Everything is Connected

Just like the worm in my latest book, every creature in Carl and The Meaning of Life has an important job. The mouse, rabbit, squirrel, fox, and ground beetle all need each other, and our world needs them. Everything is connected— including you!

Here are a few newish books I like about the interconnectedness of things. Do you have some favorites?

Books shown:

#pb10for10: HOUSE and HOME

Every year on August 10th, I lurk on Twitter as teachers and other readers post about "ten books they can't live without." An impossible task, you say? Um, yes. But if we are "allowed" to choose ten within a theme—well, then we can talk—

There are so many books that have been written over the years about houses and what makes a home. Here are ten that live on my bookshelves, and why I love them:

A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss & Maurice Sendak, 1953: Ruth Krauss’s chanting, child’s voice and Sendak’s child-drawings together imagine “just a home for me – me – me!” Where a child can put feet on the table, draw on the walls, and bring home “a monkey and a skunky and a very old lion who is eating all the stuffing from the chairs, chairs, chairs!” Uptight adults will not approve of all that, of course, but most children will be delighted by this boisterous, “special” house.

I Want to Paint My Bathroom Blue, also by Krauss and Sendak, 1956:  One of the books I love to give to families with young children, for its charm and fancy and pure joy. “I’ll make a house the kind I dream about not the kind I see…”

The Great Blue House by Kate Banks & Georg Hallensleben, 2005: Beautiful text and gouaches show the life of and in a house while it is closed up for the winter—but still home to a drippy faucet, a mouse, a spider, a cat, a bird. “All is quiet at the great blue house. Or is it?” Poetic and meditative. 

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson & Beth Krommes, 2008: A beautiful, lyrical bedtime book that begins and ends with a house, the center and source of a child’s universe.

My House by Delphine Durand, 2007: "My house isn't fancy on the outside. Really nothing special at all —come in —" 
This is not a book to read exactly (well, at least not to a crowd), it's a book to pour over and over, preferably with someone who shares your sense of humor. Each page is a jumble of rooms full of interesting, endearing, strange characters —"people", if you can call them that (Mr. Nozitall, Mrs. Fishyscales, Badhairday, Mega-Ugly and Maxi-Foul, et al), animals (large, small, invented), flops, flumps —who appear throughout this plotless book. It's sweetly bizarre and incredibly funny in a quirky sort of way, every inch full of tiny, amusing details, painted in rich colors with occasional collaged bits.

Home Place by Crescent Dragonwagon & Jerry Pinkney, 1990: Daffodils come up in the woods, in a row, every spring, the only living memory of a house long gone. Amid ruins in the woods — a chimney, a foundation smothered in weeds — a narrator imagines the family that lived there. A lovely rumination on what makes a house a home.

Home by Carson Ellis, 2015: What is a home? Ellis presents all kinds of possibilities here, real and fanciful. A simple, thoughtful, and lovingly painted collection of homes and people who live in them. 

Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins & Emily Hughes, 2018: “Everything you need for a treehouse begins with time and looking up and imagining a home…” this book begins. Lusciously written and illustrated (pay attention to those pictures and you will learn a lot about all kinds of trees and different ways of building), this is an ode to the role of imagination in creating homes.

Hello, Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall, 2018: Tender text and intricate illustrations reflect the author’s love of lighthouses, depicted through days, seasons, years. Readers learn about the function and keeping of lighthouses, but even more about how the lighthouse was also a home. Just beautiful.

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, 1942: You know this classic, don’t you? One of my childhood favorites.

What are some of your favorite books about houses and homes?


The Power of the Picture Book

In honor of Picture Book Month, teacher Kurt Stroh is hosting on his blog a wonderful series called "The Power of the Picture Book," through the whole month of November. I'm so pleased that he invited me to join in today — take a look at the whole series and my contribution, "The Secret of It". At www.strohreads.

From  The Little Island , by Golden MacDonald and Leonard Weisgard, 1946.

From The Little Island, by Golden MacDonald and Leonard Weisgard, 1946.

Reading, Shyly

"Shy was happiest between the pages of a book... "

Shy's favorites were books about birds. But what else might the title character of my newest book, SHY, like to read? Do you have any suggestions? Here are a of few my top-pick books about shyness:

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty. “Jeremy lived on the top floor of a three-story apartment building… He never left. He never went outside.” Until one day, when he decides to draw a monster — which, humorously, threatens to take over Jeremy’s life. This is a deceptively simple book, in which the text and gently witty illustrations leave plenty of space for readers to discover an unspoken connection between shyness and imagination.

Amandina by Sergio Ruzzier. “Amandina was a wonderful little dog… But nobody knew that, because nobody knew Amandina.” Then one evening, this quiet actress, singer, and acrobat “promised herself that she would stop being so shy.” And that is when Amandina bravely attempts to connect through her art, and along the way, she helps us to understand how touching even one, small creature can open up a whole world. 


Shy Charles by Rosemary Wells. Pity the poor child whose parents are as unsympathetic as Charles’s.  Or admire Charles, who resolutely refuses to change in spite of them, and by the end of the book has taught the adults around him something that young readers have probably already intuited: he was strong all along.

The Boys by Jeff Newman. In this wordless book, a boy is too shy to approach kids playing ball in his new neighborhood. So instead, he sits down on a park bench with a bunch of old timers. He goes back day after day, humorously turning into one of them — trading his cap for slicked back hair and a derby hat, his shorts for plaid pants and bowtie, his baseball bat for a walking stick — until one day, when they aren’t there. Then, in a neat and sweet bit of role-reversal, the oldsters wisely teach one youngster how to be a proper whippersnapper. Simple, expressive, and subtly affecting.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo. One reading friend has suggested that the character Raymie Clarke might like my new book, SHY. Naturally, I'm ridiculously flattered by this suggestion, although I don't know how Raymie would feel about it. But I do know this: if given the chance, Shy would love her — and Kate DiCamillo — right back. 

About that To-Read List...

Confession: I am a compulsive list-maker. I love making to-do lists and find crossing items off with a fat, black marker ridiculously satisfying. But some lists have a way of growing and never shrinking, and my to-read list is the worst of those. So for that, I use Goodreads. It helps me keep my reading life organized in to-read, read, and a bunch of other lists of my choosing. I don’t rate new books there and have chosen not to add books that I really didn’t like or felt ‘meh’ about, but I do make occasional notes about books I’ve enjoyed, and I love seeing what others are reading and recommending. 

Oh, and one more thing about Goodreads? GIVEAWAYS.

Do you do Goodreads?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Shy by Deborah Freedman


by Deborah Freedman

Giveaway ends September 27, 2016.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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