Get the Scoop on Animal Poop! by Dawn Cusick

What kid is going to say no to reading a book with two hundred fifth-one facts about scat, frass, and dung?  In Cusick’s new book, Get the Scoop on Animal Poop: From Lions to Tapeworms, 251 Cool Facts about Scat, Frass, Dung, and More!, readers can find out just about anything on the topic of animal poop.

In her introduction, Cusick informs readers that they have an important decision to make: whether to show adults this book. She writes that educating adults is no for the faint of heart! 

The book begins with the wide range of terms for body waste.  Who knew that when you are talking frass, you are discussing insect waste and spraint is the word for otter feces. Who knew? (Not my spell checker who things those two words are mispelled.)

Each chapter is a two page spread with inviting titles. Information is easily accessible.. Examples include:

Parasites in Paradise
Poop Pretenders
The Latrine Scene
Wild And Wacky
Poo Interview

There’s an invitation to learn more, a glossary, bibliography, and index.

With a nonfiction book like this, 2012 is off to a good start.

Title: Get the Scoop on Animal Poop: From Lions to Tapeworms, 251 Cool Facts about Scat, Frass, Dung, and More!,
Author: Dawn Cusick
Published: 2012
Pages: 75
Reading Level: 3-5
Publisher: Imagine! Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-936140-42-8
Source:  Sent by publisher upon request for review.

Nonfiction Monday is at Wendie’s Wanderings.

Happy Reading.



Nonfiction Monday: An Interview with Barbara Kerley, 2010 CYBILS NFPB Winner

In a little over three weeks the 2011 CYBILS will be announced.  Today I have an interview with Barbara Kerley.  Her book, The Extraordinary Mark Twain (according to Susy) won the CYBILS Award for Nonfiction Picture Books.

Your Reading Life

 MsMac: What books are on your night stand?

 BK: I’m currently reading The Penderwicks at Point Mouette and just finished Okay For Now and A Monster Calls.  Next up is an adult title, The Things They Carried

 MsMac: What was your favorite book as a child? As a teen?  As an adult? Any particular genre stand out?

BK: My favorite book as a child, for years and years, was Harriet the Spy.  As a teen, anything by Jane Austen.  As an adult, The Voyage of the Narwhal and The March.

 I guess the genre I read most often now would probably be described as “literary fiction”—but lest I sound too snobby, I will readily admit to a great fondness for the magazine, Entertainment Weekly.

 MsMac: Where’s your favorite reading spot?

BK: This is going to sound dorky but we have this big old Laz-y-boy recliner in the living room…

MsMac: Which do you prefer a real book or ebook?

BK:  I prefer real books.  I do own an e-reading device (though I have yet to purchase any books for it—my library (shout out to Multnomah County Library, Oregon) has a system to check ebooks out.)  I like the e-reader because I can increase the font size of any book, and my eyeballs are getting old. BUT I also find that I read less deeply on my e-reader, esp. in the way that I am used to reading, which is to flip back and reread something if I can’t remember (like, wait who is this character again?  wait, when did they meet?) but on the e-reader it is too much of a hassle to scroll back and find the spot to reread, so I just skip that part. There is room in my life for both kinds of books.

Your Writing Life

 MsMac: What does a day of work look like for you? Favorite time of day?

BK:  Typically, I get to my desk right after breakfast, work til lunch, and then try to put in an hour or two after.  If I have a lot of reading to plow through (which is common for me as my books take a lot of research) I might read more in the late afternoon.  But I also believe in getting out of the house, so I fit in gym time and walking time and bike-riding time.

MsMac: Writing the first draft or revising? Which is your favorite?

 BK:  Revising, once I’ve gotten to the line-edit stage—because then it is all   about language.  Love that part.  Love figuring out just the right word.

 MsMac: What does your writing space look like?

BK:  I’m big on horizontal space, so I have lots of stacks of sort-of-neat notes.  You could fit all my material for a book into one box (and I have stacks of boxes in the closet—the Waterhouse Hawkins box, the Alice  Roosevelt box…) but when I’m in the middle of something, that one box of  material seems to fill up a whole office.

 MsMac: What are you currently working on?

 BK:  I just finished up a new picture book biography, Those Rebels, John   and Tom.  It’s about John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and the partnership  they created to move the Colonies toward independence.  Edwin  Fotheringham did the illustrations. They are fantastic!

 About Your Book

 MsMac: Where did you find  the inspiration for The Extraordinary Mark  Twain (according to Susy)?

 BK:  I stumbled across an article in a magazine about Susy writing a   biography of her dad, when she was only 13.  I thought, Wow!

 MsMac: Where there any challenges during the writing of the book?

BK:  It was a little tricky figure out how to structure the story, as I wanted it  to be a book about someone writing a book about someone, but I also  wanted to broaden the scope and include information about Twain that Susy did not herself note in her biography.  So part of the Twain portrait is carried  by Susy’s words and part is carried by the narrative. 

 MsMac: How did you find out that you had won the CYBILS award for Nonfiction Picture Books?

 BK:  I got an email from one of the CYBILS judges.  I was so excited as I just love the energy bloggers bring to their work, and I know they are passionate about kids’ books.  And Scholastic was so excited that they put the announcement up in the display cases in all of the building’s elevators,  which is where they post all the happiest news.

 Just for Fun

 MsMac: Chocolate:  white, dark, or milk?

 BK: Super dark, like 85% dark.

 MsMac: Coffee or tea?

 BK: Tea with milk.

 MsMac: Dance: funky chicken or the tango?

 BK: Ha ha, well I’m not sure I fit either category.  But I do take Zumba classes at the gym and look very cool while dancing to Pittbull.

 MsMac: Favorite Quote:

 BK: Here’s one of my favorites, of course by Mark Twain:

 “The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

Thank you for the interview, Barbara.

Happy Reading.

Nonfiction Monday is at Shelf-Employed.

Poetry Friday: Robert Burns

Robert Burns was born 25 January 1759  and died  21 July 1796 in Ayrshire, Scotlland.  A hundred years later, my grandfather would be born in the town of Ayr. I wrote about my grandfather’s collection of Burns books HERE.  Next Wednesday will be the day in 1759 that Burns was born. 

 To honor this poet, a poem by the Bard of Ayrshire. It comes from the website Robert Burns Country.

Up In The Morning Early

Type: Poem

 Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
The drift is driving sairly;
Sae loud and shill’s I hear the blast-
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Chorus.-Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are covered wi’ snaw,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
A’ day they fare but sparely;
And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn-
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.
Up in the morning’s, &c.

Poetry Friday Round-up is at Wild Rose Reader.

Happy Reading.


Nonfiction Monday: The Story of Snow

It’s a perfect day to share The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino with John Nelson, PhD, illustrated by Nora Aoyagi. Outside my window the snowflakes are drifting to ground.

Maybe you aren’t interested in the science of snow. Maybe you just want it to be magical. That said, The Story of Snow is magical in how it tells the science behind this weather event.

The book combines bold larger text statements such as:

Snow begins with a speck.

The speck becomes the center of a snow crystal.

with smaller factual information that is kid friendly text and clear visual details over a two page spread. Nelson provides insight about how snow crystals form into snowflakes.

Cassino’s photographs of snow crystals are stunning.

As I shared this book with students they were mesmerized with the photos, the illustrations and information. I wonder if any of them have tried to capture snow crystals this weekend as demonstrated at the end of the book.

The book ends with a wonderful quote:

“A snow crystal is a letter from the sky.” – Ukichiro Nakaya, Japanese scientist (1900-1962). This book should be paired with Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.

The Story of Snow has its own website HERE.

Title: The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder
Author: Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson, PhD.
Illustrator: Nora Aoyagi
Published: 2009
Pages: 23
Reading Level: K-3
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN: 978-0-8118-6866-2
Source: School library

Nonfiction Monday is held at The Swimmer Writer.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: Choosing a Dog by William Stafford

One year ago this weekend, my husband and I fell in love Buster:                                                                                                      
     Buster, 2 months


Buster, 13 months (Look at the heart on his ear)

Today while thinking about this post, I remembered this poem from William Stafford.  He was born in January.

Choosing A Dog

“It’s love,” they say. You touch
the right one and a whole half of the universe
wakes up, a new half.

Some people never find
that half, or they neglect it or trade it
for money or success and it dies.

The faces of big dogs tell, over the years,
that size is a burden: you enjoy it for awhile
but then maintenance gets to you

Read the rest HERE.

So lucky to have both Buster and the poetry of William Stafford in my life.


Where can you find out about poetry style, start planning for National Poetry Month, and discussing poetry? Poetry Ambassadors is an on-line forum to talk about all thing poetry for children and YA.  Details can be found HERE. If you want to join: send an email:

Poetry Friday is over at A Teaching Life.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: CYBILS, Poetry Ambassadors, and Thank You

The CYBILS Poetry finalists were announced on Sunday, January 1.  The panelists work diligently determing which of the thirty titles would be selected as the six finalists.  Read and re-read, consider other’s viewpoints and go back to read a book perhaps not regarded, writing blurbs, logging into the database, and all this during one of the busiest months for families.  So a gigantic THANK YOU-to the following panelists:

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater 
Susan Taylor Brown
Elaine Magliaro
Bruce Black
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
 Carol Wilcox
The discussions this year led to me thinking about establishing a poetry group on Yahoo.  Poetry Ambassadors is an on-line forum to talk about all thing poetry for children and YA.  Details can be found HERE. If you want to join: send an email:

And incase you haven’t gotten to the CYBILS site, the finaists:


Cousins of Clouds: Elephant Poems
by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Clarion Books
Nominated by: Amy @ Hope Is the Word

Poet Paul Muldoon said, “One will never again look at a birch tree, after the Robert Frost poem, in exactly the same way.” Readers of Tracy Vaughn Zimmer’s Cousins of Clouds can make a similar argument, because they will probably never look at elephants in the same way. The title poem, “Cousins of Clouds gives readers their first glimpse of this peculiar creature, explaining that elephants were once able to fly, but long ago, a great prophet took away their powers.
To this very day
you can see the poor elephants
flapping their ears,
dreaming of flight,
but now only
cousins of clouds.
The book includes several poems about the elephant’s unusual body parts. Others, like “Mud Spa” and “Fortress” describe the elephant’s habits. Poems such as “Beggars of Bangkok” and “Sonnet for Sanctuary” provide readers with snapshots of elephants’ treatment throughout the world. Still others, such “White Elephant” and “A Riddle” describe historical traditions related to elephants.
Each poem is further enhanced by a block of prose, which provides background information. Colorful illustrations range from anatomical to folkloric, cartoonish to collage, depending on the topic of the poem. A totally engaging look at an intriguing creature!

Dear Hot Dog
by Mordicai Gerstein
Abrams for Young Readers
Nominated by: Katie Ahearn

From the mystery of air smelling “like roses sometimes, or fresh-cut grass; gasoline or rain or skunk” to the “funny bird” we call scissors, Caldecott Medal winner Mordicai Gerstein keenly turns his artist’s eye and child’s heart to plain objects in Dear Hot Dog: Poems about Everyday Stuff
Full of gratitude, this collection renews a reader’s appreciation for the stuff we touch and use each day, stuff that just might have feelings of its own.  From morning through evening, Gerstein speaks to and about humble things, elevating them through observation and questions.  We come to see that autumn leaves are really wearing Halloween costumes and hear a toothbrush “gargling your little song.”  A cup “puts a handle” on liquids and a hot dog is “snug as a puppy in your bready bun.  For the first time, we wonder where light goes in the darkness.
By celebrating daily objects, this delightful tribute offers readers of all ages a way to see our own lives – with whimsy, wonder, and thankfulness for the small stuff of our own lives.

Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems
by Kristine O’Connell George
Clarion Books
Nominated by: Becky

This is a light-hearted and touching collection of poems in which an older sibling details her “up and down” relationship with her little sister Emma—who can be a “dilemma” at times. Emma embarrasses her older sister in public. She annoys Jessica when she cheats at board games; leaves the caps off all her markers; invades her room and messes with her things; tags along when her sister is playing with a friend.  
Still, the two girls share many happy and warm moments. Jessica enjoys reading her favorite picture books to Emma and visiting with old friends. The sisters get silly at the dinner table, sit together and do homework side by side, hold hands and comfort each other.
George’s poems believably capture the frustrations experienced by an older sister and the love she feels for a younger sibling who can be both exasperating and lovable. They provide a tender portrayal of the bond between two sisters with humor and poignancy.

Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto
by Paul B. Janeczko
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Tricia Stohr-Hunt

Janeczko’s Requiem is a slender but powerful collection of poems about the Terezin Ghetto, each line, each word, not merely a requiem but a song to the spirit of the victims.
These poems capture the sense of desperation and inevitability, the anguish and daily uncertainty of life for the Jews sent to Terezin, where the Nazis showcased the talents of mostly artists and intellectuals from Prague as a sign to the world of the “humane” treatment the Jews were receiving.
“Although the poems in this collection are based on historical events and facts, most of the characters that appear in the poems are fictional,” Janeczko acknowledges in the Author’s Note at the end of the book. “Some are composites based on my research. Others are totally invented … the characters, their thoughts, and their conversations are products of my imagination.”
 Somehow, Janeczko has found the strength and courage to reach into the heart of each character and bring out of its depths a pulsing, vibrant voice so that these voices speak to us on page after page, touching the souls of the dead and the living simultaneously.

Self-Portrait With Seven Fingers
by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen
Creative Editions
Nominated by: Gina Ruiz

Those already familiar with the art of Marc Chagall might recognize this title of this poetic biography from Chagall’s painting of the same name. Those new to Chagall are in for a real treat as fourteen of Chagall’s stunning paintings are reproduced in beautiful color and paired with poems from authors, J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen. Readers take an colorful journey through Chagall’s life from his youth in Vitebsk, Belarus, through his artistic explorations that challenged the world’s expectations from artists. Paintings, poems, and bits and biographical notes carry the reader throughout Chagall’s life, from a happy yet humble childhood, his life with Bella, the true love of his life, through the Nazi invasion, immigration to America, Bella’s death and his return to France where he spent the remainder of his life.The one constant for Chagall was his art. In their poems, Lewis and Yolen capture the yearning soul of the artist that is driven to create even amidst (or because of) the darkness that weaves its way throughout his life.  Readers will be inspired to play with some kind of art after reading this book.  The book captures the soul of the artist in a way that supports his art and also that the art supports the poetry. 


We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart
by Walter Dean Myers
Nominated by: Laura Wadley

Who or what is American? The answers lie at the heart of this collection of free verse poems. A history of America loosely told, Myers pays homage to the obvious and sometimes overlooked. The titles of the poems when taken together, form a narrative of their own –“We raised up factories and farms great houses and small/We were willing to die to forge our dream/Like clumsy children we fell/We moved on stubbornly”– and highlight the beautiful and ugly truths that weave the history of our nation.
Myers lyrical and heartfelt poems are paired with the vibrant illustrations of his son, and often a quote or excerpt from an important historical document. The poems are enriched and extended by the illustrations, which focus on both the title and content of the poem. “Like clumsy children we fell,” is a poem accompanied by quotes on slavery from Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. The illustration moves from the scarred back of a slave, to the Battle of Wounded Knee, to a group of Japanese Americans behind the fence of an internment camp. “Ambition betrayed us/Power was too strong a temptation/And yet, and yet …/We could hold up our sins for the world to see.” While the quotes set the poem’s context in history, the illustrations propel the words forward in time, extending their reach and forcing readers to recall Santayana’s words that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
In an Author’s Note at the opening of the book, Myers explains how he came to write We Are America and the research that went into it. He reread the documents that led to our independence and formed the core of our government. He took what he read, together with what he has seen through his lifetime, to pen a moving and generous portrait. “No words here have been penned lightly, no flag waved mindlessly. This is simply my truest feelings for my country, my tribute to America.”
Poetry Friday is rounded up at Teaching Authors by Joanne.
Happy Reading.

What’s New Wednesday: New Poetry Group

It’s been exciting to be the organizer for the Poetry category for the CYBILS this year.  The thirty plus books we had to discuss and determine which would be the six sent on as finalists was a fantastic opportunity to read great books.  So many  and yet I would love to see the poetry nominations grow beyond the number there were this year.

It got me thinking about ways to promote more poetry for children and young adults in the world.  I know that Poetry at Play is a blog dedicated to spreading poetry to all.

Well, now there’s a listserv on Yahoo to keep poetry for children and young adults in the forefront. 

This group is for those who want to promote more poetry in the world to children and young adults. We will discuss books and writing of all things poetry. If you have thoughts about what makes a fabulous children and/or young adult poetry books, what is kid appeal, or sharing of great poetry books, join this group.

If you want to join: send an email:

Happy Reading.