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I had a blast at the SLV Fiber Festival this past weekend in Monte Vista, Colorado. I had storytimes with kids, demo’ed cat’s cradle string games, and sold the best and most fun kid’s books related to sheep, llamas, yarn–)and one chicken book ’cause it’s my favorite).

If you’re in the San Luis Valley and are interested in purchasing some books before I ship them back, shoot me an email at babette(dot)reeves(at) You know you’ve got birthdays, holidays, baby showers, and other special occasions coming up! And there’s nothing better than a book! 🙂

Here’s a list of what’s still available:

  • Feeding the Sheep–a little girl follows her mother’s activities through the year, learning along the way where her warm and lovingly made sweater came from.
  • Sheep in a Jeep (book & CD)–silly sheep try to drive a jeep, great rhymes and pictures, good for reading aloud or for beginning readers.
  • Where is Green Sheep–a Mem Fox classic with more silly sheep doing silly things (skiing down a sliding board?!), available in board book bilingual version.
  • Extra Yarn–brand new story about a magical yarn box and a girl who transforms her grey world with it, I think we’ve got a classic in the making with this one.


  • Tillie Lays an Egg–I am ga-ga over this book, Tillie lays her eggs all over and kids get to hunt for it in the photos created with retro farmhouse collectibles.
  • The Shepherd’s Trail–a cultural treasure, fabulous photos and just enough text to capture the dying art of the shepherd with the sheep in the back country, a real treasure. Only one copy left!
  • The Surprise–gives me giggles to even think about it and elicits an “awwww” every time at the ending, and don’t you want to see a sheep on a bathroom scale, with a blow dryer, and on a motor scooter?


  • The Dogs of Bedlam Farm–I generally despise children’s books written by adult authors (because they are usually just dreadful) but Jon Katz pulls this one off with just the right combo of photos and text to introduce children to Katz’ four farm dogs and their individual personalities and jobs.
  • The Littlest Llama–an overlooked gem, the littlest llama in an Andean herd can find no one to play with, wanders off, escapes trouble only to hurry home and discover she’s not the littlest any longer, bonus points for being told in well-structured rhyme.


  • Llama Llama Red Pajama–first in the series of Llama Llama books, if you don’t have this one yet for your little one, you need it (especially for bedtime “llama dramas” at your house).

If your budget necessitates getting these at the “big A,” I understand. Getting books to your kids is the most important factor.

But for now, you can get them from me with no shipping and only a dollar or two more. (And you’ll be supporting a local business with this mission).

Read on,




All children’s books do not have to address a “growing up” issue. Some books are teetotally just for fun, for imagination, for the story, for the pictures. Children’s books “exist” for a million reasons.

Yet I am a complete pushover for books that capture a child’s view of themselves and the world. Why Do You Cry? by Kate Klise is my latest fave in this category. (Red Is Best by Stinson is another; I’ve been having a blast reading it at storytimes the last few weeks.)

Little Rabbit is turning five and planning the guest list for his birthday. Since when he turns five, he is going to be too old to cry, he doesn’t want anyone else coming to his party who cries. Of course, he finds out everyone cries, no matter their age, even his mother.

The premise is very much a child’s way of measuring “growing up.” And it’s a true discovery each time he talks with someone and finds out that they still cry. Life is still new; Little Rabbit is still learning. (And here’s a bonus: Notice how his mother helps him.)

The list of reasons people cry is well done and covers a nice gamut of reasons without being cloying, melodramatic, trivial, or overdone and scary. Each reason is stated as just a fact–which each is.

Adults often forget that emotions are high on the agenda of “things to learn” in a child’s life. We come “pre-programmed” to experience feelings but not to know what they are, what to call them, how to live with them, how they are a part of us and our relationships with others and the world. Why Do You Cry? gracefully helps little ones in its own little way with that part of “growing up.”

It’s all life!


“Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa. She lives in a big white house with many rooms and balconies.”

Thus begins each chapter in the Juvi novel, Anna Hibiscus, one of the most delightful books I’ve read over the last year. Four chapters tell four stories of Anna Hibiscus’ life with her very large family in a very large city in Africa. By the end of the book, I was ready to move to Africa and into that big, happy family.

Everything is not perfect but everything is manageable. A trip to the beach becomes overwhelming until the whole family arrives; “‘It is not good to be alone,’ Anna heard them whisper…’A husband and three children is too much for one woman alone.'” Anna learns compassion and hard work when she sells oranges instead of the street children. The family frets over a daughter returning from Canada for a visit; will she have forgotten the African ways? And Anna shows initiative and gets to visit Canada–and see snow!

Great elements in Anna Hisbiscus?

  • Family is the central focus and what a great family they all are!
  • Each story is written from a child’s point of view, expressing a child’s feelings and showing how children can grow and learn when supported by family.
  • Each story shows a realistic view of modern Africa with a blend of the traditional and the modern.
  • Each story just feels so natural even though the setting and culture will be so different for many children here in the US.

I can’t wait to add more in the series to my collection!

Hope you enjoy too!



I live in one of the poorest areas in Colorado. I do storytimes at the local Head Start programs. I see kids who come from homes that are struggling. And the kids from these homes experience the wear and tear of such a life on a daily basis.

So what kind of books do I choose for kids who probably haven’t grown up being read to? Who might not know what a book is or is for? Who might not care or be interested in books? Who might have even shorter than normal attention spans?

Do I choose books by famous authors? Books with award winning illustrations? Or do I choose the shortest books? Books with the fewest words on a page? Books with sounds and lights and gizmos and gimmicks?

Nope! I choose books with “good stories.”

Let me give you an example. The Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday (so already I have one stroke against me), I visit a Head Start classroom. Actually it’s two classrooms combined into a teeny tiny reading space (two more strikes against me). And I start to read Don’t Want to Go by Shirley Hughes.

I can see the teachers look wide-eyed at me as I open this book. It’s got LOTS of words in it. And there’s nothing snazzy, razzle dazzle about the pictures.

It’s the straight forward story of a preschooler whose mom wakes up one morning with the flu. So dad (who has to go to work) takes her to an adult friend’s house for the day. The little girl’s plaintive cry is, “Don’t want to go!”

Of course, she goes anyway. She really doesn’t have much say in it. But there she meets a smiling mom with a friendly baby. The dog licks her hand, she helps the mom glue pictures into a book, she plays peekaboo and holds the dog’s leash on the way to the older brother’s school and even gets to watch a little TV with him.  At each transition her cry is, “Don’t want to go!”

And when dad comes to get her at the end of the day, once again she exclaims, “Dont’ want to go!” Adults love the ending–but kids? Kids love the in-between parts. These are situations and feelings they have experienced. They would want mom up in the morning.  They would want to stay home, too, not go to a stranger’s house. They would lose their mittens on the way and pout under the table and say “don’t want to” but then with warmth and understanding and careful coaxing find themselves enjoying the new moments–just like Lily.

What’s this have to do with “good stories?” An essential element of any good children’s story (for children of any age up through teens) is that the story needs to meet the kid where the kid is at developmentally.

The books that hold kids’ attention with no gimmicks or gizmos are the ones that reflect their experiences, their perceptions, their learning edges, their developmental issues, their world. These are the books with staying power. These become the classics.

Shirley Hughes understands three and four year olds. You hear it in Lily’s reactions, whether in her cry, her pout, her laugh,  or her saying no and then helping anyway. You see it in the illustrations–in the postures and faces of the characters. You hear it in the details she notices (“It was a yellow door, the color of the inside of Lily’s egg,” an egg which she remembers, btw, because she dropped it on the floor earlier). You see and hear it in the reassuring manner in which the adults react to her.

The book is clean and simple. It’s a “good story” for young children any time but perhaps especially right now during the holidays. There can be so many changes on a daily basis. And change is not easy when you are little and adults run the world.

So don’t let the number of words or the non-glamour of this book scare you away.  My Head Starters were dead into it, all the way through! Yours can be too! It is a winner–for groups or for just one or two in the lap–cause it’s a “good story!”

Give it a whirl!


I don’t know how often this has happened to you, as parent or teacher or librarian, but it’s happened to me more and more over the last several years. I pick up a new book. It is the size, shape, and thickness of a picture book for little kids. It has gorgeous or cool illustrations like a picture book for little kids. It might even be shelved in the little kids’ picture section of the library.

It walks like a duck, sounds like a duck–but heads up, folks! It ain’t no duck.

It’s a picture book for elementary kids–and not just the youngest ones of even that set! 🙂

I love these books! Most are so well done. Most tell such awesome stories. And they all give us the chance to read aloud to an older kiddo, something that read-aloud experts like Jim Trelease say older kids still need. But they often get lost in the little kids’ picture book section and never reach their intended audience, the older kiddo.

How do you find them? Well, unless your library does some special cataloging for them (mine does ;-)), it’s not easy. You have to keep your eyes open for them. Check the new shelves. Ask your children’s librarian. Often the title will give it away. You’ll think, “That doesn’t seem like a topic for a four year old.” Or you’ll flip through them and see looooots of words on each page. Or you’ll read it and think, “That’s a really (thought provoking, heavy, subtle, different kind of humor, pick your phrase etc.) book for a four or five year old; maybe it’s not meant for a four or five year old!” Voila! You’ve found one!

Here’s a list of a few to get you acquainted with this breed. Once you find one, you’ll start spotting others!

Molly Bannaky by McGill
The Goat Lady by Houle
Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation by Sherman
Abe’s Fish by Bryant
One Candle by Bunting
Rabbit Pirates by Cox
The Pirate meets the Queen by Faulkner
A Big Cheese for the White House by Fleming
Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Krensky (I’ve read this one aloud to 6th graders!)
An Outlaw Thanksgiving by McCully
Little Flower by Rand
Mailing May by Tunnell
Wolf Wanted by Machado
Summer Birds by Engle
Bird by Elliott

I’ll try to post some more of these in the future as well.

Read on (even to your 1st-6th graders who can read on their own!),


OK, so mostly this blog is about little kids. But I am a librarian for babies up through young college aged folks. And I love reading YA (when I have the time) especially nowadays when I think some of the best ficiton writing for anyone is coming out of the YA camp.

So “life” and teaching in the last weeks, things were too crazy for me to get my top ten list into Persnickety Snark’s polling for the top 100 YA novels. But I did make a list and here it is. It’s  in no particular order (ranking things I love drives me nuts and I don’t need that right now).

Antsy Does Time by Shusterman

The Outsiders by Hinton

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Mortal Engines by Reeves (the whole series! although the first part of two really drags, you’ve been warned)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee

The Once and Future King by White

A Day No Pigs Would Die by Peck

The Crucible by Miller (I know it’s a book–but it’s soooo right for YA)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood

And number 11 I throw in for good measure unofficially. I truly love this book. I’m terribly interested to see if it ever gets the readership it deserves (from guys and girls)–and what its staying power will be over time.

Crazy Beautiful by Baratz-Logsted

I have this horror of posting and then remembering all kinds of terrific books I’ve forgotten to include! But if that happens, I may do list #2. 😉

Happy Reading,


You’ve probably already seen the final countdown, (my life has been really crazy as far as trying to get this posted), but this is primarily a shopping list, not an announcement list. 🙂 So happy shopping!

25. Little Women by Alcott

24. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by Rowling

23. Little House in the Big Woods by Wilder

22. The Tale of Despereaux by DiCamillo

21. The Lightning Thief by Riordan

20. Tuck Everlasting by Babbitt

19. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Dahl

18. Matilda by Dahl

17. Maniac Magee by Spinelli

16. Harriet the Spy by Fitzhugh

15. Because of Winn-Dixie by DiCamillo

14. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Rowling

13. Bridge to Terabithia by Paterson

12. The Hobbit by Tolkien

11. The Westing Game by Raskin

10. The Phantom Tollbooth by Juster

9. Anne of Green Gables by Montgomery

8. The Secret Garden by Burnett

7. The Giver by Lowry

6. Holes by Sachar

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

4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Lewis

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Rowling (yeah, the first one)

2. A Wrinkle in Time by L’Engle

1. Charlotte’s Web by White

Thanks to Bird for putting together such a terrifically fun project! And Happy Reading!


And here’s the other parts of the lists:




One hundred books makes for a really long list! 🙂 Here’s the next twenty-five. And on the Fuse #8 blog, the countdown has made it to #13; click here to see more. But now, back to the “shopping list!”

50. Island of the Blue Dolphins by O’Dell

49. Frindle by Clements

48. The Penderwicks by Birdsall

47. Bud, Not Buddy by Curtis

46. Where the Red Fern Grows by Rawls

45. The Golden Compass by Pullman

44. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Blume

43. Ramona the Pest by Cleary

42. Little House on the Prairie by Wilder

41. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Speare

40. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Baum

39. When You Reach Me by Stead

38. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by Rowling

37. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Taylor

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

35. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fired by Rowling

34. The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Curtis

33. James and the Giant Peach by Dahl

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

31. Half Magic by Eager

30. Winnie-the-Pooh by Milne

29. The Dark is Rising by Cooper

28. A Little Princess by Burnett

27. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Carroll

26. Hatchet by Paulsen

That’s all for now. I’ll add #1-25 after she finishes her countdown. And then I’ll tell you my favorites for the whole 100. 😉

Link to #100-76

Link to #75-51

Link to #50-26

Stay tuned,


Thomas Cahill has a marvelous piece in the NYTimes today about the Irish and how they saved Western Civilization after the fall of Rome. How did an obscure, ragtag bunch of folks in the early days of the Dark Ages manage  such a feat? They copied books.

What’s an added bonus in his article is his mention of their sense of play in the midst of all the seriousness of the world dissolving around them and the rest of Europe. And of course, it being St. Patrick’s Day, Patrick gets his fair share of credit as well.

I wish Cahill had mentioned another saint, though, one equally as important to the preservation of books and thereby civilization. That is St. Columba. I learned about him through a fascinating children’s book, Across a Dark and Wild Sea by Don Brown.

As a boy St. Columba was known as Columcille, and he was son of a king. But the church taught him reading and writing, and he was forever hooked–to the point that he copied a book rather illegally and thereby started a war. Yes, a war over a book. (Boys eat this up, let me tell you!)

Devastated afterward by what his actions had wrought, he exiled himself to an island off the coast–and thus was born the religious community of Iona.

The book combines fact, some of the legends associated with Columba, watercolor illustrations that stir up the windswept coasts of Ireland, a calligraphic guide to the Uncial alphabet from Columba’s time, and a bibliography. There’s even a diagram of a coracle (no, I’m not going to tell you; you have to read the books! ;-))

As you can tell, it’s one of my favorites.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day,


With no further adue, here’s the next batch!

75. Love That Dog by Creech

74. The Borrowers by Norton

73. My Side of the Mountain by George

72. My Father’s Dragon by Gannett

71. An Unfortunate Series of Events: The Bad Beginning by Snicket

70. Betsy-Tacy by Lovelace

69. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Stewart

68. Walk Two Moons by Creech

67. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Colville

66. Henry Huggins by Cleary

65. Ballet Shoes by Streatfeild

64. A Long Way from Chicago by Peck

63. Gone-Away Lake by Enright

62. The Secret of the Old Clock by Keene

61. Stargirl by Spinelli

60. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

59. Inkheart by Funke

58. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Aiken

57. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Cleary

56. Number the Stars by Lowry

55. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Paterson

54. The BFG by Dahl

53. The Wind in the Willows by Grahame

52. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Selznick

51. The Saturdays by Enright

I almost entirely cannot quibble with the selections–although I’d love to dicker on a few of the rankings. What a list though!

Read on!


I’m loving reading Betsy Bird’s Fuse #8 Top 100 Children’s Novels. And the collection of covers after each review is fabulous.

But I also want to just see a list of them. The better to go shopping with, my dears. 😉 So if you are feeling somewhat frustrated with being list-less, here they are by nothing but title and author! (I’ll post twenty-five at a time and she is posting from number 100 down to number one.)

100. The Egypt Game by Snyder

99. The Indian in the Cupboard by Banks

98. Children of Green Knowe by Boston

97. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by DiCamillo

96. The Witches by Dahl

95. Pippi Longstocking by Lindgren

94. Swallows and Amazons by Ransome

93. Caddie Woodlawn by Brink

92. Ella Enchanted by Levine

91. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Sachar

90. Sarah, Plain and Tall by MacLachlan

89. Ramona and Her Father by Cleary

88. The High King by Alexander

87. The View from Saturday by Konigsburg

86. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by Rowling

85. On the Banks of Plum Creek by Wilder

84. The Little White Horse by Goudge

83. The Thief by Turner

82. The Book of Three by Alexander

81. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Lin

80. The Graveyard Book by Gaiman

79. All of a Kind Family by Taylor

78. Johnny Tremain by Forbes

77. The City of Ember by DuPrau

76. Out of the Dust by Hesse

Ok, maybe I was skimming my reader too fast. But when I first saw this headline, Great ‘Read-Alouds’ for the New York Times, I thought it was for a kids’ book list.

I’ve never seen a read-aloud list for newspaper articles! What a fabulous idea! Children will hear a different style of writing and a different “grammar” beyond a story grammar. No one has ever said that when we read aloud to children, we need to read children’s picture books. But how often do we assume that’s what “read-aloud” means?

I spend a fair amount of time encouraging parents to continue reading aloud to their children beyond the preschool years and beyond the years when the child can read on his or her own. Now I have another angle to encourage!

Bear in mind, any reading aloud, as long as the child enjoys the time together, is good reading aloud. The material really doesn’t matter (my mother once read a dictionary aloud to my oldest when he was a baby; he was entranced! :-))

So find a book–or better still, change the pace and find a Times article and read on,


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Contact Info for Babette

email babette(dot)reeves(at)gmail(dot)com
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73 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101

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