Tag Archives: superheroes

Ursula Le Guin and The Princess in Black

21 Nov

Did you see or hear Ursula Le Guin’s acceptance speech for the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014?

Like many people she was one of the first science fiction/fantasy writers I ever read.I was probably in my teens.  There certainly wasn’t much of anything science fiction or fantasy-like  for me before I was a teen.

Nowadays, there is so much more for kids. A nice little entry level book is The Princess in Black written  by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, and illustrated by LeUyen Pham.



I have a girl in my class who is really into superheroes. This is a little young for her, but wouldn’t it have been great if this had been around when she was  in kindergarten or first grade!

Goodreads Summary:Who says princesses don’t wear black? When trouble raises its blue monster head, Princess Magnolia ditches her flouncy dresses and becomes the Princess in Black!

Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when . . . Brring! Brring! The monster alarm! A big blue monster is threatening the goats! Stopping monsters is no job for dainty Princess Magnolia. But luckily Princess Magnolia has a secret —she’s also the Princess in Black, and stopping monsters is the perfect job for her! Can the princess sneak away, transform into her alter ego, and defeat the monster before the nosy duchess discovers her secret? From award-winning writing team of Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrator LeUyen Pham, here is the first in a humorous and action-packed chapter book series for young readers who like their princesses not only prim and perfect, but also dressed in black.

If you know a young person who loves superheroes, this is a wonderful read for them. I also think it would be great to shake things up a little and see what ahoys would think about this book. It would pair nicely with Robert Munsch’s The Paperbag Princess. 


I still smile thinking about the time I read it to a class of first graders. When we got to the end a sweet little girl named Mina had a look of horror on her face. That wasn’t the ending she was expecting. Success!

Holy Unanticipated Occurrences!

28 Oct

In 1984, I read Blaise Pascale’s  Pensees in ny 17th century French lit class, and I learned about Pascale’s wager. Now, young people everywhere can learn about it simply by picking up Kate DiCamillo’s newest book


They can also learn about cynics, superheroes, poetry, love, and finding your way home. Holy bagumba!

The story is simple. A young girl rescues a squirrel, whom she names Ulysses,  that has been sucked up by a vacuum cleaner, only to discover that the experience has transformed him into a poet and a superhero. She must save him from his arch-nemesis (her mother) and learn to embrace the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart(her father).

Complementing DiCamillo’s text are K. G. Campbell’s black & white drawings.



I liked this book a lot, although not as much as I liked  The Tale Of Desperaux  or  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  I think it would make a great read aloud. It is fast-moving, and the vocabulary is wonderful. I will add this to the list of books for my teacher read aloud book club, if we ever get it going again. It would also be fun to see how the Kids could take a superhero story of their own, write part, and illustrate part.

Just for laughs: Super Hair-O and Crankee Doodle

3 Aug

In my personal reading, I tend not to read humorous books. However, I absolutely love reading a funny book to kids; it’s a form of performance art. I have two new funny books to add to my comedic repertoire.

We often think about superpowers we’d like to have (or actually have?) and I’ve talked about this with kids.  But have you ever considered the source of your superpower?


In Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom  by John Rocco (who has an awesome portrait in his bio at the back of the book), our young superhero believes the source of his power lies in his locks. Alas, one day he is captured and taken to the barber.


With the cutting of his hair, color disappears and he looks in vain for a replacement of his power source. when a emergency arises, he & his friends realize that, despite their haircuts, they were still super. With my super future-telling power, I can see a writing project where kids have, lose and regain a superpower.

And then, there’s  Crankee Doodle by Tom Angleberger.


With this book, I can indulge my inner curmudgeon because this Yankee is cranky and doesn’t want to go to town.


His wise donkey helps young readers understand the song on which the story is based and laugh all the way to town. Our first grade team does aunt on American symbols and this would be an excellent resource for them. They kids could learn the song and have some chuckles.

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