kitt pics

kitt pics

I’m here at the dentist’s office looking at the awesome cat pics my wife sent me. We love cat pictures!
So I decided to make a clearinghouse of cat photos. The criteria for kitt pics postings? Picture must contain one or more cats and be liked by my wife.
I’ll try to post higher quality files, but Ima start with the awesome pics I just got from Heather on the phone. Please enjoy!















Oh, if I’ve posted a pic of yours that you don’t want to be here, please let me know and I’ll take it down just as soon as I can.

Hey Heather, thanks for the awesome photos. I think you love cats maybe even more than me. Hooray for cats!


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We’ll Kill This Dog

We'll Kill This Dog

Selling magazines the Deadbeat Party way.

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Module 15 — Frequently Censored Book

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

Module 15– Frequently Censored Book


Newman, L.  (1989, 2000).  Heather Has Two Mommies.  Los Angeles, CA: Alyson Wonderland.


One of the most censored books of the past twenty years, Heather Has Two Mommies, tells the story of a girl’s first encounter with evidence that her family is different and her realization that there are many types of family and that, like hers, most are formed and held together (in whatever form) through love, kindness, and compassion.   Through text and black and white drawings, the book shows that although children and parents face many challenges, family relationships are resilient and enduring.   The lesbianism of Heather’s two parents is of course the reason for both the censorship and notoriety of this book, which celebrates diversity and the enduring power of family ties.

My Impressions

Though certainly not the most creative or compelling children’s book, Heather Has Two Mommies has, through its many censorship challenges and the consistent derision of its title in certain circles, achieved a place in American culture that is totally out of proportion to the quality of its actual content.  It is a nice story, however, and after adjusting to the strangeness of its images I found the book enjoyable and pleasant.  I had never read this book although I’ve flipped through its pages several times and heard it referred to countless times.  It’s a pretty good book that will hold a place in American culture due to its importance in the fights against censorship and for gay rights.


[Review of Heather Has Two Mommies, by L. Newman]. (2005, Jan). Book Links, 14, 31.

K-Gr. 1. Heather feels left out because she doesn’t have a daddy; instead, she has two mommies. Then Heather’s preschool teacher asks the children to draw pictures of the people in their families, and Heather realizes that families are defined by the common fact that family members love one another. Although the message is one of appreciation of diversity, the more distant third-person narration and black-and-white illustrations make this less engaging than other picture books…

[Review of Heather Has Two Mommies, by L. Newman]. (2000, July 24). Publishers Weekly, 247, 30.

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman, illus. by Diana Souza, the picture book about a family that consists of a lesbian couple and their daughter, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a revised edition in hardcover and paperback. The new edition went on sale last month and includes revised text in which the original artificial-insemination subject matter–partially the source of controversy surrounding the book–has been removed at the request of the author. The first title published by Alyson Wonderland, an imprint of Alyson Publications, Heather Has Two Mommies has sold over 35,000 copies.

Using in the Library

Before reading the book or telling its title, display pictures from the book and then ask for an explanation of the story and its themes.  For grades four or higher, have students write a review of the book based only on the selected images.  Then, after reading the book, students write another review and compare and contrast the different versions. Reviews may be posted on a blog or in the library catalog.

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Module 14 — Poetry collection

The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme by Bobbi Katz

Module 14 — Poetry Collection


Katz, B.  (2009).  The monsterologist: A memoir in rhyme.  New York, NY: Sterling.


The MonsterOlogist by Bobbi Katz  presents the poetic memoirs of a traveling researcher who provides the reader with “the choicest fruits of [his] research in this rare collection of letters, notes, and interviews.”   King Kong, the Kraken, Werewolves, Zombies, Count Dracula, Nessie and other assorted monsters are subjects of the MonsterOlogist’s quest and verse in this delightfully designed and illustrated.   The scrapbook of a poetic, whimsical collage artist, this visually enticing book is a creative collection in verse and image.

My Impressions

This book is beautifully illustrated and the poems are witty and fun.  The book is very creatively designed and the poems are funny and entertaining.  The poems follow several different rhyme schemes and they’re all good for reading aloud.  This book is a lot of fun and probably especially good for grades 5 – 7.


Chipman, I. (2009). The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme. Booklist, 106 (2), 61.

Definitely not to be mistaken as an entry in the increasingly ubiquitous Ology line, this book offers a collection of hideous beastie-based verses. From an invitation to visit Count Dracula to an international zombie census, the quality of the poems is wildly inconsistent, sometimes even from line to line, as when a clever gross-out (“Greasy green lizards / and raw chicken gizzards,”) gets a poem rolling, only to have it fall flat on its face with “spell-binding spells / cast by spell-casting wizards.” More often than not, though, bursts of devilish humor and winking creepiness keep things moving, and McCauley’s well-designed pages-outfitted in a sort of loose, splashy collage, with a few sturdy fold-outs–have browsing appeal. Cleverly, alongside old favorites–from medusas and witches to krakens and the Loch Ness Monster–Katz dreams up her own baddies, like the compu-monster, that gobbles up hard drives, and the voracious Verbivore (take heed, librarians!).

Jansen-Gruber, M. (2009). The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme. Retrieved from

The world is full of ologists of all kinds. There are biologists, zoologist, botanists, psychologists, and now there is a monsterologist. He is a very brilliant man who travels around the world looking for, and even getting to know, monsters of all kinds. For the first time ever, the monsterologist has brought together letters, interviews, and notes that he has in his collection so that you can read about some of the secrets of the world’s most famous monsters.

Enjoy reading a letter from Count Dracula, and shudder as you read a recipe that the monsterologist believes belonged to Grendel’s mother. Read the “Ghost Notes” that the monsterologist has selected, and find out how three famous dead musicians still walk the earth. Learn what it was like to seek a yeti in “the snowy Himalayas.” Don’t forget too to look at the email offer that the monsterologist received inviting him to co-direct a zombie survey.

This highly entertaining and deliciously inspired book is sure to delight any budding monsterologist. With clever rhymes, a varied selection of formats, and wonderful multi-media artwork, this is a book that readers will dip into again and again.

Using in the Library

Young people seem drawn to strange, beastly, or fantastical creatures, whether real or imaginary.   Have students choose one of the book’s monsters to research.   Using library resources, have students compare the results of their research with the observations and conclusions stated in the memoirs of the MonsterOlogist.  Students create posters including printed images and/or drawings.  Adding text on flaps or contained on mounted envelopes, students explain their findings or write their own monstrous memoirs.

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Module 13 — Graphic Novel

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

Module 13 — Graphic Novel


Tan, S.  (2008).  Tales from outer suburbia.  New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books.


This genre-bending work from artist Shaun Tan is creative in its content and in its use of literary and artistic forms.  The book’s tales, or short stories, are related through a common setting of suburban environments that look and feel both realistic and fantastic. Each story is told in both words and pictures, but the formats vary widely and the relationship between text and image is constantly changing, presenting challenges and rewards to the reader.  Although the stories involve bizarre situations, such as the visit of a foreign exchange student who is of indeterminate species and small enough to fit comfortably in a coffee cup, the settings, narration, and mundane nature of many of the conflicts place the reader in situations that seem simultaneously familiar and outlandish.

My Impressions

Tales from Outer Suburbia is creative in form and content and consistently entertaining and thought-provoking. Shaun Tan is a gifted artist and a talented writer who stretches boundaries and uses new books to try different variations in form and style. The stories are really thought-provoking and creative, both in the illustrations and text. The pictures alone are expressive enough to tell stories on their own, and, combined with the text (especially in the creative ways Tan has them interact).


Karp, J. (2008, Dec. 1). [Review of the book Tales from outer suburbia]. Booklist, 105, 50.

Gr. 7-12 /*Starred Review*/ After teaching the graphic format a thing or two about its own potential for elegance with The Arrival (2007), Tan follows up with this array of 15 extraordinary illustrated tales. But here is an achievement in diametric opposition to his silent masterpiece, as Tan combines spare words and weirdly dazzling images—in styles ranging from painting to doodles to collage—to create a unity that holds complexities of emotion seldom found in even the most mature works. The story of a water buffalo who sits in a vacant lot mysteriously pointing children “in the right direction” is whimsical but also ominous. The centerpiece, “Grandpa’s Story,” recalling a ceremonial marriage journey and the unnameable perils faced therein, captures a tone of aching melancholy and longing, but also, ultimately, a sense of deep, deep happiness. And the eerie “Stick Figures” is both a poignant and rather disturbing narrative that plays out in the washed-out daylight of suburban streets where curious, tortured creatures wait at the ends of pathways and behind bus stops. The thoughtful and engaged reader will take from these stories an experience as deep and profound as with anything he or she has ever read.

Davey, D. P. (2009, Mar. 1). [Review of the book Tales from outer suburbia]. School Library Journal, 55, 156.

/* Starred Review */ Gr 4 Up— For those who loved Tan’s surreal and evocative The Arrival (Scholastic, 2007), the Australian author follows up with a brilliant collection of illustrated vignettes. Fifteen short texts, each accompanied by Tan’s signature black-and-white and full-color artwork, take the mundane world and transform it into a place of magical wonders. In the opening tale, a water buffalo sits in an abandoned suburban lot, offering silent but wise direction to those youngsters who are patient enough to follow his guidance. In “Eric,” the title character (a tiny, leaflike creature) visits a family as a foreign exchange student and fascinates them with his sense of wonder. His parting gift to the family is sure to warm even the coldest heart. Other stories describe the fate of unread poetry, the presence of silent stick figures who roam the suburbs, or an expedition to the edge of a map. In spirit, these stories are something akin to the wit and wisdom of Shel Silverstein. The surrealist art of Rene Magritte also comes to mind, but perhaps Chris Van Allsburg’s beloved The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Houghton, 1984) comes closest as a comparable work. While somewhat hard to place due to the unusual nature of the piece, this book is a small treasure, or, rather, a collection of treasures.

Using in the Library

Tan uses many varieties of illustrations and page formats in this book. Have students choose three different pages or illustrations from the book and create a triple Venn diagram to show similarities and differences in format, style, color, type of text, themes, etc. Have students compare their Venn diagrams and display the pages while commenting on Tan’s various approaches.

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Module 12 — Biography

Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman

Module 12 — Biography


Heiligman, D.  (2009).  Charles and Emma.  New York, NY: Henry Holt and Co.


Charles Darwin spent many long years preparing his theories of natural selection and evolution of species before presenting them to the public.  During these years of research, contemplation, and writing and editing, Darwin struggled with fears about possible public reaction to his ideas.  He also attempted to convince his wife that his theories, rather than the biblical account of creation, presented a demonstrable account of the continual evolution of species in adapting to environments through the process of natural selection.  His beloved wife, Emma, never gave up hope that Charles would share her religious faith.  Although she disagreed with his revolutionary ideas, Emma helped Charles with his writing and was profoundly influential to him not only in his personal life but also in the presentation of his bold theories.

My Impressions

I had known that Darwin spent many years preparing his ideas for prime time and that he was concerned about the potential reaction of people of religious faith.  I did not know, however, that Darwin and his wife had such a profound disagreement, and this fascinating book takes us behind the scenes in the Darwin household and reveals the conflicts that both Charles and Emma dealt with in the years of preceding and following publication of The Origin of Species.  This is a moving account of a marriage that was built on love and mutual respect that stayed strong in the face of controversy and public pressure.  It’s a gripping narrative, and Heiligman strikes a good balance between explanation of the science (and religion) and the personal story of this special couple.


Heath, E. (2009, Jan. 1). [Review of the book Charles and Emma]. School Library Journal, 55, 126.

/* Starred Review */ Gr 8 Up— Beginning with Darwin’s notorious chart listing reasons to wed and not to wed, Heiligman has created a unique, flowing, and meticulously researched picture of the controversial scientist and the effect of his marriage on his life and work. Using the couple’s letters, diaries, and notebooks as well as documents and memoirs of their relatives, friends, and critics, the author lets her subjects speak for themselves while rounding out the story of their relationship with information about their time and place. She shows how Darwin’s love for his intelligent, steadfast, and deeply religious cousin was an important factor in his scientific work—pushing him to document his theory of natural selection for decades before publishing it with great trepidation. Just as the pair embodied a marriage of science and religion, this book weaves together the chronicle of the development of a major scientific theory with a story of true love. Published for young adults, this title will be equally interesting to adults drawn to revisit Darwin on his 200th birthday.

[Review of Charles and Emma]. (2008, Dec. 15). Publshers Weekly, 255, 53.

/* Starred Review */ This rewarding biography of Charles Darwin investigates his marriage to his cousin Emma Wedgwood. Heiligman (the Holidays Around the World series) has good reason for this unusual approach: as deeply as they loved each other, Emma believed in God, and Charles believed in reason. Embracing the paradoxes in her subjects’ personalities, the author unfolds a sympathetic and illuminating account, bolstered by quotations from their personal writings as well as significant research into the historical context. We meet Charles as he weighs the pros and cons of wedded life—but then seeks his father’s advice (Darwin père urges him to conceal his religious doubts); Emma becomes a more fervent believer after the death of her favorite (and more religious) sister. Heiligman writes for motivated readers, and her style can be discursive (mention of a letter can introduce a few sentences on the British postal system). Her book allows readers not only to understand Darwin’s ideas, but to appreciate how Emma’s responses tempered them. Eight pages of photos, not seen by PW. Ages 12–up.

Using in the Library

Charles Darwin was a scientist who changed history in many profound ways.  Have students use library resources to research the life of a prominent scientist of today or of the past.  How can science influence our daily lives and the way we see our world?  If this scientist were to create a Facebook profile, what’s some of the information that would be included in the profile?  What are some things that might be written on the wall?  Have students write a sample Facebook page for their chosen scientist.

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Module 11 — Informational Book

George Washington’s Teeth by Deborah Chandra

Module 11 — Informational Book


Chandra, D.  (2003).  George Washington’s Teeth.  New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.


Many people are aware that our nation’s first president had dental problems (although he never actually had wooden teeth).  Deborah Chandra shows that Washington was afflicted throughout his adult life with rotten teeth, chronic abscesses, and pain-inducing dentures. The witty rhyming verse and whimsical illustrations keep the tone light while showing that Washington rather stoically endured terrible suffering while becoming our country’s most famous general and first president.

My Impressions

This is a fascinating look at the extreme pain and apparent embarrassment suffered by the revered Father or our Country as he battled constant dental problems that caused not only tremendous mouth pain and difficulties with eating but also infections that severely impacted his overall health and must have made life quite miserable for large periods of his adult life.  This book’s informative timeline provides documentation from primary sources and, along with the bibliography, serves as a springboard for possible research or for a more personal connection to events of history in general and the American Revolution in particular.  George Washington’s Teeth, with its entertaining poetry and pictures and its informative timeline, is a good mix of fascinating history and playful entertainment that could encourage students to study events and people of the past in more creative and personal ways.


[Review of George Washington’s Teeth]. (2002, Dec. 2). Publishers Weekly, 249, 251.

/* Starred Review */ In a clever approach to history, Chandra and Comora string together spry stanzas describing the dental difficulties that plagued George Washington. Rhyming verse explains how the general’s rotten teeth gradually fall out during the Revolutionary War: “George crossed the icy Delaware/ With nine teeth in his mouth./ In that cold and pitchy dark,/ Two more teeth came out!” Cole complements this verse by rendering a sly watercolor twist on Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting George Washington Crossing the Delaware , in a full-spread treatment: Washington still stands in quiet dignity, but the boatmen are grinning. By the time Washington is elected president, just two teeth remain in his mouth. Kids will love the details, such as the way Washington uses a pair of his molars to fashion a mold from which the dentist makes a set of dentures (these are carved from hippopotamus ivory, and even shown, in a photograph in the afterword). Infusing his bustling watercolor vignettes with comic hyperbole, Cole easily keeps pace with the lighthearted narrative. One especially funny image shows the president sprawled on the floor, legs in the air, after viewing a newly painted portrait (“George stood up to have a look—/ He fell back on his fanny./ ‘It doesn’t look like me!’ he roared./ ‘It looks like Martha’s granny!’ “). An annotated timeline at the end includes quotes from the leader’s letters and diaries chronicling his relentless efforts to hide his dental problems and the extent to which they caused him chronic pain and embarrassment. A highly palatable historical morsel. All ages.

Welton, A. (2003, Jan. 1). [Review of the book George Washington’s teeth]. School Library Journal, 49, 120.

K-Gr 5 –In 28 rhymed, four-line stanzas, Chandra and Comora tell the sad story of George Washington’s teeth. Beginning with the onset of the Revolutionary War, the countdown takes poor George from just about a mouthful of painful, rotten teeth to a state of complete “tooflessness”–and then to a pair of entirely successful dentures. Cole’s watercolor cartoon illustrations are just right, giving comic vent to George’s despair, hopelessness, fevered attempts at finding his teeth, and final triumphant, toothy strut at a ball. A beautifully illustrated four-page time line shows portraits of the dentally challenged first president and photos of his homegrown, incredibly uncomfortable-looking dentures, made of gold and hippopotamus ivory. (Contrary to legend, Washington never had wooden ones.) Given that his death was probably hastened by an untreated infection from old root fragments in his gums, this is not only a historical treatise, but also a great lesson in dental hygiene. Paired with Laurie Keller’s antic Open Wide: Tooth School Inside (Holt, 1998), it could be used as a real-life example of the havoc wreaked by bad teeth. With 17 sources listed as contributing to the art and dental information on the time line, this accurate and intriguing slice of history should find a place in any elementary library collection.

Using in the Library

Although we know George Washington as an almost colossal figure central in our nation’s founding, he was a flesh and bones person who suffered great pain and dealt with persistent problems that often caused him embarrassment along with continual discomfort.   Have students choose a prominent figure from history or from today’s popular or political culture.  What are some personal challenges or setbacks faced by this person?  In dealing with these problems, what is revealed about this person’s character or defining qualities?  Have students write potential or actual Wikipedia contributions about one or two personal conflicts in the life of their chosen people, using print or Web resources other than Wikipedia for biographical information.

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