Thursday, January 24, 2019


Multicultural Children's Book Day is here! I was able to participate by donating copies of my Multicultural book, MAMA’S NEEDLE and by reviewing, THE PATIENCE SONG by Dr. Crystal Bowe, illustrated by Mike Motz.

If you’ve read my blog in the past, I’m sure you’re familiar with my approach to reviewing books. I share them with my students and enlist their help with the review. I happened to choose the perfect day to introduce THE PATIENCE SONG to my students.

I walked into a Transitional Kindergarten classroom to pick up a child for speech and she was nowhere to be seen. I looked through the crowd of children gathered around their teacher for circle time – no luck. Her teacher said, “Anna* is having a bad morning.”

We found her crouching behind a table at the back of the room. It seems she had her own ideas about the morning activities and she wasn’t about to give them up to follow the teacher’s directions! I was doubtful I’d be able to coax her out of hiding but she came with me and the other students, reluctantly.

When we got to my classroom, I pulled out THE PATIENCE SONG. Three eager faces, and one reluctant one, stared at the colorful illustrations and listened closely as I read the book. I appreciated reading a story with an African-American family; many of my students could relate to the characters. My speech group especially loved the song in the story and by the end of the book, they were singing along,

Patient, patient, you have to be real patient,
When you’re waiting for your turn to ride,
You have to be real patient.

The middle line changes with each trying situation the main character, Isabel, faces. At the end of the book, there is a nice turn-around my student’s loved. Isabel gets to sing the Patience Song to her parents when they lose theirs.

I didn’t need to ask the kids what they thought of the story, their faces told me much, and after closing the book, Anna said “Again! Again!”

As I walked my students back to class, all four were singing the patience song and when we got close to *Tina’s classroom, she broke a school rule and started to run to her door. Anna called out, “Patience, Tina!”

I think Anna got the message of this lovely book, and she returned to her classroom with, (what looked like) a very patient smile.

*Names are changed for privacy.

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!