The Wash Rag, Summer 2007

The Reading Tub Newsletter, Issue 16, Summer 2007

Summer’s here, school is out, and life shifts to lay-back-and-relax mode. There is more time to be together, travel, and (last but not least) kick back with a book we have been waiting months to read!

Speaking of books to read … If you haven’t checked out the May/June 2007 book bag, you might want to do that. It is probably the biggest collection of “favorites” we’ve ever had! I can’t remember a month having as tough a time selecting “a few” favorites.

Just in time for summer reading, we have also upgraded the search engine on the site. Now, you can search the whole Web site or just the book bag. When you search the book bag (title, author, keyword), you’re return is a list of books, sorted by age group, and the ability to print the book list and take it to your local library or bookstore. When you search the site, you still get the books, although there is no sort, but you can also get a return on other pages (like interviews and articles).

Before we jump into the Summer Author Showcase, I want to introduce you to Read Aloud Virginia (RAV). It is a non-profit educational literacy organization based in Richmond, VA. In 2008 RAV will celebrate it’s tenth year of helping children learn to read! The organization’s mission is to “promote healthy, successful children through reading aloud, and it is committed to encouraging parents, teachers, caregivers, and other adults to assume responsibility for children’s literacy by reading to them for 20 minutes a day.” When you visit the Read Aloud Virginia Website, you will find LOTS of information with tips for reading with kids, why reading aloud is important, and great books for reading with your kids. In October 2007, RAV is sponsoring a seminar (actually two) with Jim Trelease, whom many of you know as THE expert on reading with children. Click here to learn more about the seminar.

Now on with the show. Every quarter, I try to pull together an introduction that tells you a little bit about the individuals who comprise the Author Showcase. Most of the time, I discover a theme that I didn’t realize was there. This time, I don’t have to think that hard. I only need one word: passionate. In each of their interviews, our guests talk about how a personal passion became the catalyst for their work. Think I’m exaggerating? See for yourself. I’m betting that you will feel the energy as you read the interviews.

What could be better than books on tape? Listening to Andrea and Mark talk about great children’s books for reading out loud. Or, even better, chatting with the individuals who crafted the stories. In July 2006, Andrea & Mark Blevis created Just One More Book! It is a website where you can access and/or download podcasts of great children’s books. Their passion for sharing great books is evident in everything they do … and it leaps from the virtual pages of our interview, too. We will be truly surprised if you don’t get a great tip for bringing more reading time into your family’s day! Click here to meet Andrea and Mark.

Jennifer Bouani is an entrepreneur. She has been fascinated by business her entire life, and has put that energy into helping other kids that have that entrepreneurial spirit. Jennifer created the Future Business Leaders’ Series™ books. The first title in the series, Tyler & His Solve-a-matic Machine. Jennifer’s book, recently won an iParenting Media Award: The 2007 Excellent Products Call in Children’s Books. To read our interview with Jennifer, click here.

Laura Dunn-Dern is touching kids and parents around the world. To say that Lisa understands the media is a HUGE understatement. She is using traditional and emerging media to help children (and their families) build successful, happy relationships. You can see her on television, you can hear her on a monthly Internet radio show she co-hosts with her daughter, and you can read her blog. Lisa has just released Dr. Duncan, Dog on Duty, the second title in her semi-biographical picture book series; and she is producing and hosting a children’s television show for Ethiopian Television (eTV). Click here to catch up with Lisa Dunn-Dern

Who will we meet next? As lazy as the days of summer may be, Autumn will be here in a flash. We are happy to report that the upcoming Author Showcase is bursting at the seams. Although we normally limit the showcase to three featured guests, because we have some new releases for the upcoming holiday season, we thought it best to expand our offerings.

Sherri Chessen, author of The Gorp’s Gift and Gorp’s Dream: A Tale of Diversity, Tolerance and Love in Pumpernickel Park.

T. K. Garrison, author of The Collin Chronicles, Book 1: Magic, Bones, and Catacombs.

Robyn Gioia, author of America’s Real First Thanksgiving: St. Augustine, Florida, September 8, 1565.

Florrie Binford Kichler, publisher Patria Press, LLC and the Young Patriot Series. Titles in this series of historical fiction novels include stories about John Audubon, George Rogers Clark, Abner Doubleday; Fredrick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, John Hancock, William Henry Harrison, Mahalia Jackson, Juliette Low, Eddie Rickenbacker, James Whitcomb Riley, Lew Wallace, and Phillis Wheatley,

James Rives, author of Where are My Christmas Presents?

The Reading Tub, Inc. has two pieces of news worth splashing about.

First, we are thrilled to announce that thanks to the generous support of Exit Studio, the Arlington, Virginia-based multi-media publisher, we will be able to start moving forward with our One Letter at a Time project. Exit Studio has donated twenty copies of its award-nominated book En Esta Hermosa Isla (On This Beautiful Island). The book is a Finalist for 2006 Book of the Year by Foreword Magazine, and has received critical acclaim from Criticas (Publisher’s Weekly review publication for books in Spanish). We will pair the books with a Reading Guide (being developed) in our effort to create a positive reading experience for all families, not just those where English is spoken at home. If you’d like to learn more about this project, just follow this link.

Second, the Reading Tub® is honored to be selected as one of two recipients of funds raised through the China Dreamblogue Project. Reading Tub, Inc. Director Lonnie Hodge, who teaches in China, is collaborating with another teacher on this project. Here is what he has to say about the effort:

“Our dream is to travel in 2007 to every mainland province in China, beginning with Tibet. During this journey, we intend to chronicle the everyday lives of ordinary Chinese citizens. Our motivation for the trip came from a group of cancer survivors known as the League of Extraordinary Chinese Women, a group of five women who naturally and courageously combated their disease (advanced-stage HER2 breast cancer) with friendship, enthusiasm, meditation, and what medical care they could afford. Because of their courage, we decided that we should find a way to live out our dreams and help others to live out theirs. Our search led to The China Dreamblogue [http://www.blogofdreams.com].

“The Dreamblogue is a cyber-activism website that will have videocasts, podcasts, a China picture contest (to be turned into a coffee table book), a weekly Chinese horoscope, weekly Chinese recipes (also to be a book), and most importantly, the daily dreams of people from around the world. In all, the Dreamblogue has been created to be a tool of understanding and a place where dreams can be spoken into reality.”

Please go to the Dreamblogue site for more details and to see how you can help. No financial commitment is expected only your visits to the site. Visitors will have a chance to win one of two donated trips to China for either blogging their dream or just commenting.

As I mentioned above, we are happy to have the “problem” of trying to select just a few titles from among the large collection of books we are reading. The list below identifies some of the some of the books that arrived this past quarter and which look particularly interesting at first glance.

Dangerous Places by Caroline Hardy (recommended ages: 3 to 6). This is a lift-the-flap book designed to help children learn to make safe choices. (Mercury Books, 2006)

Monsters and Water Beasts by Karen Hokanson Miller (recommended ages: 9 to 12). This is a collection of non-fiction stories about mythical creatures and monsters. (Henry Holt & Company, 2007)

Oma finds a Miracle by Patrick Mader (recommended ages: 4 to 8). In this story, the children are searching for a cow born out in the snow. This is the second title in this picture-book series about life on a farm in the Midwest. (Beaver’s Pond Press, 2007)

The Old Man and the C by Carole Jean Tremblay (recommended ages: 6 to 10). This picture book is a fish-tale with lessons for kids. (Pineapple Press, 2006)

Tales of Tokoloshe by Pieter Scholtz (recommended ages: 8 to 12). This is a short-story collection, with tales drawn from southern African folklore. (Struik Publishers, 2004)

Tell Me a Story: Timeless Folktales from Around the World (recommended ages: 5 to 12). This is an E-Book collection of European, Japanese and Indian folktales from the newspaper column “Tell me a Story.” These stories, read by award-winning actors, range from just under five minutes to thirteen minutes in length. (Universal Press Syndicate, 2006)

Welcome Home, Forever Child by Christine Mitchell (recommended age: 4 to 9). This is a book celebrating families for children adopted as toddlers, preschoolers, or elementary-aged children. (AuthorHouse, 2006)

Thankfully, the pace of new books has slowed a little bit for summer. It will help us get a handle on the stacks of books that have been waiting patiently to be shared with a family. I am happy to report that we have just under 200 books to read and more volunteers to help us. My goal is to be down to 100 books by the end of the summer.

Happy reading!

The Bookbag, Books for Ages 4 to 8, May/June 2007

Summer is here, with plenty of time for laid-back, fun reading. It was quite a challenge to select just a “few” of the books we love for this bookbag. Since it’s summer, we tended to pull favorites that have a summer-time feel to them.

If you want to see more recent reviews, just type in “May 2007″ or “June 2007″ when you search the Reading Tub Website. Be sure to keep reading, the Just One More Book! Podcast is here, too.

Remember, the books are listed in alphabetical order by title. There is no ranking.

Dad’s Bald Head by Paul Many. Father’s Day may be over, but this one is a perfect read for any time. Pete loves his Dad, but Dad doesn’t like the “scraggly” hair on the side of his head. One morning Dad decides to shave it all off. Then Pete doesn’t know what to think: is this guy still his dad? This is a light-hearted look that offers kids a way to understand “big” changes. (Walker Publishing Company, 2007)

Dr. Duncan Dog on Duty by Lisa Dunn-Dern. Everybody in this family has a job…even the pets! Introduce your children to community service as they go with Dr. Duncan visit children at the hospital. (Visikid Books, 2007)

The First Well & Other Read-Along Stories by Bookbox. This collection of five fables is an e-Book on DVD. Each of the stories offers a magical journey and a lesson in life and wisdom. We love the fact that you can pick from among six languages for the stories. (www.bookbox.com, 2005)

Flying Solo by Kristi Stephas. This summer, Ellie (6) is flying from Chicago to California to spend a week with her aunt. She has never been on a plane by herself before, so this is a little unnerving. “This story gives you everything you want to prepare a child for an airplane trip.” (Toy Truck Publishing, 2005)

I Wish I had Freckles Like Abby and I Wish I had Glasses Like Rosa by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook. This pair of bilingual books is a charming look at friendship and how children view themselves in others’ eyes. (Raven Tree Press, LLC, 2007)

There’s a Season for All by Sammy Shu. Looking for a creative, folklore-sh way to explain the seasons? Then the fairies in this book will help. This highly imaginative story offers a “history” of how the seasons came to be, as well as lessons in sibling rivalry, friendship, and cooperation. (Raynestorme Books, 2005)

To Know the Sea by Frances Gilbert. Princess Isola is feeling, well, isolated. She lives in a mountain kingdom, but is intrigued by the sea. When the queen issues a proclamation (with a reward, of course) for the first person to bring the sea to the kingdom, the princess learns a valuable lesson. (Greene Bark Books, 2000)

Trosclair and the Alligator by Peter Huggins. Trosclair likes to explore the Louisanna Bayou on his pirogue (boat). He’s sure those storis about Gargantua, the alligator, were more than a little exaggerated. Then he met Gargantua face to face! This is a classic fable set in the bayou … with an interesting twist. (Star Bright Books, 2006)

Usborne Book of Lullabies by Fiona Watt, editor. This boardbook presents seven poems perfect for bedtime. It is also accompanied by a CD that plays the tunes of these and five other ready-for-dreamland pieces. (Usborne Publishing Ltd, 2005)

Vegetable Dreams (Huerto Sonado) by Dawn Jeffers. When Mr. Martinez learns that Erin wants to create her own garden (and her parents tell her it is too much work), he offers to help her. Together, they create a special bond as they plant and then enjoy the benefits of spending time in the garden. (Raven Tree Press, 2006)

What’s With This Room by Tom Lichtenheld. Messy rooms and kids just seem to go together. In this humorous look at what’s “really” going on, both parents and kids can get a new perspective on this age-old problem. (Little, Brown and Company, 2005)

Just One More Book! Click the title to listen to the Podcast.

Ages 0 to 4: Fun, Times Eleven: The Eensy-Weensy Spider by Mary Ann Hoberman. “When it comes to generously illustrated sing-along staples, more is more. Boasting eleven extra verses of the classic toddler tune and thirty-two pages of captivating illustrations, this book has always left our girls eager for its next reading.” (Little, Brown and Company, 2004)

Ages 4 to 8: Fur and Feathers: Saving Samantha – A True Story by Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen. Warm, realistic illustrations and generous, unimposing text vividly recreate the thrill of befriending an injured fox pup and the bittersweet satisfaction of her eventual return to the wild. I don’t think our two daughters could be more excited about this story if they had lived it themselves! (Sleeping Bear Press, 2004)

The Bookbag, Books for ages 8 to 12, May/June 2007

Readers in this target audience are pretty mercurial. But even the toughest critics found books they love! Here is the current list of recently-read favorites.

Blood on the Wind; The Memoirs of Flying Horse Mollie, a Yampa Ute by Lucile Bogue. This is an historical fiction account of the Meeker Massacre of 1879 on lands in Northwest Colorado. Flying Horse Mollie, a young teen and Yampa Ute tells the story. This is what our Be the Star You Are! Teen Reviewer wrote: “The reader can really get caught up in Mollie’s story and hope her Ute way of life does not disappear. Mollie, shows herself to be a heroine in the story as she perseveres and does not let her spirit get defeated.” (Western Reflections Publishing Company, 2001)

The Fairy Chronicles: Dragonfly and the Web of Dreams by J. H. Sweet. Jennifer Summerset and her friends (all with fairy powers) were going to meet at Jennifer’s house. Finally, their mentors were going to teach them some fairy magic. What they thought would be a time to “practice” quickly became a real-life adventure. Someone was causing everyone to have bad dreams, and only fairies could solve the problem. (Jabberwocky, 2007)

The Portly Princess of Thynneland by Kathleen Marie Marsh. In Thynneland, everyone, including the royal family, must maintain their weight and fitness levels. Failure to do so, results in expulsion from the Kingdom. When Princess Volumina is banished, she discovered that her personal situation was only one of the situations she would face. Here’s what our teen reviewer thought: “This book offers many wise life lessons for readers both young and old. The story presents common present-day dilemmas families face and reveals healthy solutions for the characters and their kingdom. At the end of this book, you get a good, warm, fuzzy feeling.” (Goblin Fern Press, 2004)

Red Thunder: Secrets, Scoundrels and Spies at Yorktown by John P Hunter. Nate Chandler, a 14-year-old boy, lived on the family farm near the York River. In May 1781 the British launched a major campaign at Yorktown to end the six-year War for Independence. In the attack, Nate and his parents were left for dead, their cattle taken, and the farm burned to the ground. When Nate volunteers to help, he is paired with James, a former slave. They become an espionage team that provided valuable intelligence to General George Washington. (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2007)

Tyler and his Solve-a-Matic Machine by Jennifer Bouani. Tyler Sogno, an orphan, wants to be a sea captain. He loved the water, just as his Dad had. To become a sea captain, though, would require hard work … and means to get his independence. One evening, while he was daydreaming about a “better” way to do his homework, Tyler was presented with an opportunity to make his dreams come true. (Bouje Publishing, 2006)

Just One More Book! Click on the Title to listen to the podcast.

Blinking Blunking Great Laughs: Little Wolf’s Book of Badness
(series) by Ian Whybrow. Full of snappy wit and hilariously scrawled illustrations, these clever and sweetly cheeky adventures crack us up not only as we read them but again and again as we toss about their hilarious expressions in our daily life. (Carolrhoda Books, 2001)