Tuesday, May 24, 2016


By Susan Kreller
Translated by Elizabeth Gaffney
G P Putnam’s Sons, An Imprint of Penguin Group, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-399-17209-0

This book starts with a definition: “THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM-a topic that everyone knows about but which, out of fear or a sense of discomfort, no one will discuss.”

It is told backward from the end of the story and it is a powerful story as it unfolds in the retelling. The first paragraph is this one: “What happened in the blue house brought me a lot of dirty looks. It also brought me my father. The looks continued until the end of summer, but my father went away again after only two hours. I really would have liked it if he stayed a little longer. Maybe at some point he would have told me that what I’d done wasn’t wrong after all, or just slightly wrong, almost right. But all that he thought, there in my grandparents’ garden, was to ask if I couldn’t have done things a little differently.”

With that opening the story unfolds as told by Mascha the main character. She horrifys the entire neighborhood by locking two children in what she calls the tiny blue house. This was her way of solving a problem that no one would talk to her about. She tried to talk to her grandparents, she called her father, and no one would help her. Her solution brought a great deal of attention to the situation that she wanted help to handle.

The setting was descriptive, especially the blue house descriptions. The dialogue was realistic between the children. I would recommend this story for a more mature reader maybe even a young adult reader. The story was so well told that readers will find themselves sweating  as they read it.

For young people like Mascha who is thirteen it is sometimes very hard to get people to listen to you and help when you see something you know is wrong.

I give this story a five out of a possible five. It was an intense story about a very young person trying to solve a problem no adult will acknowledge.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Today I want to talk about table settings and their implications. Everyone spends so much time with their electronic devices, and other activities, that the importance of sitting down around the table to have dinner cannot be overstated. Children and their families need to have a time when they are together sharing a meal. This sharing time will give them an opportunity to express their concerns and talk about their activities. I love to listen to my grandchildren around the dinner table.

Their meal choices are not very flexible, macaroni and cheese and kosher beef hot dogs, but the things they relate to me are precious. They have wonderful misconceptions that they bring up, questions they ask, statements they make as they repeat something in their understanding such as: do you thing rolly pollys have noses and can smell? or the classic: if you eat junk food you will die and never poop again, (my personal favorite.)

The ritual act of setting the table and then sitting down to eat is very important. They love to help when they can and often set out the napkins and the silverware, always wanting knives, because someone else has to help with the heavy dishes or the glasses. Please don’t let the pace at which we live and work deny you this opportunity for important interactions with the children in your life.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


BY Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick Press,
2016 99 Dover Street
Somerville, MA 02144
ISBN: 978-0-7636-8117-3
Price: $16.99

This is a story for children from nine to twelve. It’s story is about three girls who want to enter the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. Here is an example of the humorous writing:
“There were three of them, three girls.
They were standing side by side.
They were standing at attention.
And then the girl in the pink dress, the one who was standing right next to Raymie, let out a sob and said, “The more I think about it, the more terrified I am. I am too terrified to go on!”
The girl clutched her baton to her chest and dropped to her knees.”

So Raymie, with her wonderful childish logic decides she needs to learn baton twirling so she can win this competition. She has to twirl, and do a good deed. Learning to twirl with the two other girls is an experience. Finding a good deed to do is a challenge too. The colorful characters she encounters teach her life lessons as she observes them. But each of her new friends has their own problems and they band together to help each other. All the characters in this novel are people that I have met. They are real and wonderfully presented. The settings are well described.
There is something magic about the combination of Southern landscapes, and settings, and the logic of children. Kate DiCamillo has done it again.

I give it a five out of five.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016


What special Mother’s Day traditions do you have?
My favorite tradition was a bike ride in the park when my children were little. The park is always lovely on Mother’s Day, things are blooming and everything looks clean and bright. The roses are blooming on Mother’s Day. Some of my best days are spent smelling the old-fashioned fruity apple roses, white. I think the scent of those roses always takes me back to Mother’s Day.

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