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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Books in Full Bloom

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

It's spring -- for a few more weeks, anyway.  The season of spring always makes me think of flowers, gardens, and the color green.  I went to the library earlier this month in search of "springy" books for young children, and found a few that I wanted to share with you:

written and illustrated by Blexbolex,
translated by Claudia Bedrick, 2010

As the title suggests, this book isn't just about spring, but about all of the seasons.  Each page is a work of art, a stunning graphic topped by a short, often one-word title. (While the photo above shows a two-page illustration, one-page pictures are the norm in this book.)  Many of the pages play off of each other.  For example, LEAF/COCOON, SEED/SHOOT, SWIM/SUNBURN.  At first this book may seem geared for the youngest of children, beginning to learn about the world around them.  However, the artwork makes this a book to be enjoyed by all ages.


Wildflower ABC: An Alphabet of Potato Prints,
written and illustrated by Diana Pomeroy, 1997

In this book, Pomeroy presents one wildflower per letter through gorgeous illustrations made from potato prints.  A section at the back gives more information about each of the flowers.


written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, 2012

Vibrant illustrations showcase different shades of green, from the typical "forest green" and "lime green" to the creative "slow green" and "zany green".  Each page also provides a cut-out, a peek into the pages before and after it.


Growing Vegetable Soup,
written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, 1987

A favorite of our family's since my 17-year-old was little, this book shows the cycle from seed to shoot to vegetable -- and then to the stove and the dinner table.  I always love Ehlert's bold, vivid illustrations and the ones in this book are no exception.  A delicious-sounding recipe for vegetable soup is provided at the end of the story.  (I think we might try it this summer!)


Counting in the Garden,
written and illustrated by Kim Parker, 2005

Count the various creatures in the garden -- from one to ten -- in this colorful book.


Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms,
written by Julia Rawlinson
and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke, 2009

I love all of the Fletcher books; he's such an adorable little fox!  In this story, Fletcher enjoys all the signs of spring throughout the woods -- until he sees what he thinks are snowflakes in the air.  Of course, after warning all of his friends that winter isn't over yet, he discovers that they were really tree blossoms.  The story and illustrations combine to create a fun, cheerful book.


Seed Magic,
written by Jane Buchanan
and illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb, 2011

The Birdman sits in his wheelchair, feeding his friends, the pigeons.  He thinks the birds are beautiful, but young Rose would much rather look at beautiful flowers in the garden. The Birdman gives Rose some seeds -- magic seeds, he says -- and instructs her to "plant" them on her windowsill.  What kind of garden will grow from these magic seeds?  It turns out to be an unusual garden, not quite what Rose expected, but a lovely one all the same.


A Little Story About a Big Turnip,
retold by Tatiana Zunshine
and illustrated by Evgeny Antonenkov, 2003

Zunshine retells a Russian folk tale about a family that must work together to pull a giant turnip out of their garden.  I have heard this story before -- though not this exact version. Kids always seem to like saying the refrain along with whoever is reading it to them.  My favorite part of this book would have to be the comical illustrations that made me chuckle with every turn of a page.


Quiet in the Garden,
written and illustrated by Aliki, 2009

A young boy goes to the garden and sits quietly -- very still -- then observes his surroundings.  It turns out that the garden is teeming with life, from robins to squirrels to frogs and more.  I like how this book encourages children to pay attention to the natural world all around them.


In the Garden: Who's Been Here?,
written and illustrated by Lindsay Barrett George, 2006

Christina and Jeremy's mother asks them to gather some vegetables from the garden.  When they get there, they discover various signs that someone (many someones, actually) have already been there.  Readers will enjoy guessing who has eaten some of the sunflower's seeds, who has left a slimy trail on a leaf, etc. before turning the page and finding out.  At the end of the book, George provides more detailed information about each of the critters who have visited the garden.


How Groundhog's Garden Grew,
written and illustrated by Lynne Cherry, 2003

When Little Groundhog is caught eating vegetables from someone else's garden (something groundhogs love to do, I've found from personal experience!), Squirrel decides to show Little Groundhog how to grow his own garden.  Through her story and beautifully detailed illustrations, Cherry explains all the steps of gardening, from gathering seeds and planting them to tending the garden to harvesting and eating the food.  While providing an entertaining story, she also offers useful information for gardeners of all ages!

In addition to the fictional picture books I shared above, I also came across this nonfiction for young readers at the library:

It Could Still Be a Flower,
written by Allan Fowler,
with photos by many, 2001

Close-up photographs and easy-to-read text combine to teach children the names and features of various kinds of flowers.


If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I love poetry.  It shouldn't come as a surprise that I also looked for and found some "springy" poem collections at the library:

Busy in the Garden,
written by George Shannon
and illustrated by Sam Williams, 2006

In this book, Shannon shares twenty-four short poems about gardens, spring, and summer.  Some of the poems are riddles, some are silly, and all of them are fun!  Watercolor illustrations by Williams complement the poetry nicely.


Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!:
Poems for Two Voices,
written by Carole Gerber
and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, 2013

This book offers eighteen nature-related poems to be read aloud by two people.  My seven-year-old Ben and I had a good time reading them together!  At the end of the book, Gerber provides more information about the various subjects of her poems.  Yelchin's charming artwork illustrates each poem.


Have you read any of the books in this post?  If so, what did you think of them?  What are your favorite picture books for springtime?

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

I don't know about you, but we've been having kind of a wet week around here.  Our weather prompted the word for this week: drizzle [driz-uh l], a noun meaning "a very light rain".  It can also be used as a verb meaning "to rain gently; sprinkle" and "to pour in a fine stream".

I love the sound of the word.  Drizzle.  Drizzzzzzle.  What a fun word to say!  I also love its rhyming companions, fizzle and sizzle. :)  Here are a few sentences I came up with, using the word of the week:

While I'd much rather have sunshine, 
I do prefer drizzle to a downpour.

The weather forecast says 
it's going to drizzle all week long.

I love to drizzle honey on my peanut butter toast!

How would you use the word drizzle?  What are some words that you find fun to say or hear?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A wider world...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"When we are writing, 
or painting, or composing, 
we are, during the time of creativity, 
freed from normal restrictions, 
and are opened to a wider world, 
where colors are brighter, sounds clearer, 
and people more wondrously complex 
than we normally realize."

~ Madeleine L'Engle

This phenomenon is one of the things I love most about writing!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How Poems Are Made, A Discredited View

Image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

How Poems Are Made, A Discredited View

Letting go
in order to hold on
I gradually understand
how poems are made.

There is a place the fear must go.
There is a place the choice must go.
There is a place the loss must go.
The leftover love.
The love that spills out
of the too full cup
and runs and hides
its too full self
in shame.

I gradually comprehend
how poems are made.
To the upbeat flight of memories.
The flagged beats of the running

I understand how poems are made.
They are the tears
that season the smile.
The stiff-necked laughter
that crowds the throat.
The leftover love.

I know how poems are made.
There is a place the loss must go
There is a place the gain must go.
The leftover love.

~ Alice Walker

I read this poem for the first time about a month ago and it really resonated with me.  Hope you will enjoy it, too.

Monday, May 27, 2013

In Flanders Fields

Photo courtesy of

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

~ John McCrae

Today I'm feeling thankful for all those who gave their lives to protect our country and keep us safe.  Wishing everyone a peaceful Memorial Day....

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sights and sounds of spring...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

An excerpt:

     The woods were full of the chirping, bustling, singsong sounds of spring.  Fletcher bounced along with his nose in the air, sniffing the just-burst buds of flowers and playing chase with butterflies.  With his head spinning with sights and sounds... he tumbled happily down the hill into the sunny orchard.

~ from Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms,
written by Julia Rawlinson

I love all the sensory images and action words that Rawlinson uses in this book, describing springtime in the woods.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"Books are the quietest 
and most constant of friends; 
they are the most accessible 
and wisest of counselors, 
and the most patient of teachers."  

~ Charles W. Eliot

I love this quote.  It's so true! :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hop To It!

Photo found on Google

Hop To It!

I draw a square
on top of a square
on top of a square
with chalk.

The stone has fling
my step has spring
I hop and I hop and
I hop.

~ Monica Kulling

This poem brings a smile to my face. :) It reminds me of all the fun I used to have playing hopscotch when I was little.  I recently taught my seven-year-old Ben how to play -- he loves to hop and hop and hop!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


This week's word is menagerie [muh-naj-uh-ree], a noun generally meaning "a collection of wild, unusual animals, especially for exhibition".  It can also mean "an unusual and varied group of people".  I remember hearing this word for the first time in high school, when our class read the script for The Glass Menagerie, written by Tennessee Williams. (I love that play, by the way!)  It seems to me that whenever I learn a new word, I start hearing it everywhere after that -- and "menagerie" has been no exception.

Here are a few sample sentences using the word:

My son Nick has quite 
the menagerie in his bedroom; 
it includes a leopard gecko, a betta, 
and two fire-bellied toads.  
(True story.)

An amazing menagerie awaits you at Brookfield Zoo.

Sitting in the mall, I enjoyed watching 
the menagerie of shoppers walking past me.

How would you use the word menagerie?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The power to change lives...

Our local library, taken summer of 2012

"The public library 
is more than a repository of books. 
It's a mysterious, wondrous place 
with the power to change lives."

~ Chicago Tribune literary editor, 
Elizabeth Taylor 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love libraries!  I completely agree with Taylor's quote above.  How about you?  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Another Rainy Day

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Another Rainy Day

I'm feeling quite froggy
'Cause the ground is so soggy.
It has rained every day for a week!
My skin's turning green,
Flies look yummy to me,
And I'm starting to croak when I speak!
Oh, I wish it would stop!
All I do now is hop!
This rain doesn't make any sense!
On the bright side of this,
If you give me a kiss,
I might just turn into a prince!

~ Susan Maree Jeavons
© 2001 -Susan Maree Jeavons - All Rights Reserved

We're expecting some rain later today, so I thought I'd share this fun poem....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Easier than digging ditches...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"I tend to [...] exaggerate in life, 
and in writing, it's fine to exaggerate. 
I really enjoy overstating 
for the purpose of getting a laugh. 
For another thing, 
writing is easier than digging ditches. 
Well, actually that's an exaggeration. 
It isn't."

~ Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss)

I have to agree that writing is NOT easier than digging ditches.  Writing is HARD.  I still love it, though!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A House of Readers

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

A House of Readers

At 9:42 on this May morning
the children's rooms are concentrating too.
Like a tendril growing toward the sun, Ruth
moves her book into a wedge of light
that settled on the floor like a butterfly.
She turns a page.
Fred is immersed in magic, cool
as a Black Angus belly-deep in a farm pond.

The only sounds: pages turning softly.
This is the quietness
of bottomland where you can hear only the young corn
growing, where a little breeze stirs the blades
and then breathes in again.

I mark my place.
I listen like a farmer in the rows.

~ Jim Wayne Miller

I love all of the farm images in this poem -- and also the picture it paints of the various family members reading.  I hope you all will get the chance to immerse yourselves in some magic this weekend.... :)

Friday, May 17, 2013


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Recently, I was watching the television show "The Amazing Race".  For one of the challenges, team members had to know what chartreuse [shahr-troos] meant.  I think that all of the participants knew the word was a color, but for some reason, several of them thought that it was a red.  They were wrong.

Chartreuse is a greenish color with a yellow tinge, like the color of the plant shown in the picture above.  I think of it as a light, "springy" green (as opposed to a deeper, "summery" green).  Here are a couple of sample sentences I came up with:

The chartreuse Granny Smith apple 
looked as tart as it tasted.

The sun peeked through 
the new chartreuse leaves of the maple tree, 
warming the ground with its light.

How would you use the word chartreuse?  Can you think of other objects that could be described that way?  What other unusual color words can you think of?

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net


  The zebra is black
  The zebra is white
  The zebra is dark
  The zebra is light

  Is it black striped with white?
  Is it white striped with black?
  Is it striped from the front?
  Is it striped from the back?

  It's ink over snow
  It's snow over ink
  Does anyone know?
  What do you think?

~ Mary Ann Hoberman

I'm headed to the zoo today for a field trip with my son Ben and his class.  I thought this would be an appropriate poem for the occasion. :)  I like all the questions Hoberman asks. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The delight of spring...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

An excerpt:

     "This is fine!" he said to himself. "This is better than whitewashing!" The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.

~ from The Wind in the Willows,
written by Kenneth Grahame

Going outside to enjoy a beautiful spring day is definitely better than whitewashing (or any other kind of cleaning)! :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Song to Mothers

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Song to Mothers

Your laugh is a green song,
canción verde,
that branches
through our house,
its yellow blooms smelling
like warm honey.
Your laugh peels apples
and stirs their cinnamon bubblings,
then opens a book and pulls me
onto your lap.
At night, your laugh kisses
us soft as a petal, smooths my pillow
and covers me, a soft leafy blanket,
green and yellow.
I snuggle into your laugh,
your canción verde
and dream of growing
into my own green song.

~ Pat Mora

I found this poem the other day in the book Love to Mama: A Tribute to Mothers, edited by Pat Mora. Every time I read it, I smile. :)

Happy Mother's Day to all of my readers!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Great dreamers...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"All men 
who have achieved great things 
have been great dreamers." 

~ Orison Swett Marden 

(All women, too!)

Dream BIG and then work hard to achieve those dreams...

Friday, May 10, 2013


A few months ago I was reading a book* that used a word I was unfamiliar with, susurrant [soo-sur-uh nt].  After looking it up to find out the pronunciation and the meaning, I decided that it belonged on my list of interesting and/or cool-sounding words to share here sometime.  In my opinion, susurrant is both interesting and cool-sounding. :)

Susurrant is an adjective meaning "softly murmuring; whispering".  Said aloud, the word sounds like its meaning, don't you think?  Here are a few example sentences I came up with:

Hiking through the woods, I paused a moment, 
closed my eyes, and listened to the susurrant breeze 
blowing through the trees.

The susurrant brook beside my cabin lulled me to sleep.

While waiting for the service to begin, 
members of the congregation greeted each other quietly, 
creating a susurrant sound in the large sanctuary.

How would you use the word susurrant?  What are some words that you find interesting or cool-sounding?  I'd love to hear about them!

* Unfortunately, I can't recall which book it was at the moment.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Working magic...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"What an astonishing thing a book is. 
It's a flat object made from a tree
 on which are imprinted 
lots of funny dark squiggles. 
But one glance at it and you're 
inside the mind of another person, 
maybe somebody dead 
for thousands of years. 
Across the millennia, 
an author is speaking 
clearly and silently inside your head, 
directly to you. 
Writing is perhaps 
the greatest of human inventions, 
binding together people 
who never knew each other, 
citizens of distant epochs. 
Books break the shackles of time. 
A book is proof that humans 
are capable of working magic." 

~ Carl Sagan

What a great quote for book lovers everywhere! :)