Monday, October 29, 2012

Blackberry Boogie

Just a song for today.  I've been so busy this past week, I haven't had time to post!  But I'll be back real soon!
Tennesse Ernie Ford's Blackberry Boogie from 1952.  I first heard it on and it's a great song for unloading the dishwasher. Ha!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Children's Books About Libraries

There are many books for children about libraries, but here are just a couple of my favorites.
Library Lion by Michelle Knutson.
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

The sweet, soft illustrations of Library Lion are what first attracted me to this book (it's no secret that I tend to judge a book by it's cover).  But the story is just as sweet!
There is a lion in the library!  He makes an excellent pillow to lean against during story time and a great foot stool for reaching the highest books on the shelf.  The children who visit the library and the staff who work there love him, all except for Mr. McBee.
Here is a great tool for using Library Lion in the classroom from Candlewick Books.  A Library Lion Story Hour Guide.  Thank you Candlewick for such a neat little guide!
Our Library by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Maggie Smith

How cute are these little animals!?  The story is about a group of animals (with opposable thumbs, apparently) trying to save their beloved library, and I think they come up with a pretty nifty solutions. 

That Book Woman by Heather Henson
Illustrated by David Small

That Book Woman is about a pack horse librarian in the Appalachian Mountains and a boy named Cal who would rather work than read.  But Cal's sister loves to read, and the book woman comes over the mountains, rain or shine, sleet or snow.  Cal thinks "that book woman" is a mixture of crazy and brave.  I like this book for older children and it's a great way for kids and adults to learn a little more about the pack horse librarians.
Here is a video I found on You Tube of That Book Woman.
There are many other books about libraries for children, but I am running out of time.  There's always tomorrow.
So, until then,
Happy reading everyone!

Monday, October 22, 2012

College, Children's Literature and Professor Stout

After graduating from high school, I attended the University of North Dakota-Williston (now Williston State College). 
UND-W, Harvard on the Hill, East-side High, the U-dub, whatever you called it, it was the the obvious choice as it was only 22 miles from home.
Williston State College.  It has grown quite a bit since I've been there!
My first year was interesting.  I lived on campus, and when money got tight, worked on campus at the college library.  I told myself it would be great library experience. I'd learn how to check out books, find books for people, re-shelf books, etc.....Ummmm, not exactly.  My job entailed sitting at a small little desk in the back, entering books into the ODIN (Online Dakota Information Network) system.  I don't remember much about it, but I do remember having to place bar code stickers into the corners of each book, and a magnetic strip (I think).  Then I would wave my magic little light wand over the bar code and enter it into the database.  When all of the books on the cart had been entered, I'd get to put them back on the shelf.  To be honest, it was mind numbingly boring.  But it was experience...and a paycheck.

I took two courses at UND-W that involved children's books.  One was called Introduction to Teaching and one of our assignments was to spend time in a local classroom.  Since I thought I wanted to be a school librarian, my professor put me in contact with local school librarian, Beth Darr.  She was such an energetic, neat lady and I learned so much from that experience!

My Freshman year is also the year I took Children's Literature (Engl 215) from Professor Jim Stout.

Part of our 4 page Children's Lit Syllabus! 
The textbook we used!  Totally worth the $58 I paid for it.  I still have it and reference it quite often, especially for poetry.
I couldn't believe there was a class that revolved entirely around Children's Literature, but there it was on my schedule.  Every Monday evening from 6:30-9pm I would enjoy 2 and a half hours of talking and learning about Children's Literature.  It wasn't always easy, but I enjoyed it.  And Mr. Stout (who was also my supervisor) was an excellent professor who didn't seem to be just "going through the motions" with our class.  He really knew and liked children's books, and I found it impressive that he had a Polar Express poster hanging on the wall of his office (this was long before the movie was even a twinkling in Robert Zemeckis' eye, by the way.)
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, winner of the 1986 Caldecott medal and children's book classic.
That poster may not have been a big deal to others, some may not even have noticed.  But to me it was like seeing a Harvard Diploma on your brain surgeon's office that point, you surmise that your brain is in good hands.  I didn't care where Professor Stout went to college or what kind of diploma he'd gotten, all I needed to see was that poster and I trusted that he had excellent taste in Children's Literature. Not only that, it was glass...not just sticky-tacked to the wall in a haphazardly fashion like we Freshmen would do it.  It's as though he knew it was to be a classic, deserved a good frame and space on his office wall.   

Because of Mr. Stout, I learned the difference between good children's literature and not so good children's literature.  Because of him, I have never read my daughter the Poky Little Puppy.  It's bad enough I had to suffer through Strawberry Shortcake, Barbie and My Little Pony books, until I wanted to barf rainbows...I'm sorry, but those are not my idea of good children's literature.  They are novelty, fluff books that somehow manage to sneak into our houses and onto our children's bookshelves when they are three and four years old.  And these are the books that leave by way of the 25 cent box, headed to Grandma's garage sale.  In contrast, the good books like Our Friends at Maple Hill FarmLilly's Purple Plastic Purse and Flotsam...these are the books you keep forever, and pass down to the next generation.

Because of Mr. Stout I learned that being an adult who liked children's books is nothing to be ashamed of.  My love of good children's literature didn't make me childish, or a nerd, or a freak.  It made me more like Meg Ryan's character in the movie "You've Got Mail", someone whose mother loved books and passed that love on to her daughter.  (Loved the bookstore in that movie!)

I recently read an article about Williston State College and how they are losing students to the oil fields and big paychecks.  You can read the article here:  America's Oil Boomtown.
Coping with an influx of students, a lack of housing and crowded classrooms are just a few of the struggles facing the professors I remember from my years in Williston.  The oil boom reminds me of a phrase another excellent professor of mine, Richard Stenberg, used when talking about the railroads of the 1800's, "Too much, too fast, too soon".  I hope that the professors at Williston State can work through these oil boom challenges and hang in there a few more years.  Williston is lucky to have such a fine school with such fine faculty.

I never did become a librarian.  I never became a true artist either.  For a few years I floundered, not really knowing what or who I wanted to be.  Instead of dropping out of school to discover myself, I clung to it.  I took as many courses as I could to stay afloat and interested in an education.  I finally listened to what my mother had been telling me all along and switched my major.  I graduated seven (yes, seven) years later with an Elementary Education degree and a hefty student loan.

Now, I am a mother, a daycare mom and teacher of many things.  I am a master at getting knots out of shoes, legos out from under stoves and smiles out of grumpy children on early Monday mornings.  I even get to be a librarian!  My daughter and I share a large children's book collection (no Poky Little Puppy allowed) and we keep a special collection for the daycare kids.  We talk about caring for books, and have discovered that board books are a blessing for the 2 year and under set!  My daughter loves to read to the children and we try to have story time everyday.
Autumn reading to the kids.

That's all for today!
Until tomorrow, have a happy reading day!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Love of Children's Books in High School

Two posts today.
Don't forget to read about how I met Tedd Arnold after this post.

High school is where my serious love of children's books began, and I started to explore the idea of becoming a Children's Librarian. (Why did I ever steer off of that path!!?)

During my early high school years my mother bought me Animalia by Graeme Base which is one of the most richly illustrated books I had ever seen!

Animalia is what really opened my eyes to the idea that children's book illustration is a form of art!
Here is the Graeme Base Website, author/illustrator of Animalia and many other books.

The book below was given to me by a friend my Sophomore year. It was a great help in learning about illustrators of the past. I learned about the Caldecott Medal and Randolph Caldecott himself and studied the illustrations of Kate Greenaway, Arthur Rackham, and E.H. Shepard. And I did it all without the internet! The Williston Library had a fantastic biography of Kate Greenaway!

The Golden Age of Children's Book Illustration by Richard Dalby

The Golden Age of Children's Book Illustration contains small biographies of a number of illustrators (56 different illustrators to be exact).
Here are just a few of my favorites. Click on each name and you will be taken to Project Gutenberg where you can see a copy of one of their books! Isn't technology wonderful!?

Leslie L. Brooke

During my Senior year my English teacher had our class do a number of activities involving children's literature. We had a speech assignment which involved learning a children's book and reading it aloud to an elementary class. I chose Whose Mouse Are You by Robert Kraus and Illustrated by Jose Aruego. My mother read this book to my brother and me when we were kids. It's a great read-aloud and I still love it!

Along with learning a book, we had to recite a poem from memory. I chose The Duel by Eugene Field, otherwise known as The Gingham Dog and The Calico Cat.
I believe I froze behind the podium the first time (no big surprise there), but was given another go and did fine the second time.

My Senior year is also the year I was able to meet one of my favorite authors, Tedd Arnold!

Meeting Tedd Arnold

When I was a Senior, I was doing quite a bit of babysitting for the family across the street. (Yes, someone trusted me with their children). This particular family read to their children every night. So as not to disrupt their bedtime routine I read them a book from their bookshelf called No Jumping on the Bed! by Tedd Arnold.

I fell in love with the illustrations and the story! I went to the Williston library and checked out everything I could find by Tedd Arnold, including a cross-stitch pattern book. The next shopping trip to Minot resulted in the purchase of Ollie Forgot. It was the only Tedd Arnold book I could find! (Keep in mind, didn't exist yet, nor Books On Broadway).

Tedd Arnold's Website which is always fun to check out.

Then, a really swell thing happened, I got to meet Tedd Arnold, all because I volunteered to paint a sign! (ironic considering Arnold wrote and illustrated The Signmakers Assistant *chuckle*)
My high school principal needed someone to paint a large sign with some one's name on it for our gymnasium. I took on the challenge, painted the large, wooden sign and wanted nothing in return for my services. My principal said, "Well, how about I owe ya one?"

Later that year, I found out that the school librarian was taking a bus load of K-2 students to Wildrose, ND (about 17 miles away) to meet Tedd Arnold! To think, my favorite children's book author/illustrator would only be 17 miles away, and I would be stuck in Math class!! That just didn't sit well with me and I wanted to go so badly. So I walked down the hall, knocked on the Principal's door and asked, "remember how you said you would 'owe me one'?" He let me skip a couple of classes in order to attend as a chaperone! The kids were excited, the librarian was excited and I was ecstatic! Mr. Arnold spoke to the kids about being an author and illustrator, drew some illustrations on a large white tablet and signed autographs. He signed my Ollie Forgot and even agreed to pose for a picture.
I'm well aware of how dorky I look. Hey! It was the 90's...we still wore big hair and rolled our jeans for cryin' out loud!

Tedd Arnold's autograph! And he even drew a little puppy dog! Woot!
Here are some of my favorite Tedd Arnold books.

The Signmaker's Assistant
Shannan found me a 1st edition copy of The Signmaker's Assistant and gave it to me for our anniversary. It is one of my favorite books of all time!

A sequel to No Jumping On The Bed. This time it's William's turn!

Autumn loved the Huggly books when she was little. (She still loves 'em)

And here is the 2012 release of the "new" No Jumping On The Bed, re-illustrated by Tedd Arnold.

I hate to say this....(and may lightning of the illustrator gods not strike me down), but I'm partial to his earlier illustrations more-so than his later ones. I'm trying to come around to the bug-eyed children side of things...really I am. I'm just a little slower than others.
But his books are still top-notch. Take the picture above, for example. Even though I have trouble getting past a bug-eyed Walter, I just love the way the colors blend on the wall, around the pretty. And I do kind of like the squiggly line effect he does in books such as Huggly. It's pretty cool that he came up with such an original way to enhance his illustrations.
He could start illustrating with mud and sticks or old engine oil and a toothbrush, it wouldn't matter. He will always be one of my all time favorites!

Check out this neat-o blog, Homestead Wannabes, and see just how cool Mr. Arnold and his wife Carol really are!

Arnold's son, Walter, has also become an artist! His art involves looking through a camera's lens. He's a very talented photographer specializing in abandoned buildings and places. Check out his award-winning work at his website, Walter Arnold Photography.

More about children's literature and libraries tomorrow!
You know that phrase "stop and smell the roses"? Well, I'm changing it to "stop and look at the pictures". Stop and appreciate the time and talent of those who create wonderful picture books.
Have a Happy Day!

Friday, October 19, 2012

School Libraries and The Bookmobile

The first school I attended was Epping Public School. The two-story brick building was a beauty with it's antique, wooden stair cases, large windows and little nooks and crannies everywhere.

Epping Public School had a library full of very old books.  I would love to travel back in time to check some of them out. I'm sure there were some treasures, but when you are in lower elementary, you don't care about such things as antique books.  The elementary students didn't use it as a library....instead, it was our elementary music room.
What we did have was...The Bookmobile!!

Oh how I loved the bookmobile!  Getting to visit the bookmobile ranked right up there with field trips, art projects on Friday and the day the book orders came in.  My whole class would sit in anticipation, waiting for the time to come for it to be our turn to go.  We would walk single file out to the little camper full of books and we'd climb the narrow metal stairs that would lead us inside.  Sometimes, if it was really cold, we'd have to wear our coats.
Only a few of us could go in at a time and we had to make our selections quickly in order for others to have their turn. 
The same fellow always drove our bookmobile (which came out of Williston) and to this day I can still picture him. (I think he also kept beehives).
I love the photo above! That is the Ward County Bookmobile visiting the Foxholm school back in 1961. What a beautiful school! I found the photo on this site. It's an interesting article.

The inside of our bookmobile looked similar to this one.
Photo by Bill Shemorry and Digital Horizons.
The Ward County Public Bookmobile today, that serves surrounding Minot.

In 1986, after my 5th grade year of elementary school, Epping School closed it's doors. It was torn down soon after that. 
Once the Epping school was gone, we Epping kids hopped onto a school bus every morning and rode the 12 miles to Ray Public School in Ray ND. Ray School had a real library, and a real librarian who wore pretty dresses and big, beautiful earrings. Being long past the "story time" age, I only remember doing a few worksheets pertaining to the Dewey Decimal System, and then being allowed to check out books. It seemed to be a big deal to my classmates that now, as big-shot 6th graders, we were allowed to chose high school-type romance novels from spinning wire racks. I look back on those teen romances and wrinkle my nose at them...because now I know better.   I suppose there IS a place for such literature...but they were just   I checked out a lot of Judy Blume books and Beverly Cleary.  And I remember reading a pretty good book called Hangin' Out With Ce Ce about a girl who goes back in time and meets her mother as a teenager (in the 40's or 50's).  But don't recall ever seeing or hearing about books like Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden?   Where were the Little House Books and the last few Betsy-Tacy books?   I'm sure they were there, but I suppose those "oldies-but-goodies" were so uncool that being seen with one of them would've been social suicide. So instead I followed the crowd to the wobbly wire rack and chose books I was not ready for, maturity wise.

Thank goodness for my mother, the English major and my father the music major. Our parents read to us and provided us with excellent books growing up. My mother tried so hard to get me to read To Kill a Mocking Bird.  Sorry, Ma, I never did finish it.  (Now my phone will ring in 3..2..1..)

Our teachers read to us.  Books like Summer of the Monkeys, Where the Red Fern Grows, Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, The Red Badge of Courage, Johnny Tremain and many others.

It was during high school that I discovered my love for children's books.  Most of the thanks goes to my mother for providing me with such an excellent children's book collection growing up.  But I do give thanks to my high school English teacher, Mrs. Skogen, as well.
But more on that tomorrow!

Have a Happy Day!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Library

No, it's not National Library Week, or National Children's Book Week.  Nor is it  National Reading Month.  (It is, however, National Popcorn Poppin' month and National Dental Hygiene Month).

But this week I have been thinking quite a bit about libraries.

Autumn and I spent two hours at our local library here in Minot this last Sunday afternoon. We are so glad the city was able to save it from the flood of 2011.
That's our library off to the right.
12 noon on Friday June 24
I apologize that I don't have the names of those who took these pictures. During the flood, there were so many pictures being posted on facebook and on news sites. I collected a few memorable ones and these are some of the few. They give you a good idea of how high the water got and how high the library dike had to be built to save it.

SIDE NOTE: My daughter's school was just off to the left in this picture and was destroyed. There was no saving the school (it was very old) and it was torn down this past summer.
Luckily, the library at Autumn's school was located on the top floor. There was some confusion at first as to whether or not they were able to save the books, but we soon found out that volunteers were able to save the collection.

But, back to Sunday.
We spent a few minutes upstairs in the "grown-ups" section so that I could find a good book on Calligraphy and a Debbie Mcomber book called Dakota Born (more on that book in a later post).
Then we headed downstairs to our favorite part of the library, the Children's Library. It's such a well lit, happy place with decorations hanging from the ceiling and the cheerful librarian. (no, the librarian wasn't hanging from the ceiling)--no need to call me, Mom. The cheerful librarian was sitting at the main desk.
Minot Public Library Children's Library (and this is only half of it!)
Because Autumn is finally old enough to navigate the space on her own, and no longer needs to be "accompanied by an adult at all times", I found myself a comfy chair and sat down to read. Of course  I kept an eye on her, as she buzzed around the stacks like a quiet little humming bird. (More like  a squirrel gathering nuts.)  She'd look something up on the computer, then would buzz over to the appropriate shelf to find what she was looking for.

She picked out a number of books for herself and quite a few for the daycare as well. She loves daycare story time and has been reading to the kids ever since she learned how to read.

We had such a nice, relaxing time at the library, it got me thinking about libraries.  Where did my love for libraries come from?

I've visited quite a few libraries throughout my life.  I even worked in the college library my Freshman year at UND-Williston.  It was only for a few months and entailed helping to enter books into the ODIN database.  It was interesting to see all of the books that would come across the desk, but it was monotonous work.  I honestly think that's what killed my desire to be a librarian.  Sad, because I now know there is more to being a librarian than just entering data on a computer.

The Library I grew up with was the The Williston Community Library in Williston, ND.
You can find them on facebook at this address,

This is most likely where my love for libraries began.  My parents took my brother and me there on a regular basis as kids.  I'll never forget the parakeets the library kept as pets. 

Autumn loved visiting the Williston Library during the 19 months we lived there.  We made it to a few story times and enjoyed making a new friend, Gramma Sherry, the Children's Librarian.
The children's books at the Williston Library are in bin type shelves seen above.  These bins made looking for books easy for even a three and a half year old.

The sun room in the children's library area.
Story time with "Gramma" Sherry
When I was very young, the current library (the beautiful, rounded, brick building you saw above), didn't yet exist.  Instead, we had the James Memorial Library, close to downtown.  I only remember visiting there once or twice as a child.  My brother and I also took a fun, week long art class there when we were little.

It is a beautiful building.  Today, it is known as the James Memorial Art Center.  They host a number of art shows and concerts throughout the year and I am proud to say that my father has played a concert there!  I'm not sure who took this picture of the building, so I'm sorry that I have not given credit to anyone.

More Tomorrow on the Libraries of my life.
Not sure why I'm writing posts about libraries, but try to bear with me.

Until Tomorrow,
Pick up a good book and have a happy, reading day!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Preschool Bat Projects

We've done quite a few little projects this fall, but the pumpkin bear and bat booklet are two of my favorites!

The pattern for these little cuties can be found here at
I love the first school site, they have so many great projects for little ones!

This little bat project came from a Mailbox Magazine for teachers.
The children used sponges and black paint to paint their bats.  We let them dry, cut them out and glued them together.
We glued on the story pages...

...and gave our bats smiles and sharp teeth (to eat fruit and bugs with).
We folded the bat's wings, put our title cards onto the front and Tah-Dah!!  We have a cute little bat book!

Bat items that live on the fridge including our Deep In The Bat Cave poem.


What is this quilling nonsense that Jennifer is up to these days?
Well, according to Wikipedia...

"Quilling or paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs."

"During the Renaissance, French and Italian nuns and monks used quilling to decorate book covers and religious items. The paper most commonly used was strips of paper trimmed from the gilded edges of books. These gilded paper strips were then rolled to create the quilled shapes. Quilling often imitated the original ironwork of the day."

That's pretty much the jist of it in a nutshell.
Here's another tid-bit of Wikipedia wisdom that I found quite comical.

"In the 18th century, quilling became popular in Europe where gentle ladies of quality ("ladies of leisure") practiced the art. It was one of the few things ladies could do that was thought not too taxing for their minds or gentle dispositions. Quilling also spread to the Americas and there are a few examples from Colonial times."

Poor ladies...they couldn't do anything "too taxing".  How boring life must have been for them.  I imagine there weren't too many ways to express themselves.
The picture above is from the blog Women in American History (link below).  It's an interesting site with many pictures and text to peruse.

When I first started quilling I thought it was only flowers, small animals and maybe a little train car or two.  Boy was I wrong!  Quilling can be so beautiful!

Yulia Brodskaya is my all time favorite quiller.  Here is her website. 
If you visit her site, be sure to check our the "News" link.  Here, one can see all of the illustrations Brodskaya has done for different companies and magazines through the years!
And check out this beautiful wedding invitation designed by Spark Stationery.  You can see more at

Quilling is one of my many hobbies.  I'm not great at it, but through practice I feel I'm improving through the years.  Usually, the quilling bug takes hold around November and I start making snowflakes for Christmas season.  The snowflake ornaments are given away as gifts to my friends and family.
Last year I did not quill.
This year I am making up for it.

Last weekend, darling daughter had a sleepover, the perfect opportunity for me to do some late night quilling!  I quilled for 5 hours straight! (Well, there were a couple of snack breaks in there). I listen to the Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack from the 2005 film.  (I don't know why.)

Colored quilling paper!
Some placecards I was attempting in 2010.

This is the basic beginning of most of my flakes.
I bought this really neat little box at a scrapbooker's garage sale.  I don't know where it came from originally, or what company sold them, but it works great for storing quilling supplies.  It is long, so is perfect for storing the long loops of quilling paper.  The drawers are also removable!

This is my quilling kit.
The top drawer is shallow and undivided, the perfect place to store flakes-in-progress, scissors, and paper strips.
The bottom drawer is full of little, removable boxes.  These are perfect for storing small pieces of quilled work.  The small plastic jars are from JoAnn Fabrics jewelery department.
The only thing this box doesn't hold is my bottle of glue.
A flake in progress.

The beauty of quilling is that little projects like these snowflakes are so easy, with a little practice, ANYONE can do them! 

Until another day,
Have a Crafty Day!