Friday, May 22, 2015

Historical Fiction for Boys


I have a weird relationship with Historical Fiction.  On one hand, it's not my thing.  I'm not a big history person for the most part, but I will become intrigued by random time periods or stories or people.  But on the other hand, I love period novels like Diamonds and Deceit, The Luxe, and The Diviners.  It also helps if there is something other than just history to get me hooked.

However, historical fiction has a big place in school curriculums.  My favorite reference question ever was a boy that called the library asking for an autobiography by Dracula.  After several questions, I learned that his assignment was to read a historical fiction.  He left with Blood on the River.  Good choice.

My sister contacted me with a librarian question, she needs "living books" for my nephew.  The example she gave were the Little House on the Prairie books.  Something that makes you feel like you are there.  Then, a friend at church was telling me that her son really like historical fiction too, and was blowing through books like crazy.  That was enough motivation for me to come up with a completely non-comprehensive list of historical fiction books.

Miss Tiff's Historical Fiction Picks:

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman.  Adventure, funny, historical-this book checks all the boxes, and it won a Newbery.  It's basically the perfect book.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Lawson.  This is a book for a slightly older crowd than my target audience of 3-4 grade, but particular chapters would make a great read aloud.

Bud not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.  1936, Flint, Michigan, and jazz.

True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi.  It's about a girl, but this seafaring adventure defies gender.

Emily's Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.  Another girl, but she's got a great side-kick and they are all trying to outrun the orphan train.

One-handed Catch by Mary Jane Auch.  WWII and baseball, with a little meat grinder accident.  You want to know, don't you?

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck.  Again, maybe a little old, but a must for any central Illinois kid, and Grandma Dowdel is perfection.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick.  The Civil War and tall tales combine for what is ultimately an honest look at the difficulty of way.

And since truth is stranger than fiction check out these non-fiction titles:

The Giant and How He Humbugged America by Jim Murphy

Brothers at Bat:  The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick

The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barbara Rosenstock

I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat by Carlyn Beccia

Now go out there and make some history!!

Happy Reading





Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Babies: Furry and Otherwise


The relationship between Ali and her furry sister Lucy is pretty fun to watch.  Once Ali started being aware of the world around her, Lucy became a source of constant interest, and that's still very much the case.  She laughs when Lucy runs into the room, tries to get at her water dish, and wants to pet her all the time.  Now that she is mobile and a bit more coordinated, Ali loves to interact with Lucy, or at least try.  We've even let her play tug with Lucy just a little bit and it makes at least one of the babies very happy.


Lucy is a pretty well-behaved dog, but she has her flaws.  She sniffs all over everything and still gets at Ali's toys, although she has yet to ruin one.  Lucy wants attention very badly and will bark and howl when we come home, even with a sleeping baby.  And she begs and jumps up on Ali's high chair constantly.  It doesn't help that Ali finds this hilarious and intentionally feeds her.  These two are already partners in crime!  To her credit, Lucy is amazingly gentle with Ali.  She does jump around and race past her, but I have yet to see her knock her down.  Plus, Ali loves when Lucy sniffs her.  It's just a funny puppy kiss to her.


Slowly but surely Ali is gaining the coordination to be gentle with Lucy and pet, not grab, her hair.  I can imagine that once Ali starts to walk, they will really gang up on us.  I can't wait to see them chasing each other around the yard and play.

They are sisters already.  When I take the two for walks, Ali will reach her hand out of her stroller to hold on to Lucy's leash.  It's a sight that melts this mama's heart!



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Confessions of a Reformed Board Book Snob


Board books abound in my home.  They are in the living room, the nursery, my bag, the diaper bag, my bedroom, the kitchen.  THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!  

And I love it!  Books should be everywhere, especially with a young child in the house.  Ali should never be far from a book.  But the kind of books that I have let her read and play with have changed.  Once I realized how destructive little uncoordinated hands can be, I came to love the idea of board books.  Tough and sturdy mini replicas of all my favorite picture books like The Napping House, Guess How Much I Love You, and The Three Snow Bears are just perfect for babies.  But I wasn't going to let lesser board books in my house.  No, nothing but the finest in board book literature for my little biscuit.

Then I realized that Ali doesn't actually read the books, she plays with them.  They are chewed and thrown and sat on.  When I try to read them, she grabs for them, not letting me finish a page.  The only time that I can get through reading an entire book to her is when she's playing with another toy, or book.  I usually give her a book to hold while I read her a book, and it's a system that has worked out just great.  

While her library collection is full the best in picture book board books, it's also full of simpler, less fancy books.  I love the books in the above picture because of the handle.  The pictures are simple, the text is pretty marginal, but they are easy for her to carry.  And she'll pick them up, and spin herself on her bottom in a clockwise circle.  Never counter-clockwise.  Only clockwise.  It's adorable.  

Having some less-than-stellar books in Ali's collection means that I'm not afraid to let her play with books.  She is learning that books are fun, and that's the most important lesson of all.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

5 Things: Sleep

5 Things to Brighten Your Day
Despite the BS that May Get in Your Way


1.  Ali slept until 6:15 this morning!  She's sleeping through the night now, but mornings are very early, so this is a victory.

2.  Reading time today.  I'm finishing up Daughter of Deep Silence.

3.  Manicure time today.  I wish that I had time for a proper manicure with polish and everything, but I'll take nicely filed nails instead.

4.  It's grilling season, which means shish kabobs for dinner tonight.  

5.  Bright, bright sunshine makes everything better.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Perils of Reading Quickly

It's marathon season!  I am one of those people that thinks marathons only apply to reading and watching TV.  Running is not my thing, but 24 hours of Park and Recreation is right in my wheelhouse!  And hours of uninterrupted reading is a beautiful thing as well, but I wonder if I am going about my reading marathons all wrong. 

Normally, I'm all about one book.  Sit down with a good book, come up for air every hour or so, finish it off quickly.  But right now I am reading Daugther of Deep Silence (quite good-review to come) and I am curious if my quick reading of it is dampening some of the emotional heaviness.  Believe me, I'm still feeling it.  A girl stranded in the ocean, watches her friend die only to take on her identity to learn the truth about event that sealed her fate, it's pretty heady stuff.  But since I'm taking it in so quickly, some of the events are not quite hitting my core, and are thus, not as earth shattering.  I could explain it better if you'd already read it and we were talking about it without the risk of spoilers, but I can't very well do that.

I do think that the books that I read during my marathon reading sessions don't quite get the headspace that I book I take my time with does.  Plus, I'm somewhat of a chain reader, going from one book to another to another.  Talk about an unhealthy way to live!

I suppose that the books that I really care about I treat with a little more respect.  I buy the physical book, or only read sparingly so I don't burn out on the plot and characters.  I take my time, wine and dine the book if you will.  That's the only way to grow a relationship.

I think that my metaphors are getting a little messy.  Is reading a race or a relationship?  Maybe that's the real question!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Jackets


While I was packing up my Children's Book Week display the other day, I noticed how many of my books had book jackets.  Just that morning, I was reading Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site to Ali (she'd pulled it off her bookshelf, then pulled about 10 others off too, but I still take it as a sign that she'll be an engineer like her daddy) when I noticed that the book jacket was super annoying.

As a librarian, I'm pretty protective of books.  It's hard to let Ali play with books like they are toys.  But everything is a toy to a baby.  Plastic cups, spoons, cell phones, bracelets, Altoids tins, those little ribbons in the hymnal for marking your place, these are all just toys to a baby, because play is real work.  Book jackets are often the first causality in baby book play, so why not remove them?

I love books like Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus with its clean, jacketless cover, and if you take the jackets off of most of your books, that's what you're left with.  So I took the plunge and scrapped all the jackets from my display book.  It wasn't easy, but it was necessary.

A couple of the books had covers that differed from the jacket, but I went for it anyway!


Forgive the glare, but you can still see that The Birthday Box cover is actually nicer without the jacket in my opinion.


Old school favorite If You Give a Mouse a Cookie has a very vintage cover, but I have two copies of this one, so one can keep the jacket, while the other goes away.



I didn't toss the jacket for First the Egg, because you'll see that when you remove it, it becomes First the Chicken.  The philosophical debate continues!

That's how I broke up with book jackets.  Now I just have to go after the books on Ali's bookshelf.  I think that I'll leave the jackets on my chapter books for now, but they might get the boot too.  After all, these are books that will be read and loved, not collected.  It's not like I'm planning on sending Ali to college with my vast collection of valuable middle grade chapter books.  No, that's what Beanie Babies are for!  (JK-Is that even a thing?)

Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Half Way Through May: Progress Report




So, I embarked on this Every Day in May campaign with a head full of dreams and a heart full of hope.  Half way through the month (what the what?!) let's see how I'm doing.

Miss Tiff Reads Blog:  Have you been reading everyday this month?  Because I've been blogging!  Yep, 15 posts in 15 days, or 16 in 16 if you are counting today, and going strong.  The big challenge is going to be the last week of the month when I'm on vacation, but hopefully I'll schedule some great stuff for you and post from the road.

Miss Tiff Reads on Instagram:  Started pretty well, then didn't go so great, then didn't really post.  I like Instagram, I really do, so I need to try harder.

Miss Tiff Reads on Twitter:  Is Twitter really still a thing that people do?  Really?  I've never gotten into it.  Maybe I'm missing out but I would rather spend my internet time looking up stuff on Pinterest or checking out Instagram, so Twitter, I've failed you.

Of the 15 posts that I've put up so far this month, 5 have been book reviews, 4 have been all about the baby, 2 have been librarian randomness, 2 have been my daily 5, and 1 has been totally random.  Pretty good range, I'd say.

Here's to another 15 days of posting!