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 TWELVE BOOKS OF CHRISTMAS

December 7, 2011

Tags: Christmas, children's books, literature, reading, Santa’s Beard is Soft and Warm, Bob Ottum and Jo Anne Wood., The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson, Baby’s Christmas, Eloise Wilkin, The Twelve Days of Christmas Dogs, Carolyn Conahan, Cookie Count, Robert Sabuda, It’s Christmas, Jack Prelutsky, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston, Barbara Cooney, The Mole Family’s Christmas, Russell Hoban, The Story of Holly and Ivy, Rumer Godden, Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, Robert Barry, The Wild Christmas Reindeer, Jan Brett

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
When my son was young, our holiday tradition was to buy a new Christmas book every year. That, coupled with the books other people gave us, and all of the I-can’t-resist-this-one extras that I bought, soon led us to a HUMONGOUS collection. We kept the books in a special, decorated box (which soon became two boxes, and then three….). We got the books out every year on December 1st. In an effort to keep the holidays somewhat scaled back, we didn’t decorate our house until around Dec. 10, so the books were the only evidence of Christmas-is-coming for nearly two weeks.

Last year, I posted a list of my top favorite Christmas books. In the spirit of the season, I rummaged through my boxes again and came up with 12 more favorites:

1. Santa’s Beard is Soft and Warm by Bob Ottum and Jo Anne Wood. Remember “Pat the Bunny”? This is the Christmas version of a touch-and-feel book.

2. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. Great family read-aloud about the true spirit of Christmas.

3. Baby’s Christmas by Eloise Wilkin. This is OLD. I’ll bet I had this as a baby, too!

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas Dogs by Carolyn Conahan. This is NEW. I bought it to give as a gift, and then couldn’t bear to part with it.

5. Cookie Count by Robert Sabuda. I love anything with mice. And cookies. Yum!

6. It’s Christmas by Jack Prelutsky. Jolly Christmas rhymes and jingles to read aloud.

7. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney. A beautifully told story of wartime (WWI) Appalachian Christmas. I choke up every time I read it.

8. The Mole Family’s Christmas by Russell Hoban. What would a mole want more than to see the stars? Russell Hoban is a genius.

9. The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden. An unabashedly sentimental tale of dolls and their wishes.

10. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. Found in the library discard pile, this one’s a keeper!

11. The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett. I love the other stories told within Jan’s illustrated borders. A good one to pair with The Mitten.

12. The Mitten by Jan Brett. There are other versions of this classic winter folk tale, but her charming illustrations are not to be missed.

What books are on your Christmas list?




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.

That Toddlin' Town

April 29, 2010

Tags: Chicago, IRA, Cinco de Mayo, Jeffrey Ebbeler, Hilary Wagner, Holiday House, children's books, reading, David Adler, Eric Kimmel, Laurie Lawlor

Judy reflects.
I'm just home from my whirlwind adventure in Chicago! What a quick trip. I flew in on Sunday and back home on Tuesday. The weather smiled upon me and I had a brisk, blue, spring day in which to swoop about town. I made the most of it, rising early to walk through Grant Park to the shore of Lake Michigan, passing beds of yellow and red tulips nodding in the breeze. They don't call it the Windy City for nothing! My presentation at the International Reading Association National conference, with professor Deborah Wooten (author of "Children's Literature in the Reading Program: An Invitation to Read") went very well. I'd purchased a netbook computer to run my Powerpoint slide show, but didn't need it after all. Jeff Ebbeler, the illustrator of Cinco de Mouse-O! and One is a Feast for Mouse was there, so we invited him onstage to answer questions.

Jeff and I had two hours between the presentation and our book-signing at the Holiday House booth, so we caught a cab and dashed over to the Chicago Art Institute where I steeped myself in the vivid colors of the Impressionists. What a superb collection of art. One of my favorite exhibits was the Joseph Cornell boxes, but everywhere I turned I saw a painting, sculpture, print, or photo of something I recognized. The whole thing gave me goose bumps.

That night I joined Eric Kimmel, David Adler, Laurie Lawlor, Hilary Wagner, notable educators, and the folks from Holiday House at a dinner at the Chicago Firehouse restaurant.

The next morning, on Jeff's advice, I headed to Millennium Park where I had the Cloud Gate (known to Chicagoans as "the bean") all to myself. Photo op!

Many thanks to the fine folks at Holiday House for inviting me. I had a wonderful time and hope to go back again someday!

Countdown to Chicago!

April 21, 2010

Tags: IRA, Chicago, Judy Cox, children's books, reading, Cinco de Mouse-O!, Jeffrey Ebbeler

Judy and illustrator Jeffrey Ebbeler in Chicago
It's only four days away and Wow!--am I excited.

I'll be speaking at the International Reading Association National Conference in Chicago at 11am on Monday, April 26. My presentation--with Deborah Wooten, education professor and author of "Children's Literature in the Reading Program"--is entitled "Celebrate Reading!" I'll be giving a slide show and talking about the stories behind my books.

Come join me at 2:30 that afternoon at the Holiday House booth, #1910. Jeff Ebbeler and I will be signing our newest book, Cinco de Mouse-O!

If you're in the Windy City, stop by and say "Hello!"

Pick a Pumpkin, Mrs. Millie!

July 22, 2009

Tags: Judy Cox, children's books, children's author, reading, books, Mrs. Millie, pumpkin patch, field trip, Kindergarten, Halloween, pumpkin, puns, wordplay

It's here! My new book, PICK A PUMPKIN, MRS. MILLIE! is now available in bookstores. It's always a thrill to get a new book. All those hours and hours of work have finally paid off.

I was sitting in my living room when the brown UPS truck pulled up. My husband and I tried to remember if we'd ordered anything, then I realized it must be my new book. What a thrill! I even told the UPS driver--"It's my new book!" He was underwhelmed. "Uh, uh," he said. Maybe he hears it all the time?

PICK A PUMPKIN, MRS. MILLIE! is the third in the Mrs. Millie series. In this adventure, she takes her kindergarten class on a field trip to the pumpkin patch. Every year I took my kindergartners to the pumpkin patch. The book is dedicated to Farmer Don. He and he wife, Jeanne, had a very small farm in West Linn, Oregon. Their barn was over 100 years old. Every year, they hosted hundreds of school children. Farmer Don picked us up at the gate in his tractor-drawn wagon and drove us to the patch to pick out pumpkins. His pumpkin patch was not the biggest, or the fanciest, or the most hi-tech--but I'll bet it was the sincerest patch in Oregon. Although the events and characters in the book are imaginary, it is this patch that inspired me. Thanks, Jeanne and Don!

Summer Reading, Part II

June 14, 2009

Tags: Judy Cox, Miracles on Maple Hill, children's books, vintage books, Virginia Sorensen, Beth and Joe Krush, Newbery Medal, library, reading, summer, children's author

I bought a real treasure at the second hand bookstore yesterday. I found a copy of "Miracles on Maple Hill" by Virginia Sorensen. Published in 1956, this book won the Newbery Medal in 1957.

The book I found is not in mint condition, but condition doesn't matter to me. If it's readable--and a book I love--I'll buy it. This copy is a discard from the Wichita City Library in Wichita, Kansas. I know this because there is an imprint embossed on the title page. The book has a red library binding with an illustration on the front. It's been well-used. There are inked-out marks on some of the pages, and the cover and edges of the pages are worn. At some time during its life, the book must have belonged to the Wyoming Indian Elementary School Library, because there's a stamp from them. I don't know if that school was in Kansas or Wyoming--I'll have to search on the internet. This book is probably the same edition that my school library had. The only thing that's missing is the old library card pocket.

I don't remember reading this book as a child, but I think one of my teachers read it aloud to the class. I can't recall the story, but as I started reading it yesterday, the chapter about sugaring off sounded familiar. I look forward to reading the whole book.

One of the best things about this book is the charming pen and ink illustrations by Beth and Joe Krush. When I was a child, mid-grade books were nearly always illustrated. I loved Beth and Joe Krush's work so much that I would check books out from the school library simply based on their illustrations. They illustrated the Gone-Away Lake books by Elizabeth Enright, as well as the Borrowers series by Mary Norton.

We've been having a lot of summer rain showers this June, so I think I'll turn off my computer and go curl up with "Miracles on Maple Hill".

Happy Reading!

Summer Reading

May 24, 2009

Tags: reading, summer, Judy Cox, children's author, library, books

Summer vacation is coming! It's so close I can almost taste it. In fact, some of my favorite things about summer are tastes--Lemonade. Fried chicken. Watermelon. Cherry Popsicles. Books.

Wait a minute--did I just say books? That's right,books. Of course, I don't actually eat books. I don't even nibble them. But certain books just seem to have a kind of flavor--a flavor that puts me in a lazy summery mood. I try to reread a few of them every summer.

Some of my all time favorites are:

The River at Green Knowe by L. M. Boston

Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright

The Swing in the Summerhouse by Jane Langton

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

I hope you'll savor a few of your favorites this summer, too!

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