All things literacy — Authors, Books, Connections . . .

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Ninjabread Man

In the December book box I created for a holiday gift for a five-year-old I included a pair of special pajamas and a favorite book on the package to be opened on Christmas Eve.

The pajamas, combined my favorite gingerbread men with the five-year-olds interest in ninjas.
And later by chance I came across this delightful book and a cookie mix (and cookie cutters to go with it).

I was not aware of this book and since it was published in 2016, I felt I had missed something fun.  The book is read aloud in the Story Train series on YouTube at  And the book itself is available from a number of retailers (and through online retailers as well).
A fellow librarian posted a bit of information on a professional website, telling about this cookie kit she found at the Aldis store in her community.  I found it at several locations online, including at Party City where it was actually on holiday clearance for less that 50% of its original price.  My local Party City had ONE left.  I managed to get it and felt like I had snagged a prize.
So my plans began.  I gathered the several traditional versions of the Gingerbread Boy/Man story, and a few of the related fractured versions and ...

Found my favorite gingerbread recipe.  But there is a recipe for Ninjabread at the end of Leigh's The Ninjabread Man.
Now I just have to plan some fun with the Ninjabread Man.  Please share some of your fun with this series of books.

Actually if you can locate a copy of the Russian version of "The Gingerbread Boy" titled The Bun: A Tale from Russia by Marcia Brown. It is the story of: "The story of Kolobok - the little round roll or bun, who runs away from his creators, and teases a series of animals, before finally being outwitted (and eaten) by a fox.  The ending in The Bun is quite similar to the ending in The Ninjabread Man.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

December-Book Basket 2018

This year (2018) our book basket for the holidays made its appearance on December 1.

In all 27 books were included in the book packages.  Some days two books were included - and on some days some complementary items provided additional interest. 

In all 27 books were included in the book packages.  Some days two books were included - and on some days some complementary items provided additional interest.  For example on the first day Peter H. Reynolds - Word Collector was included with a set of word cards for learning Dolch words, words from the child's current reading instructional material, and some Spanish words that he is learning (colors, numbers, animals).
Other days included other items along with the books -- not all days.  Most days the clear focus was on a favorite book read during the year or a new to the reader book.

A lot of reading shared as a prelude to the holiday -- making readers.
Read more about Holiday Book Calendars on an earlier post at

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

'Twas the Night Before Christmas - and Literary Allusions

I love Clement C. Moore's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas -- own many versions. My favorites includes the Tomie dePaola illustrated version of this title. The borders of each page are patterns from antique quilts. Another is the Anita Lobel version, a Victorian tale set in a brownstone. And no one should miss James Marshall's illustrated version (with stars on Santa's cowboy boots - a little bit of Marshall's home state of Texas).

And while it is not a version of "Twas the night Before Christmas Doreen Cronin's Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! has so many literary allusions to Moore's poem. Cronin's text brings Moore's stanza's to mind, and Betsy Lewin's illustrations bring even more to the allusions to the poem. A group of kindergarteners who have heard Moore's poem often enough that they can recite the first several stanzas by when they heard / saw some references to the poem in Cronin's book they began to recite the poem. "Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse," "Stockings were hung by the chimney with care," "opened the shutters and threw up the sash," "And what should they see but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer," ... what fun to introduce the concept of literary play.

Readers who might be interested in reading more about Clement C. Moore and his poem may want to investigate the information on Sarah Uthoff's Trundlebed Tales blog
The link to the historic version of The Night Before Christmas may not be a working link (sorry).

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Hidden Treasures - Information in Picture Books

Reviews from The Bookwoman and The Kid Reader

Hidden Treasures - Information slipped cleverly into the best of the best books.
  • What Do They Do With All That Poo? by Jane Kurtz. Illustrated by Allison Black. 2018. PreS-3. 40 pages. Beach Lane Books. ISBN: 978-1481479868.
  • No Frogs in School. by A. LaFaye.  Illustrated by Ã‰glantine Ceulemans , 2018.  PreS-3. 40 pages.   Sterling Children's Books. ISBN 978-1454926986.
Photo Credit: a selfie (twofie) by Jane Kurtz and Alexandria LaFaye (2018)
These two authors are awesomely clever at giving young readers a lot of information while also giving them a very readable fun text to enjoy.
Jane (Kurtz) writes about the droppings (otherwise known as poop, dung, scat, and so forth), the animals that leave this poo for the zoo to do something with.  Some poo is green, some droppings are in the shape of cubes, and others are like marbles.  And what do zoos do with all that poo?  Well there are all sorts of recycling that goes on.  And along the way young readers will learn that poo from herbivores and carnivores is treated differently -- and one young reader is sure he will never eat zucchini again.  This book will provide a lot of hidden information that an attentive parent or educator will enjoy helping the young reader to discover and discuss.
You might enjoy the kid reader's (Pryor Optimus) YouTube video featuring this book. The Mystery Box -
and as Pryor Optimus gives book readers a preview of the What Do They Do With All That Poo?.

Alexandria (A. LaFaye) gives us a rollicking fun book about Bartholomew Botts who loves pets, all kinds of pets, and has a difficult time leaving them while he goes off to school so he decides to tuck Ferdinand the Frog into his cool pink lunchbox (yes, pink - Information #1: "GG is Bartholomew a girl or a boy?"  "What do you think?"  "Well the author said, 'he' but the lunch pail is pink and Bartholomew has a pink sweater in his bedroom." "Well he means male.  Do you think a boy could have a pink sweater and a pink lunchbox?"  "Well, yes."  "Then what do you think?"  "He's a boy who likes pets... and likes pink."  "Okay so there you have it.").
Bartholomew causes a ruckus with is frog - -so frogs are banned from school.  But Sigfried the salamander wasn't a frog, but the ensuing chaos brings about a ban on amphibians (Information #2 : Critical characteristics of amphibians are enumerated when Mr. Patamoose declares  all reptiles are banned.)  Additional pets, and episodes, result in the banning of reptiles, ... and eventually anyone's pet.  But in the end Bartholomew Botts figures out a way to take a pet to school.  Readers will learn many things by reading (or listening) to this tale of Bartholomew Botts, including that boys can like pink and are clever enough to figure out which animals are forbidden and which are allowed in the classroom.

Ah the fun these two books give to young readers.  

An enthusiastic 5 stars for both of the books from the Bookwoman

and from the  Kid Reader - another five stars
Make these two books a part of the Book Calendar <>

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Book Calendar: 24 Days of Christmas or 8 Days of Hanukkah

Book Calendar: 24 Days of Christmas or 8 Days of Hanukkah

Give the gift of reading to a special child or children in your life.  When the December holidays come near, ready your book calendar.  Choose 24 (or 8) books for the calendar.  The books may be new titles or old favorites enjoyed with Grandma or Grandpa, or other friends or family.  Wrap and label each book package with a numeral (we put the corresponding numeral inside the book as well).Whatever the origin of the books once the books are opened it is intended that they become part of the child or children's library.  Put the book packages in a basket or special box and gift the basket/box to the child/family prior to the first day of December of the first day of Hanukkah.

In this book basket the final book (#24) was a favorite collection of Christmas stories - this copy was given to the child's grandmother by a special friend almost 30 years ago.  The Family Read Aloud Christmas Treasury, compiled by Alice Low, and illustrated by Marc Tolon Brown (Little Brown & Company, 1989) includes  "A Merry Literary Christmas" a poem by Alice Low, a version of Clement C. Moore's The Night Before Christmas, and other favorite stories and poems.  The book package was accompanied by a package containing new pajamas and slippers for the child (but could include a pair for each child in a family)

This book calendar is ready for special readers - each evening/day open a package and share the book as a read-aloud.  The greatest gift one can give to a child is the gift of reading.  And one of the greatest activities a parent can share with their child is time during which he/she reads aloud to the child - well past the days when the child can read for themselves.  Reading aloud provides children with listening skills, vocabulary new to their world, and modeling of fluency which helps guide their reading development.

Book Calendar - Days 1 - 24

Package #24 is accompanied by a package (also
marked with the #24 that contains a new pair
of pajamas and perhaps a new
pair of slippers and a robe for the evening.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Creating a Visual Parody

Creating a Visual Parody

An exercise in thinking

In the printing world to sublimate something indicates that a heat process of some sort is used to transfer an image to something like cloth, or ceramic mug, and so forth.  By definition sublimate is to change the form, but not the essence. Physically speaking, it means to transform solid to vapor; psychologically, it means changing the outlet, or means, of expression from something base and inappropriate to something more positive or acceptable.  Sublimation is used to print custom sports ribbons for making hair bows, for example.  There are many youtube videos that share various processes and machines intended for retailers showing how to use their machines for this printing process.Share an example from YouTube - <>

Now comes the fun part - after students understand what "to sublimate" means in the printing world you might share this message:

"Love the colored 1 inch elastic from They also have patterns - including the sugar skull elastic ready for projects for the Day of the Dead which begins on October 31 and ends on November 2nd. See how the elastic is made. Take a look at  'How to Sublimate Polyester Webbing.' You've got to love this."

The challenge for your students is to take a relatively unknown concept and make a parody explanation of the word's/concept's meaning.  I think the results will be hilarious.
I'd love to see any results of what students might create.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Random Reads (for a 5 year old) - 6-7-2018

Random Reads from the Bookshelf - 6-7-2018

Today's FIVE book reads- with a "favorite ranking" by a five-year-old.  Additional comments by the five-year-old's GG.
In "favorite order" with #1 being the top favorite among today's reads:

1. Keller, Laura.  We Are Growing.  Hyperion, 2016.

  • A book capitalizing on the popularity of Mo Willems's Elephant and Piggie popularity.  Elephant and Piggie bookend the story which is the "cleverist" of stories.
2. Stevens, Janet and Susan Stevens Crummel.  Cook-A-Doodle-Doo. Harcourt Brace, 1999.
  • A long-time favorite featuring Big Brown Rooster who is the grandson of The Little Red Hen.  He and his friends recreate one of his grandmother's favorite recipes - Strawberry Shortcake.  Makes one want to have access to The Joy of Cooking Alone by Little Red Hen.
3. Reynolds, Peter H.  The Word Collector.  Orchard/Scholastic, 2018
  • Destined to become a favorite title as the unfamiliar words collected become more familiar.  The youngest reader is already collecting "rhyming words."
4. Reynolds, Peter H.  Happy Dreamer.  Orchard/Scholastic, 2018
  • The beginning pages nail most active 4-5 year olds.  "Sometimes the world tells me... Sit Still, Be Quiet, Pay Attention, FOCUS.  But my dreams have a mind of their own.  Sometimes my mind just takes flight! I hear a BEAT and I gotta move...
5. Van Allsburg, Chris.  The Polar Express.  Houghton Mifflin, 1985.
  • A classic holiday story enjoyable to read all year around.  Make sure to have a silver bell to use at the holiday time.

Random Reads (for a 5 year old) - 6-6-2018

Random Reads from the Bookshelf - 6-6-2018

Today's FIVE book reads- with a "favorite ranking" by a five-year-old.  Additional comments by the five-year-old's GG.
In "favorite order" with #1 being the top favorite among today's reads:

1. Spiro, Ruth. Baby Loves: Aerospace Engineering.  Illustrated by Irene Chan.
2.  Spiro, Ruth. Baby Loves: Quarks.  Illustrated by Irene Chan.
  • These two books by Ruth Spiro are among our very favorites.  The 5 year old can repeat the text word for word and loves saying: "molecule," "protron," "neutron" and especially loves the smashing of the atom.  Another favorite part is when, in the Aerospace title, birdie takes off to outer space.  "Bye bye Birdie"
3. Watt, Fiona. That's Not My Duck.... Illustrated by Rachel Wells.  Usborne, 2013.
  • Repetitive phrases make this book a great participatory read.
4.  Kane Miller.  123 Counting.  Illustrated by Maxine Davenport and Cindy Roberts.  Usborne, 2015 (First American edition).
  • Pictures and the counting format create an book even the very youngest can "read."
5.  Wood, Don and Audrey.  The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear. Illustrated by Don Wood. Child's Play, Ltd, 1984 English/Spanish edition.
  • Clever ending that brings giggles to listeners when they catch on to the trick.

A Snack Time read

Cookies and Milk ~ Milk and Cookies

Take a cookie and milk break.  Read The Cow Loves Cookies and then share some freshly baked cookies and a cool glass of dairy fresh milk.

Hear the story read aloud at

Wilson, Karma.  The Cow Loves Cookies. Illustrated by Marcellus Hall.  Margaret K. Elderry Book, 2010.