If you or your young ones have not read the “Arthur the Aardvark” series, finding these helpful, amusing, humorous-at-times books, should be the first priority on your child’s reading list. Written by Marc Brown, the series teaches family values, as it reinforces a child feeling good about himself/herself.

I have recommended these books at the primary school where I volunteer, and yesterday, a lovely young fourth grader, Liliana, donated to my Little Free Library her whole collection of 18  hardback,  “Arthur” books published by Advance Publications.  She has moved up to “The Baby Sitter Club” series and other age-appropriate stand-alones.




First Line Fridays, which I first encountered on “Carla Loves to Read,” and originally started on “Hoarding Books,” is a post I could relate to.  I love reading the first lines of a new book or sharing the first lines of one I’ve already begun. Here are the first few lines of Wendy Mills’ novel, All We Have Left:

” 2001/Alia

Travis draws my face into his chest as the smoke engulfs us.

The other tower fell, it fell straight down like a waterfall of concrete and steel, and, Oh God, help me, please help me, because is this one going to fall too?            “

Turning to the back cover, I read, “A haunting and heart-wrenching story of two girls, two time periods, and the one event that changed their lives–and the world–forever.”

I am soooo ready to read this YA novel.



Limericks have five lines rhyming aa/bb/a and follow iambic-pentameter rhythm. Here are some humorous classics:

There was a young man from the city,

Who met what he thought was a kitty.

He gave it a pat,

And said, “Nice little cat,”

And we buried his clothes out of pity


There was a young fellow from Leeds,

Who swallowed a packet of seeds,

It, at last, came to pass,

He was covered with grass,

And couldn’t sit down for the weeds!


One of my college students two fall semesters ago wrote this one for Halloween:

Some cold chill shivered my spine.

Something cold, down in a straight line.

I wasn’t alone,

And not on my own,

It was time for the beast to dine!


Here are two from my junior high teaching days:

There once was a teacher named Longest,

Who thought that she was the strongest.

She tried to lift ten,

Then tried once again,

And found out that she was the wrongest.


In this class, there’s a great deal of reading,

So to the teacher, we’re pleading,

Please, no more tests,

For, we’ve done our best!

So tell us what else you are needing.


Write a five-liner and post it in the comments section. It doesn’t have to be today.

Happy Poeming!


Today’s (Saturday, May 11th) recommendations for kids are both “classics.” Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup with Rice is aimed at early readers or wannabee readers. It teaches children the months by using Sendak’s delightful illustrations, each month cleverly linked to something about chicken soup. For example, accompanying a sketch of a happy whale, spouting chicken soup from his blowhole, is the following poem,

In November’s

gusty gale

I will flop

my flippy tail,

and spout hot soup.

I’ll be a whale!

Spouting once

Spouting twice

spouting chicken soup with rice.

When I read Sendak’s “teaching poems,” I was reminded by my all-time-favorite aid for teaching “color poems” to students from grades five to graduate students at the university, Halistones and Halibut Bones, written by Mary O’Neill. O’Neill covers the colors of the spectrum, and my personal edition, published in 1989, is gorgeously illustrated by John Walker.

When approaching a group/class of students, I ask them to shout out their favorite color. One poem at a time, I read the poem for each color. Each poem includes the taste, sight, sound, feel, and smell of the color described. The color red begins with ” What is red?/ Red is a sunset/ Blazy and Bright. / Red is feeling brave/ With all your might.” The poem on pink includes “…Pink is peachbloom/ Gauzy…frail/ The wind’s exquisite wedding veil.” My favorite line is “…The sound of black is / Boom! Boom! Boom! / Echoing in an empty room.”   The concluding poem states, “…For colors dance / And colors sing, / And colors laugh/ And colors cry—/ Turn off the light/ And colors die. / And they make you feel/ Every feeling there is/ From the grumpiest grump/ To the fizziest fizz./ And you and you and I/ Know well/ Each has a taste/ And each has a smell/ And each has a wonderful story to tell….”

These books are special to the young children who hear or sound out the words as they read them, and to the parents and teachers who experience the books with each child or student affected by the poems contained within their pages.



Last year I read a newspaper review of Newcomers, purchased it, and from the beginning, Thorpe caught my attention. The scene was a classroom where the teacher approached a new student who did not understand English. “Hi, I’m Mr. Williams,”. the teacher said as he held out his hand in greeting.  “Hmmmmm, here’s a technique I can use with Basic ESL students where I volunteer,” I thought.

The story unfolds describing Thorpe’s observation of the “Newcomers Class” of South High School in Denver, Colorado during the 2015-2016 school year. Thorpe wove anecdotes about 22 students ages 14-17 who had entered the States from war-torn, poverty-stricken, countries all over the globe into her book in an attention-keeping way. Because she made “home visits” to many of the students, she, and we, the readers, learn much about the culture and situations of each student visited.

The author’s writing style is succinct and engaging. I could hardly wait to read another chapter to find out what the teacher and the author would do or say next to “handle the situations that arose in the classroom and in the students’ homes. Overall, this was a wonderful reading “experience” for me. I rate it a full five out of five.



This challenge was issued by the bloggers at Hot Listens and The Caffeinated Reviewer.  I became aware of it on Carla Loves to Read, who posted that she was participating. Recently, I finished The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce. This author also wrote The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a book I loved so much I recommended it to our Third Tuesday book club.

The Music Shop is set in 1988 London, and it was fun comparing the culture and situations to “my” 1988, here across the pond.  One thing is for sure, human nature and the complexities in relationships are universal and timeless!

Frank, the shop’s owner, a burly, bearded, bear of a man, has a “gift” for “prescribing” (my term) just the right piece/selection of music someone needs; sometimes not what the customer thinks he wants. Because Frank has lost his first wife, he is terrified of real closeness/connectedness. When Elsa Brachman, a mysterious, attractive woman, with a German accent, enters his shop and promptly faints, neither recognizes the attraction they have for each other for what it is. These quirky characters’ relationship grows through the novel, as each makes bad choices and acts based on assumptions and miscommunications.

The small shop which carries only vinyls in a CD society “attracts the lonely, the sleepless, and the adrift” which make up the cast of characters in this warm, often humorous, always “touching” story.  The narrator is spot-on and conveys each character vividly to the reader. One feels the “healing power of music” as the sometimes familiar-to-the-listener pieces of music are mentioned, as Frank matches them to customers. The listener indeed feels “healed” by the epilogue at the end. There is only one word which would describe the ending of this audiobook–joyful!


Continuing to read my”Books about Books” list inspired by Random House, I warily approached The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Knowing only that it was non-fiction, and was about the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library, all I could think of was all those books going up in smoke. Since I was attempting to read more non-fiction in 2019 anyway, I ordered The Library Book from my local library. The red, very “plain” book cover told me it was a “…riveting mix of true crime, history, biography, and immersion journalism.” (Booklist)

Orlean, the “immersed journalist” of the book’s cover was touted as a writer for the New Yorker and other magazines. The statistics on the book jacket confirmed my original fear that it was an awful, awful occurrence–400,000 books totally destroyed and 700,000 more damaged.  Each chapter was headed up with copies of one or more old-fashioned card-catalog cards, each relevant to something within the chapter. The story immediately introduces the reader to Harry Peak, a part-time actor. His looks, his movements, and his thoughts immediately engage the reader’s curiosity. Library Book does include a brief history of libraries, but this information was never boring and often fascinated me with details the author must have enjoyed unearthing. Orlean takes the reader along on her interviews, her speculations then discoveries, and her frustrations in researching and writing the book, which was one of my favorite parts of reading the book.

The investigation, the court snafus, the intricacy of the actual event that took place on April 28, 1986, supplies fascinating reading to book-a-holics and library fans like me.