Books Children Clever Friends Reviews

Where the Sidewalk Ends Reviewed by Clever Lauryn Blakesley

Where_the_Sidewalk_EndsI can remember walking in a straight line with my class in grade school. It was library day, and we were on our way. Everyone was focused. We all had in our minds what book we were going to get as soon as we walked through the door, and for most of us, we had the same book in mind. I had my plan ready. I could picture the right section of the library without even needing to use the Dewey Decimal system. I was going to enter the door and immediately after a short introduction from our librarian, I was going to race as fast as I could without running to the short stories area. Here I would grab the book before anyone else…Where the Sidewalk Ends. I had yet to have a turn with this masterpiece, and though I had read it time and time again with my friends who were so lucky to have it on loan on the bus, I didn’t ever have the chance to stay up all night reading every.single.word.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein was certainly the most popular book when I was in grade school back in the 80’s. I finally received a copy of my very own one year for my birthday, and I can remember reading it for years afterward. Story after story, it was filled with a kind of creativity that I had never read before. I laughed, I wondered, and I asked tons of questions about the imaginary and real characters in this book. It was my first exposure to creative poetry and my first introduction to the realization that writing was so much more than just a single story.

The illustrations in the book made it come to life in a way that I never knew black and white drawings could. And the stories changed for me over the years. Reading them as a small child they meant one thing, and as a grown adult, another. It is a book that I will share with my children, and one that I hope that they cherish as much as I did when I was a child. The only difference will be that when I mention good old Dewey, they will think it is their long lost grandfather, not the system that dominated library discussions for generations. J My husband has already started sharing these marvelous stories with the kids by singing Boa Constrictor in their preschool classrooms every year. “Oh fiddle, it’s up to my middle….”

I leave you with one of my favorite stories/poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends. It is an example of one that has changed in its meaning to me over the years.

Colors by Shel Silverstein

My skin is kind of sort of brownish
Pinkish yellowish white.
My eyes are grayish blueish green,
But I’m told they look orange in the night.
My hair is reddish blondish brown,
But it’s silver when it’s wet.
And all the colors I am inside
Have not been invented yet.


Lauryn blogs at The Vintage Mom. She is the mom of three vivacious children and wife to one extremely vivacious husband! Lover of knitting, running (although mostly after little ones right now), the color orange, fun accessories, fall, tea, and a clean kitchen floor. She spends her days in awe of her family and trying to teach my three to treat others as they would want to be treated. Be sure to follow her on Facebook and Twitter for more stories!

Thanks Lauryn, I’ve always loved Where The Sidewalk Ends too!

Books Children Clever Friends

Matilda Book Review by the Clever Lindsay Podolak

Matilda1 As a mom, I place a huge importance on the presence of books in a child’s daily life. Part of my now two-year-old daughter’s nightly routine since birth has been reading books together before bed.

I love buying her books and filling her shelves with some of the same classic children’s literature that I read as a child. I can’t wait for when she is old enough to select her own books at the bookstore. I’m so curious to see what type of stories she will be drawn to. Will it be any of the ones I adored as a girl?

Looking back, it’s truly difficult for me to pick just one as my favorite childhood book. There were so many I loved: The Babysitters’ Club series, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Phantom Tollbooth… I spent every night with a flashlight propped up under the covers while I secretly read these books over and over again, staying up well past my bedtime.

And then there was Matilda. It was not the first Roald Dahl book I had encountered. I had read James and the Giant Peach, too, but it didn’t really do anything for me. But Matilda– I fell in love!

Here was a book about a lonely little girl who manages to outwit her dimwitted parents. Matilda Wormwood is smart, witty, and genuine. She is a master of pulling clever pranks, and she even has special powers!

In the age-old battle of kids vs. adults, Matilda was one character that all kids could root for. Dahl’s novel made me feel that the shy, quiet, smart students had value and could make a difference.

It was also refreshing to see adults painted in such an unflattering light as Matilda’s parents and the nasty Miss Trunchbull were. Typically kids are taught the dull “adults are always right” lesson from books.

I look forward to the day when I can enjoy Matilda again, hopefully by reading it alongside my daughter. But if that type of book isn’t her cup of tea, perhaps she will introduce me to a book that she loves. Whatever it is, I will just be happy that she found her own Matilda to treasure.

Thanks Lindsay, I think Matilda is just awesome too!

Check out Clever Lindsay at The Naughty Mommy blog and tell her PammyPam sent you.

Adult Fiction Books Clever Friends Reviews

Clever Heather Reviews Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

There are two things I love in this world: Clever Heather and Jennifer Weiner.  Clever Heather, my bestie from Real: Kitchen and Beyond,  is back to bring you a book review by Jennifer Weiner, my summer bestie.  See how clever I am working that in there? This time, Clever Heather reviews Then Came You.

In “Then Came You”, Jennifer Weiner tells a tale of 4 women with lives that couldn’t be much more different than each other, being woven together through one baby. Jennifer uses her personal life in Philadelphia and with Princeton University to draw the setting of her story.

Throughout the book we journey through the lives of these four women. We meet Annie, a housewife who dreams of something more. As her family struggles, she feels there is something she needs to do to help their family. The choice she makes threatens to tear apart their family. We meet Bettina, a spoiled little rich girl who longs for yesterday, a life where her parents are still together and they live a picture perfect life. We learn the heartbreak of Jules, a girl who wants it all and hides herself so well. Her pain of a young life torn apart by drugs and tragedy, she fights to find her place. Finally, we meet India, a woman whose facade hides so much. From rags to riches, filled with lies and deceit, what lies behind her pretty face? Each woman’s journey twists and turns with coming of age, enlightenment, and hardships. Will they ever find the freedom to be who they have been hiding deep inside?

Through these four women, Jennifer weaves a story with one common thread, precious innocent little Rory who will bring them all together, help them see who they were meant to be. And with Rory, comes a story of forgiveness and acceptance as each woman finds that her future relies on dealing with her past.

Whether you are a housewife who dreams of bigger things, a college girl afraid to embrace all you can be, or a woman who fears life has passed you by, there is a message for you in this story – don’t be afraid to spread your wings and fly.

I highly recommend you check out “Then Came You” by Jennifer Weiner, and make sure to read the extra short story she added to the back of the book. I do suggest reading it before giving it to your (older) teenage daughter to read as it has some material that could make for good discussion between mother and daughter on life and growing up.

I give this book 3 paws.

Unconventional Librarian 3 paws





I’d like to thank Clever Heather for the book review and wish you Happy Holidays!

Adult Fiction Clever Friends

Clever Heather reviews: The Divorce Girl by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

I’d like to preface this fabulous review by introducing Clever Reviewer Heather. She’s one of my local besties and a really awesome reviewer.  Check it out!

Stark, poignant, tumultuous – all words that describe The Divorce Girl by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. When I first glanced at the title I thought it represented a complete lack of creativity. But wait, before you cringe, I decided to give it a shot. After all, it is just a book. I can always shut it. I didn’t. I took it to the gym almost every morning, my only real downtime. The name is perfect. It sets the mood of this real to life story.

Many times throughout the pages I wondered if it was a real life story. We start in the young teenage life of a budding photographer, Deborah Shapiro, growing up in the unrest of a time when life wasn’t roses but everyone was searching for them. Her family in disarray, and ending in divorce, she resorts to seeing life through her camera lens. As a heartbreaking tale is spun, I find myself relating more with her mother than Deborah, the main character.

Deborah makes the choice to live with her father, choosing a life that leads to more heartache and pain than any kid should have to grow up in. She becomes a pawn in her father’s twisted game of life. Working a flea market, being along for the ride while immigration chases them, helping juvenile delinquents escape, she lives an excitingly dull life. Caught in lies of her father’s making, and feeling invisible to those around her, she sees no value in her life. This child woman is forced to run a house for her father, self-alienated from her mother. Her only outlet is photography class, and temple youth meetings, complete with a radical rabbi.

Finally, as we near the end of the book, she sees hope. She has a boyfriend who loves her. She has a plan to fast track her way to college – the chance to get out, to live her dreams, and take care of herself if her father signs his permission.

Will she ever see her mother loved her all along? Will she break free of the life her father has kept her prisoner to? Is her boyfriend really going to love her forever? Will she go to college or stay, stuck in her small town, an invisible person?

The last paragraph of the acknowledgements leaves you wondering just how much of this heart wrenching story is real.

I give this book 3 paws.

Unconventional Librarian 3 paws


So…whaddya think? Clever Heather is awesome, huh??? Here’s a little bit about Clever Heather:

In a normal week you can find Heather blogging about life at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond.

Growing up as the oldest of 7, and now being a wife and mother, homeschooling mama with a part time job and writing for two blogs, reading is her escape.

Her absolute favorite series of all time is Adventures in Narnia. About the only books she doesn’t devour are paranormal, sci fi, and self help books, although she has made exceptions in even those categories.


I love how Heather will make exceptions to her reading categories; isn’t that what the joy of reading is all about, finding something new??

So…go show Clever Heather some love on her food blog.  But DON’T lick the screen.  I’m just sayin…

Don’t forget to follow Heather on Twitter @heatherlm4 Tell her PammyPam sent ya!

Did I mention the author is the POET LAUREATE of Kansas?? How cool is that???