Monthly Archives: June 2010

Kids Only: What’s Your Favorite Chapter Book?

I heard from the author of the Fuse 8 blog yesterday about why she had not included all of the children’s votes for the 100 favorite children’s book list.  She wrote:

Well, just to justify the tampering, had I allowed every child vote to count (and initially I did) you would have seen numbers 1-50 consist entirely of Fablehaven, Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, iCarly, and Rainbow Fairy sequels and series. In the future, I’ll have a better method for handling child votes. As it was, any child that sent me a vote individually counted. If they were in classes, however, then for each of their votes, two adults also had to vote. Not perfect, but amenable.

I responded:

So if you hadn’t tinkered, then the “wrong” books would have been chosen as favorites? Favorites are favorites! Perhaps what we need, then, is two lists. I would love to read the true list of what children pick as their favorite books even if we consider them twaddle, and I also would love to read a list of what adults consider the 100 best books.

I am not trying to be snippy or difficult, but I really have a problem with saying that children’s opinions don’t count, for any reason.

I find the 100 book list very helpful and plan to try to finish them all off with my kiddos by the end of the summer (or year at the least).  Luckily, we’ve read an awful lot of them so it shouldn’t be that difficult!

That said, I would really like to know what other books children would pick — even if they all would be books that grown ups might look down upon.

Please ask your kids and spread the word that I would love to hear their votes for their all-time favorite children’s books.  All respondents must be under 18 and they can vote for any book they please!

If books are in a series, I will count them together as such instead of making children pick just one book in the series.  I suspect the Harry Potter books and Little House books would have been higher up if they had been counted as one entry, for instance, and other series might have made the list if the whole series could be listed (such as the Paddington Bear series, Nancy Drew, Magic Treehouse and American Girl books, just to name a few).

That said, if your favorite book is part of a series you can feel free to tell me which one and I’ll make a note so others will know to check it out!

I realize that my little blog will not get nearly the votes and traffic of the School Library Journal’s, so please help spread the word so we can get as many book recommendations as possible!

I’ll leave the voting up till the end of June and then write up the results.  Perhaps I’ll do a parents’ book poll then.  🙂

So please gather up your kiddos and ask them to weigh in.  What’s your favorite novel or chapter book?

Victoria with one of her library piles



Filed under This and that

100 Favorite Children’s Novels

The School Library Journal’s Fuse 8 blog conducted a survey recently of favorite children’s books and these are the top 100 (after being tampered with so that children’s votes were not always counted — see the edit note at the end).

While I’m not a fan of the way the voting was done, I love any sort of list of good children’s books and I have a new summer goal — to have read all 100 by the end of the summer!

Since we have read so many of these already, that’s not actually too scary of a goal.  🙂

Want some new ideas for what to put on your library list (or to see how many you and your gang have read)?  Here they all are….

#1 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

#2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

#3 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

#4 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

#5 From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

#6 Holes by Louis Sachar

#7 The Giver by Lois Lowry

#8 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

#9 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

#10 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

#11 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

#12 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

#13 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

#14 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

#15 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

#16 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

#17 Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

#18 Matilda by Roald Dahl

#19 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

#20 Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

#21 Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riodan

#22 The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo

#23 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

#24 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

#25 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

#26 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

#27 A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett

#28 Winnie-the Pooh by A.A. Milne

#29 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland /Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

#30 The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

#31 Half Magic by Edward Eager

#32 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

#33 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

#34 Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

#35 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire JK Rowling

#36 Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

#37 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

#38 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

#39 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

#40 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

#41 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

#42 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

#43 Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

#44 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

#45 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

#46 Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

#47 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

#48 The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

#49 Frindle by Andrew Clements

#50 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

#51 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

#52 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

#53 Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

#54 The BFG by Roald Dahl

#55 The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

#56 Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

#57 Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

#58 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

#59 Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

#60 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

#61 Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

#62 The Secret of the Old Clock (The Nancy Drew mysteries) by Caroline Keene

#63 Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

#64 A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

#65 Ballet Shoes by Noah Streatfeild

#66 Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

#67 Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville

#68 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

#69 The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

#70 Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace

#71 A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

#72 My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

#73 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

#74 The Borrowers by Mary Norton

#75 Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

#76 Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

#77 City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

#78 Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

#79 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

#80 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

#81 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

#82 The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

#83 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

#84 Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

#85 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

#86 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

#87 The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

#88 The High King by Lloyd Alexander

#89 Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary

#90 Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

#91 Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

#92 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

#93 Caddie Woodlawn by C. R. Brink

#94 Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

#95 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

#97: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

#98 Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston

#99 The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

#100 The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

(I’d include a link to the original posting but the main site has been redesigned and all of the original links are no longer working.)

Any that you and your kiddos would add?


Filed under To do

A Quote for a Friday

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice ”

-Peggy O’Mara


Filed under quotes

A Little of Everything

First off, thanks for all your fabulous comments yesterday on my mothering post!  Every one of them meant so much.  🙂

Today was a pretty fabulous day.  It was filled with strawberry picking, playing with friends at the park, sitting in the shade on the lawn swing watching the kids play, gardening, talking, tree climbing, homemade strawberry sorbets and lots of other good stuff.

There weren’t exactly bluebirds circling our heads (though a grackle did dive bomb me in the back yard as I was hanging laundry!), but the kids were pretty much happy and nobody stripped down, scaled cars, shouted at me or alarmed the neighbors.  A success in my book.

Now on to other things…

If you’ve been alarmed about the recent news stories concerning lead found in juice boxes, Z Recommends has another side of the story you might want to read.

Yes, there is probably lead in your child’s box of juice. There is also lead in your honey, your salad dressing, your teething biscuits, your store-bought chocolate chip cookies, your pickles, your lettuce, your spinach, and your sweet potatoes (fresh). There is lead in many of the things you – and your children – eat on a regular basis. That’s because there is lead in pesticides, in the air, in the soil… almost everywhere…

It’s good information that puts it all in perspective.

If you’re like us and have an abundance of strawberries (say 55 pounds!) this page of strawberry recipes might come in handy.

I highly recommend making strawberry sorbet with some of it, though.  My easy way is to blend fresh strawberries in the blender with a little water and sugar to taste, and then freeze it in the ice cream maker.  It’s that easy!  Victoria says she likes it even better than ice cream.  You can put the mixture in popsicle molds too.

We also made some jam and syrup but most of it we just froze for later.  If you’re new to freezing berries, the best way to do it is to wash and hull them and then spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a freezer until they’re just frozen (1 to 2 hours) and then put them in gallon bags (squeeze out all the excess air to protect them from freezer burn).  Flash freezing them first means they’ll be individual berries and not a solid lump of strawberry ice when you want to pull some out later.  🙂

Lastly, Here’s some sweet little paper dolls of all sorts to print out next time you need a little rainy day fun.

And with that, chickadees, I’m off to read “The House of Dies Drear” to a very impatient night owl.

Kiss your kiddos, count your blessings, and don’t forget to take care of you!

Happy Thursday!


Filed under This and that

It’s Hard Work, This Mothering Business

I’ve been feeling rather raw lately.  My “good mama” hat has felt knocked from my head a few too many times and I’ve been filled with self doubt.

Several hundred times per day, three-year-old Alex tells me “Me MAD at you, Mama!”.

Seven-year-old Jack goes back and forth between being sweetly crazy about me to shouting that he hates me.

Ten-year-old Annalee has taken several nights this week to inform me of how unfair her life is, that I don’t spend enough time with her and that I’m a promise breaker and a liar.

And twelve-year-old Victoria… well, she reads this blog and gets annoyed if I talk about her, so let’s just say I do not feel like her favorite person in the universe.

I’m tired.

I’ve spent 12+ years singing lullabies, doing crafts, reading stories, playing games, taking walks, cuddling and doing everything in my power to make some pretty marvelous childhoods for these four little blessings.  And I know I’ve done well and they’re good kids and that they’re happy even when they’re yelling at me or acting petulant.

But this week… this week I’m feeling weary.

Last night, Jack fell asleep on the couch.  I covered him with a blanket and went and found a ball point pen, then wrote “Mama loves you!” on his palm.  This morning, he marched into my room and angrily showed me his hand.  “Look what someone wrote on me while I was sleeping!”.  When I explained that I had done it to be sweet, he asked for help in scrubbing it off.

Last weekend, Alex stripped off all of his clothes, climbed on top of our van and joyfully shook his business at a passing neighbor.

Several days before that, two well dressed women banged on my front door as I was cooking dinner to ask “Are those your children?”.  I looked out the door to see Jack holding a screaming, half-dressed Alex and trying to pull him off of my car (Alex dearly loves to scale cars).  I resisted the urge to say no and go back inside.


It’s pretty much minute-by-minute chaos around here lately.  There is puddle stomping, sidewalk painting and strawberry picking, yes, but then there is also sibling battles, tattling and wailing.

My good friend Tiffany called today to give me a pep talk.  She told me all the things I already know but needed to hear — that my kids will look back at their childhoods and appreciate them, that I’m doing a good job — and that I need more chocolate.  😉

And as I am writing this, Jack just appeared under my window gathering rose petals and asking me to come down and join him.  He has apparently forgiven me for the hand graffiti and has decided this is one of the times I’m fabulous.

It will be a few days before I get my mama groove back, and I guess that’s okay.  In the meantime, I was especially nice to myself today.  I asked Daryl to watch the boys and took a rare afternoon nap.  I chatted on the phone for an hour.  I’m off to spend some time with Jack now, but after that I have definite plans that involve hot baths, good books, bad TV and bowls of ice cream.

Some days there’s more screaming than usual.  Some days we aren’t so appreciated.  I’m comforted by the fact that those days pass, and the hard work does pay off even when you think it was wasted.  Some little boy brings you a drawing of your favorite garden spot and asks if you’ll spend some time with him, and you realize you didn’t do such a bad job after all.


Filed under the big stuff

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  I hope you folks are having less rain and dreariness than we are, or that you’ve at least had lots of cookie baking and puddle stomping to make up for it.  We have more rain coming so this week’s list may have some wet activities included!

So let’s get on with it.  Here’s a few ways to add some magic to the days this week….

1.  Start an “I love you” journal together on the inside of your cupboard doors.  Cover them with contact paper for easy removal (and for keepsakes).  Take turns leaving notes to each other, artwork, recording special moments, etc.  Make sure little ones understand which places are okay for this special graffiti.

2. Make a blanket fort on the clothesline.

3. Make paper boats and sail them in puddles or the kiddie pool.

4.  Or fill the kiddie pool with something else like bubble solution for giant bubbles, oobleck or water and colored oil.

5.  Meet some friends at a science museum.

6.  Mail your child a postcard telling her how much you love her.

7.  Write a song together and record it yourselves singing it.

8.  Make homemade lemonade.  Find a way to make it unique to your family.  For instance, we put a handful of mint leaves in when making a sugar syrup for ours (one cup sugar, one cup water, simmer till the sugar dissolves and the mint is fragrant, then combine with 4 cups of water and 1 to 1 1/2 cups lemon juice, to taste) and garnished with mint.  Also consider using frozen berries for ice cubes, adding a couple of scoops of a bright juice concentrate or serving with ice cubes that have edible flowers (without pesticides!) inside.

9.  Sketch your child as he sleeps.  Let go of any criticism about your artistic abilities and just enjoy the process of really studying your child and capturing a moment.

10. Go rock hunting for smooth stones and use paint or permanent markers to write inspirational words like “courage,” “strength,” “love” or “laugh” on them — or even just silly faces and symbols.  Put one in your pocket on days you need it, and let the kids do the same.

Have a wonderful week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

How to Make a Rose Petal Crown

Today’s craft comes courtesy of Annalee, who created this lovely rose petal crown as a gift for a friend.

She says that all you have to do is gather some fallen rose petals (or other flower petals) from the ground and then gather a handful of stiff, long grass (the type that’s going to seed and looks like wheat on top).

Poke the stiff end of the grass through the rose petals and spread them loosely, weaving several strands of grass.  Loop them around in a circle and tie the ends or fasten or tuck them.  That’s it!

Here’s a shot of the crown from above, showing how it was fastened.  Anna used pliant clover stems to wrap around the grass ends and tie them in knots.

Isn’t it lovely?  It would be a perfect accessory for a fairy party — or just an afternoon in the back yard!

Happy Sunday!


Filed under crafts