“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

Thank You, Mr. Falker

As school begins soon (or maybe you have already sent your little ones out the door for their first day of school) we are thinking about teachers – amazing, memorable teachers.   Real quick – who is one of your favorite teachers of all time?

Here’s our favorite book about a favorite teacher, Mr Falker.

Publisher’s Weekly Review

Fans of Polacco’s (Thundercake; Pink and Say) work know well her talent for weaving her colorful family history throughout her picture books. Here Polacco shares her childhood triumph over dyslexia and discovery of reading in an inspiring if slightly formulaic story. Young Trisha is eager to taste the “”sweetness of knowledge”” that her grandfather has always revered (here symbolized by drizzling honey onto a book and tasting it, which harkens back to Polacco’s earlier The Bee Tree). But when she looks at words and numbers, everything is a jumble. Trisha endures the cruel taunts of classmates who call her “”dumb,”” and falls behind in her studies. But finally the encouragement and efforts of a new fifth grade teacher, Mr. Falker, trigger a monumental turning point in Trisha’s life. She begins to blossom and develop all of her talents, including reading. Polacco’s tale is all the more heartfelt because of its personal nature. Young readers struggling with learning difficulties will identify with Trisha’s situation and find reassurance in her success. Polacco’s gouache-and-pencil compositions deftly capture the emotional stages–frustration, pain, elation–of Trisha’s journey.

 

Thank You, Mr. Falker
by
Patricia Polacco

In this exclusive video interview with Reading Rockets, children’s book author Patricia Polacco recalls the day that her teacher discovered her dyslexia.

 

Also, check out this wonderful read aloud VIDEO to see & hear
Polacco’s tribute to her favorite teacher, Mr. Falker.

Slightly Bird-Brained

How did you get my daddy to go to sleep when he was little?” asked my young granddaughter.  “Oh, dear one, let me tell you a story. . .”  And my mind wandered back many years, to The Trumpet of the Swan, and how Louis was determined to become a trumpeter.  Our boys loved the story, especially since their daddy played the trumpet.  They were almost sad when, after many days of reading, we finally completed the book.  Even today when they hear, “Day is done, gone the sun…,” they immediately think of Louis the Swan.  

Slightly Bird-Brained

Growing up in North Dakota and Iowa should have caused me to be a much heartier person. It didn’t.  Each winter I endured the blizzards and ice storms while counting the days until once again a crocus or daffodil would peak through and announce that color was returning to my world.  Oh, what joy when the first robin was spotted!  When at last the sweet chirping of birds could be heard, I knew that warmth was returning as well.

The Byrne childhood home

There was, however, an unfortunate downside to my fondness for the returning bird population.  My dear mother was concerned that should there not be sufficient seeds, worms, etc. available upon their immediate return, I should begin taking out all leftover bread after supper each evening. This should be torn up into teensy little bits and distributed around the yard, particularly under the trees. We had trees everywhere! At first I didn’t mind.  Then after about two days my teensy bits became “bits”, then “chunks”, and soon I just tore the pieces of bread in half, figuring those old birds could figure it out for themselves.

My next chore was to clean out the birdbath. This not only meant making sure that the water in it didn’t get a layer of ice so the birdies couldn’t bathe (heaven forbid we have dirty birdies!), but I was to keep the basin and water clean. Hauling water in my little bucket took a lot of time. If you’ve ever had a birdbath you know how gross cleaning one can be, if not, just don’t ask.

Earlier I mentioned something about not being hearty. That also involves a real distaste for any type of bug or creepy crawly. Therefore, my last spring bird job caused me a great deal of anxiety.  I was to  “till” a small area in our garden since the ground was still quite hard from being frozen all winter. This was to allow the birds to peck more easily for worms. You can’t imagine my delight at unearthing one while digging! Yet even though I may have done my chores slightly bird-brained, our yard always abounded with birds of every color and species. For this I am eternally grateful!

How thankful I am to now be living in a year-round warm climate.  I don’t tear up bread, don’t own a birdbath, and will never dig for worms! But I still love listening to sweet chirping, watching nests be built, and catching a glimpse of a cardinal with its mate on our back fence.

I think it’s time to dust off  The Trumpet of the Swan, and curl up on the couch with all of my dear grandchildren.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of daddies even wanted to take a turn at reading a chapter or two aloud.  And maybe when we finish the book, PopPop may surprise them with a little “Louis” song of his own!!

“All is well, safely rest. . . God is nigh.”

Love,

Button

Mary Byrne Kline

Mary Byrne Kline . aka Button

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join us as we create Heritage 2 Legacy memories
through the delight of a children’s book.

 

 

Daddy’s Ice Rink

 

Imagine my joy when I first saw the book Testing the Ice.  I could hardly wait to read it. Here’s a dad surrounded by a bunch of kids excitedly running to ice skate.  So many memories came flooding back as I read this amazing account of Jackie Robinson’s life.  In his tender caring for his children and their friends, I recalled my own dad wiping away many tears as we kids would fall while ice skating or get so cold our toes felt frozen.

Funny how all this reminiscing about ice has made me feel all warm inside.  Good memories do that.

I can’t wait to read Testing the Ice with my grandchildren and then share my own heritage moment. Perhaps you have a winter story that you can share. Maybe you made a snowman, went sledding, or built a snow fort.  Tell your story (write it down) – I guarantee you’ll be glad you went to the effort of moving from Heritage 2 Legacy (more information).

Daddy’s Ice Rink

When I was a little girl, freezing cold winter days meant only one thing – FUN!  Bundled up in pants, sweaters, jackets, scarves, mittens, and hats, we headed outdoors with one purpose.  Ice skating.  My dad was right out there with us in his winter cap that we all thought looked so silly.  Well, this is a story about that hat.  Hanging in our family room are two precious memories: my dad’s winter cap with fold-down ear flaps and my childhood ice skates.  Since our dad played hockey for the University of North Dakota, learning to ice skate came as natural to me and my sisters as walking.

Every winter your great-grandfather flooded our back yard and created a magnificent neighborhood ice rink.  It was glorious!  After a snowfall, he’d shovel the snow along the side to create a nice bank for us to slide into.  We would play fox and geese, race, practice figure eights,  and even master skating backwards.  But I never could skate as fast as my dad.  He skillfully turned and zipped around while the ear flaps on his cap just bounced.  He taught us and all the neighborhood kids how to skate.

How I wish he was here to teach you to skate . . .but you all can have fun wearing his cap!

Love, Button