How to Avoid Extinction

How to avoid extinction words with dinosaur eating the a in avoid. Buick electra car with girl and dog looking out window.Acampora, Paul. How to Avoid Extinction. New York: Scholastic Press, 2016

I am still making my way through the stack of books I purchased at the Texas Book Festival last fall. It is here that the Texas Library Association announces their annual Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List.  I wanted to make the live announcement, but was too late.  I was not too late to pick up a copy of the new list.  Towing my very patient husband in my wake, I hurried over to the book tent to look at the books on the list.  I selected this one.  It looked fun.

It was a fun and unexpected book.  What would you do, if your Grandma decides to hop in her 1973 Buick Electra and make an unexpected road trip? She wanders regularly and you are her appointed finder.  This is an irregular wander, even for Grandma, what would you do?  What if your Mom has become the “official head of household as well as President, Principal, Queen, and Savior” (this means she is more bossy than usual)? If you are Leo, you unhappily obey your Mom, grab your backpack, hop into that 1973 Buick Electra, and reluctantly have an adventure with your Grandma, Abbey, your third cousin once removed, and Abbey’s aged dog, Kermit.

What prompts this sudden road trip? Unfortunately, it was a death, the death of Leo’s extraordinary grandfather.  A year before this book begins, Leo’s grandfather dies unexpectedly.  He was a strong leader in their family, loving, free spirited, intrepid, wise, and smart.  His passing left a large void in the lives of those he left behind.  Leo and his Mom have always lived with his grandparents.  When Pop passed away, Mom assumed the mantle of head of household as described above.  Grandma is lonely, Leo is mopey, and Leo’s Mom is suffering in her own way.

Before he died, Leo’s Grandpa was planning a road trip to the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry near Price, Utah. Grandma decides she needs to follow his path. As with many good books, everyone in the story discovers something about themselves and others. What does Leo discover about his family?  Does he learn how to avoid extinction? Please pick up a copy of this charming book, read it for yourself, and recommend it to someone else who might enjoy it.

I really liked this book. In January 2019, students in grades 3-6 all over Texas will vote for a book on this year’s master list to be the winner. I hope many of them decide this was a good book and vote for it.  When I was looking for the link to this year’s Texas Bluebonnet list, I read about the goals of the program.  One goal is to encourage students to read for pleasure.  My parents were readers and they encouraged me to read. I read all the time. I like to think that I became an excellent and passionate reader, because of their encouragement and my continuous practice.   This week I am attending a workshop on literacy for students with complex communication needs.  One of the big ideas this week is that all students can be readers.  To be a reader, however, a student needs to read.  We want students to enjoy reading.  It is crucial to developing their reading skills.  To enjoy reading, students need to be able to select what they want to read be it books, magazines, comic books, graphic novels, websites…anything as long as it interests them. Help the children in your life love reading. Suggest books, like How to Avoid Extinction, but let them choose!


2016: A Year in Review

collage1_2016Happy New Year! I am starting 2017 with a review of books from 2016. Here is the consolidated list (libraryrecap).

I have enjoyed writing this blog. I began writing to explain to my new nephew, why I chose the books he received as a birth gift. My family encouraged me to write a blog.  They seem to think that I know something about children’s books.  They are so lovely and kind!  What I know about children’s books is that I like them.  If I could, I would inspire every child with the love of reading.  I like reading books. I like paring books with ideas, events and activities.

Since they encouraged me to write, I have been writing this blog for my pleasure and practice. Sometimes, but not often, it gets me out of dinner dishes (I can’t do dishes tonight, I have to work on my blog).  If I had stopped with the volumes purchased for my new nephew,  it would have been a very short blog. When I finished his list I segued to the rest of my children’s book collection.  Many of these books are old favorites of mine. It has been a lovely walk down memory lane. As I reread and write about these books, I remember snuggling up with my girls and sharing these stories.  Reading to children is a wonderful activity. It was fun, fun, fun to read and discover these books with my girls. It was fun, fun, fun to remember that time through this blog.

My family has become accustom to keeping a list of their readings for the monthly reading report. I hope that you have enjoyed these reports.  2016 was a very enjoyable reading year!  I hope it is another good year for reading and for all other endeavors.

Happy New Year to everyone! May your year be productive, satisfying and fun! Find some good books to read. Here are some of the books that were read in Haus Reimund in 2016.collage2_2016

Elijah’s Little Library Recap

I started this blog back in April, because I was so excited about all the books I purchased for my new nephew.  It has been my whigmaleerie, my notion, my fancy that I might have something to share with the wider world about these books and others. My family is amused by this new hobby of mine.  They have been gently encouraging me to carry on with this writing.

The Hobbit blog marked the last entry for books from Elijah’s Little Library.  His Crazy My PhotoAunt Robin (that’s me!) had so much fun buying the books and writing him a book about his little library. Here’s a picture of me, taken when I was working on his book.  Don’t I look like someone’s Crazy Aunt?  I wanted the fun of thinking about the books we gave him to continue, ergo I started this blog.  To finish the section about Elijah’s Little Library, I’d like to share the introduction to his book.

Welcome to the World!

It is a wide, exciting and sometimes frenetic place.  All our family, Uncle Jim, Cousin Alexis, Cousin Sarah and I, are looking forward to meeting you.

I think your Mama and Daddy are rolling their eyes at this point, wondering why we decided on a small library for your very first gift as it doesn’t seem very practical.  Well I could say that we are your crazy Aunt Robin and Uncle Jim and that’s just what we do.  Ask your Mama when you can, how often a gift from us included a book.

I am your crazy Aunt Robin, but here’s the truth, we love to read and we want to share that love with you. We think if you can read you can go anywhere and do anything even if it is only in your own imagination.  With a good book, you are never alone and you always have something to do.

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.

Elijah, enjoy a good book!  We have chosen the books in this mini library with you in mind.  We hope that you enjoy them as much as we have.  When we started to think about this gift, I asked everyone here to give me the names of two books.  One they remembered from when they very little and one that was their favorite when they were in upper elementary or middle school.  I think you will be surprised at what was included in this little library.

God Bless You Little One!
Love Aunt Robin, Uncle Jim, Alexis & Sarah
April 2, 2016

For those of you who are interested in starting a little library for a young person you love, I have compiled a list of the books in Elijah’s library: LibraryRecap_Aug17_2016.  We tried to get something that would please a young boy, however, I think they would be fun for many different readers.



Low Riders in Space

Lowriders in spaceCamper, Cathy
Raúl the Third, Illustrator
Low Riders in Space
San Fransisco: Chronicle Books, 2014

This is a book I bought for Elijah’s little library.  It is a 2016-17 Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee.  Texas teachers, parents, librarians and other interested persons suggest books for this award.  Nominees are chosen and then children in grades 3-6 in Texas schools choose the winner.  I can’t wait to find out if this book won.

This was the second book from the 2016-2017 Bluebonnet Master List, I bought for Elijah.  The first, if you recall from previous posts was Space Case. They were the only two books that were in Elijah’s library that I hadn’t read.  I bought him Low Riders in Space, because it looked like so much fun to read!

I bought a copy of this book for myself and I just finished reading it.  As I suspected it was fun to read! I love books about characters who work hard to achieve their dreams.  This has so many wonderful drawings. Would you like a car that has pinstripes from the rings of Saturn, the Big Dipper on the back license plate and Cygnus the Swan as detail on the front hood?  Could you collapse a black hole with what you had with you in the car as you cruised through space?  Read this book and find out what adventures Elirio Malaria, Flapjack Octopus and Lupe Impala have getting their old Impala low rider ready for the Universal Car Competition.

This is a fantastic book. It would be a great gift for a car fan, space fan, or art fan.  It might get a reluctant reader interested in books.  The pictures are intricate and engaging.  The story is fun.  I recommend it.  I am so glad I picked up a copy for my own collection.

Cathy Camper

Cathy is a writer, artist and librarian.  She is a hard author to find much information about online.  From the book’s back cover, you discover that she is the creator of Bugs Before Time.  She is a reviewer of graphic novels for Lambda Literary and she is currently a librarian for Multnomah County in Portland, Oregon.

Her best advice to young writers is to learn to day dream! Instead of being on your cell phone or watching TV take the time to think of your own stories in your head.

You can learn more about Cathy on her website at

You can listen to her interview for his Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominator for Low Riders in Space on YouTube:

Raúl the Third

As the characters in this story only used the materials they had at hand or could scavenge to make their car, Raul decided to use the materials he had on hand or found when he was learning to draw: ink pens in red, blue and black.

Currently, Raul live in Boston, where he has had a number of recent art exhibits.  He teaches classes on drawing and comics to students in and around that city.  His advice to young students on drawing or whatever interest them is to work on their interests continually to get better and improve their skills. They should practice as much as they can.

While his lives in Boston, he grew up in El Paso, Texas.  He was influenced by that city and you can see that in his drawings in Low Riders in Space. If you are familiar with El Paso, you may recognize some of the places he included in this book.

To learn more about this author, you can visit his website:

You can listen to his interview for his Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominator for Low Riders in Space on YouTube:


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: