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Someone called me on it. “So what are the other great non-fiction books you referred to here?”swords

Well, here they are, in no particular order:

  • Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot and illustrated by Axel Scheffler: Nice, kid friendly version of the poems that inspired the musical “Cats.” I’d forgotten how well these read aloud!
  • Blackbeard the Pirate King by J. Patrick Lewis: Each double page spread includes a poem about an event in the life of Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard. It’s the pictures, though, that make the book, ranging from one of the first pictures of Blackbeard in 1730 through the Wyeths up to 2008 illustrations. Lots of pirate fun!
  • Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter: Bass Reeves just barely won over this one. I treasure books like this for two reasons. one, they give glimpses of how hard life can be and how resilient humans can be, even when they are children. And two, I hope they poke kids and adults alike out of their complacency about the value of education. It’s not all about “getting a good job.”
  • Swords by Ben Boos: Gorgeously detailed illustrations are the highlight of this chronological, around the world story of the sword. Boys will wear this one out!

That’s all for now!


Cool month! All my contenders are in non-fiction! Not sure how that bass reeveshappened but it’s delightful. Real world meets great writing and illustrations.

The Winner is–Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheux Nelson and illustrations by R. Gregory Christie. I almost passed on this purchase as I had just added Gary Paulsen’s The Legend of Bass Reeves.

What was remarkable about Bass Reeves? Start with his life as a runaway slave and move forward for seventy years. Can’t say more without spoiling the story! 😉

The best compliment I can give a biography is that it makes me wish I had known the person. After reading Nelson and Christie’s book, I’d love to meet Marshall Reeves.

The biography is picture book format and deceptively simple without being simplistic. If you stop and imagine yourself writing it, you begin to realize how much research went into her telling. The illustrations are a perfect match.

A middle grader not ready for Paulsen’s longer version would find Nelson’s manageable and older preschoolers who are into cowboys or bad guys in the Wild West would enjoy it as a read-aloud.

Added (double) bonus? I can consider it written by a local author as Nelson lives in Northern New Mexico (and we’re in Southern Colorado). And Christie is African-American. I refuse to buy books just for those factors but I am proud to add this one to our collection on both counts.



are-you-a-horse1I twittered last week that the Best Book for March was Splat the Cat. I really like the pictures–the truly fuzzy looking hair and the full-of-expression eyes. You just want to give Splat a great big hug!

But then yesterday I read Are You a Horse? at storytime–and I’m having second thoughts. It’s lighthearted, has a funny ending, and all the kids feel so much smarter than the poor ol’ cowboy as he tries to figure out what a horse is.

But the story is actually built around a thinking process. Is a wagon living? Is a horse? How do you figure out what something is? By looks? By how it acts? By process of elimination? By perserverance? By observation, gathering info from other sources, and deduction?

Of course, as with most well-written stories, none of this has to be discussed. Just read and re-read; you’ll be surprised years later to discover how much was absorbed.

Bonus points: fun with phonological awareness with the snake!

As I twittered earlier,  I don’t get it. tribes

I’ve heard about and heard about Tribes but it didn’t sound like much so I didn’t read it. But after a while, if a book title keeps cropping up, I’ll go ahead and finally read it.

I’m certainly not finished with it yet, and I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but I’m not at all sure what the fuss is about.  I keep waiting for him to say something.

And with no chapters and no structure, I feel like I’m going around and around and around….

What’s your take on it? Why do you love or hate it?

I know it seems inconceivable but I’m going to put chickens before Abraham Lincoln. (But it is really tough, honest.)

Best Book I got in on the new book order:

Tillie Lays an Egg by Terry Golson.tilly

It’s got pictures of real chickens, 50’s memorabilia, eggs to count and even multiply, a Where’s Waldo factor, and a funny, funny ending.

Children and all other chicken lovers will have a delightful time with Tilly!


Abe’s Honest Words by Doreen Rappaport is a combination bio and quotations including one of my favorites about trying to please people (I’ll put it on the quote page soon).

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham quotes Bob as saying, “In troubled time, when many of us are losing contact with the natural world, I wanted to show that there is still hope in a coming generation of children who have curiosity and empathy with the world around them, and that care and attention can sometimes fix broken wings.” He does a fine job.


This month’s winner is:

The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins.

A very honest, comforting book for children who find some adults a little bit scary, a neat reframing of common fears.

(I’m probably one of the little bit scary people to children sometimes too.)

Our ordering and processing schedule got thrown off a bit by the holidays so there will be a few more new books making their way out to the new shelves in the next few days.

The best of this batch? Yikes!!! by Robert Florczak. A boy goes on adventures and comes face to face (literally) with wild animals, leading to all kinds of one-word exclamations.

All kids would get a kick out of this book.  The pictures are big and bold, the boy’s expressions priceless, there are even notes in the back about the different animals. And at storytime yesterday, this book actually enticed one little boy out from under the table. 🙂

Each month I’ll try to post what’s the “best” new book I’ve gotten into the library. Usually these will be a surprise to me, something that arrives that is more than I expected.  It will be a book that if you walked in the door, I’d shove it at you and say, “Here, you’ve got to read this!”:-O

So, drum roll please, for December, it’s In the Town, All Year Round by Rotraut Berner.

It’s an oversized book that at first glance seems to be a Where’s Waldo spin-off.  But it’s truly much more.  It’s divided into four seasons and the pages flow, story fashion.  Yes, there are lots of little people like Waldo, but these little people are in little places doing little things–and on next page you move to the next part of town and then then next and so on, and then you move with the same people through the same town–in a different season!

You could spend hours (and many future years) with your children and this book.  Early literacy skills covered? Print motivation, Vocabulary, and Narrative Skills (yes, it’s wordless so you can make up your own stories).

“In the (first) fifteen years (of fieldwork) I can remember just ten times when I had really narrow escapes from death. Two were from drowning in typhoons, one was when our boat was charged by a wounded whale; once my wife and I were nearly eaten by wild dogs, once we were in great danger from fanatical lama priests; two were close calls when I fell over cliffs, once I was nearly caught by a huge python, and twice I might have been killed by bandits.”

 Roy Chapman Andrews, dinosaur hunter

From a new non-fiction book here, Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs.  Who wants it first?  Really cool!


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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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