Category Archives: informational

Topsy and Tim’s Peanut Crunchies (aka, Health Cookies by my Aunt Lois)

So, GirlChild starts school tomorrow, and, as a surprise, I am recreating Tim’s lunch from Topsy and Tim: New Lunchboxes, by Jean and Gareth Adamson. (I  would have done Topsy’s lunch, but GirlChild is really not fond of cheese and cucumber sandwiches!) I mentioned in my post about the series that I wasn’t able to find a recipe for the peanut crunchies cookies that their mummy makes for them to take in their lunchboxes the first time they stay at school for lunch, but as I was considering GirlChild’s first lunch at school, I remembered these cookies that my family has made for ages. We call them Health Cookies, but it’s pretty clear from the list of ingredients that “healthy” meant something very different back in the days of my Great Aunt Lois! 🙂 They may not be exactly what the Adamsons called peanut crunchies, but they have peanuts and are crunchy, so they’ll do!

Here’s the recipe for anyone who might want to try their own version of peanut crunchies!

Topsy and Tim’s Peanut Crunchies (aka, Health Cookies by my Aunt Lois)

Cream together:
1 c. margarine or butter
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs

Then mix in:
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 c. oatmeal
1 c. salted peanuts

Roll in small balls (smaller than a walnut–I used a cookie scoop and broke the scoop in half to make the small ones for GirlChild’s lunch), then roll in crushed cereal (like Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, or Chex) and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes. Cookies will be golden brown and chewy. Enjoy!

(If someone who knows how to convert recipes and measurements for bakers outside of the US, I would be most delighted to have the “translation” in the comments!)

2013 September 040

GirlChild’s lunchbox includes a tuna sandwich, a banana, some green grapes, two peanut crunchies, and fruit juice (aka, orange juice)–just like Tim’s! (It also includes a color photocopy of the page from the book that shows their lunches so that she’ll be sure to know why I packed what I did!) Since she’s actually become rather nervous about starting now that it’s finally here, I hope this little bit of encouragement from Topsy and Tim will help her get through her first day happy!


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“Why Teachers Should Read More Children’s Books,” by Jo Bowers and Dr. Susan Davis (The Guardian)

In case you teachers (and parents!) needed another reason to keep reading children’s literature…

“Why Teachers Should Read More Children’s Books,” an online article from the Guardian (a newspaper based in the UK) and posted on Facebook by my most-respected former principal, describes a research project that demonstrates that teachers that read for pleasure, including children’s books, have improved professional well-being and (um, obviously!) book knowledge that together lead to more relaxed and confident literature experiences in their classrooms. This is, of course, a good thing for both teachers and students! Now I feel entirely justified in spending all my library time in the children’s department for so long…I was just building my knowledge so I could better encourage children to read! 😉

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Themed Third Thursday…

It slipped my mind. My husband has been at home studying for an important professional test, GirlChild has been a major testament to the existence of preschool angst, and BoyChild managed to get his upper premolars before his lower premolars (and without us realizing that was why he was a big pile of cranky for a month), and I have been a wreck running about putting out the (figurative) home fires (and not the touchy-feely kind, either!) lately. Therefore, next week, we’ll be celebrating Fun Fourth Friday instead of yesterday’s anticipated Themed Third Thursday…

(I actually have three posts in process at the moment, but none of them were quite publishable yet, and I’m sure no posts at all is better than multiple shoddy posts. Er, that’s how I prefer it, anyway. Until next time, then!)


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Mother Goose Storytime at the Library

This morning I was awakened by the sound of GirlChild crying out in her sleep, “Oh, no! I dropped all my books on the floor!” A good library day if there ever was one! 😉

Today I took BoyChild to his first infant storytime at a nearby library (since he slept until 9ish so he could delay his morning nap until after the session)…and I think I made a mommy playdate for next Monday’s storytime!

I haven’t been to an infant storytime since GirlChild was a baby, so here’s a recap of what happened there:

Seating—A large, colorful parachute was spread out on the floor of the storytime room, and we all spread out around it. I chose a seat close enough to the librarian’s spot to see her without being right next to her. BoyChild is beyond distractible, so I figured this was my best bet.

Greeting—The librarian (we’ll call her Mother Goose) had all the adults introduce themselves and their babies and give the babies’ ages. There were babies as young as three and a half months and one going on two who was transitioning up to the next storytime. The majority of the babies were between eight and ten months old.

Meeting—As is typical with infant storytimes, there was a decent bit of instruction and explanation for parents as everything transpired; tips to modify the activities for different babies, reasons why we do certain things, etc. Mother Goose didn’t really address the children at all, but I guess that makes sense when they likely wouldn’t give her the time of day anyway! 🙂

  • Finger plays—I can’t remember what it was called, but we did something involving a bunny going ‘round and ‘round (in the palm of the hand) and a puppy chasing it “under there” (and ending with an underarm tickle).
  • “Baby Exercises”—BoyChild did NOT like this part of storytime. I should never have put him on his back, but it was hard to do the movements (basically baby stretches) with him sitting or standing (as he preferred). This seemed a lot better with the younger, less mobile babies.
  • Books—Just two: All of Baby Nose to Toes and Pat-a-Cake. Mother Goose would read a sentence from the first one and have us repeat it while poking our babies in the body part mentioned (or, you know, just pointing at or patting it). Since Mother Goose was using a doll to demonstrate all the songs and whatnot, she wasn’t able to actually *read* Pat-a-Cake while she was doing the motions, so she just showed us a few of the illustrations when she was done as part of showing us how to read to our babies.

  • Songs—I knew most of the tune to “All the Pretty Little Horses,” but my memory of the lyrics was all from the Susan Jeffers book (apparently just called All the Pretty Horses and out of print) that I had when I was a kid. Although BoyChild didn’t care for being reclined in my arms while we sang it and had to have belly-nibbles to keep him curled up and giggling softly while the song went on, I actually used this song to put him down to bed tonight. We also did “The Noble Duke of York” (which we call “The Grand Old Duke of York”) and another bouncing/lifting song that I can’t recall. There may have been more as well.
  • Parachute—GirlChild loved this part because she actually got to participate instead of sitting and watching quietly! We sat with our children in our laps and raised and lowered the parachute slowly while we sang basic songs (“The Wheels on the Bus”) and recited nursery rhymes. The oldest child crawled underneath it to play, but everyone else tried to keep their kids with them. (I would have set BoyChild free, but Mother Goose never said it was okay, and I didn’t want to be a disruption!) Mother Goose said that the babies like to see each other from underneath it, but I was too busy trying to keep BoyChild from escaping to pay attention to whether it was just a desire to be free or a desire to interact with the babies on the other side.
  • Sign Language—Mother Goose said they had learned “daddy” (among others) last week, so this week she introduced these: mommy, thank you, ball, and happy. GirlChild loved this, of course, but BoyChild was too squirmy at this point to let me manipulate his hands at all.
  • Free Play—After the closing song (which I don’t remember), Mother Goose told us that her part was done but that she would pass out books and balls and we were free to stay until noon. GirlChild took two books (“One for me, and one for my baby brother!”), but she spent most of her time kicking around the little, soft soccer ball that Mother Goose handed out. Probably half of the families stayed. There was a little boy (dressed almost exactly like BoyChild) and his mom sitting directly across from us during storytime, and she came to talk to me during the free play…turns out her little one is just one day older than BoyChild! We had a nice chat while GirlChild played and read and BoyChild tried to steal other babies’ slobbery soccer balls.

GirlChild was the only older sibling to attend, so I don’t know if that is frowned upon (nobody complained to me, at least!) or if none of these kids have older siblings not already in school.  I prepped her before we went that this was for BoyChild and other babies and that she wasn’t allowed to answer questions or respond to Mother Goose when she talked to the little ones. She was a perfect little lady and only did the things families were expected to do; singing songs, reciting rhymes, and interacting with BoyChild. She seemed glad to know most of the songs and perfectly happy to listen to baby books. (It probably helped that the mom sitting next to us couldn’t stop smiling at GirlChild and engaging her attention!)

We had a good enough experience that we plan on going back next week if we can arrange the nap schedule to accommodate it! If you have an infant (most infant storytimes start no later than 6 months (often from birth) and can go up to either ages 1 or 2, depending on the size of the library system and the number of different storytimes offered), I would most definitely recommend trying to find an infant storytime near you!

I found this blog by a storytime librarian that talks about infant (and preschool) storytimes in general and the specifics of her program as well. She mentioned handouts of the songs/rhymes/etc., and that was one thing I missed at this one that we had when GirlChild was a baby. I certainly could have used a reminder of some of the words during the session, and it would have been nice to have the information for when we got home to rehearse again. Check out Library Noise for weekly posts about what songs, books, and rhymes she’s doing with her little ones!

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Christmas Wrap-Up

(Ha! I see what I did there!)

In case you missed a day or just want to see all the Twelve Reviews of Christmas together to pick and choose, here’s the list!

12.  A Christmas Carol
11.  The Crippled Lamb
10.  The Christmas Story
9.  Merry Christmas, Mouse!
8.  The Secret Keeper
7.  Mousekin’s Christmas Eve
6.  Pippin the Christmas Pig
5.  A Houseful of Christmas
4.  My Merry Christmas: And the real reason for Christmas joy
3.  Countdown to Christmas
2.  Fisher-Price Little People: Christmastime Is Here!
1.  The Twelve Days of Christmas

There were some other great and/or interesting books that I didn’t get to share in the Twelve Reviews of Christmas–we spent a lot of time quarantined from the library in the last couple weeks because of sick children–but I wanted to toss out a few more ideas in case none of these hit the spot!

A Classic (and a classroom use guide):
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson
(For elementary readers and good listeners!)The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

A (Really) Unique Take:
We Were There: A Nativity Story, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Wendell Minor
(I couldn’t check this out to review because I shuddered violently just touching the illustrations when I was trying to turn the pages to preview it! Perfect for your little entomologist!)

In Case You Didn’t Realize:
An Early American Christmas
, by Tomie DePaola
(Did you realize that in early America, Christians celebrating Christmas was a bit out-of-the-ordinary?)

Funny Animal Christmas Stories:
Olivia Helps with Christmas, by Ian Falconer
(It’s Olivia. Some kids just need Olivia for every season!)

Santa Cows, by Cooper Edens, illustrated by Daniel Lane
(This book is–yes, I’m going to do it, for my dad!–udderly ridiculous. In the spirit of Twas the Night Before Christmas, but with cows. And kitsch.)

Hark! The Aardvark Angels Sing: A Story of Christmas Mail
, by Teri Sloat
(Aardvark angels help deliver mail to all the corners of the earth. Really.
Set to music.)

A Little Alphabetical Latin Flavor:

N is for Navidad, by Susan Middleton Elya and Merry Banks, illustrated by Joe Cepeda
(The Spanish alphabet–including those “extra” letters ch, ll, ñ, and rr–is used to tell a story of the celebration of Christmastime in a Latino family. A pronunciation guide included for those who don’t speak Spanish!)

A Ballet in Book Form:

The Nutcracker, by Susan Jeffers
(A simple retelling of the traditional ballet with beautiful art by the illustrator of one of my favorite childhood books, All the Pretty Horses.)

A Favorite Christmas Villain:
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss
(Did you realize that there’s no mention of the Grinch being green in the book? Nor that he’s not any color at all in the illustrations? No? Time to break out the original instead of the movies, then!)

Hope you have a chance to make it to the library before Christmas (and that you find a few of these books on the shelf!). Have a very merry Christmas!
(Do you have any suggestions for great Christmas books I might not have included? Tell us in the comments!)


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The Twelve Reviews of Christmas!

Announcing the Twelve Reviews of Christmas, starting Thursday, December 1st! Each day, I will post a review of a different Christmas-themed picture book, both secular and religious titles included. (By doing them now instead of on the traditional twelve days of Christmas, you’ll have time to find them and check them out before the big day!) Some made me laugh, some made me cry, one made me groan…I’m sure you’ll find at least one or two that you’ll enjoy and want to share with the children in your life!

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Pressed for Words

I want to read, and I want to write. I want to write about reading. I quit my teaching job to stay home with my daughter (GirlChild) three and a half years ago, and I earned my degree in Library and Information Sciences a year and a half ago. My son (BoyChild) arrived earlier this year. Going back to work (other than the freelance proofreading I do now) began to seem a more and more distant possibility, and I began to fear that I wouldn’t be in the library loop anymore once I was ready to return to work.

Enter the blog.

I got the idea that after library day each week I could do a full review of one of the books we bring home and read together. GirlChild in particular loves us to read to her, and I will definitely record her response to what we read as well as my impressions. I’ll try to do a mixture of random selections off the shelf and new books that I specifically choose to keep up-to-date. I hope someone finds this blog and likes what I have to say, and if I can help parents find great books for their families, I have done my job!

Happy reading!

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