Life in a Book Room

Book room cool

CJ and Sibs

My sister and her husband recently created a little book room for their three children. It has all the necessities: lots of books and lots of character and lots of coziness…and of course, children!

In my imagination there are few things that compare to a family book room – a place that just fits a child and their books. It can be nothing more than a tent made from blankets or become as extravagant as a treehouse bunk bed structure built right inside their bedroom.

When our children were smaller, I would often find them sleeping on our book room floor…and covered in books. With the treasure of childlike exuberance and pint-size stature, they reveled in the quiet and the warmth and the smaller space which seemed like a mini-mansion’s library to them. They were home and they were safe and they were reading.

The book room. Whatever it looks like and however expansive it is, a book and a child can make it so.

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Father Knows Five 3-28-14

*Every Friday we serve you an “a la carte” 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.  Willy Wonka News!

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2.  The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art – this website will amaze you.  I can’t wait to visit!

3.  Cast your Vote for Favorite Children’s Books - this is a fun,interactive voting experience for all ages!

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4.  Books for Dads and Children:  A buddy of mine welcomed his first baby girl into the world yesterday.  To celebrate this event, here is a list of some of the best children’s books to buy for dads (new and old).

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“A Joke a Minute!” Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico!

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*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…writing mysteries.  Here is his story:

Sometimes Baby Frederico just needs a good joke or two (or four) to get him through the week, and this was one of those weeks!  So much testing at school and so many piano lesson practices that the best medicine for a tired brain is a little something to make a face smile and a voice laugh.  Here are his favorites for the week:

- What do you call a pig who does karate? A pork chop!

- Why was the man running around his bed? He wanted to catch up on his sleep!

- How did the barber win the race? He knew a short cut!

- What did zero say to eight? Nice belt!-

Just Like That…

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We spent some time with my grandmother this past week.  Our 9-year old also spent some time writing her first book.  It is a creative and very mysterious story she has titled “The Unplayed Piano.”

For the past couple of years, there are really just two types of books that our daughter loves to read most – poetry and mysteries.  As she completes a chapter of this story she is writing right now, she reads it to her mother and sister and me after dinner and makes changes here and there as she reads it.  There are elements of humor and anxiety and excitement, but they all revolve around the sound of this mysterious piano music that only certain people in this family’s house are able to hear.  We don’t yet know how it will end, but the suspense is killing us!

Here is what I wanted to share with you about my grandmother and my 9-year old and this story.  I was in the kitchen working on a puzzle with my grandfather last evening when I heard the following conversation in the other room.  It went like this:

Grandmother:  “Honey, I have been meaning to ask you all week…how is your book coming along?  I was just thinking that when we finish dinner, you and I should sit together so you can read more of it to me.   I want to hear what happens with that piano.”

Julia:  “Really?”

Grandmother:  “Yes, I can’t wait.”

Julia:  “Then I can’t wait to read it to you.”

Just like that, no more than a 30 second conversation and a little girl is so encouraged, so surprised, and so happy.  And just like that, a little girl becomes an author.

‘Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot’ – Tuesday’s Look at this Book!

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* 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: Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot written by Margot Theis Raven and illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenbuyzen (2002, Sleeping Bear Press)

The Author’s Website:  http://www.margotraven.com/Pages/default.aspx

The Illustrator’s Website:  http://hazelridgefarm.com/books.html

Awards:  2003 Children’s Choice Award; IRA 2002 Midwest Independent Publisher Merit Award; and the 2004-05 Children’s Crown Honor Award – 2004-05 Show me Award

Time to Read: we read it just before bed and it took about 10-15 minutes with a few extra minutes to talk about the history and read the epilogue.

Summary:  from the inside cover…A true story of the 1948 humanitarian rescue mission, the Berlin Airlift, and the candy that dropped from the sky…[The story of] a seven-year old girl named Mercedes who lived in West Berlin during the airlift and [Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen] who came to be known as the Chocolate Pilot.

Best Quote from the Book:  “The memory of this day would stay with her for the rest of her life.”

Our View:  This book is among our newest finds and is already a treasure in our book room.  This is a truly powerful tale of history and children that is beautifully illustrated.  It is not only a work of art, but of literary worth and will take your breath away as you read the conclusion of the story and hear what has since happened to each of the people in the story.  The girls and I read this book just before bedtime and it propelled us into a discussion of war and worry and children and life in difficult times.  It is also a glorious story of chocolate and the magic that it can work even in difficult times.  The heroes are plentiful in this wonderful book.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe - Wild Blue Yonder Chocolate Cake!  - created by the kids for this particular book.

The Family That Scrabbles Together…

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I had one of those snapshot-style, great moment-in-time experiences last night with our 14-year old and my 83-year old grandparents. Our teenager had convinced the three of us to play a board game, Scrabble, with her and we were gathered around the table for the big event.

Scrabble was the idea of an architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, and was trademarked in 1948.  Today, one hundred million sets have been sold worldwide (between one and two million are sold each year in North America alone); it is estimated that one in every three American homes owns the game in some form; and there are more than 120,000 words “that may be used in their scoring arsenal.”

The funny thing about it, however, is that my grandparents, in all their 83 years, had never, ever played it! This was to be their very first run at such a venerable old game of wordplay…and boy was I lucky to be there for it. It was beyond hilarious. Here are just a few things that were said during the game:

- (said my grandfather to no one in particular) This game will eat your lunch.

- (said my grandmother to my grandfather) Do you want to do that one? (said my grandfather to my grandmother) Yes ma’am!

- (said by my grandfather about my grandmother) She took so long I can’t remember the great word I was going to play!

- (said to my grandmother and teenager) If you’d let me choose 7 letters, I could whip this game.

- (said to all of us, several times) Whose turn is it?

- (said to my grandmother, several times) You are taking entirely too long.

- (said to no one in particular) Wish I could win.

- (said to himself) Let’s make the rules up as we go.

- (said to all of us, just once) I threw the blank ones back because I thought they were duds.

- (said to me nearly every time) Is it my turn already?

- (said to my teenager several times about the letter m) You can’t see it, but that’s a w!

Tears of laughter reigned through most of the game, which lasted just about an hour.  The memory, however?  That will last much longer.  Therefore, thank you Scrabble.

Father Knows Five 3-21-14

*Every Friday we serve you an “a la carte” 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…

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1.  Great Books to Read with Infants and Toddlers – a super list of some super books!

2.  Everyday Steps to Reading and Writing – a super list of ideas!

3.  A beloved author and how her children finished the final novel of her collection – “When Newbery Medalist Jean Craighead George, author of more than 100 children’s books, died in 2012 at the age of 92, she was in the process of writing Ice Whale…”

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4.  E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards – Wow, wow, wow…that there is an E.B. White Read-Aloud Award is worth knowing in itself!

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5.  The Art of Robert McCloskey, author of Make Way for Ducklings - my well-read grandmother was the first person to introduce me to this book and the McCloskey world of art.  I am still a fan!

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