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Earth Day Every Day!

April 22nd, 2015 (07:00 am)

Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Topper score music

Celebrate Earth Day every day! Here are just a few ways you can help protect this planet of ours and inspire others to do the same.

Every single time you go to throw something away, take a moment to consider how you could recycle, reduce, or reuse that item. Don't just toss things in the trash.

Be creative! Use that empty oatmeal canister to store fruit or jewelry or socks - but not all at the same time - or make it into a drum!

Recycle everything that you can - newspapers, plastic bottles, tin cans, everything. Check containers to see if they can be recycled and either take them to a local recycling center or, if you have separate trash bins for recyclables and greenery, use them properly and encourage your family and neighbors to do the same.

Bring your own canvas bags to the grocery store and other shops.

Buy locally grown and/or organic foods. After a meal, give those uneaten bread crusts to the creatures outside. I know, I know, you don't want to attract raccoons and such into your yard, but maybe you can feed the ducks at the pond or offer those crumbs to the critters at a local park. If possible, make a compost pile. I admittedly don't have a compost pile, but I buy day-old bread and feed wild squirrels almost every week when it's good weather. (The folks at Seven-Imp know all about this!)

Eat at home and you'll save time and money, spend more time with your loved ones, and consume healthier foods. If you have to eat at work or school, pack your food in a reusable lunchbag or lunchbox, and include reusable utensils, plates, and containers.

Get a reusable beverage container and keep it with you. Summer's coming, so it's time to hydrate even more than usual! (Those of you that know me well won't be surprised to learn that one of my reusable bottles, that which goes to and from theatres, auditions, and rehearsals with me, is decorated with Tinker Bell.)

When making purchases of any kind, look for items made of recycled and/or organic materials. Try not to buy things with excessive, wasteful packaging. Consider what it is that you're getting. Do you really need things to be individually wrapped?

Before you print something out, think about whether or not you really need to print it. If not, DON'T. Save that ink and that paper. When you do have to use paper, always use both sides, then recycle it when you're done with it.

Walk whenever you can, wherever you can.

Use public transportation whenever you can.

Carpool to and from work, school, and other places.

Exercise daily. Make an effort to MOVE MORE. Take a walk at lunch and/or before or after work, especially if you have a job where you sit all day. WALK. WALK. WALK. Also run, or run-walk, or hike. Ride a bicycle, a tricycle, a skateboard, a scooter - whatever works for you and runs solely on the power of your own two feet (and arms, and heart, and lungs...) Make it part of your daily exercise routine. If you include friends or family members, you're more likely to meet your goals because you will be challenging and encouraging each other. Whether you are with friends or by yourself, make sure that you have the proper safety equipment (helmet, kneepads, armpads, etc) - plus that trusty reusable drinking container filled with fresh, cool water, and good-for-you snacks, like dried fruit or granola bars! If you're going on a big hike or biking an offbeat trail or something like that by yourself, please, please make sure someone knows where you are, because I get really worried when I picture you doing that alone.

After you read this post, GET UP AND WALK AROUND YOUR HOUSE. (I mean walking around inside, but if you actually go outside and walk around the perimeter of your house, give yourself kudos, and give me photographic evidence, videotaped proof, or something.)

For those of you unfamiliar with Earth Day, I'll give you a brief history: The United Nations celebrates Earth Day annually on the March equinox, inspired by activist John McConnell in 1969. In 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day as an environmental "teach-in," and it is celebrated annually on April 22nd in the United States and other countries.

Again I say: Earth Day every day!

Related Posts:

The Julie books by Megan McDonald - I highly recommend that you read Julie and the Eagles in your classroom or library and at home with your family!

Readergirlz: Community Challenge: Go Eco - From June 2007

Little Willow [userpic]

Booklist: Sleuths and Spies

December 1st, 2014 (10:27 am)

Current Mood: hungry
Current Song: Table for Glasses by Jimmy Eat World

One of my regular teen customers requested a booklist of super sleuths and sassy spies. I could have listed many, many spy-tastic books, but I decided to create a shorter list which focused on my absolute favorites and those which I most highly recommend as well as some recent releases.

Super Sleuths: Classic Realistic Mystery Series - rated G - for ages 7 and up

Nancy Drew - The original series and spinoffs were written by various authors and are published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene. I read the original series. I also liked The Nancy Drew Casefiles and The Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys crossovers. I have not read The Nancy Drew Notebooks, and I'm not a big fan of the graphic novels. I didn't see the first TV series, but I watched the second. I was entertained by the original movies starring Bonita Granville, and I really liked the movie starring Maggie Lawson as a college-aged Nancy. I have yet to see the feature film starring Emma Roberts. For more, please check out my please check out my article about Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys.

The Hardy Boys - The original series and spinoffs were written by various authors and are published under the collective pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon. I read the original book series as well as the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys crossovers. I watched the TV show in the 1990s. See above article link for more.

Encyclopedia Brown - Written by Donald J. Sobol. I read the books and, later, watched the short-lived TV show.

The Bobbsey Twins - This series was written by various authors under the collective pseudonym Laura Lee Hope.

The Boxcar Children - The first nineteen books were written by Gertrude Chandler Warner; the 100+ additional titles were written by various authors.

Cherry Ames - The first eight books were written by Helen Wells; Julie Tatham wrote the books after World War II.

Trixie Belden - The first six books were written by Julie Campbell Tatham, while the remaining 32 books were written by various ghostwriters under the name Kathryn Kenny

Meg - 6 books by Holly Beth Walker, a pseudonym for Gladys Baker Bond.

Gumshoe Series: Kid Detectives

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (and sometimes Mitchell Sharmat) and illustrations by Martha Weston
- For ages 5 and up. Easy to read, easy to follow. Great for kids making the transition from picture books to chapter books.

Chet Gecko by Bruce Hale
- For ages 7 and up. This fourth grade gecko wears a trenchcoat and a fedora. Most of his detective work takes place at his elementary school, which is populated by various species. The titles spoof those of classic mysteries. For example, The Postman Always Rings Twice becomes The Possum Always Rings Twice. This series is numbered but can be read out of order without causing any confusion.

The Baby-Sitters Club Mysteries by Ann M. Martin (and ghostwriters)
- For ages 8 and up. The baby-sitters solve crimes in their spare time. I love the BSC.

Judy Moody, Girl Detective by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter Reynolds
- For ages 7 and up. In the ninth volume in the Judy Moody series, spunky young Judy discovers Nancy Drew books and decides to follow in her new idol's footsteps. It's so nice to read a book about a character who loves to read!

Live and Let Spy

Spy Mice by Heather Vogel Frederick, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
- For ages 7 and up. Two kids become friends with mice that are spies. They are also skateboarders and gymnasts! (The gymnast mice tumble and flip on human-sized keyboards in order to type messages.) Some evil rats try to thwart the mice, but with the help of their human friends and some friendly pigeons, the mice always save the day. NIMH fans will dig these books.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
- For ages 8 and up. No spy list is complete without Harriet M. Welsh! To this day, I associate composition books with Harriet. Fitzhugh's next two books, The Long Secret and Sport, are also set in Harriet's world but aren't as spy-oriented. I have yet to read the Harriet books written by Helen Ericson.

Maggie Brooklyn mysteries by Leslie Margolis
- For ages 8 and up. Maggie: student by day, dog-walker (and mystery solver) after school. Very sweet, upbeat stories, and an ode to the city. These books would make a perfect family film, be it a feature or a Disney Channel Original Movie - and I'd be happy to adapt the screenplay (and cast it!) if Leslie needs someone to do so! :) The series so far:
-- A Girl's Best Friend
-- Vanishing Acts

The Gallagher Girls books by Ally Carter
- For ages 10 and up. Gallagher Academy is a private school for girls who are educated and trained to become spies. These stories are cute, clean, and funny. The series contains six books:
-- I'd Tell You I'd Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You
-- Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy
-- Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover
-- Only the Good Spy Young
-- Out of Sight, Out of Time
-- United We Spy
Read more about the books.

Also by Ally Carter: Follow a 15-year-old thief, Kat, as she leads her group in dangerous heists and cons all around the world in the Heist Society novels. For ages 12 and up. The series so far:
-- Heist Society
-- Uncommon Criminals
-- Perfect Scoundrels

Ally Carter also wrote a novella called Double Crossed which is a crossover between Gallagher Girls and Heist Society.

The Specialists series by Shannon Greenland
- For ages 12 and up. Teens with impressive smarts and strengths are recruited by a secret organization to work together and take down the bad guys. There are four books in the series:
-- Model Spy
-- Down to the Wire
-- The Winning Element
-- Native Tongue

The Squad by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
- For ages 12 and up. The last thing Toby Klein ever wanted to be was a cheerleader, but she suddenly finds herself as a squad recruit. She's just as shocked to see herself in the uniform as she is to discover the squad is actually a team of spies. These high school girls cheer their team one moment and help the government fight evil figures the next. If the cheerleaders from Bring It On were made into government agents, they would be Toby and her teammates. Fans of the original Charlie's Angels TV series who also like pop culture and high school spirit will like this series. There are two books in the series:
-- Perfect Cover
-- Killer Spirit

Fingerprints by Melinda Metz
- For ages 12 and up. This series blends intrigue, family secrets, and a supernatural power. Rae hears voices in her head. After a breakdown and hospitalization, she realizes that she has these voices are the thoughts of others, and that she hears them only when she touches an object that the original thinker (for lack of a better term) touched at an earlier time. This is a unique twist on psychic ability, incorporating the transfer of memories and the senses. There are seven books in the Fingerprints series. Read them in order:
-- #1 Gifted Touch
-- #2 Haunted
-- #3 Trust Me
-- #4 Secrets
-- #5 Betrayed
-- #6 Revelations
-- #7 Payback (the final book)
Read more about this series and other characters with psychic abilities.

Also Known As by Robin Benway
- For ages 12 and up. Maggie, the daughter of spies, has been a safecracker since she was a little kid. She loves living the life of a spy, working with her parents for a super-secret organization that rights wrongs and moving from location to location all over the world for different jobs. Now 16 years old, she finally gets a solo operation, and it's a doozy: attend school with kids her age (which she's never done) and pretend to be an average girl while befriending a guy whose father may be writing an article that will blow the organization's cover. Think of I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter crossed with a touch of True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet by Lola Douglas. If you like rom-coms, you'll like the AKA series. Read them in order:
-- #1 Also Known As
-- #2 Going Rogue
-- Additional titles to come

The Kiki Strike books by Kirsten Miller
- For ages 12 and up. The simply-titled Kiki Strike introduces The Irregulars, six teenage girls who discover an underground city in New York. Each girl has an unusual hobby or interesting interest, with one girl skilled in chemistry, another an inventor, another a master of disguise, and so on. Though they are led by the seemingly fearless Kiki, the novels are narrated by Ananka Fishbein, arguably the most regular of the Irregulars. Read them in order:
-- #1 Inside the Shadow City
-- #2 The Empress's Tomb
-- #3 The Darkness Dwellers

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
- For ages 14 and up. Unrelated to the Kiki Strike series but also located in New York, this novel shows readers what really happens at Mandel Academy. Formerly known as the Grand Street School, it's a cutthroat institution, filled with students who are learning how to be criminals.

Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce
Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce
- For teens. Called a "duology" and referred to as The Daughter of the Lioness series or the Tricksters series, these two novels take place in Pierce's land of Tortall, where knights, spies, and many others use magic to their benefit. Alianne (aka Aly) wants nothing more than to be a spy. She gets her wish, but not under the best of circumstances: while on a solo voyage, she is captured and enslaved, then contacted by a trickster god named Kyprioth and commanded to serve and protect a family with royal lineage. Pierce's loyal readers will enjoy seeing Aly, for she is the daughter of Alanna, the heroine of Pierce's first series.

Who Done It?: Meaningful Murder Mysteries

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Read this book if you haven't already. Read it again if you have read it before.
- For ages 8 and up. I had to put this title in a category of its own. I recommend it to adults as often as I recommend it to kids. If I had a nickel for every time I read this Newbery Award winning book, I would be rich. Not quite as rich as Samuel W. Westing, though. Sixteen people are gathered at the reading of Westing's will and split into eight pairs. The pair that solves the mystery will become heirs to the Westing fortune. This book is filled with intelligent twists and turns, and every single character is memorable. Turtle Wexler is one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. That girl rocks.

FBI Candidates: Tracking Down Serial Killers

Body of Evidence series by Christopher Golden
Read them. Read them now.
- For ages 12 and up. Jenna Blake is a pathology assistant who also happens to be a college student. The books detail autopsies, crime scenes, serial killers and detectives as well as Jenna's dorm life, her family life, and her studies. They are incredibly well-written and well-researched. If you watch(ed) CSI or Profiler, then you need to read these books right now. The first book, Body Bags, has one of my favorite opening lines: "Amanda Green died for a cigarette." Within a matter of pages, Amanda is a goner, having been at the wrong place at the wrong time. The first chapter introduces us to Jenna, beginning with the line: "It was a beautiful day to grow up." You'll see this quote at the Bildungsroman website as well as in the sidebar of this blog. There are ten paperback mysteries about Jenna. Reading them in order is highly recommended, so start with Body Bags. Read more about the series.

The Sleeper Conspiracy by Tom Sniegoski
- Ages 12 and up. Government conspiracies, assassins, action, adventure, and narcolepsy. What's not to love? Packed with action, The Sleeper Conspiracy is essentially one book split into two volumes: Book One: Sleeper Code and Book Two: Sleeper Agenda. Bad guys and spies await you! Read my review.

Acceleration by Graham McNamee
- Ages 12 and up. When a teenage boy finds the diary of a would-be stalker and murderer, he feels compelled to track the criminal down before another woman is harmed. This quest becomes personal because the protagonist was unable to save a drowing victim the summer before. A high-octane ending.

The Creek by Jennifer L. Holm
- Ages 10 and up. This is a psychological thriller as well as a coming-of-age story set in a sleepy suburban town. Read my review.

Don't Spook Until You Are Spooken To: Ghostly Tales

The Doll in the Garden by Mary Downing Hahn
- Ages 8 and up. Hahn has written many books wherein a human child befriends a ghost child. The Doll in the Garden includes two girls, a white cat, a beloved doll, and a time-travel hedge. This is the book that taught me all about consumption.

The Ghost Wore Gray by Bruce Coville
- Ages 8 and up. Nina Tanleven (Nine) and her best friend Chris encounter a Confederate soldier who helped slaves escape using the Underground Railroad. This is the second of the three mysteries with featuring Nine and Chris, and I felt it is the best of the three.

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright
- Ages 8 and up. The epitome of dollhouse mysteries. Good and creepy. Mwah ha ha.

Personal Notes

I have always felt as though I would make an excellent spy or undercover agent. I like solving problems. I like solving mysteries. I really like justice. I would be a detective or FBI agent if those careers didn't require the handling of firearms. So, instead, I will settle for playing those roles on TV or in films.

In elementary school, I co-founded The Clue Club with two of my school friends. Our classmates would come to us with tales of missing lunchpails and damaged schoolbooks. We would charge ten cents per case. We even had a flyer promoting our investigation services posted in the school library. Around that time, I read every classic mystery that my mom had at home as well as those I found at the public library.

Did I mention that I think Turtle Wexler rocks?

Related Booklist: Teen Mystery and Horror

Little Willow [userpic]

Entertainment Weekly's list of 50 Books Every Kid Should Read

November 19th, 2014 (07:36 pm)

Current Mood: curious
Current Song: Thunder by Brooke Fraser

Entertainment Weekly just released a list of 50 Books Every Kid Should Read. As I read the list, I kept thinking, "That's interesting," as in it was interesting to see what was included and what was not. For example, I was incredibly happy to see The Phantom Tollbooth, the All-of-a-Kind Family books, and The Book Thief on the list. Then there are some titles that I wouldn't have included, but that's just me. I'd be interested to hear what books on this list my fellow bloggers and loyal readers have read, and what books they would add to the list. Please leave your comments below so we can discuss.

Here is the list as presented by Entertainment Weekly. Note: The print article has the byline "by Chris Lee" while website says "by EW staff."

If the title is italicized, then I've read it.
If the title is bold and italicized, then I strongly recommend it.

Ages 3-5
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
- All of the Frances books are cute. My favorite Hoban story is Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.
Strega Nona by Tomi dePaola
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg - This story is special to me.
The Mitten by Jan Brett

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkey

Ages 6-8
The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary
- I have read every single Ramona book, and all of the books that take places on Klickitat Street!
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
- Very precious to me.
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne - I've only read a few
The Arrival by Shaun Tan - I think this is the wrong category for this book; it is a wordless graphic novel, and Tan himself differentiates it from children's picture books
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney - I've only read a few

Ages 9-11
The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor - Wonderful books!
The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl - I prefer Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster - So awesome.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingrid & Edgar D'Aulaire
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Holes by Louis Sachar
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket - I've only read a few
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Ages 12+
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - My favorite in the series
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson - Tears.
The Giver by Lois Lowry - So much better that the companion books that followed it.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - TEARS.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- I prefer Looking for Alaska.

See the article/list in image form at Dave Roman's Tumblr or click through the gallery at the Entertainment Weekly website.

Want to check out my top book picks for kids? Here you go:
So You Want to Read YA?
Middle School Must-Haves
Funny Fiction for Kids
Favorite Picture Books
Favorite Beginning Readers
Coming-of-Age Novels aka Bildungsromans
Tough Issues for Teens
...and all of my booklists plus my best of lists, which I post once a month and once a year.

Little Willow [userpic]

Pretending to Grow Up

December 30th, 2013 (07:00 am)

Current Mood: contemplative
Current Song: The Girl I Mean to Be from the musical The Secret Garden

Earlier this month, I posted the poem Sometimes by Thomas S. Jones, Jr. It goes a little something like this:

Across the fields of yesterday
He sometimes comes to me,
A little lad just back from play -
The lad I used to be.
And yet he smiles so wistfully

Once he has crept within,
I wonder if he hopes to see
The man I might have been.

I think any adult, male or female, can relate to this - be it wistfully, happily, regretfully, or any combination of emotions that childhood memories and adult aspirations can create. When I was little, I read and enjoyed all of L.M. Montgomery's novels about the life of Anne Shirley, but I always preferred the earlier volumes - especially the first book, Anne of Green Gables - to the later volumes in the series. Earlier this year, I read Now I'll Tell You Everything, a novel in which the main character chronicles her life from her late teens all the way into her sixties. (See my post about the Alice McKinley novels by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for more information on the entire series.)

But back to the poem Sometimes. With the piece being written by a man and specifically using male pronouns, it made me think of books with male protagonists - modern classics like Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary and the Matthew Martin books by Paula Danziger. What happened to them after those books? What were they like at age 20, 30, 40? Did Encyclopedia Brown become a bona fide private detective? A cop? Is Maniac Magee a teacher? A father?

When I interviewed Judy Blume in 2008, I figured out how old Fudge, Peter, Sheila and Tootsie would be, based on the publication year of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and asked the author, "Do you ever consider what they would be doing in their adulthood, their middle age?" She responded, "Peter and Fudge can never grow up!"

But in my mind, other than Peter Pan - which is an entirely different post - it's interesting to consider how our favorite fictional characters might turn out when they grow up. The triumphs and the tragedies of childhood undoubtedly shape the lives of real people, and a lot of wonderfully written middle grade and young adult books capture these experiences. So...what happened next?

What do you think happened to your favorite characters? Who became the men and women they thought they'd be? And who always smiles when they think of the child they used to be?

This piece was cross-posted at GuysLitWire.

Little Willow [userpic]

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

November 26th, 2013 (08:56 am)

Current Mood: accomplished
Current Song: The Last Word is Mine from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


When Alice follows a white rabbit down a rabbit hole, little did she know she was in store for growing and shrinking, talking animals, a mad tea party, and a trial.

I love Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll for many reasons: the imaginative and lyrical writing, the delightful dialogue, the fantastic fantasy world, the colorful characters, the detailed illustrations by John Tenniel, and, most of all, the independent and thoughtful protagonist. I think the character of Alice is truly great. She's resourceful and spunky. The only big thing upon which Alice and I disagree: she, at the start, thinks books without pictures or conversations are useless. Nonsense, dear child!

Read It

If you have yet to read the original version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, please do. Project Gutenberg has posted the full text and illustrations online. You can visit Google Books.

A Booklist is Born

Thank you to Rebecca for prompting this booklist! May your class put it to good use.

Recommended Reading: Written by Charles Dodgson Himself
Alice's Adventures Under Ground written and illustrated by Lewis Carroll
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by John Tenniel
Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by John Tenniel
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, a Classic Illustrated Edition compiled by Cooper Edens - illustrations from the late 19th and early 20th centuries from multiple artists throughout the original text
The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll
The Selected Letters of Lewis Carroll
The Annotated Alice - the original text by Lewis Carroll and illustrations by John Tenniel with notes by Martin Gardner

Recommended Reading: Non-Fiction
Alice's Adventures: Lewis Carroll in Popular Culture by Will Brooker
The Other Alice by Christina Björk - This juvenile biography about Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson offers humorous anecdotes (42!) and gorgeous illustrations. Sadly, I think it is out of print. Happily, I own a copy. Thank you, used bookstore! Highly recommended.

Recommended Reading: Fiction
Still She Haunts Me by Katie Roiphe - The story of an unlikely friendship between an intelligent man who fit nowhere and the spunky girl who inspired his best-known work. This is a fictional take on the friendship of Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson, with Charles' real letters woven in throughout the book. Shelved in adult fiction/literature. Highly recommended.

Recommended Reading: Graphic Novel Adaptations
Wonderland by Tommy Kovac, illustrated by Sonny Liew - Told from Mary Ann's point of view - great twist!
Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland by Martin Powell

Related Works of Fiction
The Problem of the Missing Miss by Roberta Rogow - Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dodgson team up to find a little girl who has been abducted. A fun, fast-moving historical mystery, shelved in adult fiction or mystery. No fantasy elements are involved. There are just enough references to each author's works to be cute, rather than overdone. To the best of my knowledge, the two men never met in real life. I liked how they worked together in this book. Thanks to Sarah for the recommendation.

Art and Gift Books
All Things Alice: The Wit, Wisdom, and Wonderland of Lewis Carroll compiled by Linda Sunshine
Dreaming in Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll by Douglas R. Nickel
The Art of Alice in Wonderland by Stephanie Lovett Stoffel

Somewhat Related
The Baby-Sitters Club #121: Abby in Wonderland by Ann M. Martin - I love the BSC series and I love Alice in Wonderland, so I was hoping for more from this book than I got. Abby attends an Alice-themed party thrown by her grandparents. The costumes*, the food, and the decorations were all appropriate for the theme, but Wonderland itself did not matter to the story. It could have just as easily have been a fifties-themed party or a Narnia-themed party. The plot of the book did not have any ties to nor parallels with Wonderland. I wasn't expecting it to become a fantasy, of course - BSC stories are dramatic and comedic, but firmly realistic - but I wanted Wonderland to matter, to have been chosen for a reason. In fact, the plot itself was not fully realized. When I read the final page, I felt as if the story was only half-over.
*The grandmother dressed like the White Queen, who is actually from Through the Looking-Glass. The illustrations on the cover did not quite match the descriptions in the book. But I digress.

Attempted Sequels - Related titles that left me lukewarm
Automated Alice by Jeff Noon
Alice Through the Needle's Eye by Gilbert Adair
The Roundhill by Dick King-Smith
Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams

. . . and those I have yet to read:
The Looking-Glass Wars by Frank Beddor and other books in the line
A New Alice in the Old Wonderland by Anna M. Richards
Fantastic Alice edited by Margaret Weiss


My favorite film version of this imaginative tale was made in 1972. As I mentioned in a much earlier post, I first saw this movie as a child and was absolutely delighted to see a brunette Alice (portrayed by Fiona Fullerton) rather than a blond girl. This British live-action musical was adapted and directed by William Sterling, with music by John Barry and lyrics by Don Black, based on those by Lewis Carroll. It employs the full title of the original book: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

I think Charles Dodgson would like this adaptation of his most famous story. It offers a beautiful score by John Barry (Somewhere in Time), and the lyrics by Don Black are nearly lifted directly from the page. The movie is available on DVD, and the soundtrack is available on CD. Get them. Get them now.

The icon I used for this post captures one of my favorite shots from the film. Look how well it matches Tenniel's illustration. See all of the icons I made from the film. Thanks for the screenshots, Emily!

Additional Film and Television Adaptations of Alice

(If it's bold, I've seen it from start to finish. Bold doesn't mean I loved it, just that I've watched it. If it's italicized, I've only seen a few scenes.)

Film and television adaptations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland include:

Alice in Wonderland (live-action film, 1903)
Alice in Wonderland (live-action film, 1933)
Alice in Wonderland (live-action made-for-TV movie, BBC, 1946)
Alice in Wonderland (stop-motion film, 1951)
Alice in Wonderland (animated film, Disney, 1951)
The Adventures of Alice (live-action made-for-TV movie, BBC, 1960)
Alice in Wonderland (live-action made-for-TV movie, BBC, 1966)
Alice of Wonderland in Paris (animated film, 1966)
Alice in Wonderland, or, What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (animated made-for-TV movie, Hanna-Barbera, 1966)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (live-action musical film, 1972 - see above for reasons why it's my favorite adaptation)
Алиса в Стране Чудес (animated film, Russian, 1981)
Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (filmed stage play, 1982)
Fushigi no Kuni no Alice (animated film, Japanese, 1983)
Alice in Wonderland (made-for-TV two-part movie, CBS, 1985)
Alice in Wonderland (live-action + puppetry five-episode TV series, 1985)
Alice in Wonderland (live-action four-episode TV series, BBC, 1986)
The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland (1987)
Alice in Wonderland (animated film, Australian, 1988)
Alice (live-action + stop-motion film, 1988)
Alice in Wonderland (live-action made-for-TV movie, NBC, 1999)
Alice's Misadventures in Wonderland (live-action film, 2004)
Alice in Wonderland (live-action, 2010)

Related Films

I heard about Phoebe in Wonderland in August 2008 and was immediately interested. I watched the trailer online and want to see the film in full.

Alice, Meet Johnny Smith

The Dead Zone was a thought-provoking, creative television series. It brought Alice up more than once.

In Season 1, they closed an episode with a character reading aloud to Johnny from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, after having referenced the story a few times throughout the previous scenes. Later, for a different episode, they released a still image of Sarah and J.J. reading the book.

In Season 6, the episode Big Top revolved around an Alice in Wonderland-themed fair. The circus performers who were dressed as characters from the book had gorgeous costumes and props. Though I wouldn't wear them together, I seriously want Alice's dress and knee-highs. The episode also made multiple, important references to the show's pilot episode, which made me extremely happy.

Disney's Wonderland

I'd much rather read the original book or watch the aforementioned musical than watch the animated Disney film. I didn't care for their depiction of Alice as I felt she was not as strong nor as intelligent as she was in the book. The inaccurate parts of Disney's adaptation bug me. They changed things from the book, then brought in elements from Through the Looking Glass only to change those too. Sigh. I didn't care for the live-action Disney/Tim Burton film adaptation either.

No, It's Not a Romance

A lot of adaptations add an element of romance, often making the Mad Hatter Alice's love interest. First of all, no. One of the best aspects of the original story is that Alice is strong, even when she's all by herself. She is young and innocent. She is searching for a way home, not searching for love. She learns things about herself. She is on her own most of the time; those who guide her are strangers who come in and out of the story, while she is the only through line, the only ever-present character. Any fear is trumped by her need to know and to explore - curiosity is what keeps pulling her forward.

Second of all, no. Please, everyone, stop romanticizing the Mad Hatter. He's not Alice's peer, and he's not a romantic interest. He's an adult, and he is cuckoo. He's an example of the nonsense in Wonderland. He's not supposed to be her boyfriend. Neither is the March Hare. Neither is the dormouse.

I think it's strange when people shine the spotlight on the Mad Hatter and forget about the March Hare and the dormouse, because I see those three characters as a unit. They will always be a trio in my mind. Look at Tenniel's illustration - That's what I see.

Charles in Charge

All of the research I've done about Charles Dodgson makes me feel as though he was an intelligent man who loved math, photography, and storytelling, but he didn't quite fit in society. I do not think he was the creepy guy that some assumptive persons would lead you to believe. I think Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was a smart, creative man who didn't fit into society or at least didn't have equal peers, and I think Alice Liddell was honored by the story she inspired.

Oh, if I could only have a little piece of each: I would love to inspire someone's story, and to share my own stories with the world. I am, at times, the White Rabbit for others, but then the results are for others, and I am peripheral yet again.

I am known to explain the difference between Dodgson and Lewis Carroll any time the opportunity presents itself. (Real name versus pen name. Real person, a really shy person, versus a famous name, a known author.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Lenny's Alice in Wonderland Site has one of the best FAQs I've ever read regarding the books, the author, and related works. Check it out.

As Seen in Willowood

A sweet exchange between two characters in the children's book Willowood by Cecilia Galante:

...Nate was right about reading [the book] aloud. Lily had never read a book aloud. It seemed to create a lull of sorts as she went along. She felt sleepy and warm at the same time.

"I like it," she said.

Nate threw the last of the cages over into a pile. "Told you. And we haven't even gotten to the Cheshire cat yet. He's the best. He's so

"I can tell I'm already gonna like Alice the best," Lily said. "She's so brave."

"That's just 'cause she's a girl," Nate said. "Girls always like the girls."

Lily shrugged. "Maybe."

How It Started

Have you seen the original manuscript for the first version of the story? Written in Dodgson's own hand, with his own sketches, the story was original called Alice's Adventures Under Ground. It's now available in many different collections and volumes of his work.

Here's one spot where you can read it online.

The Book's Conclusion

I readily admit that I've never cared for the way the book ends. I have two main reasons for this: I felt as though her adventures hadn't quite reached a close, even with the trial and such. She makes a bold declaration, yes, but she was already bold and acted as such throughout the story. Then, when she wakes up, she has lovely thoughts and remarks, yet her sister's thoughts close the tale.

My Personal Conclusion

I love Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Postscript: Thanks to Lorie Ann Grover for creating this Alice-themed collage for me!

Also check out the Alice in Wonderland entry in the Book-A-Day Almanac! (November 26th, 1865)

Little Willow [userpic]

Support and Save Sheltered Animals

November 20th, 2013 (07:00 am)

Current Mood: accomplished
Current Song: I Can Do Better Than That as sung by Lauren Kennedy

'Tis the season of giving. Why not give a critter a home - not just for the holidays, but for life?

There are many cats and dogs in local animal shelters who would love to be a part of your household. If you want to and are able to share your home with a pet, please save an animal who desperately needs a home. You'll have a friend for life.

When choosing a pet, please do not let age be a factor. Yes, baby kittens are adorable, but so are older pets. The adoption rate of adult cats and dogs is much lower than that of the newborns and toddlers, so to speak. Just because a shelter pet is older doesn't mean it has had a hard life; perhaps he had a great life until his owners discovered their child was allergic to dogs. Just because a shelter pet is older doesn't mean she is ill or bad-tempered; perhaps she is the very picture of health and manners, but hasn't found the right human yet.

Perhaps that human is you.

You'd be shocked by how many people think non-humans are disposable. They aren't. I value all forms of life. A cat isn't a dog and a little girl isn't a bunny, but they are all animals. People are animals too. Don't forget that.

If you have some spare change, consider donating it to a shelter - especially a no-kill shelter. You'd be surprised how little it takes to save a life.

If you cannot adopt pets or do not have the funds to make a monetary donation, you can give them attention and love by donating your time and being a volunteer. You will bring some light into their lives, and they will do the same for you. Call your local animal shelter and ask if there is a volunteer program or donation system in place.

I also encourage you to donate your blankets to shelters. Such a simple gesture, easy to make, yet not often considered. Think of how cold it gets at night. Be thankful if you have a home and a bed to sleep in, because you're luckier than many others. If you have a heater, a thick comforter, and warm clothing, you're luckier still. Just because an animal has fur doesn't mean he or she is warm. Many animal shelters do not have adequate heating. Many do not have enough beds to go around, let alone blankets. Kitties won't mind if there are cartoons on their sheets, and neither do hounds. Neither will people, for that matter. If you find you have an abundance of old bedclothes, donate some to an animal shelter and some to a shelter for displaced persons. (Please wash your old blankets before donating them.)

One last thing: If you have pets at home already (or after acting on the recommendations in this post), please do me a favor and pet them for me.

This post is in memory of my cats. I miss you, little girls.

Related Post:
Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month and National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week

External Links:
Help the ASPCA
ASPCA video with Sarah McLachlan
The Pedigree Adoption Drive
Shelter Stories from Patrick McDonnell
One of Patrick's comic strips

Little Willow [userpic]

So You Want to Read YA?

March 4th, 2013 (07:38 am)

Current Mood: hopeful
Current Song: Can't Let Go cover by Norbert Leo Butz and Lauren Kennedy

Kelly from the Stacked blog rounded up a bunch of bloggers, booksellers, and librarians and asked them to list the YA novels they'd recommend to someone who is just starting to dip their toes in the waters of the Young Adult bookshelves. When she asked if I'd like to kick off this round, I replied, "Twist my arm!" Here are a dozen books to get you started.

Body Bags by Christopher Golden begins with the line: "It was a beautiful day to grow up." Body Bags is the first in a line of ten novels - collectively known as Body of Evidence - which follow Jenna Blake as she begins college and starts working as an assistant at the Medical Examiner's office. I highly recommend this series. Both adults and teenagers will discover plenty to relate to and enjoy in this line. Readers will find Jenna visiting crime scenes and autopsy rooms nearly as often as she's in her dorm. Her relatives, friends, and studies factor into the books just as much as serial killers and detectives.  Throughout the series, Christopher Golden - and, later, collaborator Rick Hautala - created characters who are believable but anything but cookie-cutter. The quality of Body Bags is above and beyond most suspense novels, and it continues throughout the series, versus other series which lose the momentum after a few books, or series in which the books become carbon copies. If you enjoy medical thrillers with great characters, especially if you watch(ed) television series such as CSI or Profiler, or read or watch Rizzoli & Isles, then you need to read these books right now. You won't be sorry.
Read my review of the book, and the entire series.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart is, dare I say, a coming-of-age story. It's not about breaking the rules, nor it is about controlling others. It's about daring: daring to be yourself, daring to stand up for yourself, daring to step outside of your comfort zone, daring to change the world. This novel possesses all of the elements necessary for a good bildungsroman, following the protagonist's journey through her formative years. Both snarky and serious, this History is written by the victors: the memorable narrator and the author. Frankie is smart, grounded, and direct, but she also has a quirky side. Author E. Lockhart (The Boyfriend List, Dramarama) writes with heart and authentic feeling. History has an incredible conclusion, and Frankie becomes a remarkable young woman.
Read my full-length review of the book.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen is about grief, acceptance, and everything in-between. It's about running - running for fun, running out of fear, running from yourself, running from the truth. It's also about to-do lists, kitchen messes, and really good waffles. It's about long conversations and comfortable silences. It's about forever, which is yesterday, today, and tomorrow - and forever is never long enough. Dessen is always good, and this is Dessen at her best.
Read my reviews of all Sarah Dessen's novels.

Deb Caletti writes really fantastic realistic novels. My favorite Caletti novel to date is The Nature of Jade, about an overachiever who has developed panic disorder. Jade doesn't know yet that she wants something more out of life - and that she is about to meet someone that will change her life.
Read my reviews of all of Deb Caletti's novels.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is an absolute staple of modern YA fiction. This story is an example of how to use first-person narration to connect readers to a largely silent and introverted protagonist - and how to reveal things slowly, to connect actions and emotions. This book is gritty and real without being gritty for the sake of it. Often imitated, never replicated, this book is what inspired the wave of YA books that tackle tough issues.
Check out my Speak playlist.

The Alison Rules by Catherine Clark. Wow, wow, wow. After her mother passes away, Alison is reluctant to confide in anyone other than Laurie, her long-time best friend. She pulls away from pretty much everyone else and decides to quietly lives by the rules she's made for herself. Read it, then share it.
Read my full-length review of The Alison Rules.

I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak, which you should go into completely spoiler-free, so I'm not going to tell you anything about it. Go read it, and when you're done, tell me what you think, because you will definitely have a reaction to how this story unfolds and how it turns out.
Check out my interview with Marcus Zusak - and then read The Book Thief.

Feathered by Laura Kasischke tells the story of two best friends who travel to Cancun for Spring Break. After an auspicious start, the unexpected happens, and their dream vacation turns into a nightmare which they can't simply escape by waking - which, perhaps, they cannot escape at all. Feathered wonderfully captures that feeling of freedom one gets while far from home, when it's possible (easier?) to be uncharacteristically impulsive. Fueled by the toxic intensity of perfect strangers, fast friends, and foreign cultures, the girls find themselves in an extremely dangerous situation, and, in the blink of an eye, everything changes. Every high school student who is planning a big-deal trip for Spring Break (or for any break) needs to read this book - and so do their parents, teachers, and chaperones. So do writers who aspire to craft stories with alternating points of view.
Read my full-length review of the book.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is not your typical boy meets girl story. Sure, it starts when boy meets girl - but then boy asks girl to pretend to be his girlfriend for the next five minutes, and girl agrees. Over the course of one night, two perfect strangers fall in and out of love with life, music, friends, cars, food, the city, and maybe - just maybe - each other. This book definitely popularized multiple narrators in modern YA fiction.
Read my review of Nick and Norah - Check out my own Infinite Playlist

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers shows that sometimes, what you don't do can be as consequential as what you do. Parker was a good girl. A nice girl. A cheerleader. A straight-A student. Then something happened. Something which changed Parker completely. Something she wishes she could change. Her mood, her grades, and her spirits have all plummeted. Haunted, Parker is no longer the girl she once was - and she doesn't want to be, not anymore. Courtney Summers' debut novel is not to be missed. When the characters speak, they sound authentic: some kids swear and some kids laugh while others toss out a word or two while swallowing down what they really want to say. Adult readers will quickly be transported to the halls of high school and feel as if they never left. Pick up Summers' other novels while you're at it, but start with this one.
Read my review of the book.

The Fallen by Thomas E. Sniegoski led the pack of immortal/angel fantasy/action stories that now line the YA shelves. The premise: Aaron has always known that he was adopted, but he never suspected he was half-angel - or that he could be a hero in the ultimate fight between good and evil. Fun fact: Before he portrayed Stefan Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries, Paul Wesley starred as Aaron Corbet in the film adaptation of Fallen - and Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad played Lucifer!

Check out the Fallen website.

Looking for Alaska by John Green has energized a new generation of readers, writers, and all kinds of people searching for their great perhaps. It's thought-provoking, poignant, and lovely. Please read it.
Here's my Looking for Alaska playlist.

For those of you dropping by Bildungsroman for the first time, welcome! I'm Little Willow. Here's a quick intro to me and this blog: In addition to being a bookseller, blogger, and writer, I'm also an actress, singer, and webdesigner. I always have a script or a book in my hands and a song in my heart. I primarily review YA novels, hence the blog name:

Bildungsroman: A novel whose principal subject is the moral, psychological, and intellectual development of a usually youthful main character. (

Looking for additional YA staples and recommendations? Click through the blog and the corresponding archive for reviews, exclusive author interviews, and more. I have a slew of booklists I hope you'll check out, including:

Tough Issues for Teens

Coming-of-Age Novels

Transition Times / Set in School

Little Willow [userpic]

Peter Pan and Friends

February 20th, 2013 (11:49 am)

Current Mood: accomplished
Current Song: Shine by Clay Aiken

Some children wish they never had to grow up. They may be surprised to discover that plenty of adults feel the same way. Many people want to escape reality, to fly away. Rebels want to defy authority. Daredevils and wallflowers alike may yearn to go on magnificent adventures.

For all of these reasons and more, readers have been drawn to the tale of Peter Pan for over one hundred years. I myself have always liked the story - but not for any of the aforementioned reasons. For example, I have always liked Tinker Bell. That should be no surprise to anyone who knows of my love for fictional fairies. (That's another article in itself!)

However, I've never liked Peter. Do not misinterpret that statement. I don't hate Peter. Every time I get to the end of the original book or play, I get mad at him for showing such utter disregard for Tink's well-being. I also get uncomfortable when he passes Wendy up for her young daughter. Even when I was little, I thought that was kind of dirty.

My favorite part of the story, in spite of what I just wrote, is the end. Instead of using the typical "happily ever after" ending, Barrie gives his story a superb final sentence detailing a vicious cycle. Peter is ignorant and selfish. The book's last word - heartless - is perfection.

Film and Stage Adaptations

While I understand that some adaptations cast an adult female as Peter Pan, I prefer it when the role is played by a young boy, the true embodiment of the character.

That being said, I have a friend who did an amazing job in a semi-professional production of the musical. She was absolutely perfect!

I think that the Disney version of Peter Pan released in 1953 is fairly accurate. I really like their depiction of Tinker Bell.

I was tickled pink when Jonatha Brooke was hired to sing songs for Disney's Peter Pan sequel, Return to Neverland. I own the soundtrack for that very reason.

I was quite excited for the film adaptation of Peter Pan which was released in 2003. The film was touted as the first ever full-length live-action film that stayed completely true to the original version, and it didn't. Why did it say over and over in interviews and press releases that it was, when things were different nearly from the start? Though the effects and costuming were very good, and some of the actors did a fine job, the inaccuracies and changes in the story really let me down.

I want to see the 1924 silent film version of Peter Pan, which was the first film adaptation of the play, as well as the indie film Neverland, which made the story contemporary and edgy.

Disney's Tinker Bell movie is special, because it is the first time their version of Tinker Bell has ever spoken clearly. Her emotions are usually punctuated by tinkling bells and sound effects, clearly relayed by her body language and her actions, but now she has a voice! Congratulations to Mae Whitman for winning the role of Tink. I've always enjoyed Mae's performances in films and on TV. This movie is no exception. It's very cute, and Tink fans - especially those who have read the Disney Fairies books - will like it. This movie spawned a whole series of Tink films.

Book Adaptations

The author granted Great Osmond Street Hospital with the rights to the story. Now, in an effort to retain and extend those rights, the hospital has selected Geraldine McCaughrean to write a sequel. Her creation, Peter Pan in Scarlet, was released in October of 2006. Scarlet is not be the first book based on the story of the eternally youthful boy. Many authors and publishers have attempted prequels, sequels, and companions to Barrie's works. I love some and loathe others.

The Disney Fairies series for young readers revolves around the adventures of Tinker Bell and her friends. Published by Random House, the series was kicked off with the hardcover novel Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg by Gail Carson Levine. Now it is a numbered paperback series employing various authors. The books have gorgeous full-color illustrations, lively characters, and sweet-and-steady plots. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

In the Realm of the Never Fairies: The Secret World of Pixie Hollow, designed by Elizabeth Ryazantseva and Megan Krempels, is a gorgeous look into Tinker Bell's neighborhood. With text by Monique Peterson and lavish illustrations by The Disney Storybook Artists, the book details the hobbies, homes, and habits of different types of fairies that live in Never Never Land. Recommended for all ages.

Straight on 'til Morning by Christopher Golden exposes dark side of Never Never Land. In 1981, a group of young teens are enjoying the summer until one of them is kidnapped. When Nikki is taken by her older boyfriend and his cruel friends, her friends realize the boys in question are none other than Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. This coming-of-age horror story is one of my favorite Golden books, and I highly recommend it. It is an adult novel, found in the fiction section or horror aisle, and definitely not for the little ones. Recommended for ages 14 and up due to content and language.

More Fairy Fans and Pan Pans

The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #9: Starring the Baby-sitters Club! by Ann M. Martin - The BSC gets involved in their school's production of Peter Pan. Drama happens both onstage and off as they audition, rehearse, build sets, and, yes, baby-sit. Highlight: Dawn's multiple attempts to rewrite scenes to make Wendy more modern. Woo hoo! It's such a good book. Recommended for ages 8 and up, especially for those who love being on stage in theatre productions. Read additional Bildungsroman posts about The Baby-Sitters Club.

The Lost Girls by Laurie Fox - This adult novel follows Wendy Darling Braverman, the great-granddaughter of the first Wendy Darling, as she attempts to differentiate between fact and fiction. Have she and the other women in her family really seen Peter Pan? Northern California and the diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder come into play. Not a four star story, but interesting.

Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have teamed up to write Peter Pan prequels. I read their first effort, Peter and the Starcatchers. The book led to a series as well as a stage adaptation.

Please Read the Original!

If you have yet to read the original version of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, please do so. Thanks to Project Gutenberg, you may read it online.

Speaking of original . . . The original version of article was featured in the September issue of The Edge of the Forest, a children's literature monthly.

For more about Tinker Bell and other fairies in fiction, please check out my Fairy Nice booklist.

Little Willow [userpic]

Need Book Recommendations for the Holidays?

December 20th, 2012 (06:17 pm)

Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Haven score music

If you need book recommendations for the holidays - either books to give as gifts to your loved ones and/or books for YOU to read - I am here to help you! As a professional bookseller who reads 300+ books a year, I absolutely LOVE giving recommendations.

Please leave a comment below with the reader's age (that's if it's a kid or teen - a general age range for adults is fine) and favorite book genres, book series, and authors.

Don't know that much about the person, or need a book for a non-reader? Tell me about his or her hobbies, and let me know his or her favorite TV series and movies.

Want to get even more points with me? Save the life of a shelter animal this holiday season. Pets are a gift that keeps on giving!

Related Posts:
Support and Save Sheltered Animals
If Then for Teens
If Then for Middle School
If Then for Elementary School

Little Willow [userpic]

Bad Manners, Good Manners (and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle)

November 24th, 2012 (09:11 am)

Current Mood: thankful
Current Song: Fringe score music

Not all households are the same. Some are nice and quiet; others are loud and messy. Some have one child and two parents; others have one parent greatly outnumbered by his or her children. To their great dismay, parents might find that their precious little angels have picked up some not-so-precious habits.

Never fear, for there are a million ways to cure bad habits!

Well, perhaps a million is an exaggeration, but it sure got your attention. And that's what you need. You. Lead by example. "Do as I say, not as I do," will get you nowhere. Babies and toddlers cannot comprehend the concept. Pre-teens and teenagers will find their parents hypocritical.

Children are always watching others - their parents, their classmates, their teachers. They emulate what they see and hear. They do what you do.

If you swear loudly and often around your kids, chances are they will pick up those bad words. If you lose your temper easily and frequently, chances are they will become short-tempered as well. If you put your elbows on the dinner table and talk while you chew your food, so will they.

It really does start at home. Maybe you can't control what they hear at recess or on the playground, but you can control what you do. Lead by example - and explain what you are doing and why you are doing it. For instance, when you get into a car, fasten your seatbelt and say, "Buckle up!"

Tell your children how happy you are that they ate all of their vegetables, or how proud you are that tried out for the soccer team. Make up silly songs or sayings about manners and habits that kids can memorize and repeat. Such things are far more engaging than harsh commands and repeated screamings of, "No! Don't do that! That's bad!" Comedy is good. So is honesty. Get your kids to laugh and think at the same time.

Do your kids have chores around the house? Then so should the adults. Make a chore chart that has the adults' names as well as the children's names. Have everyone mark off their chores. Include some fun family tasks on the chart, like going to the library, brushing the cat, and reading. Also work in manners as well as things they are learning or overcoming, like not biting one's nails. Encourage your kids by using gold stars on the chart and handing out allowances after the week's chores have been completed successfully. Have a family outing or game night on Friday or Saturday to celebrate everyone's accomplishments.

When you visit the parenting section of a bookstore, you may find yourself overwhelmed. What one psychiatrist says in one book might conflict with what another researcher says in another book. Where, oh, where shall you start?

You can go the tried-and-true route and stock up on Dr. Spock. You can head over to the reference section and acquire some etiquette books based on the teachings of Emily Post.

Or you can go to the kids' department and get books written by Betty MacDonald about a funny little old lady named Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

"Every child in town is a friend of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's but she knows very few of their parents. She says grown-ups make her nervous."

This statement is made in the first chapter of the first book, simply titled Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Think of her as a magical grandmother. She lives in an upside-down house with her dog, Wag, and her cat, Lightfoot. Her husband, a pirate, passed away and left behind a treasure chest full of magical cures.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has plenty of surprises up her sleeves. She has her own magical powers, but not the ones you might be thinking of, like super strength or telepathy. Instead, she whips up a little something special for each kid. She uses a combination of reverse psychology and edible powders to help kids learn right from wrong and stop their bad habits.

There are five books in the series:

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
Hello Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm
Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

Every book has between six and ten chapters. Every chapter has its own cure. Some memorable cures include:

The Won't-Pick-Up-Toys Cure
The Answer-Backer Cure
The Selfishness Cure
The Never-Want-to-Go-to-Bedders Cure
The Tattletale Cure
The Bad-Tables-Manners Cure
The Interrupters

All of the books are illustrated by Hilary Knight, whose drawings are seen in many other classics, including the Eloise picture books by Kay Thompson.

Apparently, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's story has also been adapted for a musical.

Related posts at Bildungsroman
Funny Fiction for Kids
Quick Reads and Short Stories

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