November 18, 2015
Dee Brown (5 articles)

To Mama and Papa Cats


To Mama and Papa Cats

As a former elementary teacher and special education teacher, I know how hard it is to get kids interested in non-fiction and particularly historical non-fiction. Books written in the first person as diaries or with real characters solving real problems can change all that.


As everyone takes one last dip in the pool, runs through the sprinkler, takes in a movie before heading back to the classroom, I think of a time in the 1950’s when the pools and movie theatres closed and many children whose summers began with the joyful abandonment of summer break ended with braces, iron lungs or worse.

It was the polio epidemic of the 1950’s. Author Peg Kehret remembers it well in her book SMALL STEPS; THE YEAR I GOT POLIO.


FOR THE Mid-Grade Kittens

Meet twelve year old Peg Schulze (later, author Peg Kehret). An ordinary Friday Morning in September can’t go by fast enough as Peg awaits a Homecoming Parade for which she and her have created a magnificent float, sure to win first prize.


She tries to ignore a twitching on her thigh during chorus and hands that tremble as she reaches for her glass of milk. But she can’t ignore the high fever and headache that finally send her willingly to bed. The next morning, with a temperature of 102, too ill to dress herself, she is taken to a hospital where a procedure called a spinal tap gives her and her family a diagnosis. Polio.


You’ll cheer her on as she takes her first hesitant steps and learns to use fore-arm crutches. You’ll laugh as she hides the goodies that her parents bring, under the beds of her hospital roommates. You’ll cry with her as her favorite cards and toys have to be burned before she can move to another room in the hospital.


This 174 page book will have you turning pages as she goes to a hospital for polio victims, meets three other girls who share each others’ journeys and finally makes her way home again to a life that will be forever changed.

I give this read 5 catnips!

 As Kittens head back to school

For the Mama and Papa cats of Itty Bitty Kittys

Picture books are of course a mainstay and delight for the littlest readers. In fact many children return to their favorites long after being read to has been replaced by independent reading. At this time of year the early read section of the library has numerous books to help the youngest readers with their first school experiences.

I WILL NEVER GET A STAR ON MRS. BENSON’S BLACKBOARD byJennifer K.Mann. We can all identify with the child who seems to always be going the wrong way down a one way street. Rose is that child. She doodles, she daydreams, she doesn’t finish math problems and her desk is a mess. And she wants more than anything to get a star on the blackboard.

With a heart as big as gold, she goes to work designing the very best thank you card for Mr. Sullivan who had told everyone about being an artist.. Trouble is she had just cleaned her desk, hoping for a clean desk star. Her enthusiasm for the art project rendered her desk a mess once more.

A terrific and heartfelt “read to me book” or book for the emergent reader. Illustrations are simple and colorful with wonderful expressive faces.

I give this book from Candlewick Press 5 catnips!


BRIGHT SKY STARRY CITY Uma Krishnawami Pictures by Aimee Sicuro

Non-fiction books sadly get a bad rap. So when I see fiction as a backdrop to non-fiction, I’m always very excited. BRIGHT SKY STARRY SKY is a color picture book aimed at the youngest astronomer. Simply written, it’s a wonderful introduction to the solar system with a more sophisticated appendix at the end of the book for the parent or mature child who would like more information.

Pheobe is excited to set up telescopes outside her dad’s store so they can see two planets, Saturn and Mars. Problem is, Pheobe lives in the city, and the city lights keep them from seeing the night constellations and planets. Then a thunderstorm cuts off the power to the city and everything including

the sky is black.

I give this read to and emergent reader 4 catnips.


I love, LOVE, LOVE the I Can Read series for emergent readers. The Biscuit books are filled with repetition and are perfect for the early reader to share, chiming in with the vocabulary that is familiar to them. Concepts are simple and fun with light-hearted illustrations throughout.

BISCUIT GOES CAMPING by Alyssa Satin Capucilli illustrated by Pat Schories explores the familiar sights and sounds of backyard camping. Fireflies, frogs, and the booming of thunder. Of course, Biscuit repeats, “Woof, woof” and the littlest reader can recognize this and other repeated words to join in the fun. Loveable and warm read, perfect for sharing at nap or bedtime, I give this read 5 catnips.

Please join the WELL WRITTEN KITTEN in her current read:

THE SIGN OF THE CAT by Lynne Jonell.

Dee Brown