Claire Speaks: Frozen


A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us. – Franz Kafka

I am thankful for a daughter who writes! Claire thinks with a pen in hand and was gracious in helping me with this week’s work on the website. So, sharing her perspective about the movie and book Frozen, allow me to officially invite you to hear from fatherknowsbooks very first guest blogger:

Frozen. The movie has swept the nation with its super catchy music and the amazing lessons it teaches. This movie has been awarded Best Original Song for “Let It Go” ( I know you just stopped and sang it at the top of your lungs, don’t deny it), has been nominated for Best Animated Film, has made more than The Lion King($715,000,000 since January), and there are rumors of a Broadway musical – all in its short span of existence on the big screen.

If you looked very closely while the credits were rolling, you saw that Frozen was actually based off of a book called The Snow Queen. This was a story by the outstandingly tremendous children’s author Hans Christian Anderson. He has actually written a couple of stories that inspired their transformation into some of most beloved princess movies in all of Disney history. One example is The Little Mermaid and now…Frozen!

Though there may be many reasons for such success, from my perspective the narrative that so moves us in Frozen is the simple act of a sister’s love. It is a love that knows no bounds and will transform a frozen heart.

The story ends as a tribute to anyone who has ever given themselves as a sacrifice for another:
 “You sacrificed yourself for me?” Elsa asked in wonder.
                                Still weak, Anna replied simply, “I love you.”

‘If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo’ – Tuesday’s 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: If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo by Mary Jean Hendrick with illustrations by Jane Dyer (1993, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)

The Illustrator’s Website:

Time to Read: short and sweet; bedtime or anytime

Summary:  from the Kirkus Review – “Every Saturday, Leslie makes an eponymous offer to one of the zookeepers: “…you can send the zebras to my house.” They promise to remember but aren’t encouraging (“Oh, no…Monkeys…need things to swing on”). Then something does go wrong–heavy rains, flooding–and, one memorable night, the keepers bring the animals to Leslie’s hilltop home, where they put the elephants in the garage, the monkeys on the swing-set, an alligator in the tub, ostriches in the hall–but just for the night. The keepers are grateful; Mom is surprised but polite: “The next time you invite friends home, would you check with me first?” It’s a simple, enticing idea, gracefully and logically developed by this new author and ably abetted by Dyer’s watercolors, which nicely capture the animals’ appeal and the cozy, dependable family so willing to take them in. A real charmer. (Picture book. 4-8)”

Best Quote from the Book:  “I’m glad I remembered that if anything ever went wrong at the zoo, we could bring the animals to your house.”

Our View:  One of the ways in which I have chosen books for our children is to base the choice upon things we like to do in real life – and going to the zoo was always a treat, especially when the kids were little.  That’s why this book is so special to me and often helped me wind up a great visit to the zoo with this bedtime story.  It brought a connection to the events of the day and a funny way of thinking about what might happen if they really decided to bring one of those animals home for the weekend!  I really do enjoy reading this particular book to the girls just before bedtime.  With three daughters five years apart in age, I have had the pleasure of reading and re-reading it to them for more than 16 years now.  It has even become part of our family’s lexicon whenever we talk or visit zoos and it never fails to get the younger children talking about what it would be like to have such things as elephants in our garage and lions in our closet and monkeys on our swingset.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – Animal Crackers!  – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.

Book with Heart


In most of our childhoods there have been those books beloved, not because they are marvelous children’s books, but because they are marvelous books. – Anna Quindlen

We had lunch with our family today. It was one of those great big wonderful, noisy, happy birthday meals for our dad (age 73) and our nephew (age 4) where we enjoy food and stories and gift-giving as we laugh and relax among all the inspiring and child-like energy that fills the rooms of my brother and sister-in-law’s home.

In the midst of all this exuberance, I noticed some old books! They were perched on the top of the family’s piano, their covers aged and their spines crackled among various titles. They were beautiful and mesmerized us as the girls and I opened each one to have a look inside.

There were a half dozen first editions of Franklin Dixon’s masterful Hardy Boys series, an early volume of Edgar Allen Poe stories, and a green-tinted 1935 hardcover classic – L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. It was this particular book that had, well, heart.

Now for those of you who know and love this book, the story itself is full of heart…but that’s not the kind of heart I discovered when I picked up this story today. Because it was as close to a first edition of this book that I had ever seen in person, I asked my brother-in-law if he knew just what a treasure he had. His answer was from the heart and had nothing to do with its place in literary history.

“Sure,” he said. “One of the first things I ever really knew about my wife was how much she loved that story. Later, I searched high and low for a version of it that she could really cherish. It’s a special book.”

What heart! It’s as good a Valentine story as I’ve heard all week and as good a story about a century-old book as I’ve ever heard.

A children’s classic and a husband in love…it makes me think that’s something worth remembering.


Father Knows Five 2-14-14

*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…

1.  Lemony Snicket interviews Kate DiCamillo – two of our favorites authors in one place at one time!  Their books are treasures.

2. Famous Books Recreated By Babies – the pic below is our favorite:


3.  Valentine Gifts for Booklovers! – incredibly wonderful ideas no matter what day of the year it is.


4.  Infographic: The Oxford comma debate – a cool and very brief history of the contentious little comma, and arguments for both sides of the fight.

5.  An Interview with Eve Bunting – to honor our family’s favorite Valentine children’s book, The Valentine Bears, which we reviewed on Tuesday.  There are so many Eve Bunting books in our secret book room!

‘Roll Over Frederico Finale’ 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…Star Wars valentine cards!  Here is his story:

Baby Frederico worried on the bus ride all the way home from school. Mrs. Turnover, his very creative and very energetic gym teacher, had asked that all the students be ready to do some tumbling and somersaults the next day in class.

And though it may have sounded like great fun to his friend Grenelda the Grasshopper, it made Baby Frederico nervous and worried. He did not like to do things that he felt he would not do well or that would embarrass him in front of other people.

He kept his head down as he stepped off the bus and slowly trudged up the sidewalk to his house. Mamma Mia was sitting at the table working on her laptop as he entered the room. Mamma looked up.

“Baby Frederico, are you feeling alright? You don’t look well,” she said.

Through tears, Baby Frederico told her all about his dilemma. He had no idea what to do.

Momma Mia sat quietly and listened and thought over the problem with Baby Frederico. They talked and thought some more and wondered. Suddenly, Momma sprang from her chair and ran out of the room as she whispered, “I’ve got it!”

Baby Frederico ran after his mother and watched as she rushed into her bedroom and pulled the mattress from her bed onto the floor. And then, right before his eyes, Momma Mia began to somersault across it! She taught him how to kneel down and rest his arms over his knees and tuck his head just right before he pushed his feet up and rolled forward across the soft mattress.

He flipped and flopped the first few times, but was soon somersaulting and tumbling all over the house. By the next morning at school he was ready to show Mrs. Turnover just what he could do.

Later that day, as Baby Frederico and Grenelda tumbled across the gym floor and helped other kids learn how to do it, too, he smiled to himself. If he could learn to somersault, there was no telling what he might learn to do next!

A Valentine List of Books

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“I love you so much I really can’t eat, but maybe you’re hungry so sweets to the sweet.” – David Carter

Here is a list of some of our favorite children’s books that we have enjoyed as we celebrate this great holiday. They’re in no particular order:

1. Valentine Friends by Ann Schweninger (1988, Scholastic) – a very creative story of best friends, Buttercup and Lucy, and all of the wonderful ways they celebrate this holiday; it even includes a how-to on creating construction hearts as well as some great knock-knock jokes!

2. Arthur’s Valentine Countdown by Marc Brown (1999, Random House) – one of the best lift-the-flap holiday books and it stars Arthur!

3. Love Bugs by David Carter (1995, Simon & Schuster) – one of the best holiday pop-up books ever!

4. A Kiss For Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik (1968, Weekly Reader Books) – with illustrations by Maurice Sendak!

5. Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink by Diane de Groat (1996, Morrow Junior Books) – the title of this book alone makes it a must-have!

6.  Cranberry Valentine by Wende and Harry Devlin (1986, Aladdin Books) – our friend Rhonda Flint gave us our first “Mr. Whiskers” book and this series is among our favorites to this day.  The illustrations are classic works of art and Mr. Whiskers is hilarious in his quest to discover who is his secret admirer!

7.  Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine by Barbara Park (1999, Random House) – this was among our first series of books with actual chapters and the Valentine story is among our top three favorites.  This is a kindergartner you must read all about!  Another great secret admirer story, mixed so well into the perspective of the kindergarten mind!

8.  Valentine Cats by Jean Marzollo (1996, Scholastic) – writer cats, artist cats, postal cats, and a few kittens thrown in for good measure!

9.  Emily’s Valentine Party by Claire Masurel (1999, Puffin Books) – our aunt Mary Elise bought this as our oldest’s first book with her name in the title.  Emily the rabbit is having a party for her friends and the reader joins in by lifting the flaps as she prepares for her favorite holiday.

10.  The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting (1983, Scholastic) – with illustrations by Jan Brett!  This is my personal favorite of the ten:  “Mr. Bear and Mrs. Bear always missed Valentine’s Day because they were hibernating.  But this year they share a wonderful surprise.”

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Happy Valentine’s Reading!!!

‘The Valentine Bears’ Tuesday’s 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.

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Today’s great book: The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting with illustrations by Jan Brett (1983, Scholastic)

The Author’s Website:

The Illustrator’s Website:

Time to Read: short and sweet; bedtime or anytime

Summary:  from the back cover – “Mr. and Mrs. Bear always missed Valentine’s Day because they were hibernating.  But this year they share a wonderful surprise.”

Best Quote from the Book:  Mr. Bear hugged her.  “You thought I could sleep through just about anything, didn’t you?” he boomed.  “Well, I fooled you.  Happy Valentine’s Day!”  He pulled a box from under his pillow.  “I’ve had these here all along.”

Our View:  Simply put, this one will steal your heart.  I bought this to read first to my wife and then to my daughters.  That it was written by one of the great children’s authors of this century, Eve Bunting, and illustrated by one of the great children’s artists of this century, Jan Brett, means this is a priceless treasure.  They outdid themselves and created a timeless classic that should be in every classroom and read among every family.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – Honey I’m Home!  – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.