S'mores and BOOK LINKS

S IS FOR S’MORES A CAMPING ALPHABET is mentioned in the July issue of BOOK LINKS! It’s in an article entitled “S’mores and More: Books about Camping Out.” The title, I heard, was inspired by my book. You’ll find the article on pages 34-36, and it’s by Angela Leeper, an educational consultant, writer and longtime camper from Wake Forest, North Carolina. I’m pleased to have BOOK LINKS mention S'MORES.

You can find a link to BOOK LINKS at the American Library Association’s website. Here’s the address:


At the website, you’ll be able to explore past articles in the newest issue as well as past issues. Right now you can download the entire November issue which features Lita Judge’s work on the cover. Lita is the illustrator of S IS FOR S’MORES A CAMPING ALPHABET.

America At War

AMERICA AT WAR is an anthology of poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn. This collection includes more than fifty poems and is divided into eight chronological sections from the American Revolution to the Iraq War.

Here are the details:

Reading level: For all (including adults!)
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry, 2008
ISBN-10: 1416918329
ISBN-13: 978-1416918325

The back cover features a concrete poem, “Wish For Peace,” by California’s own favorite poet, Joan Bransfield Graham. (www.joangraham.com)

This anthology belongs in every school and public library shelf and every teacher who teaches history and/or peace and conflict issues will find this a valuable resource.

And, my wish for you today is “peace.” Have a lovely, calm day.

Camping Days

I’m the author of a camping book so I’m always on the lookout for other interesting camper books. AMELIA’S ITCHY-TWITCHY, LOVEY-DOVEY SUMMER AT CAMP MOSQUITO by Marissa Moss (and the camper in Cabin 5, Amelia!) makes my list.

Marissa is a California author and illustrator. Her website, www.marissamoss.com, has great teacher advice for writing notebooks. I especially liked this tip, “The first rule is: No one’s the boss of your notebook except you. You can do whatever you want. The second rule is: Since you can do whatever you want, have fun!” (Hmmm . . . sounds like good blog advice, too.)

Here are the details:

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 80 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2008
ISBN-10: 1416947221
ISBN-13: 978-1416947226

Here’s a quote from the front cover:

“The best part of summer—in camp or out—is STILL not doing nothing!"

I’m all about that!

Literacy Resources

I just learned of THE 2008 KIDS AND FAMILY READING REPORT™ conducted by Yankelovich and Scholastic. You can get a downloadable copy of the report at:


Here’s some introductory information Scholastic has on their website:

“A new study . . . finds that 75% of kids age 5-17 agree with the statement, “No matter what I can do online, I’ll always want to read books printed on paper,” and 62% of kids surveyed say they prefer to read books printed on paper rather than on a computer or a handheld device. THE KIDS & FAMILY READING REPORT ™, a national survey of children age 5-17 and their parents, also found that kids who go online to extend the reading experience—by going to book or author websites or connecting with other readers—are more likely to read books for fun every day.

The 2008 KIDS & FAMILY READING REPORT, a follow up to a similar 2006 study, both of which were conducted by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, and TSC, a division of Yankelovich, a leader in consumer trends research, again found that the time kids spend reading books for fun declines after age eight and continues to drop off through the teen years. ”

Here's another resource: PUBLISHERS WEEKLY invites you to sign up for their free newsletters by going to www.publishersweekly.com/subscribe.asp?screen=pi10.

Paddle to the Amazon

I usually like to focus on children’s books, but today I decided I needed to mention a nonfiction book for adults I just finished—PADDLE TO THE AMAZON: THE ULTIMATE 12,000 MILE CANOE ADVENTURE by Don Starkell. I stumbled upon the book on a take-a-book-leave-a-book shelf. I hadn’t heard about it, but I love reading travel adventure stories, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I was fascinated. In 1980, Don Starkell and his two sons set for a grand canoe adventure. They started their trip in Winnipeg and paddled their way to Brazil. One son was discouraged and left the voyage in Mexico, but Don and his son, Dana, traveled over 12,000 miles in their 21-foot canoe. They were confronted with every imaginable obstacle from lack of food to crazy folks with guns, but they also encountered kind and generous people who helped them survive.

Don kept a comprehensive diary throughout the two year trip and this book was developed from those notes. It’s an amazing and fascinating journey. I love to travel and I love reading books about travel, but I typically like to read books about buying old villas and living a charmed life on a sweeping hillside. This wasn’t that, but what a compelling read.

Robin Cruise's Excellent New Adventure

Having lunch with friends is one of my favorite activities, and when they are writer friends . . . well, that’s just a real treat. Yesterday I met with five writer friends including the talented (and kind) Robin Cruise. ONLY YOU is one of her picture books and I had the joy of taking Robin to Lilac School when the book was fresh off the press.

Here’s a little about ONLY YOU:

* A Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection

* Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition, October 2007; New York, New York

* Highly Commended, Charlotte Zolotow Award

* A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book

* ”This parent-child love poem reaches out and cuddles its dual audience close. The simple verse celebrates the small, everyday ways small children endear themselves to their parents . . . As a statement of childhood’s most unalienable right, it doesn’t come any clearer." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

You can learn more about Robin and her work at www.robincruise.com.

Robin is moving to Washington. We’ll miss her, but look forward to hearing about her new work in the future!

Kathleen Krull and Hillary Rodham Clinton

I’m so excited! I just got to see/read the proofs for Kathleen Krull’s upcoming biography, HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: DREAMS TAKING FLIGHT, illustrated by Amy June Bates. It’s a smart picture book biography that features 16 spotlights of Hillary’s life using flight as a metaphor. Inspirational words float across the words complementing each vignette. The reader roots for Hillary’s success while applauding her persistent and caring spirit.

I especially liked how the Author’s Note is organized. (I do like my Author’s Notes!) It is segmented and referenced by page number so readers can learn more about Hillary’s life or do research. By placing this information in the backmatter, the story itself will make an excellent classroom read aloud that will prompt discussion of character traits.

Here are the details:

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pub Date: September 2, 2008
ISBN-10: 1416971297
ISBN-13: 978-1416971290

I’m a long-time fan of Kathleen’s biographies, but this one just knocked my socks off. Enough said for now. but I reserve the right to gush more about this biography in the future.

National Parenting Publications Awards

I’m happy to report that I will be judging the Book Category of the National Parenting Publications Awards again this year. You can view our past award winners at www.parenthood.com/nappa. There’s a wealth of information at the site including top DVDs, toys, storytelling, and music.

If you are interested in submitting a book for review, please contact Dana at NAPPA@Parenthood.com or call 617-522-1515 x23.

LIBRARY MOUSE was a winner last year. I’m looking forward to a lot of reading and can’t wait to see which books will receive top honors this year!


Greetings! We just got home from Switzerland last night. We went through Untours (www.untours.com). It’s a great company—We used them for our Provence trip also. We had a lovely apartment in Gunten (by Interlaken) with a balcony overlooking Lake Thun. Our apartment was on the top floor of this Swiss chalet. It was the same place we stayed at seven years ago and we loved every minute of our time.

Switzerland reminds me of the book, HEIDI, and it’s been way too long since I read it. Time to settle in to writing and catching up on my reading. I’m sure tomorrow’s mail will bring plenty to read.