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Posts in Picture Books Category


Wonderful Wordless Picture Books

Posted by Ann on February 1, 2010 at 9:41 AM in AwardsPicture BooksRecommendations
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In my posting on January 2, I suggested that we put together a list of the 10 best picture books from the decade that just passed. I said that list would be my posting this month. Since I have already changed my mind about my New Year's resolutions, I have also changed my plan for this posting. BUT I promise to get back to that list very soon.

Given this year's Caldecott Award recipient, The Lion and the Mouse, is an almost-wordless picture book, I want to talk about ways to use such books with children. Parents and teachers may be at a bit of a loss on ways to share these books with children. With the great assortment of wordless picture books available, it would be a shame if children just looked at the pictures with adults telling the story.

Let me first include some of my favorite wordless picture books. David Wiesner's books may well be the leaders of the group. Three of his books have been awarded the Caldecott Award: 2007 for Flotsam, 2002 for The Three Pigs, and 1992 for Tuesday.0618194576_l.gif0618007016_l.gif0395870828_l.gif

Raymond Briggs's The Snowman gave us the first "modern day" wordless picture book. 0375810676_l.gifMitsumasa Anno followed with many beautiful wordless (or almost wordless) picture books, my favorite being All in a Day.0613145135_l.gif

So how might we "read" these books with children? The youngest child will enjoy looking at the illustrations and will likely discuss what he sees. Jerry Pinkney would want us to spend a good bit of time on the end pages! Those endpages caught my eye when I shared them with you last November. pinkney endpages.jpg

Kindergarteners will begin to see how the pictures are connected to tell a story. Many are able to tell that story aloud. Second graders can start to write the story that goes along with the illustrations. Fourth graders are able to include a plot and describe the characters with greater elaboration. Wordless picture books should also be used with middle schoolers, who are able to expand the story being told in creative ways.

Enjoy The Lion and the Mouse with children of all ages.Take a look at the wordless picture books mentioned above. And let us know what other wordless picture books you have read and enjoyed.

Happy reading, Ann


Thursday Three: Notable Picture Books

Posted by Pam on January 28, 2010 at 1:07 PM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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Last Thursday I listed some of the American LIbrary Association's Youth Media Awards, and highlighted three winning books from among the Coretta Scott King, Schneider, and Pura Belpré awards. I had fully intended to go back to the other honors given at ALA, but was stopped by the appearance of one of my favorite things and its name is the 2010 Notable Children's Books List.

Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children's books. The list also includes the current year's Newbery, Caldecott,  Belpré, Sibert, Geisel, and Batchelder Award and Honor books. Now Notable Children's Books that have also received other ALA awards, such as the  Coretta Scott King Award, Michael L. Printz Award, Alex Award, and Schneider Family Book Award, are  noted as well. I hope that next year that they will include the age-appropriate winners of those categories, regardless of whether they were already chosen as Notable Books.

As a parent, this is the ultimate list to take to your library throughout the year to expand your exposure to different styles, genres, and cultures. I've talked about some of the books listed already in my other posts, but today I'll put the focus on three picture books that made the Notables list and that were also nominated for the Cybils Fiction Picture Book awards.

by Linda Newbery, illustrated by Catherine Rayner
PosyPosy is a most delightful kitten who tangles yarn, swipes crayons, and cuddles mommy. The abstract style may surprise those looking for a standard, sweet watercolor, but offers so much more in the artistic interpretation. The illustrations are amazing with a sense of texture and movement that springs from the page. The slight, rhyming text is geared to the youngest readers and the gentle story of exploration will bring them back again and again.

Waiting for WinterWaiting for Winter
by Sebastian Meschenmoser
Hearing about this wondrous thing called snow, a squirrel is determined to wait it out to see the first sign of the cold, white, soft stuff. As he involves Hedgehog and Bear in his wait, they each suspect things that are most definitely not snow, but that will make readers giggle. Of course, in the end the real snow falls in all its cold, white, soft beauty. Lovely pencil illustrations give interest and humor to the story.

My PeopleMy People
by Langston Hughes, photography Charles R. Smith Jr.
Langston Hughes' 1923 classic poem provides the muse for a photographic tribute of African Americans through different stages of life, shades of color, and state of being. The short poem is portioned out a bit at a time, allowing each word and each picture the space to resonate. Quiet, joyful, and ultimately moving.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site may receive a referral fee.


The Season for Awards Begins!

Posted by Ann on January 12, 2010 at 2:26 PM in Authors and IllustratorsAwardsPicture Books
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First, welcome back to Booklights posting, Susan! Your January 6 posting got many of us looking forward to next Monday when the Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King Awards and others will be announced. Several other important awards have already been I want to talk about one of particular interest to Booklights parents.

The thirteenth annual Charlotte Zolotow Award was announced this morning. The award is given annually for outstanding writing in a picture book (published in the United States in the preceding year) for children from birth - age seven.

And the 2010 Charlotte Zolotow Award goes to.....What Can You Do with a Paleta? a beautiful story of a young Mexican-American child's delight with a popsicle on a hot summer day (which may be difficult to imagine after this past cold, cold week). The book is both culturally specific and universal in its theme. 1582462216_t.gif

As the judges said, "Author Carmen Tafolla playfully appeals to all of our senses with rich imagery and crisp language. She invites us to think of all the creative things that can be done with a paleta, from painting your tongue purple or giving yourself a blue mustache to making a new friend or learning to make tough decisions. A sprinkling of Spanish words and Magaly Morales' sun-warmed acrylic illustrations add details of life in a vibrant barrio where the daily arrival of the paleta wagon is met with anticipation and celebration."

So parents and teachers, go ahead now and check out this beautiful book and have it ready for a sunny day when your children are ready for popsicles/paletas!

The 2010 Zolotow Award committee named three Honor Books:
Birds, written by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek
0061363049_t.gifPouch! written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein
0399250514_t.gifPrincess Hyacinth: (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated),
written by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Lane Smith

The 2010 Zolotow Award committee also cited four titles as Highly
Hello Baby! written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Ready for Anything! written and illustrated by Keiko Kasza
Under the Snow, written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by
Constance R. Bergum
Who Will I Be, Lord? written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by Sean Qualls

I also want to mention that the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction was also just announced. It went to Matt Phelan0763636185_t.gif for The Storm in the Barn. It is a graphic novel that will be most enjoyed by children ages 9-12.

Happy reading of award-winning books! Ann


Thursday Three: Cybil Finalists

Posted by Pam on January 7, 2010 at 12:38 PM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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For the past few months, I've been working as a Cybils panelist to find the best picture books that combine literary value with a kid-friendly appeal. On January 1, 2010 Fiction Picture Book finalists were revealed - along with the finalists from all of the Cybils categories. Taking off on Susan's post on the upcoming Caldecott awards, I'm starting my focus on all of the Cybils winners with the ones more likely - in my opinion - also bring home Caldecott silver or gold.

The Lion & the Mouse
by Jerry Pinkney
The Lion & the MouseGorgeous. Jerry Pinkney has to win the Caldecott for this stunning book. Has to. The wordless book - unless you count the owl sounds and mouse squeaks - allows the reader to fill in the Aesop's fable of the mighty lion who releases a mouse, to find that the tiny creature comes back another day to save him. But by making the story wordless, it removes the arrogance of the lion and the meekness of the mouse, allowing a greater depth of interpretation. This spectacular book breathes new life to an old tale. And I must mention again, gorgeous.

All the World
by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee
All the WorldThe Lion & the Mouse is likely to find company on the Caldecott list with this enchanting book. The poetic text is simple, taking a multicultural family through a day that focuses on their connection with each other, with friends and neighbors, and the world around them. The sentiment is lovely and is made more so by the detailed illustrations and breathtaking panoramas. This title encourages repeat readings to expand on the stories contained in the pictures, and the beauty contained in the message.

The Curious Garden
by Peter Brown
The Curious GardenDon't rule out this title for the Caldecott list, with it's amazing artwork that takes a dark, smoggy urban area to a green, bright lushness. In the story, Liam discovers a little bit of greenery in a gray, bleak city and decides to care for it. He nurtures the struggling plants into a thriving, growing garden which creeps into the city and transforms the buildings and people. If the book is about the value of nature and the environment, it is also about the possibilities in each of us to affect change for the better.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site may receive a referral fee.


2000-2009: What Were the BEST Picture Books?

Posted by Ann on January 2, 2010 at 12:08 PM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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My "job" at Booklights was originally supposed to be writing an end-of-the-month wrap-up. So as December ended, I thought about responding to this month's posts OR writing an end-of-the-YEAR (well, since April when Booklights began!) summary. I have spent the past few days re-reading our posts, clicking on the wonderful links, and reflecting on the great suggestions for bringing children and books together.

Decisions, decisions......I could easily do my "job" and summarize our December posts. For example, I could suggest that you heed Pam's and Jen's and Terry's advice to provide children with a model of at least one grown-up who enjoys reading a good book. If I took that route, I could mention how wonderful the conversations we have with children about our own reading tend to be.

Or, just as the media always does at this time of the year, I could certainly go back to the "Best of 2009," and re-direct you to some of the Booklights highlights. Should I do that, I'd need to talk more about Gina's September 22 Show and Tale, Susan's August 19 posting about reading the classics, Susan T.'s November 17 suggestions that started us talking about gift books, and Jen's Growing a Book Worm series that began on November 2.

But, I have been influenced by the hype about the end of the decade. We tend to want to think back over the last 10 years and how those years have changed our lives. From international events, to political activities, to the impact of cell phones and electronics, reflection on these years makes for lively discussion.

So how about thinking about the best picture books that were published over the past decade? What were your favorites? What were the favorites of your children who were born during the decade or as the last millennium ended?

To prompt your thoughts on the questions, you might want to return to the Booklights posts where we listed some of our favorites. Pam included How to Heal a Broken Wing, Susan mentioned Zen Shorts, and Jen listed Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.....all published in the last decade. And my list of favorites? Unfortunately, they were all published pre-2000!

So this month I resolve to come up with a list of the Ten Best Picture Books from the last decade. At this point, I suspect it will likely include Ian Falconer's Olivia, David Wiesner's The Three Pigs, Jack Prelutsky's If Not for the Cat, and Jerry Pinkney's The Lion and the Mouse.

Let me know what you'd like to see included!

Happy Reading and Happy New Year, Ann


Thursday Three: After Christmas

Posted by Pam on December 24, 2009 at 8:53 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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Surely, you’ve covered The Night Before Christmas in your seasonal reading, but you may have missed these picture books which focus on after Christmas.

My Penguin Osbert
by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, illustrated by H.B. Lewis
My Penguin OsbertJoe gets a penguin for Christmas from Santa after years of misunderstandings, but having a penguin turns out to be a lot of work. The feeding, the cold baths, the mounds of smelly fish - it’s a real problem. It’s also not an ideal situation for the penguin, so Joe does what is best for both of them. The “be careful what you wish for” message is handled with humor and grace. The illustrations and story make it brilliant.

Jingle Bells
by Nick Butterworth
Jingle BellsTwo mice would have happy barnyard lives, but are constantly bullied by the Cat. When they make Christmas stockings out of glove fingers, the mean feline puts up a note to Santa saying they went away for the holidays. Drat! They decide to teach cat a lesson, that involves a noisy jingle bell. A twist on the idea of the gift, where the present they give the cat is actually much better for the mice. Lovely illustrations with great details and a fun story.

Merry Un-Christmas
by Mike Reiss, illustrated by David Catrow
Merry Un-ChristmasYou may be surprised that Noelle isn’t happy with her Christmas pony or fancy dinner, but it soon becomes understandable when you find that she lives in a town where it is Christmas every day. Well, except for the one glorious day when it’s Un-Christmas and the mail comes and the kids go to school and everyone eats frozen dinners. Silly, funny, and yet with just a touch of message for kids who need to hear why Christmas comes just once a year.


Thursday FIVE: Christmas Around the World

Posted by Pam on December 17, 2009 at 9:09 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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The original post I did at MotherReader about Christmas Around the World always gets a lot of traffic this time of year. So I'm posting it here for the PBS Booklights subscribers who may not have seen these options for expanding your holiday storytelling at home or in the classroom.

(By the way, it would be more accurate to call this post Christmas Around the World plus One Hanukkah Story, but that title was too long. Forgive me.)

The Magic Maguey
by Tony Johnson, illustrated by Elisa Kleven
The Magic MagueyA large maguey plant sits in the middle of a Mexican village providing many resources to the people of the town, as well as a gathering spot. As Christmas approaches, a rich man who owns that land says that he will get rid of the maguey and build a house there. Miguel, with the help of the other children, decorate the maguey so beautifully for Christmas that the rich man realizes his error and doesn’t cut it down. A great story about resourcefulness with a little bit of Christmas tradition and a smattering of Spanish words.

What’s Cooking, Jamela?
by Niki Daly
What's Cooking, Jamela?Jamela’s family gets a chicken to fatten up for Christmas dinner, but Jamela gets attached to the chicken as a pet. Tension builds as a woman comes to prepare the chicken dinner, but in the end, Jamela’s mother finds something else for the Christmas dinner and gives the chicken to Jamela as a present. A fun story of a South African Christmas,conveying a sense of the culture along with a few words of the country.

A Kenya Christmas
by Tony Johnson, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins
A Kenya ChristmasJuma’s Christmas wish is to see Father Christmas, and his special aunt brings a red and white suit to the village. She tells Juma to find someone to wear the suit so that the whole village can see Father Christmas for the first time. He does so and Father Christmas surprises the village with his arrival. But it is Juma who is surprised later when he finds out that the man who was supposed to play the part didn’t do so after all. Who was that man on the elephant? A very different picture of Christmas in Africa with amazing pictures by Leonard Jenkins.

Cobweb Christmas: The Traditon of Tinsel
by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Jane Manning
A Cobweb ChristmasIn Germany, a old woman sets up a Christmas tree and cleans her house throughly, chasing the spiders outside. Let back into the house by Kris Kringle, the spiders are curious about this interesting tree, and end up “decorating” it with their cobwebs. What could be a holiday mishap becomes magical as Kris Kringle turns the webs into silver, making the first tinsel. A sweet story about the Christmas tree tradition.

The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes
by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Nancy Cote
The Borrowed Hanukkah LatkesAs a family prepares for Hanukkah, more guests are due to arrive than expected. The daughter, Rachel, borrows potatoes and eggs from their elderly neighbor to make the latkes, each time hoping that by borrowing food she will convince the woman to join the family for Hanukkah. She can’t make her come over, but in the end comes up with another plan to bring Hanukkah to the woman. While not a story of Israel, it is my favorite Hanukkah story, so I kind of cheat and use it anyway.

I have yet to find a Diwali story that isn’t just, “This is what happens during Diwali,” so if anyone has one, I’d be happy to hear about it. If anyone wants to write a good Diwali story, I’d say you’d have a pretty open market.

Susan T.

Polliwog Serenade

Posted by Susan T. on December 11, 2009 at 1:50 PM in Picture BooksPoetry
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9780061800221.jpgPoetry Friday is a tradition at many of the children's book blogs. People review poetry books for kids, share original works, and post short, copyright-friendly excerpts of other authors' poems. It's a lot of fun; I call Poetry Friday a literary happy hour.

So, today is a Friday, and a perfect time to mention The Frogs and Toads All Sang, a picture-book collection of ten poems by Arnold Lobel (HarperCollins, 2009). Yes, the very same Arnold Lobel of the Frog and Toad beginning readers. The characters in the new book, very much their own amphibians (and different from the beloved Frog and Toad Are Friends guys), dance, bake, eat, and, in general, celebrate life. One even leaps to the moon.

Recently a couple of first-grade buddies and I were reading the book aloud. Suddenly, one little girl stopped and asked if she could sing the one of the poems. I said, "Sure." In the sweetest high-pitched voice, she began, "A bright green frog/With slippery skin/Played waltzes/On a violin." I clapped at the end. Good books inspire kids time after time.

Arnold Lobel died more than twenty years ago, but had written and drawn what became The Frogs and Toads All Sang as a single-edition gift for a friend. The work eventually found its way to Lobel's daughter, Adrianne, a Broadway set designer. She added watercolor to her father's original sketches and used them, along with the poems, to create a new book.

Publishers Weekly said that the poems and illustrations are the "progenitors" of the Frog and Toad series, but I didn't go into the publishing history with the first graders. We just enjoyed the book together. I bet you and yours will, too.

Feel free to sing.

If you would like to read more of the entries for today's Poetry Friday, Diane May is gathering all the links together at her blog, Random Noodling.


Thursday Three: Holidays

Posted by Pam on December 10, 2009 at 10:14 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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With the holidays quickly approaching, here are three books that I've been favoring lately to celebrate the season.

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming.
Lemony Snicket
The Latke Who Couldn't Stop ScreamingJust hysterical. A latke runs screaming from the frying pan, and encounters various Christmas icons along its path. As the latke explains what it is and its significance in the celebration of Hanukkah, it keeps getting compared to Christmas. And so it keeps screaming. Lemony Snicket actually gets in a fair bit about the meaning of Hanukkah, while keeping a wry tone throughout. For instance as the latke explains in a long paragraph about being fried in oil as a reference to the oil that was used to rededicate the temple and the miracle that made the oil last for eight nights, the answer it receives is par for the course:

“So you’re basically hash browns,” said the flashing colored lights. “Maybe you can be served alongside a Christmas ham.”

“I’m not hash browns!” cried the latke. “I’m something completely different!”And then it runs screaming, “AAAHHHHHHHHH!” for two pages. As my kids have grown past the traditional - and too often schmaltzy - Hannukkah stories, this one is our new family classic.

The Lump of Coal
Lemony Snicket
The Lump of CoalOn the same note, we've turned to this title to replace the cute Christmas stories that absorbed us in the past. It contains perhaps one of the most perfect opening sentences of all times:

The holiday season is a time for storytelling, and whether you are hearing the story of a candelabra staying lit for more than a week, or a baby born in a barn without proper medical supervision, these stories often feature miracles.
A humble lump of coal longs to be something more and visits an art gallery and Korean barbecue in hopes of fulfilling his search for meaning. Instead a drugstore Santa decides he'll be the perfect thing for his stepson's stocking as punishment. But this ill intent goes right as the coal finds his purpose in an artist's hand. Wry, funy and odd, this book ends on just the right note for the holidays, and in echoing the first sentence, with miracles.

Robert's Snowflakes
Grace Lin
Robert's SnowflakesLest you think I'm all about the wit, my third choice is not about either holiday, but it is about beauty, joy, and hope. The book features dozens of snowflake shapes decorated by famous children's illustrators and gentle haikus for the winter season. The artwork created is amazing. Some illustrators featured their characters - like Oliva, of Ian Falconer and the dinosaurs of Mark Teague. Others contributed scenes of snow, skating, Santa, and lights. The real story within the book is the dedication of this group in auctioning of the original snowflakes to fund cancer research with the push of Grace Lin and her husband Robert Mercer, diagnosed with the disease. It's been a few years now, another set of snowflakes were auctioned, and more money raised through Robert's Snow for Cancer Cure.

Unfortunately, Robert himself has died. In his memory, Grace wrote and published her latest book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - a beautiful book of love, friendship, and gratitude that I can't recommend enough. Where the Mountain Meets the MoonIncorporating Chinese folktales with the style of European fairytales, the story tells the adventure of a girl trying to help her family by appealing to the Old Man in the Moon to change their family's fortune. I mention it now because the cover is very similar to the snowflake that Grace contributed to Robert's Snowflakes - a girl riding on a dragon against a blue background. I was in love with the cover months before I even had a chance to fall in love with the book. I also mention it because it would be the ideal gift for either/any holiday for a special girl in your life. Or for you.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site may receive a referral fee.


Thursday Three: Three

Posted by Pam on December 3, 2009 at 10:50 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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Today's title may be confusing, but it's not a mistake. In looking for books to give for the holidays, I thought I could share which of the dozens of new picture books I'm choosing to give as gifts this season. Chosen from the Cybils nominated titles I'm judging for Fiction Picture Books, today I have the books I selected for my adorable three year old niece.

There are Cats in This Book
by Viviane Schwartz
There are Cats in This BookBright, fun, clever and let's repeat fun, this book will surely entertain any toddler or preschooler. Using cutouts, flaps, and oddly shaped pages, the book interacts with the reader in a - can we use fun again? - fun way. The end papers even get in on the act with the first words on bright blue informing the reader that "The cats aren't on this page." They aren't on the next page either, but then move ahead to see purring and a quilt as a large flap. Lift it to find three awakened kitties, surprised and then happy to play with you. The cats address the reader the whole time, asking for pages to be turned, yarn to be tossed, and boxes to be opened. The happy cats are brightly and simply drawn, which lends even more of a surprise to finding the pages with more detail. This is a truly delightful book to share with a child and just plain - yes, I'll say it again - fun.

I Always, ALWAYS Get My Way
by Thad Krasnesky, illustrated by David Parkins
I Always, ALWAYS Get My Way The terrible two's might bring tantrums and frustration, but the tricky three's are all about testing limits. One of the hardest things in approaching this age is figuring out when the child isn't old enough to understand something and when they do know better. This book is a wonderful, learning tribute to that concept handled in a light way. Emmy spills juice on dad, but mom intervenes in Dad's annoyance knowing that Emmy is only three. Same with a mistake with her siblings toys. But then Emmy does things Wrong, and learns that "only three" doesn't always excuse her behavior. The message is strong, but not overbearing. The rhyming text lightens the tone, and the pictures are excellent - especially in capturing the moods of three year old. Emmy's bad choices are pretty funny to see, like seeing her dress the lizard in a doll's bathing suit, but the consequences are firm and appropriate. An enjoyable book that will ring true for any preschool parent.

Jeremy Draws a Monster
by Peter McCarty
Jeremy Draws a MonsterThis title is one of my favorites of 2009, though it seems to have slipped under the radar in the book world. I didn't think the amazing message contained within was too subtle, but maybe it did escape many readers who looked at the surface and saw a simple, light story. It's a shame, because people missed one of the better combinations of art, story, and message that I've ever seen. In the simply written and illustrated book, Jeremy stays in his room, never goes out, and draws pictures. And one day, with his special crayon, he draws a monster. The monster is demanding and Jeremy has to keep working to satisfy it. He's relieved when it goes out for the day. But can things end that easily? No. Only when Jeremy takes an active role in getting rid of his monster does he find a chance to be happy. Young kids will enjoy the story - especially as you read in the cranky monster's voice - but can also absorb the deeper meaning within. Hopefully the adult readers will too. In my own family, after all enjoying this book, we've taken to saying, "you draw your own monster." And we now see that you can't feed it or ignore it, but you have to tackle it. An amazing message wrapped in a charming book with engaging illustrations. Not to be missed.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site MotherReader may receive a referral fee.

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