Finding Hope on the Ocean Floor

March 21, 2019 § Leave a comment

With no tropical destination in my near future, I am making do with reminiscing about our spectacular trip to Belize for last year’s Spring Break. I also find myself thinking about a book which was perfectly timed with our return home. Whether you are heading to or coming home from a trip to the bottom of the sea, I hope you will join me in singing the praises of this illuminating and inspiring book about saving our coral reefs. « Read the rest of this entry »

2017 Gift Guide (No. 4): Middle-Grade Magnificence

December 7, 2017 § 3 Comments

As promised, here is a roundup of my favorite middle-grade fiction of 2017, a mix of graphic and traditional novels,  targeted at tweens or older. Not included are titles I blogged about earlier in the year—gems like The Inquisitor’s Tale, The Wild Robot, and See You in the Cosmos, which would make excellent additions to this list. Also not included are books I haven’t read yet—particularly Amina’s Voice, Nevermoor, The Stars Beneath Our Feet, and Scar Island (by the same author as the riveting Some Kind of Courage)—which would likely be on this list if I had. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, which I adore, has a sequel out this year which I’m dying to read. And I should also mention that if my son were making this list, he would undoubtedly note that it has been a stand-out year for new installments in his favorite series, including this, this, this, this, and this.

Now, without further ado, let’s sink our teeth into these richly textured and meaty stories, filled with angst and adventure, secrets and self-discovery. « Read the rest of this entry »

Snow Days

January 24, 2013 Comments Off on Snow Days

SnowLast night, as I was falling asleep, I wished for snow. Not for the parent in me (who dreads school closures); not for the adult in me (who has never been terribly coordinated at navigating icy pathways); but for my children. In the two and a half years since our family moved to Virginia from the Midwest (land of bountiful blizzards), snow has been something that my kids talk about, dream about, but rarely, if ever, experience. I must admit I find it a bit alarming that my son, so nostalgic for the snow of his earliest years, has taken to listing shoveling among his top five favorite activities. It just doesn’t seem fair that my kids have to go through the daily chore of putting on puffy coats and woolen hats and fleece mittens—without the reward of some billowy white stuff to play in.

So last night, oddly without even realizing snow was in the forecast, I wished for it. And when I woke up this morning, the quiet hush outside (where was the garbage truck?) and a flurry of school emails on my phone sent me flying to my window, where I could hardly wait to broadcast my discovery.

As Cynthia Rylant’s beautiful and celebratory Snow (ages 3-8) begins, “The best snow is the snow that comes softly in the night, like a shy friend, afraid to knock, so she thinks she’ll just wait in the yard until you see her.” Pictured on this first page is a girl snug in her bed, oblivious to the swirling, whirling white outside her window. In the pages that follow, through the eyes of this little girl, who lives with her grandmother and goes to school, we are introduced to other kinds of snow, like the “fat, cheerful flakes” that get you out of having to be “somewhere you’d rather not”; or the snow that falls “only lightly, just enough to make you notice the delicate limbs of trees.”

"Snow" by Cynthia Rylant & Lauren Stringer

Few children’s authors write as lyrically as Rylant; furthermore, few illustrators paint the contrast between warm, snug interiors and sparkling, crystal-covered exteriors as evocatively as Lauren Stringer (whose Winter Is The Warmest Season is another favorite).

"Snow" by Cynthia Rylant & Lauren Stringer

I never grow tired of reading Snow, because the excitement in the children’s faces—the anticipation, the realization, the sheer joy that surrounds a snowfall—is positively contagious. Rylant reminds the mother in me that “children love snow better than anyone does, and they never complain as they pull on their red boots and mittens and make plans to catch wet flakes on their tongues.”

"Snow" by Cynthia Rylant & Lauren Stringer

Rylant’s text because gives young and old alike the permission to slow down, to pause: “…while the snow is here this brief moment, let us take a walk and see how beautiful the world is…it is the snow’s turn now.” We can wish all we want for snow, but it’s the very surprise of its arrival that makes it well worth the wait.

"Snow" by Cynthia Rylant & Lauren Stringer

Other Favorite Picture Books About Snow:
Snow, by Uri Shulevitz (Ages 2-6)
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats (Ages 2-6)
Red Sled, by Lita Judge (Ages 2-4)
The Snow Day, by Komako Sakai (Ages 3-6)
A Perfect Day (Ages 3-6)
The Reader, by Amy Hest (Ages 3-6)
Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn & Mark Buehner (Ages 3-6)
Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner  (Ages 4-8)
Perfect Snow, by Barbara Reid (Ages 4-8)
Brave Irene, by William Steig (Ages 4-8)
Cold Snap, by Eileen Spinelli & Marjorie Priceman (Ages 4-8)
Snowflakes Fall, by Patricia Maclachlan & Steven Kellogg (Ages 4-8)
Snowflake Bentley , by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Ages 5-10)

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