Baby’s Book of the Week: My Big Animal Book


This week, Baby has been busy reading My Big Animal Book by Roger Priddy. This book doesn’t have a story. Or very many pages. But it does have a lot of animal pictures!

imageEach spread of this large, sturdy book (12″x12″) has a title like Baby Animals, Pets, On the Farm, Birds, and At the Zoo, then showcases animal photographs. Each animal is set against a bright, colorful background, and has its name listed below it.

The sturdiness of this book is great, as my one year old isn’t very careful with paper pages yet. She loves to flip through the pages and do the animal noises that she knows. Strangely enough, she likes to give the parrot a kiss – even though the pages full of birds kind of creep me out! You could use this book to teach new animals and animal noises, or have your child point out different animals or colors.

This Week’s Honorable Mention:

In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Flemingimage

The Goodreads book blurb states, “If you were a fuzzy caterpillar crawling through the tall, tall grass on a sunny afternoon, what would you see? Beginning as the sun is high in the sky and ending as fireflies blink and the moon rises above, this backyard tour is one no child will want to miss.” The rhyming phrases are short (crunch, munch, caterpillars lunch) and the illustrations are colorful. They remind me a bit of Eric Carle’s style. My baby keeps bringing me this book to read, even though she doesn’t sit down long enough to get through the entire book. She must just like the sound of this one.

Next November

imageMonth long challenges are a great way to test yourself and see what you’re made of. I’ve enjoyed participating in NaBloPoMo, and I’m already looking ahead to next November. I’m wondering if I should participate in National Blog Posting Month again, or try out one of these other challenges.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I’m always tempted by this one, but I already completed this challenge in 2013, and I probably won’t have the time for this one for several years.

National Nonfiction Writing Month or Write Nonfiction in November: a challenge to complete a nonfiction writing piece in November. It could be an article, an essay, a book, a memoir, whatever – and there’s NO word count. This blog is the place to learn more.

A memoir sounds like a cool thing to tackle. I kept a journal (4 spiral notebooks) during college, which could really come in handy. Maybe there are some words of wisdom I can pass on to my daughter!

Nonfiction November: this challenge, co-hosted by several blogs, encourages people to read in November, and more specifically, to read nonfiction. The hosts blog about what they are reading, hold discussions, and offer questions for reflection. This is one of the blogs that hosts the challenge.

I’m interested in this one because I’d like to try reading more nonfiction. It’s not what I typically gravitate towards, but I know I’m missing out on some awesome books and learning opportunities.

Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo): this challenge asks you to jot down one picture book concept daily. At the end of the month, you’ll have 30 ideas for creating stories you can work on later. Official sign up at this website.

I like the sound of this one because you’re not actually writing stories, it’s just little ideas or beginnings of concepts. Now that I’m reading so many children’s books with my little one, I’ve got an interest in writing a children’s book myself.

30 days of Thanks: there are several ways to participate, but you either write a blog post, Facebook post, take photos, or journal about something you’re thankful for each day in November.

Planksgiving: a fitness challenge where you plank for longer and longer amounts of time as the month goes on.

Not a reading or writing challenge, but it doesn’t take up much time and would be a simple way to make fitness part of my daily routine.

  • Other Ideas: In case I’m looking for a year-round challenge or a challenge to complete in a month other than November, here’s a big list of timed artistic challenges.

Which challenges caught your interest? Or, have you participated in any of these already? Words of advice?

What is Goodreads Good for?




When I first heard about the website/app Goodreads, I was skeptical. Despite being a book lover, I didn’t see what the point of it was. Couldn’t I just keep a list of books I’ve read in a notebook or computer file? I’ve never had a problem finding my next book to read, so why would I need a website to give me recommendations? For some reason, I eventually signed up for an account. And at first, I was underwhelmed. I didn’t use the site. I didn’t get it.

Then I had a baby and I couldn’t do some of my usual activities like go to Zumba, work four days a week, get together with my friends – in other words – socialize. But I could still read. That’s when I figured out how to utilize Goodreads. Now I’m on the site almost every day. Here’s what I do:

  • Keep track of what I’ve read. So much more convenient than a notebook, so I’m always up-to-date.
  • Rate the books I’ve read so I can figure out authors and genres I like and don’t like. This also comes in handy when friends ask for recommendations.
  • Review the books I’ve read. Sometimes it’s only a few sentences, but it helps me remember the book later. This comes in handy for blogging.
  • Participate in the yearly reading challenge. At the beginning of each year, you set a goal for how many books you’d like to read during the year. Goodreads helps count how many books you’ve read and let’s you know if you’re on track to complete the challenge. (Side note: I completed my challenge this summer! I thought I’d have a hard time reading this year with a new baby, so I set a lower goal than last year. However, I might end up reading MORE books than pre-baby!)
  • Read and participate in discussions with other readers. Your homepage follows discussions related to books you’ve read. I love seeing what other people enjoyed/disliked about a book, or what questions people had as they read. I try to respond when I have something thoughtful to add.
  • Ask questions. As mentioned in a previous post, I was confused about a book’s setting, so I posted a question on the book’s page. I thought a fellow reader would respond, but the book’s author actually responded and clarified it for me. So cool to have interaction with an author!
  • Track my baby’s books. I created an account for my baby and I’ve added all the books (I can remember) that we’ve read this year. So far, it’s over 60 books! I’m so amazed that all the picture books and board books are listed on the site. We are signed up at our library for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, but I think keeping track of all the books on Goodreads will be a really cool thing to have.

And there you have it! That is what Goodreads is for! I’d highly recommend signing up for an account if you haven’t yet. It’s free! There are even more features to explore, too.

Do you use Goodreads? What do you think of the site?

Chicka Chicka Shoe Shoe


Inspired by the board book Chicka Chicka ABC, written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert.

A while back, I commented on a line of footwear that was (supposedly) inspired by classic American literature. Since the final product was so watered down, I created a few of my own shoe designs for classic novels.

I love drawing shoes. Check out a design I came up with for Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian here. Here you’ll find a design for Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.


Current Read: Atlantia

imageI finished up Four quickly, completed the last few chapters of The Paris Wife, and I’m on to my next book. I just started reading Atlantia by Ally Condie last night, so I am not very far into the book yet. I’ve been wanting to read this book because I enjoyed Condie’s Matched trilogy (Matched, Crossed, Reached). I am reading this book as a digital library loan on my kindle fire.

Goodreads Book Blurb:

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths. image

So far, I know I need to keep reading because I’m just in the “meet the characters, figure out the problem, learn about the world” stage, but I’m interested to find out more. Already, there is an underground world, a mysterious death, a betrayal by a beloved sibling, sirens (as in people who have power with their voices), and a quest to escape to Above. I think this will be an exciting book- especially since this is a standalone book and not a trilogy. That means Condie will have to get a lot done in 300 pages. I’m ready to dive into this underwater world to find out what happens next.

What are you currently reading?


When Love Arrives


Instead of reading my words today, how about listening to an awesome piece of poetry? I stumbled upon Sarah Kay’s work when I was hunting around on the web trying to find a way to make poetry more enjoyable for my students. Kay’s words and performances are stunning. If you’re like me, you won’t be able to stop at just one of her readings. This video is one of my favorites, called “When Love Arrives,” performed by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye. It makes me wish I was a poet…and a good public speaker!