Stephen King’s Book for Kids and Other Celebrity Children’s Books


Are you a Stephen King fan? If you are, you’ll want to pre-order his first-ever children’s book, Charlie the Choo-Choo! He’s written it under the name Beryl Evans, but just like the Richard Bachman books, it really is by King. The book is about friendship as shown between Charlie and his engineer. You can read more about it hereBest of all, it’s out just in time for a boring Thanksgiving drive to Great-Grandma’s house or to put under the Christmas tree. Charlie the Choo-Choo.

Other Celebrity Children’s Books


Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, has written books for children encouraging her love of poetry.  Poems to Learn By Heart.







Years ago, Prince Charles wrote a story for his little brothers, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. It is set near the Royal Family’s Scottish retreat–Balmoral. It’s a fun story and I can just imagine him doing silly voices and weird faces for his brothers amusement. It is out-of-print now, but widely available used. The Old Man of Lochnagar. (The Prince donated all that he earned from the book to his charities.)





Rolling Stone Keith Richards teamed with his daughter, Theodora, to write and illustrate this version of how he became a musician–seems there was more than one musician in this family. Gus & Me by Keith Richards. Read more about the book here.

Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Sting and many others have had their song lyrics turned into children’s books, too.


Actor John Lithgow created the Marsupial Sue series of books and several other children’s books. All the stories are told in a fun fashion. Altogether he’s published more than 10 books on his own and still more with a co-author. All are fun for kids and parents alike. Marsupial Sue.

Celebrity Illustrator

Photo source (large) Photo source top, Photo source bottom

When she was Crown Princess, Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II illustrated the Danish version of the Lord of the Rings–originally her work was published under an alias. My brother, and many other parents, have enjoyed reading Tolkein’s famous fantasy-adventure aloud.  Here’s a link that shows many  Queen Margarethe’s illustrations.



You can learn more about Her Majesty’s career as an artist here.

What Caught My Eye: Globes! Maps!



I love geography, travel, antique maps and old globes. So this week I’ve got a great curated list that helps share my passion for most things geographical!! As a kid I had a globe with topography–you could feel the mountains! Very cool. Those little globe banks were very popular, too, but I never had one of those. I’ve traveled some in my life–to the U.K., the Malawi for Peace Corps with a side trip to Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls and later to Ukraine. My Mom and my uncle spent part of their childhood in Brazil. I guess travel and the world are just a part of me. But I think the lesson below is what got it all started for me. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Englehart, did the tangerine globe. I was hooked.


Maps as Decoration

Altered Globes for Decoration

Source  Source  Source

Practical Globes and Maps

Source  Source  Source  Sources  Source  Source  


Wearable Maps and Globes


My favorite wearable map item: Edwina,  Countess Mountbatten’s lingerie map from a silk pilot’s map from World War II. Source.

Source   Source  Source Source  Source 

Sleep Under a Map

Source  Source

Edible Maps and Globes

Store your cookies or cake pops in this vintage mapped “Biscuit Tin” or Cookie Jar

Source Source  Source  Source  Source


The Fabled “Pink Bits”–not quite the British Empire, but I love both of these!

Source        Source

One Last Fun Little Map


Who could resist this tea-towel upholstered stool? A map of Tasmania!


What Caught Your Eye This Week?

Have any great map-ish or globe-ish items to share?

Leave me a comment or a link.

Friday 56 & Book Beginnings: The Rise of the Narcoleptic Turtles!!!!


These two link-ups are just made for each other!

If you’ve read here for a while, you know I fell in love with book 1 of the Dark Ferret’s Society by Emily Humphreys. You can read my review here. Today, I’m just starting on book 2–The Rise of the Narcoleptic Turtles! What’s not to love about the titles in this series? These books are appropriate for middle elementary and up.


Miss Van Buren raced down the long, Desert Academy hallway, her black heels clicking on the newly waxed floor. There was something terrible about being in the school building over the summer, but this meeting was important….

Page 56

It made her want to ink Doxen’s Diner on her canvas tennis shoes due to the complete newness of this Dark Ferret year.

You can read a longer excerpt from both books on author Emily Humphrey’s web page.


Or use these links to buy Book One and/or Book Two from Amazon. Remember, I do NOT make money off your clicks! The links are just a time-saver for you!

Please check back soon for my review of The Narcoleptic Turtles by Emily Humphreys.


Want to join the Friday Fun? The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda’s Voice

Book Beginnings is also a weekly meme and is hosted by Rose City Reader.


Grown Up Series Transformed into Children’s Series

A while back I looked at a few new versions of Sherlock Holmes aimed at young adults or children. You can read that post here. Today, I’m looking at popular grown-up book series that have a children’s series to accompany them.

 All Creatures Great and Small

One of my nearly life-long favorites–both in books and on t.v.–is verterinarian James Herriot’s wonderful All Creatures Great and Small series on his life in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s and 1940s. The children’s versions include one his best–Oscar, Cat About Town, and so many others. The one volume children’s book has all the stories with their beautiful illustrations. The children’s one-volume is out-of-print, but widely available used as are each of the stories in individual volumes. Like another post here, I hope this blog post will encourage the publisher to bring them back into print for a new generation. They are simply too wonderful to miss.  James Herriot’s Treasury for Children and All Creatures Great and Small (book one) (Note: Like many series, these have had new covers applied from time-to-time, so don’t worry if the covers don’t match what I’ve shown above. I’ve given the American Titles as well. The British titles are different.)

No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

I LOVE the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series! The spirit and tone of them is so gentle and sweet and the musical voices of Botswana, the “feel” of that part of Africa, are so richly reproduced in these books. That’s why I’m glad that Alexander McCall Smith now has a children’s version of the series out.  Legendary Private Dectective Precious Ramotswe is shown solving child-appropriate mysteries back when she was a child on her father’s cattle farm. Wonderful books. The No. 1 Ladies Detective series and the Precious Ramotwe Mysteries for Young Readers Series.

Jan Karon’s Mitford Series

Mitford is an all-time favorite series of mine. Who wouldn’t want Father Tim for Pastor? Lucky Cynthia Coppersmith even got to marry him. No surprise he’s a near-perfect husband! Cynthia is a children’s book illustrator whose stories of her cat, Violet, are best-sellers. Jan Karon, her self a best-selling author, sat down and wrote the stories and published them for the children and grandchildren of Mitford fans. Violet Comes to Stay and Violet Goes to the Country are both modeled on the children’s stories in the grown-up books. Fun! Both are now out-of-print but there are loads of used copies and library copies around to enjoy. Who knows? Maybe this blog post will help bring them back into print? Jan Karon is a very prolific author of both grown-up and children’s fiction.

The Left Behind Series

Back in the 1990’s these books made news! I read most, but found it annoying that they used large type and big margins to make this into far too many volumes for my taste. Obviously the story was compelling enough that I read many of them though. This series had a co-series just for kids. But many parents I knew felt they were too upsetting for kids. Whatever your take may be on this series, it is still popular today.  Left Behind and Left Behind: The Kids

Young Person’s Versions

I’m glad to see this idea coming back. In the 1960s there were young person’s versions of several excellent books. One such was Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us.

I did not realize that the young person’s version of this title is becoming very scarce. I gave it away! Hope the homeschooling family who received it appreciates what they have.

Here are two best-sellers that have been recently re-issued in slightly adapted young reader’s editions Boys in the Boat and I am Malala


On Monday I’ll be introducing a new children’s book from one of the world’s best-selling authors!!



The Perfect Horse? The Lipizzaner Horses: A New Book and More


During World War II, one of Austria’s greatest national treasures, the Lipizzaner Horses of the Spanish Riding School, were threatened both by the bombs from without and from the Nazi horse eugenics from within. A new book tells their story.

Warning:  If you are considering this book for a horse-loving young person you may want to reconsider it if they are especially sensitive or very young. There is an historical event told in unnecessarily horrific detail that involves the killing of horses in an early chapter. In chapter 7 or 8 there is another, equally gruesome incident. As horrific as they are it is important to remember what was happening at this time at Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen and other concentration camps of the Third Reich. While the plight of these beautiful horses is awful, millions of people were killed purely for their religion. Millions more died fighting in the war. But I’m posting this warning to avoid traumatizing a child who has not yet learned of the Holocaust in an appropriate way.

Now the book. It takes at least the first five chapters to get thru long and very dull discussions of the evils of social class and of eugenics, as well as of the horrific incident mentioned above, to actually get to the story. This is a shame for it will lose a lot of impatient readers–it nearly lost me. Don’t give up! It’s going to be well worth the wait!

Once we finally get to the story of the horses during the war it the book gets its head and runs!  But then, just as we are getting into the rhythm of the horse story, we are jerked across the ocean to a replay of several Life Magazine stories on the U.S. Army and its recruits at the start of the war or of the famous Louisiana War Games from the 1930s.  I was easily able to figure out that  we now needed to learn about the Americans who stepped in to save the day. Happily, the book returns to a full gallop–and what a ride it becomes! This is as compelling a war or horse story as I’ve ever read!

Personally I was fascinated by the Kellog Arabians. Given the time they were being publicized in magazines, it may explain my Dad’s life-long love affair with Arabians. You can read more about my family and horses here.


Another Book on the Lippizzaners, with no horror stories, very suitable for children.


Marguerite Henry, one of the all-time most beloved horse book authors, wrote The White Stallion of Lipizza about these magnificent animals. If you are looking for a book for a child or sensitive soul I urge your to consider this one instead.

For a true Horse Lover the complete boxed set of all the Marguerite Henry horse books, plus Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalikin, are available at a very reasonable price. I can’t think of a better Christmas gift for a young rider or horse lover!




There are two fine films on these beautiful horses–both are family friendly, but one is a Disney Classic that I’ve loved watching several times. Disney’s Miracle of The White Stallions and Nature: The Legendary White Stallions. Both are well worth watching with your family. Remember when I say something is Family Friendly–I mean my own family. Parents may want to preview any movie to be shown or book to be read in their family before planning a family movie night or introducing a new bed-time read. At least parts of both films are currently available on youtube–just search by title.


Live Performances

In the early 1990s I saw the Lipizzaner Stallions in Indianapolis. I took a friend’s sons, then both about 8 or 9, and they loved every minute! Both then enjoyed the Disney movie and the book by Marguerite Henry. It was a wonderful performance. On my Bucket List is a stop at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria.

I’ll leave you today with a short film of a performance:



Favorite Non-Canon Ship: Andith


Don’t listen to Julian, Anthony!!

My Lord, My Ladies, I give you Sir Anthony and Lady Strallan


For those of you who are my age and for whom TUMBLR is a mystery, the following is a glossary.

  1. OTP One True Pairing
  2. Head Canon or Canon–the show, the book(s) etc–that kind of “canon”
  3. ‘Ship to worship–as in your faves…er favorites.

  4. Usually, but not always, known by a combination of their names



The one and only OTP that I’ve ever ‘shipped in or out of the canon was Andith:  Lady Edith Crawley and Sir Anthony Strallan on Downton Abbey.  Until Julian Fellowes took his pen and removed Anthony’s very obvious backbone and sent him running from the Church in tears, that is.  Never mind that Edith ended up out-ranking Mary by marrying a Marquess. Edith was meant to prattle away at Anthony and Anthony was meant to rummage in his library and nod adoringly in Edith’s direction.



Back in the day I even wrote my own fan fiction of the couple. Here is MY version of how Season Three should have gone! (Click on the Heading below to go to the story).

My Downton Abbey Season 3: Fan fiction: Lady Edith’s Story

See? My version was better!



Do you enjoy Fan Fiction? Do you write it? Who is your OTP?

Leave me a comment or a link!

Meanwhile, you can join in all the Top 5 Wednesday fun by joining the group on Goodreads and playing along. Here’s the link to the GROUP.

If you like Tumblr, Downton Abbey, George Clooney, the Royal Family or Jeremy Irons, here is the link to my Tumblr.

Need another OTP to ‘ship? Morganne is my other. Read about them here.




The children I think of when I pack O.C.C. Christmas Shoeboxes, part I


These children are very real to me–it is my old camera that took this photo–I gave it to their uncle. They were all three alive when I left Malawi in 1991. I would imagine all are dead today. Life expectancy is very poor in Malawi and they are from one of the poorest regions of that country. Today there is famine in their home area. This photo was taken the day their mother was buried and sent to me. They took the dress off the mother’s corpse, washed it and the next day the girl above began wearing it. That is poverty. The little boy died a year later for lack of Tylenol for his fever, lack of nutritious food, lack of a mosquito net or chemical mosquito coil to burn and lack of….well…HOPE.


Even if you stop reading here–you’ll understand more about why I do this and about world poverty.

It is the lack of HOPE that Operation Christmas Child so successfully treats.

A few months later, the Uncle who took the first photo, sent this one. The girl is now wearing the shoes I left behind as I went home to the States after Peace Corps.  The clothes they are wearing cost way more to mail than to buy on Clearance for a dollar each at the Family Dollar Store. But they are changed in this photo. All three are now looking at the camera. A photo was a serious thing at that time in Malawi, so broad grins were not the norm.

These three children, whose names I won’t share, are the reason I do Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes When I sent and brought gifts (I made two return trips to Malawi) for these children and many others, their Uncle (who supported 40+ dependents) could pay their school fees, give their grandmother a little money for medicine and extra food, for soap and for additional garden seeds to supplement those she saved each year.


I also think of this brave lady and her children–again, they are most likely all dead by now. She bravely asked me for a loan to plant a bigger garden. With the pennies I gave her for more seeds, another garden-hoe and some bus fare to take the first vegetables to a big market, she was able to buy her sons ready-made clothing and not just fabric to give a cheap tailor. (Her daughter’s new dress is fashionable, but made from my old curtains that I couldn’t use in that house). You can see that the little boy’s tummy is still distended from malnutrition. She was able to feed them very well–knowing that each day there was food they must eat and eat to survive the “hunger” when the crops aren’t in and the food is running low. She was able to not only pay the school fees, but she was able to afford the paperback text books for the two boys–and could then save them for her girl. They children also got pencils, chalk for the teacher and plenty of exercise books. All because their mother was brave. She paid back the loan, too. No man who ever asked for a loan every paid it back! Sadly, a year later, the baby she is carrying in the photo died during a period of famine.



I think of the children in the very poor villages of Malawi–not the children of the Malawian Civil Servants with whom I worked each day. Those were the children of “been-to’s”; their parents (sometimes both) had been to the US or the UK or somewhere else for a college degree–maybe even two degress. Those children were middle class. Their village relations were an embarrassment and a serious drain on the family checkbook.


Source Hungry Planet

This photo is from Mali, not Malawi, but the food presented is typical of most of Africa–a starch as primary food, beans as the main protein, salt and sugar, cooking oil. The main dish in Malawi IS nutritious–tomato, onion, and _______ (either greens or okra in the tomato mixture or hard-boiled eggs, fish or beans or meat if/when such luxuries are available.) When eaten with whole meal corn porridge it is very adequate.  Washing hands in a common bowl, sharing spoons or cups, also contribute to ill-health. If one person has T.B. or other illness, all soon have it. Then there’s the problem, still, of clean water.



I think mostly, though, of the children who were just somehow fed and brought up in that fabled village of Mrs. Clinton’s. Children who hovered on the sidelines–watching, always watching. Without parents or other relatives they were just “alive.” They are in every village–in some the school may look the other way and let them sit outside and learn. Usually some Grandmotherly woman sees they are fed a little. Such children are just like in this quote:

Photo Source:

“[He] would come with me, but would not join the children on the school-benches, he would stand a little away from them, as if consciously closing his ears to learning, and exulting in the simplicity of those who consented to be taken in, and to listen.”

(Out of Africa, by Isak Dineseon, pages 32-33).



Child wearing a blanket sleeper–obviously donated–as his only clothing. Source

At Target I found “pet” blankets for $3–none with an obvious dog or cat print. All soft and warm–unlike the harsh local blankets. At Gabriel Brothers I found, admittedly thin, fleece blankets for $2 and bought all that were left. I’m a pro at packing these things.  No  one who is forced to co-sleep finds it romantic like so many middle class Americans do right now. Instead, those forced to co-sleep dream of a blanket for each child so each may be warm and sleep well. In Africa children usually sleep in their same clothes or naked so the clothes can be washed and hung to dry overnight. It gets down to the 40s at night in Southern Africa. That’s pretty damned cold. Pajamas are unknown and would simply be worn as daytime clothing. Blankets are prized.

Poverty looks very different in other countries. In Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mosambique poverty means malaria, cholera, t.b., and infected burns that kill toddlers who stumble into cooking fires or grab a pretty flame. It means being so hungry, at least part of the year, that you have no energy. It means what is called “protein-energy” malnutrition–a fully tummy, but full of nothing the body can use. Food Security–a year-round source of nutritious food, is a dream. Charities like Save the Children and government agencies like USAID try to help. When Princess Anne came to my research station in 1991, she was bringing attention to food security and Save the Children.


Nsima–corn porridge.

Source This source shows true Malawian food. Very nice blog post.


Nsima with Ndiwo–“relish” or vegetables and beans. Served on impossible to de-grease cheap plastic plates.  Source

Local practices, too, can hurt children, too. Many in Malawi mill their corn meal till there is almost no nutrition because white soft, white “Wonder Bread” cornmeal is seen as best. Those who eat the whole meal corn meal are much bigger and stronger. Protein sources are hard to come by. This is largely a legacy of the British–Malawi was the garden when it was Nyassaland. The veggies, rice, and fish came from here–the meat from what is now Zambia and Zimbabwe. Independence, too, played a role. Kamuzu Banda, the nation’s long-time dictator, was a classic totalitarian despot. He made maize [corn] a God and made it the country’s primary food crop–even in areas where rice or sorghum or millet were the traditional grains and were best suited to the region’s climate. These played a huge role in malnutrition for years. Today’s Peace Corps volunteers teach above improved farming and better nutrition.  In many areas REFUGEES eat better than the local population. Here is a link to report on what refugees are given by the UNWFP.

This quote sums up WHY I do this:

“My existence was not random, nor was it an accident.”

(Crazy Love, bu Francis Chan, p. 59).

And of course this verse:

Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

(Matthew 25:40 KJV)

Fascinating article on this verse here.


Are you packing a shoebox? Join us on this blog for the Virtual Packing Party on November 12, 2016. Post a link or send an email with photos of your boxes. I’ll be happy to post your photos and give credit.


We Were on a Break


Each year there area  few new authors who become instant favorites–Lindsey Kelk is one for me! Her fun new book, We Were On a Break is so true-to-life I’m sure I’ve met this couple! That, too, me is very high praise! Added bonuses? A great cat and no one has a stupid name!! Yeah!  Liv, a veterinarian, and Adam a law school drop-out turned bespoke furniture designer and craftsman, have been heading for the altar–it was all but a done deal. Then the trip to Mexico, the botched dinner plans, the un-walkable sandals and…Adam called time out. He wanted a break! A break when  he was minutes from proposing!!!

The rest is a such a fun rom-com romp that I will almost certainly re-read this book! It’s that fun. An who could resist a three-legged kitty named Daniel Craig? A Bond Cat! Add in David, the veterinary assistant, Chris and Cass and Gus (Adam’s brother, s-i-l and newborn nephew) a couple of great friends and two sets of confused parents and you have a genuinely fun, lite read. Perfect for a late Fall or winter beach get-away or a Friday night on a social media fast.

This should make a really fun movie! I think Laura Carmichael would be an excellent choice for Liv. Max Irons for Adam. Just my two cents on the casting!

We Were on a Break by Lindsey Kelk.

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review. My opinions are my own and I was not paid beyond receiving the Advanced Reader’s Copy of the book.



You’re Welcome!


What Caught My Eye This Week: Shoebox Craft Edition


On Saturday, November 12th, I will be holding a Virtual Packing Party!

Do a post on packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child with photos of your boxes and link up here for a fun online party! This week I was intentional–everything that caught my eye was for shoeboxes!

A Note On Homemade Items

Remember that homemade things are often viewed as a slight–as “less than.” Poor people in many countries make do with next to nothing. Buying something from a store costs so much money that they feel truly honored to receive a store-bought gift. I’m including things here that are homemade, but that I feel would still be seen as a gift.

A Note on Gender-Specific Items

Many foreign cultures has very rigid ideas of what is right or wrong for boys and girls. Men and Women have rigidly defined roles in many societies. It is not helpful to send a child an item that will be taken away. No matter that girls here play sports and boys cook and all sorts of other examples, that is simply not the case everywhere. The role of the shoebox is to show God’s love–not to change a very traditional society.

A Note on Poverty

Poverty in Malawi looks very different than poverty in Ukraine. A child in Ukraine may look like your children’s friends, dress like them and even be seen with toys like theirs. Remember, though, that they go to bed hungry, they may endure a harsh winter with little or no heat and have to go to school in outgrown clothes or no boots even though they might have to walk to school. In Malawi a child may have never had a cup of his own or a pair of underpants. This is about God’s provision, His love, not looks.

Boy Boxes


Photo Source

Older boys are the boxes OCC gets least of. Why not remedy that and hurry up and pack a nice box for a boy 5 to 9 or 10 to 14 years old? Operation Christmas Child has some great suggestions, but I think this is awesome. Draw the cutouts, include the materials and be sure to put in a PHOTO of how it should look! Don’t assume someone will read English. What boy wouldn’t want a Foosball Box?  Directions and more photos at The Mad House. Well done!



Another great boy’s idea–roads! Again, include a photo and, obviously, some Hot Wheels. I love that it has a round-about!

Girl Boxes

If sending feminine hygiene items for older girls, imagine how your daughter would feel opening a Christmas box and having a bag of Kotex or a box of tampons on top? Be discreet–put them in a dark bag.

Source Source

Girls of any age could enjoy this, but remember, in many cultures girls do not have play time. They work carrying water, tending cooking fires and mind younger children. Do not try to do “ethnic” art–just make a simple house with ordinary chairs, etc. Children in Eastern Europe, and other places, live in homes just like ours–though usually much smaller and generally they are apartments.

FREE pattern here. (red)  Free tutorial here  (blue)

These  are very cute little dresses and both easily made out of left over yarn or an inexpensive tank top, and left over fabric. Please, always ask yourself, “Would my child wear this?” I don’t mean would your child jump for joy over it, but would they be willing to wear it if times were hard? That kind of “wear it.”  FREE pattern here.

In the U.S.A. we tend to think all of Africa is on the Equator and stifling hot. It isn’t! Where I lived in Malawi it could be as cold as the 40s early on a winter’s morning. If you send a dress like this, consider spending just a little more and sending a coordinated t-shirt to go under it. Then pack the shirt and dress so they are like a jumper and blouse.

Boy or Girl Box



Washcloths and Soap Bags

Praying Hands Pattern (free)  Three Crosses Pattern (free)

Some of these might end up as decoration in a home, rather than used for a washcloth. Former Catholics, for example, may feel it is not ok to defile them by washing with them No matter–they will be a good gift.

Remember:Gender-appropriate colors!

Towel Soap Bag  Crocheted Soap Bag

My Pinterest board has other great last minute ideas!

Want to save the landfills? Consider Up-Cycling projects like T-shirt bags or T-shirt jump ropes! Instructions on the Pinterest Board below.

If you’d like to participate in the Virtual Packing Party but do not have a blog, that’s ok!

Email me at

I will happily add your photos to my post with whatever acknowledgement you want. That post will be a “sticky” on my blog throughout the collection days.

Childhood Memories: Recess


Photo Source

My friend Susan, at Girls In White Dresses, often does childhood memories posts on Fridays. Several years ago she did a post on Recess Games that you can read here. I’m honestly not trying to steal her Friday memories spot–I just happened to come up with another childhood memory post and why not do it today! I know she’ll forgive me! So today, I’m sharing the games and fun we had a recess at my various elementary and middle schools.


Kindergarten and First Grade




At my first elementary school (ok, my 2nd–I went to another for a couple of weeks!) in 1967–1969,  Tether Ball was the big thing at recess. Little kids could truly be taken out by playing tether ball with a big kid. I remember wanting to play very badly–my big brother knew how and he liked it, so it must be fun, right? I never got a chance. Yep. No teacher intervened. No play ground Nazi Mommy Volunteer ordered us to be FAIR. The biggest kids got the good stuff. Our turn would come when we got to fifth and sixth grades. Funny, but not a lot of people my age have to have it explained that life isn’t fair. hmmmmmmm


Second, Third and Fourth Grade



The little girl looking at the camera is me on my 7th or 8th birthday–I can’t remember now which it was. We had 3 recesses per day in those years–morning, lunchtime and afternoon. We were expected to be active. There were swings and teter-totters and Merry-Go-Rounds–always grabbed by the fastest kids at every school. And Monkey Bars for climbing, too! No sissies allowed, if you fell you got hurt. Wood chips? Nope! Just black top! We also had gym class a few days a week. Just an aside, but it was rare to have an overweight child then and there were no sports leagues. hmmmm


Red Rover Source

Jump Rope


Co-ed games included Dodge Ball, Tag, Red Rover, Red Light, Green Light, Mother May I–just like we all played afters school in our neighborhoods.  But only the girls–and an occasional teasing boy–played  jump rope. We usually didn’t do Double-Dutch as it was too difficult. We had all kinds of jingles to keep time.  (Jump Rope Jingles source.)

This one was VERY popular:

Cinderella dressed in yellow
Went downstairs to kiss her fellow.
How many kisses did she give?
One, two, three, four, five . . .

There was another where you went thru the alphabet –but it was best for after school. I jumped pretty well, but liked to be picked as a twirller unless it was a rare double-Dutch day–I couldn’t cope with twirling that!


A my name is Alice
And my husband’s name is Arthur,
We come from Alabama,
Where we sell artichokes.
B my name is Barney
And my wife’s name is Bridget,
We come from Brooklyn,
Where we sell bicycles.
C my name is _________
And my husband’s name is ___________
We come from __________
Where we sell ___________.
(Continue throughout the alphabet) Photo Source

 Chinese Jump Rope


The 1960’s were a time when children sang racist ditties on the playground without being talked-to by an adult, let alone suspended. Sadly I remember one. Cultural Sensitivity was way, way in the future, so we never questions why or how this big bungie cord came to be called Chinese Jump Rope. I LONGED for one of these!! The I could stretch it between two dining room chairs and PRACTICE! I dreamed of Chines Jump Rope glory. I was a total failure. I never could understand it. I still have trouble visualizing things like that so I don’t know that I’d do any better today. Alas, Santa never left one in my stocking. And, no, I don’t need a grief or trauma counselor, thank you! The only time I ever played this great game was when I got to be a pair of legs holding it while the super Chinese Jump Rope girls made all kinds of designs and jumped out of them! For the record, I stunk at Cats-Cradle, too. Same visualization problem. Photo Source.


By Fourth Grade we’d become more sophisticated. Oh, sure, we still played all of those games–even the junior high and high school kids joined in neighborhood games of Red Rover or baseball or whatever after school. But now we turned our eyes on two or three amazing toys!

Source Source Source Source

Wizzer tops and Clackers became an obsession. They even made it thru the summer to fifth grade. Wizzers had a thing you could use to stack the spinning tops even. Way cool! For a while there as another toy–a commercial version of the old button on a string toy, but I can’t trace it.


Fifth Grade

Another new school for fifth grade. Fifth graders were the oldest kids in the building so we were really special! We could buy candy on one day a week, if I remember correctly. We had an after-school basketball league for a few weeks in the winter and we were a school on fire for Four Square! And, even with girls sports only really just starting, it was a very rare child who was overweight or a big behavior problem. (Mind you, this was still the days of anyone needing special education services being taught in a different room or even a different building. I do not believe that recess “cures” ADD or ADHD, but it does benefit ALL children in many, many ways).

Four Square


Four Square photo source

The driveways in my subdivision were poured in squares–perfect for after school four square when we got bored with shooting baskets. Nearly every family had a basketball hoop beside the driveway.


Paper Folding


By fifth grade we were growing up. We had SECRETS, we started to notice  BOYS. We passed notes and made these silly decision-maker origami thingys  (that’s there official name, by the way). As safe a method of picking a future spouse, choosing a career or whatever as has ever been devised!  Photo Soruce



Gum Wrapper Chains



Fifth grade was when my OTHER friend Susan (there were a lot of girls named Susan in the ’60s) and I tried to collect every gum wrapper possible. We got in trouble for doing gum wrapper folding during class!





No one gave a thought to a kid choking on a jack back then–if a kid had done that his Mom would have spanked him for being so stupid!  We played with the tiny metal jacks and a red ball. We had a tournament so that meant obsessive levels of practice during recess and at home. Later, in Middle School, our history teacher (a former Purdue basketball player who died recently) encouraged jacks and held a tournament in his class. I was actually REALLY GOOD at this! If there’d been a pro jacks league I’d have aspired to it! Personally, I do think that if Ping Pong and rhythmic gymnastics can be in the Olympics, jacks should be too!


I hope you’ve had a nice recess today! Did you play any of these games as a kid? Where there others that took your school by storm or that kids are still playing at that school? Leave me a comment or, if you’ve posted on this topic, leave a link, I’d enjoy reading your memories, too.