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Monday, January 14, 2013

Books for People Who Love Stories, Writing, and Words

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

In case you hadn't noticed, I love books. :)  I love to read them and I love to write them.  Since you're here, on a blog about books, writing, and words, I'm going to guess that you love them, too.  If you do, this post should be right up your alley!  Recently I've read several books about the writing and reading of words.  Today I want to share the ones I liked best with you.

For starters, a few picture books:

Miss Brooks Loves Books!
(and I don't),
written by Barbara Bottner
and illustrated by Michael Emberley, 2010

Miss Brooks is a creative, enthusiastic librarian who loves to dress up in costumes that reflect the books she reads aloud to students.  One little girl in the group thinks she doesn't like books.  They are either "too flowery" or "too furry" or "too pink".  Miss Brooks, however, is determined to find a book that will win over the little girl's heart.  She finally succeeds with a book about a smelly ogre, Shrek. :)

Both the story and the pictures kept my seven-year-old Ben and I laughing throughout!


Max's Words,
written by Kate Banks
and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, 2006

Max's big brother Benjamin collects stamps.  His big brother Karl collects coins.  Neither one will share with Max. Then Max decides to collect words.  A thousand stamps is just a bunch of stamps.  Five hundred coins is just a pile of money. But a collection of words can become a story!  Max has such fun creating with his words that his brothers want to join in, too....

I fell in love with this book when I brought it home from the library.  It is now on my "to buy" list.  I love the clever story by Banks and also Kulikov's rich, imaginative illustrations. This book helps teach kids just how wonderful words can be.


Clever Jack Takes the Cake,
written by Candace Fleming
and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, 2010

Jack, a poor peasant boy, accidentally receives an invitation to the princess's tenth birthday party.  With no money for a gift, he decides to bake her a cake.  On the way to the party, the cake is ruined by a flock of crows, a troll, a spooky forest, and more, leaving Jack with nothing by the time he reaches the castle.  Nothing but a story of his adventure to tell, that is.  This gift is much more interesting than any of the boring gems and other items brought by the richer guests, earning Jack the honor of cutting the royal cake.

Ben and I really enjoyed this book.  As we read it, Ben became more and more concerned for Jack, wondering what he was going to do now that his cake gift was ruined.  He actually clapped when we got to the part about Jack's gift of a story!


A Book,
written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein, 2009

This unique story is about a family of characters who live in a book.  (When the book is open, it is their daytime.  When it's closed, they sleep.)  The family members all have stories they belong to (fighting fires, clowning around at a circus, exploring space) -- all except for the youngest, a little girl who sets out to find her story. As she travels through different stories, she realizes that what she really wants to do is write her own story.

Gerstein's illustrations offer an unusual perspective, looking down on the family in the book.  Characters help tell the tale through their speech bubbles.  This is a fun book that even my teens enjoyed reading.


Poetry for middle grade readers:

Please Bury Me in the Library,
written by J. Patrick Lewis
and illustrated by Kyle M. Stone, 1980

Sixteen poems (many of them humorous) make up this book, each one celebrating libraries, books, or language.  I enjoyed all of the poems (and the pictures, too), but my favorite is the title poem.


Poems About Books,
written by Laura Purdie Salas
and illustrated by Josee Bisaillon, 2011

This book is a collection of 21 wonderful poems and whimsical artwork, all about books.  Poems include "A Character Pleads for His Life", "On the Shelf and Under the Bed", "Book Plate", and "The End".

I've gotten to know author Laura Purdie Salas a little bit through her blog over the past few months.  (I highly recommend checking it out, especially on Thursdays when she and her readers -- including me! -- share poems that are 15 words or less.)  I had heard about this book there, and I'd seen many positive reviews of it.  My library does not yet carry the book, however.  In the end, I decided to buy my own copy. I'm so glad I did. I absolutely love this delightful book! (Later on, I even bought a second copy and gave it to Ben's teacher, to use in her classroom.)  This is my favorite of all the books in this post.


Middle grade fiction:

written by Andrew Clements
and illustrated by Brian Selznick, 1996
I wrote about this entertaining book in a previous post.


A Beginning, a Muddle, and an End:
The Right Way to Write Writing,
written by Avi
and illustrated by Tricia Tusa, 2008
Avon the snail wants to be a writer and his friend Edward the ant wants to help him.  This silly book is jam-packed with puns and other wordplay, with some seriously good advice thrown in, as well.  As one reviewer on Amazon said, much of the dialogue is reminiscent of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" routine.  I ended up reading this short story twice, and giggled throughout both times!


Middle grade nonfiction:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves:
Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!,
written by Lynne Truss
and illustrated by Bonnie Timmons, 2006

This droll picture book version of Truss's adult bestseller illustrates just how commas can change a sentence. Each two-page spread shows two vastly distinct sentences that use the exact same wording -- only the comma placement is different.

Ben, a first grader, hasn't learned too much about commas yet, but he got quite a kick out of this book! (I did, too!) It also helped him start to understand how to use commas in his writing.


Last, but not least, a nonfiction book for young adults:

How Writers Work:
Finding a Process That Works for You,
written by Ralph Fletcher, 2000
There is not one certain way to go about writing a story or a poem; rather, there are many different processes that various writers use.  Fletcher and other professional writers share the processes that work for them in this book. Topics include finding ideas, brainstorming, rough drafts, proofreading, and publishing.  Filled with useful advice, this book is great for students or anyone else interested in writing.


Have you read any of the books above?  If so, I'd love to hear what you thought of them.  What are your favorite books about books and/or writing?  I'm always looking for new ones to read!


  1. Wow, thanks, Janelle! For the beautiful words and for buying a copy not only for you but for your son's classroom! Love having you at my blog, where you are such a creative/enthusiastic poet and a generous commenter:>)

  2. Thank YOU, Laura! I've written (and read!) so much more poetry ever since I found your inspiring blog. :)