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Summer symphony

There are special sounds associated with summer. The sounds of cicadas are a melody but I don't enjoy the percussive sounds of a thunderstorm.

Neither does a little boy named Brannon while his bigger brother, Chad, looks forward to the coming storm in a recent book by Marion Dane Bauer, Dinosaur Thunder (Scholastic). Adults in the family try to calm poor Brannon. Brannon rejects the idea that "thunder is only a big cat purring" or is "angels bowling in heaven." He's met cats and has been to a bowling alley. He knows that's not it.

Food for mind and body

C.S. Lewis once said, "Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably." I couldn't agree more.

Long ago, I lived in Cambridge (Massachusetts), a city in which both activities "combine admirably." Not only is it a place where lots of writers and artists live, it has loads of bookstores and was once the home of Julia Child, renowned cook, cookbook author, and the first host of a television cooking show.

Vacation time, with books!

What does summer reading bring to mind? For me, it means light reading, fun reading, just-for-the-heck-of-it reading. I always pack books: paperbacks for the beach, e-books for long trips, and some just because they're too good to leave behind.

Children should be able to read lighter fare during the summer, too. And there are lots of books that are ideal for summer reading.

A good day, knock on wood!

The number 13 gets a bad rap all the time. Poor 13 is considered unlucky, especially when it falls on a Friday.

But it is the last time we'll see a Friday the 13th in 2012 so no more worries for this year at least.

Is there such a thing as luck? Lots of children I know think so. And luck, superstition, and talismans find their way into children's books.

Smart school librarian shortstops summer slide

When I gave some advanced reading copies of books to a particularly astute school librarian friend, she used them in a way that just might help these children avoid the dreaded "summer slide" which happens when children don't read during non-school months.

She asked 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to examine the books and decide as a group which was their top choice. l had visited earlier in the school year, talking with the students about the awards process — specifically about the Caldecott.

Fathers and children and reading together

I was reminded that Father's Day is this weekend by an advertisement suggesting baseball tickets instead of a tie or socks for old dad. A very good idea, I thought.

It's all about spending time together, isn't it? And there's nothing quite like spending time with children over a book. Here are a few that I like.

Children's Book Week: a real celebration

Children's Book Week (CBW) 2012 ended on May 13 but the work of celebrated children's authors and illustrators is sure to continue throughout the year.

I have this year's CBW poster hanging in my office. Created by three-time Caldecott Medalist Davis Wiesner, the poster has recognizable characters from renowned children's book creators coming together on a busy street.

The loss of a friend

I never met him but still feel like I've lost an old friend. Maybe we all lost a longtime friend this week. Maybe we thought he'd go on forever — and I suppose in some ways he will.

How do you hear about great new kids' books?

We're always on the hunt for good books around our house. I rely on friends, librarians, my local bookstore, and several online sources for new titles we should be sure to read.

Fun with science and math IS possible

All too often, children hear the word math and they freeze. It just can't have pleasure associated with it nor can it possibly have anything to do real life.

Math really is everywhere but like the narrator in Jon Scieszka's funny and slightly offbeat Math Curse (Viking), fear of it can be a serious affliction. It can even impact how children perceive and school success — and eventually their career choices.

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"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." — Lemony Snicket