A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

a boy called batBixby Alexander Tam, nicknamed Bat, likes his routine. One afternoon, his routine is interrupted by an extraordinary surprise. A newborn skunk. Bat’s mother is a veterinarian, and brings home a motherless skunk to be nursed back to health. This small animal, who cannot yet open its eyes, becomes Bat’s whole world. His mission becomes finding a way to keep the skunk forever.  Bat has autism, and relating to others is a challenge. However, connecting to animals is second nature to Bat. The story is told through Bat’s perspective. The author does a magnificent job of showing the reader what it is like to have a brain that processes social and emotional information in a different way. Bat is relatable for young readers, however, he has challenges navigating his world, as most children do. This book can spark important discussion with young readers about autism, and social thinking.  I have always had a compassionate heart for children on the Autistic spectrum, and this book gives a voice to their struggles, and shows their amazing gifts and strengths as well. A brilliantly thoughtful, and important book.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: A Boy Called Bat


The Power of Vulnerability

brene brownI just finished listening to the Power of Vulnerability while putting together a puzzle.  The reason I mention the puzzle is because, listening to audiobooks and simultaneously putting together a puzzle is one of my quirky, uncool loves. Guess what? Brene’ Brown kindly just taught me being cool is the enemy of authenticity. So, here I am, authentic as can be. Also, the people who truly love me, find these quirks wonderfully lovable and endearing. Why? Because I am being true to myself.

Brene’s writing taught me more about how to move beyond the hang ups in my head more than any other book in years. I did not want to write about it all, why? Too vulnerable, too much of a risk to write about a book that is so life changing and popular, I could never do it justice. But here I am, showing up, writing, and ignoring all the shame voices that whisper I am not good enough. I am showing up.

I also usually hate self-help books, but this is so much more than self-help. It is scientific research applied to everyday life.  She is brutally honest and hilarious as she shares her own failures and blunders, it makes you want to be her best friend. She gives you permission to be that imperfect best friend, the one that shows up, listens, and gets in the trenches with you. Read this book, and then read it again.

To Purchase on Amazon, click here:

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage


Black History: Beyond Slavery


Somewhere along the way I remember reading about the importance of children seeing African American’s in books not being depicted as slaves. Thankfully, books are being published featuring African Americans contributions to society, art, engineering, and mathematics. Here are five books every teacher and parent should read to a young person.

the-boy-whoThe Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer- The true story of how one boy saved his African village from drought. A child saw his village starving and suffering through a drought. He read books from the library and wondered if a windmill could solve the problem. He built a windmill out of salvaged junk yard parts, which brought electricity, and water to their crops. His story is incredible, and shows children what perseverance and faith can accomplish. It would fit perfectly into a STEM unit.


To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

planting-the-treesPlanting the Trees of Kenya by Claire A. Nivola- Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize for replanting trees across Kenya. After studying in America, she came home to find her home town had been deforested. She taught the women to plant tree seeds, and nourish the seedlings to maturity. Her story is compelling, she empowered the people of her native country, and restored it’s natural habitat. I love this version, the illustrations are lovely, and it explains her extensive teaching and empowerment of women and children.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (Frances Foster Books)

mollyMolly, by Golly! The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter by Dianne Ochiltree – The cook at the New York City fire department is credited with being the first woman to serve as a Fire Fighter in the early 1800’s. When many men were sick during a snowstorm, Molly saved the day by distinguishing a fire. This is a gem of little known history.


To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter

FAMILIES of DEEP textWhoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton-  The perseverance this inventor had is unprecedented.  Lonnie Johnson was a child of six children who loved to tinker and invent things while growing up in Mobile, Alabama. He pursued engineering as a career, and successfully worked on space exploration. His passion was inventing, and he never gave up on his dreams. After many setbacks, he invented the super soaker. Don Tate did an incredible job illustrating this story. Tate is a great talent in children’s publishing.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions

harlemHarlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renee Watson- This book is simply stunning. Florence Mills was a renowned  singer during the Harlem Renaissance. The daughter of former slaves, she faced prejudice after prejudice attempting to launch her singing career. Her life story takes the reader from a shack in Washington DC, to Harlem, London, and New York City. Her direct quotes are included seamlessly in the text, it has a rich cadence, and a powerful story-teller’s voice.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills




Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple


Like most of the world, I loved Maria Semple’s first book, ‘Where’d You Go Bernadette.’ Her first book was such a huge success, I cannot imagine the pressure of writing the follow up. I was determined not to compare the two. I vowed to myself I would read ‘Today Will be Different’ as if I had never heard of Ms. Semple. I truly and fully enjoyed this book, and (not that I am comparing) it is not like her first novel. However, it was authentic, which was satisfying for me as a reader.

Eleanor wants to be better. The day, we meet her she has vowed to be her best self. To be kind, generous, and put together. Then life slaps her in the face and her vow goes out the window. Her husband is acting odd, her child is not behaving, and nothing is working Eleanor’s favor. Eleanor flashes back to her successful career as the creator of a hit television show, and compares it with the struggle of daily life as a mother. I appreciated the creativity and depth of this novel. Eleanor’s back story is told through a graphic novel in the middle of the book. It is sad, but makes the reader gain empathy for her slightly selfish and erratic choices.  This book is unexpected, funny, gloomy, and well done. If you love books set in Seattle, and can appreciate a character with many flaws, give it a go.

To Purchase this on Amazon, click here: Today Will Be Different

The Magnolia Story

When you read about the reigning champions of  Do-It-Yourself, the natural thing to do it create hand poured candles at book club. It was sweet to expand our activities together beyond wine, snacks, and laughs. Here is our lovely club:

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Here is what I thought of The Magnolia Story:

magnoliaThe Magnolia Story surprised me. I was far more inspired and impressed with their family story than I predicted. Most celebrities write books these days, many are hit and miss, in my humble opinion. However,  Joanna and Chip write from their hearts. They tell their simple story, driven by a desire to invest their lives into Waco, Texas. They are much like their television persona: honest, driven, and goofy. I have always had a need to do things with my hands, to create, to grow seeds into food, to nurture children. I did a lot of soul searching thinking about a career move; at the root of some my dreams was creating with my own hands. Joanna and Chip echo the same desires, to help people with their hands. To build, remodel, create, and design. I liked walking through the ups and downs as they pursued their passions. They are not pushing anyone to be like them, or take on their values, they are simply doing their dream. I enjoyed reading about two people living and loving imperfectly, but doing their best to give back and give grace.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Magnolia Story



3 Books for Winter Weather

Shakespeare said, “A sad tale is best for winter.” In Seattle, we have endless days of gray and rain in winter.  It is perfect weather for book steeped in a bit of melancholy. These three books have a touch of sorrow, but do not leave you devastated. Two out of three have a happy ending.

the-snowchildThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey– A young married couple moves to rural Alaska to homestead. Their plan is to endure the winter, in order to farm through the summer of never setting sun. They long for a child, and that has left a rift in their marriage. One evening, in a moment of renewed friendship, the husband and wife build a little snowman in the fresh Alaskan snow. The husband begins to see small footprints in the snow, and imagines the child has come alive. Part magical realism, this is a novel that envelopes it reader. The storytelling and world building is so rich, time melts as you read. It also has a happy ending.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Snow Child: A Novel

russian-winterRussian Winter by Daphne Kalotay- Oh, this book made time pass so quickly. The book opens in Boston, a former star ballerina is selling off her jewelry. The auction of her possessions brings up memories of her past.  Her life as a prima ballerina, and dark secrets that caused her to flee Russia as it came under Stalin’s power. This story is engrossing, the end comes full circle with a satisfying ending.


To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Russian Winter: A Novel

i-will-send-rainI Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows- Drought, dust, and dirt as far as anyone can hope. Oklahoma farmers Annie, Samuel, and their children Birdie and Fred, wait desperately for rain. Each member of the family carries their own secrets and longings. They are all weighted down by the shadow of the fire and brimstone preaching they hear every Sunday in church. Is the drought the result of their own unbelief? Is God pouring out his punishment in the form of scorching sun? You can feel the dirt in your hair and eyes as you read. The writing is stunning and the story is moving. A perfect winter read.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: I Will Send Rain: A Novel