TITLE: The Painted Garden

(published in the United States as Movie Shoes)

AUTHOR: Noel Streatfeild


ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd.


PLOTLINE: Ten-year-old Jane Winter is upset when her parents inform her that their family is temporarily moving. They’re going to live for six months in California with Aunt Cora, whom Jane and her siblings don’t even remember.

Jane has always lived in the shadow of her sister, Rachel, and her brother, Tim. Everyone thinks Rachel’s got a successful dancing career ahead of her, and everyone thinks Tim plays the piano extremely well. Jane knows that she’s considered by people to be the untalented one in her family, and also knows that the trip to California won’t change anything about it.

Then something does change. Jane and her family are very surprised when she’s offered the leading role in a movie version of The Secret Garden. This is a big opportunity for Jane: she’ll finally get to be important. Now the tables are turned, and it’s Rachel who’s jealous of Jane.

But Jane isn’t sure she can handle such a large responsibility, and Rachel’s upset because nothing nice is happening to her. Will they ever be happy in California?

I just finished reading this book last night and it’s wonderful. It has many interesting characters, and is very well written.

“ ‘Has this aunt you’re staying with got a piano?’

Tim thought that a stupid question.

‘A piano! Every house has a piano.’

‘On the contrary, very few houses have pianos.’ ” - The Painted Garden

TITLE: Piper Reed, Campfire Girl

AUTHOR: Kimberly Willis Holt


ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Company, LLC


PLOTLINE: Piper Reed is excited about Halloween this year. Possibly more excited than she’s ever been before. That’s why she’s disappointed when her dad tells her that their family is going camping---on Halloween!

Even though she tries to convince her parents to postpone the camping trip, they’re off in their camper on October thirty-first. Piper’s friends, Nicole and Michael, are also coming, which makes it a little better. Then Piper finds out that Stanley, a new boy in her class, has been invited, too. Stanley is the most annoying person she’s ever met, because he talks so much!

Things keep going wrong after they reach the campsite. Piper gets poison ivy, discovers she doesn’t like fishing, and then her dog, Bruna, goes missing. Can she still have a good Halloween in spite of so many problems?

The next book in the series, Piper Reed, Rodeo Star is now available for pre-order from http://www.amazon.com/


“{Tori} turned around and rolled her eyes. ‘Piper, Halloween is for little kids. I’m almost thirteen. I don’t do dress up.’

‘You mean you have to stop having fun when you’re a teenager?’ I was sure glad I was in fifth grade. That meant I still had a few good years left.” - Piper Reed, Campfire Girl

Here's what I'm going to do this weekend:

• Read The Painted Garden (this is a looong book!)

• Watch a movie and lots of TV

• Write on my most recent writing projects and create a few poems

• Play Yahtzee (and roll one!)

• Knit a stuffed animal-sized blanket

• Dust the family room (I love to dust!)

• Watch old home videos

• Hug my pony, Ruby : - )

TITLE: Piper Reed, Party Planner

(originally titled Piper Reed Gets a Job)

AUTHOR: Kimberly Willis Holt


ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Company, LLC


PLOTLINE: Piper Reed wants to get a job, so she can buy a clubhouse for the club she started. She decides to become a birthday party planner, which ought to be a really fun job.

But it’s not as easy as it looks. Her first customer, almost-three-year-old Brady, expects a lot more of Piper than she can handle. But Piper’s determined to fulfill her promise to plan a good party, so she gets her friends to help her.

As the birthday draws near, Piper tries to make sure everything’s set, but she has several dilemmas. She’s supposed to illustrate her little sister’s book, babysit the triplets that her older sister doesn't want to sit for, and write a school paper about someone she’s never heard of before.

Can Piper still plan a good birthday party despite so many problems?


“ ‘Your deadline is September 12,’ Sam told me,

‘That’s three days before Brady’s birthday party!’

‘And two days before my book signing.’

‘Where are you going to do a book signing?’

Sam rolled her eyes as if she couldn’t believe I wouldn’t know. ‘At a bookstore.’

I didn’t have anything to worry about. No bookstore would allow a six-year-old to sell books, even if she was a prodigy.” - Piper Reed, Party Planner

I can't believe I didn't write a single post all weekend . . . oops. I was doing lots of other things, like reading more of The Painted Garden, watching a movie, addressing invitations to a wedding, and playing Rummikub and Yahtzee.

Here's some news for book lovers: Three brand-new American Girl mysteries are now available for pre-order on http://www.amazon.com/. They are called The Clue in the Castle Tower, A Bundle of Trouble, and The Silver Guitar. I'm looking forward to reading them!

The picture above is one I took last spring . . . hopefully we'll be seeing more of this soon!

TITLE: Piper Reed, Clubhouse Queen

(originally titled Piper Reed, the Great Gypsy)

AUTHOR: Kimberly Willis Holt


ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Company, LLC


PLOTLINE: Piper Reed comes up with the best idea she’s ever had: her club will have a pet show in July. She plans to teach her dog, Bruna, some amazing tricks and win first prize.

But Bruna is more than a little reluctant to learn new tricks. As a matter of fact, she won’t perform even the simplest trick unless Piper’s two-year-old neighbor, Brady, tells her to.

Piper doesn’t think she can win first place now, but she really wants to do something that will make her dad proud when he comes back from Navy ship duty. And how can she devote extra time to teaching Bruna tricks when her teacher assigned her eight books to read during the summer?


“Sam surprised me and said, ‘Yeah, let’s get the saddest {Christmas} tree and make it happy.’

‘A Charlie Brown tree,’ I said.

Mom eased down the trunk of the pretty tree. ‘That would be different.’ ” - Piper Reed, Clubhouse Queen

Only 214 more pages to read in The Painted Garden . . . it’s 320 pages long, with super small text!

So far, it’s a very funny book, with numerous parts that have made me laugh out loud. When I finish it, I’ll write a book review about it.

TITLE: Piper Reed, Navy Brat

AUTHOR: Kimberly Willis Holt


ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Company, LLC


PLOTLINE: Nine-year-old Piper Reed doesn’t want to move. She’d rather stay in San Diego with her best friends, the members of the Gypsy Club. But her dad, who is a navy chief, has just been assigned to Pensacola, Florida, which is very far away.

When Piper’s family arrives in Pensacola, there are many problems with the new house. There are only three bedrooms, which means Piper has to share with her little sister, Sam. And there’s no room for a treehouse, because the lawn is so small. And there are vents in the walls, which means that Piper’s older sister Tori can listen in on her conversations . . . but maybe that’s a good thing, because it works the other way around!

Then Piper finally receives what she’s always wanted---a dog! There’s just one snag. She thought they were getting a German shepherd, but this dog is a poodle. And there’s a snag at school, too---she needs to make some new friends, but her efforts aren’t working very well so far. And on top of all that, her dad’s going off on navy duty for six months! Can Piper figure out how to cope with the changes in her life?

This book is very cute, and has illustrations by Christine Davenier that go well with the text. The audiobook of Piper Reed, Navy Brat, which is available from http://www.amazon.com/, is read by the talented Emily Janice Card and is extremely fun to listen to.


“Sometimes when it was too quiet, words floated into my head and before I knew it they’d popped out of my mouth. ‘I’m a vegetarian,’ I announced.

Collin pointed to my hamburger. ‘What’s that then?’

‘Except for hamburgers,’ I said.” - Piper Reed, Navy Brat

TITLE: The Puzzle of the Paper Daughter

AUTHOR: Kathryn Reiss


ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: American Girl Publishing, Inc.


PLOTLINE: Julie Albright finds a paper in an old red jacket that has a lot of Chinese writing on it. She takes it to her best friend, Ivy Ling, whose Chinese teacher can help her translate the message.

The paper leads to the discovery of a woman named Mei Meng, who used to be Ivy’s grandmother’s friend. What’s more, Julie and Ivy believe that Mei still has a doll that might contain a valuable jade necklace.

But someone is on Julie’s trail, trying to find out about the treasure himself . . . and that someone may just find the necklace first! Can Julie and Ivy untangle the many clues to the mystery before things get dangerous?


“ ‘Uh, no. I’m trying to find an old friend of my friend’s grandmother.’ Julie winced. That sounded so complicated.” - The Puzzle of the Paper Daughter

I've written 3,003 words on my latest book since Wednesday! My goal is another 11,000 before April.

TITLE: Aloha, Kanani

AUTHOR: Lisa Yee


ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: American Girl Publishing, Inc.


PLOTLINE: Kanani Akina lives in a picturesque, laid-back town in Kaua’i, one of the islands of Hawai’i. Kanani loves the way nothing has changed in so many years, but when her cousin Rachel arrives from New York City, Kanani starts wishing things in town looked fancier and modern.

But instead of pointing out how old-fashioned the town looks, Rachel comments on how cool it is. She says that New York only pretends to be old-fashioned. For awhile after that, Kanani thinks that Rachel’s having a good time, but for some reason, her cousin seems unnaturally reserved and a little sad. Kanani’s determined to lift Rachel’s spirits, but then she accidentally reads Rachel’s diary!

Will they ever be friends, or will Rachel return to New York City before they can patch things up?


“ ‘By the way, if you like museums, we’ve got lots in New York. There’s the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum . . .’
The more Rachel talked, the more discouraged Kanani felt. It seemed as if no matter what she said, Rachel had something bigger or better in New York.” - Aloha, Kanani

These are pictures I took of a betta fish today. It's kind of hard to spot him in the first one, but he's there!

TITLE: Bravo, Mia!

AUTHOR: Laurence Yep


ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: American Girl Publishing, Inc.


PLOTLINE: Ten-year-old Mia St. Clair can’t wait for the upcoming figure skating competition. It’s the biggest event in her life so far, and Mia’s not exactly sure that she’s ready.

But soon, she realizes that she might not be able to compete even if she is ready---her parents can only afford to pay for her new dress and skates, and not the competition fees. Mia’s desperate to get to the competition, but it looks like it won’t happen---until help comes from an unexpected source.

When Mia finally arrives at the fancy rink where she’s going to compete, she’s unsure of herself. The other skaters are so much more advanced than she is---and one snooty girl named Paige seems set on ruining Mia’s chances of winning!

This wonderful sequel to Mia highly surpasses the first book, which is not something you see very often.


“When we got to the {hotel} room, she and I immediately went to the window to admire the view.

‘What a dump.’ Vanessa frowned in disgust.” - Bravo, Mia!