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


7 Incredible Women in History

Women’s history month just ended, so now is the perfect time to keep teaching and reading about women. Here are seven engaging picture books about women who discovered, pioneered, and pursued their dreams. Read them all! 

The House that Jane Built by Tanya Lee Stone

house that jane built_Jane Adams’ story is inspiring to adults as well as children. She grew up wealthy, yet she used her wealth to build a safe place for poor families and children.  She provided food, work for immigrants, and schooling for teenagers with day jobs. This is a wonderful book to show children how to give, and think of others. I never knew of her influence and contributions, I am glad I know now.

To Order this Book on Amazon, click here: The House That Jane Built: A Story About Jane Addams

Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian by Margarita Engle 

summer birdsMaria Merian was the first person to discover and explain butterfly metamorphosis to the world. In her era no one, especially a woman, studied insects. Her drawings and research changed the medieval way of thinking about nature. This book is poetic, and combines science concepts into a biography.  The back story about her life at the end enriches the reader’s experience.

To Order this book on Amazon, click here: Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian


Sewing Stories: Harriett Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist by Barbara Herkert

sewing stories_Harriett Powers was a slave in Athens Georgia. She became a renowned quilter when a school teacher saw her quilt at a fair and offered to buy it. The teacher wrote down the stories Harriett had represented on the quilt to display in a museum. Today, Harriet’s quilts hand in the National Museum of American History in Washington DC. The story is engaging, and there are facts printed on quilt squares throughout the illustrations to give more details. Sewing Stories is a powerful story and stunningly designed book.

To Order this book from Amazon click here: Sewing Stories: Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist


Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle

drum dream girlDrum Dream Girl is about Cuba’s first famous female drummer. She broke the outdated rule that only men could be drummers. The book is rhythmic, poetic, with a beat suitable for an engaging read aloud. The illustrations are vividly colorful and alive with movement.

To Order this Book on Amazon, click here: Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music


The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller

the quickest kid in clarksvilleClarksville is the hometown of the great Wilma Rudolph, the Gold Medalist from the 1960 Olympic  games. In this book, two girls are competing to be the fastest runners, just like their hero Wilma. The girls learn about strength and friendship in this fictional picture book. The back of  the book features pictures of Wilma in the Clarksville Parade after her win. The connection from present day hero to history is well done.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Quickest Kid in Clarksville


Mary Cassatt- Extraordinary Impressionist Painter by Barbara Herkert

mary cassatt_This is a lovely account of the Mary Cassatts life and striving to become an artist. It was not acceptable for women to paint, and she received harsh reviews of her first efforts. She kept painting, and keenly observing life in order to capture it. The illustrations are done in Mary’s own style of painting. This is a lovely book to launch a lesson on Cassatt and her work.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter


Nothing But Trouble- The Story of Althea Gibson by Sue Stauffacher

nothing but troubleAlthea Gibson was the first Africa American woman to win Wimbledon. Her story is so powerful, she was discovered on the streets of Harlem hitting hard and accurate ping pong balls. A few people saw her athletic talent, and invested in her life and future. She learned to play tennis, and worked very hard against many racial barriers to win Wimbledon. She is a woman all children should know about.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson



Books for Bedtime

It is my personal opinion that books at bedtime need to literally be short and sweet. Long days call for short books, with sweet messages, to get your children off to dream land. Here are five beautiful book suggestions to add to your rotation.

Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick

finding winnieIf you add one book to your child’s library this year, add this one. The story is true; it is about the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh. It is magical. The story is told through the voice of a mother tucking her child in at night. It won the Caldecott Award for the illustrations, and they are unbelievable. My students loved this book.

To Purchase from Amazon, click here: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

Are you awake? By Sophie Blackall

Are you awakeThis book is child approved; my class of Kindergarteners requested it be read twice. I love Sophie Blackall, her illustrations are incredible. This is the true story of her jet lagged sun keeping her awake all night…parents will relate as much as kids who cannot sleep.

To Purchase from Amazon, click here: Are You Awake?


Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden

once_upon_memory_mNina Laden is genius in composing magical picture books for children. She wrote this while walking on the beach and finding a feather. The simple poem teaches cause and effect. It offers the invitation to share happy memories before a child goes to sleep.

To Purchase from Amazon, click here: Once Upon a Memory


Shh! Bears Sleeping by David Martin

shh bears sleepingThis lyrical book shows the seasons through bears waking and hibernation. This is a good choice for a child that loves wild animals or non-fiction.  It has simple rhyme and lovely illustrations.

To Purchase on Amazon, click here: Shh! Bears Sleeping


Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin

dream animalsThe illustrations are rich and vibrant with imagination. The simple text proposes there are sweet animals that take you off to dream land for big adventures. Short, sweet, and filled with eye catching creativity.

To Purchase on Amazon, click here: Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey

5 Books for Children Adults Shouldn’t Miss

Some of the most poignant literature and rich narrative take place in novels written for the young.  I have picked five books that are superbly written with creative plots. There are many books that will never get the full credit or voice they deserve.  Some of these titles you may have read, some you may have never heard of.  Please give each a chance; they are wonderfully written and quality literature for young and old alike.

Four Rubbings (The Stone Witch Series) by Jennifer L. Hotes

Four RubbingsThis is the debut novel by a local Seattle area author.  There were many things I appreciated about this young adult novel.  It takes place in Seattle, so she had me at chapter one.  It incorporates the history of the Seattle area, so she had me hooked.

Four Rubbings tells the story of four childhood friends and their relationship with a local cemetery. The grounds keeper for the cemetery and the lives of these four friends collide one Halloween night.  Josie, the main character is wrestling in adolescence, having lost her mother.  Grace, the care-taker has separated herself from life and lives among the stones of Lakeview Cemetery. Josie and her four friends enter the cemetery on Halloween and encounter the super-natural.  Four Rubbings made me think about healing, and feel moved by Josie and her longing for answers and peace.  This book is perfect for a rainy fall; and a good pick for a lover of mystical books with a backdrop of spook.  What I loved about this book is that it is the story of four life-long friends, there is no tacky romance, no zombie love, but just authentic friendship told well with a little fright.  Four Rubbings makes you want to walk through the head stones and ponder life, death, and everything in between.  The next book in the series comes out this spring.

Give it a try and click on the link to order it from amazon:

Four Rubbings (The Stone Witch Series) (Volume 1)

Herbert by Chadwick Gillenwater

HerbertA fly that wants to make honey, how sweet of a premise is that?  It is a wonderful premise that makes a more wonderful story.  Little Herbert is a fly that lives in the dump with his filthy family.  He does not like garbage and does not fit in with his slop loving siblings.  Herbert literally carves out a nice life for himself in the center of an old peach pit.  This is his sanctuary and place of refuge where he studies the art of honey making and perfects his recipe.  Herbert goes on a great journey in search of his dreams and a new life.  He meets many funny characters along the way and battles many enemies trying to find the Queen Bee.  This is a lovely little tale that will make you feel good, believe in your dreams, and cheer for those that follow where their heart leads.  It is a great grown up read, but also meant for children.  If I had a child or a classroom of children age 5-8 I would read this out loud with them.  It is also a safe choice for your 2nd– 5th grader to read (depending on their reading level).  Children will find it fun, it is clean, and a fine tale.

You can only find this self-published book on amazon, please click here to order it.


Mr. and Mrs. Bunny- Detectives Extraordinaire! By Mrs. Bunny

Translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath

mr and mrs bunnyMadeline is a motivated whip smart young girl with earth loving hippy parents in a community of home-schoolers.  She wants desperately to go to school, so she takes the ferry every day from her home on Vancouver Island to the public school.  Madeline is seeking out her dreams one day at a time until her parents go missing.  Luckily, she meets a pair of bunnies who have purchased new fedoras in hopes of becoming detectives.  Together they set out on a journey to find her parents and solve the islands latest mystery.  This book is so full of delightful oddities and quirky banter; you will adore the story and eccentric characters.  Mr. and Mrs. Bunny display the quintessential long term relationship, children will laugh, but adults will truly find the humor in their daily problems and discussions.  Sophie Blackall did all the illustrations; they are beautifully detailed and add to the story.  I loved everything about this funny little story.  It is fantastic to read aloud but adults will love it as well.

To Order it on Amazon, click here:

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny–Detectives Extraordinaire!

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

wildwood pb cover I have a deep adoration of the Pacific Northwest.  My soul grows green and mossy and takes comfort in the drippy days of our winter rain.  Wildwood is set in Portland in the large wooded park outside of the city.  Prue, a young girl takes her baby brother on a walk one day and he is snatched by a murder of ruthless crows.  Prue must go into the wood to save her brother.  The magical land of Wildwood inhabits a witch, talking animals and battles of good and evil.  You will weep with Prue as she carries the burden of not being able to protect her baby brother. Even adults need to get lost in worlds of magic, and this is the perfect novel to escape in through the winter.   The language of this book is melodic and written in superb prose.  Colin is a master story-teller and the illustrations, drawn by his wife are breath-taking.  Both are remarkably talented and Wildwood is a fantastic book.

After reading Wildwood I saw Colin Meloy and his wife do a book talk about creating the book.  She knitted while he talked, they bantered and out-witted each other as they told stories of their childhoods that led them to the writing of Wildwood.  They each showed photos of writing or drawing they had done as kids.  The focus of their talk was on how the work of children leads to the work you do as an adult.  Their talk has stuck with me, and this book has as well.

To Order this Book on Amazon, click here:

Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book I

The Odd Fellows Orphanage by Emily Winfield Martin

Oddfellows OrphanageOdd children attend the Odd Fellows Orphanage, but the joy of this book is the life they get to lead because of the kind hearted headmaster who started the orphanage.  A boy with an onion head, a tattooed girl, and other children with oddities get to live and make friends at the most unique place for children you will ever find.  They attend school with classes on fairy tales and take field trips to view sea monsters.  They have magnificent holiday parties and creatively solve problems of how to make home-made gifts for your best friend bunk mate without them knowing.  The Odd Fellows Orphanage is so full of whimsy and delight, my only sadness in reading it was when it came to an end.

To Order this book on Amazon, please click here:

Oddfellow’s Orphanage

Finding this book felt Serendipitous for me.  I had ordered a print from Etsy years ago of two children in a quaint glass dome.  This summer I stumbled upon a beginning chapter book with familiar illustrations. It was the very same artist Emily Winfield Martin.  She turned her small illustrations and vignettes of imagined orphaned lives and made them into a unique novel for children.

Here is a picture of the print that hangs in my bathroom:

bathroom photo