Wednesday, December 5, 2018

CHRISTMAS! Book review and Free Ebook

There was a lot of excitement in the Speech Room today when I pulled out, Mrs. Clause Takes the Reins, by Sue Fliess, Illustrated by Mark Chambers. 

Haunted Halloween

The students were captivated by the bright, colorful illustrations and the rhyming text. It was easy to add appropriate stuffy-nosed sound effects when reading Santa’s lines, “I’m stuffy. I’m sneezy. I’m slow as a yeti. My big ho-ho-ho isn’t holiday ready.” That had my students laughing so hard I was afraid we’d disturb the class next door. We did actually, but since I loaned them the book, they’re paying us back with laugher of their own.

Santa may not be ready for the holiday in this story but Mrs. Clause is ready to take the reins. Will she fight her way through a blizzard and tornado to save Christmas? You’ll have to read the story to find out. And if you do, I think you’ll find a new Christmas favorite to add to your collection. My students loved it and are hoping Sue Flies will write a sequel - they only ask that she add a unicorn to the team of reindeer.

While we are talking about books for Christmas, I’ve made a kindle version of my book, Mama’s Needle available for free through December 7. I hope you’ll take a look and if you like it, please leave a review.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Celebrate Diversity!

I regularly use picture books in the speech room to build vocabulary, give children an opportunity to practice their speech sounds and formulate sentences as they retell the story. One day, I read a book in which the main character had dark skin. After I read it, one of my students pulled the book to his chest, hugged it tight and said, “He looks like me!” I wish you could have seen the shimmering joy (and surprise) on his face. It saddened me to think of how few books I have that he could relate to in such an intimate way.  

Perhaps this experience seeped into my subconscious and made its way into a dream, for one night, while I was sleeping, I heard a little boy, with a southern accent saying,

“My mama has a needle and a spool of long white thread . . . ” When his face drifted into the dream, his skin was dark.
MAMA’S NEEDLE came from that dream and the small voice became the narrator. In the book, he tells of his Mama’s needle and how she uses it to patch holes in the knees of his pants, bind scraps of cloth into quilts and stitch dreams into reality. 

One night, the young boy dreams of his Mama’s needle flying through the air with its white tail of thread floating along behind, like it’s riding a wave. The needle catches a bird flying by but doesn’t hurt it. 

It spears some leaves shivering in a tree, and rays from the sun.  It even snatches the tail of the wind and wrestles it onto the thread. His mama laughs when she hears about the dream but she stitches the images onto a quilt. 

Her long shiny needle stitched those pieces together for remembering. Mama says I should go ahead and fly with my dreams.”

And he does, taking his quilt with him. 

“And some day we might meet when you’re off flying with your dreams.”

My hope is that all of us, parents, educators, and librarians, will inspire those children in our care, to follow their dreams. And let’s find books that will help them along the way!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Last week, I came home from a busy day at summer school and decided to kick back with a good book. I sat outside on the patio beside our bedroom sliding glass door. Our cat Shadow, curled up on my lap as I read. Eventually, he jumped down, but a few minutes later, I felt a tail brush against my leg. I reached down to pet Shadow and instead of his velvety back, I touched wiry fur. I looked down and jumped. A skunk! He jumped too, but fortunately, he didn’t spray. He waddled off into the garden and I rushed inside. 

When I’ve told this tale to others, their responses have been varied; some have leaned closer to hear every detail; some, with eyes wide, jumped back when I came to the word “skunk”; and some have laughed. Whatever their response, all of my listeners had one thing in common. They listened closely to the details and each listener held an image of how a skunk’s fur might feel.

Stories engage the mind. That is why they are one of my favorite tools to use with speech students. Well-told stories and well-written books capture attention, which in turn, creates rich learning opportunities. 

With this in mind, I’d like to share some of my written stories with you. I’m offering Kindle versions of three of my books for free through June 29. You can find the links here:

If you enjoy them, I hope you will consider writing a review on Amazon. 

By the way, in case you are wondering, the skunk came back the next day and I’m afraid the word is out among the wildlife in our area. He is not the only visitor to the food dish. Take a look!

A visiting fox with our cat looking on!
He came back with a friend

He decided to stay so he stole our cushion and cat's bed!

This raccoon wanted to get in on the fun.

"Hey, I could be a cat. What a cushy life!
And yes, the skunk came back but I'm safely inside behind the screen door!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Sh! Sh! Marie

Early in my career, I had a young student named Marie. She had wild, unruly hair and a wildly enthusiastic attitude toward life. Her unguarded enthusiasm often got her into trouble. Her voice was loud and she was always moving. Her big personality wasn’t a good match for her quiet classroom and she often came to the speech room to see if I needed any “help”. I could usually find a job or two to keep her busy. Marie’s teacher welcomed the relief and I welcomed the day-brightener. 

Marie is grown now and has left home for college but she will never leave my memory. I think of her often when I meet other wildly enthusiastic children who struggle to keep their bodies and voices within the classroom-acceptable range, and she was the inspiration for my story, Sh! Sh! Marie

from Amazon:

Marie can't seem to keep her voice or body quiet as she twitches and twirls her way through life hearing, "Sh! Sh! Sh!" at every twist and turn. Her irrepressible spirit has her leap through the living room practicing ballet; pound with exuberance on a toy drum (near the neighbor's window); and imitate a baby baboon during story-time at the library. Children will laugh with delight at her antics and relate to the common refrain, "Sh! Sh! Sh!" Their delight will increase at the end of the story when Marie gets to say the final "Sh!"
Speech, language and reading skills are interdependent and children make leaps toward literacy when those skills are taught together. This story, besides providing entertainment, will help children learn the letter combination "sh" and give them practice pronouncing it as they join in the repeated refrain Sh! Sh! Sh!