A blog for kids (and their parents) who love books, words, and dreaming big...
I'm so glad you stopped by! Welcome.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

To read is to fly...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"To read is to fly: 
it is to soar 
to a point of vantage 
which gives a view over
 wide terrains of history, 
human variety, ideas, 
shared experience and the 
fruits of many inquiries."

~ A. C. Grayling

Reading really is like flying, with books for wings.  Not only does it provide the wide view that Grayling describes in the quote above, but (at least for me) reading also makes the heart soar.  I'm ready to go fly for awhile -- how about you?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

This morning I drove to a nearby forest preserve for my routine Wednesday walk.  When I first stepped onto the trail and looked out at the small pond a few yards away, the word serene popped into my head.  I kept thinking of "serene" as I walked, and finally decided I should make it the word of the week.  Serene (suh-reen) is an adjective that means "calm, peaceful or tranquil; unruffled".  While walking, I came up with these example sentences:

He leaned back against the tree and sighed, 
enjoying the beauty of the serene lake 
spread out before him.

Amidst the chaos of the high school classroom, 
she alone sat poised and serene, 
waiting for the teacher to begin the lesson.

I also came up with the rough draft of a poem:


Palm against palm:
breathe slowly and calm.
Think back in time:
a moment sublime.
Picture a scene:
peaceful, serene.
Hear the orchestra's song:
low and long.
Breathe out, breathe in:
let relaxation begin.

~Janelle H.

What ways can you think of to use the word serene?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net


Sammy's head is pounding--
Sammy's in pain--
A long division's got
Stuck in his brain--
Call for the locksmith
Call the engineer
Call for the plumber
To suck out his ear,
Call the brain surgeon
To pry out the mess,
Call out the Coast Guard
Sammy's head is pounding--
Sammy's in pain--
A long division's got 
Stuck in his brain.

~Beverly McLoughland

This poem makes me laugh.  It does a good job of describing how I feel whenever I have to do math.  My kids Emmalie and Nick feel the same way, but my seven-year-old Ben LOVES math.  (He must've gotten that from his daddy.) How about you?  Does math make your head hurt or does it make you happy?  (Or are you indifferent to it?)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Full of surprises...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net
"Most of my poems 
go through several drafts 
on paper, and not every idea 
for a poem works out.  
I have a big cardboard box 
full of scraps and snippets 
that never quite turned into poems.  
I don't throw these out 
because sometimes one will 
jump out of the pile 
and begin a whole new poem, 
one I hadn't thought about at all.  
Poetry is full of surprises."

 ~ Maxine Kumin, 
in The Place My Words are Looking For

Right now I keep ideas and snippets of poems in a notebook, but I love this box idea.  It is true -- sometimes a little phrase I wrote down months or years ago will jump out at me (surprise!) and inspire me to write something new. Don't throw out your ideas.  Even if they're not working for you right now, they may turn out to be "just the thing" to get you started some day in the future!

Friday, November 23, 2012


Photo courtesy of Flickr.com


At the center, a dark star
wrapped in white.
When you bite, listen
for the crunch of boots on snow,
snow that has ripened.  Over it
stretches the red, starry sky.

~ Nan Fry

I came across this poem a month or so ago, and it has stuck with me ever since.  I love the surprising word choices -- a dark star surrounded by white (just the opposite of what I usually think of when I hear the word "star"), ripened snow, and a red sky.  Then, when I put all these unusual images together in my mind, I think, "Ah!  Of course it's an apple!"  And now, every time I bite into a crisp apple, I think of stars and snow....

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Image courtesy of NYPL's Digital Gallery

Giving Thanks

For the hay and the corn and the wheat that is reaped,
For the labor well done, and the barns that are heaped,
For the sun and the dew and the sweet honeycomb,
For the rose and the song and the harvest brought home -
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the trade and the skill and the wealth in our land,
For the cunning and strength of the workingman's hand,
For the good that our artists and poets have taught,
For the friendship that hope and affection have brought -
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the homes that with purest affection are blest,
For the season of plenty and well-deserved rest,
For our country extending from sea unto sea;
The land that is known as the "Land of the Free" -
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

~ Author Unknown

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving
filled with blessings and happy memories!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This week's word is magnanimous [mag-nan-uh-muhs], an adjective meaning "generous; noble".  Its synonyms include: benevolent, bountiful, and charitable.  I thought it was a fitting word for the holiday season.  Here are a few example sentences:

The couple's magnanimous donation provided 
enough food and clothing for ten families.

Known as a magnanimous man throughout his life, 
he dedicated his life to serving others.

Thank you for the gift -- it was so 
magnanimous of you!

How would you use the word magnanimous?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Time

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Thanksgiving Time

When all the leaves are off the boughs,
And nuts and apples gathered in,
And cornstalks waiting for the cows,
And pumpkins safe in barn and bin,
Then Mother says, "My children dear,
The fields are brown, and autumn flies;
Thanksgiving Day is very near,
And we must make thanksgiving pies!"

~ Author Unknown

I have a long list of things to do today, to get our family ready to go out of town for the holiday.  In between packing and writing out instructions for our pet sitter and cleaning out the car, I must make a pumpkin pie. (For Thanksgiving Day is very near!)  Yum.  I love all the different foods we have at Thanksgiving, but my favorite dish has to be the pie.  What is your favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 19, 2012

November had come...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

An excerpt:

     November had come and the crops were in. The walls of the cheerful kitchen were hung with garlands of dried apples, onions, and corn. Up aloft from the beams shone crookneck squashes, juicy hams, and dried venison.

     Mrs. Bassett bustled to and fro, flushed and floury, for today was Thanksgiving.  Tilly, the oldest daughter, was briskly grinding spices as Prue kept time with the chopper.  The twins, Roxy and Rhody, sliced away at the apples while Seth and Solomon shelled corn for popping.

~ from An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving,
written by Louisa May Alcott

Just reading this makes me hungry... and eager for Thanksgiving dinner!  I like all the details Alcott uses, and the picture she paints in my mind with her words.  She offers sights, sounds, and even smells in just two short paragraphs.  Reading this also inspires me to try writing about my own family's Thanksgiving -- I'll have to keep this passage in mind later this week!  How would you describe holidays at your house?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Feeling thankful...

Image courtesy of The Gutenberg Project

About a year ago I shared a post about some of the things I was thankful for, all related to books and writing.  I am still very grateful for the items on that list, many of which are summed up in this quote:

"The love of learning, 
the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet 
serenity of books."

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This year, I am also thankful for:
  • More time to write, now that all three of my kids are in school for six hours every day.
  • Dictionaries and thesauruses
  • My kids' creative imaginations and their love of writing.  Emmalie has written many stories over the years (some quite long).  Nick enjoys writing nonfiction pieces about animals.  And, just recently, Ben began writing his first "book".  He is currently on Chapter 7 (each chapter is only 3-5 sentences long) and he is so excited about it! Every day he looks forward to writing something new and then sharing it with everyone in the family. :)
  • Discovering some blogs that inspire me every time I read them, including The Poem Farm, Laura Salas: Writing the World for Kids, and No Water River: The Picture Book and Poetry Place.
  • This blog, which motivates me daily to keep reading, writing, learning, and dreaming.
  • The wonderful books I've read this year because of this blog.  As you know, I'm a BookWyrm.  I would read (and read and read!) whether I had Blue Sky, Big Dreams to write or not.  But because I do have this blog, I have sought out and then read many books that I might never have crossed paths with otherwise.
  • All of my friends and readers.  Thank you so much for supporting me, back when I first launched this blog and in the seventeen months since, urging me to keep it up.  I also owe you a HUGE thank you for all the encouragement you've given me, to keep writing (and submitting!) my poems, stories, and novels. Writing can be a lonely job at times, and it's easy to get discouraged. It really helps -- and means so much to me -- knowing that I have friends out there cheering me on!
What are you thankful for this year?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Those who believe...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"The future 
belongs to those 
who believe 
in the 
beauty of their dreams."  

~Eleanor Roosevelt

Keep on dreaming and keep on believing. :)

Friday, November 16, 2012


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net


On this earth
  we are
           one to
    to another
       to another
    to another
       to another
        to another
      to another
   to another
       to another
     to another
  to another
   to another
  to another
   to another
      to another
        such that
        happens to
            one of us


~ Anna Grossnickle Hines, 
Peaceful Pieces: 
Poems and Quilts About Peace

I love this poem, both the sentiment behind it and the way Hines makes her words look like a row of dominoes standing next to each other.  We are all connected to each other.  Kindness matters.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The biggest thrill...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"The best kind of writing, 
and the biggest thrill in writing, 
is to suddenly read a line 
from your typewriter 
that you didn't know was in you."     

~ Larry L. King

I have had this experience before.  It's a little spooky -- and also kinda cool -- to be typing along, page after page, when suddenly you reread something you just wrote and think, "Where did that come from?"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I overheard part of a conversation the other day that included the word hubbub [huhb-uhb], and I just had to giggle.  "Hubbub" usually has that effect on me -- partly because it's a funny-sounding word and partly because it always makes me think of the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he says, "What's all the hubbub, bub?"

Hubbub is a noun that means "a loud, confused noise".  It can also mean "tumult; uproar".  Some of its synonyms are also fun to say: brouhaha [broo-hah-hah], hullabaloo [huhl-uh-buh-loo], and katzenjammer [kat-suhn-jam-er], to name a few.  Here are a couple of sample sentences I came up with:

I prefer the quiet of the country 
to the hubbub of the city.

After all the hubbub died down in the auditorium, 
the speaker continued.

The town was a hubbub of narrow, winding streets 
and lively, crowded marketplaces.

How would you use the word hubbub?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Feast of Books for Thanksgiving

Image courtesy of NYPL's Digital Gallery

I don't know about you, but I am really looking forward to a big Thanksgiving feast next week.  Yum. :)  In preparation for the holiday, my seven-year-old Ben and I have been feasting our eyes on Thanksgiving-themed books.  I wrote about some of our favorites in a post last November, and wanted to share some others with you this year:

The Thanksgiving Story,
written by Alice Dalgliesh
and illustrated by Helen Sewell, 1954

In this book, Dalgliesh tells the story of one Pilgrim family and their journey from England to Plymouth Rock, concluding with the feast of celebration a year later for the colonists and the natives who'd helped the newcomers survive hunger, cold, and sickness.

I found this to be a well-written story of historical fiction -- easy to understand, yet interesting and informative.


Over the River and Through the Wood,
lyrics written by Lydia Maria Child
and illustrated by Brinton Turkle, 1975

Back in the 1840's, Child wrote a poem about traveling to her grandparents' on Thanksgiving Day; the poem was later turned into the now-famous song.  I still remember singing "Over the River and Through the Woods" with my sister every year when we were growing up, as we rode in our car on the way to our own grandparents' home for the holiday. (And we really did go over a river and through some woods to get there.) This book includes the lyrics to the song, the sheet music, and several illustrations -- black and white ones facing the lyrics and also several two-page color spreads.

While all the other books mentioned in this post are ones that I found at the library, this one sits on our bookshelf here at home.  I bought it from Scholastic Books back when I was in second grade or so.  I remember wanting it so that I could always have a copy of all the lyrics to the song.  I know that I brought it along in the car more than once, so that my sister and I could regale our parents with every single verse over and over again.  I'm sure they appreciated that.  

Note: I had the book sitting out for this post, and Ben picked it up to flip through.  He was thrilled to see all the verses printed there, and immediately began singing them. My parents would probably call that karma.... ;)


A Turkey for Thanksgiving,
written by Eve Bunting
and illustrated by Diane de Groat, 1991

Mrs. Moose is getting everything ready for a Thanksgiving Day feast with friends, but she's missing one thing -- a turkey.  She asks her husband to go find one for her, which he does.  Turkey, understandably, wants nothing to do with the holiday dinner.  When Mr. Moose brings him home anyway, Turkey is relieved to discover that Mrs. Moose wants him at her table, not on it.

This is a tender, humorous book.  Ben and I especially liked the pleasant surprise at the end!


Gracias the Thanksgiving Turkey,
written by Joy Cowley
and illustrated by Joe Cepeda, 1996

Miguel's father, a long-distance truck driver, sends his son a live turkey, asking him to fatten her up for Thanksgiving. Miguel names the bird Gracias.  He takes good care of the turkey, even taking her for walks around the streets of New York on a leash, and quickly becomes attached to the large bird.  How will Miguel keep his new amiga from becoming Thanksgiving dinner?  (This book also contains a short glossary of Spanish words used throughout the tale.)

Ben and I loved the colorful, expressive pictures in this book. We also enjoyed how the amusing story unfolds and how it is finally resolved at the end.  


Turkey Pox,
written by Laurie Halse Anderson
and illustrated by Dorothy Donohue, 1996

Charity and her family rush around, getting everything ready for Thanksgiving dinner at Nana's.  Charity itches and itches (and scratches and scratches), but doesn't think anything of it until the family's in the car, on their way, and suddenly her parents realize that she is covered with chicken pox.  (Or is it turkey pox?)  Sadly, the family returns home, thinking they will have to celebrate Thanksgiving without Nana or her wonderful roast turkey.  Lucky for them, Nana refuses to have her holiday spoiled by a few spots....

This story had Ben and me giggling on almost every page! From the comical illustrations to Aunt Imogene's wacky dialogue to Nana's clever prank at the end of the book, this is a fun book to read aloud and start the holidays off with a smile.


This is the Turkey,
written by Abby Levine
and illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye, 2000

In this cumulative rhyming book, Max and his family get ready for their Thanksgiving feast.  Everything is turning out perfectly -- until a silly mishap puts the roast turkey out of commission.  Will Thanksgiving be ruined?  Of course not. Family, friends, and thankfulness save the day.

Both Ben and I were entertained by this story.  I especially liked how Levine tells it in "The House That Jack Built" style, but with a twist.  I also liked the gentle message that things don't have to go perfectly to have a special day.


A Plump and Perky Turkey,
written by Teresa Bateman
and illustrated by Jeff Shelly, 2001

When the people of Squawk Valley find themselves without a turkey for Thanksgiving, they come up with a plan to lure one to town.  They advertise for a turkey model to come help them out with an arts and crafts show... and Pete the turkey takes the bait.  Pete poses while the townspeople paint pictures of him and sculpt likenesses of him out of clay, but then manages to disappear before he is captured, leaving the town with only shredded wheat for Thanksgiving dinner.

This rhyming story is a bit of a tongue twister at times to read out loud, but its goofy plot and illustrations make it worth trying!


Thank You, Thanksgiving,
written and illustrated by David Milgrim, 2003

In this simple yet inspiring book, a young girl is thankful for the world around her.

I think reading this story with a loved one would be a great way to introduce the concepts of Thanksgiving to toddlers and preschoolers.  Though Ben is quite a bit older than that now, he (and I) still appreciated the main character's attitude of gratitude as well as Milgrim's charming illustrations.


The Memory Cupboard:
A Thanksgiving Story,
written by Charlotte Herman
and illustrated by Ben F. Stahl, 2003

When Katie and her parents visit Grandma for Thanksgiving, Katie accidentally breaks the special gravy boat her mother and uncle gave Grandma when they were young.  Katie feels awful, but then Grandma -- who knows what's really important -- shows Katie her memory cupboard.  Inside, the cupboard is filled with items that have broken over the years, yet remain cherished memories.

With rich illustrations that convey a loving family, this is a heartwarming story.  It emphasizes the truth that "things are just things.  People are more important...."  


Pilgrim Cat,
written by Carol Antoinette Peacock
and illustrated by Doris Ettlinger, 2004

Faith, a young girl sailing from England to the New World aboard the Mayflower, spots a stowaway cat.  Naming him Pounce, she quickly befriends the cat.  Through storms, illness, and a long, hard winter in a new land, Pounce stays by Faith's side.  When he disappears the next summer, Faith is devastated.  Where can Pounce be?  Don't worry -- Pounce eventually turns up again, and Faith has much to be thankful for at harvest time.

Though the story is fictional, Peacock infuses it with historical facts, making the Colonial period come alive in readers' minds.


The Firefighters' Thanksgiving,
written by Maribeth Boelts
and illustrated by Terry Widener, 2004

It's Thanksgiving Day and the firefighters at Station 1 are getting ready to celebrate.  The alarm sounds several times throughout the day, however, and each time they must leave their cooking unfinished.  Then one of the firefighters gets hurt and is rushed to the hospital.  It turns out that he'll be okay -- but will the firefighters ever get to enjoy the holiday?

Before we read this book together, Ben didn't realize that firefighters (and many others) must work on holidays.  The story sparked a conversation about all the people in our community who deserve our support and heartfelt thanks.


An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving,
written by Louisa May Alcott
and illustrated by James Bernardin, 2005

The Bassett family is "poor in money, but rich in land and love".  They are in the middle of preparing Thanksgiving dinner when they receive news that Mrs. Bassett's mother is very ill.  When Mr. and Mrs. Bassett leave to take care of her, young Tilly decides to surprise her parents by completing the meal before they get back.  The other children help, but no one knows exactly how to make the various dishes.  Dinner doesn't turn out quite as expected, but there remains much to be thankful for.  The book includes a recipe for Apple Slump.

This is a shortened version of Alcott's holiday tale, originally published in 1881.  I have not read the original, so I don't know how the two compare, but I felt that this text was just right for a picture book setting.  Filled with warmth and gentle humor, this book makes a great addition to any family's Thanksgiving reading list.


Over the River:
A Turkey's Tale,
based on the lyrics written by Lydia Maria Child
 and illustrated by Derek Anderson, 2005

Like the book Over the River and Through the Wood shown at the top of this post, this book is based on the poem/song lyrics written by Child in the 1840's.  In Anderson's version, however, a turkey family is traveling to Grandmother's house (along with a horse who literally carries a sleigh), while fleeing from a young hunter and his dog.  Song lyrics and music are included on the book's endpapers.

The playful pictures in this book kept Ben and me chuckling throughout.


Beauty and the Beaks:
A Turkey's Cautionary Tale,
written by Mary Jane Auch
and illustrated by Mary Jane and Herm Auch, 2007

Beauty (owner of the beauty shop The Chic Hen) and her chicken friends gossip about Lance, the conceited turkey who is the only one invited to the farmhouse feast.  When Beauty later discovers that Lance is going to be the main course, however, she hatches a zany plan to save him.

Bad puns and silliness abound in this eggcellent story.  In addition, the illustrations (photographs of elaborate chicken mannequins) are fascinating -- Ben and I loved all the tiny details.


We Gather Together:
Celebrating the Harvest Season,
written by Wendy Pfeffer
and illustrated by Linda Bleck, 2006

This nonfiction picture book explains the fall equinox and various traditions around the world related to the harvest season, including the Jewish Sukkot, India's rice festival, Pongol, Japan's Moon Viewing ceremony, and America's Thanksgiving.  The book also provides instructions for various activities and recipes.

Ben and I found this to be an intriguing, entertaining book, filled with kid-friendly information and vibrant illustrations. I even learned a few things myself!


Have you read any of the books above?  If so, what did you think of them?  Are there any other Thanksgiving-themed books that you recommend?  I would love to hear about them!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A plump and perky turkey...

Photo courtesy of Public Domain Clip Art

An excerpt:

"A plump and perky turkey's
     what we need," they all agreed.
"But finding turkeys nowadays
     is very hard indeed.
The birds have gotten smarter,
     and they all seem quite aware
that it's best to disappear
     when autumn leaves are in the air."

~ from A Plump and Perky Turkey,
written by Teresa Bateman

Have you ever seen a wild turkey before?  Those things are BIG.  (Domestic turkeys are big, too.)  My husband and I saw one walking along a road in Pennsylvania once -- it was tall enough to look into our car windows.  You wouldn't think that something that large could just disappear, but as soon as it spotted us, the turkey hurried into the woods where it blended in so well that we could not see it any more.  Maybe it knew Thanksgiving was coming up?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Veterans Day

On Veterans Day we honor all,
Who answered to a service call. 
Soldiers young, and soldiers old,
Fought for freedom, brave and bold.
Some have lived, while others died,
And all of them deserve our pride.
We’re proud of all the soldiers who
Kept thinking of red, white and blue.
They fought for us and all our rights,
They fought through many days and nights.
And though we may not know each name,
We thank ALL veterans just the same.

~ Cheryl Dyson

A big thank you to all those who have fought for our country, to keep us safe and free!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

No substitute

Photo courtesy of

"There is 
no substitute 
for books 
in the 
life of a child." 

~ Mary Ellen Chase

I firmly believe this quote.  I wish that all children could grow up surrounded by wonderful books and people who love to read.  Books open up the world in a way that nothing else does....

Friday, November 9, 2012


Among the words that my friends posted on Facebook when I asked them to list some of their favorites was this one -- loquacious [loh-kwey-shuhs].  Loquacious is an adjective that means "very talkative, wordy".  I like it, too, especially the sound of the word.  Here are a few sentence examples that I came up with:

I've always been shy and quiet, 
but my husband is loquacious.  (True story.)

I am much more loquacious online 
than I am in person.  (Also true.)

In her loquacious book, the author's 
writing style mirrors the way she speaks.

How about you?  Are you loquacious?