Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Sunday, April 3, 2011

And we're backkkkkkk...

The spring break that has delighted my children to no end over the last two weeks draws to its inevitable close this evening. The nagging (my nagging) to get backpacks in order and select clothing for tomorrow is already well underway. At least for tonight, though, it's only quasi-nagging. There is no yelling, just calm and smiles, as the kids bask in the glow of time away and time spent with family - a vacation well spent and thoroughly enjoyed. While Jeff and I did not take two full weeks off, we did go away for a few days all together and enjoyed every minute of it. To those of you whose kids are young enough that that you feel like you need a vacation after every vacation, rest assured that there's a light at the end of that tunnel. When our family takes a beach vacation these days, it's fun and relaxing for each of us.

There is also a subtle joyous undertone this time of year because this is the last big vacation break during the school year and, around here, that means camp will be here before you know it! To get fully and appropriately in the camp spirit, our oldest daughter has a group of camp friends coming over for a reunion next weekend. When the girls were younger, I remember wondering when they would begin to form the deep, enduring friendships that you form at summer camp. I think the turning point for each of our kids was around 11 years old. Some time around then, camp friends started to communicate year round and the bonds began to take hold and strengthen. It's heart-warming to see your kids develop those friendships and exciting to see their self confidence and self assurance develop together with those bonds.

So, I have to admit, the summer camp theme of today's post came to me only partly because of the upcoming sleepover and the constant camp countdown around my home. I'm also focusing on summer camp as part of my pledge to tie each of the next posts to a finalist for this year's Children's Choice Book Awards. If you don't know what I'm talking about, shame on you, but, seriously, click here! Before taking on this evening's selected finalist, I have to share some exciting news about this program. Voting for the 2011 Children's Choice Book Awards has been open 3 weeks so far (it will close on April 29) and we have already received more than 230,000 votes - more votes in just 3 weeks than any other full 6 week total since the program began. If your child hasn't yet voted in the only national book awards program where the winners are selected by children and teens -WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! Take a look at the finalists, read with your child and then send him or her or them here to vote!

So, it turns out that the summer camp theme is the perfect way to introduce both a finalist in the 3rd-4th grade Book of the Year category, Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown, as well as the awesome host of this year's live presentation of the Children's Choice Book Awards at a gala event on May 2 in New York City. The author and illustrator of the Lunch Lady books and the host of this year's children's book equivalent of the Academy Awards is the beloved and wonderful Jarrett J. Krosoczka. It turns out that Jarrett is not only the immensely talented creative and comedic genius behind the Lunch Lady series and several more books, but he also deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame of Nicest and Most Generous and All Around Top People in the world of children's books. He is one of the organizers of the River's Family Music Meltdown and Book Bash, the third annual of which was celebrated at the end of March. Jarrett has been taking to the blogosphere, twitter universe and airwaves and promoting the Children's Choice Book Awards program and all of the finalists tirelessly. Now it's time to give him a plug in his capacity as finalist.

If you haven't met the Lunch Lady and you have a child anywhere from Kindergarten through 5th grade, then make it a point to meet her. She investigates and fights crime with a delicious assortment of gadgets, serving up justice along with lunch. In this installment, she has a cookie camera, taco-vision night goggles, an underwater bendy-straw breathing apparatus and a spork phone. This book is the 4th in the series and its focus is on the legendary summer camp swamp monster - the very same monster that stars in spooky stories told late at night around the campfire at every summer camp that ever existed. The Lunch Lady books tell great stories in classic comic book format that kids can't help but love because they're action-packed and hilarious and they have the added bonus of taking parents back to the days of Scooby Doo cartoons and Archie comics. When the Lunch Lady says, "We're Salisbury-staking out the pond!" to her trusty sidekick Betty, I thought back to the days when my brothers and I begged our parents to let us eat TV dinners (we particularly loved Swanson's Salisbury steak - which may well not even be real steak but we loved it and couldn't have cared less). The icing on the cake here is that, aside from the butt-kicking protagonist and a few kooky spoofs, this book offers a somewhat authentic glimpse into summer camp and is a great choice for kids who are considering going to summer camp for the first time.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Robin! Can you tell me where I can find the originator of the photo that has the two kids with their backpacks facing the camera? My nonprofit would like to get permission to use the photo.

    Our website is:

    And you can find me at

    Thanks Robin!