Little Miss’s Reading Corner: Charlie the Ranch Dog, Monet’s Cat and others

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Little Miss and I had some fun with some books this past month but did get a bit overwhelmed with how many we had to read so some went back to the library before we even opened them!

Apparently, my and The Husband’s love of books has rubbed off on her because she told me last week she can’t go to the library without bringing home at least one book.

I had suggested to her we merely go to our homeschool event and not sign out books.

“Oh no!” she declared. “No! I can’t go to the library without getting a book now! You’ve rubbed off on me. I must have books! I must become one with the books! I’m obsessed!

I am looking forward to another library trip soon, but here are three of our favorites from the last library pick-up and an extra one we had at home.

Monet’s Cat

I signed this book out as part of our art unit after I looked online for books that were for children and focused on impressionist artists. I was thrilled that our small library actually had it. It’s the cutest book that leads children through the paintings of Claude Monet. Little Miss and I had already watched a special on him and after reading this book we also attempted to paint like him. It wasn’t a success, but we tried anyhow.

I loved the cute artwork and story in the book.

It was also interesting to note that there was an actual ceramic cat in Monet’s house that was later passed down to Monet’s son and that is what the book was based on.

This is a book I am going to buy for us to read later.

Cezanne’s Parrot.

Sticking with the artist theme, I signed this one out as well to go with our unit on the Impressionist movement.

We actually haven’t finished this one because it didn’t catch Little Miss’s attention as quickly as Monet’s Cat. She got tired in the middle of reading it so I hope we can finish it today actually. It is due back to the library soon.

I’m not sure if these books are part of a series or not but they are, obviously, similar in that they deal with animals that insert themselves in the lives of artists who actually knew each other when they were alive. They also showcase the art of each artist within the pages.

My First Classical Music Book

Since we are focusing on the arts for homeschool for the month of May, I also picked up a book about music from the library. This is another book I will probably purchase for us.

It is full of information about composers but also about music and instruments in general and comes with a CD to give examples of the music talked about in the book.

Charlie The Ranch Dog

This book was not exactly a library pick but I did find it at a library sale. There are six mini books collected in this one hardcover collection.

Little Miss loved reading all the books to me before bed for a week. They are cute, simple stories. Little Miss loved finding the chipmunk hidden in the drawings almost on every page of the book.

She also loved sticking all the stickers to the wall in her room.

Mother Goose Bruce

This is a book I picked up from an online used sale.

It is so cute and funny. I might have giggled at parts of it more than Little Miss did.

She did like it, though and I am glad that we own it so we can read it again. There are two other books in the series and now I am going to look for them too. This book was in such good shape that it still looks new, even though I picked it up for more than half it’s original price.

The story is about a bear that is essentially adopted by four goslings who imprint on him when he tried to cook them for dinner

Little House in the Big Woods

We are also re-reading Little House in the Big Woods. The difference this time is that Little Miss is reading to me until she almost falls asleep and then I take over for her. It’s so much fun to see her getting into reading this way and to see her reading to me like I have been to her for years now.

For history, we are reading The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz and she’s not as big of a fan of it as she is the Little House series, but it focuses on Pennsylvania history and we needed a unit of that before the school year ended so it is working out well.

Little Miss’s Reading Corner: Silly, spooky, and grasshopper books

Little Miss and I took a trip to the library a couple of weeks ago and she picked out some books for us to read together. I thought I’d share a few from our stack today for her Reading Corner. I took photos of the fronts of the books, but our library puts the barcode right over the titles, which I find terribly annoying as someone who likes to photograph what I’m reading. Silly, I know. I suppose I’ll get over it. Sigh.

Little Miss wanted something “spooky” even though she doesn’t usually like spooky stuff. She said she would read it during the day. So we grabbed a book called simply The Spooky Book by Steve Patschke and illustrated by Matthew McElligott.

It was a very cute book about a boy reading a spooky book that is about a girl reading a spooky book at the same time. When something happens in the book, it happens to the boy too.

It’s a fun book that insists a book can’t scare you while it scares the people reading it. We thought it was very cute.

Next Little Miss picked a book about dragons because she loves dragon stories.

Dragons Are Real by Holly Hatam is a board book probably meant for younger readers and those less discerning about dragons because Little Miss kept correcting the lore within its pages saying “that’s not true,” or “dragons don’t do that” when she disagreed with the declarations made inside it.

Overall we enjoyed the book, however, because the illustrations were very colorful.


I picked out Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Long (brother and sister) and we both ended up really liking it, partly because the illustrations featured extra creatures in the images, hanging out on trees and in leaves, etc.

The story is about a monkey who is grumpy but doesn’t know why and tries his best to be happy for everyone who keeps telling him he needs to be happy.

The message is that sometimes we are grumpy and it’s okay and we don’t have to figure out why we are grumpy. As long as we aren’t mean to others while we are grumpy. That’s not okay.

I placed The Ant and The Grasshopper by Luli Gray and illustrated by Giuliano Ferri on hold as part of our grasshopper unit.

This was a very cute book about an ant who prepared for the winter and a grasshopper who didn’t and how the ant helped the grasshopper and they became friends.

Little Miss has been fascinated with grasshoppers lately, including catching them in the backyard and running to me to show me what she’s caught.

We also signed out a book about dinosaurs and another one about grasshoppers, but haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

Hopefully we will get to them this week before they are due.

So that’s what Little Miss has been reading. How about you?

Tell Me More About . . . Maureen Wright, children’s book author

I remember the first time my son and I read a Maureen Wright book. It was “Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep,” the sweet story about a bear who is being reminded by Old Man Winter that he needs to sleep for the winter, but doesn’t seem to be able to hear him, so instead Big Bear ends up on a middle of the night adventure.

Each night we read it, we couldn’t only read it just once. My son would ask for it to be read again and again and it was one of the few books I didn’t mind repeating. The story is creative and catchy and the artwork by Will Hillenbrand is mesmerizing. Flash forward to now and there are now three Big Bear books and a collection of other books by Maureen that I now read to my 4-year-old daughter. Her current favorite is also Maureen’s best seller, “Sneezy the Snowman.”

What’s special about Maureen’s stories, beyond the fact they are a delight to read and the artwork is so stellar, is that they are written by someone who lives in the town my children and I now live in. Even though I’ve seen her often, either reading her book at the library, or selling her copies personally at local events, I still feel like I’m meeting a celebrity each time I see her, maybe because her stories have been such a part of the bonding time with my children.

I’m so thankful to Maureen for taking a few moments to answer some questions for this weeks Tell Me More About . . . feature and that I’m able to introduce her special books to my readers.

45095165_166161841001041_1170191499384586240_nCould you tell us a little bit about yourself, such as where you grew up, family, etc. ?

I grew up in Athens, PA. I met my husband, Don, at Main Elementary in Athens in fourth grade. We have three grown sons, two daughters-in-law, and three little grandsons We live in Athens Township in the old farmhouse his great-grandparents built in the 1880’s.

When did you realize you enjoyed writing?
I was in third grade when I knew I wanted to be a writer I was doing a writing homework assignment. I even remember where I was sitting in the house that I grew up in when this feeling came over me — an awareness that I loved to write.

 What made you decide to write books for children?

I loved reading books to my children when they were young It was my favorite thing to do with them.

What inspired you to write the Big Bear series?

I am a lot like Big Bear. We both usually think we are right and most of the time we are both wrong!

Which of your books seems to be the most popular among children?

“Sneezy the Snowman” is my best seller. I recently received a framed copy of the book from my publisher because it has sold over 100,000 copies. It was totally unexpected. At the time, I was waiting for my niece to mail me a picture frame. When I opened the package, I wondered, “Why did Anna put “Sneezy the Snowman” in the frame?” Then I read the plaque on the frame.

 What authors have inspired you over the years?

I have been inspired by any well-written rhyming book.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?

If I have a story I’m working on, I am excited to get out of bed in the morning to work on it. I read aloud my stories dozens and dozens of times to get the rhythm right. Whenever my cat Juanita hears me, she runs to my side and sits on the arm of the sofa. She is always the first one to hear my stories.

Do you have future projects coming up? Books or otherwise?

My next book is “Super Rooster to the Rescue” due out in August of 2020. Rob McClurkan is the illustrator. It will be my tenth picture book.

 Anything else you would like people to know about you or your books?

I love reading to children and encouraging them to follow their dreams. I was rejected by publishers for twenty years before an editor, Margery Cuyler at Marshall Cavendish, took me under her wing. I will always be grateful to her for pulling my story out of “the slush pile.” (Unsolicited manuscripts on an editor’s desk.)

Do you know someone you think would be great for my Tell Me More About . . . feature? Maybe that someone is you! You, or the person you suggest, doesn’t need to be from my area to be featured. You can send any suggestions for features to or use the contact form at the top of the page.