Monthly Archives: October 2013

Reblog Thursday: Bunnicula from Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac

Happy Bunnicula for Halloween! Anita Silvey’s incredible website, the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac, is a great resource for history and thoughtful information about some of the greatest kid lit in the world. Halloween is Katherine Paterson’s birthday, and for Halloween 2012 Anita featured The Great Gilly Hopkins, a book I read only recently. Can I just say that I loved Gilly from the moment I met her? She is as real and lovable as anyone I’ve ever known.
But today we are celebrating a rabbit named Bunnicula. Enjoy and go visit Anita’s Amazing Almanac!
Illustrated by Alan Daniel
Elementary • Fantasy


Around this time of year, I prepare myself for Halloween madness. I’ve never enjoyed scary nights or stories. So today my recommendation is for anyone who wants a quasi-horror story that uses the elements of horror but blends them with a lot of humor.

First published in 1979, Deborah and James Howe’s Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery has been captivating young readers ages seven through nine for almost thirty-five years. Julie Roach of the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts recently confirmed that it still never fails to intrigue young readers during book talks. And its current cover, which prominently displays its slightly creepy protagonist, draws independent readers to it instantly.

Narrated by Harold the dog, the story concerns the strange goings-on in the Monroe household after they bring home a bunny they found abandoned in a movie theater. Since they were watching Dracula on the silver screen, they name their new pet Bunnicula. The entire family scurries around to make him comfortable and to find a cage and food for him—all, that is, except Chester the cat, who remains leery of the new household occupant.

In fact, Chester starts to vary his routine so that he can observe what Bunnicula does after the family goes to bed. For suddenly, the family’s vegetables, start turning white one at a time, all their juices gone. And Chester has a theory: clearly Bunnicula must be a vampire rabbit. So as Harold watches, Chester devises all kinds of schemes, including strewing garlic around the cage. Is he right about Bunnicula? Or is this just a case of sibling rivalry gone awry?

When Bunnicula first appeared, it won ten Children’s Choice Awards, included the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, chosen by children in various states. Now part of a popular series of books, with more than eight million in print, Bunnicula continues to entrance adoring fans. Husband-and-wife team Deborah and James Howe plotted an intriguing story, used situations appropriate for the age group, and kept readers guessing about the outcome in a hundred-page book.

And, of course, the premise is absolutely delightful. To get to it, author James Howe asked himself the question What would be the silliest, least likely vampire possible? The Howe’s first children’s book, Bunnicula, was written while Deborah and James, both out-of-work actors, were spending a lot of time watching old vampire movies on television. Because of their training, they focused naturally on character and dialogue, two of the book’s greatest strengths.

So, Happy Halloween week. I hope yours is not marred by white vegetables, but is full of laughs and joy—and just scary enough for you.

Here’s a passage from Bunnicula:

I jumped on my chair, curled up real quick and kept one eye open, pretending to be asleep. Slowly, the door to the kitchen squeaked open. This little head poked out from around the corner and looked to either side to see if the coast was clear. Then…guess who came bouncing out all by himself, and with that idiotic grin of his plastered all over his face?

“Well…I guess it wasn’t Mr. Monroe,” I said.

“Not unless he wears bunny pajamas and gets very tiny at night.”

Originally posted October 28, 2013.

Instructional materials from for Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery
Categories: BlogShare, Books we love, Oldie but Goodie, Reblog Thursday | Leave a comment

Scaredy Cat for the Halloweensie Contest

TA-DA! Here is my entry for Susanna Leonard Hill‘s annual Halloweensie contest!



I’m a sleek black cat.


Herman loves me. He pets me, soft.

Good kitty.

There’s the jack-o-lantern, eyes shining bright and happy!

This is my favorite time of year.

The days are shorter. Night falls sooner.

The jack-o-lanterns give the first lights of the winter to come.

Whoo! Whoo!

Don’t worry. It’s just the neighborhood owl.

He still lives in the oak tree. But he’s too old to be spooky.

Hissssss! Did that crow cackle at me?

THUMP THUMP! What was that?

I jump onto Herman’s bed and curl into his neck.

Mom opens the door.

“Halloween cookies!”



Thanks for reading, everyone!

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Perfect Picture Book Friday! Tara Lazar’s The Monstore

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and Halloween is almost here! Here is a book I grabbed off the shelf because I’d seen a ton of great reviews and because the cover is adorable. And because I follow Tara’s wonderful blog. It’s The Monstoreby Tara Lazar and illustrated by James Burks!

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: The Monstore

Author/Illustrator: Tara Lazar and James Burks

Publisher: Aladdin Books (Simon & Schuster), 2013


Ages: 4-7 years

Theme: Sibling rivalry, commerce, fantasy, monsters

Opening:At the back of Frankensweet’s Candy Shoppe, under the last box of sour gumballs, there’s a trapdoor. Knock five times fast, hand over the bag of squirmy worms, and you can crawl inside The Monstore..”

Synopsis: The Monstore is the place to go for all of your monsterly needs. Which is perfect, since Zack definitely has a monsterly need. The problem? His pesky little sister, Gracie, who never pays attention to that “Keep Out” sign on Zack’s door—the one he has made especially for her. But when Zack’s monsters don’t exactly work as planned, he soon finds out that the Monstore has a few rules: No Refunds. No exchanges. No exceptions. (from Goodreads)

Resources and ideas: Reading and writing activites

What I thought: I enjoyed the whole monster store concept and the wonderful illustrations with such a variety of expressions on the monsters’ faces. They are just like little kids!

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There is some really delightful word play and a great twist at the end. My son said he would definitely read it to his kids!

Here is the brilliant Mira Reisberg’s video discussion, for those of us who would like to create such a wonderful book:

Enjoy, and let me know what you and your kids think!

Categories: Books we love, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Reviews | 13 Comments

Reblog Thursday! from Kristen Lamb

I am changing Reblog Friday to Reblog Thursday because I wanted to start participating in Perfect Picture Book Friday last week!

Today I am reblogging a super fun post from Kristen Lamb’s blog. She writes about Star Trek! She made me see my own writing process in a different light, and even though I have not yet reached my goal of publishing a work for children, I do have a short story and several articles for adults published. I saw my two writer halves clearly described in Kristen’s post. My take on “The Spock Brain” she describes is that we writers can cripple ourselves with perfectionism. I consciously coach myself away from perfectionism in the rest of my life because it just takes too long to do everything perfectly, like folding laundry. And frankly, a writer can’t enter the lovely creative state of flow (as described by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) when he is trying to be perfect or when his Spock brain is thinking about Strunk and White. I am very grateful to Kristen for shining this light on our creative minds. My Kirk brain wrote the book I am going to self-publish in a couple of months. Right now, my Spock brain is editing it (with some professional help).

I also want to add to the list of geniuses who created masterpieces by working quickly and furiously:

  • Mozart wrote The Marriage of Figaro in 6 weeks, along with the librettist who translated the French play into poetic singable Italian at the same time.
  • Rossini wrote The Barber of Seville in 3 weeks.

You and I, we can do this! *high-five gimpy fin*


Write FAST and Furious! Learning to Outrun “The Spock Brain”


Original Image courtesy of David HT Flikr Creative Commons…

Many new authors slog out that first book, editing every word to perfection, revising, reworking, redoing. When I used to be a part of critique groups, it was not at all uncommon to find writers who’d been working on the same book two, five, eight and even ten years. Still see them at conferences, shopping the same book, getting rejected, then rewriting, rewriting…..


Great, maybe Kathryn Stockett, the author of The Help took five years and 62 revisions to get her story published. Awesome for her. And yes, her book was a runaway success, but this isn’t the norm. It’s playing Literary Lottery with our careers.

For most writers, it will be hard to have a long-term successful career if our pace is a book or two a decade.

Most authors who’ve made legend status were all talented, yes. But many were (are) also prolific. 

Does Writing Quickly Produce Inferior Work?

I’m a huge fan of Fast Draft. Candy Havens teaches this technique, and it works. Write your novel in two weeks a month, whatever, but write fast and furious. No looking back. Always forward. You can fix stuff later.

I’ve heard some writers criticize this method, believing that writing at this increased pace somehow compromises quality. Many writers are afraid that picking up speed will somehow undermine craftsmanship, yet this isn’t necessarily so.

To prove my point, here are some interesting factoids about writing hard and fast, some taken from James Scott Bell’s WONDERFUL book The Art of War for Writers (pages 79-82):

  • William Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in six weeks.
  • Ernest Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises in six weeks.
  • After being mocked by a fellow writer that writing so fast created junk, John D. MacDonald wrote The Executioners in a month. Simon & Schuster published it in hardback. It was also serialized in a magazine, selected by a book club, and turned into the movie Cape Fear TWICE.
  • Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in nine days on a rented typewriter.
  • Isaac Asimov was the author/editor of over 700 books over the course of his career.
  • Stephen King writes 1,500 words a day every day of the year except his birthday. He’s published over fifty novels, and I don’t even know how many short stories and novellas. Let’s just say he’s written a LOT. Could he have done this writing a book every three years? Every five?


Meet “Captain Kirk Brain” and “Spock Brain”

Here’s my explanation of why writing faster than we “are comfortable” can produce fiction just as good (if not better) than a work that’s been written slowly and deliberately. And, since all roads lead back to Star Trek…

When we write quickly, we get into The Zone and pass The Wall. We become part of the world we’re creating. Fatigue wears out the cerebral cortex (the “Inner Editor” which I will call our “Spock Brain”). Fatigue diverts us to the Limbic Brain (also known as the Reptilian or Primal Brain, or for today’s purposes—”The Captain Kirk Brain”).

The Captain Kirk Brain is emotional, visceral and has no problem kissing hot, green alien women or cheating the Kobayashi Maru. He out-bluffs Klingons, outruns Romulans, starts brawls and throws the rulebook out the window. He’s pure instinct, raw emotion and all action. In short, Kirk is the stuff of great stories. No one ever got to the end of a book and said, “Wow, that book was riveting. The grammar was PERFECT!”

From original Star Trek

From original Star Trek

Captain Kirk Brain can do its job better—write fiction—when Spock Brain isn’t there saying, “But Captain, you’re being illogical. It clearly states in Strunk & White….”

The BEST line in the new Star Trek movie is when the villain of the story says to Spock, “You can’t even break rules, how can you expect to break bones?” So, I’m going to apply this to writing. Are you breaking enough bones?

Many writers hold back emotionally when writing. Why? They aren’t going fast and hard and so Spock takes over and he wants us to use a seatbelt and our blinkers. He isn’t the guy you want in charge if you’re going for the GUTS and breaking bones.

Kirk is Great for Action and Spock is Better for Rules

Spock Brain is a perfectionist and wants us to take our time, make sure we follow all the rules and put the commas in the right spot. He’s seriously uncomfortable with “suspending disbelief” and he tries to explain everything so others don’t get confused.

Author, you are being illogical.... (Via Star Trek)

Author, you are being illogical…. (Via Star Trek)

The trick is to hop on a cerebral crotch-rocket and outrun Spock. He is seriously uncomfortable with speeding and you can easily lose him in the school zones or the parking lot of Walmart. Don’t worry, Spock will yell at us later….at the appropriate time which is during revisions.

Thing is, Kirk and Spock make the perfect team, whether on The Enterprise or in our head. They balance each other, but they are also antagonists. Kirk wants to put phasers on KILL, and Spock wants to check and see if the rules for the Oxford Comma allows this.

Blogging and Writing Quickly Helps Us Learn to Shut off The Spock Brain

Blogging helps us ship and get comfortable with going FAST. No maybe every piece isn’t the quality of a New Yorker article, but who cares? It’s a BLOG. We aren’t looking to win the Pulitzer. We’re looking to get better riding a Cerebral Ducati and ignoring all of Spock’s protests that “This isn’t safe” and “Where is our helmet?” and “Clearly the speed limit forbids you going this fast.”

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Image via Star Trek (2009)

When we get the stories out faster, they’re more visceral. We get more practice with more stories since we aren’t letting Spock nit-pick for the next ten years…which he will do if Kirk doesn’t go running the other way despite Spock’s protests.

What are your thoughts? Has your inner Vulcan taken over and edited all the life out of your story? Has Kirk been allowed too much sway and now you’ve got to let Spock whip it into structure shape? Does the idea of going faster scare you?

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Oldie but Goodie: Al Perkins’s The Digging-est Dog

Today I’ve chosen one of my husband Phil’s childhood favorites, a beginning reader called The Digging-est Dog by Al Perkins and illustrated by Eric Gurney. Phil remembers reading this book over and over when he was little. Then as a parent, he read it several hundred times to his own kids. When I proudly showed him my new copy, he grinned and grabbed it from me. “See?” he said, pointing to the dog on the cover. “Look at that face!” Then he did his best imitation of the dog’s happy, panting expression.

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Title: The Digging-est Dog

Author/Illustrator: Al Perkins/Eric Gurney

Publisher: Random House, 1967

Genre: Fiction, Easy Reader

Ages: 3-7 years, preschool-grade 2

Themes: animal rescue, persistence, fitting in, fixing mistakes, forgiveness

Opening: “I was the saddest dog you could ever see, Sad because no one wanted me. The pet shop window was my jail. The sign behind me said, ‘For Sale.'”

Phil’s favorite part: “I fell on my ear. I fell on my face. I fell on myself all over the place.”

Synopsis: A rescued dog who has to learn how to dig doesn’t stop until he has dug up the whole town. When he realizes what he’s done, he has to own up to his over-enthusiasm and put things right.

What I thought: I liked the sad dog on the first page who instantly turns into the happy, energetic Duke after his new owner Sammy buys him at the pet store. From a glass cage to a forever home on a farm… lucky dog! The rhyming text is cute and has a good rhythm, and with my kooky sense of humor, I laughed a lot at some of the rhymes, like “gates” with “Thwaites” and “Thayer” with “chair.” REALLY?! A star-nosed mole, of all things, makes a guest appearance as Duke is learning to dig, unusual in a book without too many extras in the illustrations. Al Perkins and Eric Gurney are the same duo who produced Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumbanother long-lived and much-loved rhythmic beginning reader from 1969. 

The Digging-est Dog appears to have been in print since it was first published 46 years ago, a testament to its enduring popularity and appeal to kids as well as the grown-ups who remember it fondly. Thanks Phil!

Enjoy and let me know what books you remember best!

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Perfect Picture Book Friday! Ruth Brown’s A Dark, Dark Tale

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and Halloween is coming! I’ve chosen one of my son’s favorite books, which he remembers as being “really, really scary.” We read it over and over and always had a good laugh at the end. He is 14 now and still remembers how he felt reading it… I think that’s a pretty strong recommendation!

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!


Title: A Dark, Dark Tale

Author/Illustrator: Ruth Brown

First published by Anderson Press Ltd, 1981


Ages: 3-5 years

Theme: Halloween, bravery

Opening: “Once upon a time there was a dark, dark moor.”

Synopsis: Children will delight in following the black cat’s progress through the dark wood, into the dark house, and eventually to the surprise discovery at the back of the toy cupboard, in this mysterious, beautifully illustrated picture book.(from Goodreads)

Resources and ideas: Lesson plans at MyBookez. Game of I Spy, looking for all the animals, especially the cat; cutouts and collages of cats, owls, trees, spooky houses, bats, moon, etc.; layered collage with doors opening to reveal something beneath; create a new story following the pattern of repetition and rhythm in the text.

What I thought: I loved the atmosphere created by the illustrations and the repetition in the text and in the imagery. Even though a different spooky place is featured on each spread, the words “dark, dark” and the black cat lead the way through each page turn. The tension builds as the cat leads us to smaller and smaller places. What are we going to find? The anticipation reaches a climax and is delightfully resolved on the final page.


Categories: Books we love, Reviews | Tags: , , , , | 20 Comments

My kids’ book recommendations

I began my children’s literature education by reading to my kids. The first books were board and picture books, the favorites demanded over and over again. Some of them I loved and some I tolerated. And part of the joy of a picture book is a snuggly kid in my lap and hearing them laugh or gasp or point out the bird character who is never mentioned in the text.

Now the kids are the ones recommending middle grade books for me to read. I began with Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting, then more recently read RJ Palacio’s Wonder, Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, and Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. These are the books they came home from school with and said, Mom, you have to read this.

I loved them all. How is that possible? I believe having a child tell a parent to read a book is an incredible recommendation. Their hearts were touched by these books, and they wanted to share their experience. I think when grown-ups recommend books to kids, sometimes we want to help them in some way. We hope a book will expose them to something new, interest them in reading, or even teach them something specific, perhaps about prejudice or animal welfare. But when I read these books, I didn’t learn those things at all.

I admired Babbitt’s tone and the atmosphere of Tuck Everlasting (it actually reminded me a bit of Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native); I felt I had visited some very wise old people in an unheard fairy tale. With the other three, I met characters I hold very dear. Frankly, I’m relatively new to middle grade books because when I was a kid, I mostly read Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. I could have read all those Katherine Paterson books when I was 12, and I missed out! But do my recommendations mean as much to my kids as their recommendations do to me?

I don’t think so. Mostly I have spent time finding books that they are willing to try and I hope they enjoy. This has been very hard in a family where I am the only reading role model, and both kids are boys who are so different. There were a few hits, like the Captain Underpants books (which I don’t think are the least bit inappropriate, thank you very much). But one boy loved Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s Peter and the Starcatchersand the other refused to crack it open. One is a die-hard fan of Rick Riordan, but the other has to have his animal books instead. So when they both recommend books like Tuck, I pay attention.

What great books have your kids recommended to you?

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Reblog Friday: Gettin’ Lucky: An Interview with Jennifer Ann Mann, author of SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY

It’s Reblog Friday again! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book… and the next one. I don’t have a sister and I didn’t know girls got up to stuff like this. I thought my boys were crazy, but they are no match for Sunny Sweet. Enjoy!

OneFour KidLit

Today I’m psyched to introduce Jennifer Ann Mann, the author of the hilarious middle-grade, SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY. Let me tell you, people, you will never look at your evil genius sister the same way again.


One little sister, some homemade super glue, and about a million plastic flowers. That’s all it took to make a totally regular morning turn into a super crazy day! Masha has always known her little sister, Sunny, was an evil genius. But this time, Sunny has gone too far. The glue she used to attach plastic daisies to Masha’s head won’t come off! The girls have to stay home from school, and Sunny sets out on an adventure to help fix Masha’s head. Fix it? Yeah, right! Masha just wants to stick to the rules for once. Sunny plans on testing every single one. When this adventure is over, Sunny Sweet is…

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Kids Lit Discussion: Paperboy, by Vince Vawter

Welcome to the first blogged-about meeting of the Kids Lit group of Mt Lebanon Library! We are grown-ups who meet every other month, when our schedules allow, to discuss children’s literature. The group is moderated by Holly Visnesky, Senior Children’s Librarian. Yesterday we talked about Vince Vawter’s Paperboy

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From the Random House website: 

For fans of To Kill a MockingbirdThe King’s Speech, and The Help. A boy who stutters comes-of-age in the segregated South, during the summer that changes his life. An 11-year-old boy living in Memphis in 1959 throws the meanest fastball in town, but talking is a whole different ball game. He can barely say a word without stuttering, not even his own name. So when he takes over his best friend’s paper route for the month of July, he knows he’ll be forced to communicate with the different customers, including a housewife who drinks too much and a retired merchant marine who seems to know just about everything. The paper route poses challenges, but it’s a run-in with the neighborhood junkman, a bully and thief, that stirs up real trouble–and puts the boy’s life, as well as that of his family’s devoted housekeeper, in danger.

The group take: The majority of our group really enjoyed the book overall, although we disagreed with the comparison to Harper Lee. We also didn’t think it fit into the “kids with disabilities” category, as some other commenters have said, because based on personal experience, one person didn’t think stuttering was a disability. The book has extra space between paragraphs, which apparently symbolizes stuttering. The protagonist Victor is an 11-year-old boy, a loyal friend, and an amazing pitcher for his baseball team. When he asks why he has to be set apart by his stuttering, his newfound friend and mentor Spiro answers with a question by asking, why are you such a great pitcher? Everyone is different. One astute member of our group pointed out that all of us consider our disadvantages but never our advantages. It’s like being reminded to count your blessings. In Victor’s case, his skill eventually saves someone’s life.

I thought Victor was a lovable and adventurous character, but I didn’t understand why he was so distant from his parents. When I asked if that kind of distance was created by the stuttering, the natural difficulty Victor had in expressing his ideas, the other members said that was a normal relationship for 1959. And that certainly rang true in the great descriptions of the “grown-up code,” in which parents say “We’ll talk about it later” when they really mean “We’ll never discuss it again.” Victor is instead close to his Mam, the African-American woman who takes care of him most of the time.

Members of the group suggested that fewer subplots would have improved the book and allowed the space to develop another very interesting character who is only mentioned a couple of times before the end. And yes, we also suggested a character to leave out, based on personal preference. I argued that this book shouldn’t be described as a coming-of-age, but as some other kind of transformative experience. Victor is only 11, he’s not of age at the end of the book. He has many more significant times ahead. But he is profoundly changed by the people he meets, the things that happen to him, and the way that he stands up for himself.

Has anyone else read Paperboy? What did you think?

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Reblog Friday!

Welcome to the first Reblog Friday!

Today I am reposting a review of Mitchell Goes Bowling from KID LIT REVIEWS. This great review is highly descriptive, the book is hysterical, and the illustrations are charming. Mitchell is a member of a mixed-race family, and you can read more about that through the article linked at the very bottom of the post. Does anyone remember the first Mitchell book?

We all know that people of color are not well represented in the picture-book world. The only mixed-race character we ever saw in a picture book was Sam, the boy in A Balloon for Grandad by Nigel Gray and illustrated by the magnificent Jane Ray (this book is unfortunately out-of-print). I was so captivated by her illustrations that I hunted down copies of her books of Bible stories, cut out some of the pages, framed them, and hung them on my walls and in the boys’ rooms. I hope this destruction of a book is taken as the huge compliment it is!

And now, from KID LIT REVIEWS, Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand! Enjoy!



review#411 – Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand

Mitchell Goes Bowling.

Mitchell Goes Bowling

by Hallie Durand

Tony Fucile, illustrator

Candlewick Press

*Top 10 of 2013*

Inside Jacket: Mitchell loves to knock things down. . . . So one Saturday, his dad takes him bowling. Mitchell likes the special shoes and the loud crashing noises, but getting a strike isn’t as easy as his dad makes it look. There’s there’s the gutter, for starters, and the lanes are slippery, too. . . . Will Mitchell ever find a way to get an X on the scoreboard?

Opening:  Mitchell always knocked things down. That’s just how he rolled. He even tried to knock down his dad. . . . But one Saturday, when Mitchell was doing his thing, his dad caught him and put him in the car.


About the Story:  Looking a bit worried and definitely unsure, as he sat in the backseat all buckled up, Mitchell remained quiet. His face lit up when he saw the BOWL sign. The place was loud, smelled like pizza and had many differently colored balls lined up against the wall. Mitchell put on his cool rental shoes, picked out a bowling ball, and got to put his own name into the electronic scoreboard. Picking up the ball—the biggest one he could find—Mitchell threw it as hard as he could down the lane . . . gutterball. Taking his second turn, Mitchell rolled the ball and knocked down TWO pins. Battle on! Mitchell yelled to his dad. Dad got up and rolled a strike. Mitchell tried to imitate his dad. Didn’t help. Dad got another strike! Mitchell decided to use the air blower, just like his dad. Mitchell used it on his hands, his face, and his hair. Mitchell really wanted to win.


What I Thought:  Confession time. I love to bowl. I bowled more times than I could count on Saturdays. Mitchell Goes Bowling is right up my alley. I loved the illustrations. The motions and the atmosphere of the game are spot-on. The lanes had the correct dots in the correct spots, and even the boards were visible. The oil made Mitchell’s reflection visible. The motions Mitchell makes are easy to visualize thanks to swooshes, circles, and action words used.

I love the illustration of Mitchell slamming into his father’s legs, going nowhere. His aim was to knock his dad down. I also like Mitchell’s exuberance as he runs around the house knocking things down or through the air. The only one pleased is Mitchell. I hate to use this word but I am going to anyway: the illustrations are Adorable, with a capital A.


The story does not give Mitchell an age; it could be about any kid who loves to knock things down. His smart dad gets Mitchell out of the house before trouble begins and takes his son to a logical place for someone who loves to knock things down. Mitchell loves the bowling alley, and who can blame him. The place is bright, happy, and full of glory-yet-to-win. Dad is an obvious bowler, even wearing his bowling shirt on a nonleague night. So his strikes should come as no surprise, not even to Mitchell. What surprises Mitchell is his inability to cause a strike himself.

Mitchell Goes Bowling is hilarious and original, and has boyish charm. Anyone who bowls will love this book, especially if a young child went along. When Mitchell gets frustrated and announces he wants to leave, Dad knows exactly what to do. Mitchell gets his strike and can finally do the triple steamin’-hot-potato dance with salsa. Young children, who love sports and games, will like this book.


Young children, who enjoy funny picture books, will adore this picture book. Those who love endearing family moments will love Mitchell Goes Bowling. Reviewers who are entertained by wonderfully, hilarious picture books that make them constantly smile and giggle, will give Mitchell Goes Bowling twelve strikes!

This reviewer scores Mitchell Goes Bowling a perfect 300!




by Hallie Durand   website

Tony Fucile, illustrator    bio

Candlewick Press  website

Released 2013

ISBN:  978-0-7636-6049-9

32 Pages

Ages 3 to 7

© 2013 by Candlewick Press, used with permission

Text copyright © 2013 by Hallie Durand

Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Tony Fucile



mitchell bowling

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