Reading Report from Northern Central Texas: May 2016

Stack of booksFollowing up on last month’s wildly popular Reading Report from Northern, Central Texas, I give you the report for May.  Here’s what we’ve been reading!

Stop, wait, hold the presses!  I have been informed by my husband that we are not in northern, central Texas.  We are in central, central Texas!  In stead of being a wisehheimer, I must be accurate. So next month, you will get the Reading Report from Central, Central Texas (No we didn’t move, just clearing up a minor bit of geography!) or maybe it should be from Deep in the Heart of Central Texas or Midmost, Central Texas.  I will work on it.


Sarah is reading a book on her phone/tablet.  She enjoys reading on a portable device so she has reading material with her wherever she is. Recently she finished The King of Austin  written by her friend John Thomas.  She is also reading Echo in which a harmonica plays a role it the plot.

  • Thomas, John. The King of Austin. Austin, TX: Treaty Oak Publishers, 2016.
  • Ryan, Pam Muñoz. Echo. New York: Scholastic Press, 2015.


Alexis has been finishing up a couple of books that have been in her reading pile.  As I have said in other posts, she is a prodigious reader. In the last week, she finished two books by Rick Riordan.  This is good as I have been waiting to borrow them from her. Sarah bought her a book from a school book fair so Alexis is reading Down a Dark Hall.   It sounds creepy.  It should be right up Alexis’ alley.

On Audible, she is listening to Theft of Swords. She still likes to have someone read to her!

  • Riordan, Rick. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.  Book 1: The Sword of Summer. New York: Disney♦Hyperion, 2015.
  • Riordan, Rick. The Trials of Apollo. Book 1: The Hidden Oracle. New York: Disney♦Hyperion, 2016.
  • Duncan, Lois.  Down a Dark Hall. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1974.
  • Sullivan, Michael J. Theft of Swords, Volume 1 Riyria Revelations. New York: Orbit, 2011.


Jim is reading Deathwave on his tablet.  It is the sequel to New Earth and it looks to be a part of the “Star Quest Trilogy”.  Jim has always enjoyed science fiction.  Ben Bova is one of his favorite authors.

  • Bova, Ben. Deathwave.  New York: TOR Books, 2015.


If you look at the picture on this post, you will see the stack of books I have used or read this month.  I included the Wildflowers of Texas book as we have been enjoying the Texas wildflowers and have been using this reference book. This must have been Alexis first birthday gift to her Daddy.  I just looked on the inside cover and there’s a note: “To Daddy, Happy Birthday, Love Alexis, 7/85”.

I finished the Sheri S. Tepper book.  I picked it up on the recommendation of a colleague and it was a fine, rich read.

I have been on a small mission to read more widely.  Last time we went to Half Price Books, I went armed with the list of the 100 best science fiction novels.  As I gravitate toward fantasy books, I deliberately chose one that was more straight science fiction. I think now it would be called cyber-punk.  Neuromancer  introduced the world to cyberspace.

I spent four days at home with pneumonia.  The best thing I can say about that episode is that I only felt well enough to read.  Alexis loaned me a series about a “cassandra sangue”, a blood prophet.  Girls with this ability speak prophecy, whenever their skin is cut.  Humans are not in control of the world and never have been in this alternate universe.

Last night, I read a little late and finished Six of Crows.  This is a fantasy heist book.  The characters are intriguing.  A job that would be nearly impossible for security forces and armies is contracted out to a thief/con man and his crew.  Rich rewards await, if they succeed.

  • Ajilvsgi, Geyata. Wildflowers of Texas. Bryan, TX: Shearer Publishing, 1984.
  • Tepper, Sheri S. Six Moon Dance.  New York, Avon, 1998.
  • Gibson, William.  Neuromancer. New York: Ace Books, 1984.
  • Bishop, Anne.  Written in Red. New York: ROC Book, 2013.
  • Bishop, Anne. Murder of Crows. New York: ROC Book, 2014.
  • Bishop, Anne.  Vision in Silver.  New York: ROC Book, 2015.
  • Bardugo, Leigh. Six of Crows. New York: Henry Hold and Company, 2015.

Summer is coming!  Have you chosen your summer reads?


Welcome Baby Elijah!

Elijah's bookshelfWhoo Hoo!  At 8:08 pm, May 23, 2016 Elijah joined us in this world.  I have seen a picture or two.  He is so beautiful!  He is health baby boy weighing in at 8 lbs. 5 oz. and 21 inches in length!  I am so happy for my niece and nephew.  Take a look!  That is the bookshelf that is waiting for him!

In case you are late in joining me on this adventure, I started this blog because of this baby.  I bought too many books for his baby shower present.  I needed to tell his Mama and Daddy about why I bought each and every one of them so I wrote him a book.  It was so much fun writing the book, I decided to blog! Sounds a bit like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie doesn’t it?  Interesting how one thing leads you to another.

Here’s a question for you?  How young is too young to be read to?  In my opinion, no age is too young.  I have a memory of my husband, Jim reading to our daughter, Sarah.  She is newly home from the hospital.  He liked to be efficient.  In my memory they are snuggled up in our big recliner.  He is reading to her from his current book, Ringworld  by Larry Niven. It was a 2-fer, as we say in Texas. It was an efficient combination of reading to the baby and working in his own reading time.

I loved snuggling up with both my girls, reading things I liked and reading things I thought they might like.  We read to them right from the beginning.

Guess what? The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with me (not that I was worried)!  I came across an article on NPR titled “Never to Young: Pediatricians Say Parents Should Read to Infants”.  Check it out:  Here’s a key point from this article:

“Children whose parents read to them get a head start on language skills and literacy, as well as lovely cuddle time with Mom or Dad. But many children miss out on that experience, with one-third of children starting kindergarten without the language skills they need to learn to read.”

A piece of advice I would give my niece and nephew and any new parent is read to your baby early and often.  Not only is it good for your child, but it creates lovely memories!

Here’s something I wrote to Elijah.  I hope that he has all these wonderful reading memories.

“We want you to remember the way it feels to snuggle with your Mama or your Daddy, while you listen to one of their sweet voices reading you to sleep.  The way it feels to laugh, when you read a silly story for yourself.  The secret joy it is to read covertly under the covers with a flashlight when you are supposed to be asleep.  The guilty pleasure you feel when you look up from finishing a thrilling novel and realize that it is 2 am and you have to get up and go to work the next day.”

Welcome to the world, Baby Elijah and Happy Reading!

Artemis Fowl

Book cover for Artemis FowlArtemis Fowl
Eoin Colfer
New York: Hyperion, 2001

Like Space Case, this book is about a twelve-year-old boy.  How different these boys are.  Both are highly adventurous and intelligent.  One however is good, the other is fiendishly bad (or tries to be).  As the back of the book states, “Artemis is a millionaire, a genius, and above all, a criminal mastermind.”  In this book he is tangling with the Fairies.  Forget what you thought you knew about the wee people of Ireland! You don’t know anything about these fairies and leprechauns!  Read this book and you may be surprised.

This was Alexis’ substitute book for Elijah’s little library as we weren’t able to obtain a copy of The Eleventh Hour. We chose it, because it is a great adventure story and it has a secret you have to decode just like The Eleventh Hour. I reread this book over the weekend and worked on the code. It only took me about three tries and most of the weekend to get it right.  It was fun.  I have about ten pages of my notebook filled up with the decoded message.  If you read this book, I hope you have enjoy working on this code.

Eoin Colfer

His name is pronounced Owen.  Eoin hails from Wexford, Ireland.  He went to university in Dublin and studied to be a teacher.  In 2001, when Artemis Fowl was published, he was able to quit his teaching job and devote himself full-time to writing. He says he will keep on writing until people stop reading or he runs out of ideas.¹ I hope he doesn’t run out of ideas any time in the near future!

Here’s where you can read more about this author.

This is an interesting video clip.  It is from his “Fairies, Fiends, and Flatulence Tour”.



How Bed Time Rolled At Our House

Spiderwort FlowerToday I had the great pleasure of spending the day with my oldest daughter, Alexis.  With cameras in hand we went to Becker Vineyards to photograph the vines and the lavender.  From there we went onto the Wildseed Farm.  We saw and photographed so many gorgeous flowers.  I enjoyed spending this time with her.  It is something we don’t get to do often.  While we were together, we talked about books we liked. She is a prolific reader.

My thoughts were still with her this evening as I started this blog.  She’s an adult now, but I still remember when she was my little one.  It was comforting for both of us to end our day snuggled up on the bed reading books.  In very poor verse, here is how bedtime rolled at out house long ago.

How Bed Time Rolled at Our House

Bath time is over she’s ready for bed,
It’s time for “What shall be read?”
A game we know well begins to be played,
Perhaps tonight’s bedtime can be delayed.
I look on her bed and what do I spy?
A stack of ten books standing by!
Looking from stack to smirking child,
I keep my voice mirthful and mild.
A compromise must be made,
We both know how this game is played.
I look at the girl, I look at the stack.
I will read one put the others back.
With a downcast look,
She removes one book.
My eyebrows raised, she moves two others,
Her cherubic look doesn’t fool her mother.
For this girl it would be heaven,
If I would read to her all seven.
Alas dear child the time draws near,
No more than three let me be clear!
With a beatific smile upon her face
All but three are put in place.
With chosen books we snuggle in,
Blankets drawn up to her chin.
The first book is one we’ve read many times,
We read it together practicing the rhymes!
The second book is fun and new to us,
I read it twice without a fuss.
By number three we are nearly asleep,
A wonderful book, we’ve this copy to keep.
I leave her this night with a kiss on the head.
Asleep with her books all nestled in bed.

Space Case

Space Case Book CoverSpace Case: A Moon Base Alpha Novel
Stuart Gibbs
New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014

Baby Elijah will not be born in Texas, but his parents were and his crazy Aunt Robin currently lives here.  That was my rationale for buying a book that was recommended especially for Texas children.  Every year the Texas Library Association seeks suggestions from librarians, teachers, parents, students, and other interested persons.  From these suggestions, they choose 20 books.  These books make up the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List. Space Case is on the 2016-17 list.  An exciting aspect of this book award is that it is chosen by Texas school children in grades 3-6.  You can read more about how these books are chosen on the Texas Library Association’s website:  We will have to wait until 2017 to see if this one is the winner.

When I bought this book for Elijah, I had not read it.  His Uncle Jim and I grew up in the “Space Age” so we are always interested in books that take place in space.  I was intrigued by the description of this book.  It is a mystery case that takes place on the moon! I snapped it up for his library.

I decided I couldn’t blog about a book that I hadn’t read, so this weekend I checked out copy from the library and read it. It is a winner! The hero is a 12-year old named Dashiell. What a great name for a detective.  I wondered if he was named after that great detective novelist, Dashiell Hammett (think The Maltese Falcon).  I am curious to see if this is true as I read in the acknowledgements that the author’s son is also named Dashiell. Someday I may have to email him to inquire, if either the hero and/or the son is named for Hammett.

I have to say that the book had me at Chapter 1: Evil Plumbing! Isn’t all plumbing evil? Dashiell is an intelligent, clever sleuth.  He’s also a typical 12-year-old stuck on a moon base for three years. He slightly disgruntled and wants you to know that living on Moon Base Alpha is not all it’s cracked up to be even before someone is murdered.  You will have to read it for yourself to find out how he solves this crime. While this book was written with middle school boys in mind, I liked it and I think middle school girls might like it too!

Stuart Gibbs

Stuart trained to be a biologist.  According to his website he was for a brief time the world’s foremost authority of capybaras, the world’s largest rodent.  In an aside he states that it was only because no one else was studying them at the time.  After reading his book, I am glad that he decided to take up writing as a career.  He didn’t start out writing for middle school boys.  He had a fairly successful career as a screenwriter.  At some point an agent asked him if he would like to write books that would appeal to middle school boys.  He wrote one and it was a success and thus he turned his hand to writing for children.

Here are some websites to read more about Stuart.

Here’s Stuart Gibb’s Interview for the Texas Bluebonnet Award in March 2016:


The Eleventh Hour

ThThe Eleventh Hour Book Covere Eleventh Hour: A Courious Mystery
Graeme Base
New York: Puffin, 1988.

“A book is read, a story ends, a telling tale is told.
But who can say what mysteries a single page may hold?
A maze of hidden codes and clues, a clock at every turn,
And only time will tell what other secrets you may learn…”

This is the set up for this curious mystery that starts on the title page.  This book has glorious drawings and is rich in detail. There is so much detail that you can get lost looking for all the hidden information.  I am glad the author added the “inside story” to the back of the book. I re-read the story this morning.  It is luscious, just like Horace’s feast.  I had forgotten that along with the wonderful drawings, it is was written in rhyming verse.  With the rhyming verse, the items to look at, find, and discuss this was a perfect book for Alexis and Sarah.

Spoiler alert!  If you want to solve all the puzzles in this book yourself, don’t read the next paragraph.  While it doesn’t say outright who stole the feast, it does give you a clue.

This was Alexis’ original contribution to Elijah’s little library.  Unfortunately, our bookstore didn’t have it in stock on the day I shopped. It sill might appear on Elijah’s bookshelf in the form of a birthday or Christmas present.  I couldn’t find our copy so I ordered this one.  When it came and Alexis spotted it, she was so happy!  “I love this book!”, she crowed. “I remember sitting in my bed with paper and pencil determined to solve the puzzle and find all the mice.  I sat there until I solved it and figured out who stole the feast.”  I asked her how long it took her to solve the puzzle and she doesn’t remember.  She doesn’t think she ever found all the mice. I started looking for the mice this morning.  It takes persistence, patience, and very sharp eyes!

About the author: Graeme Base

Who wouldn’t like a guy whose favorite childhood books were The Lord of the Rings trilogy!  They are some of my personal favorites! This author lives in Australia with his family.  He decided to be a writer so he could draw and write what he wanted.  He gets his ideas from traveling or from everyday happenings.  His trip to promote his book Animalia gave him ideas for The Eleventh Hour, a book he once described as “an Agatha Christie-type mystery in pictures—without any murders.” I think this is why Alexis loves this book so much, she is a mystery lover.1,2

Here’s some articles about this author you might enjoy.

Video Interview:


I Am a Bunny

I am a bunny book coverI Am a Bunny
Ole Risom
Illustrated by Richard Scarry
New York: Golden Books, 1963.

Happy Mother’s Day!  On May 8, 1983, I was very pregnant!  My due date, established by my doctor, was April 15 and I had been waiting and waiting for Alexis! I really wanted to be a mother with a baby in my arms on Mother’s Day of 1983.  Alas, Alexis decided to make her appearance a day later. She was worth the wait.  She was and is my beautiful, precious daughter. This year the same timing exists, Mother Day on Sunday, May 8th and Alexis’ birthday on Monday, May 9th.

It was scary to be a new Mom, but being able to snuggle up with my baby and read to her was comforting for both of us. This was the first book that Jim and I had for her.  Thinking back, I  remember reading this book  to both Alexis and Sarah.  I have asked the girls, if they remember me reading this book to them and they don’t.  It’s not surprising as I read it to them when they were tiny.

This book is about Nicholas the Bunny and the seasons of his year.  The images in this book are bright and colorful and contrary to some of Richard Scarry’s other illustrated books not so busy.  I was looking for our copy, but I am afraid it was too well used and we no longer have a copy of it.

I did include this book in Elijah’s little library.  I wonder why this one book sticks so forcefully in my memory.  It was written well past the time, when my parents would have read it to me. I have read many books to the girls and I remember some and not others.  I think it has the echos of a childhood memory for me.  When I read this book, it makes me think of a song about the seasons I learned in kindergarten long ago.  The words are given below.  I actually remember how to sing it! If you ever see me and want to put me on the spot, you can ask me to sing it for you.

Sing a song of seasons, something bright in all.
Flowers in the summer, fires in the fall.
Sparkling snow in winter, bird songs in the spring.
Gifts of Mother Nature bright in everything.

Ole Risom 

He was one of the most influential publishers of mass-market books for children. He worked at Random House specialized in publishing inexpensive books for preschoolers.¹ If you have time take a minute to read about this man.  He was from Copenhagen.  He joined the US Army and was in the Ski Patrol during World War II.

Richard Scarry

I have to say, along with all the other people who say it, that he is one of the most beloved children’s illustrators. He studied at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts.  He must have learned some great things as his books are noted for being crammed with illustrations that are beloved by toddlers.² His books are still in print.

Things to read about Richard Scarry!

¹Ole C. Risom, Publisher of Children’s Books:

²Richard Scarry Children’s Book Author and Illustrator Dies: