January 2010

A year of inspiration from children’s books

By Eileen Spinelli
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A trip down memory lane is just the gift for readers who love children’s books. Noted authors Eileen and Jerry Spinelli weave together quotations from a wide variety of children’s books and follow each quote with explanatory information and questions to push the reader forward. Something like a page-a-day calendar, Today I Will also notes the birthdates of many authors and luminaries.

For instance, on October 27, a quote from Theodore by Frank Keating celebrates Teddy Roosevelt’s special day: “It is always better to be an original than an imitation.” The authors follow the quote with seven sentences about being a “one-of-a-kind creation” and a resolution to do something that is “pure me.” On March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, they quote from a book by Kathleen Krull about the beloved author. “Once upon a time, there lived a boy who feasted on books and was wild about animals. . . . All in all, he excelled at fooling around.” Perfect.

The Spinellis must be voracious readers and quotation collectors because the quotes are pulled from many sources. Authors include young adult icons Chris Crutcher and Laurie Halse Anderson; old favorites E.B. White, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Frances Hodgson Burnett; and poets like Naomi Shihab Nye and Helen Frost.

While inspirational, this handsome volume will be appreciated more by readers who want to remember books read long ago and be inspired to find ones missed along the way. I now have a considerable list of books I need to find, all inspired by the Spinellis’ beautiful reflections.

Robin Smith is always on the lookout for new children’s books to share with the second graders in her Nashville classroom.

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