Here it is Sunday morning 12/4/22, and once again I failed to post my Saturday Mornings for Kids recommendation. Here it is, late.

Recommended by a fourteen-year-old friend and prospective bookstore helper, The Sisters Grimm series promises to be something I want to look into.

Appropriately dark and GRIMM, the cover of the first book is scary enough to be a cover for the original Grimm brothers’ masterpiece. Judging from the copy my young friend donated to the bookstore, the Sisters Grimm are fairy-tale detectives, solving cases which are set in some of the Brothers’ most popular fairy-tales. The back cover’s blurb is as follows:

“Orphaned sisters Sabrina and Daphne are sent to live with their newly discovered grandmother, Relda Grimm, in the strange town of Ferryport Landing. The girls soon learn a family secret: that they are descendants of the famous Brothers Grimm, whose book of fairy-tales is actually a history book./ When a terrorizing giant goes on a rampage through the town, it’s up to the Sisters Grimm to stop him and solve the mystery of who set the giant loose in the first place.”

Mixing modern with traditional, the author promises a read of suspense, adventure, and hopefully, a bit of humor. Thumbing through, I would invite good readers from 5th or 6th grade and up to join me in investigating this series.





Cybils Logo 2018 - MasterI have been so busy reading middle school books as a first round reader for the Cybils awards that I have not have time to share them with you. To remedy this, I offer three excellent reads I came across last week:

Pie in the Shy by Remi Lai — I am a softie for a good immigrant story, but when it is a story about an immigrant kid, I melt into a little puddle. Jinqwen, whose hobby in his homeland is baking, finds that it helps him cope when he comes to America and struggles with English and making friends in general. Pie is a humorous middle school novel that not only amuses, but touches the heartstrings.

And talk about tugging at heartstrings, Right as Rain by Lindsey Stoddard does just that. Rain, a young track star, who recently lost her brother in a tragic accident, deals with a mother who stays compulsively busy in order to not deal with things and a father who is clinically depressed. Her family is disintegrating, and there’s little she can do–but run, and run, and run. The one year anniversary of her brother’s death brings the big track meet and a ray of hope for a new beginning.

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly is a beautiful story of Iris, a middle school deaf girl whose empathy for a whale whose song is “different” from all others leads her to take daring chances and reach out to help. This enables her to make some hard decisions that will change her life forever.

I have been so blessed by this “project.” In my twenty-odd years of teaching 5th through 8th graders, I never felt closer  to this unique demographic than I do after reading these books/novels I have read so far. Although I am totally fulfilled by my teaching assignment at the university, these books make me want to “return to my first love”–middle school


SATURDAY MORNING FOR KIDS (On Sunday), Grownup edition

A Celebration of Beatrix Potter looks like a children’s picture book, but indeed, appearances can be deceiving. The Stewards of Fredrick Warne & Co. have collected more than 30 of today’s favorite children’s book illustrators’ personal celebrations of Beatrix Potter, both in words and drawings to help observe the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth. Acknowledging that “…Beatrix Potter changed the world of children’s literature forever,” and “…has influenced generations of authors and illustrators, intertwining her legacy into their own,” the editors have completed an amazing compilation of full-page images.

Reminiscences of reading and “looking at” Potter’s tales as a child from such notable illustrators as Melissa Sweet, Peter H. Reynolds, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Brian Pinkney, Brenden Wenzel, E. B. Lewis, Betsy Lewin, Chris Haughton, David Ezra Stein, John Agee, Kelly Murphey, and Esther Krosoczka, which deal with The Tale of Peter Rabbit (published in 1902) alone, persuade the reader to recognize that many of our illustrators’ first desires to “draw” were formed by perusing the tiny details of Potter’s woodland creatures.  In this section, the masculine “take” on the evil farmer, Mr. Mc Gregor was enough to crack a chuckle from even the most serious-about-illustrations-and-art readers.

Since I have never formally taught below sixth grade, many of the names above were not as familiar to me as they are to those of you who follow and enjoy children’s books in a professional capacity; however, even I recognized the kinds of drawings and names like Tomie Paola and others, whose picture books appeal to children and grownups alike.

This is a fabulous read for one who likes “interesting details” about interesting artists and how they got their start, specifically the influence Beatrix Potter had on their art.