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A Cat Who Can Bake and Kids Who Love to Eat Cake

Debbie Glade shares her thoughts on this imaginative chapter book.

Mrs. Noodlekugel ($14.99, Candlewick Press, ages 5 and up) is a charming chapter book about a boy and his sister, who discover a tiny house sandwiched between tall buildings behind their apartment. The janitor in their building tells them a nice old lady lives there, though they should not bother her at all. But kids being kids, naturally their curiosity leads them to explore where they are told not to go.

What they discover is a secret garden and a friendly old lady whose house smells like fresh-baked goodies. It is there that Mrs. Noodlekugel introduces the children to a cat who can bake and play the piano, among other things and a few other interesting creatures too. There’s a nice surprise for the children when they tell their parents they have been to the old lady’s house.

Here’s a book that in addition to being very imaginative, also reads like a quirky, yet wholesome adventure every young child would love to have. Who wouldn’t want to be treated to yummy fresh-baked goods while interacting with endearing animals with human characteristics?!  Along with the story are some cute cartoon-like black and white illustrations by Adam Stower. Author Daniel Pinkwater, who has written many popular books, generally bases his characters on people he knows in real life. This leaves us asking the question: Who is the Mrs. Noodlekugel in his life?!

If you read and love this book, you’ll be happy to know the adventures continue in 2013 with Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice.

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Bad Kitty Meets The Baby Giveaway

What Happens When The Kitty Meets Her Match?

98232199In six short illustrated chapters, Bad Kitty Meets The Baby ($13.99, Roaring Brook Press, ages 7-10) author/illustrator Nick Bruel manages to get in so many laughs both with his story and drawings that we are left wanting more. No wonder there are more than 2.5 million Bad Kitty books in print.  Thankfully there’s for videos, games, activities and more to hold us over until the next book!

Meet Kitty, Puppy and Uncle Murray. Mom and Dad are heading off with lots of luggage and soon will be bringing plush-bad-kittyhome a new addition to the family, so Uncle’s in charge. Kitty does not like surprises since the last slurpy one was Puppy.  Who is this creature? What is this creature? Cat? Dog? We know it’s a baby but the fun is following along with Bad Kitty as she tries to figure things out. There’s also Uncle Murray’s Fun Facts, the Pussycat Olympics and a whole lot more shenanigans so suited for elementary-schoolers who enjoy fast moving, bad-kitty-meets-baby-arc-int-p118-119slapstick humor with a cast of endearing characters who will simply crack you up!

Good Reads With Ronna is giving away one Bad Kitty Meets The Baby along with a Bad Kitty Plush to one first place winner and one book each to two second place winners. To enter just click here and provide your name, address and telephone number. Please remember to write ‘Bad Kitty’ in the subject line. For rules click here. The giveaway ends on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 and winners will be notified on July 6. Good luck!badkittymeatsbaby

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Put on a Hoppy Face!

Regular Contributor Lindy Michaels of BookStar on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City claps her hands with approval for IF YOU’RE HOPPY ($16.99, HarperCollins/Greenwillow Books, ages 2-5), written by April Pulley Sayre with illustrations by Jackie Urbanovic.


Who doesn’t know and love the musical ditty, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…?” But what if you’re HOPPY and you know it? What are you? Are you a frog? A bunny? What, I ask! Since they’re all HOPPY, you could be any of them or more, right?

Now, let’s see… what if you’re SLOPPY and you know it, what are you? No, no, your extremely messy children don’t count. But they will love this sing-songy, adorable, colorfully illustrated book as they try and guess who is GROWLY and FLAPPY and… well, you get the picture.

What I love about IF YOU’RE HOPPY is that it’s fun and silly and will even encourage little ones to come up with their own thoughts on who is hoppy and floppy and so on and so on!

But a warning! You can’t just read IF YOU’RE HOPPY. No, no, no. I insist that you sing it! And that will make you and your tots… happy. And if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!

lindymichaelspic1The very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Studio City Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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Check Out The Shoes

Guest reviewer Lindy Michaels of BookStar in Studio City writes about PETE THE CAT…. I LOVE MY WHITE SHOES (HarperCollins, $16.99, ages 3-7) by Eric Litwin with art by James Dean.

9780061906237Pete, the cat, loves his very white shoes and sings about just how much he does. Now all join in! “I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes!” But, oh no! And horrors, too! One day he steps into a large pile of… strawberries and his shoes turn… RED!

Most cats in this situation would go meowing back to their momma, but not Pete. He goes with the flow, now singing about how he loves his red shoes. Sing it loud! “I love my red shoes, I love my red shoes, I love my red shoes!”

And you guessed it, Pete keeps stepping into piles of different colored “things.” Yikes, even mud! But no catastrophe will crumple this cat.

Children will love to guess what Pete steps into next, as they sing along with him. Will his shoes ever turn white, again? Open this ‘colorful’ book and find out!

lindymichaelspic2The very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Studio City Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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The Looking Book

51e7imzbjjl_sl500_aa240_The cover of The Looking Book by P.K. Hallinan is so cute, I couldn’t wait to open it up. A mommy insists that her boys stop watching TV and go outside to play. But the boys resist until Mommy gives them “lookers,” special glasses that she promises will help the boys see things like they’ve never seen them before. (This got me excited to read on.)

The first thing the boys notice are the green, green leaves on a tree, followed by marching bugs, twigs, rocks and much more. From the smell of roses to a purring kitten, these boys really have a great time exploring their yard. It’s so much more fun that just watching TV! Best of all, in the end they discover something important about their “lookers.” Artist,
Patrice Barton’s wonderful illustrations are perfect for this book. Author P.K. Hallinan has more than 8 million books in print, and loves to inspire young readers and teach them about life values. He does exactly that in The Looking Book.

dsc_0024-300x217Debbie Glade is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for She blogs daily at

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Milo’s Special Words

dsc08201These books were reviewed by Heather, a physical therapist and former L.A. mom recently relocated to Manhattan. Kieran is almost 2 1/2 years old and soon to be a big sister. One of her favorite activities is storytime with mommy and daddy and she especially likes to question “Why?” with each turn of the page.

Getting this book to review could not have been more timely. My daughter, Kieran has recently taken to placing orders with us rather than saying the preferred “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome.” Milo’s Special Words (Robin Corey Books from Random House) by Charise Mericle Harper features Milo, a little toddler cat thirsty for milk. However, his mommy (who 2happens to be a bunny) won’t get it unless he uses those magic words. With the assistance of his little sister, Lucy (a puppy), he is able to ask nicely and enjoy his milk. Kieran loves to sit down and read this book with us, which is great to further reinforce her learning of these good manners. This is an interactive book that includes flaps and wheels. I like that although it has these features, they are not on every page. This allows her to enjoy the story with me, rather than focusing on flipping the flap or turning the wheels right away. Her favorite page is helping the mommy “do the laundry” by spinning the large wheel. She looks up at me every time and asks “Why I am helping the mommy do the laundry?” Yet another good act I hope she continues.

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The Great Dog Wash and Spoonful of Stories Contest

bc_1416971165Maybe you’re like me and would love to one day pen a children’s book. Well here’s your chance so get writing. Don’t forget to tell your friends, too!

The Great Dog Wash by Hellie Braeuner with illustrations by Robert Neubecker (Simon & Schuster, $15.99; ages 2-6) is the winner of Cheerios new author contest called Spoonful of Stories in conjunction with Simon & Schuster. Click to find out more or to register for your chance to win (hurry up deadline is July 15th). This hardcover comes out on July 7th

Much like the addictive rhymes in Jamberry, Braeuner’s rhythmic writing has captured the essence of a carefree carwash where dogs of all kinds, from “slippery slobbery,” pedigree to stray will have their stinky doggie smell washed away. But who brought a cat? And now what’s up that tree? Who guessed it would all end in a wet ‘n’ wild doggie jamboree?

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Witches and Ballet

image0011Hazel is a second grader in Southern California and lives with her two fish, Bruce & Carl, her three dogs: Betsey, Roma and Luvey (pictured), her sister Katie and brother Sam. Along with reading, Hazel loves to skateboard, cheerlead, and is looking forward to starting acting classes. Lately, she has been helping her parents in their garden. Unfortunately, she has no time to clean her room. 

Rumblewick’s Diary #1:  My Unwilling Witch Goes to Ballet School by Hiawyn Oram.


Hi my name is Hazel and this is my first book review for Good Reads With Ronna. 

9780316034722_154x233This book is about a witch named Haggy Aggy, also known as HA for short, who wants to go to ballet school.  In this story, a black cat named Rumblewick, also known as RB, is HA’s caretaker.   RB wants HA to be a normal witch. The high hags are the witches who hired RB to make HA a good, mean witch like all witches are supposed to be, but RB is not doing so well in her efforts to make HA into a normal witch.

 HA wants to be an Other Sider.  Other Siders are fancy ballet dancers.    Ha was afraid the school would not allow a witch to audition, so she acted like she was homeless.  She thought they would feel sorry for her and it worked!  Before the audition she went into the bathroom and changed into a raggedy dress.  She took off her shoes and put dirt on her face.  At the end (oops I almost ruined it for you by giving away the plot) Haggy Aggy was so happy, but you will have to read the book to find out why. When the story is over, HA decides she want to be a normal witch after all, but not that bad of one! 

I liked this book because I think it is a funny idea of a witch going to a ballet school.  RB was my favorite character because he was so funny.  I think you should read this book to see if you agree with me.

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a-big-sur2-12-081Abigail is a third grader from Los Angeles who absolutely loves to read, and often is the last one at the dinner table because of a book she can’t put down. She also is a pianist and is busy preparing her recital pieces for June. When she is not reading or playing piano, Abigail can frequently be found in the pool, or planning her next move in a chess game, or enjoying time with her family and friends. She also can do a perfect split.

curious-cats1I was instantly amused while reading A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco from Tricycle Press. The author combines simple poetry and thoughts into a gathering of cat pieces that are humorous, clever and creative. Often, the words overlay the pictures as part of the poem’s message. I think I could even put some music to her poems. They seem to have rhythm and bounce, and remind me of the playfulness of cats, and of how impatient I am with my parents to give me the pleasure of a cat as pet. The inventive illustrations by Michael Wertz involve collages of bold colored shapes that seem to practically jump out of the page.

I wonder how Betsy has come up with so many original ideas for her cat poems. On the book jacket, Betsy herself credits her cat with inspiring her writing. Hear that, Mom and Dad?

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Letting Some Cute Cats Out of The Bag

Cat Cover 7x10.5 wrk DOkay, so I’m on a cat bend right now, but for good reason. Cat, by Matthew Van Fleet with photography by Brian Stanton is fancatstic! The cover alone drew me in with its little grey cat pawing at an unsuspecting goldfish swimming contentedly in a bowl (push the arrow tab and watch what happens) and the in-your-face Siamese with the soft, touchable tail. And what’s not to love about Mo, the Exotic Shorthair? I learned this big orange cat’s name along with all the others from the back inside cover where all the felines featured are pictured in frames with their best face forward. Little ones will not be able to put this book down with its clever push/pull, open/close mechanics and tactile pages. They’ll meet furry cat, bald cat, and a toy that goes squeak, a scary cat, a cute cat , a hide one and a seek. The pictures may also help you decide which breed of cat interests you if you haven’t yet chosen a little kitten for your family. I’m partial to Raja, the Bengal, whose pleading eyes shout “cuddle me now, please.” Who is your favorite?

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Crazy Cattitudes

My 16 year-old cat, Nikky, would love local author Steve Fisher’s book The World Is Your Litter Box since it’s actually a how-to manual written for cats, not humans, which she could have written had she opposable thumbs. But for those of you still getting to know me, allow me to digress.1402752962m

I wasn’t always a cat person. I grew up devoted to my Standard Poodle, Bridgette, and vowed to have dogs my entire life. Back in 1969, an eventful year with the Moon Landing and such, my brother found a stray cat which our parents allowed us to keep with the proviso it remained outdoors so as not to upset Bridgette. Well, our interest in that cat, which we’d imaginatively named Frisky, lasted about as long as the first moon walk. Soon after, Frisky began spending more and more time in our neighbor’s backyard and was aptly renamed Apollo.  The rest, good readers, is history.

Fast forward 20 years to 1989. My then future husband, Dan, had a cat named Tiger and so sparked my newfound fondness for all things feline and finicky. Tiger happily lived to a hearty old age of 19 and since then with our travel-filled lives, we’ve always only had cats as pets.

quasi-bio2Now back to this delectable, delightful read as told to readers by Quasi, Fisher’s cat affectionately known as Big White Guy or Quaz. This is a seriously laugh-out-loud book which I have already read with tears in my eyes (yes I laughed that hard) to my husband, my son and L.A. Parent’s managing editor, Christina Elston. One of my favorite chapters is Humans’ Questions About Cats which includes these classics (and even these two were hard to choose since they are all so very, very funny. In fact  I am laughing as I type, but must remind you that the full impact does come when the list is read in its entirety!):

Late at night, do cats levitate themselves toward the ceiling and hover over their sleeping humans? Yes.

While sniffing catnip and kicking their back legs, do cats sing Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane songs to themselves? Yes.

Reading Amusing Tricks and Games is bound to bring a grin to your face, in particular, the Psycho Kitty entry and its accompanying warning  that playing this game will make your human extremely upset, to say the least. And frankly, if 20 Good Places to Throw Up doesn’t break you up, I don’t know what will! Fisher’s sense of humor and insight into a cat’s psyche is unparalleled, and the categories he’s covered are so on the mark (or should I say so in the litter box?). Even when he covers a visit to the vet, he’s got it down! However, he never met Ellis, my Tabby who died in 2005. In her prime, Ellis, though mush in my hands, could only be removed safely from her cage by vets wearing heavy duty gardening gloves!

At this point I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that I usually do not read these types of books, but now am so glad that I have. I’ve been told to expect a new book later this year and I simply cannot wait.

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