A Poem for Mrs. Teaberry





Mrs. Teaberry was Mr. Putter’s neighbor.   

She dreamed of snowdrifts—           

something airy,                   

something light—                   

tulips and roses,                   

birds instead of fish.                   

He promised her a nice cup of tea.       

Mrs. Teaberry was delighted.           

They watched the snow fall               

all night long.                   

The two of them                   

sat a long time,                    

very happy,                       

living side by side.                   


"Together" is a found poem, a cento, of lines from four books in Cynthia Rylant's Mr. Putter & Tabby series for beginning readers. I didn’t go into the poem thinking that it would focus on Mrs. Teaberry and her relationship with Mr. Putter, but that’s how it turned out. She’s an important secondary character  in these books, and as much as I love Tabby, Mr. Putter’s cat, I also relate to Mrs. T, who likes strange things and makes dresses for her teapots. Paging through our copies, I once again admire Arthur Howard’s illustrations and how much they add to the story. The expressions, both human and animal, are priceless.


Title: Mr. Putter & Tabby Fly the Plane

Line 1: Mr. Putter & Tabby Feed the Fish 

Lines 2-4: Mr. Putter & Tabby Bake the Cake

Line 5: Mr. Putter & Tabby Fly the Plane

Line 6: Mr. Putter & Tabby Feed the Fish

Line 7: Mr. Putter & Tabby Fly the Plane

Lines 8-10: Mr. Putter & Tabby Bake the Cake

Lines 11-14: Mr. Putter & Tabby Walk the Dog



Rylant, Cynthia. Mr. Putter & Tabby Bake the Cake. Illustrated by Arthur Howard, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994.

Rylant, Cynthia. Mr. Putter & Tabby Feed the Fish. Illustrated by Arthur Howard, Harcourt Brace & Company, 2001.

Rylant, Cynthia. Mr. Putter & Tabby Fly the Plane. Illustrated by Arthur Howard, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1997.

Rylant, Cynthia. Mr. Putter & Tabby Walk the Dog. Illustrated by Arthur Howard, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994.


Elisabeth Norton hosts the Poetry Friday roundup, at Unexpected Intersections on Friday, August 27, 2021.

Photo by ST. I found that teapot and at least a couple of those books at the local Goodwill store some years ago.

Chicken Spaghetti's Best Kids' Books 2013: A List of Lists and Awards

6a00d834516d9569e200e550070a188834-150wiYippee! It's "best books of the year" season. Once again I'll be gathering the online lists of best kids' books right here. The Chicken Spaghetti compilation features books published in 2013, no matter when the list or awards are announced. Readers can expect to see this post amended many times, especially over the next few months.

Looking for older titles? Since this blog has been around a while, you'll find more Chicken Spaghetti lists at the following links: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Don't miss Largehearted Boy's amazing annual roundup of all the best-book lists.

And please do give me a holler if you see any I've overlooked, via Susan_Thomsen on Twitter or c_spaghetti AT yahoo DOT com.


AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books: Finalists and winners

Air & Space magazine/Smithsonian: Aviation- and space-themed children's books

Alex Awards

Amazon: Ages 0-2 (board books)
Amazon: Ages 3-5
Amazon: Ages 6-8
Amazon: Ages 9-12
Amazon: Editors' picks, including teen and young adults

Amelia Bloomer Project (feminist books for children)

American Indian Youth Literature Award

Arthur Ellis Awards. Presented by the Crime Writers of Canada, prizes include a children's/YA category.

Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Awards

Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC): Tween Recommended Reads (PDF file; books from 2012 and 2013)

Band of Thebes. 92 writers recommend best LGBT books of the year, including a couple of YA titles. (Some older books on this list, too.)

Bank Street Children's Book Committee Awards

Bank Street College: Best Children's Books

Barnes and Noble

Batchelder Award (for books in translation)

Bellingham (WA) Herald

Belmont (MA) Public Library Children's Room

Blue Peter Book Awards shortlist (UK)

Boing Boing Gift Guide: Books (some YA and kids' titles in a longer list)

Book Diaries: Picture books

Bookie Woogie

Booklist: Arts
Booklist: Audiobooks
Booklist: Black history
Booklist: Crafts and gardening
Booklist: Religion and spirituality
Booklist: Science and health
Booklist: Sports


Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards. Titles from 2013 and 2014.

Brain Pickings

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Annual gift guide (PDF) includes 2013 titles and older books. Also, Blue Ribbons (best-of-the-year books).

BuzzFeed Books


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Best Books Season Begins! Book Lists Galore

Let it snow! For those of us who love a good list, the last two months of the year bring a flurry of online "best of the year" roundups of books. Starting in 2008, I've been collecting the lists for children's books, including links to various newspapers, magazines, journals, and blogs, as well as different literature prizes and awards given out. I update the big list often.

Here is a link to this year's page:

The Best Children's Books of 2012: A List of Lists and Awards

Also, David Gutowski collects all the "best of" lists for books (for grown-ups and kids alike) at his blog, Largehearted Boy.

Meanwhile, speaking of snow, don't miss Kids' Science Books for Stormy Weather, at Scientific American's Budding Scientist blog.

Mangia, Mangia: Some Books About Food

I was happy to guest blog recently at Gourmandistan, the excellent site run by my pals Michelle and Steve. Michelle and I have been friends since college. While I was arranging Vienna sausages on white bread for what another chum termed "toe sandwiches," Michelle was whipping up coq au vin and other delicious fare. I hope you'll stop by Gourmandistan and check out Michelle's beautiful photography, too.

At Gourmandistan I wrote about some favorite food books—for adults. Here are some kids' selections on the same subject which I've really liked. 

Books A La Carte, a young adult novel by  by Tanita S. Davis (Knopf, 2008)

Anatole, written by Eve Titus and illustrated by Paul Galdone (McGraw-Hill, 1956; re-issued by Knopf, 2006)

The Bake Shop Ghost, a picture book written by Jacqueline K. Osborn and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Houghton Mifflin, 2005)

Bee-bim Bop!, a picture book written by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Hoe Baek Lee (Clarion, 2005)

Blueberries for Sal, a picture book by Robert McCloskey (Viking, 1948)

Bunny Cakes, a picture book by Rosemary Wells (Dial, 1997)

The Giant Zucchini, an easy reader by Catherine Siracusa (Hyperion, 1993) 

Ininatig's Gift of Sugar: Traditional Native Sugarmaking, a picture book for older readers by Laura Watterman Wittstock, with photography by Dale Kakkak (Lerner, 1993)

The Little Red Hen, a picture book by Paul Galdone (Clarion, 1973). A new edition from Houghton Mifflin came out earlier this year.

The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza,  a picture book written by Philemon Sturges and illustrated by Amy Waldrop (Dutton, 1999) 

Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake, an easy reader written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Arthur Howard (Harcourt Brace, 1994)

Thunder Cake, a picture book by Patricia Polacco (Philomel, 1990)

To Market, To Market, a picture book written by Anne Miranda and illustrated by Janet Stevens (Harcourt Brace, 1997)

Too Many Pumpkins, a picture book written by Linda White and illustrated by Meghan Lloyd (Holiday House, 1996)

The Ugly Vegetables, a picture book by Grace Lin (Charlesbridge, 1999)

Yum! Mmmm! Qué Rico!: America's Sproutings, a picture book written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael López (Lee & Low, 2007)

Best Australian Children's Books 2011

The Midnight Zoo, a novel by Sonya Hartnett due out here next month, took the top honors in the "older readers" category when the Children's Book Council of Australia announced its 2011 books of the year last Friday. The Eve Pownall nonfiction award went to Ursula Dubosarsky's Return of the Word Spy, illustrated by Tohby Riddle. Jeannie Baker's Mirror, also published to acclaim here in the States, was one of two picture books of the year. For all the winners and honorees, click on the above link.

Talking Cheetahs with Second Graders

Aa_cheetahs_cover The second graders and I, their volunteer weekly reader, knew that cheetahs are the fastest land animals, but we did not know that a group of cheetahs who hunt and hang out together is called a coalition.

The teacher Ms. B. had mentioned that her class really enjoys nonfiction. I found a new book, Cheetahs, written by Kate Riggs, at the public library, and reading it aloud led to lots of discussion about the big felines ("cousins of lions, right?") and talk about other animals, too. I loved listening to the group think out loud.

I did dodge the question, "How do cheetahs give birth, Ms. T.?" by responding with a happy "Like other mammals!" It turned out that the questioner really wanted to give his own answer, which was imaginative but off the mark. I left it to Ms. B. to correct, or not, at another time.


Part of a Creative Education series called "Amazing Animals," Cheetahs makes a great second-grade book, with large photographs (including, aww, baby cheetahs...you see where the question came from), large print and short paragraphs, lots of white space on the page (making it easy on the eyes), and definitions of possibly unfamiliar terms, like savanna, right there on the page. Many of the children can read it themselves, too. The book ends with a little recap of an "African" myth (I wish the author had been more specific; Africa is pretty large) of how the cheetah got its tear lines near its eyes.

The "Amazing Animals" series spotlights elephants, koalas, dolphins, and more; the kids want to hear Lions next. I have not read the others, but to judge from the response to Cheetahs, our friendly, non-hunting coaltion is onto something good.

From the Easy Reader Archives: Houndsley and Catina

From the archives, a 2009 post about Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time (Candlewick, 2008), written by James Howe and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay. With more snow on the way, it seems like just the thing.


HounsleyimageDB.cgi  A small gem of a book that celebrates winter, friendship, and being in the moment. In James Howe's beginning reader, two chums—a dog and a cat—are practicing at Houndsley's house for an upcoming concert when a snowstorm begins. Catina is antsy.

"It is too quiet," she said.

"Oh," said Houndsley. "But that is why this is my favorite time of year. In the quiet time, everything stops. I think we may be snowed in."

Houndsley's example helps Catina learn to enjoy the change of pace as they bake cookies, play music, and read. (Young readers will glean many ways to avoid cabin fever on a day when they're confined.) The animal pals generously include a third friend, Bert the goose, in their cozy good time. Marie-Louise Gay's watercolor/pencil/collage illustrations depict the action with gentle humor and a soul-warming palette of wintertime colors; even the endpapers are lovely.

Not too long at three chapters and 48 pages, Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time, the third in the Houndsley & Catina series, makes a good choice for first and second graders as well as the read-aloud crowd. All classroom libraries in the snowy states ought to have a copy!

2011 Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King Awards, and More

The most prestigious prizes for American children's books were announced this morning at the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association. For more details, more awards, and the titles of the honors books, see this press release from ALA.

Here is a partial list of winners:

Caldecott Medal: A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E. Stead and written by Philip C. Stead

Newbery Medal: Moon over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

  • Author Award: One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • Illustrator Award: Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Laban Carrick Hill

Geisel Award: Bink and Gollie, by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee; illustrated by Tony Facile

Morris Award: The Freak Observer, by Blythe Woolston

Printz Award: Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi

Pura Belpre Award (author): The Dreamer, by Pam Muñoz Ryan; Pura Belpre Award (illustrator): Grandma's Gift, written and illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Schneider Family Book Award

  • The Pirate of Kindergarten, written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Lynne Avril (ages 0 to 10)
  • After Ever After, by Jordan Sonnenblick (ages 11-13)
  • Five Flavors of Dumb, by Antony John (teens)

Siebert Informational Book Award: Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot, by Sy Montgomery, with photographs by Nic Bishop

Stonewall Book Award: Almost Perfect, by Bryan Katcher

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults: Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing, by Ann Angel

Some Best-Kids-Books Lists to Read

Happy Friday! For the past few years I've collected online links to many "best of the year" lists for children's books. Here are some recent additions to The Best Children's Books 2010: A List of Lists and Awards.


Apartment Therapy Ohdeedoh: Best Jewish children's books

Audible.com. Audiobooks.

AudioFile. Best audiobooks, including a "Children's and Family Listening" category.

Boston Globe. Anita Silvey's picks.

Bruneau Family Children's/Young Adult Literature Award. Honors excellence in Newfoundland and Labrador writing. (Canada)

Chapters Indigo (Canada)

A Fuse #8 Production, a School Library Journal blog. 100 "magnificent books."

Grand Rapids Press. Books by Michigan authors.

Hockey Book Reviews.com. Not a "best" list, per se, but a good roundup of 2010 hockey books for children and teens.

The Hornbook's Fanfare list

The Inkys longlist, shortlist, and winners. Teenage choice book award. (Australia)

Irish Book Awards, including the Dublin Airport Authority Irish Children's Book of the Year

The Manga Critic

National Outdoor Book Award. Includes a children's book category.

New York Public Library: 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing (PDF file)

New York Times Book Review: Notable children's books

The New Yorker: The Book Bench blog's Holiday Gift Guide: "For the Precocious Child"

Ottawa Citizen. List includes books for children. (Canada)

Romantic Times. YA nominees at the end of a long list.

YALSA Morris Award shortlist. Honors debut YA authors.

Zooglobble. Best kids' music, not books. Hey, we needed a Z!

Quite a Few Nature Books for Kids, or Spying at the New York Botanical Garden


Loyal Chicken Spaghetti readers know that I like to take pictures of book displays. (On a similar post last summer, a few others confessed to doing this, too. My people!) Yesterday's family outing to the charming holiday train show at the New York Botanical Garden gave me an excuse to hang around its gift shop, acting like a spy and taking pictures with my shoe phone.


Store displays are great ways to get recommendations. I spotted a mix of fiction and nonfiction, including Big Yellow Sunflower, by Frances Barry; Bugs in a Blanket, by Beatrice Alemagna; The Grouchy Ladybug and The Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle; I Love Dirt: 52 Ways to Help Your and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature, by Jennifer Ward; Snow Is Falling, by Franklyn M. Branley;  The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss; a new edition of The Secret Garden, illustrated by Inga Moore; The Practical Naturalist, by Chris Packham; Blue Potatoes, Orange Tomatoes: How to Grow a Rainbow Garden, by Rosalind Creasy; and NYC books like Old Penn Station, by William Low, and I Love N.Y., by Christoph Niemann.

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