Flora the Flamingo Backpack Buddy

We have three new backpack buddies to add to our collection! Two titles are very familiar – Go Dog Go and Knufflebunny.

We also have a new title – Flora the Flamingo

In this wordless picture book  a friendship develops between a girl named Flora and a graceful flamingo, as they learn to dance together.   Check out the book trailer about this very fun new book!

Flora the Flamingo Book Trailer


We now have 48 backpack buddies to choose from. Each one has a backpack, a book, matching puppet and a journal. Backpack buddies are available for check out in grades 1-3.


What is your favorite backpack buddy?

What book (fiction or non-fiction) would you suggest?


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One Book at a Time

Mumbai, India

 On Monday, a package filled with 25 children’s books left for Mumbai, India with Josa’s Dad. He was going to Mumbai on business and offered to take some books with him.

Mumbai, formerly known by the name Bombay is located in the state of Maharashtra. It’s considered the financial capital city of India. It’s the most populated city in India and one of the top most populated cities in the world with over 14 million people. Mumbai is far away from Seattle!

Because Mumbai is so overcrowded, not everyone has the same advantages as we have in Seattle. The Dharavi area of Mumbai is home to thousands of people, many of them children. Unfortunately there aren’t enough school buildings or even books for all the children who want an education. That is why Josa’s family thought that might be a good place to share some of the extra books we have.


https://www.globalfundforchildren.org/education-comes-knocking/ DoorStep_DSC_0067_Vineeta-Guptacom

The students in Ms. Holder’s class helped prep the books for the first shipment. Each student signed a bookplate inside the book. Our principal, Mrs. Paul signed one too!

After everyone signed a book, I put them in an envelope for the trip. They left with Josa’s Dad a few days ago.


I was worried that 25 books wouldn’t make much of a difference when there are thousands of children who need books. Josa’s mom very kindly reminded me about the story of the starfish. Have you heard of this story? I had forgotten about it and after she told me about it, I realized she’s right.

We are making a difference. The actions of our students do matter. Twenty five books will help…One book at a time!


Have you ever been to India?

How do you matter at school or at home or in your community?


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Favorite Books of 2012

Have you ever read a book that you just couldn’t forget?

Did it make you laugh? Cry? Shout?

 Today’s post is about my favorite books from 2012. These are the standout books from a year of reading.  Even though I may have read them months ago, I still think about them and consider them book friends. When I see the cover, or think of a passage from the book, I get a smile on my face. Not all of these books were written in 2012, although most of them were. I am in the process of reading all the Newbery Medal winners, so one book was published years ago. All, except the young adult books are available in our library. I hope you will stop in and check them out!

Tomorrow the American Library Association will announce all of the Youth Media Awards at their Mid-Winter Conference here in Seattle. I will be at the press conference for the very first time!  I can’t wait to see what books won medal and honor awards. Above any other books, I have my fingers crossed for The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and Wonder by RJ Palacio.

Here are my standouts from a year of reading!

Categories: Favorite Graphic Novels, Favorite Picture Books, Favorite Non-Fiction Picture Books,Favorite Middle Grade Novels, Favorite Young Adult Novels, Favorite Audio Books

So there you are…my favorites. Not all will win awards tomorrow at the ALA conference. However, they have already won a special award in my heart because each of these books has touched me in a very personal way. I’m looking forward to lots of reading in 2013 and seeing where my reading travels take me!


Were any of these books favorites for you this year?

Is there a book I should have included?

Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Curl up with a Book!


Photo by Chad Miller on Flickr Creative Commons License


Sometimes events happen that we don’t understand and it makes us feel sad and confused. That’s how I am feeling right now and maybe it’s how you are feeling. When I feel this way, I turn to my family and books to help me feel better.


Bruce McKay Yellow Snow Photography Creative Commons License on Flickr


This weekend I asked my friends to tell me the titles of their favorite books to read to first graders. Here are their ideas. I hope you will find one of these books and then curl up with a loved one to read it together.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

Patty Lovell

Let’s Go for a Drive

Mo Willems

Pete the Cat, Rocking in my School Shoes

Eric Litwin

Julie B. Jones, First Grader (any title)

Barbara Park

Dragon’s Fat Cat (and any others in the Dragon Tale series)

Dav Pilkey

The Kissing Hand

Audrey Penn

The Little Engine that Could

Watty Piper

I Love it When You Smile

Sam McBratney

Make Way for Ducklings

Robert McCloskey

Curious George

H. A. Rey

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

Mo Willems

Bad Kitty

Nick Bruel

Dick and Jane

The Clock Struck One

Trudy Harris

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

William Steig

This list could go on forever and ever because there are hundreds and hundreds of wonderful books. If you like to draw, I know you will like Happy by Mies van Hout. It might give you some ideas of how to draw your own feeling pictures.

To end this post, Reese and Kasa also want you to know about one they would like you to read. Maybe you can sit down with special person in your life, a favorite pet and enjoy it. It’s called Snow Dog’s Journey by Loretta Krupinski.


What book would you add to our list?

Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Pete’s Adventure in Australia

Last month Pete the Cat left on a trip to Australia!

He arrived safely and has been having heaps of fun! The word “heaps” is used in Australia when we say “lots”, such as lots of fun. Check him out in the Bird of Paradise plant in BB’s backyard!

BB has been writing about his adventures and I hope you will visit her blog to find out all the details.

Please leave her a comment and let her know you visited. Here is the direct link to her blog.


What do you think Pete should do while he is “down under”

What season is it in Australia now?

Do you think Bird of Paradise plants would grow in Seattle?


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Celebrating Picture Books

Why designate a month to picture books?

Don’t we all love picture books already? The answer is simple. With the birth of eBooks, iPads, Kindles, Nooks and other online reading devices, many feel traditional printed picture books may be on the way out.

This is the 2nd annual celebration of Picture Book Month. Founder Dianne de Las Casa decided it was time to celebrate picture books in their printed format so she created an initiative to designate November as “Picture Book Month”.

Every day in November, there has been a new post from a picture book author explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important. You can visit the website from the link here.

We always celebrate picture books in our library. However, we have also added some art to the mix in our  lessons. Here are the highlights of our week.

What says Thanksgiving Day more than turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie?

 The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

For more than eighty-years, children young and old, have been delighted by the bobbing and swaying gigantic balloons that float down the streets of New York City in the parade.

Melissa Sweet tells the true story of Tony Sarg, the puppeteer who was the inventor of the Macy’s parade balloons. After we read this book, some of the classes also made Balloons Over Broadway mini-boxes and finger puppets. You can get this activity and more at the Houghton-Mifflin website here.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and say thank you. While this book is not a traditional Thankgiving Day book talking about the Mayflower and pilgrims, it is a book about the importance of thanking friends for all the things they do for each of us.

 In first grade, we used the Splat the Cat Activity Kit and added a fall leaf. Students wrote what they are thankful for during this holiday season.

If you want to read a funny chapter book to entertain you during the Thanksgiving holiday week, pick up a copy of  Junie B., First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff). Find out how cranberry sauce in a can, exploding biscuits and rainbow sprinkles relate to Thankgiving and first graders. I guarantee this book will have you laughing in minutes!

The last book I want to include this week is Hello, Hello by Matthew Cordell. I think every family needs to add this book to their collection. In fact, Matthew has a blogpost listing 26 reasons why every family needs to read this book. You can read that post here.

It’s a story of what we really need to remember as we move forward into a very connected, very digital age.

Using simple text, charming watercolor illustrations, and animals in unusual places (flying fish and whales in the sky?), Cordell tells the story of Lydia, who helps her family remember that there is a time and place for electronics.


For a few minutes in the upcoming days, I hope you will set your gadget aside, and go outside to jump in those leaves and have some silly, crazy, outside fun!


What is your favorite balloon in the Macy’s Day parade?

What friend would you by thankful for this month?

What gadget could you give up for a day?

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Pete’s Off to Australia!

Pete the Cat  is a good friend of Mrs. Hembree. This weekend he came home with her so he wouldn’t be lonely sitting in the library all weekend.

On Saturday morning, Mrs. Hembree got up and walked into the dining room.

What did she see?

Pete the Cat was stuffing himself into a really big envelope!

“What are you doing Pete?” she asked. Pete started singing!

“Where are you traveling to Pete? I see there are some letters on the envelope. Does that say Australia?” Mrs. Hembree asked Pete.

“YES! Australia!” Pete exclaimed! “I’m going to Australia and I’m singing this song!”

“Pete, won’t you be scared? Australia is a long way from Seattle! It’s not even in North America!” said Mrs. Hembree.

“NO!” he shouted! “I won’t be scared! I’m going to see my friend and I’ll be singing my song!”

“Tell me Pete, how did you decide to go to Australia?  Do you know someone there?” asked Mrs. Hembree.

Pete said, “Do you know BB our Blogging Buddy? She asked me if I could come visit! So I decided since it started raining here, that I would visit her in Australia.

Did you know Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere? When it’s fall here, it’s sunny and warm there because it’s springtime! I’m going to have fun and I’m going to be singing my song!”

“Ok Pete. It sounds like you know what you want to do and who you want to see! Let’s go to the post office and get you on the road!” Mrs. Hembree said.

“Thanks Mrs. Hembree! Don’t forget! I’m going to see BB and I’ll be singing my song!” Pete waved goodbye and was gone in a flash. She could hear in the background faint sounds of his song…..


Oh no! Australia is a long way from here!

Do you think he will get lost?

Will he have fun?

Will he get back in time to go to Prague?

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!





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Rockin’ with Pete the Cat

Are you rocking in your school shoes?

Are you singing in your school shoes?

Are you dancing in your school shoes?

In kindergarten and first grade WE ARE and it’s lots of fun!

Eric Litwin is the author of the Pete the Cat books. He and artist James Dean have created Pete, a blue, happy, “you can’t get me down” cat. He knows how to learn! He knows how to have fun! And…he knows how to sing! We watched a live reading of Pete the Cat and got our groove on!


We also did some fun Pete the Cat activities while learning about colors, guided drawing and counting.

We watched and listened to Miss Shy do her re-telling of Pete in this fun video!


Pete has a new book that just came out on September 25th! I can’t wait to read it! To learn more about Pete’s books visit his website.


This summer, my husband and I took Pete the Cat on our trip to Oregon and California. He helped me read maps along the way because in many places there was no internet or cell phone service! We got to read maps the old-fashioned way!

Here is a little video of our trip with Pete. Enjoy!


What stuffed animal would you take on a trip with you?

Have you ever used a state or country map to guide you?

What should Pete do next?

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How to Hug a Porcupine


It’s easy to hug dogs or cats or bunnies or goats. But how to you hug a porcupine! Author, Laurie Isop, author of How Do You Hug a Porcupine visited our school for World Read Aloud Day to help us find out! This was also the day we dressed up as favorite book characters!

 Laurie presented to the kindergarten – second grade classes. First she talked to them about porcupines and their quills.

They even had a chance to touch a giant quill from an African porcupine.




She explained that after she won the Cheerios -Spoonful of Stories Award last year, Cheerios put a small paperback copy of her book in both English and Spanish in every single Cheerios box! Then her publisher Simon & Schuster published the book in the hardcover version. You can read about this prize here.

Then she treated the students to a reading of her book.

We had a special raffle and 4 students won one of the paperback copies and one student won a porcupine puppet.



Following her presentation, students who purchased copies of her book stayed in the library and watched Laurie sign their book.

Laurie’s visit was courtesy of our local independent book store, ParkPlace Books in Kirkland! Thank you Park Place!

 When Laurie is not writing books, she and her husband Paul run a wedding photography business. All of the photos for this blog post were furnished by Paul Isop of Studio 6.

If you are wondering who the winner is for this year’s Cheerios contest, look in the cereal aisle of your local grocery store! Josh gave me a sneak peek on what he found this weekend.

What authors have you met at your school?
What do you think about Cheerios offering books in cereal boxes?
If you could have any author visit, who would it be?
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Art Appreciation in the Library

Vincent Van Gogh – what painting do you think of when you hear his name?  Starry Night? The Sunflowers? The Yellow House paintings? Van Gogh is one of the world’s most famous artists. Between 1881 and 1890 he painted over 900 paintings, yet sold only one during his lifetime.  

Van Gogh’s works come to life during my favorite time of year when Mrs. Lustgarten and I team on some art related lessons. Learning about artists seems to bring the spring and summer warmth into the long, dark winter days of Seattle. A few years ago, the Lake Washington Schools Foundation granted me funds to purchase art appreciation books for our library.

Then a trip to France where I had the opportunity to visit the Louvre and the Orsay Museum in France and Claude Monet’s house in Giverney cemented my love for many of the great artists. Ever since, our art leader, Mrs. Lustgarten and I have coordinated some lessons to link the library to art. We sit down together and brainstorm ideas of how our students can learn about famous artists along with using the tools within the library.

The water lily pond at Claude Monet's estate in Giverney, France.The water lily pond was the inspiration of the gigantic paintings by Monet.


This is one of the gigantic water lily panels by Monet. They are on display in the specially designed Oval Room at the Orsay Museum in France.


This year in addition to focusing on particular artists, we are bringing the art of the Caldecott winners to the forefront of some lessons.

The Caldecott Medal and Honor awards are given to the illustrators of the most distinguished picture book for children of the year. The illustrators use a wide variety of art techniques and in our student lessons, Mrs.Lustgarten is having some classes imitate the medium of the illustrator. In our library classes, we are reading the newest winners and learning more about the award and the different medium artists have used through the years.

Kindergarten has focused on some of the work of Vincent Van Gogh. In first grade, the students read Katie Meets the Impressionists,  Katie’s Sunday Afternoon, and Degas and the Little Dancer, and watched a dvd about Claude Monet’s life as an artist. In art class, they created artwork using the pointilist style of George Seurat.

Second and third grade is learning more about the Caldecott award, the work of author/illustrator Mo Willems and his “pigeon”, as well as Henri Matisse. Fourth grade is focusing on scratchboard art, the style used in The House in the Night, the 2009 Caldecott Medal winner.


 The fifth and sixth grade classes are involved with a long-term research project. They are learning the 5 steps of research in a biography project about a famous artist. Using books and the internet, students must find the basic facts about their artist. Then they will create a Wordle and Fakebook page about their person. The last step is to film a biography interview where they pretend to be the artist they have researched. The biography museum idea came from Mr. Avery in Massachusetts. You can see examples of the biography videos here. My goal was to have the students experience the research process before they begin their exiting Expert’s Projects for their classroom teachers.

The culminating project for the 5th and 6th graders in art will be to create a pennant imitating the style of the artist they have researched. These pennants and videos will be available for viewing at the Art Walk in June.

What famous artist have you learned about?
What was the name of the one painting Van Gogh sold during his lifetime?
Have you ever been to an art museum before?
Who would you choose to research if you could do a biography project?
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