Mrs. Cropper’s Books is moving to (click on that!)

Though it is still under construction, I invite you to join me there.  Bookclubbers, if you have read the post below, please add your comments on the new site, not this one.   Also, if you have a link to me on your blog, please change the address.  Thanks!  

See you there! 

Book Club Cyber-Meeting


OK Bookclubbers, it is time to discuss The Higher Power of Lucky.  My hope for this forum is that it can be more dynamic-like a chat room, and less static-like everyone makes one comment and is done.  Please continue to check back and respond to other readers’ comments, so it can be an ongoing conversation. 

A while ago I made some suggestions about what to take note of–plot, character development, good literary bits, etc.  Tell us what you think about all that.  Also, tell us what you thought generally of the book.  Do you think it deserved the Newberry Medal this year (declaring it the best book in American children’s lit for 2007)?  What do you think about the controversy??  (Let me tell you, there was quite a conversation about it in the class I attended last month, so I’m super curious about what all of you think.)  I’ll let y’all begin the commenting and I’ll add my two cents here and there. 

Let the fun begin!

Haven’t You Heard?

The Dangerous Book for Boys.  This reference book first caught my attention several months ago when Taylor read me an article about it from the Wall Street Journal.  Originally published in England, where it was wildly popular, the book had now been slightly altered for an American audience, and was gaining popularity here.  Last month, it was brought to my attention again in my Children’s Lit class.  The instructor commented that he was giving it to all his grown sons for Father’s Day.  What a marvelous idea, I thought. But even if you don’t read the WSJ or attend Children’s Lit classes, you may have still heard of it.  I’ve seen some talk of it throughout the mighty blogosphere, and noticed that Father’s Day weekend, it was on the top 10 bestseller lists at Borders, Barnes&Noble, and Amazon.  Sheesh!  


Why didn’t you recommend this before Father’s Day, silly Mrs. Cropper?!  My apologies.  Truth be told, I was procrastinating.  In fact, Blaine and I snuck out the Saturday afternoon before Father’s Day only to discover that it was sold out at our local Borders.  So Taylor got his gift 2 weeks late, courtesy of Amazon.  (By the way, I believe Amazon was inspired by God.)  So although this suggestion is too late for Dad’s Day 2007, I highly recommend it as a birthday, Christmas, or anytime gift for the men and boys in your life.

After all that babble, let’s talk about what this book is all about!  The authors, Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden sum it up beautifully on the back cover: “Recapture Sunday afternoons and long summer days.  The perfect book for every boy from eight to eighty.”  Essentially, it’s a reference book for boyhood.  Page 35–Making a Bow and Arrow.  Page 136–Map of the United States.  Page 79–Making a Go-Cart.  Page 146–The Golden Age of Piracy.  Page 171–Skipping Stones.  Page 18–How to Play Stickball.  Page 39–Understanding Grammar-Part One.  Page 250–Role-Playing Games.  Page 139–Extraordinary Stories-Part Two: The Wright Brothers.  Page 89–Juggling.  Page 163–The Declaration of Independence.  Page 238–Hunting and Cooking a Rabbit.  Page 73–Making Crystals.  Are you getting the idea?  And it’s chalk full of pictures, diagrams, intructions, charts, etc.  Taylor’s favorite section?  Page 21–Building a Treehouse.

My boys love it–and so will yours! 

A Long, Round-About Story About My Experience With a Teenage Love Story Involving a Vampire


A few months ago I received an email from my friend, Mindy, asking for suggestions of books that her 14-year-old daughter, Kate, would like.  I easily came up with a few titles, but being more of a children’s literature connoisseur than a young adult literature connoisseur, I went to the good ol’ internet to do a bit more research.  I found a great top-10-for-teens-list.  One of the titles on the list was Twilight.  After reading a synopsis of the book–something or other about a vampire–I decided not to recommend it to Mindy.  I mean, let’s get serious, who wants to read a book about a vampire? 

About a month later, I was visiting my friend, Julie.  Her 16-year-old daughter, Caitlyn, was there.  There was a knock on the door.  It was Caitlyn’s friend, Lindsay, returing a book she had borrowed.  It was Twilight.  Not yet remembering my internet research about this book, I began questioning the girls about it.  The conversation went something like this: Me: “What’s that book?”  Girls: “Twilight.”  Me: “I haven’t seen that book before.  What’s it about?”  Girls (in a state of utter shock and disbelief): “You haven’t heard of Twilight?!!!”  They then proceded to tell me all about it–how it’s soooo good, and how the sequel is soooo great too, and how I HAD to read it, and how it’s sooo romantic.  Julie had read it as well, and told me it was really quite good.  I was now officially curious, but not yet compelled to rush out and buy it.  After all, it was a book about a vampire. 

A couple more months passed, but suddenly, Twilight was all around me.  It was brought up in the children’s lit class I attended 2 weeks ago.  The teacher talked about how hot it is right now (he ought to know, as the library director), and how the author, Stephenie Meyer, a fellow alumna of my alma mater, has already been approached about a movie.  A few days later, my friend, Lori, somewhat abashedly revealed to her blog-audience that she–having received a tip from her librarian mother-in-law–was now reading Twilight.  A few days later I was in Borders, and I overheard a girl talking to the store manager, as they stood next to a large display with dozens of copies of Twilight.  “Oh yeah,” he said.  “It’s very popular.  We’re selling about 70 copies a week.”  Whoa.  I was starting to feel more compelled.  

That week was my birthday.  Do you know what is great about birthdays and other special occasions when you’re a self-declared book enthusiast?  People give you books!!  That same lovely friend, Lori, gifted me with my very own copy of Twilight.  And if you’ll pardon the cheesy pun, I sunk my teeth right into it!  Twilight is definitely a page-turner.  It’s mysterious and intriguing, and the kind of book you absolutely don’t want to put down.  Here’s the basic premise:  Bella, 17, transfers to a new school, and falls in love with Edward, a vampire.  I know what you’re thinking–come on, a teenage love story about a vampire?  But even I, who swears off all fantasy except Harry Potter, LOVED IT.  Here’s why–it’s something we can all relate to.  Well, not the blood-thirsty vampire part, but the part about being an awkward teenager, just trying to fit in.  And the part about having challenges in your family.  And the part about being completely smitten with that dreamy boy (or girl) in Biology class.  Here’s what Meyer says about it: “I’ve always admired the ability of some authors to create situations of impossible fantasy, and then add characters that are so deeply human that their perspective makes the situation believable.  I hope Twilight offers readers the same experience.”  And, Mrs. Cropper says, IT DOES.  I wouldn’t say it’s amazing writing, but it’s really good writing.  Meyer uses foreshadowing well, introduces a fair amount of new vocabulary (remember, this is intended for a teen audience), and serves up a great big helping of character development.  That is what I love most about it.       

Here’s why I am recommending this book:  It’s a great, entertaining, fast read.  A great escape–for adults and teens alike.  It is especially perfect for teens–partly because it’s fairly good literature, partly because they love the romance (OK, I guess we’re looking at a mainly female audience here–and by the way, the romance is clean and appropriate), and mostly because it gets them reading!  So, yeah, let’s get serious–I am whole-heartedly recommending that you read Twilight, a teenage love story about a vampire.

P.S.  The sequel, New Moon, is also out.  The third book, Eclipse, will be available August 6th.     

Give Me Grace

“Give me grace” is what I was saying today.  Poor little Blainey was burning up with a fever and soooooo sad about it.  Wouldn’t eat.  Wouldn’t play.  Just whimpered.  And whimpered.  Days with a sick child are hard for two reasons.  1) You have a whimpering child all day.  2) Your child is miserable and you feel totally helpless about it.  The latter is by far the worst part. 


Give Me Grace is also the only thing that seemed to interest Blaine today.  It’s a great little book and Blaine brought it to me multiple times today to read it to him.  This sweet little board book is by Cynthia Rylant–a prolific and talented author–and is subtitled “A Child’s Daybook of Prayers.”  It’s a non-denominational prayer book with a little prayer for each day of the week.  Since it’s Tuesday, I’ll tell you what Tuesday’s prayer is:

“Tuesday teach me faith and caring, teach me wisdom, teach me sharing.  Raise me up and make me strong.  Be with me the whole day long.” 

Here’s why I love this book: It is simple and sweet and teaches good things.  And its pictures are fabulous.  They are bold in color, very childlike, whimsical, and imaginative (did you notice that the tree on the cover has pink foliage and green fruit?  I love that!).  Plus the pages have gold edges, which means it’s basically scripture.  So there you go!

We were blessed to receive Give Me Grace from our friend, Lorraine.  But if you don’t have a friend named Lorraine to give it to you, you can find it at most book stores, and I’ve even seen it at T.J. Maxx for a discounted price.  Wherever you find it, I hope you’ll love it!

Eric Carle Week: Day 5 (Your Turn)


Well friends, the problem with having “Eric Carle” week is that he has published just a few more titles than 5.  So, it’s your turn.  Please add a comment and let us know of another Eric Carle book that has not been mentioned.  Tell us what you or your children like about it.  Thanks for sharing!

Eric Carle Week: Day 4

Eric Carle’s stuff is just SO fabulous for the small ones.  I’ve mentioned before that his illustrations are very appealing to young children.  Also, his use of repitition is extremely valuable to an emergent reader.  Today’s book has both of those qualities and is also a great example of the way he teaches simple concepts through stories.  It is called The Very Busy Spider and is about–well–a very busy spider.  She hangs out in the corner of the barn spinning her web.  As each of the barnyard animals ask the spider to do something else, she doesn’t answer–as she is too busy spinning her web. 


Each page goes something like this: “‘Oink! Oink!’ grunted the pig.  ‘Want to roll in the mud?’  The spider didn’t answer.  She was very busy spinning her web.”  Simple as that.  But think of everything we’ve learned from that simple exchange.  We’ve been introduced to a picture of a new animal and know what the animal is called.  We know what kind of sounds the animal makes and a characteristic or behavior of the animal.  Pretty great, huh?

In the end the spider finishes her web and we learn a characteristic of spiders– “And the spider caught the fly in her web…just like that!”  And now we know what spiders look like and what spiders do.  Just like that!