Tales of an Elementary School Librarian

pig comic


Scaredy Squirrel: A Retro Review


Me: The last book, we’ll be reading today is Scaredy Squirrel. (holds book up for class to see the cover)

3rd Grader #1: Mr. Martin, Didn’t you read that book to us last year?

3rd Grader # 2: And the year before that?

3rd Grader # 3: I think he read it to us in kindergarten, too.

3rd Grader # 4: Shhhh. Let him start. I love this one.

Yeah. I admit it. Sometimes I overdo certain titles. There are a few books that I like to read to several age groups, every year. I can’t help it. I just love them so much, and I want as many kids as possible to be exposed to them as often as possible.

Scaredy Squirrel is one of those books. It was first published nearly a decade ago, and I adore it. It’s everything a good picture book should be. It’s hilarious and cute and it tackles some real issues kids can relate to.

Scaredy deals with a problem that most kids, (heck most adults if they’re being honest) struggle with: the fear of the unknown. Scaredy maybe overdoes it a bit. He literally doesn’t do anything besides eat nuts and look at the view from his tree, (I’ve been asked a few times over the years about his bathroom habits, but the book doesn’t delve into those depths) but I think kids can really relate to that.

When life happens, (in the form of a killer bee) and Scaredy accidentally leaps from his tree to catch his emergency kit, he discovers that he’s actually a flying squirrel, and that he was made for so much more than nut eating and view watching. He was designed for adventure.

My favorite thing about the book, though is the end. Yes, he’s made some changes to his life, but he’s hesitant to jump all-in at once. He still keeps to his routine mostly, but he leaves the tree for a few hours every day, which is a huge step for him. He’s still the anxious Scaredy we love, afraid of everything imaginable, but he’s trying to be brave and take chances, a little bit a time. There’s a message for kids there. You can still be anxious about the unknown, but you should try to not let it get in your way. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but doing what you need to do despite your fear.

It’s such a good picture book. And yeah, kids notice when I read it to them several years in a row, but I’ve never had one student complain.They seem to love it as much as I do. If you haven’t been introduced to Scaredy before, you should check him out.




Benji Martin: Fairy Tale Villain Consultant. My first client-The Wolf (From Red Riding Hood)

Being a villain is hard work. There’s always some hero out there trying to thwart your evil plans, especially in fairy tales. Bad things are always happening to the antagonists.

That made me think that there’s probably a career to be made in consulting the bad guys. You know, taking a look at where they went wrong, and advising them on their plans for the future. After all, if we aren’t learning from our mistakes, we’re bound to repeat them.

So I set up a consulting firm, and I put up a few flyers in some notoriously nefarious areas. (I mainly nailed them to tree trunks in dark forests in Germany and Russia) It wasn’t long before my phone was ringing and I got my first client.

The Wolf (From Red Riding Hood. Not to be confused with the Big Bad Wolf)


I took a quick look at his story, and I immediately saw that his mistakes were many (and alarming!) Here’s the preliminary report I typed up for him.

Mistake #1: Passing up the initial opportunity Mr. Wolf happened upon a little, defenseless girl (who was not in the least bit afraid of him) in the forrest carrying a basket with cake and wine in it. If he had simply followed his basic instincts, he could have immediately had a meal of girl, cake and wine. If that wasn’t enough, (wolves will be wolves, sadly) what was to stop him from then going over to grandmas and gobbling her up too?

Mistake #2: Overthinking things-Mr. Wolf’s plan to dress up like grandma to lure Red into a false since of security (something he didn’t need to do. She was already walking with him and chatting freely) is nothing short of laughable. It was pure chance that he met a girl dumb enough to fall for it and that it actually worked. It took much too long, though, and allowed the woodsman time to survey the situation, and act.

My Recommendation for the future: Mr. Wolf would be better off, leaving the cleverness for the foxes. He is a wolf. A powerful, well-designed killing machine. He needs to just follow his instincts. Deep down, he is not really all that evil, he’s just hungry. He should take advantage of a meal when it’s there. Also, he might want to look into forming a pack with other wolves. Wolves are notorious for being much stronger in large numbers.

If there are any fairy tale villains out there looking for consultation, please email me at I look forward to hearing from you.

When Every Day is Take Your Kids to Work Day

I know, I know, I’m a terrible blogger (if I can even call myself that these days) I haven’t posted since late June/early July, I think, after ALA annual had just ended. There’s just a whole lot going on right now, with the new school year kicking off,  planning for another baby (who will be here very soon) and just living our crazy life in general.

This school year is going to be a lot different for me than any of the previous because of one  YUUUUUUGE factor.

This year, I am bringing two of my kids to school with me EVERY day. My son is starting  kindergarten and my daughter is in K3 (preschool). We have always hoped and prayed that we would be able to bring our kids to school here, and this year some amazing things fell into place to make it possible.

It has been a pretty big adjustment. In the past, I’ve always felt lucky if I got to school in one piece with my lunch, my ipad  and whatever book I was reading at the time. Now, I have to get to work with two fully-dressed live human beings in tow along with with their own lunches, snacks, work folders, nappers etc. Honestly, Ashley does most of that work. She wakes up early (bless her) and helps get them dressed, and she always makes their lunches and snacks the night before, but still. It’s been a bit more hectic, but it’s awesome having them here.

Once we get to school, here’s how things go: We unload all of our stuff from the car, (which seems to take about 20 minutes) head into the school, and greet all of my coworkers who are already at school, busting to and fro.  I beam while they tell me how cute my kids are while my kids just stand there and smile shyly. Next, we head into the office, so I can stash my lunch in the fridge in there, and the kids look at the fish aquarium for a few minutes. Then we head into the library. We usually get to school about 6:50 to 7:00ish, but they don’t go to their classrooms until 7:15. Before the year started, in my head, this is what those 15-20 minutes would look like.

IMG_0015And occasionally it does look like that, but most of the time, they are running around stealing my stapler (while I worry about them stapling themselves in the face), going through my drawers and creating general chaos. (today was the first day I’ve ever had to clean the library up BEFORE the school day actually started)

The other day, when one of the teachers’ kids was in the library getting a new book, my daughter ran up to the Greg Heffley standup and shouted, “DAD! WE SAW THAT MOVIE! IT’S DIARRHEA WIMPY KID! ” Of course, the older student thought it was hilarious, and of course I was mortified. (even if I also thought it was hilarious)


“Shhhhh. It’s Diary. Diary of a Wimpy Kid I told her.” She didn’t get it. She has never heard of a diary, but she definitely knows what diarrhea is.

Yesterday, they were both doing their own thing, and I had to take pictures because their activities were very good representations of their personalities.

My son was busy making a windmill out of things he found in the library. He has always been very mechanical. He especially loves things that spin.


My daughter was over on the reading rug, telling her own Elephant and Piggie story with the little plushes. She’s always been the comedian trying to make everyone laugh, and she has a really big imagination.


Finally, at 7:15, the bell rings, and I get to give them to their wonderful teachers for the day. We have terrific teachers here, and I’m very lucky that I personally know my kids’ teachers as well as I do.

It’s going to be an awesome, very interesting year. I’ve always loved working here, but having my little ones with me has amplified the joy.

Thank you Grace Ann, Kathy , Christy and Becky for taking such good care of our babies. Also, for taking them off of my hands for a few hours. 😉 Good luck this year! You’ll need it.

harp and em



My First ALA Experience part 2 (the much longer part)

In case you missed it, yesterday I wrote about our travels down to Orlando and my first day of ALA.

I got a pretty good night’s sleep Friday night. I got up around 8:00 on Saturday and drove to the conference center around 9:00. Kate Messner was signing in the exhibit hall, and I wanted to meet her. I did much better in the exhibit hall that second day. I ran into my friend Mr. Schu. (both of them) at the Scholastic booths.


We me in person, for the first time, last summer at a Scholastic Reading Summit. He is a super-kind guy and a champion for kid’s lit, and it was great to see him.

At 10:30 we had a procedural meeting with the Notable Children’s Book Committee. I walked in and was directed to my “spot” at the table where I could deposit my overflowing tote bags. I found my name, and was amazed by how official everything looked.


I mean, it’d been a while since I’d seen my middle name printed out.

We sat in a circle, and I got to meet my fellow committee members for the first time. Guys, I don’t know what to tell you about this committee. They are all so brilliant, and funny, and kind. I was very honored and humbled to be a part of the group, and I wondered more than once how I got included.  We all have our own areas of expertise (right now, I’m the only school librarian, but there will be two of us at Midwinter because of a job change.) and we each have our own likes and dislikes, which makes the book discussions great.

I found all three days of discussion to be simulating and fun. There were some books that I wasn’t sure about that I now have a greater appreciation for, and there were some books in which I only saw positives, that I now have some concerns about. I guess that’s the beauty of committee work. Despite disagreeing every now and then, everyone on the committee was cordial, and I always felt comfortable sharing my opinion. I hope I made them feel the same way. I know that I am developing friendships that will last long after we are finished with Notables. I knew as soon as I showed up for the first round of discussions and heard the Hamilton soundtrack blasting from the meeting room, that we were going to get along just fine.

In between the procedural meeting and our first round of discussions, we had a little break, so I hung out in the exhibit hall for a few minutes, where I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Holm. I was amazed that there was hardly any line at all. After that, I went and grabbed some pizza and a cookie, and looked over my notes for our first discussion  meeting.


Over the three discussion meetings we had at ALA, we discussed 75 titles. They were picture books, fiction novels, nonfiction books and books of poetry.  As I said, the discussion was fantastic. I’m really looking forward to even more  at Midwinter in Atlanta.

I ended my day at the conference center after the discussion meeting. I had signed up for a few things on Saturday evening, but I knew that Sunday was going to be a very long day, and that I probably wouldn’t get to see my family much, if at all, so I went home a little early. That night, my aunt Tiffany took us all out for ice cream, and we found a nice place to watch the nighty Disney fireworks from a distance.


When I think back on ALA Annual 2016, I think Sunday is the day that I’m going to remember best. A lot of really cool stuff happened that day. Raina Telgemeier was signing at 9:00 that morning, so I made sure I got to the conference center by 9:30 at the latest. I got in line, got a book signed, and told her what an inspiration she is to my students and to me. I spent the rest of the morning wondering the exhibit hall.

I had a Pizza party lunch scheduled with the publisher Abrams, but it was going to be cutting it really close to my Notables discussion meeting that day. Really close. It started at 12:00, and it wasn’t in the convention center. It was in a restaurant called Lafayette’s (cue the Hamilton soundtrack) and my GPS told me that it was 15 minutes away, walking. That meant I would need to leave by 12:30, at the latest, to get back to the convention center and situated for our 1:00 discussion meeting.

I decided that I probably wasn’t going to go. I could just get something to eat in the convention center, and get some quiet reading time by myself in. (something that was very rare that week) But I still wasn’t sure. Who knows how many ALAs I’ll be able to attend? I wanted to milk every day for all it was worth. I decided to step outside and look around to see if I could locate the area where the restaurant was supposed to be located. That’s what I told myself, at least. I was really just pacing around with indecision.

Then I saw a lady in a black hat asking a convention center worker for directions. She had an English accent, and I knew immediately that it was Frances Hardinge. She was one of the authors that was supposed to be at the Abrams lunch. I stepped in.

“Excuse me.” I said. “I think you’re going to the Abrams pizza lunch? I am going there too. We can find it together.”

So we did. Eventually. I don’t know if you’ve ever used the GPS on your phone for walking directions, but for me, at least, it’s a lot harder and much more confusing than using it for driving directions. We got turned around several times, and eventually I turned off my GPS and we just resorted to asking random people. While walking, we talked about Brexit mostly, and the impact it would have on the UK. We did find Lafayette’s and we were only about 5 minutes late. Overheated and sweaty, we walked into the restaurant, and found the room reserved for Abrams. Frances was ushered away to sign her books, and I found some other authors to talk to.


I couldn’t resist taking a selfie in the middle of our adventure. I feel a little like Dennis Creevey after he fell in the Hogwarts lake, when he’s giving his brother a big thumbs up at the sorting ceremony.

I talked to Tom Angleberger about the Force Awakens for a little while, and then I found myself seated across from Amy Ignatow and Jonathan Auxier, who are both so easy to talk to and just genuinely nice people. Travis Jonker surprised me by sitting down beside me. I had never met him in person before, so I said hello and goodbye because it was time for me to go.

It was past time for me to go. I found myself actually running towards the convention center. I immediately took an escalator to the third floor because that’s where our discussions were taking place, but unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the building, and the third floor doesn’t go all the way across to where I was supposed to be. I had to go down a few times and back up a few times, and got to the room out of breath and disheveled just as discussion were about to start. To be honest, I’m not sure I would have changed anything. I had just had an experience I will never forget, and I’m glad I took the chance.

Three hours later, after our discussions, I found some coffee and sat down for a minute. It was just about time for me to get ready for the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet. I hadn’t planned on attending. I didn’t have a ticket, and the 90 dollar ticket price was a little out of my range, but a very kind friend emailed me a few days before the trip asking if I was interested in going, and offered me a ticket sitting at a Little, Brown table. Of course, I accepted gratefully. I spent some time before our trip looking for a Winnie the Pooh tie since Finding Winnie had won the Caldecott, and is, in fact, an LB book, but I was unsuccessful. (Someone at our table did have a Winnie tie on, though. I was a little jealous.)

So after a few minutes, I got up to walk to the van to get out my banquet clothes and change in the bathroom, but I looked out of the window and saw that it was pouring. That was no good. I and my clothes would be soaked. I decided to spend a few minutes in the exhibit hall waiting for the shower to end. While I was walking around, I was handed a scholastic tote. Unlike all of the other totes I had been given this week, this one wasn’t canvas. It was  hard plastic. Perfect for carrying dress clothes through a torrent of rain. I walked to the back lobby, which was facing the parking lot, and saw that the rain wasn’t going to let up any time soon, so I just bit the bullet and walked to the van, getting soaked. I loaded the banquet clothes into the plastic bag, closed it up and walked back to the conference center to change in the bathroom.

Now I had another problem. I couldn’t very well carry my wet clothes and shoes around all night at the banquet, could I? And if I walked back outside to put them in the van, my dress clothes would be soaked. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I stopped for a minute to think, and that’s when I heard it. Silence. There wasn’t any rain pounding on the roof like there had been. I hurried to the parking lot in case it was a brief lull, but it wasn’t. The rain was finished for the day. It was one of those daily  pop-up Florida showers that lasts for 30-45 minutes. I rejoiced at my luck, put my wet clothes in the van, and headed to the Hyatt Regency for the pre-banquet party.

The pre-banquet party was awesome. I got to meet so many people including Betsy Bird, Grace Lin, Roger Sutton, (Editor in Chief of Horn Book) and Sergio Ruzzier, (who is a very hilarious man. If you ever see him around, stop and talk. It will be worth it. I promise.) The chair of our notables committee, Paige was there which was lovely (it’s great to have someone you know at these things) as was Colby Sharp and Mr. Schu. It was a great time.

We then moved to the banquet room, where I found myself seated beside Trenton Lee Stewart, author of The Mysterious Benedict Society and Jenny Choy, the senior manager of school and library marketing at LB. (the school library marketing person sitting next to the school librarian. Hmmmm) They were both extremely pleasant, funny people, and very fun to talk to. Paige was also seated nearby, and like I said before, it’s great to have someone you know with you at these things.


If you can’t tell, I was thrilled to be there.

I’ve heard that some people *cough Betsy Bird cough* didn’t like the food, but our table got the vegetarian meal, and I thought it was good. It also helped that I didn’t eat much lunch at the Abrams party, so they could have served me cardboard and I would have scarfed it down.

The speeches were amazing. If you haven’t read them yet, you should. This was my first time attending this thing, but I like to think that it was special because ALL THREE speakers hit home runs. Seriously. They were amazing. I think we all cried before Matt De la Pena’s speech even began, when he hopped off of the stage and gave his Newbery award (his historic Newbery award for a picture book, I will add) to his mom. It was great.

Anyways, my night ended at about midnight when I got back to my uncle’s house, and even though I was physical exhausted, I couldn’t sleep because I kept replaying all of the events of the day back in my mind. It was definitely a day to remember.

The last few days of the conference were a blur. I never really caught back up on my sleep. (I still haven’t, I think.) We finished up our Notables discussions, and they packed up the exhibit hall, (both of those things kind of depressed me) After the conference, my family and I drove back to Alabama, and lost a serpentine belt on the way. We hope the van will be fixed today.

I’m a little bit sad now. I’m glad to be home with my wife and kids, but I’ve had this urge this last day or so to visit Books-a-Million (our only local bookstore) and talk to someone about kid’s books. (not 2016 books of course!) This urge will pass next Wednesday when I’ll be back in the library for our summer hours. I’ll be reconnecting with my students, and there’s no one I like talking about kid books with more than them. For now, I’ll just catch up on my many lost hours of reading.

I hope everyone is having a fantastic summer! I know I am!









My First ALA Experience (Part one- Traveling and ALA Day One)

Yesterday, around 6:30 in the evening, we pulled our serpentine beltless Honda Odyseey (the belt fell off somewhere on the interstate, taking with it our power steering and AC) into our driveway. At last, we were home from a weeklong adventure in Orlando, Florida where I attended my first ever ALA annual conference.

Despite the mishap with the van, it was an amazing week. I had some really high expectations, and I was concerned that there was no way that the conference could meet them, but it shattered them in every way. I took a few pictures, not enough, because it seemed that my phone was perpetually at 5% battery, but I’ll share what I have. I’m still not allowed to talk about 2016 books because of the notables committee rules (one of the reasons my blog has been rather quiet of late) and there is a LOT that I saw that I would love to share, but let’s just say that I am very excited about the books that are coming out this fall.

I spent a lot of time getting ready for the conference. I printed out address labels with my info on them based on the recommendation of more than one colleague. It turned out I didn’t need them. The exhibitor booths simply scan your badge these days to get your information these days. I packed Advil, comfortable shoes for walking in, and a few books to read, but not TOO many  because I wanted to save room for the books I’d be bringing home. (In the end, I was very glad we took the spacious van) I  crammed my schedule full of sessions, school library tours, author signings, author lunches, publisher previews and more. It was all much more than I could actually attend, even if it looked possible on paper, and I figured that out pretty quickly once the conference started. I had to drop a few things.

We decided back in February that we were going to take the whole family down to Orlando, and stay with my uncle who lives in the area. Traveling with three kids isn’t a whole lot of fun, but I didn’t want to leave my wife (who is 29 weeks pregnant) alone with all three kids. I would be at the conference during the day, but at least I would be able to help out some in the evenings. Plus, it would be a great chance to see family we haven’t been able to spend time with in a few years, so Thursday we loaded up the van, and headed for Florida.

IMG_3295 (1)

(I took the Strega Nona stand-up because Tomie dePaola was supposed to be at ALA, and I wanted him to sign it. Unfortunately, he had some health issues that kept him from coming)

The drive started out great. We reached the Florida border in no time. I even took a terrible picture of the first palm trees we saw.

palm trees

But, we forgot that Florida is one huge peninsula, and just because you’re in Florida, that doesn’t mean you’re anywhere near Orlando.

Many, many hours later, we pulled into my uncle’s driveway. It was great to see them again, their kids have grown so much since we had last seen them, and we spent the evening chatting and catching up.

The next morning was go time for me. I had a 9:00 tour of two local independent school libraries planned, so I made sure I got to the conference center around 8:00 to make sure I could find everything and still have time to register. It was a good thing I did, because  it took me about half an hour to find the right building.

The tours of the school libraries went great. I made a few friends, and got to see what other schools are doing to serve their students. Here is the group that I spent most of the day with.


We got back to the conference center at 3:00, and I was scheduled to attend a “Super Charged Storyimes!” session that had started at 2:30, but I knew that without some coffee and some time to sit down, I wasn’t going to make it to the Exhibit hall which opened that night, so I dropped the first thing from my schedule and searched for a coffee shop.

By the time I found the coffee, stood in line, and sat down to drink it, it was just about time for the opening session, so I hurried to the Chaplain Theater an found a seat. A little bit  after the session started, I got an uncontrollable urge to visit the restroom. The problem is, they were having a moment of silence for the victims of the Pulse shootings. I couldn’t get up in the middle of that, so I waited. After the moment of silence, someone started talking about the shootings, and it still felt inappropriate to exit. Finally, Michael Eric Dyson got up to speak, and immediately starting telling librarian jokes, so I got up, and rushed to the restroom.

After that, it was just about time for the Exhibit Hall to open, and I thought that I could be one of the first people in line when it opened because everyone was at the Opening Session and I really wanted to be one of the first people in line to see Mo Willems.

As it happened, most of the children’s librarians at ALA (and many adult services people) had the same idea. The area was packed, and the unofficial lines were long. I looked at the guy standing in front of me. He had “1350” written on his hand. I checked the vendor list. Yep. 1350 was Disney- Hyperion where Mo would be signing. I looked ahead of him. There was a lady in an Elephant and Piggie shirt. Ahead of her, was a man clutching We are in a Book to his chest. There was no way I was going to make it to the front of that line.

The doors opened, and there was a mad rush for Mo’s booth. I made good time, and it looked like I was going to get a good spot, but the girl in front of me tripped and fell, and bloodied up her knee. (I kid you not. It was like a Black Friday sale in Walmart in there.) My first instinct , I admit, was to step over her, and get my spot in line, but I couldn’t get the image of Number One Sam stopping to help those baby chicks out of my head,


so I stopped, helped her gather her stuff up, and we continued on to the line together.

I actually had a pretty good spot in, about 15 people back. The problem is, Mo was nowhere to be found. The Disney-Hyperion  lady told us that he had been distracted by all of the other exhibits, but that he would be here shortly. We all waited and chatted amicably, and felt foolish for trampling each other, and around 6:00, thirty minutes after the exhibit hall opened, Mo showed up and ran down the line giving us all fives.

I got a signed copy of a book, which I will not name as it’s a 2016 book 🙂  (Thanks for the free copy Disney-Hyperion!) a picture with Mo, in which I seem to be making a Kermit face. (I blame the exhaustion).


and he also signed my Leonardo the Terrible Monster stand-up.

terrible monster.png

After I got out of the Mo line, I walked around a little bit, but I was worn out and a bit overwhelmed. I called my wife and asked if she could pick me up a little earlier than expected. I knew that the exhibit hall wouldn’t be as crazy the next day, and I could spend some time exploring without the trampling mobs.

And the first day of ALA ended. Being an introvert, spending all day with lots of people I didn’t know really drained my batteries. I knew the rest of the week would be different, though. I love being around friends and people I do know. Notables committee meetings would start the next day, and I was really looking forward to that, and I knew that lots of my librarian and author internet friends would start showing up.

Come back tomorow for Part two!










The Top Books of the 2015-2016 School Year

Sorry for the long blog silence. Things have been super busy around here with end of the year stuff, and I’ve got my hands full with notables committee reading and family things.

A blog post I can always count on being interesting, if not that creative on my part, is a circulation stat post, and I recently pulled the totals for the 2015-2016 school year, and shared them with the students at our annual reading awards ceremony. It was a lot of fun, and I loved hearing them cheer hard for their favorite books. Here are the top ten books of the year:

10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul– 42 checkouts


9. Frozen– 43 checkouts


This one really cracks me up. It always lands in the top 10, and the kids always boo when I announce it. I want to shout, “If you don’t like it, quit checking it out!” but really , I think it’s kind of a guilty pleasure for them. It’s ok to like Frozen behind closed doors, just not in a cafetorium full of your peers.

8. The 39-Story Treehouse– 44 checkouts


7. Minecraft Essential Handbook- 45 chekouts


6. Minecraft Combat Handbook- 48 checkouts


5. My New Friend Is So Fun!-49 checkouts


4. Pigs Make Me Sneeze!-50 checkouts


3. Smile-52 checkouts


2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone –54 checkouts

harry potter

1. We Are In A Book! –61 checkouts


It almost makes me want to upgrade to the WordPress that let’s you post videos just so I can show you how my students cheered for this book.Wait. Here, you can view it from my Facebook page.

Here were the top five series in my library this year.

5.The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series



#4. The Harry Potter series


#3. The Who Was series

who was

#2. The Amulet series


#1. The Elephant and Piggie series.


It has been a pretty terrific year. I’m looking forward to our school summer reading program, ALA in Orlando and resting and recharging a little, but I am a little sad to see such a great year ending. Have a great summer everyone, and happy reading!

Taking a Book Hostage


The other day I had a third grade boy come in, and turn in the fourth Amulet book. He asked if I had the 5th one in.

“I know my friend has it checked out, but do you have another copy?” he asked.

I told him that I did, but that it was checked out as well. (The 2nd and 3rd graders are OBSESSED with the Amulet series)

He went over to the shelf and got the 6th book, and asked for a sticky note so he could write his name on it, to put it on the hold shelf.

“Why are you putting the 6th book on hold if you haven’t read the 5th one yet?”

“You’ll see in a few days.”

This morning he returned with his friend, carrying the 5th book.

“Here ya go, Mr. Martin. Can you check this in, and check it out to me? He’s going to get the sixth book that I have on hold.”

‘Wait. You put that book on hold, just so you could bargain with it once he was finished with the fifth book?”

“Pretty much.”

“Why didn’t you just start a waiting list for the 5th book?”

“This way works out better for both of us. I get the 5th book, and he gets the 6th book. Part of the deal is, when he’s done with the 6th one, I get it next.”

“You’ve really thought this through, haven’t you?”

“I have, ” he responded with a grin.

My Favorite Book From Every Year I’ve Been Alive

I saw a list that Josh Funk posted the other day. It was his favorite movie from every year he’s been alive. 

I thought that was a pretty cool idea. I started thinking that it would be fun for me to make a list like that myself, but to do it with books instead of movies. I worried that maybe there might be a year or two in the last 32 years in which I hadn’t read a book published in that year, but it turned out that I didn’t have anything to worry about. The hardest part was picking just one for a few of the years (especially the more recent years) so I cheated and added honorable mentions.  Here’s my list. I’m sure I missed lots of great books, but I did my best. They aren’t all kids’ books, but a lot of them are. It was a ton of fun to make.




ender's game

Honorable Mention: Dragon Ball  Vol. 1: The Monkey King



Honorable Mention: Redwall by Brian Jacques



Honorable Mention: Beloved by Toni Morrison



Honorable Mentions: Sandman vol 1 by Neil Gaiman and Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman.



Honorable Mention: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet



Honorable Mention: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning



Honorable Mention: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon





Honorable Mention: Stellaluna by Janell Cannon





Honorable Mention: Running Out of Time by Margaret Haddix



Honorable Mention: The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman


harry potter

Honorable Mention: The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey


chamber of secrets

Honorable Mention: Holes by Louis Sachar



Honorable Mentions: Strega Nona by Tomi DePaola, The Full Belly Bowl by Jim Aylesworth and Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey



This was actually a hard choice for me. Queen of Attolia is sooooo good.

Honorable Mentions: Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner and Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCammillo.



Honorable mention: John Adams by David McCullough.



Honorable mention: Coroline by Neil Gaiman



Honorable mention: Arnie the Doughnut by Laurie Keller





Honorable Mentions: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems





Honorable Mention: The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall



Honorable Mentions: Savvy by Ingrid Law and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins



Honorable Mentions: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly and Guess Again by Mac Barnett.



Honorable Mentions: Smile by Raina Telgemeier A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner and Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool



Honorable Mention: Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt




Honorable Mentions: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, This is Not my Hat by Jon Klassen and Wonder by R.J. Palacio



Honorable Mention: Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool



Honorable Mentions: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson



Honorable Mentions: Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall and Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

That’s it! My list of my favorite book from every year I’ve been alive.

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