Weird Stories from the Lonesome Cafe

Fall 2013

Coming soon--Ukulele Hayley!

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best list 2012

Oregon Book Awards 2012

Ukulele Lady

Bank Street College of Education, Best Books of 2011

200,000 people attended the National Book Festival.

Each state had a table at the Pavilion of States. Look closely, and you'll see CARMEN LEARNS ENGLISH.

Everyone got a map. Kids took the maps to each state's table to get it stamped. I helped stamp using Oregon's Ramona Quimby stamp (because Beverly Cleary is an Oregon author.)

We saw Giant Pandas at the National Zoo in Washington, D. C.

After visiting Washington, D. C. we took the train back to Portland, Oregon--from sea to shining sea!

After three days on the train, I look a little bit tired. But happy!

Move over Rock Bottom Remainders! Here comes "Banned"! From left to right: Neysa, Monelle, Michelle, Judy (not pictured: Docena, Lucinda)

Keynote address at SCBWI--Southern Idaho/Northern Utah April 2011

Bank Street College of Education, Best Books of 2011

Prince George, B. C. gets a lot of snow!

Fleur in Aberglen Castle (Div. 6 Highglen Elementary)

At Heather Park Elementary with Ishbu the rat puppet.

Frederick and Ishbu's first adventure!

The second book in The Tails of Frederick and Ishbu

Summer Reading

Word by Word

The Snuggle Factor

January 25, 2012

Tags: learn to read, read aloud, reading development, Judy Cox, picture books, cuddle, snuggle, help your child learn to read

Bookends!
Baby, it’s cold outside! I’m watching snowflakes drift past my window, a mug of steaming hot chocolate in my hand, carols on the radio. Time to cuddle up with a good book.

Speaking of cuddling, I have a theory about how children learn to read. I’m a reading specialist. Over the years, I’ve come up with a completely unscientific hypothesis about why some children learn to read seemingly without effort, while some children struggle. I have no evidence or proof—it’s just a gut feeling.

I call it the “cuddle factor”. Maybe children who love to read have somewhere, sometime, been cuddled as they read or were read to-- heads bent together over a favorite book, sitting on grandma’s or grandpa’s lap, curled up with mom or dad or a favorite aunt or uncle—even a caring babysitter.

I have no basis for this theory, but I like it. You don’t get cuddling from a video game, the computer, or TV screen! So while I’m teaching phonics, or decoding, or any of the thousand required reading skills I’m employed to teach, I make it a point to sit close to my students and share a silly poem, a nursery rhyme, a funny song, or a favorite book, in the hopes that some of my love of reading will “rub off” on them.

So on these cold, dark winter days, do yourself and your little ones a favor--cuddle up together with a good book!

Mrs. Millie Goes to Washington, D. C.

September 10, 2011

Tags: Judy Cox, Mrs. Millie, National Book Festival, Oregon Center for the Book, children's literature, picture books

Mrs. Millie is going to the National Book Festival!
Mrs. Millie is going to Washington, D. C.! I've been invited to help host the Oregon table at the Pavilion of States at the National Book Festival in Washington, D. C. on Saturday, September 24, 2011.

Each year, a different Oregon author is invited, and I'm so proud and excited to have been chosen. What an honor to represent Oregon literature! My book, "Don't Be Silly, Mrs. Millie!" will be listed on the map of the states. Participants take the map to the state tables and get them stamped. I'll get to visit with readers from all across the country. Maybe I'll even see the First Lady and her children--or the First Grandma!

I'm thrilled to be going to Washington, D. C. I haven't been there since 1965--when my whole family drove from California to New York to see the World's Fair. I'll bet things have changed just a little bit! Who knows, maybe I'll have material for a new book when I get back!

Best Books of 2011

April 2, 2011

Tags: Bank Street College of Education Best Books for Children, Carmen Learns English, Cinco de Mouse-O!, Jeffrey Ebbeler, Angela Dominguez, picture books, Judy Cox, children's books

Happy News!

Two of my books, CINCO DE MOUSE-O! (Holiday House; illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler)and CARMEN LEARNS ENGLISH (Holiday House; illustrated by Angela Dominguez) have been chosen as Best Children's Books of 2011 by the Bank Street College of Education.

The Children's Book Committee reviews over 6000 books each year and selects 600 books to include in their annotated bibliography. From their website:

"The Children's Book Committee was founded almost 100 years ago to help parents, teachers, and librarians choose the books that children will find captivating and transforming."

I'm proud to be among the books selected.

The Important Thing about Picture Books

October 12, 2010

Tags: New York Times, picture books, brain development, emergent literacy, reading, child development, language development, wordplay, teaching, parenting

Recently, an article in the New York Times (see link on sidebar)
stated that picture books seem to be on the wane, as parents and teachers push children into reading “harder” books in order to make gains on reading tests. This is such a mistaken notion.
Picture books far are more than easy books with pictures as a crutch. Like learning to crawl before learning to walk, picture books serve an important function in a child’s language development.
I hope we as a culture haven’t forgotten that picture books:
• Develop vocabulary. Because picture books are meant to be read by an adult to a child (and not the other way around) the author is free to use any words at all—including made up words and words in other languages. There are no restrictions. The level of vocabulary in a picture book is much higher than in a leveled chapter book.
• Teach an appreciation for language. Picture books sound best when read aloud. They use playful, tongue-tickling language. Picture books teach an appreciation for all the fun of English, including alliteration, onomatopoeia, puns, and word play. No where else, aside from poetry, will you find such joy in words.
• Visual interpretation. The pictures in a picture book often tell a companion story to the text, so the reader learns to interpret visual clues—like facial expressions and body language. In our graphics-heavy culture, the ability to “read” visuals is a key skill.
• Shared experience. A picture book, shared by an adult with a child, is an interactive experience. It gives the child a chance to ask questions, and make comments. It gives the adult a chance to listen, guide, and direct. The interaction leads to increased receptive and expressive language.
• Brain development. A picture book read by an adult to a child engages more centers of the brain than a video. (see link on sidebar)

I remember hearing about a grandmother who was concerned when her grandson entered school, and was labeled as language delayed. She promptly put him on a “diet” of fourteen picture books a day. Imagine—she read fourteen picture books every day (not in a row) to her grandson! Within months, he had caught up to the rest of the children in his class.
So snuggle up with a child today and share a picture book. You won’t regret it.

Win a copy of Cinco de Mouse-O!

March 25, 2010

Tags: judy cox, children's books, cinco de mayo, mice, picture books, contest

Enter to win an autographed copy of Cinco de Mouse-O! and read an interview with me at Linda Benson's website: http://www.lindabenson.blogspot.com/

I met Linda when we were both living in the same small Oregon town. I taught a class on writing for children at the local community college and she signed up. We hit it off right away and became good friends. Not long after that, however, we each moved away. A year or so later, she wrote with the good news that she had sold her first mid-grade novel, The Horse Jar.

Now we live hundreds of miles from each other,in different states, but keep in touch through Facebook and email. Thank goodness for the internet!

Linda has been kind enough to host an interview with me on her blog page, and include a drawing for a signed copy of my new picture book, Cinco de Mouse-O!.See her webpage for details.

I hope to return the favor and post an interview with her soon (as soon as I figure out how to do it. Stay tuned!

Sometimes Less is More

October 18, 2009

Tags: Where the Wild Things Are, movies, books, picture books, Maruice Sendak, writing, movies, Judy Cox, Polar Express, Jumanji, Shrek

I don't plan to see the new movie, Where the Wild Things Are. I don't want to know Max's Freudian motivations for wearing a wolf suit or yelling at his mom. I don't want to hear the Wild Things talk. I don't want to see the island "brought to life on the big screen".

I adore the book; in my mind Maurice Sendak created the perfect picture book--short, spare, concise, and elegant in its design. (Have you noticed how the pictures take up more of the page's space as Max's journey evolves?)A good picture book--a great picture book--can say as much in a few words as a novel. Like a poem, much of the meaning is constructed by the reader. Movies tell too much. They leave nothing for the viewer to do. I want to participate in the creation of the story, bringing my own memories, fears, hopes, and dreams to my reading. In this way, each reader experiences the book in a unique fashion.

I haven't liked other movies that have been adapted from picture books because that inevitably means that plot is added, unlike a novel adaptation where plot is cut. Jumanji, for instance--where did that sad, lost hunter come from? Or How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a horrible movie which seeks to explain why the Grinch turned bad. I never had a problem accepting that he was bad because his heart was two sizes too small, did you? The only movie based on a book that I did like was Shrek, and I suspect that was because I had not read the book first.

Instead of movies, I prefer the richer, less limiting experience of my own "theater of the mind" where Wild Things do not need to talk, and the Polar Express is full of unexplained magic.

So, while other folks are in the dark theater, finding out what Wild Things do at a rumpus, I'll be at home, with a cup of tea, my cat at my feet, and a stack of picture books at hand. Relaxing, reflecting, watching stories come to life in my head.

Selected Works

Picture Book
Animal Adventure
A stand-alone companion volume to "The Mystery of the Burmese Bandicoot" and "The Case of the Purloined Professor" also by Judy Cox.
Award
Bank Street College of Education Best Books 2014
New Books
Join Mouse on his fourth adventure--a romp in the snow!
Mrs. Millie's Kindergartners surprise her with a pun-filled birthday party!
Mouse is back in a Halloween adventure.
Nora's rowdy cousin from Texas is coming to stay. Is Ellie as bad as Nora remembers? Junior Library Guild Selection
Award Winners
Oregon Spirit Award
Bank Street College of Education, Best Books of 2011
Bank Street College of Education Best Books of 2011
TIME magazine Best Children's Books of 2009
Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award 2009
Children's Choices list 2009
TIME magazine Best Children's Books of 2005
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award 2004
Nevada Young Readers Award 2002