Books on Monday: NOAH WEBSTER & HIS WORDS by Jeri Chase Ferris, illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch

By Leslie Lindsay

Who can’t love a book about words?! Not I. But then again, without Noah Webster to catalogue and decipher them, we may not have this book, either. Noah Webster and His Words 

When my daughter came home from preschool (!) several years ago touting words like ovoviparous ,I knew I had another wordhound on my hands. She also learned omimous from PBSKids around the same time, both of which I didn’t even know till I was much older. Okay, I confess, I had to look up ovoviparous that spring in Pre-K when Kelly was trying to educate us on chicken eggs. Yes, that was a dinnertime conversation and yes, Jim and I looked at each other with equal parts awe and scrutiny. Did our barely 5-year old really just utter that big ol’ word?
Delightful for just about anyone, from teachers and parents and kids, to those young at heart, NOAH WEBSTER AND HIS WORDS is a true gem, highlighting not just history but also a love for the written word. What I found that really stands out with this book is the way the author has pulled several words away from the text to highlight their definitions, such as SCHOLAR and CONFIDENCE, among others. It is sort of reminiscent of Jamie Lee Curtis’s book, BIG WORDS but with a definite historical–biographical bent.

If you  get the book, talk about the words. Oh gosh…you could just pull directly from the book and try to use them in a sentence, for the rest of the week, forever. If there’s something you don’t know–by all means, look it up!

Use this book as an opportunity to expand on words  your child already knows, share a love for writing (and speaking) concisely. Encourage kids to ask questions and seek answers in the dictionary–whether in hard copy form or on-line. It’s also a wonderful tool to talk about one’s passions. Noah Webster, for exaple didn’t want to become a farmer like the men in his family–he wanted to become a scholar. Talk with your child the costs and benefits to going against the grain, against the family business, and perhaps doing something radical–but within limits.

Noah Webster pre-1843 IMG 4412 Cropped.JPGFor more information on Noah Webster and this book, please see:

From the Noah Webster House and Historical Society

About the author, Jeri Chase Ferris

About the book on Ms. Ferris’s website, awards, etc.




Books on Monday: MY YELLOW BALLOON

By Leslie Lindsay

What a darling book! Set in the 1930s with the most beautiful illustrations by Erwin Madrid to accompany, MY YELLOW BALLOON is a children’s book destined to become a classic to help children deal with and process grief.My Yellow Balloon

No where in the book does anyone die, which I especially appreciated–knowing full well that the book can be adapted to include the loss of a lovey (blanket, toy), to a pet, and family member or friend, MY YELLOW BALLOON talks about loss in an honest, engaging, and reassuring manner.

Six-year old Joey is at the fair with his parents when he plucks a yellow balloon from a fair worker, he and balloon become close–friends, even. They do everything together until one day, Joey looks up and sees his precious yellow balloon floating up, up, up into the forever blue sky. The illustrator does a beautiful job of showing–with color, or the lack thereof–Joey’s feelings and emotions.

MY YELLOW BALLOON is the perfect book for just about anyone dealing with grief on any level. This week, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20th just happens to be Grief Awarenss Day for Children. Why not make this book part of your family time? While you may not be dealing directly with death, this is a fantastic opportunity to discuss–and prepare–for complicated emotions that are sure to plaque anyone in the face of loss.

Other ideas:

  • Talk with a child about a tragedy, big and small
  • A discussion tool for *any* classroom, especially in the wake of tragedy
  • An art lesson. Look at the use of color, shadows, faces, clothing, period details from the 1930s
  • Soothe and distract kids when life gets tough

For more information: My Yellow Balloon Website 

Tiffany PapageorgeTiffany Papageorge has always had a profound love for stories. She earned her MFA in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Through her extensive theater background, which spans a 25-year period and includes work with CBS and Disney, she learned firsthand how stories deeply touch and affect the human spirit. As an author and public speaker she works with parents, teachers, and mental health professionals who want to find new ways to reach, capture, and engage children, including those who are dealing with the issue of loss. She also works with children directly through story to help them grow, heal, and flourish. She and her husband, Paul, live in Los Gatos, California, with their three children. My Yellow Balloon™ is Tiffany’s first children’s book.

About the Illustrator: Erwin Madrid grew up in San Jose, California. In May 2003, Erwin earned his BFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, CA. During his last semester of college, Erwin was hired by PDI/DreamWorks Animation where

he contributed production illustrations for the animated feature film, Shrek 2. He later became a visual development artist for the ongoing Shrek franchise, the Madagascar sequel and Megamind. Erwin has also done conceptual art for the video game industry for titles like Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. His has designed cover art for children’s books for publishers that include Harper Collins, Random House and Simon and Schuster. In his spare time, Erwin travels and paints whenever he has a chance. He currently lives in the Bay Area, California.


Books on Monday: THE TREE LADY by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

By Leslie Lindsay

I bought this book mostly because I love children’s picture books…and the main charcter, Kate Sessions happens to share her name with my daughter who is also a tree-loving little girl, although my hubby so kindly pointed out, she may be outgrowing picture books. The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

I disagree. Anyone and everyone can love picture books; they are truly a wonderful foray into the world of literature.

And so my love for children’s literature never dies. And neither does San Francisco, which was once dry and desert-like and has been transformed in a lush green garden by Kate Sessions who was quite visionary for a time in which women–and girls especially–were seen and not heard (and often, not educated).

Part environmentalism, history, biography, and girls-can-do-anything motto, THE TREE LADY will change not just a city forever, but you too.

If you decide to share with your children, here are some talking points:

  • What kinds of adversity do you think girls had to overcome in the mid-late 1800s?

Is there something you are equally passionate about that you could put into action just like Kate Sessions did?

What if there were no trees? What if Kate Sessions didn’t have this vision for San Francisco? How might it be a different city?

Did you like the story about Kate Sessions and her drive for trees and green space in San Francisco, or did you like the illustrations best? Maybe both.

Can you think of other women leaders who have had to overcome criticisms to do what they were passionate about?

Do you think Kate Sessions had a good life? Why or why not?


For more information on Katherine Sessions, her work with trees and this book, please see:

[image of kate sessions  retrieved on 11.08.14. book cover retrieved fromamazon on 11.08.14]