciezka's work in libraries and bookstores!