“Let the wild rumpus start!”

“Let the wild rumpus start!”

Happy Birthday, Maurice Sendak!


“king of all wild things.”- Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

This beloved children’s author and illustrator turns 89 today, or at least he would have if he had not passed away in 2012. Best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak has influenced children’s literature in so many ways. The story of Max and his adventures in the wild forest with its wild creatures is one of my favorites. Dressed in a wolf costume, Max lives out his wildest dreams of adventure and reveling with his new friends, he is eventually crowned the King of the Wild Things. Donning a wild crown, Max eventually decides to return back home to find a hot dinner waiting for him. Filled with such beautiful illustrations and enduring lines, Where the Wild Things Are encourages adults and children alike to give in to their sense of adventure and wildness.

Another favorite is Little Bear, a series about a bear and his family that Maurice Sendak illustrated. Little Bear goes on many adventures with his woodland friends, loves his mother and father, who is a sea captain, and is just a generally lovable little bear. The illustrations are less fantastical than those found in Where the Wild Things Are, but both are uniquely and beautifully Sendak.

If you have little ones, read them these books today and relish the illustrations and imagination of a truly unique artist. If you don’t have little ones running around, “let the wild rumpus start” all on your own!

Looking for another way to celebrate Sendak’s big day? Check out some of my favorite Wild Things-themed goods at the links below.

How cute are these max crowns? Perfect for a photo shoot, dress up, birthday party– the only limit is your imagination.

Wild things t-shirt? Yes, please. Wild things t-shirt for grown up dudes? YES, PLEASE!!! Wild things t-shirts for the whole family? I can’t even deal…

Awesome advice for a little boy or girl. Make sure they can see it everyday with this nursery decor. Let the wild rumpus start!

Looking for something a little sweeter? Tell them how much you love them with this nursery decor.  I’ll eat you up, I love you so.

Wild things matryoshka nesting dolls.  Need I say more?

Get your own copy of Where the Wild Things Are here.  Little Bear can be found here.


Happy Birthday, Maurice Sendak! May we all act a little more like a wild thing today and everyday in your honor.


Family Reading- The Polar Express

I saved the best for last for our week of young reader suggestions. I can’t think of anything better than Chris van Allsburg’s The Polar Express to share the joy and magic of the holiday season.


Enchanting families since its publication, The Polar Express has become a tradition for many families during the holiday season. It tells the magical story of a young boy, who’s not quite sure about Santa Claus, and his fantastic journey to the North Pole aboard the Polar Express. There he meets everyone he always heard stories about: Santa, elves, and the reindeer. He is chosen, among all of the other children also on this adventure, to get the very first gift of Christmas. He chooses a bell, but not just any bell. The boy asks Santa for a silver bell from his sleigh. Just like the night, this bell is magic. In the course of his adventures, the boy loses the bell but awakes on Christmas morning to find it waiting for him under the tree. He shakes the bell and hears the joyful sound of Christmas and his own belief in magic.

This is a book for the entire family. A 1986 Caldecott Medal Winner, it perfectly creates the magic and wonder of Christmas. If your child is on the fence about Santa, just like the hero, this book can help convince him or her of the possibility of magic and power of belief. Also good for young train enthusiasts, as its title suggests.

The holiday, whether you believe in the magic of Santa Claus or just the magic of your own family, you too might hear a little tinkling bell on Christmas Eve.


Family activities:

– Trains were once the ultimate toy to receive wrapped on Christmas morning. Consider giving a set to your child this holiday or, better yet, dig your old set out of the attic and set it up together!

– This book was made into a full-length animated film in 2004. Unlike so many movies adapted from books, this one is every bit as magical as the beloved book that inspired it. Watch it together as a family. Extra credit to anyone that serves hot chocolate while dancing, just like the train’s attendants.

– Letters to Santa are always a family favorite. Try to get your child to ask for just one very special gift.

– Find a silver bell to ring while reading the story. At the end, give it to your child to keep or hang it on the tree together. You could also wrap it for them to receive on Christmas morning.

There are also a lot of wonderful activities, games, and other ideas at Chris van Allsburg’s website. Share your family traditions and find out how other families celebrate Christmas with The Polar Express. All aboard!

Family Reading- The Wild Christmas Reindeer

0978069811652_500X500This holiday season, teach your child how to be a calm and caring leader. Share Jan Brett’s The Wild Christmas Reindeer with your family and celebrate the season with Teeka, the young girl in charge of rounding up and training Santa’s reindeer in time for Christmas. Gone are the cartoonish depictions of Rudolph and his friends. Instead, Teeka has to learn real-life lessons, such as leadership, forgiveness, and friendship. The side panels of each illustration make this story just as wonderful to see as to read. All of Jan Brett’s books are beautifully illustrated but this one seems to strike a particular chord with so many readers. This book is one for artists, animal lovers, and holiday enthusiasts- perfect for the entire family. Make Jan Brett a part of your holiday traditions this year and for many Christmases to come.

Activities for your family of readers:

– Have your child create their own story from the illustrations on the side of each page. They can even make themselves a character in their story!

–  Pause on each page and ask your child what they think will come next. Ask them if they think that Teeka’s methods of training will work. Talk about how people should treat animals and friends.

– Make reindeer ornaments with your family to hang on the Christmas tree. You can give them creative and silly names, too!

Candy Cane Reindeer

Reindeer Thumbprint Ornament

Glittery Reindeer Tree Ornament

Reindeer Christmas Crafts

– Visit your local animal shelter to spend some time with the animals for the holidays.

Visit www.janbrett.com for more activities, coloring pages, and more for all of Jan Brett’s original and wonderfully creative books.

Family Reading- How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

HowtheGrinchStoleChristmasThis holiday, why not start a new tradition? Pick a holiday classic to read as a family! My suggestion for younger readers is Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, a classic Seussical story about a mean old miser, set on destroying Christmas for the joyful townsfolk of Whoville. The grinch, along with his dog-reindeer, Max, sneaks into the town dressed as “Santy Clause,” steals all of the presents, decorations, and even the roast beast!

Upon realizing that he had not stolen Christmas from the Who’s of Whoville, whose joy never came from presents or things, he and Max speed into town on his sleigh, full of holiday things, and brings Christmas back to the grateful Who’s.


Here are a few questions and activities to help your little ones learn what is important this holiday season, alongside the Grinch.

– What do the Who’s like about Christmas? What do you like about Christmas?

– Why do you think the Who’s like to sing together at Christmas? Pick out your favorite holiday song and sing it together as a family.

– Some people don’t get to open a lot of presents during the holidays. Donate toys and gifts or volunteer at a soup kitchen to teach your kids about sharing and helping others during the holidays.

Search Volunteer Match, www.foodpantries.org, or Feeding America to find an organization near you.

Nate the Great!

Happy Halloween! I’ll be celebrating this spooky holiday with a beloved character from my childhood (Throwback Thursday!), or more specifically, my younger brother’s.

In Nate the Great and the Halloween Hunt, our sleuth returns to solve the mystery of the missing Little Hex. Join Nate and Sludge as they try to find the whereabouts of this scared little kitten.

Nate the Great Halloween

This book makes a great Halloween adventure for young readers or those learning English. Sharmat uses a lot of common words and phrases, as well as repeats a few more difficult words throughout the book for readers to practice and master.

Activities for Nate the Great and the Halloween Hunt:

– Drive around town with your child and look for haunted-looking houses, just like Nate. Ask them to describe what sort of things might be in a haunted house. Let their imagination go wild!

– For older kids, look for an actual haunted house or research the local ghost legends in your area. A lot of these haunted sites have special events around Halloween. Spooky!

– Put two items, one light and one heavy, in two different baskets. Have your child pick them up and ask them why one might be heavier than the other.

– Learn about Halloween traditions from around the world. Good ideas include Ireland (the first Halloween was celebrated there in the eighth century- the ancient festival of Samhain, which Halloween was based on, is even older!), China (Teng Chieh), and Mexico (Dia de los Muertos).

For a full history of Halloween, check out the History Channel’s website.

– Make costumes with your child from items in their (and your) wardrobe. Dress up your pet, just like Fang. Have fun trick-or-treating! (This is also a good opportunity to talk to your child about strangers and safety.)

Happy Halloween!

Begley pumpkin

The Witches- Roald Dahl

I’m so glad that I included The Witches on the Halloween reading list. Every time I read something by Roald Dahl, I wish that I hadn’t waited so long to pick it up again. The Witches was no exception.

The Witches by Roald Dahl

The Witches by Roald Dahl

Who doesn’t love a good adventure where the hero faces impossible odds against a group of ugly, sinister villains and comes out victorious? When that hero is a quick, resourceful little boy-mouse? Even better!

If you’re reading this book for the first time, lucky you! Find a child that hasn’t really connected with reading yet, read it aloud, and watch them fall in love with the written word. You won’t be disappointed. The wonderful thing about this book (actually, all of Roald Dahl’s books) is the way that it creates a fantastical, creative, and absolutely original story that appeals to the imagination but is also so rich linguistically that it is delicious to read for the words and phrases alone. Here are The Home Book Club rules for reading The Witches:

1. Read it with someone, preferably someone young (or young-at-heart).

2. Read it out loud, if only to say the phrase “It was so crumpled and wizened, so shrunken and shriveled, it looked as though it had been pickled in vinegar.” If a better description of an evil witch’s face exists, I don’t know it.

3. Do the voices, especially The Grand High Witch!

This Halloween, skip the ghost stories and serial killer novels. Sure, we can all be spooked by things that go bump in the night. Enjoy a real novelty by reading about things that go bump in the broad daylight. Pick up The Witches and learn how to spot and defeat a real witch with a little boy-turned-mouse and his cigar-smoking Norwegian grandmother. And if you’re rooting for the other side, you can always read it to learn the recipe for Formula 86 Delayed-Action Mouse-Maker!