My Top 16 Books in 2016!


Over the next couple of days…I’m sharing my sweet 16! The top 16 books I read this year! Today I’m sharing my top fiction picture book favorites! 


I read They All Saw A Cat to all of my students in K-4th grade! Each class loved it! I highly recommend this book as a read aloud for all ages. My fingers are crossed that it wins a shiny sticker in January!


If you know me….then you know that I’m a huge fan of Salina Yoon’s books. Well, I have a confession. This book is my favorite book by Salina. I think this is the book we need for 2016 and beyond. It is about being different and not fitting in….But then finding someone who loves and understands us just the way we are! Our differences can be our strength! I love this book about being different, true friendship, love and most of all compassion. 


You know it is going to be pure fun and laughter when Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora team up! And Horrible Bear delivers! You must read this aloud to kids! This book is not horrible….just hilarious!


Dear Dragon is such a fun story to discuss about perceptions and how we see others through our own lens. This book is a great read aloud to discuss with students. It makes a perfect book to share with pen pals! 

So which picture books did you love in 2016? Remember to check back tomorrow for more of my favorite books! Happy Reading!



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Blog Tour: Waiting For Snow


Waiting For Snow by Marsha Diane Arnold and Illustrations by Renata Liwska

Badger is impatiently waiting for it to snow. His friends try to cheer him up. Badger learns that patience wins when it comes to the weather. This is the perfect book to read for this time of year. Students will relate to Badger’s impatience. My own son can’t wait for the first snow and to go sledding in the winter. I love Marsha’s sweet story of friendship and patience. The illustrations are as soft and sweet as snow fall. Or are they as cozy as a cup of hot cocoa? Either way….they’ve won me over. Waiting For Snow (almost) makes me wish it would start snowing soon.

Check out author Marsha Diane Arnold’s website for information about all her wonderful books!


Follow the blog tour:
October 31st, Monday – Cynthia Alaniz, Librarian in Cute Shoes
Nov 1st, Tuesday – Alyson Beecher, Kid Lit Frenzy
Nov 2nd, Wednesday – Dylan Teut, Reading with Mr. Teut
Nov 3rd, Thursday – Mia Wengen, Pragmatic Mom
Nov 4th, Friday – Margie Myers-Culver – Librarian’s Quest
Nov 6th, Sunday – Matthew Winner – The Best Book Ever (This Week)
Nov 7th, Monday – Niki Ohs Barnes, Daydream Reader
Nov 8th, Tuesday – Bridget and the Books

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10-17-16


Books I finished last week:


The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton

This is such an adorable and funny book. I highly recommend it as a read aloud. The Princess and the Pony was at my Scholastic book fair and it was a big hit.


Dory Fantasmagory: Dory Dory Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon

I love Dory. She is so quirky, creative and funny. Abby Hanlon really understands kids as a former first grade teacher. I know this series is a hit as a read aloud! Run don’t walk to pick up the series now. And while you are running….run over to All The Wonders for a great podcast and more resources about Dory Fantasmagory!


A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell

My mentor and fellow librarian, Travis Jonker recommended that I read A Perfectly Messed-Up Story at the beginning of the year to talk about book care in the library. There could not be a more perfect book for this discussion. The students just love the book. It is hilarious and shows how messed up a book can get if you don’t take care of it. A great read aloud for the library!

So what have you enjoyed reading recently?

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Blog Tour: Gertie’s Leap To Greatness


Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley

Gertie’s mission is to be the greatest fifth grader in the whole wide world! Gertie isn’t the fastest, the tallest or the smartest student but she has pure determination! Gertie never gives up! I love the journey that Gertie goes on to try and reach her grandiose goal. She is spunky. Gertie has gumption.


And Kate Beasley has me loving Gertie from the first line, “The bullfrog was only half dead, which was perfect.” You know from the first line that there is going to be a lot of mischief, trouble and laughter. Gertie and her two best friends are in for a lot of mishaps on their way to greatness which include zombie frogs, fancy haircuts, dramatic auditions, fancy chocolates….and lots and lots of Twinkies.

One thing for sure….Gertie is great! A great book for everyone to read! In fact, teachers should read this book aloud to their students. Go ahead….just take the leap!


Kathy Burnette and I at Bookbug in Kalamazoo

The awesome people at Macmillan asked me to nominate someone I think is great like Gertie. I nominated my friend Kathy Burnette. She received a copy of Gertie to celebrate her greatness.

Kathy has gumption just like Gertie. She is truly one of a kind. I love Kathy because she stretches my thinking. She goes above and beyond as a librarian, teacher, mother and friend. Kathy is quirky just like Gertie. She loves coffee and coffee mugs….but forget the hugs. I think to truly understand how great Kathy is you just need to listen to her powerful Nerdy Bookcast. Thanks for being you, Kathy!

Check Out More Great Gertie Posts!

Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

Sharp Read

Nerdy Book Club

Watch. Connect. Read.

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Calling All Authors! Blog Tour For Write This Down


Write This Down by Claudia Mills

Write This Down will appeal to students that love to write. I know as a kid I loved to write stories and often dreamed of being a published writer just like Autumn. Claudia Mills does a wonderful job showing Autumn’s growth as a writer while she struggles with a change in family dynamics. Will Autumn become a published writer? And will her relationship with her brother and family strengthen or unravel in the process? Read Write This Down to find out!

Claudia Mills agreed to share some thoughts about writing craft from her new book Write This Down. Thank you Claudia for sharing your process!

First Person versus Third Person: Which Is Better for This Story?

by Claudia Mills

One of the most crucial decisions an author has to make in crafting a story is the choice of point of view. Should the story be told by an omniscient narrator who has a godlike ability to enter into any character’s head at will? Or by the main character, speaking directly to the reader in his or her own voice? Or in a third-person narrative that nonetheless stays throughout in the head of the protagonist, tracking his or her perceptions and emotions? Or even from multiple perspectives, switching back and forth from chapter to chapter?

I prefer to write in what writers call “third-person limited point of view”: a third-person narration that sticks closely inside the main character’s head. Of my 57 published books, 53 have been third-person books. I love third-person limited point of view because it has much of the directness and intimacy of first person, but allows for more sophisticated language than a child might be capable of. First-person narration can sometimes feel too generic: a bland, flat “every kid” way of speaking, or too much like an adult’s cutsey attempt to sound kidlike.

For Write This Down, however, I felt that I had to tell Autumn’s story in first person. After all, Autumn is a writer. I’ve written books about other girls who like to write, but Autumn is my most writerly writer: she defines herself as a writer, and the conflicts she faces as a writer seeking publication are what drive the story. So I felt that, as a writer, Autumn should get to narrate her own story, in her own way.

As I wrote, though, I discovered a danger I hadn’t realized about first-person writing. I started to fall in love with the sound of Autumn’s voice, adoring the access I suddenly had to every single one of her thoughts and feelings. I was on a first-person roll, luxuriating in being so fully and thoroughly inside my main character’s head. But the reader didn’t need to know every single one of Autumn’s thoughts and feelings. Who really wants to take up residence that claustrophobically inside someone else’s consciousness? When someone tells you every single thing she thinks and feels, she starts to sound pretty darned self-centered. Readers may react with the sentiment I saw once expressed on a T-shirt: “You must be mistaking me for someone who cares.”

The only solution: cut, cut, cut. Make sure that all thoughts and feelings expressed are directly relevant to the story, not mere witty, pleasant asides. Keep returning to what gives a story its needed momentum, not interior monologue, but action. Ruthlessly, I hacked a full ten pages out of the final draft just from cutting commentary of Autumn’s that went on too long.

I still love some of the bits that had to go, so I’ll share one of them here. Autumn, who has decided to win her brother’s respect and her crush’s love through her writing, ruminates on the famous saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” You can be the only people in the world who have a chance to read it!

When I get home that afternoon, after Monday ballet with Kylee, I decide to look up the person who said the pen is mightier than the sword. I want to find out if he had ever done anything especially mighty with his pen, given how much he’s inspired me to do something extra-mighty with mine.

“The pen is mightier than the sword” was first said by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839. A lot of other people had already said sort of the same thing, in different words. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Thomas Paine saying, “Go on doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword.” Both of those Thomases had uber-mighty pens. Jefferson used his pen to write the Declaration of Independence – it’s hard to find anything mightier than that. And Thomas Paine wrote this pamphlet called Common Sense that talked a lot of undecided people into siding against the British in the American Revolution. Still, Jefferson didn’t really say to Paine that the pen is mightier than the sword, more that the pen is the new sword. Bulwer-Lytton’s line is more quotable.

Here’s the really ironic and pitiful thing. Bulwer-Lytton is also the person who started one of his novels with the line “It was a dark and stormy night.” This is apparently a terrible first line, though to be honest, I don’t see what is so terrible about it. It gets copied a lot, but that doesn’t make it terrible. Anyway, some people think this line is so terrible that there is a whole contest – I’m not making this up – called the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, where people write terrible first lines on purpose to get prizes.

So the person who wrote that the pen is mightier than the sword is now mocked on an annual basis for how un-mighty his own pen was.

I love ironic things like that when they happen in the world.

I hate when they happen to me in my own life.

Thanks again Claudia for your insightful thoughts on writing craft. It was great to learn more about Autumn and this well known saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Make sure to check out the rest of the Blog Tour!

Calling All Authors! Blog Tour for WRITE THIS DOWN

September 27: Ruth at ruth ayers writes

September 28: Cindy at Charting By the Stars

September 29: Melanie at Two Writing Teachers

September 30: Niki at Daydream Reader

October 1: Kathy at The Brain Lair

October 2: Maria at Maria’s Mélange

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-26-16


Books I finished last week:


Write This Down by Claudia Mills (Out September 27, 2016)

This book is perfect for students who love to write. The main character Autumn would love to be a published writer. However, she has to make a hard choice between her passion for writing and her family.


Waiting for Snow by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrations by Renata Liwska (Out Nov. 1, 2016)

This book is adorable. I think students could totally relate to being impatient about the first snow coming just like Badger. I love the fun ways Badger’s friends try to help him get the snow to come. A great book to use to discuss the seasons and patience.



This Book is Out of Control! by Richard Byrne (Out Oct. 4, 2016)

I love reading This Book Just Ate My Dog and We’re in the Wrong Book to my students in the library. So when I heard This Book is Out of Control! was coming out I was excited. The students are going to love the third book in the series. Ben, Bella and their dog are back for another adventure. This time the remote doesn’t seem to be working for Ben and Bella’s toy. Or is it? Students will love this fun, interactive story!


Seven and a Half Tons of Steel by Janet Nolan and Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

The USS New York is a special navy ship. Why? It all has to do with September 11, 2001! A wonderful nonfiction story about how wreckage from the World Trade Center was used in the making of a very important ship. A ship that will always remember.

So what have you enjoyed reading recently?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-19-16


Books I finished last week:


I love this clever book. A great book to use for perspective and how we all see things differently.


If you love mysterious ghost books with a twist ending….this book is for you!

Dragon Masters

Students love the branches books. Dragon Masters is a great early reader series for students that love dragons and adventure.

Bad Kitty Meets the Baby

Sam and I have been enjoying this hilarious series!

I’m currently reading:



So what have you enjoyed reading recently?

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