Thursday, June 13, 2013

More Picture Books...

A Tale of Two Daddies
by Vanita Oelschlager
A Tale of Two Mommies
by Vanita Oelschlager
A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager is a delightful story about a questions and answers session between three children while playing on a beach. Two of the children (girl and boy) ask a little boy about his life with two mommies. They ask typical questions a young child would ask another in order to understand the dynamics of his household that is different from their own.

A Tale of Two Daddies also by Vanita Oelschlager, 
is also a questions and answers session, but this time it is between two children playing at the park. A little boy asks questions of a little girl about her life with two daddies.  

There is no stereotype presented in either book.  Both books can spark conversations in what society calls a "typical" household of a mother and father with children. I see this book as a great opportunity to begin a conversation about how a child in the little boy's similar situation, whether with two mommies or two daddies  can respond in a very positive manner to questions asked about his/ her family.

I do not believe either of these books should be overlooked. I think they will be great additions to any library serving young children. As librarians it is our responsibility to provide children with picture books to which they can relate. This is not something new. The point of the story is the child is loved. It doesn't matter the gender of the two adult parental units. What has been seen as a family is changing and we need to accept this fact. 

I am a heterosexual woman. I have been married for over twenty years and I have a son in college. I embrace my friends (and family) who have a different lifestyle than my own. I applaud them for having the courage to live their life in the manner they choose. The children of same sex parents are planned, which is not always the case for heterosexual couples, and they should not have a stigma placed on them for this loving environment.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, VanitaBooks, LLC has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer Reading Challenge 2013

It seems our "assignment this summer, if we choose to accept it" is to read 500 pages of our choosing. Okay, this challenge does not bother me in the least, because I am well on my way of completing this challenge only DAYS into the summer. My disappointment comes in the fact that I am not really challenged by this at all. I know I could set my own parameters for the 500 pages, but now I am free to read whatever I want! Yes, having the choice to choose whatever I want to read this summer is fantastic, don't get me wrong. However when I have been "forced" to step out of my comfort zone of genres (children's, mystery, thrillers, historical, and science fiction) then I discover so many more authors and titles in which to fall in love. ~ Remember, you can NEVER have too many books! ~ I am a living example of the saying, "I was born with a reading list I will never finish." The summer reading challenges have given me permission to delve into areas I have really never discovered. This year, I will simply have to do it myself, or will I? At this point I can't decide. I have gathered a number of pre-pub e-books I need to review (and will post here for all to see), all of which I have selected. I'm fairly certain there are some books that are not typically on the Texas Library Lady's reading list, so I guess I will live up to previous challenges, but 500 pages - PIECE OF CAKE!!

Happy Reading ~ and let the challenge begin!

Picture Books! Picture Books! Picture Books!

I am so excited to share some great pictures books I have had the privilege of reviewing.

Which is Round? Which is Bigger?
by Mineko Mamada

This is a great concept book to encourage children to think outside the box and to spark conversation between a parent (or other caregiver / reader) and the child. Each two page spread provides two animals to compare, asking a question similar to the title ~ Which is round? When the child looks at the initial two animals they have to make a choice, however, things are not always what they seem. When the page is turned the animals have changed just enough the child's response is no longer accurate. This title reminds me of another book I reviewed a few years back, Same Same by Marthe Jocelyn. I love when the simplicity of the illustrations (the cover is the most colorful because of  the yellow, but the colored illustrations and playful) and the text allow the reader to grasp the concept quickly and easily, but then they are forced to use logical thinking to make an educated decision.  Based on the price of the book ($16.95) I am guessing this is a hardcover book. I feel it would be a great board book, and possibly could be if it were in the larger format. This book would be great for toddlers up to kindergarten, but could also be used in elementary grades in order to help further develop high order thinking skills. I highly recommend this title for parents of young children and libraries serving young children.

by Elizabeth Verdick
Cuddle up with this endearing book filled with soft black and white photos of babies and their cuddle partners. Large bright eyes, joyful expressions, and loving kisses are displayed throughout in this board book. It will be a perfect addition to any baby's library. Simply, somewhat repetitive text easily flows with the photographs. The inclusion of "Cuddle Tips for Parents and Care Providers" is perfect for the first time parent or care giver. The tips are logical for those of us who have been around children a great deal and seem common sense, however for someone who has never been around a baby this is vital information for building a loving relationship. I highly recommend this book for new parents. It could also be placed in a library with a board book collection, but know this book will make it into the mouths of the babies because they are going to want to smooch the babies in the pictures.

Where Do the Animals Go When it Rains?
by Janet S. Crown, et al.
Where Do the Animals Go When it Rains? is the product of a conversation between a mother and her children. In my personal opinion, something that should occur with a great deal more frequency that it does currently in our world. A child asks a simple question and the mother (or any caregiver to be honest) runs with the opportunity to create a dialogue. What animals should we look at (research)? Where do you think they go when it rains? What do you think they do there? All wonderful questions you can ask your own child when reading this great book. At first I was a bit perplexed by the various colored text, but on closer inspection I discovered this is a great manner in which to spotlight the main objective on each page. By simply reading the colored text, you can quickly learn the main idea of each page. Now, this is not something the children will necessarily pick up on. However it is a great way for a parent to skim the page and ask a question prior to reading all of the text aloud. Spotlighted animals include the following: bears, squirrels, rabbits, deer, horses, birds, frogs, fish, and mice. The illustrations are colorful and represent each of the animals in a realistic manner (for the most part ~ I don't recall ever seeing a pink fish before, but it will appeal to young children). I would recommend this book for parents of children up to kindergarten and for libraries who have children's collections.

100 Animals on Parade!
by Masayuki Sebe
When it comes to counting to 100 with a child it can be a daunting task, until you read 100 Animals on Parade! by Masayuki Sebe. Not only do you have the opportunity to count to 100, but you get to do it ~ five times, with the bears, pigs, carpenter beetles, rabbits, and birds included in this charmingly fun counting book. The text is not rhyming, or even really good literature, but it starts a conversation. Questions are asked and details must be observed in order to provide the answers. There is an abundance of activity going on in the pages of this book. In fact, at the end of the book you find a picture list of tiny items to go back through the book to discover. A great deal of the text does not occur in the paragraph in the middle of the page, but around the "animals on parade". This is an excellent addition to any early childhood library collection and will be a well loved book in any home with young children (or children of all ages because of the hidden pictures!). I highly recommend this fun math centered picture book.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Kids Can Press, Free Spirit Publishing, Janet Crown (self-published), and Kids Can Press have provided a complimentary electronic copy of each of these books through

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Henry VIII & Cotton Malone

The eagerly anticipated 11th book in the always thrilling Cotton Malone series, The King's Deception,  by Steve Berry will be released in a few hours. I have to say my excitement for this new book came after reading the excerpt at the end of Berry's The Columbus Affair (a stand alone novel). It's not really fair for an author to include these teasers at the end of a previous book. It's like showing a toddler a cookie (in June) and then saying, you can have a crumb now, but you cannot eat the rest of the cookie until October! It might as well be when they turn 18! Seriously, you expect readers, especially bibliophiles such as myself, to be patient and just wait for the book to come out?!? No way! I searched for the opportunity to read The King's Deception pre-pub and was thrilled beyond belief when I was approved for the advanced reader copy via electronic delivery Oh, how times have changed!! My reading addiction can be now be fed simply by opening a webpage, downloading a book, sending it to my device, and then syncing the library on my e-Reader! FREE! Now, can you say addicted? Why, yes I am. I'm not a member of Bibliophiles Anonymous (BA) I am a loud and proud member of Bibliophiles Out Loud (BOL)! I really tried to come up with a cool acronyms, but my husband really hates them!

Okay, onto my praise for The King's Deception. Like other Steve Berry books, I was captured by the first pages and had a very difficult time putting it down . The book begins in Whitehall Palace in January 1547 [For those of you not familiar with English history, this is where Henry VII lapsed into unconsciousness and ultimately died, following a reign of over 37 years] and then moves to May 2012 where Cotton Malone and his ex-wife begin to discuss the death of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted murderer for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The real story begins as Cotton and his teenage son travel to London on Thanksgiving holiday.

I don't want to ruin any of the action, suspense, and adventure for you. So I will just say, if you have plans for the evening, weekend, etc. do not pick this book up because your plans will either be forgotten or cancelled because you will not want to put the book down ~ for any reason. Yes, it is a long book (432 pages), but you will be so engrossed in the story line you won't realize the world is continuing to function around you.

This novel is a wonderful marriage of historical events ~ distant past and not so distant past (because I can remember these events). The way Berry intertwines historical fact with his own story line, thus creating historical fiction, makes the reader wonder, could this really be the case? Is this what happened? If you are not questioning your knowledge of history when you finish a Steve Berry novel, then I don't think you really read the book!

I am a huge fan of historical fiction. While reading a book, such as The King's Deception, I make an effort to do my own research in order to have a better grasp of the actual history and geography of an area. It is not that I don't trust the author. On the contrary, I believe them to such an extent that I have to be able to separate fact from fiction, for my own sake. If I don't do this additional research and investigation I feel that I am not an informed reader. Now, for some this would cause you to move as far away from historical fiction as possible. I, however, love history and always want to learn more. As I have gotten older I have found that I read about times and events in history in which I never studied in school through the historical fiction books I pick up to read.. Historical fiction provides me with the opportunity to learn in an entertaining and suspenseful manner, especially when Cotton Malone has anything to do with the story!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Thank You!

It is official...I am the mother of a high school graduate. [I would insert a picture here, but I don't have a single picture of us together in his regalia from yesterday!!!!!!!!! ~ Can you sense my frustration?]

If you read my post from yesterday you will understand that I have an "abnormal amount" (to quote a portion of my son's Salutatorian Address) of respect for my responsibilities. With that being said, it is now my time to thank some very important people.

Let's start with his grandparent. His paternal grandfather (Granddad - WMB) always wanted to see Timothy's report card. In the beginning he would pay Timothy for each A. After a while it became too expensive, but he was involved and supportive. His paternal grandmother (Grandma - LBB) sadly passed away the week before Timothy entered kindergarten. However, knowing the importance of a good education, we all know she was watching him always from above. Moving to his maternal grandparents (MorMor - MHM and PaPa - LJM), who had the wonderful opportunity to see Timothy on a daily basis through his elementary years when they would pick him up after school and then in high school when they would take him to breakfast at least three days a week and then on to school. All of his grandparents encouraged Timothy to strive for excellence in education, it was not an option, but an expectation.Thank you.

Now moving to the next ring of the family. His aunts, uncles and cousin, although not seen on a regular basis, were always supportive. Honoring him at graduation through their attendance at the ceremony were his Uncle Bill & Aunt Cindy, Uncle Rudy & Aunt Lindie, Aunt Krystal, Aunt Jenny, and his cousins Ashley, Charlotte, & Lacey. Attending via the live streaming feed, Uncle Gene & Aunt Iris, Uncle Tim and cousin Judy. Through telephone conversations, Facebook comments, and cards all of these family members have had faith in his abilities and cheered him on.Thank you.

It is heartwarming to have friends who care about your child, especially their education. I am going to begin with our best friends.

I have already mentioned Uncle Tim, but he deserves to be mentioned again. He has been my husband's best friend for 36 years. He is Timothy's uncle in name, but more importantly in love. He is his godfather and Timothy his namesake. Thank you.

My best friend, Lori, and her family have provided a great deal of comic relief ~ especially in the early years when our kids were little, but also a sounding board since they got to experience each milestone a year in advance since their eldest graduated last year. Thank you.

Our church friends were a constant show of love and support for Timothy from the very beginning of our membership in fall of 1997. Countless hugs, prayers, written & spoken words of encouragement proved to be sent or given at just the right time and always with the most sincerity.Thank you.

To Timothy's school friends, I would like to thank you for your patience with my son. He was not the typical high school student. He has some quirks. He is highly opinionated. He is a geek. However, those of you who have dealt with him through the years continue to love him. The praise showered on him will forever be in my heart. To all members (coaches and students) of the distinguished NHS Academic Decathlon team, thank you! You provided Timothy with he highest level of intellectual debates, studies, and competition, allowing him to be an accomplished member of an elite team. Thank you.

Last, but by no means least, to "our" Rebecca. Words cannot truly express my love for you. You have shown a love for my son I never dreamed he would find in high school. I can tell, by the way you look at him, the love you have in your heart. Until you are a mother, I don't believe you will understand how much it means to me to have someone love my son as much as you seem to love Timothy. It makes my heart sing to see the two of you together and to hear your conversations. You are intellectual equals and don't ever let anyone tell you differently. I am grateful for your patience with my son. Trust me, I know he is not the easiest person to be around. He tends to want to express his opinions, every once in awhile! So Rebecca to you, I say thank you.

Irving ISD.
My husband and I are both products of Irving ISD. A lot of things in Irving have changed a great deal since we were children, however the dedication of the faculty and staff members of the Irving Independent School District to the students of Irving has never wavered. It was very apparent by the countless number of congratulatory greetings, cards, and comments over the years, especially the past few weeks. These teachers, administrators, and support staff care about their students and want only the very best for them. Thankfully the Internet has allowed us to re-connect with former teachers, whether it be through Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, being able to convey our appreciation for their dedication is very important. As an educator myself I know the sacrifices that are made for "our kids" [for clarification, this means our students, once they are enrolled they become a part of us]. I would like to especially thank the faculty & staff members of the following schools: Townley Elementary (especially to Ms. Richardson, Ms. Bennett, Ms. Terrill, and Ms. French), Lee Britain Elementary (especially to Ms. Moss and Ms. Palisi), Lamar Middle School (especially to Ms. Weinstein, Ms. Guerin, Mr. Gelber, Ms. Moro, and Ms. Malone), and Nimitz High School (especially to "Mama" Cowen, "Coach" Christenberry, Mr. Greg Jackson, Langsather, Ms. Galemore, Ms. Sargent, Ms.Pachnick, Mr. Thomson, Mr. Sitton, Ms. Thoppil,  Ms. Bradley [Happy Birthday!], Ms. Roper, Mr. G., Mr. Nolly, and Mr. Cobb) . District Administrators (especially Ms. George and Ms. Zeske) and School Board Members (current and former) also deserve our gratitude for their desire to help create the best educational environment for all students. As a parent of a new high school graduate, it is my duty to thank you for 12 wonderful years, amazing faculty & staff, a wealth of knowledge & your dedication to the students of Irving ISD. Thank you.

Last, but not least.
In closing, I have to give thanks to my wonderful husband for his love of our son. It is difficult sometimes for a father to show his love for his son, especially when he is a teenager (and knows everything!). Thank you for your devotion and for always advocating for our son. Your expectations were consistently in direct correlation with mine. We set a high bar of expectations and Timothy always aspired for the highest possible level of success, without our pushing. We are an amazing team, and I do believe we did a great job ~ together. Thank you.

In closing I must say a lot of thank yous were expressed, but it is important to thank those who have helped to create an environment of success. Whether through the smallest gesture of support to the highest recognition for a student, each and every person who has come into my son's life has made a mark of impression (difficult times / people created just as much of an impact and have made us realize how God directs us onto the path He wants us to take ~ even if it forces us into our discomfort). A person can never express their appreciate too much, therefore all of the thank yous. Please understand, each and everyone of these thank yous is heartfelt and sincerely. To paraphrase one of our favorite songs, I know he has been changed for the better, because he knew you.

Thank you.