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Some snow stories for your weekend

With a blizzard threatening much of the East Coast, those of you shut-in might like to revisit a few other “snow days.” Here, for your snow-bound reading pleasure, are four of my all-time favorite snow books.

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Imagine sending your kids to school and never seeing them again! No one-hour delay, no “snow days” no “blizzard bags” of make-up homework, just send the kids to school and, due to snow, they never make it home. How cheery you say? This book is riveting! It’s the sort of non-fiction that novel-lovers drool over. The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin

 

 

 

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No modern day power-outage or other first world snow problem quite matches up to what the Ingall’s family endured in Pa’s storefront building that Long Winter. Twisting hay for fuel anyone? Grinding wheat by hand? Snow on your quilt in the morning? This is the sort of tale that can make all of us into Preppers at the broadcast of a winter storm warning. Stuck inside with the kiddos and ready to run the PlayStation over with the mini-van? Read this one aloud. They will listen!  The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

 

For those of you stuck inside with really little kiddos–here are a few snowy day classics. Good news! You can download them on kindle, too!

 

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Kids and their parents often view snow very differently. This classic, so revered I think I recall it from Captain Kangaroo! At any rate it was read to me many, many times in my 60’s childhood. My kids loved it in the early 2000’s. [Note: The kindle cover is different. This is the original.] White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt.

 

 

 

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No picture book captures snow quite like Ezra Jack Keats’ classic The Snowy Day. A remarkable story of city in a snow storm seen thru the wondering eyes of a child.

 

 

 

Please feel free to share other titles in the comments. I love to hear about books others enjoy.

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Favorite humorous Children’s Christmas Books

Note: This was originally published, with a few minor changes, at my old blog for Christmas 2011.
The best humor has an element of truth to it. Each of these so-called “children’s books” are really fun for any age.

How Santa Got His Job (and the sequel which I have not seen, How Santa Lost His Job) is a clever take on both Santa and the struggle to find that first job and subsequently to build a career. I love this book because it doesn’t talk down to kids and the humor is not a bunch of cheap gags. Although I have not seen it, there is a follow up, How Santa Lost His Job.

Piper’s Night Before Christmas is a gift from Mark Lowry to parents of kids with ADD/ADHD or who just simply can’t calm down during the holidays! I was spoiled–I first heard this story told live by Lowry himself. This is such a cute book–there ARE cheap gags here, but it’s a story that holds the attention of any kid who happens to be a little “hyper” like poor Piper.


Catmas Carols is a fun little book of traditional Christmas Carols re-written from a cat’s perspective. My daughter and I used to laugh and laugh over these when she was little. If you are a cat person you will “get it” and immediately start laughing. If you are a dog person, don’t bother it won’t make sense.

The Librarian’s Night Before Christmas is one of many job-related re-workings of Clement Moore’s properly titled “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” It’s one of those clever pieces that make you nod your head at the knowing turns of phrase–most of which are, as the British say, “Spot On.”

When my son was little school was the ultimate in prison sentence for him. He HATED it. He could not understand why he had to SIT STILL or do something he didn’t like. While it was hell for him it was 1000 times worse for his poor teachers. His first year in the USA he was in a tiny “annex” of a Christian School. A combined 3rd/4th grade with a very patient, experienced, former public school teacher. In 3rd grade that year there were 9 little boys and no girls. He was accepted and cared for there.

My fondest memory was stopping by one day just to peek in and see if he was causing total chaos and instead I got a gift from God and his teacher. They were all sitting on a rug,  and he was snuggled up tight to the teacher, and all 9 little boys were beaming with joy singing this song! That week math was no problem–it was all tied to the song. They read a little about each type dog. He was so happy that week. So, I include this one for that sweet, sweet memory. I’m not even positive it’s the right version! 12 Dogs of Christmas.

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Favorite Fictional Felines for National Cat Day

In an earlier post I mentioned my childhood love of the Little Golden Book, the New Kittens.Today I want to go beyond that first lovely cat book and celebrate National Cat Day in style by reviewing some of my all-time favorite cat stories. Cats feature prominently in my own fiction writing as well. I hope someday soon you’ll read the stories of Robby at Amberleigh and Sherman in 1920s Indiana in my novel Meat, Potatoes and Pie: A Midwestern Love Story, for yourself. Meanwhile, lets enjoy those fictional felines whose stories have already published.

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One of the “gateway” books of my life–gateway to being an avid reader that is–was The Silent Meow. This is a cat lovers dream book! Told by the young cat who finds herself raising kittens after being swept off her paws by a dazzlingly white Tom–her first love. Sweet, funny, true-to life, Paul Gallico’s classic is not to be missed.The Silent Meow by Paul Gallico and Suzanne Szasz

OscarFew authors have told animal stories as well as the British vet who styled himself “James Herriot.” I have read all of his books too many times to count. His cat stories are possibly my favorite of all his animal tales. Oscar, though, has a special place in my heart. He might just be a very distant ancestor of my fictional feline Sherman. Oscar went to the town band practice and other local happenings. He always turned up on time and always behaved impeccably. There’s, of course, more to Oscar’s story but I won’t spoil it for you. Oscar, Cat About Town by James Herriot.

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Charlie Anderson is a marvelous cat-tale! This kitty loves two families. At one home he is Charlie and at the other he is named Anderson. It is a lovely book, beautifully illustrated.Children in divorced families, especially, will find comfort in this story  Charlie Anderson by Barbara Abercrombie.

cloudyCloudy is like the big Tom cats of my childhood–free-range. He goes out at night and prowls. The art work draws the reader in so that you almost feel the dampness of the weather. Cloudy by Deborah King

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Dewey is possibly the world’s best known library cat. Found as a tiny kitten in a public library book drop, Dewey was taken in by the librarian and her staff and never left. He’s been on the news all over the world, the library had streams of visitors to meet him. This is a delightful story appropriate for all ages. Dewey also is now the star of a children’s picture book as well. Dewey… by Vicki Myron

Do you have a favorite fictional feline? Leave me a comment about him or her. I love to get your comments.

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books From My Childhood

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Note: This post was orginally published here in July 2015.

 

 

Little HorsemanAs a child I was a horse fanatic! When an unpleasant trip to the dentist led my Mom to offer a well-earned reward of a grocery store story book, I choose this gem–The Little Horseman by Mable Watts. “Alan loved horses very much….” I could probably recite the rest of it–that’s how much I loved this book! I collected (and still have) Breyer horses, picture books of horses, loved to watch the Kentucky Derby and the other Triple Crown races and jumped at any opportunity to ride. We had our own horses until I was in first grade. From second thru fourth grade we had friends in town who let us ride any time we wanted. I dreamed of taking riding lessons like Alan in this story. In sixth grade a friend got to take such lessons and I wanted every detail of the lesson every week. In between kindergarten and first grade I got to ride our horse in a small horse show at a summer camp. For years my riding shirt was my favorite item of clothing–in fact, my Mom still has it!

allabouthorsesAt the school Book Fair in 2nd grade, my one and only art prize–designing a poster for the show–gave me to a free book pick. I picked a Little Golden Book on a pony, but Mom went behind my back and switched my pick to this magnificent volume–All About Horses (Deluxe Edition) by Marguerite Henry which went on to serve the needs of not only my love of horses, but that of my niece and my cousin’s daughter.

 

 

 

MaryPoppins MisslarkMy mother was a great believer in reading aloud at bedtime. My brother and I grew up loving the REAL Mary Poppins. My Mom was given this beautiful book in Brazil in the 1947 by another expatriate. Whether it was “Miss Lark’s Andrew” or “Miss Andrew’s Lark, we both loved these stories.

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LittlesThe Scholastic Book club has introduced legions of kids to great books. My favorite from that source is the Littles by John Peterson. This was way before they hit tv though. I liked all of the characters. It reminded me so much of the Christmas story my Dad always read me from HIS mother’s Christmas-gift book of stories. That story was “Christmas in the Mouse Hole,” and the Littles lived similarly.

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These photos show a family heirloom–the book with the “Christmas in the Mouse Hole” story I just mentioned. You can see my Great-Grandfather’s inscription to his youngest child–my paternal grandmother–is dated 1925.

New KittensI have always been a cat person. As a child my Dad told me stories of his childhood cat, Blue Eyes, at bedtime–he even gave me a stuffed animal that looked just like her. My Mom made a shrewd purchase one day at a neighborhood garage sale–the all-time best Little Golden Book……The New Kittens. Kathy and her cat, Tina, enjoy Tina’s first litter of kittens. They are cute, cuddly and into trouble. One gets “lost,” but of course good Mama cat Tina finds him. It’s a wonderful little book and I liked it even more because it is illustrated with photographs of real cats and real girl.

soldierssailorsMaybe if you were a little girl in first grade at a school on an Army or Navy Base in 1966-67 it wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow that you checked out this book at library time–Soldiers and Sailors? What do They Do. In my case it got a swift reaction from both the teacher and the librarian. “That’s a boy’s book.” I have no idea what I said or did, but I went home proudly with my book. Now, had the teacher and librarian know that even then I was military-obsessed or that my older brother and I played with G.I. Joe [the original, Barbie sized one] and “The Cowboy,” almost daily, the might have understood. It didn’t phase Mom a bit and she patiently let me read it aloud to her and didn’t complain when I checked it out as often as possible.

roomforcathyOne of the first real chapter books I remember loving was this one–A Room For Cathy. I was probably attracted to it since she had a horse picture on the wall! Something about the tone of that story has stayed with me all these years. After the 1st Grade I had my own room, but at the time I read this my memories of sharing a room with my big brother were still clear. Unlike most, I liked sharing with him–I was the younger and he was my hero. This book likely still rings as “true” today and has those sweet illustrations.

MindyDorothy Hamilton was a legend in Delaware County, Indiana, when I was growing up there. She was a local author who wrote interesting books for late elementary age children–many set in the local area.My Mom encountered her soon after we moved to Indiana at some event and bought me one of her books which Mrs. Hamilton graciously signed at the event. I was tremendously encouraged by her! Even as early as fifth and sixth grade I wanted to be a writer. A friend’s mother knew Mrs. Hamilton and invited both of us to dinner at their home. Mrs. Hamilton signed a copy of her then newest book for me and encouraged me so much. Somewhere, I still have a letter she wrote me–possibly after this meeting as I’m positive my mother, channeling no doubt My Great-Grandmother, would have required me to write Mrs. Hamilton a sincere thank you note! Lest you think I was a singled out in some way, Mrs. Hamilton was constant presence in the local schools volunteering to help with school writing workshops, reading aloud from her books and encouraging children to read and to always aim high in life, but to do it the right way.

Like most of my friends I avidly read many of her books. She understood young people, had strong faith and excellent moral values, was not prejudiced and was remarkably sensitive to the trials and tribulations of middle school aged kids living in the real world. Unlike “relevant” literature today though, Mrs. Hamilton always sought to bring her characters up and out of moral dilemmas–she did not compromise her values just to sell books. There was no profanity and other delicate subjects were covered without prurient details. Reading her books felt like being lovingly embraced by a great-grandmother.  Her books were published by a small Christian press so they are not always as easy to find as those from larger publishing houses, but still are well worth the search to find. My favorites were the Quail, the Kildear, Rosalie, and Mindy. Rosalie was a departure from Mrs. Hamilton’s norm in that it was set in the earlier part of the twentieth century. It also took on a subject that still rears its ugly head in the area–the KKK and prejudice of all kinds.

 

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