August 9 – 15, 2019Vol. 21, No. 10

Kids Books for Reading Aloud

by Martha F. Barkley

Many, many moon books to celebrate our landing on the moon, but maybe your are "mooned out" as I read in the Boston Globe recently and laughed out loud. One evening I sat by the lake and lit my bug candles, watching the orange moon ascend into the dark sky and shimmer across the lake. What a wonder moonlight is on Great Pond! The night sky is starlit and often moonlit, magically there to see, if we just look up, all around our chain of lakes every evening.

At bedtime it is time to read aloud a great story about Astronaut Scott Kelly, My Journey to the Stars, a more recent happening in the news. This 2018 picture book is a William and Joan Alfond gift to our Belgrade Library. Many others given by them are on the shelves to be explored.

With twins Mark and Scott Kelly, the only twins in our NASA program, it gave scientists in the U.S. a special gift to study. How would an earthbound twin's body compare to his identical twin brother in space for a long period of time: A FULL YEAR working and living on ISS (International Space Station)? He returned from space a couple inches taller, other changes to study as well.

Illustrator Andre Ceolin from Brazil carefully shows the twins growing up in Orange, New Jersey and many photos, too, help complete the story of their U.S. Navy fighter pilot training and later space shuttle careers in Houston, Texas. I was fascinated with the multiple oranges and lemons Scott could juggle while in gravity-free space. Count them together, many more than five or six! His floating eyeglasses while he was tied down sleeping was another revealing picture.

Photos of Houston and New Orleans and the Bahama Islands from space were new to me. When you read to the kids in your family, you will always learn something new. If not from the book, you will learn something new about your young reader in your lap. How precious read aloud time is...

Did you happen to see some of the bikers in our area on the Trek Across Maine? They rode through all day long on their way to Colby College for overnight. I happened to see a few go by near the Belgrade Post Office where a police officer helped at that tricky intersection.

There was a man and woman on a tandem bike waving at me and an elderly man wearing a straw hat pulled over to rest. My husband was driving to Oakland and saw the riders with the famed unicycle guy! He had his backpack balanced above his shoulders, yes he did! His photo appeared in many local newspapers.

Go Fly a Bike! by Bill Haduch is a book full of all kinds of bicycle history and adventures. The author has also published picture books about volcanoes, science fair secrets, and food, if you want to read more chock full of facts pages.

After watching the 2019 Tour de France for 21 days, I found page 68 especially interesting with Greg Lemond, our first U.S. winner, three different years. What an achievement in a European sport way back in 1986- 1990. Now it is becoming more common in the U.S. with better bike paths and safer bike lanes. Chapter 12 was helpful, "Take a ride. You'll feel better". Physical and mental changes in your body as you exercise, biking or walking or whatever you enjoy.

I must admit that Professor Kickstand Cycling Advice did not help me, but maybe your young reader could shed some light on his humor for you and me, the adults.

Illustrator Chris Murphy "zoomed down a steep hill on his red tricycle [at age three] and has loved biking ever since. He currently rides a red mountain bike and still relishes zipping down steep hills". His cartoon illustrations will keep the very young non reader interested as you read aloud before bedtime. Or maybe on a rainy day inside? In a simple ABC book I discovered "Q" is for "Quoddy pilot...a fishing boat used in the Lubec area. The Quoddy is similar to the Friendship sloop". Can you tell that I am from "away" when I learn from ABC books, too? Children's books are sometimes better than all the others, especially when shared with the kids.

Lost Trail: Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness

by Donn Fendler with Lynn Plourde
Illustrated by Ben Bishop

Down East published this terrific version in 2011 beginning with a good pen and ink portrait of Donn, 70 years after he almost lost his life on Mount Katahdin.

From the blurb on the back cover: "Originally made famous by the book Lost on a Mountain in Maine, this legendary story is retold here with new details and absolutely stunning illustrations that will put any reader right beside young Donn Fendler as he fights for his life."

My Bull-Moose-purchased copy will be given to our Belgrade Public Library.


Blackout by John Rocco is a Caldecott Honor book checked out over 20 times so far since 2011. Guess everyone has experienced loss of electricity at the lake and other places. This is a hot, city story.

Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbinx shows how a girl who loves math turns into a history-making "computer" (mathematicians were called computers then) who was consulted for the moon landing. I loved the Hidden Figures movie and adult book about this special woman and her leadership, hard earned, at NASA. "Soon Margaret became director of software programming for NASA's Project Apollo, leading dozens of scientists."

Katherine Johnson was the human computer that John Glenn, first flight in space around the earth, consulted. Glenn's much delayed flight offered time for Johnson's human computations, double checking the trajectory. The movie version shrinks the time for her computations which were probably days long, not minutes...

Margaret Hamilton saved the first lunar landing, years later, in Margaret and the Moon. Women and human computers were always essential in our first space travels. Thank heavens for girls who love math and pursue their interest in the government sponsored NASA programs. Margaret had done some work at Howard University in Washington, DC as she pursued her career later at M.I.T.

The Right Stuff was another great movie and also book that Scott Kelly read and helped propel him into his future.

If you are hot with summer days, try cooling off with this winter story, When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge. Another popular gift given by the Alfond Children's Book Fund. Just the winter scenes of powdery snow and perfect ice by illustrator Matt Jones will chill you before going to bed. Also, the air conditioned library is a pleasant visit for the whole family...