A book I put in my LFL (Little Free Library) in not-so-gently-used condition, owned at one point by someone who wrote his name, “MATHIS” on the inside cover, has just been returned after being borrowed/taken. Since its  condition showed that boys had actually  read it, I decided to read it myself in order to recommend it to “reluctant readers,” who so often are of the male gender.

My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian, complete with “cartoons by Jake Tashjian.” was a fun read as well as a subtle vocabulary builder. Instead of having definitions of challenging words in the margin, it had cartoons illustrating the meanings of the words.

The book’s opening lines, ” I DON’T WANT TO READ THIS BOOK”! would capture any reader’s attention, especially a male, reluctant one. Mystery occurs in this book as the first-person narrator, Derek, discovers an old newspaper clipping about a teen girl’s drowning off Martha’s Vinyard. What he discovers is not what he or his mother expected, and makes a life-changing difference for him and his family. The author inhabits the mind of Derek well, and the cartoonist expresses a young boy’s impatience, curiosity and thought processes with stick figures and labels.

It is a great read!


NO TIME TO SPARE by Ursula K. Le Guin: A Review

Literacy and Me

When Ursula Le Guin died last year, I was reading this 2017 collection of her essays. It is a compilation of er blog posts and other on-line writings, subtitled, “Thinking About What Matters.” Le Guin was well into her eighties, thus the title. Facing my 75th birthday this coming November, I went back to this book, re-reading her delightful essays on Pard, her mischievous cat, who was so strong willed and minded that he put even my Lena to shame.

I first met Le Guin as the author of Wizard of EarthSea, a sci-fi classic full of strangeness and philosophy, as is any good work of sci-fi. Knowing her ideas about life and death as expressed in her sci-fi stories and novels helped me understand her thoughts on the end days of her life. There were some serious essays on topics like the economy and politics, and the author discusses…

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Is Reading Still Popular?

Legends of Windemere

Anybody remember the phrase ‘Reading is Fundamental’?  First, I didn’t realize it was a nonprofit child literacy organization founded in 1966.  Thought it was saying used in Public Service Announcements.  In fact, I used to think it was connected to this blast from the past:

I watched this show religiously as a child.  At least when I wasn’t reading.  I remember my school would do an MS Reading Contest and the winner got a free personal pizza from Pizza Hut.  Several times, I need to get an extra form because I ran out of slots to write down what I read.  Some days, I would have a pile of books and just read through them for the day.  We’re talking elementary age, so there were books like ‘Wayside School is Falling Down’, ‘Encyclopedia Brown’, “Incognito Mosquito’, Choose-Your-Own-Adventures, ‘Bunnicula’, and a ton of nonfiction stuff on animals and dinosaurs.  Many of…

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This meme, originally hosted by The Purple Booker asks that readers copy a sentence or two at random from a current read that might tease readers into choosing their book for their TBR list. Here is my Tuesday Teaser (8/13/19) from Amy Harmon’s What the Wind Knows:

“The wind and the water already know…The wind you hear is the same that has always blown. The rain is the same rain that falls. Over and over, round and round, like a great circle. The wind and the waves have been present since time began.”

What better way to express how a character travels back in time by setting out in a boat, coming up upon men from another time who shoot her, and nearly drowns before she is rescued and wakes up when her grandfather is a young boy in Ireland. This is definitely a “darned good read.”


Coffee in the morning is what gets me started, and the following is a poem that expresses this early-morning pick me-up-and-get-me-started ritual.


Sometimes fog

surrounds morning

in a white room;

Then the silence

at sunlight seeps

into balsam shadows.

Steam is silence too,

slipping over the brim

of bone china

in the coffee-quiet

of morning.”


(Jeffrey Johannes)

After this coffee meditation from Coffee Poems, edited by Lorraine Healy, reflections on life with coffee, I am ready to start my day.



Tomorrow marks the last Sunday before my 5th grade Sunday School students “graduate” to the young people’s department at our church. They are more than ready to begin middle school (6th, 7th, and 8th grades) next Thursday.

Whether they are spiritually ready to enter the “lion’s den” may be another matter altogether. Like Daniel, they need to be steadfast in their faith, of highest integrity, standing up for what they believe in at all times.  Like Daniel, they must pray for guidance and strength daily. God bless them all and protect them from the perils of middle school!


Chris Harris has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a worthy heir to Silverstein, Seuss, and even Ogden Nash.” I couldn’t agree more. Some of his shorter poems are as pithy and to the point as Nash’s “Purple Cow.”

“I’ve never seen a purple cow,

I hope I never see one.

But, I can tell you anyhow,

I’d rather see than be one”!

Here is an example from Harris’s I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense/for Mischevious Kids and Immature Grownups:

“Jack Sprat could ear no fat.

His wife could eat no lean.

He lived to be one hundred three;

She died at seventeen.”

I particularly love parodies and have come across some excellent ones lately. Here is Harris’s parody of Robert Frost:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by…

Since then I’ve been completely lost.

Thanks for nothing, Robert Frost”!

It would be remiss not to mention the fantastic, comical illustrations by Lane Smith.  The combination of the poems (?) and drawings will make any kid (or “immature adult”) chuckle.