“Eeny, meeny, miney, moe…”

When Deni told me our theme for September was “My Favorite Book,” I thought she must be kidding. Seriously?! That’s like asking me to choose which of my four sons is my favorite! (Although I think he knows who he is!)  So I’m going to take the liberty of choosing a favorite theme instead of book.  My granddaughter, Rachel, called me this week and asked me to help her find a book report book for school with a science fiction theme.  We had fun locating just the most interesting book for her. That made me think of my favorite theme and remember a special friend I had a long time ago.

One of my earliest friendships began in second grade with a girl named Debbie.  She and I had quite vivid imaginations. Our sleepovers never involved playing with dolls or dressing up; we were spies. Not just ordinary spies, oh, goodness no! We were private eye spies! We crept around her house solving crimes of monumental importance – often scaring ourselves in the process as we climbed around in her family’s dark, dusty basement. These escapades lasted until we needed a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of Tang.  Have you guessed what type of books I loved reading? Yes! Mysteries. And Nancy Drew was my heroine.  The Hidden Staircase, The Secret of the Old Clock, The Haunted Showboat, The Secret of the Golden Pavilion, were just a few of the treasured copies my sisters and I had in our collection of Nancy Drew books.  My friend Debbie and I would often get ideas for our private eye adventures from these books.  We let our childish imaginations go wild and would often lay in bed, unable to sleep because we knew “things” were lurking everywhere! Even today I can’t look at a Nancy Drew book without smiling at the memories I made with my friend Debbie.

Mystery books remain my favorite genre, and I must admit, I sometimes still read one that causes me to have difficulty sleeping. My imagination may wonder if things are “lurking” about. Oh goodness! But isn’t that the delight of being completely caught up in a great book?

This month I’m going to share four of my favorite children’s books with you.  Notice I said, “four of my favorite” because I have oh so many favorites.   What is one of your favorite children’s books?  I wonder if we’ll choose the same one?

Welcome to September & FirefliesBlog!

Mary Byrne Kline

“How I Spent My Summer Vacation”

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Author and Illustrator: Mark Teague

Here’s another fun book to share with your children as you wrap up another summer of creating memories together.

Wallace is determined that this year, when asked in school to share how he spent his summer vacation, his story will not be like the rest of the class.  He is a boy with an incredible imagination and once he gets started on his summer’s adventure, well,  he just continues to increase the excitement!  It begins rather innocently with his parents putting young Wallace on a train to visit his Aunt Fern.

But I was captured by cowboys, a wild-looking crowd,

Their manners were rough and their voices were loud.

The Cattle Boss growled, as he told me to sit, ‘We need a new cowboy, our old cowboy quit.

We could sure use your help, so what do you say?’ I thought for a minute, then I told him, ‘Okay.'”

After reading this entertaining book,  you might just plan a backyard barbecue or an adventure of your own!

Mary Byrne Kline

 

Pictures From Our Vacation

Pictures From Our Vacation
Author and Illustrator: Lynne Rae Perkins

SNAP! With their new cameras

SNAP! a brother and sister SNAP! take pictures of their family vacation.

But when they look back at their photographs they see: the back of Dad’s head, feet (not sure whose), a container of noodles. 

Even the motel was disappointing: no water in the pool, the badminton racquets were shaped like potato chips, it rained for days. When the family goes to visit relatives at the farm, everything changes.  Tasting strawberry and whipped cream dessert and making memories with cousins fills their hearts and minds with pictures like no camera ever could.

“It’s hard to take a picture of a story someone tells, or what it feels like when you’re rolling down a hill or falling asleep in a house full of cousins and uncles and aunts.  Those kinds of pictures I can keep in my mind.”

———————————

This is a great book to share with children as they come back to school after summer break to ignite “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” discussions and journal writings.   We also chose it for our July H2L book prompt!

Mary Byrne Kline

 

 

 

 

Knots on a Counting Rope…

This is far more than a story; it is a tender dialogue between a weathered, aged Indian grandfather and his grandson around a cozy campfire as the sun is setting and darkness is quickly falling.  They sit cross-legged, facing one other, each holding onto a rope with small knots along the length of it.

“Tell me the story again, Grandfather. Tell me who I am.”

“I have told you many times, Boy.  You know the story by heart.”

Yet once again patiently and gently Grandfather relays the story of the night the child was born.  The child was not strong, but born weak and frail, and  been born with a dark curtain in front of his eyes.

Grandfather shares how he’d carried his infant grandson outside to the horses and that the boy raised his tiny arms up to touch them. With each retelling, another knot is tied in the rope.  As the boy grows, he gains strength, and Grandfather teaches the boy to ride his own pony. Every day along a trail, he follows his grandfather on his pony until he can ride holding his own reins.

One day his Grandfather tells him, “You have raced the darkness and won! You now can see with your heart,  feel a part of all that  surrounds you. Your courage lights the way.”

Far more than a story; this is a lesson in love and trust between generations that will warm your heart. You may even feel yourself lingering over the exquisitely beautiful illustrations.

Mary Byrne Kline

Review by Publisher Weekly

Gathered near a campfire under a canopy of stars, a Navaho Indian boy hears the tale of his birth from his grandfather. Born on a windy night, the child was weak and frail. In the early morning, Grandfather brought him out to meet the morning. Two blue horses galloped by, stopped and looked at him; the baby raised his arms to them. Grandfather said, “”This boy child will not die. The great blue horses have given him the strength to live.” Named Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses, the child later needs that well of strength to deal with the fact that he is blind. Rand’s atmospheric, vivid paintings evoke the tale’s sensibility as they move it along. The beauty and vastness of the Western sky and the intimacy of two loving figures by a campfire are portrayed with equal fluidity. A rich tale of intergenerational love and respect, this is bittersweet and unsentimental. It is a moving collaborative effort that reverberates long after the book is closed. Ages 5-8.

An absolutely fabulous read aloud VIDEO is available at Storyline Online  – The SAG Foundation.   Enjoy and then consider purchasing a copy for your home library!