Get to Know my #atozchallenge Bookish Friends. Introducing MJ!

M. J. Joachim in the Library

Well, you know PammyPam likes to make new friends and also to learn about new books! I’ve invited my friends from the Blogging from A to Z Challenge to come over and chat about a book they love.  My first victim is the sweet MJ Joachim of M.J. Joachim’s Writing Tips.

Thank you, Pam for inviting me to share one of my favorite children’s stories and talk about my love of libraries with your audience today.

giving tree

One of my favorite children’s books is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. No matter how old I get, I will never outgrow the beautiful message shared in this book. I’m sure fond memories of reading this story to library children during Story Hour, students I taught over the years and my own children have made it all the more sentimental for me.

My first job was as a page in a library. It was my responsibility to sort and shelve the books. Oh, how I loved working in the Children’s Library, sifting through hundreds of picture books and entertaining stories, helping a child find just the right book for a book report or research project, and reading stories to all the little ones who would come to enjoy Story Hour. Sometimes they would ask me to read to them when no story time was scheduled. I always did what I could to oblige, often asking the Children’s Librarian on duty to claim me as needed extra help during those times. One particular librarian never even needed to be asked. She loved it when we worked together in the children’s section.

Libraries have always been one of my favorite places to hang out. As a child, I’d hike the mile walk down the bike trail, past the stream and across the highway, to eventually emerge at our local library, where I would lose myself in the stacks. I’d spend hours looking at books, choosing at least four or five to take home at once. One time, I lost track of time. The early hours of the morning turned to late hours in the afternoon. Mom was furious, as I strolled in, humped over and breathing hard with my heavy pack full of books on my back. I just looked at her and smiled. She sent me to my room, where I quickly immersed myself in my reading material, too tired to wander out at dinnertime.

Summer Read-a-thons were treasured by my own kids, especially when the heat reached well past 110 degrees Fahrenheit. We’d head on over to the library early when my kids were young, take our time finding most of the books on the list, check out a few movies before we left, and stay inside where it was cool, reading our books and watching movies well into the evening hours, when the sun went down and it was easier to play outside.

I still enjoy going to the library these days, though now it’s more to get ideas and do research for articles I’m writing. It seems every time I go, there are fewer and fewer books, more computers and conference areas and less staff to help find where they put things; our local library is almost always rearranged every time I go. Most of the books are online and checkout for the ones that aren’t is done at the self-service kiosk.

The library has changed a lot over the years, but the children and the stories we read to them never will. They’ll still climb into our laps or sit at our feet, begging to see the pictures and eager to see the words. Personal experience tells me, The Giving Tree is one of their favorites, and you already know it’s one of mine.

Thanks again for having me, Pam.

110 degrees F or 0 degrees F, The Giving Tree is ALWAYS the perfect book!


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!