The Inly Library Annex….

Leave a comment

One of the many benefits of the Inly construction project is that – for now – my house is the closest thing we have to an Inly Library.  I could send an email (but I won’t!) to our students letting them know that the new books are right here…..



We will move to the new space during the first week of August, but the recent deliveries are piled up around my computer. It’s kind of fun – good music, air condition, and Starbucks down the street. I’m playing library in my family room….we even have the Library robot and a calendar that is still on June 14!


Of course, the best part is having a chance to look at the wonderful new books before they make the four mile trip back to school.  Here are three of the picture books that I’m most looking forward to sharing with our younger students:


Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty

Ed is a lucky dog. He belongs to the Ellis family and they are all, as McAnulty announces on the first page, “excellent at something.”  The problem for Ed is figuring out what he’s good at.  The five children  all have a gift: Elaine plays soccer. Twins Emily and Elmer “could add faster than a calculator.”  Edith is a ballerina. Ernie can bake cupcakes.  But when Ed tries to figure out what makes him special, his good-hearted efforts fail.  Ultimately, Ed learns what he brings to his warm and loving family and recognizes his special place in their hearts. This is a funny book with lots of word play and funny pictures.


In addition to being a fun read aloud, Excellent Ed has an encouraging message for kids who need a gentle reminder that everyone has something to offer.


Chimpanzees for Tea! by Jo Empson

When the kitchen cabinet begin looking a little empty, Vincent’s mother sends him to the store to get: “a bunch of carrots, a box of rice, some tasty cheese, a big firm pear, a can of peas.” Simple enough, right?  But…in a gust of wind, the list flies away and Vincent begins to recite the list to himself.   There are so many distractions on the way to the store though – a circus performer on stilts and other friends to greet. Although Vincent tries to stay on task, he gets a bit confused and begins to recite the list with words that rhyme with the original list. For example, a box of rice becomes a box of mice!   It’s a colorful and energetic book that is sure to put a smile on a child’s face.

For a fun story time, pair Chimpanzees for Tea! with Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells.


Lion Lessons by Jon Agee

When I see a new book with Jon Agee’s name on the cover, I order it sight unseen – and I’m always rewarded. He’s awesome.  If you’re new to Agee’s world, check out The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau and Milo’s Hat Trick and It’s Only Stanley – and all of the others.  This new one about a young boy who wants to earn his lion diploma is equally engaging, smart, and even a bit poignant.

More stories from the Library Annex coming….





Scattered Summer Notes….




It’s summer, and all attempts at a regular routine have been forgotten.  My reading is scattered – in a good way. In an interview with the New York Times Book Review, Geoff Dwyer said that his favorite short story is “The Gardener” by Rudyard Kipling.  Two hours later, I was on the deck reading Kipling’s story about a mother searching for her son’s grave after WWI.


On Monday, although the plan was to begin reading Emma Straub’s new novel, Modern Lovers, I read Terry Tempest Williams’ essay about Acadia National Park.  The essay is part of her new collection, The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks.  Later this summer, we are visiting Acadia for the first time so I was an easy target for her beautiful new book. “Acadia is another breathing space,” Williams writes. “Perhaps that is what parks are – breathing spaces for a society that increasingly holds its breath.”  A memorable sentence that elegantly captures the anxiety many of us feel as we try to comprehend Orlando, Brexit, and Trump…


Yesterday I continued my scattershot reading, but my distraction may be helpful to those of you with children who have a summer reading list.  I read the short middle grade novel, Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford.  It was published in 2008, and I remember reading it then, but for some reason, I took Inly’s copy before it was packed in a moving box and read it again. This is literally the perfect novel for every kid who has a tendency to procrastinate.

Nine-year-old Moxy is supposed to read Stuart Little during the summer before fourth grade, but it’s the day before school starts and she hasn’t even started it.  She’s busy “cleaning” her room and making plans for a peach orchard.  Basically anything besides reading Stuart Little!  The chapters are short and funny and Moxy is great – add this one to your summer library list!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles….


My transportation-based reading plans trended the same way.  During a flight to and from Ohio, I read Stephanie Danler’s bestseller Sweetbitter.  It was not the book I had tucked in my travel bag. I started Sweetbitter in the Boston airport bookstore – drawn to it by the hype around Danler’s debut novel.  After reading five pages standing in the store (carrying other books in my tote bag), I walked to the cash register and didn’t stop reading until the plane landed and I was back in the land of Buckeyes!

Referred to in many reviews as a cross between Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City, Sweetbitter is a riveting and smart book. It’s the story of Tess, a young woman who arrives in New York and almost immediately starts working in an upscale restaurant.  It’s a coming-of-age novel with memorable scenes of life behind the kitchen door, lots of cocaine snorted behind bathroom doors, and a young woman who is pulled along by all of it.

I will never eat at a “fancy restaurant” again without thinking of Sweetbitter – not sure if that’s good or bad.  As much as I appreciated how Danler brings the reader hurtling along with Tess, I felt vaguely depressed while reading it. I kept wanting to go to the restaurant and get her out!  She was making bad decisions on every page.  I understand that I’m bringing my judgement to her situation – and that Tess is young and learning and we all make bad decisions.  That being said, it made me uneasy to witness her journey.


I was also in New York for a few days, and the train ride was perfect for catching up on my stack of unread New Yorker magazines.  So many good articles – and cartoons – that stack up during the school year!


Of course, we found time to visit McNally Jackson, our favorite bookstore in New York (traveling by an uber-mobile to complete the transport trio).


The store’s window display pays tribute to people who tackle a “big” book over the summer.  My thoughts went immediately to a friend who just finished reading The Brothers Karamazov – an impressive feat.


Next up: Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager.  It’s the first middle grade novel I’m reading with a group of kids at Buttonwood Books and Toys this summer. Eager’s novel takes place in New Mexico, a state I know and love.  I plan to bring a few souvenirs along so we can channel a southwestern mood. Chips and salsa will help!

Finally, I saw a picture of this new novel today:


It looks like this one, doesn’t it?


I’ll end this reading round-up with two pictures from the end of the school year.  As I looked at these pics today, I recalled a conversation I overheard a few days ago at Barnes and Noble. A boy, who was about 10 or 11, was consulting his summer reading list.  His mother reminded him to choose carefully because he had to write a summary of each chapter!  Ugh. And we wonder why kids don’t want to read.  Of course, work like that is often necessary (but not always) during the school year, but in the summer?  Why not give kids a list of books they might enjoy reading and encourage them to read. That’s it. No summaries. No assignments. Just read.




Sharks and Ann Patchett’s List of 75…

Leave a comment

Unknown-15There were other topics I considered writing about today, but when I heard that this is Shark Week – and then read Ann Patchett’s list of the “75 Best Books of the Past 75 Years,” I forgot everything else!

Sharks are not my favorite animal to read about. I haven’t even seen Jaws. But as children’s librarians know, you can’t keep a good shark book on the shelf.  Years ago, dinosaur books were the “scary” animals of choice for the eight-and-under crowd, but for the past two years, sharks have left dinosaurs in the dust!

Here are ten recommendations for the young shark lover in your life:



Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton


Flip & Fin: Super Sharks to the Rescue! by Timothy Gill


Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale


Shark Detective! by Jessica Olien


I’m a Shark by Bob Shea



Fly Guy Presents: Sharks by Tedd Arnold


Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies


Sharks: Biggest! Littlest! by Sandra Markle


Discovering Sharks by Donna Potter Parham


Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy (for ages 7-10.  A bit too vividly realistic for the five-year-old shark fan!)

On a completely different note…..

Ann Patchett’s list is a keeper.  Here’s a link:

Patchett and her staff at Parnassus Books in Nashville compiled the list for Parade magazine’s 75th anniversary. The books are organized by decades.   I filled out the check list…

-I am familiar with 74 of the books.  The one I had never heard of: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

-I’ve read 29 of them.

-There are three collections of short stories that I did not count, but I’ve read stories from the books.


Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is on the list. I didn’t read it, but if watching the mini series counted….


-One of the books is on my nightstand – in the queue!  (When Breath Becomes Air)


– One of the books would have to be the only printed material on a desert island for me to open.  (Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child)


-and, yes – of course – Charlotte’s Web is on the list!


HAPPY READING and be careful in the water!  Sharks may be fun to read about, but….

A Trip to Ohio….


I returned home last night from four wonderful days in the Buckeye State, two in Columbus and two in Dayton, my hometown.  I enjoyed being with my family, eating at Marion’s Pizza, buying Flyer Gear at the University of Dayton Bookstore, but our visit to Carillon Park, a museum spread over 65 acres that tells the story of Dayton’s history with special attention paid to its many inventors, was especially eye-opening.

Although everyone who grows up in Dayton knows the story of the Wright Brothers, I did not realize until Monday that I grew up in the early 1900s version of Silicon Valley! It was this barn that made me think about the connection:


It’s a replica of the barn that stood behind Edward Deeds’ home in Dayton.  Deeds is hardly a household name, but he was the president of the National Cash Register Company and an engineer whose work led to advancing automotive technology. He also worked with the Wright Brothers and was involved in aircraft production during WWI.


The sign in front of the barn reads: “In the original barn, from 1908 to 1912, a group of young engineers and inventors headed by Deeds and Charles Kettering developed the modern electric automobile ignition, starter, and lighting systems. Nicknamed ‘the barn gang,’ the group became the nucleus of the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company.”

Sixty-seven years later, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak worked in a garage rather than a barn, but there are obvious parallels.


Of course, we also saw the Wright Flyer that Orville flew in 1905.  After reading David McCullough’s book about the famous brothers, I appreciated seeing the plane more.


We also visited The Book Loft in German Village, a neighborhood in Columbus. The independent bookstore is known for its 32 rooms of books and, although I didn’t get to all of them, I found Room 32!



And then, of course, there’s the plane ride – two hours each way of uninterrupted reading time.  I know devices have airplane modes, but I’m pretending they don’t!


Although there are many new books I plan to read this summer, my first summer book was not even on my list – A Long and Happy Life by Reynolds Price.  Price, who died in 2011, was a well known and respected southern writer and Biblical scholar who, among other things, co-wrote the song, Copperline, with James Taylor. A Long and Happy Life, his first novel, was published in 1962.

Price’s novel about Rosacoke Mustian, a young woman in rural North Carolina, was the first “literary novel” I read as a young woman – and at the beginning of each summer, I state my intention to read it again.  Finally…I delivered on my self-assigned summer reading!  As a teenage reader, my book choices were unsophisticated.  My reading diet included lots of Harlequin romances because my grandmother had stacks of them.  Although I read books I was assigned in school, I didn’t really seek out “good books” until an embarrassingly late age.

Something or someone led me to the troubled romance of Rosacoke Mustian and Wesley Beavers.  Reading it now, I see so many things that would have gone right past me as a twenty-year-old.  The language is evocative and poetic – and I was a late-blooming reader.

Reading Price’s novel after thirty years of reading and teaching and studying, is a richer experience – but the first time was more meaningful. A Long and Happy Life was my gateway book. Rosacoke led me to all the other books. I literally did not look back – except for reading maybe one or two Harlequin romances with my grandmother!

Summer Reading List: Part Two

Leave a comment

Today’s summer reading list is for new readers — the early chapter book set.  If you’ve been in a bookstore recently, you know that nearly all of the books for this group of readers are part of a series.  This totally makes sense. New readers enjoy and “rely on” the predictability of a series.  Reading about familiar characters and situations lets them focus their energy on the task at hand!  That being said, I try to encourage our expanding readers to vary their diet and to give stand-alone titles a chance.

Here are the books I recommended for summer reading:


Cam Jansen – a series by David Adler

Anna Hibuscus – a series by Atinuke

Flat Stanley – a series by Jeff Brown


Lola Levine – a series by Monica Brown

The Chicken Squad – a series by Doreen Cronin

Tales from Deckawoo Drive series – starting with LeRoy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo

Bink and Gollie – a series by Kate DiCamillo

Mercy Watson – another series by Kate DiCamillo!


Mouse Scouts – a series by Sarah Dillard

Nikki and Deja – a series by Karen English


Bramble and Maggie – a series by Jessie Haas

The Princess in Black – a series by Shannon Hale

Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale (a stand alone title – for now!)

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han (another stand alone)

Phoebe Green – a series by Veera Hiranandani

The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson (a graphic novel for young readers)


Shelter Pet Squad – a series by Cynthia Lord

Lulu – a series by Hilary McKay

Judy Moody – a series by Megan McDonald

Stink (Judy’s brother!) – a series by Megan McDonald


Space Taxi – a series by Wendy Mass

Magic Tree House – a series by Mary Pope Osborne

Clementine – a series by Sarah Pennypacker

Piper Green – a series by Ellen Potter


Akimbo – a series by Alexander McCall Smith

Frankie Pickle – a series by Eric Wight

My Life in Pictures by Deborah Zemke (a new book that I hope is a series – it’s wonderful!)

We’re getting closer to the new library – we’ve entered the moving stage. This move was not into the new building, but rather an interim location – a pod in the parking lot!  It happened fast, and when the movers were gone and the shelves were empty, it was bittersweet…







Summer Reading List: Part One


School’s out!  Inly’s 8th graders are high school-bound and, although I’ll miss them next year, they are ready for new challenges. Over the past school year, they read the middle school classics: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Outsiders, and The Giver. We also read Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and March by John Lewis.  So many good books to talk about…

As the 8th graders move on, their younger classmates have (hopefully) taken a look at Inly’s summer reading list and begun to narrow down their choices.  As always, there are lots of options – biographies, realistic fiction, mysteries, graphic novels, sports, and science. The goal is for the students to enjoy their reading and perhaps to find a book they wouldn’t have known about without a list to point the way.

Below are the books I’m recommending to our middle grade readers – kids between the ages of 10 and 12.  I’ll post the early chapter books and middle school novels next…



The Green Bicycle by Haifaa Al-Mansour

My Diary From the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Summer at Forsaken Lake by Michael Beil

El Deafo by Cece Bell

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The Wild Robot (Peter Brown)


Serafina’s Promise by Ann Burg

Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs by Cylin Busby

Keepers of the Vault: Fire and Glass by Marty Chan

The Goblin’s Puzzle by Andrew Chilton

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova


Powerless, Super, and Villainous by Matthew Cody

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein

Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper


It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager


The Lost Treasure of Tuckernuck by Emilie Fairlie

Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter by Beth Fantaskey

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It by Sundee Frazier

Absolutely Truly: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick

The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein

Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman

The Perfect Place by Teresa Harris

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm


A Bandit’s Tale: The Muddled Misadventures of a Pickpocket by Deborah Hopkinson

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamison

The Great Green Heist by Varian Johnson

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Masterminds by Gordan Korman

Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson

Zodiac Legacy by Stan Lee


The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy  

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island by Dana Levy

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

The Wild Ones by C. Alexander London

Stormstruck by John McFarlane


The Last Boy at St. Edith’s by Lee Gjertsen Malone

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver


The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

Wing and Claw: Forest of Wonders by Linda Sue Park

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker


The Turn of the Tide by Rosanne Parry

Eleven and Holding by Mary Penney

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau

The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan


Holes by Louis Sachar

The Keepers Series by Ted Sanders

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen


Every Single Second by Tricia Springstubb

Wings of Fire by Tui Sutherland

The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin by Elinor Teele

Bounders by Monica Tesler

Six by M.M. Vaughan

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Nonfiction  (a short version of the list in the interest of space!)


The Mystery of Darwin’s Frog by Marty Crump

Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future by Allan Drummond

The Amazing Harry Kellar by Gail Jarrow

The Fairy Ring: Or How Elsie and Frances Fool the World by Mary Losure

The Great Monkey Rescue by Sandra Markle


Around the World by Matt Phelan

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson

Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

Countdown….. of kids looking at the summer reading selections last week. By the way, the pics were taken on “Wacky Wednesday” – which explains the outfits and hair styles!




Two…. pictures of the new library. Packing begins on Monday!



One….Superman running across the playground!


Happy Reading…




Gators, Princesses, and a Painting….

Leave a comment

I timed my (nearly daily) trip to Buttonwood Books and Toys perfectly yesterday – just in time to see Brian Lies, the author of the popular series of picture books about bats who do all kinds of things like go to baseball games, visit the library, and go to the beach…


Brian was at Buttonwood to talk about his new book which is a departure from creatures of the night. This story is about creatures of the swamp.


Gator Dad is about a dad who “squeezes the day” with his three young alligators. They go to the park, play on a seesaw, eat pancakes, and end the day with an alligator squeeze.  A perfect Father’s Day story, Gator Dad captures the joy of a day out.


We only have one week of school left, but Brian kindly signed a book to the kids at Inly, and I will “squeeze” enough time to read one more story!


As a school librarian, I am always on the lookout for princess books. There are lots of young readers who enjoy a good princess story and who can blame them!  But I also try to keep Inly’s library a marketing-free zone which means there are no Disney princess books. When I read about The Seven Princesses by Smiljana Coh, I was hopeful – and it did not disappoint. The best part of Coh’s book is that it’s more than a sweetly illustrated book with wide eyed princesses.  It’s also a story about family. Like all siblings, these seven young girls have their moments.  Each of them has a unique interest and they generally enjoy being together.


But “one day, they had the biggest fight in the entire history of princess fighting.”  The next few pages aren’t as rosy – either literally or figuratively.  The girls separate and build individual towers – they are lonely.  Ultimately, through the magic of an old picture, they reconnect and all is well in the kingdom.  Not a unique story, of course, but that doesn’t matter. The pictures are fun and sparkly in the best princess way – and there’s always room for a reminder how much stronger and happier we are together.

One of the best parts of summer is that I get to choose things to read from my toppling, piled-too-high stack of new books. I look longingly at the pile all school year long while I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird and The Giver and The Outsiders for the fourth or eighth time each, and then one morning I wake up and realize I can read anything I want. I don’t quite hear bells ringing, but something close!


The first “adult book” I read was The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith. I finished it two days ago, and I’m still thinking about the story, the characters, and what a perfect first summer book it was.  Moving between three different times and places, the story centers on a painting by a 17th century Dutch artist. By the 1950s, the painting belongs to a wealthy New Yorker, Martin de Groot, who at the beginning of the novel is hosting a charity event.  After everyone has gone home, he realizes his painting has been replaced by a forgery.

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos could accurately be called a mystery, but the mystery is about more than the painting. It’s also about the mystery of what motivates us and the choices we make.  It’s also just a really good story. As a friend said, each section could be its own novel that you would want to read!

Next up: a book to review for School Library Journal. Back to the toppling stack soon…