Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Today we LEAP

If you ever wondered why we have an extra day in February, National Geographic Kids has the answer. Enjoy this Leap Day in this Leap Year.

(This fuss about February 29th also helps me to remember when the summer Olympics are and the US presidential elections are, because they always are every 4 years, during a Leap Year.)

If you are a Facebook fan, lots of people who were born on this day are coming out of the woodwork, mostly to brag how much younger they are than the rest of us who have to celebrate birthdays every  year.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Unfair -- Child Grows Taller Than Me

The 12-year-old has a new, annoying way to say good-night to me.
She'll kiss me and hug me and chant, "I'm taller than you."
And the annoying part about this is --
she's right!
She is.

Writing fiction as good as Jennifer Crusie

Great post by Jennifer Crusie, about the underpinnings of writing stories with conflict, is on her blog, Argh Ink.  It's from about a year ago, so the PDF she said she was creating of this speech should be available for download on another page.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spellcheck is not your friend

I'm not the Grammar Witch.  That honor belongs to several of my friends. I'm not even a good speller. But certain things do pop out and grab my attention when I'm reading someone else's manuscript.

Spellcheck told one person that this was correct:
1. She peaked into the open box.
peaked?  The word is spelled correct, but the the sentence wants the word, "peeked."

2. She knew that everything was going to be alright.
Again, the word is spelled correctly, but that sentence needs to be "all right."
(and I'm only partway through this manuscript.  I'm sure I'll find more.)

What's that old poem about spellcheck?
(You can find the origin of this poem here at

Candidate for a Pullet Surprise
by Mark Eckman and Jerrold H. Zar
I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.
Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it's weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.
A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when eye rime.
Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o'er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.
Bee fore a veiling checker's
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we're lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.
Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know fault's with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.
Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped word's fare as hear.
To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw's are knot aloud.
Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A list of 100 Greatest Books for Children

Today Scholastic announced its “100 Greatest Books for Children,” as compiled by its magazine Parent and Child. How many of you can say you've read every one?  (raising hand -- but that's probably because I've been a children's librarian at a public library for 40 some years.) 
At first glance, I'd say that over 3/4ths are fiction or picture books and most of the nonfiction are biographies.
Since the above link probably won't work after today, I've listed them below:

The 100 "Greatest Books for Kids,"
ranked by Scholastic Parent & Child magazine:
1. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
3. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
4. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jacks Keats
5. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
7. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
8. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
9. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
10. Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
11. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
12. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
13. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
14. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
15. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
16. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
17. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
18. When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan
19. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
20. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
21. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
22. Corduroy by Don Freeman
23. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
24. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
25. The Giver by Lois Lowry
26. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
27. Black on White by Tana Hoban
28. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
29. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume
30. My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother by Patricia Polacco
31. The Mitten by Jan Brett
32. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
33. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
34. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
35. Freight Train by Donald Crews
36. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
37. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood
38. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
39. Zen Shorts by John J. Muth
40. Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton
41. Matilda by Roald Dahl
42. What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry
43. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
44. Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
45. The Composition by Antonio Skarmeta
46. Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
47. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
48. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
49. Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
50. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
51. Sylvia Long's Mother Goose by Sylvia Long
52. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
53. The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
54. Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
55. Smile! by Roberta Grobel Intrater
56. Living Sunlight by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm
57. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
58. Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull
59. Dear Juno by Soyung Pak
60. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes… by Annie Kubler
61. The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
62. Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
63. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
64. My Truck Is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis
65. Birds by Kevin Henkes
66. The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
67. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
68. Counting Kisses: A Kiss & Read Book by Karen Katz
69. The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks by Joanna Cole
70. Blackout by John Rocco
71. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
72. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
73. Tea With Milk by Allen Say
74. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
75. Holes by Louis Sachar
76. Peek-a Who? by Nina Laden
77. Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold
78. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
79. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
80. What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
81. Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman
82. Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows
83. Yoko by Rosemary Wells
84. No No Yes Yes by Leslie Patricelli
85. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
86. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
87. Rules by Cynthia Lord
88. Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
89. An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston
90. Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault
91. Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh
92. What Shall We Do With the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell
93. We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States by David Catrow
94. I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis
95. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
96. Gossie by Olivier Dunrea
97. The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
98. First Words by Roger Priddy
99. Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman
100. Animalia by Graeme Base
For different lists of great children's books,
I refer you to Elizabeth Bird's blog.
Click on the links to the right hand side
to access her Top 100 Chapter Books and
Top 100 Picture Books.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spread the Word about International Book Giving Day

(Seen on the Fuse #8 Blog)
Just when is International Book Giving Day?  Hmm, it seems to be every day, from now until February 14th!

International Book Giving Day is a day dedicated to getting new, used, and borrowed books in the hands of as many children as possible. We have Tomi Ungerer, Judy Blume, Katrina Germein and many other great authors on board. However, to reach as many kids as possible, we need your help too! 
Three simple ways you can celebrate International Book Giving Day:
1. Give a Book to a Friend or Relative.
Is there a child in your life who would enjoy receiving a book on February 14th? In lieu of or in addition to a card or box of chocolates, choose a good book from a bookstore or public library to give to your child, niece or nephew, mentee, friend, or neighbor.
2. Donate a Book.
Wrap up a box of children’s books that your kids have outgrown and get them in the hands of children who could really use a book or two. Donate your books to your local second hand store, library, children’s hospital, or nonprofit organization working to ensure that all kids have access to books.
3. Leave a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby.
Choose a waiting room where kids are stuck waiting and there are few to no good books available. Purchase a good book, and deposit your book covertly or overtly in your waiting room of choice. The goal here is to spread the love of reading to kids, so choose a fun book, nothing controversial. 
Let’s see how many people we can get to commit to giving a book to a child by February 14th! 
Connect with others worldwide participating in International Book Giving Day by visiting International Book Giving Day’s website and Facebook page.
International Book Giving Day’s website:
International Book Giving Day’s Facebook page:
Let us know that you are participating!
Answer our “How will you celebrate International Book Giving Day?” poll. 
Share a photo of a child unwrapping a gift, a Valentine’s Day book exchange, you rummaging through your shelves in search of books to donate, or, my personal favorite, you slyly depositing a children’s book in a waiting room.

Thanks to Amy Broadmore for the info.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

When is nonfiction, NOT nonfiction?

Whats the difference between nonfiction, 'creative nonfiction,' and 'informational fiction?
Check out this article by Jan Fields.

(Hint: if your writing has anything made-up in it, it's NOT nonfiction.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

6 more weeks of winter

Okay, Punxsutawney Phil has spoken. (or whatever groundhogs do)

In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Phil the groundhog saw his shadow, and predicted that we will have 6 more weeks of winter. (check out the official Punxsutawney, PA, site later today. This morning it has too much traffic and is down.)

HOW-EVER, the Canadian groundhogs, Ontario's Wiarton Willie and Nova Scotia's Shubenacadia Sam, and New York City's Charles G. Hogg all predict that we'll have an early spring.

And here in Maryland, it's been cloudy all morning, so our groundhogs would also have not have seen their shadow. Does this mean that Maryland will see an early spring?

(As soon as we get some winter, that is.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February First -- Tomorrow is Groundhog Day

Will spring be early or late? Normally we'd ask the groundhog, but wait.... We haven't had winter yet so why should we be longing for springtime? (The temperature here is supposed to be near 70 degrees today. I'd call it January thaw, except that we haven't had much of a January freeze.)

On the other hand, people are quick to point out that the most horrendous snowstorms in this area usually hit in February.  Oh goodie. Well, we are partially ready -- we have our snow shovels out of the storage shed and onto our back porch.

We're ready, Mr. Winter.  But where are you?