Runaway Ralph – by Beverly Cleary (1970)

Runaway Ralph

What’s a mouse like Ralph to do when he’s fed up with his family? His uncle is always trying to get him to stay safely inside the walls of the motel room they live in, but Ralph wants to roam the halls on his cool motorcycle. His cousins are constantly around, pestering him when he wants to be alone. His mother makes him give each of the whiny cousins a ride on his motorcycle. There’s a big world out there that Ralph wants to explore, but everyone in his family is holding him back. One day he decides he’s grown-up enough for adventure, and runs off to the Happy Acres Camp down the road. But once he gets there, Ralph is surprised to find that life there is not as fun as he thought it would be.

I’m reading this book to my grandson, a chapter each time he’s over. The story-line is simple, so you can read a chapter, put it away for a week, then pick it up again with no problem. It only has 9 chapters in it, so it’s not overly long. Each chapter has one or two pictures sketched by the author, which are fun to look at. This is a great book for kids and adults to enjoy together!


Wonder Horse – by Emily Arnold McCully (2012)

Wonder Horse

You’ve heard of child prodigies, but have you ever heard of a horse prodigy? Back in the 1800’s there was a freed slave named Bill “Doc” Key, who was a veterinarian. He was greatly bothered by the brutal way that many horse-owners treated their animals. He would implore them to lay down their whips and use kindness instead.

In 1889, one of his horses gave birth to a crippled foal. Many people would have put down the foal. But Doc gave him a name –  Jim Key – and worked gently with him until he learned to walk. A great affection grew between man and animal. As time went on, Doc became convinced that Jim Key was intelligent. He began to show Jim cards with numbers and letters, and eventually Jim learned the alphabet, as well as numbers and simple addition and subtraction!

So amazing was Jim that Doc took him to fairs all over the country. They went to the Tennessee Centennial Exhibition in 1897, and to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Many people have debated over the years how much Jim Key actually understood, but one thing is for certain: patience and kindness will bring out the best in both animals and humans.

This is a Scholastic children’s picture book, but can be enjoyed by all ages. To learn more about Doc and Jim Key, you can read the biography: “Beautiful Jim Key – The Lost History Of The World’s Smartest Horse” by Mim Eichler Rivas.

Scholastic Books Evolving

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When I was a kid, one of my favorite things at school was to get a Scholastic book flier. (Yes, I was a book geek even then.) My parents didn’t have a lot of money, but we would pore over the selection of books, and pick something. Then there was the anticipation of that book being sent, and excitement on the day when the teacher got her class’s book order in and passed out the books.

Scholastic is still around, and this week my grandkids showed me their fliers. Now instead of one flier, there are multiple fliers – four of them this month. Wow, I said, and I was once again like a kid in a candy shop. I was surprised to see that Scholastic is now carrying a good variety of books with moral or faith-based themes. Among the fliers were:

Jesus Always: 365 Devotions For Kids
An 8-pack of Bible story books
The Berenstain Bears And The Joy Of Giving
Who Was Jesus?
The Plot To Kill Hitler (a biography about Pastor Bonhoeffer in Germany during WWII)
National Geographic Kids: Mother Teresa
Why Should I Share?
Why Should I Help?
Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler
Pass It On (about sharing happiness)
The Kindness Value Pack
The 7 Habits Of Happy Kids Pack
Building Faith Block By Block
The Little Flowers Of Saint Francis Of Assisi
God Gave Us Angels
Five-Minute Bible Devotions

Kudos to Scholastic for expanding their selection of books for kids! This is especially important since so many walk-in bookstores have closed over the past decade. If ever there was a time that we need to be focused on living moral and giving lives, it is now.

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar – by Eric Carle (1969)

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This morning I was at a local store, when a set of pajamas for toddlers caught my eye. Hey, I thought, how cool is that! On display were pajama sets with pictures from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”, classic books written by author Eric Carle.

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Eric Carle was born in 1929, graduated from an art academy in Germany, and moved to New York City in 1952. Starting off in advertising and graphic design, he was asked in 1967 to illustrate a child’s book by author Bill Martin Jr., who was writing “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” From then on, Carle fell in love with children’s books and began writing and illustrating his own.

One of his most well-known is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, which explains to young children how caterpillars morph into beautiful butterflies. The story is quite humorous, as the caterpillar eats and eats and eats, ending up with severe indigestion. I have enjoyed this story with my little grandson dozens of times.

Netflix has a wonderful reading of the book, followed by a few of Carle’s other books for children – “Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me”, “The Very Quiet Cricket”, “The Mixed-Up Chameleon”, and “I See A Song”. All of the stories feature Eric Carle’s unique hand-painted collage artwork. If you want to check it out on Netflix, here’s the link:

Some lucky toddlers will get to wear pajamas with pictures of their favorite stories this winter. If only the manufacturers would make some clothes for older kids and adults with pictures from much-loved novels…

Kids’ Books For A Snowy Day


Today was a “snow day” for most of the school-age kids in our county, the first this season. Unfortunately, the bitter cold kept them indoors most of the day. What was there to do? Couch out in front of the TV, or play video games on a tablet device? When that gets boring, try reading some snow books! Chances are you’ve got a few around the house from school book orders. Time to dust them off and read them together on a cold winter’s day. Try one of these:

Katy And The Big Snow – by Virginia Lee Burton

The Snowy Day – by Ezra Jack Keats

White Snow, Bright Snow – by Alvin Tresselt

Snow Day – by Mercer Mayer

Owl Moon – by Jane Yolen

Clifford’s First Snow Day – by Norman Bridwell

The Polar Express – by Chris Van Allsburg

Tacky The Penguin – by Helen Lester

Snow – by P.D. Eastman

Tacky And The Winter Games – by Helen Lester

The Snowman – by Raymond Briggs

There Was A Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow – by Lucille Colandro


Corduroy – by Don Freeman (1976)


One of my all-time favorite kids’ books is “Corduroy”. It’s the story of a stuffed bear that lives in a department store. A button has fallen off his corduroy pants, and he tries his best to find it. Eventually the teddy-bear is adopted by a child that loves him, and he gets a new button. It’s a simple story that warms my heart every time I read it.

You just can’t beat a good pair of corduroys. They’re sturdy and warm, and can be worn for most of the year. Men, women, and kids wear them. They wash up well, and don’t need ironing if you pull them straight out of the dryer. Also, they never go out of style.

Today turned out to be a great corduroy day. It’s mid-May, almost summer, but the temperature topped out at a mere 49 degrees. So I wore a pair of gray cords today. Tomorrow I’ll probably grab the tan ones, or maybe the black ones. There’s nothing quite like them…