‘Friendship’ – Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico

Baby Frederico sat quietly on the back row nearest the exit. It was his first official day at camp and he was worried. Every other camper in the room seemed to have a thousand friends, and he had not even one.

Camp was not something he had wanted to do, but Mama had insisted on it. “Just try it,” she said. “If you go this one time and don’t enjoy it, you don’t ever have to go again.”

And now, here he was. Alone. Friendless. Homesick. Hungry. Sleepy. Grumpy. “Hey,” he said to himself. “I sound like I’m becoming all those dwarfs in Snow White!”

Before he could stop himself, he laughed…out loud. He was immediately embarrassed and his face turned from green to red in a moment. It was just then that he felt a tap on his shoulder.

“What’s funny?” said an iguana who was just a little taller and darker in color and sitting in the chair to Baby Frederico’s left.

“Oh nothing. Nothing at all. I was just thinking.” Baby Frederico couldn’t believe he had actually laughed out loud. He was embarrassed all over again.

“Anytime someone can think something so funny that it makes him laugh out loud, especially at camp, that’s a good thing. My name’s Rob.”

With that, Baby Frederico suddenly, without a bit of warning and simply because he accidentally laughed out loud, had a friend. Just one friend, that’s all it took. Just one.

Camp might not be so bad after all.


We Tell Stories and We Sell Stories

 Books Lots of

If you haven’t guessed it yet, we love local independent bookstores!  I mean, we are crazy about them.  We schedule trips around them.  We dream about them.  We talk and laugh and think about them.  We take pictures of them (the girls and I took this photo above just a few weeks ago at a used bookstore, Michael’s, at Western and Ollie in Oklahoma City).  We write about them.  And…we love the kinds of people who work in bookstores.

We just returned from three days of spending time with several of them at a national children’s book conference in San Antonio, Texas.  While we were there, we listened to a group of creative and accomplished authors that included Brad Meltzer (author of I Am Abraham Lincoln), Austin Kleon (author of Show Your Work), Chipp Kidd (author of Go:  A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design), and Tim Federle (author of Better Nate Than Never), who truly inspired us to love books more than ever and bring children along in loving books more than ever.

We saw the sights and walked in the rain along the city’s landmark RiverWalk.  We ate under the rock music videos of the Hard Rock Cafe and traded stories with taxicab drivers from places like Turkey and West Africa.  We laughed and lived and walked and talked and dreamed and worried and wondered and slept…peacefully.

It’s a handful of fellow booksellers, however, that we met and traded stories with that we’ll remember the most. They were wonderful and kindhearted people like Angie at The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina, Emily at Inklings in Yakima, Washington, Tegan at Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle, Washington, and Kirsten at Let’s Play Books! in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.  Each one reached out to us; and each one encouraged and inspired and applauded our shared dreams for the future.

During his talk with us about the importance of social media in a world of books in the 21st century, Austin Kleon said, “We tell stories and we sell stories.”  It’s as simple and wonderful as that isn’t it – we tell stories and we sell stories.  Has there ever been a phrase more aptly spoken:  in a bookstore, among new friends, around our kitchen table at home?

Everyone – everyone – needs a story.


Claire Speaks: Hometown Celebrities


I am always grateful when our 14-year old agrees to be the guest writer for our blog. Here is what’s on her heart this week:

Who are your favorite celebrities? I know I can think of Tom Hiddleston, Fred Astaire, Bill Gaither, Rod Stewart, Chris Evans, Barry Manilow, Donny Osmond, Michael Jackson – just to name a few. But did you ever think of celebrities as being the people you speak to every single day?

Yes! I know it sounds crazy, but you go to school with celebrities. You might even live with some right in your very own home! No, no, no, I don’t mean that Channing Tatum is your brother or something – but think about this, who are those people in your life that have a positive influence on you and just make you smile by the seemingly simple things they do all the time.

These are your Hometown Celebrities and mine just so happen to be two of my very greatest friends on earth.

My first example is my astonishing Allison. Although she will often shy away from telling you this, she is the most amazing vocalist and actress I have ever witnessed on stage. She is very humble but is quick to compliment you and tell you how amazing you are anytime you need it. She is truly a celebrity in my eyes because of these traits.

Another great example is my spectacular Sean. He is a celebrity to me for a number of reasons. Not only is he just a wonderful person, Sean has some pretty amazing talents that are different from anyone else I’ve ever met. He is on his way to getting his pilot’s license, is an excellent Irish dancer, and is the most outstanding writer in our school. He is also always very gentlemanly and never leaves a moment without filling it with laughter or a smile first.

I could really go on forever, listing out my real celebrities. The countless pastors, family members, teachers, and friends who have filled my life with happiness and song. But now I must let you go and discover your own heroes, so I will leave you with this thought: Do not be swayed by what the world tells you about celebrities and fame. It often says ‘You must live in this certain place’, ‘You must look like this’, and ‘You must do these things’ to acquire those titles. But I have a secret for you: that’s just not true!

You can be a celebrity just by being kind and a good example right in your town, school, and home. You don’t even need a special talent! You will always be admired by someone in the world if you are yourself and not afraid to be it. So look around! Find your celebrities and tell them that they’ve made a difference in your life. You’ll soon find that sometimes, Hollywood can be just around the corner.

‘A Friend In Need’ – 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…’Good Luck Charlie!’  Here is his story:

It was Friday morning and Baby Frederico was shivering as he stood at the bus stop waiting for his best buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper and the school bus.  The weather was cold and snowy, but not cold and snowy enough to close school and Baby Frederico was disappointed.  He knew that it would only take Grenelda and her funny stories to make him feel better.  Why was she late this morning?  If she didn’t arrive soon, the bus would come and leave without her and she might have to miss school.

Baby Frederico couldn’t stand the thought of it.  He was in the Third Grade and he didn’t have too many good friends to sit with at lunch or play with at recess.  Grenelda was his best buddy and she was great at it.  She knew just what he was thinking and laughed at the same things that he did and, when math was too hard or he didn’t do well on a geography map test, Grenelda was always there to help.  She was especially good at math and knew where every continent in the world was without even looking at a map anymore!  She was also the happiest friend he knew and she enjoyed reading and running and playing music and making up stories, just like he did.  No wonder they were friends…and no wonder Baby Frederico was worried that she was not going to get to the bus stop in time to make it to school.

Suddenly, there was the big yellow bus coming to a stop in front of him, and Baby Frederico could not see Grenelda anywhere.  When he climbed up the steps to look for a seat on the bus, his favorite Bus Driver smiled his usual great, big toothy smile and said, “Baby Frederico!  How are you doing on this bright and sunny day” (which he said even when it was not a bright and sunny day)?

“Not very well,” Baby Frederico grumped.  “Grenelda didn’t make it this morning so I am going to have to sit all by myself.  I’ll have to eat lunch by myself and play at recess by myself.  Why don’t you just take me home instead…”

The Bus Driver smiled and said, “I have just the solution to your problem my little green friend!”

With that, he looked in the long mirror above him and motioned to someone in the seat behind him.  It was a little green frog and he smiled timidly as the happy Bus Driver introduced him to Baby Frederico.  He said, “Baby Frederico let me introduce you to your new friend Noah.  This is his very first day to ride in a school bus and his very first day at our school.”

The Bus Driver turned to Noah and said, “Baby Frederico is something else.  He knows which seats are the softest and which windows are the easiest to open on my school bus, and he even knows all the shortcuts through the hallways and how to open just about any lock on a locker!”  He laughed as he pulled the big yellow school bus back onto the road.

Baby Frederico sat down beside Noah and introduced himself.  They talked and discovered all kinds of friend things about each other.  They both liked Avengers comic books and they were both in the third grade and they both even liked being green.  Baby Frederico thought to himself, “Maybe this day won’t be so bad after all.”

And guess what….he was right.


‘A Bedtime FairyTale’ – Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico

And now for something different and at the request of our youngest daughter.  A Baby Frederico Bedtime FairyTale:

photo 2 (1)

Once upon a time there lived a little green boy.  His name was Baby Frederico and he had some wonderful friends.  They included his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, Rob the Robin, Julia the Jubilant, Skylar the Smiler, Courtney the Cute, Laine the Laugher, Sarah the Sweet, Katrina the Kind, and Kendall the Caring. They had all met amidst a thousand giggles on a distant playground under a brightly colored construction in the mysterious Land of Centennial.

When the Christmas holiday had arrived in this special Land, the friends celebrated with music and candy and coloring sheets and decorations of all kinds.  However, little did they know that their time together would come to an end, at least for a short time, because the Land of Centennial always closed during the holidays – the drawbridges were hoisted, the carriages were shuddered, and the leaders of that fair Land attended to their own homes and families, somewhere deep and hidden within the Land.

Concerned that they would not play together again for several weeks, the friends agreed to meet next to the long, wooden benches that sat just below the old windows of the Land’s Grand Gymnasium.

Baby Frederico had been waiting all day for this meeting. He could hardly think of anything else. He couldn’t eat his snack; he was bored with board games; and he was certain that the clock that blinked a fluorescent green on the great instructor’s desk had purposefully slowed itself to a maddening crawl.

His friends felt the same way. While the Land’s leaders cleaned floors and washed sidewalks and its instructors put away the clutter of the week, there were others who put away Christmas lights and tree ornaments.  Deliciously Happy Chefs prepared the final lunch in this Land of Centennial – a simple spread of honey wheat loaves of bread and dishes of almond butter and holiday jams, sweet and dill pickles, and tortilla chips dipped in salsa and cream cheese.

When the clock finally tocked, it welcomed the young people of the Land of Centennial to the Time of Recess and Baby Frederico raced to meet his friends in the appointed place.  As he rounded the corner, he noticed all of his friends sitting and talking near the old log benches and smiled.  There they were, the people he had laughed and studied and giggled and joked and ate with for so many months now that they seemed like family.

As he joined them on the bench, the friends told some new jokes and discussed what they most wanted for Christmas, while others worried that the long holiday away from the Land of Centennial and each other would be too long.  They were friends and they needed each other.

Baby Frederico smiled and said, “It’s true that it might be long, but it won’t be so long that we won’t remain friends.  Great friends are friends wherever you go to do whatever you do, whenever you need to do it.  We are those great friends and we shall return to the Land of Centennial as even greater friends.”

And so sat Grenelda the Grasshopper, Rob the Robin, Julia the Jubilant, Skylar the Smiler, Courtney the Cute, Laine the Laugher, Sarah the Sweet, Katrina the Kind, and Kendall the Caring. And, for at least one more time, they met amidst a thousand giggles on a distant playground under a brightly colored construction in the mysterious Land of Centennial.

And they indeed lived “friend-ily” ever after.

-The End-

‘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.

‘What Elephant?’ – 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:  What Elephant? by Geneviève Côté (2006, Kids Can Press)

Time to Read: short and sweet; another great bedtime or anytime story

Summary:  from the back cover…”Elephant?  What elephant?  No one dares to say a single word about the large houseguest sunbathing in George’s garden – despite the overpowering scent of coconut oil.  Surely, surely that isn’t an elephant lounging among the roses…Or is it?”  An “absurd and whimsical tale of an elephant that is seen…but not necessarily believed!”

Best Quote:  “I should have believed you from the start.”

Our View:  Our middle daughter has always collected elephants and so this particular book was a gift in that regard.  We read it among the sisters just last night as we were tucking in for bed and we really enjoyed the whole “elephant in the room” idea behind this wonderfully gentle tale. My eight-year old’s favorite part was near the end when the main character, George, has tried so hard to keep his elephant a secret (because people were thinking he might be crazy if he did indeed see what he originally told everyone he saw) and is suddenly face-to-face with his friends, who have come over to play in his backyard.  Since the elephant is truly there, it is up to each friend to decide whether he or she will admit that they do see it.  A wonderful conversation and apology ensues.  The illustrations are absolutely beautiful in this book…and just may have you wanting your very own secret elephant!

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “Elephant Ears” – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.