Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Quaker Motto Calendar

 The 2024 Quaker Motto Calendar is now ready to order!

Please use the information on this order form, and we appreciate your support.

Questions? Use this email: 



Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Try to Remember...

It's been so long since I posted here that I had to figure out how to sign into Google to open the proper browser.

(Not sure what that says about someone who used to love to write updates. Are blogs obsolete? Does anybody read them? Or have I said all I need to say?)

BUT I did dig up my password just to be able to share the photos of a new bookstore at the Short Hills Mall I visited last week. 

I lived near this lovely mall for over twenty years. I'm not really a Mall person, but this is where I met friends for coffee, walked many a mile when it was too cold/snowy/ icy in New Jersey to be outside, and okay, maybe made a few purchases.

I vaguely remember a bookstore there when we first moved to nearby Chatham, NJ in the 80s.

But this new store - WOW.

This is an INDIGO bookstore, a Canadian company. Here's the link to the NJ store, with a great photo of the front. I was so excited when I stepped inside that I didn't take pictures of the entrance.

The store is large, tremendously well-organized, and filled with great books. Even the "stuff" that bookstores have to carry was beautifully curated, with tons of holiday items on sale. 

Of course, I did what every friend-of-authors does and searched for familiar books. INDIGO's holdings are vast, however, and maybe I missed some. 

The entire back of the store is for young kids' books, including by my good friend Aimee Reid, herself a Canadian.

Check out the middle of the YA and Middle Grade books section. Cool, no?

Barbara O'Connor's books were lined up in the "O" section, and my friend snatched one up.

Shannon Hitchcock, I turned your newest book facing out, just for the photo op!

Be sure to tell your New Jersey friends to hustle on over there and check it out. 

This greeted us as we walked in the front door. 

Bestsellers, Staff Picks, etc etc etc. 

So many ways to look at books.

A perfect day. 

Bookstore with a friend. 

Cold and grey outside. 

Nice shopping bag. 

Who could ask for more?

I've moved to Washington DC now, home of Politics and Prose and other delightful bookstores. 

I left a favorite, TOMBOLO BOOKS, back in St. Petersburg, FL. 

I don't think I could live in a place that didn't have at least one good bookstore and a very strong public library system. 

I'm sure most of my blog readers, and all of my bookish friends, would agree, right?

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Quaker Motto Calendar

 Just a friendly reminder: 


Here's the order form. If you'd like more information, please email: 

The (newish) address for the printer, where you'll mail your order form and checks:






Monday, July 25, 2022

Monday Books, again

With apologies to all the IT'S MONDAY WHAT ARE YOU READING consistent bloggers, I submit my occasional Monday books today.

(My blogging skills have taken a hiatus but I do love hearing about and sharing books with others who dig more deeply than I do.)

That said, I've read some excellent books during my absence from Monday sharing.

Both of these came via friends who know how much I love to read and share.


                                           (Publisher's Weekly review )

The illustrations, the lovely and very descriptive words, and the helpful Author's Note and backmatter make this picture book the perfect introduction to a war, a part of the world, and a story young readers may not know. Loosely based on both the author's experience and the "real" secret library during the Syrian civil war, NOUR'S SECRET LIBRARY inspires empathy, a love of books, and a very special friendship.

Hot off the press,  FINDING MOON RABBIT is taken from the true stories of families faced with internment during World War II. 

Click on this link for JC Kato's fabulous website. I think kids are going to learn a lot and enjoy the process. 

Girl Scouts, friendship, intrigue, and history, too-- What could be better for a summer read?

JC and I go way back and I know how hard she's worked on her marvelous middle-grade novel. She's traveled to camps, interviewed family members, applied for and won an SCBWI Karen Cushman grant and now the book is out in the world! I'm proud to know her and honored to have read the early versions of FINDING MOON RABBIT. 

Click here for a glowing Kirkus review.

For my own personal edification, I've been reading picture book biographies. Reading a book as a librarian brings different skills and experiences from reading as a writer.  With a push from my friend Shannon Hitchcock (Check her website to see how many excellent books she's recently published about little-known storytellers and artists), I've explored picture books about both artists and sports figures. So much fun!

I'll share just one because I really could go on and on. 

I've visited Flannery O'Connor's house in Milledgeville, GA. (aside: don't you love visiting writers' homes?)  This book takes me back to that afternoon wandering around her backyard, and it takes my breath away, visually. It's also a compelling story, so well-written. I love how the author of this picture book incorporates some of O'Connor's themes into statements kids can understand. Or at least ponder. "There was something about strangeness that made people sit up and look."

Fun reading, no? I can't wait to read all the books my #IMWAYR buddies will share today.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Poetry and Other Distractions...

As previously noted, my friend Beverly and I memorize poems. Her choices are better/ harder/ longer than mine. But that's the way my mushy brain is working these days. Beverly understands and lets me delight over Mary Oliver, stumble over Wordsworth, laugh when Billy Collins makes fun of torturing a confession out of a poem.

This week she chose "The World is Too Much With Us."  And how prescient of my friend to recite that this sad week. 

So, what have I been reading to share on this Monday, Memorial Day?

 I've mostly been reading grownup poetry, but I pulled this one off my shelf and delighted in it all over again.

I'm going to link to THIS because it says so much about the book, and the poet.

Much more than my mushy brain (see above) can articulate this morning.

As always, middle-grade novels continue to (mostly) hold my attention.

This might be one of my favorite book cover images in a while.  (Except the author makes a point that the narrator is slightly overweight, maybe she used the word dumpy. I'm going to overlook that in favor of the notebook paper filled with words.)

It says a lot about the story. True confessions, I haven't finished WORSER but I'm going to make it my number one To Do thing today- finish WORSER. I'm getting close and loving almost every word.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a retired school counselor who believes, not surprisingly to anybody working in education today, that bullying is a huge issue, maybe the issue. I'm going to keep reading this one before I comment more. Bullying, so far, is not the theme, but it is prevalent and the kids in Worser's world are slightly on the fringes, susceptible to all sorts of teasing.


My life is kind of complicated lately, but reading makes me happiest so although I continue to retreat from sharing too much, frequent blogging, posting meaningless trivia, I'll stick to poetry, mysteries, middle-grade novels and puppies.

 Cheers to all the teachers pushing through these days,  holding their students in the light. 


And, on this Memorial Day, bless the families whose soldiers have died fighting for our country.





Thursday, April 21, 2022

April is Poetry Month

 When I lived and worked in New Jersey, one of the (few) things I loved about April was celebrating poetry. 

    Put a Poem in Your Pocket

    a Poetry Assembly

    Reading all the fun, funny, poignant poems shared here and there. 

That and a few forced forsythias kept me smiling through what was often dreary weather.

Fast forward a few years and we've found ourselves back on the East Coast in a more southerly spot, Washington DC.

Where the weather is more agreeable and the flowers are earlier. So April is fast becoming a favorite month. And there's still POETRY to be shared. Now I'm sharing it with one of my dearest friends.

The idea came when Judith Viorst addressed a group I was part of. At the end, a questioner asked her how she kept so sharp. Sudoku? Crossword puzzles? 

Nope, she memorizes poetry!

I was all over that. So now my friend Beverly and I memorize a FEW VERSES AT A TIME of a favorite poem. We both agree that this was something we did in Mrs. Glassco's senior English class, from Robert Burns to William Wordsworth, and a lot in between (not so much after, however). 

Her first poem contained many stanzas. Christopher Marlowe! She learned them all!       (But I have too much fluff in my brain! Like how to drive to the nearest CVS, or the library, or Beverly's house! Driving directions, among many other new things, are clogging my brain.)

So mine was a more modest attempt, Mary Oliver.

My new choice is a short, wonderfully metered Emily Dickinson verse.   

(Note to self. Easier to memorize poems that rhyme.)

Oh, and I didn't find this week's selection, "Hope is the thing with feathers" this way but I loved reading this, about her poetry just now in Publisher's Weekly.

It's been a long time and not-so-many words since I last blogged. But I want to keep up with these poems so I'm going to attempt to track them here. Stay with me if you'd like and tell me your favorite poem. 

Have you memorized anything lately? 

Do kids even do this in school? 

Monday, November 29, 2021

A New Resource

 Yes, it's still MONDAY and you may be asking WHAT AM I READING?

 It's been a while since I posted for #IMWAYR.

But that doesn't mean I'm not reading like crazy!

Today I'll share a new resource you teachers and librarians out there might not know about. But it's fun to play around with.  Booklists on all sorts of topics.

This is my contribution: 

Baseball books!

So, what else am I reading?

I just finished my friend Susan Hill Long's latest, THE CARE AND KEEPING OF FREDDY.



Oh what fun this brand new middle-grade novel is. But fun with heart. So much heart.

It made me smile but it also made me think. There is so much to discuss with kids in this story.

What would a young girl do in a family like Georgia's? 

How do friends help us make important life decisions when we're young?   

And for those writers among us: How do you develop a character like Georgia's mother and make her believable?

Sue is brilliant at craft and characters. I love this book.

Monday, September 20, 2021


 It's time!

The new Motto Calendars are in production. I'm proud of our family for carrying on this tradition for so many years. Hats off to our daughter who continues to work on keeping the Quaker Motto Calendar going for another year when we all thought the long-standing tradition had ended. 

If you missed getting yours last year and don't have an order form, here it is.



Want to know more about the history of the calendars?

CLICK HERE for one of my earliest posts!

If you aren't familiar with these little gems, here's a sample page, with quotes ranging from Buddha to Disney. (AND they're small enough to tuck into a holiday card.)



Monday, May 31, 2021

What I'm Reading and Recommending

I've been sadly lacking in my reading of kids' books lately. Haven't read a middle-grade novel or even a picture book in a while.

Ah, life, right?

But we have a family birthday coming up- with party!- and the Birthday Boy loves books. When I saw this one, I had to have it. 


I'm only a little bit into it but I LOVE THIS BOOK.

First of all, Pompeii. Then a strong man who literally lifted heavy objects and moved them to safety. Or at least to where they could be looted more easily. 

I'm sure all my librarian friends already know this and other cool-sounding titles by Sarah Albee. But for those of us who don't read a lot of kids' non-fiction (anymore! I read a lot of it when I was a school librarian), this would be a fun place to start. Her turns of phrase (turn of phrases?), her sense of humor, her deep digs - pun intended!-have kept me glued to the book.

Okay, glued may be too strong. I'd be glued if I could.

But I do dip into it every day and often find myself reading more than I'd planned. Plus, deadline- Birthday Boy needs the book!

I'm reading a lot of thriller/ detective/ mystery books still. My escape into the world of adults. 

 This book is getting rave reviews and I'd love to know if anyone else has read it. 


 It was a page-turner all right. Great writing, good story. BUT...

(not exactly a spoiler alert coming up, but you can avert your eyes if you're reading or about to read)

Did anybody else see the plot twist coming?  Maybe it's because I've been reading waaaay too many "thrillers" during the past year. Maybe it's the writer in me. But the breadcrumbs were there for the following and that's all I'm saying. Feel free to comment!

Even so, the excellent writing made it worth reading. I appreciate NetGalley for giving me an early read. It's just out and available for purchase.

My friend Shannon Hitchcock- who's written a few books herself!- posted a picture of a book she'd found in a vacation rental that she said was a perfect distraction, or at least a very good beach read. This is not a genre I read much of but if you're looking for short and funny and even surprising in its own way, check out this series. 


I think there about a zillion books by this author listed at my library.

Speaking of my library. Thank you, Libby App

I would not have survived the past year + without you, my friend.

Funny aside: One summer I worked as a library intern for the Mississippi Library Commission. Wow, talk about eyes opening! But one thing I learned is that these "Regency Romances" were  very, very popular. Took up a huge bookcase and they traveled in and out of the library with great speed. All the little old ladies loved them. 

Oh dear.

Have I become a little old lady?



Friday, May 21, 2021

Iowa and Other Stops Along the Road

Do you play the "map" game where you count up all the states you've visited?

Do you think about how different places might have influenced the way you talk, what you like to eat, what you think even? I've lived so many place I'd have to stop and re-count them!

Possibly the first faraway place I ever visited was in high school when our Mississippi school sponsored an Exchange Trip with a town in Iowa. There were all sorts of reasons they chose Spencer, Iowa for us to visit. Weather, demographics, etc etc. We went there in February, they came to us in the early spring.

It was a trip I haven't forgotten. According to a now-destroyed diary, we stayed at the U-Smile Motor Hotel along the way. (Must file that name away but it sounds slightly risque, doesn't it?)

First blizzard.

First kids who talked differently from everybody I knew.

First visit to a packing plant. Eeew. How have I ever eaten beef again.

It was the only time I ever set foot in Iowa. 

But the world has shrunk since those days. Now you can visit almost anywhere, in person or virtually. You can have friends who are nothing like you, yet everything like you.

You can have a refrigerator magnet, a special gift from a friend- complete with his #truefriend heart- and be transported back to high school, and a blizzard!



In case you're wondering, here's a photo. Note: not too many of us had real snow boots. 

(I'm not in this picture so I assume I was behind the camera.)

The snow got a lot deeper. We were stranded there a few extra days but nobody complained!


 What places do you remember that were so different they made your eyes open wider or your attitude change or your idea of where you could live flipflop?

Monday, May 3, 2021

Things I Love

This used to be a THING. 

I shared "Things I Love," blatantly copied from my buddy Barbara O'Connor's blog. 

I think she calls hers Things I Love Thursdays.

It was a thing I did with some regularity. 

But when you move, many things go by the wayside, including some things I love(d).

(and writing in my blog kind of took a nose-dive, too!)

But I kept this.


Because it has a story.

My husband brought three of these from a Navy deployment in Rota, Spain. They are olive jars. I filled two with flour and sugar, back in the day. I filled the third with shells we'd collected from beaches everywhere! And he turned it into a lamp.

Then we moved to Florida. All three became shell jars. One held a large conch shell, a gift from my first-born granddaughter's Great Godmother on her baptism!

When we moved again, I gave her the jar and the shell.

I brought one with me to our new home, the one filled with shells from beaches everywhere.

The stories our THINGS tell, right?


Linda Sue Park has a new book I haven't read but keep reading about. 

I bet it would make a great writing activity, for young and old.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Year in my Journal, and Facebook...

I know, I know. Some of you are not fans of Facebook. And I get that. 

But I love the memories I get every day. Today Facebook reminded me that on this date in 2016, my friend Eileen Harrell, artist and designer extraordinaire, re-did my blog title and graphic. 

Maybe I should pay more attention to that blog.

Even though the posts have been few and far between this Quarantine Year, I have kept a journal. Call it my Covid Journal.

It's a very special book. A gift at NCTE 2016, from our panel's moderator, the brilliant and great and all-around fun guy, Patrick Allen. 


He presented blank journals to all the #TrueFriends, Sue Long, Kirby Larson, Barbara O'Connor and me. 


                (Here we all are! In Atlanta! Having a great time talking about books.)


I loved my journal. I'm bad about saving things I love. Saving them for "someday."

Why? I asked myself as I searched my box of journals for the blank pages to remember this year with, March 2020. Someday is now!

Don't you think I chose the perfect book?

 Page ONE- My sticker from Sarah Frances Hardy. She designed a whole packet of these. She's such a fun illustrator!

        A very recent entry. Though many of my days featured HAIR as an issue...)

My best friend forever had so many fascinating fun things she learned and did during Covid. We formed a group of three, called ourselves The Quarantiners, and we texted almost daily. She sent me this, from one of her many projects.


And then, a vaccine at last.

Did anybody else keep a journal during Quarantine? Did your kids? Your students? 

I don't know if anybody but me will ever see this. It's not exactly filled with earthshaking nuggets of brilliance. But for now, almost every page is full, and I may just keep it forever.


Monday, February 1, 2021

Time to Read!


But that's way too long.

Happy February, everybody!

Mondays always remind me that there's a whole group of you out there carefully documenting your week's reading.  #IMWAYR days are fun!

And what I've been reading is fun, too. 

Although I'd read the Advance Reader Copy (ARC) and I'd heard earlier versions as Barbara worked on this one, in honor of its true launch date, I reread Barbara O'Connor's latest middle-grade novel, HALFWAY TO HARMONY

Oh, those characters!

And her writing. Such a perfect ear. Such an economy of words. Every little detail belongs exactly where she's put it.

I dare you to open the first chapter, meet Walter, then his new neighbor Posey, and not be hooked.


When I watched the launch party interview with Amy Cherrix from Malaprops in Asheville, I remembered so many great writing tips! 

I've heard Barbara say it before but the next time I sat at my desk, I tried hard to put one into practice:


Many years and many critique groups ago, my friend Leslie Guccione created a little note, beautifully drawn and decorated, for my bulletin board. 


Way back when, Barbara's blog did a series of Writing Tip Tuesdays. If you're a new writer, or heck, even if you've written forever, they're great reminders. 

Here's one:

And another:

 (On the subject of repetition, Barbara reports, Sol Stein says, "One plus one equals a half."
If you think the reader won't "get" something unless you repeat it, then maybe you haven't written it right the first time.)

So I've always known this important bit of writing advice. Barbara's the champ at doing it and at explaining it. Read her novels and you'll see!

The other middle-grade novel, JUST LIKE THAT, skews to the upper end of MG and had me slowing down, re-reading, putting sticky notes on pages, and marveling at Gary Schmidt's skill in storytelling. I always pick up BookPage at my local library and I almost always agree with their reviews.

Forewarned, somebody dies at the very beginning. Somebody, if you know and love Schmidt's books like I do, you'll grieve right along with his friend. But the book is such great storytelling, such amazing writing, so gripping in many places, that grieving didn't detract from my loving this book.

If I'm honest and attempting to read like a kid, or even like a school librarian, my prior self, I did have a couple of issues. One, I wondered if it would have been a better book if there weren't two narrators whose stories, though often intersecting, were very different. But I think stronger readers will just go with that flow.

And some very minor plot points- like would a middle-grader, even back in the 60s and even at boarding school, be allowed to come back to school before it begins? And, yes,   she's staying with the headmistress (though she kind of bailed on the two kids in her care.)

<side note for copyeditors: >



Other good grownups books I've loved since last posting for #IMWYR :

1. Hamnet (five stars! *****)

2. Another (I've read several during this too-long pandemic)  Laura Lippman novel- my warm-glass-of-milk at bedtime books

3. The Keeper of Lost Dreams, which I mostly enjoyed though I'm not a fan of ghosts/ spirits, even when they take a minor role.




Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sweeping out The Old Year(s)


    What else does one do on a cold-for-Florida Sunday afternoon but clear out files, right? 
    Most of our neighbors with kids have boxes and boxes piled in their recycling bins. I have pages and pages.

    I sent a lot of the more interesting ephemera from my books to the University of Southern Mississippi's deGrummond Children's Literature Collection. But I kept a few "gems." 
Like a whole file of rejection letters for GLORY BE. The original title was Junk Poker. No wonder it was rejected. 
Actually, it was rejected also because 
1. The time wasn't right. 
2. Historical fiction wasn't selling. 
3. Nobody wanted to read about the 60s. 
4. That editor who requested your manuscript has left the publisher. etc etc etc. 
    I also found many, many chapters with comments from various writer friends/ critique partners/ cold readers. It was like a walk down memory lane as well as a reminder that this journey didn't happen overnight. Or even over-a-year. 
But I loved that story a lot so I refused to give up. That, I suspect, was the trick. That's how you have to feel about what you've written. You have to feel in your heart that it's a book kids need to read. A book teachers will want to share. A book families can read together. And a book that, with a new title like GLORY BE, will end up in school libraries and classrooms. You'll get letters from kids telling you they love it, telling you what you messed up, telling you you need to write more stories about Glory, her sister, her sister's boyfriend, and Emma. Even if you can't do that, the letters make you feel like a million dollars.
    So for all you writers out there. Turn the calendar page to a new and glorious year and write like kids are waiting.  You never know what 2021 will bring. 
On one of my favorite, ever, Author Visit days, a boy gave me his very realistic drawing of the fabulous cover art. He told me he'd originally left out the "L" in Glory. But not to worry, he said, and he laughed, "It's fixed now."  It makes me smile every time I remember that day. Titles are pretty important. Not sure Gory Be would have caught an agent's eye any better than Junk Poker.



Monday, December 7, 2020



It's been a very long time since I posted any IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING? reviews. 

 But that doesn't mean I haven't been reading.

Hats way off to my teacher and librarian friends who've managed to read, review, and blog about so many books.

Two middle-grade novels stand out in my reading month. The first is a novel told in two voices by my friend Shannon Hitchcock and her co-writer, N.H. Senzai, FLYING OVER WATER. I bought this one at their launch party, complete with a signed bookplate. (I think you can get the same by checking with our fabulous local independent bookstore, TOMBOLO BOOKS in St. Petersburg, FL.) I bought it for a young reader who's a competitive swimmer and I've already mailed it off so I can't quote from it, but it was a very fast-moving story, with excellent depictions of real kids. The Florida middle-grader in the book (Shannon's voice) is a swimmer whose family supports a newly-arrived Muslim family, refugees from Aleppo. The telling feels real, it's fast-moving, and the background of the 2017 immigration restrictions takes the story even deeper. 

The second fascinating, couldn't-wait-to-read Middle Grade novel finished this week is by a favorite author, Shelley Pearsall. I've read a couple of her other books and heard this one recommended by lots of bloggers and readers. THINGS SEEN FROM ABOVE lived up to the hype! 

Such an unusual and interesting topic. Lots of Food for Thought and character growth and the kids mostly turn out to be just fine. There are two voices in this one also, but Pearsall writes them both. The two characters interact, mostly on the playground, as April fulfills her duties as Buddy Bench volunteer. JoeyByrd (his preferred way of signing his name) is a fascinating kid with much to teach his classmates. I particularly loved the school maintenance guy, Mr. Ulysses. And April's new friend, Veena, from the Buddy Bench, who started out as a shy newcomer and found her way and a friendship. Shelley Pearsall has the perfect touch with her secondary characters. My copy gets returned to our library today where I hope it will be snatched up by a young reader.

I was assigned a Winter Round-Up of picture books by the Christian Science Monitor so I got to read a few picture books these past few months, something I don't do often enough. My reviews are HERE

One wasn't exactly a picture book but I fudged my assignment and sneaked in a book I loved, suitable for younger kids. :)Hey, it had wonderful illustrations and I was absolutely delighted by the words, too. Have you read Amy Timberlake's SKUNK AND BADGER? Yes, that Amy Timberlake, the one who's written mostly for older kids. 


 Also included in that round-up was SWASHBY AND THE SEA. Yes, it has a summer feeling (if you don't live in Florida, like I do, you might not think of beach books in December).  But the twist near the end made me smile and the book has so much going on in so few pages that I think young kids will love hearing this one read aloud.



Enjoy December, everybody! 

Buy lots of books for everyone you love. Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020


 Good news!

There will be a 2021 Quaker Motto Calendar.

For this year, we're asking if you'll send your email address to

to receive an order form and an address to send your checks.

You can also leave a comment with your email address on this blogpost and I'll send the mailing address for payment and orders. 

Because of the scramble to get the calendars ready ASAP, the checks will go to Katharine Scattergood Marino this year. As soon as she receives your payment and order, the printer will get them to you.

Here is some information you may want to know:


Hearing how much everyone loves these little gems really made us try very hard to keep them going.

For those of you not familiar with the calendars, here's a page from yesteryear!