If R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder recommended a book, would you read it? Well, I did. Roll With It, another story of a unique kid who has a disability,  by Jamie Sumner, tells the story of Ellie, who has Cerebral Palsy, a creative, audacious pre-teen trapped in a wheelchair. Because her grandfather has Alzheimer’s, she and her mom must move from a large city to a trailer  park in a tiny town. She wants to be a professional baker, and is really good at it. Robert, who goes by Bert, an autistic kid who is bullied; and Coralee, who has big dreams of becoming a famous singer and lives below the poverty level, are her best friends. The schemes and plans this trio invents will make the reader laugh out loud. I certainly did.


When I did my enjoyable “project” of being a first round reader for the Cybils awards, this was one of my favorite reads. I have copied the old post I did at the time here. I HIGHLY recommend this book.

Ignorance about persons with disabilities is often the cause of negative thoughts and behaviors.


Saturday morning TV programming was reserved for kids’ cartoons back in the 50s and 60s.

Not one, but two recommendations today–both aimed at tweens and early teens.

Being the new girl is always hard, but Ruby has it harder than most.

Raised in rural Kansas, Ruby felt right at home in her red, Converse sneakers. When her grandmother falls sick and needs Ruby’s mom to come to Florida as her caregiver, Ruby’s life is uprooted. Three women in the house, Nana Dottie, Ruby’s mom, and Ruby herself provide plenty of drama, miscommunication, and short fuses resulting in harsh words and hurt feelings. “Will Ruby find a way to fit into a new life that she never asked for…Or will she find herself clicking the heels of the old red sneakers hoping for a chance to go home to Curly Creek [Kansas]?”

Another shoe-themed book, Superstar by Mandy Davis is another kid’s book I read this past week.

Son of a fictional astronaut, Lester and his mom adjust to life on their own after a tragic explosion of Lester’s dad’s pace capsule.

Lester loves flight, space, and everything connected with it, but he has to “give it all up” because it reminds his mom of what happened to his dad and makes her sad. Lester is bothered by loud noise, bright light, and when his routine is interrupted. Because he reacts strangely, sometimes “childishly,” it makes him the perfect target for bullies. Up until now, when he turned ten, his mom homeschooled him, but now she must work to support them, and Lester must go to a nearby elementary school.

His misadventures at school and his efforts to adjust make readers feel compassion and some confusion towards Lester. A pair of Superstar sneakers and a passion for science experiments come in to play. Will Lester always be the “weird kid, or will he become a Super Star in his own right?

Both of these books were fun to read, contained great life lessons and were a “darned good read.”



Today’s recommendation is from a very special series starring Alex, a special girl, who thinks about things like telling the truth, forgiveness, prayer, friendship, unselfishness, and obedience. In each book in the series, she faces another facet of her Christian teachings.

Popularity is one of the hardest things to attain, but is having it worth it?

Alex has always had trouble making friends with the “popular girls. “They just don’t seem to like her, and what’s worse, they make fun of her. Her dad’s boss’s daughter is one of these girls, and when Mr. Anderson invited his employee, her dad, and his family to his lake cottage, what promised to be a fun vacation almost turned into a disaster. Alex’s dad encourages her to turn to the fruits of the Spirit, but for a while Alex finds only the pits!

This book should appeal to 7-12 year olds, but it includes something for everyone in Alex’s older sister, younger brother, and understanding parents.

I highly recommend it.


The title should read, “Saturday Mornings for Kids,” but it’s almost 2:30 p.m. Once again in this pandemic environment, I sit here asking, “Where did the time go?”saturday-morning-for-children  Today’s recommendation for kids ages 6 and up is for the Horrible Harry Series. Some private day care teacher must have retired and left her entire classroom library to my Little Free Library, for a whole box of “donations” were left at my back door a couple of weeks ago, I assume by someone in my neighborhood. I have been having as much fun as I had in 2019 when I read over 200 books as a Cybils first round reader.

Harry is a second grader, and he is both horrible and lovable. His group of friends is memorable and appear in almost every book. The book I finished this morning is Horrible Harry and the Purple People. Out of the eight or ten books in this series that came to me, this cover grabbed my attention. We see Harry and his friends approaching their classroom where sitting, waiting for them are grotesque, little purple “monsters.” Harry insists early on in the story that the Purple People are not monsters, but small, purple people, and only he can see them. As the students approach the end of second grade and plan their tea party, based on the one in Alice in Wonderland, read aloud by their teacher, Harry runs off his mouth to Mary, his nemesis who does not believe in the Purple People, and finds himself telling her that one of the Purple People will attend the tea party. Harry, as usual, has something up his sleeve, and as usual, it backfires hilariously. One warning: Like not being able to eat one potato chip, reading one Horrible Harry book leads to another, and another and another.


Believe it or not, one thing I always had to teach to my Advanced Writing students at the university was “proper” comma usage. I would give a pretest on placing needed commas or removing unnecessary ones, and those who made less than 90%/85% (depending on the class and the majors involved) would be scheduled to meet during class time for small-group grammar instruction. Students who exempted out were allowed to come anywhere from thirty minutes to forty-five minutes later for the start of class the next week.

A book I found most helpful in this endeavor was Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: Why Commas Really DO Make a Difference, Children’s version, by Lynn Truss (original author) and illustrated by Bonnie Timmons. Each time one opens the book, a sentence on the left side, illustrated by a cartoon, shows a sentence punctuated one way, then its counterpart, with the comma treated differently, is illustrated on the page on the right. For example, A sentence on the left says, “Get him doctors!” while the cartoon shows a kid who has just fallen off the monkey bars, flat on his back, as a woman points to other kids ordering them to run for a doctor. On the right, the same sentence is punctuated, “Get him, doctors!” and shows one kid “liberating” a hospital (in the background) kid-patient, running off with the little boy in the wheelchair, while an orderly shouts the message to doctors (complete with stethoscopes) standing nearby.

My favorite, which never failed to crack up junior high students back in the day had a left-hand page saying, “Eat here, and get gas” complete with cartoon minimart and gas pump while people filled up their cars and ate hot dogs and other fast-food delights. On the right, however, one is inside a restaurant, patrons are sitting at tables while one unlucky lady is flying through the air, expelling gas like a recently released balloon, and the caption has no comma: “Eat here and get gas.”

This book is a delight and as helpful as the best selling grammar handbook  (NOT an oxymoron, Truss’s grammar handbook was on the NY Times bestseller list for over a year.) Eat, Shoots, and Leaves, adult version for teaching grammar and punctuation “basics.”


This meme, hosted by The Purple Booker which was suggested to me by Sarah at Brainfluff, tells the reader to choose a few lines at random and use them as a “tease” to get others to read the book.  I am going to randomly open Carzy Lady by Leslie Conly, a Newberry Award winner for kids from 6th grade through early high school:

” The little things we did [to the “Crazy Lady”/alcoholic in the neighborhood]…was to agitate her so she”d put on a show…[as she and her retarded son came out,] we’d jump up and shout, ‘Hey Maxine!”  Sometimes Bobby would say, ‘Hey, your majesty.’ But it really didn’t matter what it was: anything we said would make her pop her cork.”

When I came to this page in the book, page seventeen, I thought it would be another sappy “life-lesson- bearing” young adult story.  Was I wrong! The character changes in the book were anything but stereotypical, platitudes, and the ending was realistic, not your “Be-good-and-everything-will-turn-out-well”, kiddie-lit ending.  I may review this fine book on Saturday Morning for Kids this week.


Since I once was a very young reader, I am offering a Saturday morning post that might help children and younger young adults (and especially parents and grandparents of the same) find some really good reads. Today I have picked two books that function as read-alouds or read-alones.

The first, I encountered volunteering at a primary school (ages 4 yrs. to second grade) in Alvin, Texas. When I read the title aloud and offered the cover with, yes, a pig high in the treetops, the first graders I was with broke out in “silly giggles.”Then I found a discarded library copy (Does anyone know where the Koennecke Library is?) in a box of books I bought at a garage sale in my neighborhood. Do Pigs Sit in Trees? is written by Jean Zelasney and illustrated by Mr. Stobbs. (There’s bound to be a story behind that pseudonym!) In the children’s literary tradition there is often a young animal looking for his/her mother. Various animals suggest to little Quinton, a piglet, where his mother might have gone.  All Quinton knows is his mother is nowhere to be seen, and he’s hungry! After searching around the farmyard and forming laugh-out-loud images of his mother in ridiculous places, he finally finds her in the cornfield’s mud with all his brothers and sisters happily munching away. The anxiety of the piglet and the satisfactory drawing of the family snuggle at the end make delightful reading and a jumping off place for kids to discuss with Mom/Dad/Grandma/Grandad the times they have felt anxious.

All kids seem to like dinosaurs, and Dinosaur Poems by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Arnold Lobel is a wonderful book for the “read-to-me-Mommy” demand from a little one. Since T-Rex seems to be hands-down the favorite, his poem comes first:

“Tyrannosaurus Rex was a beast

that had no friends to say the least.

It ruled the ancient out-of-doors.

and slaughtered other dinosaurs.”


Other types of dinosaurs are treated equally humorously, but let me skip to the last–Seismosaurus.

“Seismosaurus was enormous,

Seismosaurus was tremendous,

Seismosaurus was prodigious,

Seismosaurus was stupendous.

Seismosaurus was titanic,

Seismosaurus was colossal,

Seismosaurus now is nothing

but a monumental fossil.”


And so goes life….I predict giggles and the learning of and love for big words out of this one.



Today’s post is a recommendation for two books I recently read, which were given to me for my LFL (Little Free Library). Both books are about kids in America’s earlier years.

Patricia McLachlan, author of the wonderful Sarah, Plain and Tall, has written (in 1993) a heart-wrenching, heart-warming story, titled, simply, Baby. It tells the story of twelve year old Larkin, who finds a year-old baby in a basket in his front yard. She has a note attached to her clothing saying the baby’s name is Sophie, and her mother will return for her when she can. Sophie quickly loves her way into the heart of the family. Of course, the inevitable day arrives, and what happens to Sophie and the family’s reaction constitutes the rest of the awesomely written novel.

Just Juice is Karen Hesse’s successful attempt to describe what it was like to be a child during The Great Depression. The book’s heroine is very empathetic to others, especially her father, both of whom can’t read and hate schooling of any kind for that reason. Nine year old “Juice” is hounded by her school’s truant officer, and eventually not being able to read causes trouble for Juice and the entire family. It is an interesting page turner that will cause the reader to wonder and worry about the outcome enough to finish it in one sitting.