Father Knows Five 11-29-13

*Every Friday we serve you an “a la carte” style list of 5 unique videos, articles, ideas, etc. from all kinds of locations. (If you are viewing this blog through your email subscription, please follow the link to our website to view all videos.)  See you next week…

In celebration of Thanksgiving, we present to you our list of Five Favorite Books we’ve read this week to get ourselves ready to be thankful:

1.  A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting with illustrations by Diane de Groat (1991)

2.  ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving with story and illustrations by Dav Pilkey (1990)

3.  My First Thanksgiving with story and illustrations by Tomie dePaola (1992)

4.  Thanksgiving Day by Anne Rockwell with illustrations by Lizzy Rockwell (1999)

5.  Thanksgiving is Here with story and illustrations by Diane Goode (2003)

‘Thank-Full’ Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico

*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story about our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

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Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn and painting his bedroom…but he did not like to wake up happy.  Here is his story:

It was early- too early for a little iguana to be awake – but the aroma from the kitchen was too good to sleep through. Baby Frederico lay there in his Battlestar Galactica sleeping bag (which he always preferred over the scratchy flannel sheets that his Momma Mia put on his bed in the wintertime) and tried to guess what his senses were telling him.

There was the smell of turkey…and bread dough…and something chocolate…and coffee.  There was the sound of a mixer…and music…and someone talking…and a timer ticking.

He began to think about all the things that were good about this particular holiday – family and friends and food and music and cold weather and piles of leaves to jump in.  There were also those wonderful smells and exciting sounds.  There were books to read and shows to watch and hiking in the forest behind his house and telling stories…and no school or homework.

By the time Baby Frederico climbed out of his sleeping bag that morning,he was brimming with happiness.  In fact, he was smiling so big when he came down the stairs to greet his family that Momma Mia said with surprise, “Baby Frederico, are you alright?  You are smiling from ear to ear, and it’s still early.  You never smile in the morning.”

And that is when Baby Frederico realized what Thanksgiving meant.  He was thank-full and he knew why.

451 degrees of Reading

 Claire 451

Fahrenheit 451 – do you remember it?  When Ray Bradbury wrote this stark view of a world in which books are illegal and firemen are sent to burn them and the homes they are found in, I wonder if he could realize the impact his book would have upon teenagers in 2013.

Both of my older daughters (whose English teachers have been the cream of the crop) read it as part of their 8th grade reading lists. It was an interesting book and its subject was immediately interesting to them because they are avid readers and lovers of books, but both of them began to realize with this famous work that reading some of these classics are a bit like riding a roller coaster. There are interesting parts and great paragraphs and eerie scenes, but also slow parts and confusing moments and difficult passages.

Because of the ups and downs in this particular book and sometimes feeling like they were having to force themselves to keep reading, I often found myself trying to encourage them to keep reading until the story could capture their attention again.

And then something great happened last evening! We were at a school event and our middle daughter’s wonderful 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Adam, stopped to say hello. We were talking about the common struggle of reading these classic works of literature and our daughter told her about the difficult and sometime-drudgery of reading Fahrenheit 451.

Mrs. Adam said, “The reason to keep reading such things is so you can be ready for literary allusions in the future. The cultural impact of these books will always find some place in an interesting conversation. By reading them now, you will be ready for such things and you can think right along with the best of them.”

No wonder this is a person we define as a great teacher.  She could see beyond the day-to-day (or page-to-page) and into the bigger picture.  She was reminding us that there are important aspects of being a reader that only time will tell.  She was teaching.

‘A Turkey for Thanksgiving’ – Look at this Book!

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room, and give you a unique “recipe for fun” this week over on our Book Cook page…


Today’s great book:  A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting with illustrations by Diane de Groat (1991, Scholastic Inc.)

Time to Read:  short and sweet with great friends and lots of kindness and humor and even a bit of mistaken identity; great for bedtime or anytime

Summary:  from the back of the book…”Everyone has turkey for Thanksgiving, and Mrs. Moose wants one too.  So, Mr. Moose and his friends set out to find a turkey for dinner, but Mr. Turkey has other ideas.”

Best Quote:  “It’s even nicer to be AT your table and not ON it…Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.”

Our View:  The last pages of this book are such a nice surprise to a person reading it for the first time, so we won’t give away the plot other than in that best quote above.  This is among the most creative of the Thanksgiving books in our collection.  We have quite a few, but this one remains special and is a grand reminder of that favorite part of this holiday season – gathering with family and friends and making the most of that time together.  Friends are everywhere in this book and working together and laughing together and sharing a meal together are the centerpiece of this grand Thanksgiving table.  As a student teacher, I read this book to my second-graders and they enjoyed it so much they decided to create a reader’s theater-style play from it.  We had sound effects people and actors and costume designers and props and one illustrator, Daniel, a little boy who found his talent as he was drawing all of the wonderful backdrops that the children would end up using to tell their story.  It was such a success that they ended up making tickets and posters for the entire elementary school, who came in shifts with friends and family and administrators to see the wonderful performance.  That is the power of a little book!  Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “Turkey’s TrailMix” – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.

Reading for One

Greyson Moore 1

I am so glad we were invited to a family birthday party for Greyson Moore. He’s a little boy who just turned one year old. Full of energy and curiosity and happy with the kind of smile that makes you somehow feel better about life in general, we really enjoyed this party.

As his mom and dad set the many presents around him at the center of the living room floor, we all gathered to watch him enjoy this “toy extravaganza” rite of passage. What happened next though really surprised me.  His mother could barely get him to unwrap the gifts because he was so intrigued with each of the birthday cards!

What surprises me is that I was actually one of the adults who had suggested that buying a birthday card for a one-year old is surely nothing more than a Hallmark scheme.  I was wrong and I was intrigued to see this little boy so entranced with holding these cards in his hands just like he was holding a book, and acting as though he was reading them.

Here’s what I’m thinking – Greyson has a family who not only reads to him but reads to themselves.  He is watching and learning how to hold a book, how to look at a book, and eventually he will find that reading a book is as natural as walking and talking.

So here’s to books and birthdays and big families and (I can’t believe I am about to type this) Hallmark cards for toddlers!

Greyson Moore 2

P.S. As I was finishing up this post late last week, my wife’s good friend sent us a photo of her little girl, Alleeah (a little more than a year old) who had been “reading to herself” in her crib that morning.  I love people who read before they can read!!!

Alleeah reading


Father Knows Five 11-22-13

*Every Friday we serve you an “a la carte” style list of 5 unique videos, articles, ideas, etc. from all kinds of locations. (If you are viewing this blog through your email subscription, please follow the link to our website to view all videos.)  See you next week…


This week we want to dedicate the day to one of our favorite children’s authors, Barbara Park (1947-2013), who passed away on November 15.    This wonderful writer’s Junie B. Jones series has been a favorite in our home since all three girls were in Kindergarten.  We have every book and especially enjoyed the audio series of them all, expertly read by actress Lana Quintal.  We had more laughs together as a family over this Junie B. character than I can count.

1.  Here is a tribute to the author: The Washington Post

2.  This is a pic of the famous-at-our-house first audio books of any kind that our girls ever listened to…and had nearly memorized by age 5!  This is such a great audio series.


3.  This was a true favorite (for the kids and the dad):

Junie B Jones

4.  A few years ago we took the girls to see a short play at Full Circle Bookstore that was touring nationally in celebration of the Junie B. books.  It was hysterical!

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5.  www.juniebjones.com – Here is the fun website and a wonderful biography of the author.

Our 100th Post! ‘The Adventure List’ Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico

*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story about our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!


Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn, and…searching in his Momma Mia’s purse for loose change; but he did not like to be bored.  Here is his story:

The day his father told him that he could be bored or he could not be bored, that was the day that Baby Frederico decided to never be bored again. It was a challenge to “choose his own adventure” and so Baby Frederico accepted the challenge! He began a list of great boredom-blasting ideas that would soon change his life forever.  At the top of his paper, he wrote the best title ever: “Baby Frederico’s Crazy, Amazing, Shocking, No-Way, Absolutely-Kind-Of-Certainly Possible, Longest, Funniest, Strangest, Coolest Adventure List Ever!” It included:

1.  Climb a mountain made of marshmallows and peanut butter

2.  swim through orange jello

3.  Climb a cedar tree

4.  throw the fastest baseball pitch ever

5.  jump over a house

6.  slide down a snowy hill

7.  ride a bike through mud

8.  build the longest Hot Wheels racetrack ever made

9.  search for Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster

10.  befriend a large dog

11.  build a bookcase

12.  make a movie

13.  play the saxophone

14.  play the cello

15.  play the piano

16. play the guitar

17.  play the clarinet

18. dunk a basketball

19. dunk an Oreo cookie

20. ride a Parachute

21. explore the inside of a piano

22.  search for mysterious artifacts in a forest

23.  read a 500-page book

24.  write an adventure story

25. and anything else I can think of…

There.  His list was complete for now and he would get started on the first one the very moment his old friend the boredom bug decided to bite.

He said to himself, “Adventures!  Here I come…”