Happy Holidays!

Just a note to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I'm busy at work on LITTLE AMERICA. It will be a board book for the same series as my LITTLE CALIFORNIA book and will be published by Sleeping Bear Press in March 2012. I'm excited!


Authors' Fair 2011

The Greater San Diego Reading Association and the San Diego County Office of Education will host Authors' Fair on Friday, March 18, 2011. This event has a long, fabulous tradition. Here's a sneak peek at the details and if you need more info, just email me at hfjames@san.rr.com.

Authors’s Fair
Friday, March 18, 2011

Stacia Deutsch
Lincoln’s Legacy
Disney’s Dream
Bell’s Breakthrough
King’s Courage
Sacagawea’s Strength
Franklin’s Fame
Washington’s War
Betsy Ross’s Star

Key Words: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Time Travel, Fantasy, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Sacagawea, Inventors, Famous People in History

Edith Hope Fine
Water, Weed and Wait
Armando and the Blue Tarp School
Cryptomania: Teleporting into Greek and Latin with the Cryptokids
Under the Lemon Moon
Nitty-Gritty Grammar: A Not-So Serious Guide to Clear Communication
More Nitty-Gritty Grammar: Another Not-So Serious Guide to Clear Communication
Biographies of Gary Paulsen, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Barbara McClintock

Key Words: Gardening, Literacy, School Stories, Greek and Latin Root Words, Multicultural Education, Grammar, Biography, Expository Text, Research

Patty Hall
Johnny Gruelle, Creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy
Raggedy Ann and More: Johnny Gruelle’s Dolls and Merchandise
Raggedy Ann and Johnny Gruelle: A Bibliography of Published Works
The Real-For-Sure Story of Raggedy Ann
Raggedy Ann and Andy: Day at the Fair
Raggedy Ann and Andy: School Day Adventure
Raggedy Ann and Andy: Going to Grandma’s
Raggedy Ann and Andy: All That We Love

Patty also has a variety of CDs. Check out her website for details.

Key Words: Biography, Children’s Literature, Music, Research

Judith Josephson
Armando and the Blue Tarp School
Nitty-Gritty Grammar: A Not-So Serious Guide to Clear Communication
More Nitty-Gritty Grammar: Another Not-So Serious Guide to Clear Communication
Why Did Cherokees Move West? And Other Questions About the Trial of Tears
Biographies of Nelson Mandela, Louis Armstrong, Jesse Owens, Ludwig van Beethoven, Nikki Giovanni, Mother Jones

Key Words: Literacy, School Stories, Multicultural Education, Grammar, Expository Text, Biography, Research

Lori Mitchell
Different Just Like Me (author and illustrator)
Holly Bloom’s Garden (illustrator)
Lifes Building Blocks (series illustrator)

Key Words: Character Education, Perseverance, Diversity, Gardening, Accepting Differences, Vitilgo, Illustration

Note: Different Just Like Me is available in braille through the Los Angeles Braille Institute (323) 660-3880.

Joy Raab
Kate Sessions: The Mother of Balboa Park (author and illustrator)
Balboa Park: A to Z (illustrator)

Key Words: San Diego History, Biography, Balboa Park, Children’s Book Illustration, Women in the History of San Diego, Community

EVERYONE will be visiting with Shelley Moore Thomas in larger group (in addition to “their author,” and display time. Shelley is both an author and a storyteller.Her books include;

A Cold Winter's Good Night
Good Night, Good Knight
Get Well, Good Knight
Happy Birthday, Good Knight
Take Care, Good Knight
Somewhere Today




I'm looking forward to my next book, LITTLE CALIFORNIA! It will be published in March 2011 by Sleeping Bear Press. Here's the cover and the info. More news to come!

Published/Released: March 2011
ISBN 13: 9781585365388
ISBN 10: 1585365386
Product number: 255838
Shipping Weight: 0.73 lbs (0.33 kgs)

A list of 365 Best Children's Books Ever

Cindi Rose from the San Francisco examiner.com listed my book, S IS FOR S'MORES: A CAMPING ALPHABET, on her list of "365 Best Children's Books Ever." Wow. How fun is that?

Here's the link:


National S'mores Day!

August 10 is National S'mores Day!

I'm pleased Cindi Rose, San Francisco's Fiction Examiner, included my book in her National S'mores Day salute. Here is the article and a big thank you to Cindi Rose for the shout out.

If you missed National S'mores Day, remember that August 30 is National Marshmallow Toasting Day! Just a thought . . .

Camping and S'mores Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

by Cindi Rose, San Francisco Children's Fiction Examiner

Camping is an activity that thousands enjoy every time the weather warms up during the summer months. Camping in the backyard or at Yellowstone, neither reaches the fullest potential of enjoyment without s'mores. Just like it seems wrong to eat peanut butter without jelly, it seems wrong to go camping and not eat s'mores.

August 10 is National S'mores Day and what better way to recognize it than going camping and eating the tasty treat. Of course, whether you are able to get outside and pitch a tent or just set one up in your living room, don't forget to bring along some books for bedtime reading after the entire family has gorged on graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows.

There are s'mores recipes out there, believe it or not, but they are truly enjoyed best when made in the simplest of ways.


campfire that has burned down to coals
roasting sticks
graham crackers
chocolate bars


Break each graham cracker in half so that you now have two graham cracker squares.
Break chocolate bar into pieces along scored lines and place one piece on top of graham cracker.
Place a marshmallow on the roasting stick and hold over hot coals, rotating to ensure thorough heating until marshmallow is a golden brown.
Grasping roasted marshmallow between a graham/chocolate layer and another square graham cracker, remove roasting stick.


Camping Books

S Is for S'mores: A Camping Alphabet by Helen Foster James and Lita Judge An alphabet book? About s'mores and camping? It doesn't get any better than this!

Curious George Goes Camping by Margret Rey and H. A. Rey You know there will be some sort of mishap or mix up when George and the Man with the Yellow Hat go camping.

Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping by Peggy Parrish and Lynn Sweat Amelia is so confused. How is she supposed to pitch a tent and all the other things required to go camping?

Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O'Connell George and Kate Kiesler Eighteen poems express the excitement, peace, and craziness that make camping an enjoyable experience.

When I Go Camping With Grandma by Marion Dane Bauer and Allen Garns All the adventures of a camping trip shared between a grandmother and a first-time camper.

National S'mores Day!

August 10 is National S'mores Day!

Are you ready?

Join Me at the Yellow Book Road

Please join me at the Yellow Book Road children's book store on Wednesday, August 4 @ 11 AM. They'll be serving real s'mores and we'll have some fun time with my book, S IS FOR S'MORES: A CAMPING ALPHABET.

The Yellow Book Road
7200 Parkway Dr, Suite 118
La Mesa
(619) 463-4900

S'mores Recipe

Here's a basic s'mores recipe.


Graham Crackers
Chocolate Candy Bar (Thin Type)
Marshmallows (Big Type)


A Roasting Stick or Long Fork
A Campfire
An Adult to Help You

1. Get two graham crackers.

2. Put a thin chocolate candy bar on one of the graham crackers.

3. Put a marshmallow on a roasting stick and roast until it's a toasty, golden brown.

4. Slide the marshmallow off the stick and onto the candy bar. (Be careful! The marshmallow will be hot.)

5. Place the other graham cracker on top.

6. Each and say, "Yummy! I wan't s'more!"

From S IS FOR S'MORES: A CAMPING ALPHABET by Helen Foster James (Sleeping Bear Press)

Arizona Road Trip


I'm just back from my Arizona road trip with a visit to the Grand Canyon where I got to happily sign copies of my book, S is for S'mores: A Camping Alphabet.

After our stay in an historic cabin with a rim view of the Grand Canyon, we visited Winslow where we were "standing on the corner of Winslow, Arizona." We stayed at Mary Colter's La Posada Hotel. Fabulous . . . if you ever have the chance . . .

And, of course, there were numerous visits to Cracker Barrel restaurants. Yum.

New Children's Museum Resource

The National Children's Museum has a new publication, FAMILY LITERACY PROJECTS ON A BUDGET. I'm thrilled it includes S IS FOR S'MORES: A CAMPING ALPHABET as one of the alphabet titles. I was a founding friend of the Children's Museum of San Diego many years ago so it's a real treat for me to be included in this valuable resource.

The resource "provides educators and families with affordable resources and activities designed to foster literacy at school and in the home. Developed by National Children's Museum education experts, the book teaches school-age educators and family childcare providers to proactively address community literacy with PACT (parent and child together) teaching methods, creative hands-on activities, and inexpensive supplies. This publication offers resources, ideas, helpful tips, and suggestions to develop and present cost-effective literacy activities based on broad themes and familiar subject matter. Emergent reading skills such as identifying everyday objects, storytelling, vocabulary practice, letter recognition, and print and phonological awareness comprise a comprehensive approach to family literacy and are integrated into the book."

It was just released and is available on amazon.com.

REI and International Reading Association Visits in Chicago

Here I am in a tent at the REI in Chicago reading my book, S IS FOR S'MORES: A CAMPING ALPHABET, to some young campers. How fun is that?! Thanks to Claire for organizing this event.

I was in Chicago to attend the International Reading Association where I participated in a session with writers Larry Dane Brimner, Juanita Havill, and Joan Sandin. Our Topic: How Research Intensifies Reading: Authors and Illustrators Talk About the Importance of Research in Putting Flesh on the Bare Bones of Fact. And, it was my pleasure to sign books at the Sleeping Bear Press booth.

See you at ALA in San Diego on January 7-12, 2011. More details later!

Little California

I'm writing a new book:


to be published by Sleeping Bear Press.

It will be a part of a series, and LITTLE MICHIGAN is fresh off the press. It's adorable and I'm excited!

100 Days of School

I spoke with my editor on Friday and she told me her son was celebrating the 100th day of school AND Valentine's Day on Friday in his first grade class. (Did I mention how much I loved teaching first graders?)

This reminded me of this article I wrote:

Book Links: November 1999 (v.9 no.2)

Celebrating the One-Hundredth Day of School
by Dr. Helen Foster James

The world may be counting down to the year 2000, but another counting is taking place right now in primary grades throughout the country to commemorate an event that happens every year: the one hundredth day of school. The count begins on the first day of school, when number lines and tallies begin, and counting sticks are placed in the 1s container. Culminating celebration activities abound as cereal, leaves, buttons, beads, and other everyday items are counted, sorted and placed in groups of 10, displayed, or mounted.

Now is the perfect time to bring out your favorite counting books, assess your collection, and add a few new treats to your shelves in preparation for this year’s celebration. It provides a great opportunity for reading a few counting books aloud and making a classroom or library display for children to enjoy.

A few books have been written specifically for this kind of celebration. Angela Shelf Medearis told this story about the beginnings of her book The 100th Day of School:

I was visiting a school when a tribe of first graders walked into the assembly wearing sashes and hats decorated with all kinds of odd things glued on them. The teacher was wearing a vest with 100 pennies glued all over it. I thought that maybe it was somebody’s birthday and asked the teacher. She told me that it was the 100th day of school. She was a first year teacher and I thought that maybe she was particularly happy to have completed 100 days! But, then she told me all about celebrating the 100th day of school and the counting and calendar activities teachers did. I knew immediately that I wanted to write a story about the 100th day of school to give teachers a tool.

The book has become a great resource for students and teachers. The book’s illustrator, Joan Holub, created a Web site () to complement the book. The site presents more than “200 Celebration Ideas for the 100th Day of School” to assist teachers in activities and projects. Some of the ideas included are having a person who is 100 years old visit the class, collecting 100 postcards, and having the principal come to class as a “Zero Hero.”

When Josef Slate’s Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten was published, everywhere Ashley Wolff, the book’s illustrator, went, kindergarten teachers told her Miss Bindergarten should celebrate 100 days. Ashley was familiar with the one hundredth day of school concept from her own children’s school experiences and was eager to make an accurate, helpful picture book for the occasion. She recalls:

There was high drama associated with Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten that I still speak about whenever I show slides of it. I relied heavily on the creativity and the generosity of all the teachers I know to help me come up with ideas for the 100-days activities and ran all ideas by them for appropriateness and accuracy. When all the art was done, I, of course, checked it, my teacher and librarian friends looked it over, my editor and numerous art people and assistants checked it and it was sent to Hong Kong for printing.

I was showing slides I had taken before I had sent it off at a conference when a teacher raised her hand and bravely said “I see a mistake.” Well, she had spotted little cut-off milk cartons tacked to the calendar easel and filled with counting straws for each day of the year. I had reversed the place order and put the ones in the hundreds’ place and no one had spotted it until she did!

I thanked her, finished my show and went straight home to call my editor and tell her to literally stop the presses. This embarrasses me to this day but shows what utter dependence I have on the kindness of teachers!

Emily’s First One Hundred Days of School chronicles her school adventures, one day at a time, as she encounters and learns her numbers in a variety of ways. Rosemary Wells makes connections between numbers and the many ways they appear in our daily life, including games, poetry, and songs. The song “Tea for Two,” the card game Crazy Eights, the town Twenty-nine Palms, and piccalilli labels with 57 varieties of pickles are just a few of the ways that Wells has incorporated numbers, counting, and everyday life in this counting-book treasure.

Counting books about and many of those not purposefully written for the day also make great contributions to the festivities. Pam Muñoz Ryan, the author of One Hundred Is a Family, explains a little about the counting that takes place in her book:

The book counts one to ten and then to one hundred by tens. On each page, the number of people increases. There are twenty people on a spread, then thirty people on the next spread, then forty people, fifty, sixty, and up to one hundred. And are there exactly that many people on each page? Absolutely! A third grader even told me an easy way to count them. She said, “It’s not hard, you just take a ruler and move it slowly across the page and count each face you see.” How many people are in the book? 595!

How Many Ants? illustrator Joan Cottle writes in her illustrator’s note that she painted “more than 1,050 ants, 2,100 antennae, and 6,300 ant legs!” to complete the book. Its author, Larry Dane Brimner, explained the process of writing his emergent reader in this way:

I knew I wanted to write a book dealing with the concept of 100 and the idea of 100 ants seemed intriguing. The problem was to do it in a way that accommodated the repetitiveness of the emergent reader and respected the confines of telling a “story” in a limited number of words. The result was the classic “quest,” with a visual set up on the title page through an illustration of the scout ant and opening with a map. The quest, or treasure hunt, ensues and as the army of ants advances toward its goal it increases by tens—a concept I commonly witness in kindergartens throughout the country. The conclusion required some sort of surprise, since the reader knows from the very outset that the ants are after a cake, so I opted to have human characters beat them to it. And that leaves us with “One hundred ants too late!”

Upper-grade teachers and students needn’t feel left out of the younger children’s celebration. There are a host of picture books that are sophisticated and can be enjoyed by all ages, including Laura Rankin’s The Handmade Counting Book. This book will delight all readers as they view hands signing the numbers from 1 to 20 and then 25, 50, 75, and 100, in American Sign Language. Longtime favorites such as Eleanor Estes’ The Hundred Dresses, Sharon Bell Mathis’ The Hundred Penny Box, and Rachel Field’s Hitty, Her First Hundred Years may make a fine read-aloud choice for the celebration. In addition, Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers have collaborated on Rachel Field’s Hitty: Her First Hundred Years with New Adventures.

The books listed below reflect some of the best of those available that are dedicated to celebrations of the one hundredth day of school, and a small selection of counting books that adapt very well to use in such programs.

One Hundredth Day Books

Cuyler, Margery. 100th Day Worries. Illus. by Arthur Howard. 2000. 32p. Simon & Schuster, $16 (0-689-82979-5).
Preschool–Gr. 2. Jessica is a worrier. When her first-grade teacher asks each child to bring a collection of 100 things for the one hundredth day of school, Jessica worries about what to bring, until her family help out with contributions from their own collections. This charming story of a supportive family, depicted in quirky cartoon illustrations, incorporates lots of counting and addition.

Harris, Trudy. 100 Days of School. Illus. by Beth Griffis Johnson. 1999. 32p. Millbrook, $21.90 (0-7613-1271-4).
K–Gr. 2. Clever math problems focus on familiar objects and animals and are paired with witty asides and livened with bright, clear illustrations, making this picture book a great resource for ideas for celebrating the first 100 days of school.

Medearis, Angela Shelf. The 100th Day of School. Illus. by Joan Holub. 1996. 32p. Scholastic, paper, $3.99 (0-590-25944-X).
Preschool–Gr. 2. Celebrate the special day and “do everything the 100 way” with this easy reader showing children planting 100 seeds, learning 100 spelling words, and baking 100 cookies.

Slate, Joseph. Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten. Illus. by Ashley Wolff. 1998. 32p. Dutton, $15.99 (0-525-46000-4).
Preschool–Gr. 2. The creators of the popular Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten present this companion book. In this lively look at the one hundredth day celebration in kindergarten, each student must bring 100 of some wonderful thing.

Wells, Rosemary. Emily’s First One Hundred Days of School. 2000. 61p. Hyperion, $15.99 (0-7868-0507-2).
K–Gr. 2. Emily starts learning her numbers on her first day of school, and each day she learns a number in a different way.

Related Books

Appelt, Kathi. Bats on Parade. Illus. by Melissa Sweet. 1999. 32p. Morrow, $16 (0-688-15665-7).
K–Gr. 3. On a midsummer’s eve, the Marching Bat Band arrives and its members assemble, marching and playing their instruments, to create a rollicking parade of 385 bats. The first bats arrive in 2s, then 3 by 3, up to 10 by 10, creating multiplication problems as they march along. The counting story is told in rhyme, with lively illustrations, by the creators of Bat Jamboree (1996).

Arnosky, Jim. Mouse Numbers: A Very First Counting Book. 1999. 48p. Clarion, $4.95 (0-395-55006-8).
Preschool–Gr. 1. A mouse journeys from 0 to 10 and back again in this small-sized, wordless book where young readers enjoy spotting the numerals in the mouse’s surroundings.

Beaton, Clare. One Moose, Twenty Mice. 1999. 32p. Barefoot, $14.95 (1-902283-37-6).
Preschool–K. Can the reader find the ginger cat hidden among each of the felt-art stitched pages of this charming book? This simple book presents the numbers 1–20 with an interactive flair.

Brimner, Larry Dane. How Many Ants? Illus. by Joan Cottle. 1997. 32p. Children’s Press, $17 (0-516-20398-3); paper, $4.95 (0-516-26251-3).
Preschool–Gr. 2. Part of the Rookie Readers series for emergent readers, this story counts along as ants continue to increase by multiples as they march up the hill toward a tall, tall cake. One hundred ants march toward, over, by, and down to their goal.

Estes, Eleanor. The Hundred Dresses. Illus. by Louis Slobodkin. 1944. 81p. Harcourt, $16 (0-15-237374-8); paper, $6 (0-15-642350-2).
Gr. 3–6. This Newbery Honor Book tells the story of Wanda, who wears the same faded blue dress every day. She tells her schoolmates that she has 100 dresses at home of silk, velvet, and all colors.

Field, Rachel. Hitty, Her First Hundred Years. Illus. by Dorothy P. Lathrop. 1929. 224p. Simon & Schuster, $17 (0-02-734840-7); paper, $4.99 (0-440-40337-5).
Gr. 4–7. This classic story of Phoebe’s remarkable wooden doll and her exciting adventures both on land and at sea through the course of a century was the Newbery Medal recipient in 1930.

Hassett, John, and Ann Hassett. Cat up a Tree. 1998. 32p. Houghton, $15 (0-395-88415-2).
K–Gr. 3. Nana Quimby asks for help from the firehouse, police, pet shop, zoo, library, and even city hall, as cats and more cats are stuck in her tree. Will anyone help her rescue the stranded cats? The cats are depicted in 5s, from 5 all the way up to 40, making the counting part of the fun in this humorous tale.

Johnson, Stephen T. City by Numbers. 1998. 32p. Viking, $15.99 (0-670-87251-2).
Preschool–Gr. 5. Tour New York City as Johnson explores it in these realistic paintings featuring the numbers 1 through 21, all hidden within the city’s sights. Twenty-one was selected as the final number to salute the twenty-first century, in this companion to the 1996 Caldecott Honor Book Alphabet City.

Krudwig, Vickie Leigh. Cucumber Soup. Illus. by Craig McFarland Brown. 1998. 32p. Fulcrum, $16.95 (1-55591-380-6).
K–Gr. 2. One tiny flea, two praying mantises, and other insects in the garden work together to provide the strength needed to move the cucumber. Factual information about each insect is included, and a recipe for cucumber soup completes this offering. The book is also available in a Spanish version, Sopa de Pepino, translated by Antonio Madrigal.

Lesser, Carolyn. Spots: Counting Creatures from Sky to Sea. Illus. by Laura Regan. 1999. 32p. Harcourt, $16 (0-15-200666-4).
K–Gr. 3. Spotted animals from around the world introduce the numbers from 1 to 10. The animals are depicted in biomes, and notes at the end of this informative book provide background on each biome. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the language is delightful—salamanders are sloshing, wiggling, and lurking—in this nonfiction book that successfully combines facts with fun.

Marsh, T. J., and Jennifer Ward. Way Out in the Desert. Illus. by Kenneth J. Spengler. 1998. 32p. Rising Moon, $15.95 (0-87358-678-5).
K–Gr. 3. The Sonoran Desert community is presented in this variation of Olive A. Wadsworth’s poem “Over in the Meadow.” A glossary explains the desert terms, and music notations are provided.

Mathis, Sharon Bell. The Hundred Penny Box. Illus. by Leo and Diane Dillon. 1975. 47p. Viking, $16.99 (0-670-38787-8).
Gr. 2–5. An intergenerational story of a boy and his 100-year-old great-great-aunt. Aunt Dew’s most precious possession is her 100-penny box, which holds 1 penny for each year of her life.

McGrath, Barbara Barbieri. The Cheerios Counting Book. Illus. by Rob Bolster and Frank Mazzola, Jr. 1998. 32p. Scholastic, $10.95 (0-590-00321-6); paper, $4.95 (0-590-68357-8).
Preschool–Gr. 2. A one hundredth day celebration would not be complete without counting Cheerios or a similar cereal. This book uses Cheerios as the tool to count from 1 to 20 and then in groups of 10 to 100.

Merriam, Eve. Ten Rosy Roses. Illus. by Julia Gorton. 1999. 32p. HarperCollins, $14.95 (0-06-027887-0).
K–Gr. 2. Julia Gorton’s ‘50s-style illustrations complement Eve Merriam’s poem that counts down from 10 to 0 as children pick roses for their teacher.

Rankin, Laura. The Handmade Counting Book. 1998. 32p. Dutton, $15 (0-8037-2309-1).
All ages. This lovely book counts from 1 to 20 and then 25, 50, 75, and 100 in American Sign Language. The illustrations provide the hand motions, and display realistic, beautifully illustrated objects to be counted. This is a companion book to the popular The Handmade Alphabet (1991).

Ryan, Pam Muñoz. One Hundred Is a Family. Illus. by Benrei Huang. 1994. 32p. Hyperion, $14.49 (1-56282-673-5); paper, $4.95 (0-7868-1120-X).
Preschool–Gr. 2. Counting first from 1 to 10, then by 10s to 100, this book celebrates the many meanings of family. People connect in ever-widening circles, creating families of community, heritage, and friendship.

Sís, Peter. Fire Truck. 1998. 24p. Greenwillow, $14.95 (0-688-15878-1).
Preschool–K. This award–winning author-illustrator demonstrates his artistic range in this simple story. Matt, a little boy with a passion for fire trucks, wakes up to find he is a fire truck—with one driver, two ladders, three hoses, and other equipment to count. The metaphor extends visually through a gatefold illustration that opens into a three-page spread.

Tolstoy, Aleksei. The Gigantic Turnip. Illus. by Niamh Sharkey. 1999. 40p. Barefoot, $15.95 (1-902283-12-0).
K–Gr. 3. Tolstoy’s popular tale is told with six yellow canaries, five white geese, four speckled hens, three black cats, two pot-bellied pigs, and one brown cow. They all work together to help the old man and the old woman pull up their gigantic turnip. Quirky illustrations make this an excellent variation of this favorite tale.

Walton, Rick. So Many Bunnies: A Bedtime ABC and Counting Book. Illus. by Paige Blair. 1998. 32p. Lothrop, $16 (0-688-13656-7).
Preschool–Gr. 2. Old Mother Rabbit lived in a shoe with her 26 children. Each bunny child is named after a letter of the alphabet, and each is placed to sleep in a location that rhymes with his or her name: “18 was named Rae. She slept in the hay.” Rhymes, alphabet, counting, and bedtime bunnies add up to pleasure in this sweet concept book.

Wells, Rosemary. Rachel Field’s Hitty: Her First Hundred Years with New Adventures. Illus. by Susan Jeffers. 1999. 112p. Simon & Schuster, $19.95 (0-689-81716-9).
Gr. 3–7. Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers have collaborated on extending the classic story about a girl and her doll.

Helen Foster James teaches children’s literature at University of California, San Diego, and National University. She is the author of Across the Generations: Selecting and Using Intergenerational Resources (Highsmith, 1997).

Bullies and Bulling

Here's an article I wrote for Book Links, an American Library Association journal.

Bullies and Bullying

by Helen Foster James

"So here's what I can't figure out. If everybody who works at school is so smart, how come they can't get rid of the bullies? How come when it comes to bullies, kids are mostly on their own?" --Jake in Jake Drake: Bully Buster by Andrew Clements

I began to think about writing an article on bullies when a ninth-grade boy at Santana High School in Santee, California, started shooting and killing students last year. The school is in a quiet San Diego suburb and less than two miles from where I once worked. The geographic proximity of the event brought the tragic stories of similar school shootings closer to me personally.

Children's author Larry Dane Brimner writes, "Bullies come in two types: physical and verbal. The physical bully lashes out with fists and feet and seems to bulldoze a path through the school. Less obvious is the verbal bully, who does not use force and physical strength, but instead relies on cutting words and name-calling. Although difficult to detect, the verbal bully is every bit as hurtful as the one who would poke you in the stomach. From Littleton to Santee, the children who committed these violent acts, the so-called 'bullies,' were described as not fitting in. In every case they were objects of name calling and teasing. In other words, they were objects of bullying themselves, and eventually acted out against their tormentors. Schools should be safe and nurturing places for everyone. As adults in the school setting, we need to be as alert to the verbal bully as we are to the physical one." But what can we adults who work with children do? Is Jake Drake right--do we leave kids on their own when it comes to bullies? For those of us who love sharing books, what can we offer to students on this subject? Below is a sampling of books that may assist in a discussion of teasing and tormenting and help both children and adults in dealing with bullies and their victims.

Books for Younger Readers

Bottner, Barbara. Bootsie Barker Bites. Illus. by Peggy Rathmann. 1992. 32p. Putnam, $16.99 (0-399-22125-5); Puffin, paper, $5.99 (0-698-11427-2).
Preschool-Gr. 3. While her mother visits with Bootsie's mother, the narrator is subjected to Bootsie's unpleasant games, which frequently involve biting. When faced with the prospect of having Bootsie spend the night, the narrator turns the tables on Bootsie by inventing a new game to play.

Brimner, Larry Dane. Cory Coleman, Grade 2. Illus. by Karen Ritz. 1991. 80p. Holt, paper, $6.95 (0-8050-1844-1).
K-Gr. 3. Seven-year-old Cory's experiences with a bully end up ruining his birthday party. However, readers will feel some sympathy for the bully as they learn what motivates his actions.

Carlson, Nancy. How to Lose All Your Friends. 1994. 32p. Viking, $15.99 (0-670-84906-5); Puffin, paper, $5.99 (0-14-055862-4).
Preschool-Gr. 2. With humor, Carlson pokes fun at bullies and others who have a hard time attracting and keeping friends. This tongue-in-cheek book invites discussion about what characteristics true friends exhibit.

Caseley, Judith. Bully. 2001. 32p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.95 (0-688-17867-7).
Preschool-Gr. 3. When Mickey's best friend, Jack, turns into a bully, Mickey's mother and father offer advice on how to handle the situation. Mickey learns that Jack feels displaced by his new baby sister and is angry and hurt. Readers will feel sympathy for both the victim and the bully and may gain an understanding of the pain often felt by students who become bullies.

Clements, Andrew. Jake Drake: Bully Buster. Illus. by Amanda Harvey. 2001. 80p. Simon & Schuster, $14 (0-689-83917-0); Aladdin, paper, $3.99 (0-689-83880-8).
Gr. 2-5. Now a fourth-grader in this popular series, Jake seems to be a bully magnet, and new kid Link Baxter is a superbully. What happens when they're teamed up for a class project?

Estes, Eleanor. The Hundred Dresses. Illus. by Louis Slobodkin. 1944; reissued 1988. 80p. Harcourt, $16 (0-15-237374-8); paper, $6 (0-15-642350-2).
Gr. 3-5. Wanda Petronski is teased and taunted every day because she wears the same faded dress. But she says she has 100 beautiful dresses at home, made of silk, velvet, and in many different colors. She does--she's drawn every one of them. This Newbery Honor Book is an effective indictment of prejudice.

Henkes, Kevin. Chrysanthemum. 1991. 32p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.95 (0-688-09699-9); paper, $5.95 (0-688-14732-1).
Preschool-Gr. 3. Chrysanthemum, a mouse, starts kindergarten and is teased by her classmates because of her name. Her parents provide love and support and, with the help of her music teacher, Delphinium, flower names may become a new fad.

Keats, Ezra Jack. Goggles! 1969; reissued 1998. 32p. Viking, $15.99 (0-670-88062-0); Puffin, paper, $6.99 (0-14-056440-3).
Preschool-Gr. 3. One day, Peter and his friend Archie stumble on a treasure--a pair of motorcycle goggles. They then must use their wits to keep their prize away from the neighborhood bullies, in this Caldecott Honor Book.

McCain, Becky Ray. Nobody Knew What to Do: A Story about Bullying. Illus. by Todd Leonardo. 2001. 24p. Albert Whitman, $14.95 (0-8075-5711-0).
Gr. 1-4. When Ray is bullied the other children in his class are sympathetic but feel powerless to do anything. One child seeks help from his teacher "so we could all figure out what to do." McCain presents the topic in a straightforward, nonsentimental manner. A brief discussion about "Bully Prevention" for adults is included.

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. The King of the Playground. Illus. by Nola Langner Malone. 1994. 32p. Aladdin, paper, $6.99 (0-689-71802-0).
Preschool-Gr. 3. Each day Sammy threatens Kevin, proclaiming himself "King of the Playground." Kevin and his father discuss Sammy's actions, and Kevin gains the confidence to resolve the conflict. Alexis O'Neill's The Recess Queen (Scholastic, 2002) offers another take on playground bullying.

Parr, Todd. It's Okay to Be Different. 2001. 32p. Little, Brown/Megan Tingley, $14.95 (0-316-66603-3).
Preschool-Gr. 3. Through bright, childlike illustrations and text, Parr says that it's okay to be different from others, an important first step in getting children to accept each other.

Polacco, Patricia. Thank You, Mr. Falker. 1998. 40p. Philomel, $16.99 (0-399-23166-8).
K-Gr. 3. This touching book is based on the author's childhood, during which she endured being teased and called "dumb" because of a learning disability that left her unable to read until the fifth grade. Here a caring teacher learns her secret and provides her with the support she needs to learn to read.

Romain, Trevor. Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain. 1997. 112p. Free Spirit, paper, $9.95 (1-57542-023-6).
Gr. 3-5. This nonfiction book may assist in starting conversations about bullies and tormenters. Presented with humor and cartoonlike illustrations are practical coping strategies to avoid, confront, and understand bullies.

Books for Older Readers

Blume, Judy. Blubber. 1974; reissued 1982. 160p. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (0-02-711010-9); Yearling, paper, $4.99 (0-440-40707-9).
Gr. 4-6. Jill goes along with the rest of her fifth-grade class in tormenting Linda, an overweight classmate. But then she finds out what it's like to be on the other side when she is subjected to their taunts. Blume's book is an honest and realistic look at the cruelty in schools, and it doesn't present a tidy ending.

Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War. 1974; reissued 1986. 253p. Knopf, $19.95 (0-394-82805-4); Laurel-Leaf, paper, $5.50 (0-440-94459-7).
Gr. 8-12. After refusing to sell chocolates in the annual fundraising drive at a Catholic boys' high school, Jerry is abused and victimized by a group of bullying classmates and, even worse, a teacher, in this young adult classic.

Crutcher, Chris. Ironman. 1995. 192p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $16.95 (0-688-13503-X); Laurel-Leaf, paper, $4.99 (0-440-21971-X).
Gr. 8-12. When 17-year-old Bo attends an anger management group at school, he starts to examine his relationship with his father, who is bullying his own son. Strong characterization and flowing prose make this a believable story.

Hahn, Mary Downing.Stepping on the Cracks. 1991. 224p. Clarion, $16 (0-395-58507-4); Avon, paper, $4.95 (0-380-71900-2).
Gr. 5-8. Best friends Margaret and Elizabeth are feeling patriotic during World War II--and also very scared of the sixth-grade class bully, Gordy Smith. Then they learn that he is hiding his brother, a conscientious objector who has deserted the army. The girls are faced with many questions. Is Gordy's brother a coward? Should they turn him in? Hahn leaves the issues open in this thought-provoking novel.

Howe, James. The Misfits. 2001. 288p. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $16 (0-689-83955-3).
Gr. 5-8. In this engaging if somewhat message-heavy novel about name-calling, Bobby and his friends--Addie, the political radical, Joe, who is gay, and Skeezie, the troublemaker--are self-defined seventh-grade misfits who form the No-Name Party for the upcoming school election. Their slogan is "Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will break our spirits." The characters here are strong and satisfying, and the inclusion of a confident gay student is heartening.

Hinton, S. E. The Outsiders. 1967; reissued 1997. 192p. Viking, $16.99 (0-670-53257-6); Puffin, paper, $6.99 (0-14-038572-X).
Gr. 8-12. The Greasers, members of a tough lower-class neighborhood gang, have a running feud with the Socs, who hail from a more middle-class neighborhood. Ponyboy, a Greaser, tells his story, which demonstrates the desperate need to belong.

Johnston, Tony. Any Small Goodness: A Novel of the Barrio. 2001. 128p. Scholastic/Blue Sky, $15.95 (0-439-18936-5).
Gr. 4-7. In the barrio of East Los Angeles, 11-year-old Arturo encounters some gang members who "just enjoy sending fear-ripples over people." Spanish expressions and numerous local references contribute to the rich setting and characters.

Lord, Bette Bao. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Illus. by Marc Simont. 1984. 176p. HarperTrophy, paper, $4.95 (0-06-440175-8).
Gr. 3-6. In 1947, a 10-year-old Chinese girl named Shirley comes to Brooklyn. Shirley doesn't know English, so it's hard to make friends. But after she becomes friends with the toughest girl in the class, the other kids include her in their games and she discovers baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Mead, Alice. Junebug and the Reverend. 1998. 192p. Farrar, $16 (0-374-33965-1).
Gr. 4-6. In this sequel to Junebug (Farrar, 1995), Junebug's life is changing for the better; his family leaves the projects and makes a new start. But while his sister, Tasha, makes friends easily, Junebug becomes the target of bullying. Mead effectively portrays a resilient young boy in a difficult situation.

Naidoo, Beverley. The Other Side of Truth. 2001. 272p. HarperCollins, $16.95 (0-06-029628-3).
Gr. 6-10. In this contemporary adventure story, Sade's mother is assassinated in their driveway in Nigeria, a consequence of Sade's father's anti-government newspaper columns. Sade and her brother flee to London to live with an uncle, but upon their arrival, they find that he is missing. With no way to reach their father, they lie about their identities and are placed in a foster home, and soon Sade finds herself trying to overcome cruel bullying at her new school.

Philbrick, Rodman. Freak the Mighty. 1993. 176p. Scholastic/Blue Sky, $15.95 (0-590-47412-X); paper, $4.99 (0-590-47413-8).
Gr. 7-10. Max and Kevin, two picked-on boys, combine their strengths to eliminate their weaknesses and take on the world and its bullies. Told in retrospect by Max, this is a poignant story of friendship and acceptance with two extraordinary characters and well-paced action that will hold readers' attention.

Spinelli, Jerry. Crash. 1996. 162p. Knopf, $16 (0-679-87957-9); Yearling, paper, $5.50 (0-679-88550-1).
Gr. 5-7. Crash Coogan is a football player, completely confident, and the tormentor of Penn Webb, a friendly, small, pacifist Quaker. Crash's beloved grandfather comes to live with the family and suffers a disabling stroke, resulting in a change in Crash's lifestyle and in his thinking about values. Strong characters, a fast-paced plot, and lots of humor will draw kids to this novel.

Spinelli, Jerry. Wringer. 1997. 240p. HarperCollins, $15.95 (0-06-024913-7); HarperTrophy, paper, $5.95 (0-06-440578-8).
Gr. 4-7. Nine-year-old Palmer struggles with peer pressure as he faces his tenth birthday, when he will become a "wringer"--one who wrings the necks of pigeons wounded in the annual Pigeon Day Shoot. Palmer fears what will happen if his former best friend, who betrayed him to gain acceptance from a gang of bullies, finds out he has adopted a pet pigeon.

Strasser, Todd. Give a Boy a Gun. 2000. 160p. Simon & Schuster, $16 (0-689-81112-8); Simon Pulse, paper, $4.99 (0-689-84893-5).
Gr. 8-12. This chilling account of two boys who take classmates at their high school hostage is told through interview-style snippets from the victims and the perpetrators. Footnotes about gun statistics and school violence appear throughout the story, and a list of additional resources is included.

Wilson, Jacqueline. Bad Girls. Illus. by Nick Sharratt. 2001. 176p. Delacorte, $15.95 (0-385-72916-2); Yearling, paper, $4.50 (0-440-41806-2).
Gr. 3-6. Mandy Wilson hates looking 8 years old when she's actually 10. And because of this, she's constantly being teased by the beautiful school bully, Kim. Then Mandy forms a friendship with her new neighbor, a foster girl, and they both learn from each other.

Web Connections

The Association for Conflict Resolution at http://www.acresolution.org is an organization dedicated to enhancing the practice and public understanding of conflict resolution.
Jigsaw Classroom at http://www.jigsaw.org is a cooperative learning technique intended to reduce conflict among children. The Web site contains numerous links to topics on cooperative learning and school violence prevention.
The National Crime Prevention Council's list of "12 Things Teachers Can Do" to stop school violence may be found on its Web site at http://www.ncpc.org/2schvio2.htm. These guidelines provide educators with concrete strategies for preventing and coping with violence.
Professional Resources

Borda, Michelle. Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues That Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing. 2001. Jossey-Bass, $24.95 (0-7879-5357-1).
This resource provides educators with strategies to assist children in developing strong moral habits, controlling aggression, standing up to peers, and handling emotions. The companion Web site, http://www.moralintelligence.com, provides additional resources, including links to a variety of articles related to preventing school violence.
Crutcher, Chris. "The Outsiders." School Library Journal. August 2001.

Young adult author and former educator Crutcher writes a personal article about students who are teased, dismissed, and humiliated, and their need to be heard and included.

Helen Foster James is a former media specialist and coordinator of library media services for Santee School District. She currently teaches children's literature at San Diego State University.

Chicago — Here I come!

I'll be at the International Reading Association in Chicago in April. Hope to see you there. I'll be having a booksigning in the Sleeping Bear Press booth, time to be determined, but here's my session info.

ID#: 166066
Title: How Research Intensifies Reading: Authors and Illustrators Talk About the Importance of Research in Putting Flesh on the Bare Bones of Fact
Location/Room: McCormick Lakeside Center / E253d
Date/Time: 4/26/2010 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Hope to see you there! Swing on by and say a big "HI!"