Ep. 12: Laura Vanderkam, Author of “Off the Clock”

I’m thrilled to share a conversation with Laura Vanderkam this week, author of several time management and productivity books, including her latest Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done as well as I Know How She Does It, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and 168 Hours. Her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Fortune. She is the co-host, with Sarah Hart-Unger, of the podcast Best of Both Worlds. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and four children, and blogs at LauraVanderkam.com.



You can also listen to this episode on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.



You can visit Laura Vanderkam’s website at lauravanderkam.com.

Check out the Best of Both Worlds podcast:




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If you’re enjoying the podcast, be sure to subscribe and rate and review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Are you reading a book mentioned on the blog or podcast? I’d love to hear. Tag me on Twitter or Instagram @ABookishHome.

Happy Reading and Listening!

Laura Szaro Kopinski



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Discover New Kidlit with Your State’s Book Award Program

Have you checked out your state’s book awards for children? These lists can be a great way to find new titles for your children and students to enjoy.

You can find a link to your state’s book award program here.


I am a huge fan of the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award program. Each year in my school library, I would promote MCBA books to students with book trailers and much bookish enthusiasm. If they read five books out of the 25 nominated titles by March, they would be eligible to vote for the winner along with 4th, 5th, and 6th graders all over the state. We approached it like one big book club with a lot of choice and it was so much fun discussing the books with one another and discovering great new reads.


Last year’s winner was one of my all time favorite middle grade novels, The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. There was so much book joy watching my students fall in love with this story and root for Ada.

Kids were hooked as soon as they watched this trailer from author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, where she shares her inspiration for this captivating historical fiction title:


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This year’s list of MCBA nominees has blown me way. There are so many titles that I adore that I think kids will not be able to put down.

Here are a few of my favorite MCBA 2019 nominees:


The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz


This Newbery Honor title sweeps you up in an epic story that you won’t want to put down:

“1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.”

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Watch the book trailer:



Ghost by Jason Reynolds (Track Series #1)


This National Book Award Winner is also part of PBS’ The Great American Read. The audiobook version had me alternately laughing out loud and tearing up. You can read more in my earlier post: Five Audiobooks That Made Me Enjoy Sitting in Traffic and Doing the Dishes

“Running. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race — and wins — the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?”

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Listen to an author reading:


It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas


Based on author Firoozeh Dumas’ own experiences, It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel is funny, compelling and sure to stay with you. You can read more about this book in my post Middle Grade Reads I Can’t Wait to Recommend.

“Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even puka shell necklaces, pool parties, and flying fish can’t distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home.”

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The Bad Guys (Bad Guys Series #1) by Aaron Blabey


This funny series is one we could not keep on the shelves last year:

“They sound like bad guys, they look like bad guys . . . and they even smell like bad guys. But Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark are about to change all of that…Mr. Wolf has a daring plan for the Bad Guys’ first good mission. They are going to break two hundred dogs out of the Maximum Security City Dog Pound. Will Operation Dog Pound go smoothly? Will the Bad Guys become the Good Guys? And will Mr. Snake please stop swallowing Mr. Piranha?!”

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View the book trailer:



Wolf Hollow by Laren Wolk


This beautiful historical fiction book and Newbery Honor winner weaves together themes of kindness and courage.

“Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.”

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Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson


Fans of Wonder, Absolutely Almost, and Because of Mr. Terupt will love Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. 

“Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard, the ones who stopped trying long ago. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like school is somehow worthwhile. Who recognizes something in you that sometimes you don’t even see in yourself. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one-of-a-kind. Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a risky plan, more of a quest, really, to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand what Ms. Bixby means to each of them—and what the three of them mean to each other.”

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Listen to an audiobook excerpt:




Putting yourself in another person’s shoes is so important for adults and kids alike. This novel accomplishes this in a way that is thought-provoking and full of heart.

“From comes Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home. When Perry moves to the “outside” world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from . . . but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?”

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Fans of Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine series will enjoy this spinoff. She is also the author of Pax, Summer of the Gypsy Moths, and many more.

“Waylon has lots of ideas for making life more awesome through science, like teleportation, human gills, and attracting cupcakes by controlling gravity. But it’s impossible for him to concentrate on his inventions when he’s experiencing his own personal Big Bang. Arlo Brody is dividing the fourth grade boys into two groups. Waylon would rather be friends with everyone. Well, everyone except the scary new kid, Baxter Boylen.Waylon’s older sister, Neon, is shooting away from the family. He wishes everything would go back to the way it was before she started wearing all black and saying “What’s the point?” all the time. Just when it looks as though Waylon’s universe is exploding, something happens to bring it all together again, and it is, without a doubt, One Awesome Thing.”

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These are the 25 books nominated for this year’s Massachusetts Children’s Book Awards. Voting will take place at participating schools and libraries mid-March and the winner will be announced by Salem State in April 2019. You can find more information about the MCBA program here.


MCBA 2019 Nominated Books:

Anderson, J.D. (2016). Ms. Bixby’s Last Day.

Arnold, E. (2017). A Boy Called Bat.

Barnett, M. (2015). The Terrible Two.

Blabey, A. (2016). The Bad Guys #1.

Chad, J. (2016). Science Comics: Volcanoes.

Connor, L. (2016). All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook.

DiCamillo, K. (2016). Raymie Nightingale.

Dinerstein, E. (2016). What Elephants Know.

Dumas, F. (2016). It Ain’t so Awful, Falafel.

Gannon, N. (2017). The Doldrums.

Gidwitz, A. (2016). The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. Grimes, N. (2017). One Last Word.

Hahn, M. D. (2016). Took: A Ghost Story.

Hale, N. (2015). The Underground Abductor.

Kelly, J. (2015). The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate.

Lord, C. (2015). A Handful of Stars.

Martin, A.M. (2014). Rain Reign.

Nielsen, J.A. (2015). A Night Divided.

Pennypacker, S. (2016). Waylon! One Awesome Thing.

Ponti, J. (2016). Framed: A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery.

Reynolds, J. (2016). Ghost.

Rhodes, J.P. (2016). Towers Falling.

Shovan, L. (2016). The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary.

Tavares, M. (2015). Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues.

Wolk, L. (2016). Wolf Hollow.


Do the kids in your life participate in your state’s book award program? I’d love to hear some of your favorite nominated titles.

Share in the comments or on Twitter @ABookishHome. And you can find a link with details for your state here.

What I’ve Been Reading…

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

by Karina Yan Glaser


Vanderbeeker fans, the wait is almost over! The sequel to the enchanting middle-grade novel,  The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street comes out on September 25th and it does not disappoint. This time, the lovable Vanderbeekers are on summer vacation–having adventures in their Harlem neighborhood and trying to create a community garden. This is a must-read for the kids in your life and would make a fantastic classroom read aloud for upper elementary. Look out for my interview with author Karina Yan Glaser on Episode 6 of  the A Bookish Home podcast, coming up on Thursday, September 20th. Amy Poehler also recently optioned the rights to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, so I’m hoping we see this heartwarming, funny book on the big screen soon!

Look for The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden at your local library or bookstore or order online:

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What We Were Promised

by Lucy Tan


What We Were Promised is the stunning debut novel by Lucy Tan that draws the reader into the world of modern Shanghai from the views of the wealthy Zhen family, and Sunny, the housekeeper employed at their luxury high rise. Fans of The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee will find What We Were Promised also delivers keen observations and a carefully woven story with deeply buried secrets.  Library Journal declares, “A novel of class, culture, and expectations; readers who enjoyed works like Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians will likely find Tan’s surprising and down-to-earth tale an entertaining read.” And Booklist writes, “Tan’s first novel is beautiful and compassionate as it explores how identity is reinvented and the importance of confronting the past to move into the future.” Lucy Tan will be on the podcast to discuss What We Were Promised on October 4th!

Look for What We Were Promised at your local library or bookstore or order online:

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I’d Rather Be Reading:

The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life

by Anne Bogel


Bibliophiles and fellow fans of author Anne Bogel’s Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and What Should I Read Podcast will enjoy her new book of essays on the reading life: I’d Rather Be Reading.  I listened to the audiobook and it was a treat to hear some of Anne’s backstory as a reader and the role books have played in her life as I took note of countless literary references. If you’re looking to make the leap from podcasts to audiobooks, this conversational collection would be an excellent place to start.

Look for I’d Rather Be Reading at your local library or bookstore or order online:

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Forever or a Day 

by Sarah Jacoby


This gorgeous picture book examines the mysterious nature of time. In Forever or a Day, we look at time from a child’s point of view. The narrator notes, “Sometimes it’s far, far away–like when you will be old, gazing out at the sea” and later,  “You cannot hold it. You cannot give it to someone in exchange for a snack.” School Library Journal notes, “This is a book that bears repeated readings. Its treasures reveal themselves on close examination and its subject matter is, of course, profound…. A lovely lap book, exceptionally well-suited for intergenerational sharing again and again.” For those doing Mock Caldecotts this year, I think Forever or a Day‘s detailed illustrations and complex topic would be perfect for discussion with older picture book readers.

Look for Forever or a Day at your local library or bookstore or order online:

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Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win

by Jo Piazza


Jo Piazza is the author of six books, including The Knockoff and How to Be Married. In her new novel, Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, a Silicon Valley executive decides to return to her small hometown in Pennsylvania to run for the Senate. The campaign that follows will turn her life upside down in more ways than she ever expected. Library Journal writes, “Piazza’s contemporary representation of what women go through to become successful politicians is both insightful and honest. Rooted in current events, the plot precisely captures the modern political environment. It’s easy to empathize with and cheer for this likable heroine.”

Look for Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win at your local library or bookstore or order online:

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What have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear!  Leave a note in the comments or let me know on Twitter @ABookishHome.

And if you’re enjoying the blog, be sure to tell a friend and subscribe to make sure you never miss a new post.

Happy Reading!

Laura Szaro Kopinski



Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  I also participate in the Indiebound Affiliate program.

Five Audiobooks That Made Me Enjoy Sitting in Traffic and Doing the Dishes

Are you on the hunt for an audiobook so good you won’t be able to press pause? Look no further.

I’m always on the lookout for an audiobook that will draw me right in and allow for some successful bookish multitasking–reading while taking a walk or folding laundry. Here are five of my recent audiobook favorites:


1. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Narrated by Julia Whelan

51eH5ngcYiL._SY346_From the bestselling author of The Nightingale, The Great Alone is hands down my favorite audiobook of the year. I found myself looking forward to rush hour Boston traffic just so I could hear one more scene. The novel opens in 1974 when 13-year-old Leni moves to Alaska with her parents. The family is woefully unprepared for the emotional and physical challenges of this harsh, beautiful landscape.  Leni must learn how to survive in her new surroundings–while navigating the complexities of her parents’ troubled relationship. Kirkus Reviews writes that Hannah “re-creates in magical detail the lives of Alaska’s homesteaders in both of the state’s seasons (they really only have two) and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America. A tour de force.” Hannah’s novel is a rare combination of exquisite writing, a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat, and characters that will stick with you. I highly recommend the audiobook version, Julia Whelan’s performance was exceptional.

Kristin Hannah discusses the real life inspiration behind The Great Alone in this video:

You can also listen to this interview with Kristin Hannah from WNYC:

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2. Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Read by Guy Lockard


My one regret about Ghost by Jason Reynolds is that I didn’t pick it up sooner! This standout middle grade title is the first in Reynolds’ Track series and was a National Book Award finalist back in 2016, when the judges noted “In Ghost, Jason Reynolds flawlessly delivers eloquent moments of terror, anticipation and fun—clear to the finish line—without an extra word to spare. We are immersed in the backdrop of believable characters from the night Ghost Crenshaw runs for his life, to his struggle to silence the “scream inside him.” Ghost will stay with you.” I couldn’t agree more and the engaging audio narration had me hooked from chapter 1–and fittingly–adding serious mileage to my morning walk so I could listen longer. At various times the protagonist Ghost Crenshaw broke my heart and had me laughing out loud. I cannot wait to recommend this one to the kids and teens in my life and I’m sure this will be a top contender for this year’s Massachusetts Children’s Book Award program here in my state. You can also vote for Ghost as part of PBS’s Great American Read.

An excerpt of the Ghost audiobook is available to preview:


You can watch Jason Reynolds discuss Ghost and the importance of reading on this Author Imprint video from PBS:

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3. Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam

Read by the author


Conversational, practical nonfiction books are my favorite audiobooks to listen to and Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done is exactly that. If you are a podcast listener looking to dip your toe into audiobooks, I would suggest this new title by time management expert Laura Vanderkam. (In fact, you may have heard of Vanderkam from her podcast Best of Both Worlds). In her latest book, the author of 168 Hours and I Know How She Does It turns her attention to spending our free time wisely. She wrote about her inspiration for her book on her blog, “I first got the idea for this book in July 2016 when I was running in Bar Harbor, Maine. I had no immediate obligations for the day, and so that phrase popped into my head. I was off the clock — just like when I punched out after a shift back in my teenage minimum wage days. I wanted to explore this concept of time freedom: what makes it possible? How do busy people who feel relaxed about time structure their lives?”. For Off the Clock, Vandarkam had 900 people track their time on one day, March 27th, 2017–then analyzed the relationship between how people spent their time and how they felt about their time. Vandarkam’s findings will inspire you to turn off the television, put down your phone and invest time in the relationships and experiences that lead to a more satisfying life.

You can hear an excerpt of Off the Clock read by Vandarkam herself:


You can also listen to Vandarkam discuss the book on her Best of Both Worlds podcast with cohost Sarah Hart-Unger:

Best of Both Worlds Podcast Episode 43: Off the Clock

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4. Wishree by Katherine Applegate

Narrated by Nancy Linari

61al+P+9JDL._SX365_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Katherine Applegate is the Newbery award-winning author of the The One and Only Ivan, one of my all-time favorite middle grade books. In Wishtree, Applegate turns her attention to a special talking tree and tackles issues of intolerance and immigration.  Red, a 216-year-old oak tree and our narrator, tries to intervene after a hateful message–aimed at a Muslim family new to the neighborhood–is carved into her trunk.  In a starred review Booklist calls Wishtree “Timely, necessary, and brimming with heart”. Wishtree would be an excellent choice for a classroom read aloud and the audiobook would be engaging listening for a family road trip. This one is sure to spark meaningful discussions with the kids in your life. Make sure to mention the connection to The One and Only Ivan to prospective young readers–Applegate’s earlier book is beloved.

You can listen to an excerpt of the Wishtree audiobook:


The trailer for Wishtree is extremely well done and has sparked so much enthusiasm for reading the book when I’ve shown it to 4th/5th grade classes:


5. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Narrated by Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis


Listening to An American Marriage by Tayari Jones instead of reading the print book happened by chance. I often place library holds for the print book and audiobook and read whatever becomes available first. In this case, I am so happy the audiobook won out because it was incredibly well done. The book is narrated by Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis, who read the parts of newly married Roy and Celestial–two characters whose stories take abrupt turns when Roy is wrongfully committed of a crime and sentenced to twelve years in prison. As The Washington Post notes, the questions around Celestial and Roy’s ties and responsibilities toward one another (they have only been married eighteen months) are “spun with tender patience by Jones, who cradles each of these characters in a story that pulls our sympathies in different directions.”


You can watch Oprah share this title as her book club pick and hear Tayari Jones discuss her inspiration for the book in this  clip from CBS This Morning:

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What audiobooks would you recommend? Let me know in the comments or on your favorite social media platform. I’m @ABookishHome.

Happy Reading!

Laura Szaro Kopinski





Plan A Bookish Vacation: Visit the World of Anne of Green Gables on Prince Edward Island

Bookish Destination: Prince Edward Island, Canada

Summer is almost here. This is the perfect time to plan a bookish vacation to immerse yourself in the world of one of your favorite characters. If you are an Anne of Green Gables fan or have a child in your life who has loved the book, a trip to Prince Edward Island would be a magical experience.

©Tourism PEI / John Sylvester



aoggcover.jpgAnne of Green Gables is the first book in the beloved series by L.M. Montgomery. As the book opens we meet eleven-year-old Anne Shirley, an orphan who has come to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert at Green Gables farm on Prince Edward Island.  What Anne thinks is a dream come true has actually been a mix-up–the orphanage was supposed to send a boy. We cross our fingers that Anne (and we as the reader) will get to stay in the wonderful world of small-town Avonlea, with its endearing characters and stunningly beautiful scenery.

To say Anne of Green Gables stole my heart as a child is an understatement–I’ve read the books more times than I can count and Anne is even my daughter’s namesake. I know there are many more kindred spirits out there who would love nothing more than to step into the world of this story. Since L.M. Montgomery drew on her own experiences living in PEI, traveling there is the next best thing.


Here are five stops to make on your bookish trip to Prince Edward Island:


1. Green Gables Heritage Place

Photo Via: http://www.parkscanada.gc.ca/greengables

This is the quintessential stop for Anne fans. Green Gables Heritage Place is in Cavendish (the real Avonlea) and this site is where L.M. Montgomery is believed to have drawn inspiration for Green Gables. The farmhouse belonged to cousins of Montgomery’s grandfather and is now part of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s National Historic Site.

You can take a tour of the house (furnished with items from the book like a dress with “puffed sleeves”), walk through the “Haunted Wood”, and stroll down “Lovers Lane”. This was the highlight of my visit to PEI when I made my Anne Shirley pilgrimage in 2014.  You can’t help but feel Anne’s presence as you take in this site and feel the story come to life.

©Tourism PEI / John Sylvester

Read more at: https://www.tourismpei.com/green-gables-house


2. The Anne of Green Gables Museum at the Campbell Homestead

Credit: ©Tourism PEI / John Sylvester
©Tourism PEI / John Sylvester

L.M. Montgomery used to visit her Uncle John and Aunt Annie Campbell on this farm in Kensington and described it as the “wonder castle of my childhood”. She even chose to be married in front of the fireplace here. During your visit you can see the “Lake of Shining Waters”, take a carriage ride with “Matthew” as your driver, and view some of Montgomery’s belongings. Like the Green Gables Heritage Place, you definitely feel as though you are stepping into the setting of Montgomery’s books at this site. For devoted Anne fans looking for a wedding venue, you can even follow in Montgomery’s footsteps by holding your ceremony in the parlour.

©Tourism PEI / John Sylvester

Visit http://www.annemuseum.com/index.php to learn more.


3. Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace


Photo Via: http://www.parkscanada.gc.ca/greengables

Located in New London, this is the home where L.M. Montgomery was born in 1874. Highlights at this site include Montgomery’s personal scrapbooks and a replica of her wedding dress. A great stop to pay homage to an incredible author.

Read more at http://www.lmmontgomerybirthplace.ca


4. Dalvay By the Sea


If you’re a fan of the 1980s Anne of Green Gables movie adaptations, you must add Dalvay-by-the-Sea to your list. Known as the White Sands hotel in the movies, this is where Anne gives the “Highwayman” reading. Kate Middleton (a fellow Anne enthusiast) and Prince William even visited Dalvay-by-the-Sea on their Canadian tour in 2011. I recommend stopping by for high tea while you channel your inner Megan Follows.

For more visit: https://www.dalvaybythesea.com


5. Anne of Green Gables the Musical at the Homburg Theatre

Anne of Green Gables the Musical, showing in Charlottetown at the Homburg Theater is now in its 54th season. I have not gotten to see this one myself, but after looking at the trailer and listening to some of the soundtrack (both below) it is on my list for a future pilgrimage!



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Anne of Green Gables The Musical Soundtrack


If you’re trying to convince your family or friends to make this Anne piligrimage with you, Prince Edward Island also has fantastic fresh seafood, beautiful scenery for long bike rides or camping, and pristine beaches.


Preparing for your Trip



Read (or re-read for the hundredth time) Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the series.



You can also read the wonderful Emily books, which feature another of Montgomery’s heroines.



I recently listened to the entire Anne series again using Librovox’s free audiobooks. I enjoyed revisiting Anne of the Island and Anne’s House of Dreams again in particular.



You could also request an audiobook from your library or listen to Rachel McAdams read Anne of Green Gables on Audible.




If the little ones in your life are too young to listen to an entire novel, share one of these books with them. I love Anne of Green Gables: A Places Primer, a board book that highlights locations like “The Lake of Shining Waters” with gorgeous illustrations. For a more traditional retelling, I really enjoy Usborne’s picture book version of Anne of Green Gables. 



Watch an Anne of Green Gables adaptation. In my opinion, nothing has topped the classic 1984 CBC movie version. I know this one by heart. Make it a viewing marathon and continue with the sequel!




Reads for the Moms in Your Life

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! Here are some of the books I’ve been sharing lately with the moms in my life.


For the Expecting Mom:

Bringing Up Bebe

Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman

This was a parenting book I actually enjoyed reading when I was pregnant, so when a friend recently shared she was expecting, Bringing Up Bébé was my first recommendation. Part memoir, part parenting book, Pamela Druckerman shares her experiences as an expat living in Paris and raising children. While it was interesting to hear how French babies “do their nights” (sleep through the night) after a few months or have excellent table manners, what I found most useful as a nervous mama-to-be was the simple realization (and reassurance) that there are many ways to parent and varied advice from experts depending on where you live in the world. This book was also great on audio–entertaining and conversational.

For more on Bringing Up Bébé you can listen to this review from NPR when the book came out in 2012:

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For the Mom Heading Back to Work:


The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, & Success After Baby by Lauren Smith Brody

We read up about pregnancy and parenting, but what about tips for reentering the workforce after maternity leave? That’s where Lauren Smith Brody comes in with The Fifth Trimester. Brody was the executive editor at Glamour magazine when she made her own transition to working mom and has since made it her mission to help other mothers.  The book is full of practical tips and reads like a helpful friend walking you through what can be a challenging phase–from evaluating schedule options, to figuring out a postpartum wardrobe and handling feelings of “I have to quit”. This is another title that was an ideal audio read–perfect company for pacing the house with a fussy baby!

For more on The Fifth Trimester, check out this excellent interview from Westport, Connecticut’s public library:

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Pair this one with Bye Bye Time by Elizabeth Verdick or I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas.

These are two read alouds a friend sent me to share with my daughter before she started daycare. They are comforting reads about a parent’s love for a child, even when you are apart. (Cue the waterworks).



For Moms Juggling Career and Family

I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vandarkam

I have become a big Laura Vanderkam fan this year. Her basic premise is that we each have 168 hours in our weeks and it’s up to us to spend that time wisely to build the lives we want. In both books, she shares week-long time logs she gathered of how people spend their 168 hours and encourages readers to try the exercise themselves. I Know How She Does It focuses specifically on women with big jobs, who are still managing to spend plenty of quality time with their families, exercise and have leisure time. Both of these books have made me more mindful and creative about how I choose to structure my day and spend my time. I also appreciate Vandarkam’s transparency in parts of the book and on her podcast, “Best of Both Worlds” with what she and participants prioritize and what they outsource or have help with. Everyone’s situation is different, but I think it’s useful to have windows into how various women are making life and career work.

Here’s one episode of the “Best of Both Worlds” podcast you can check out:

Episode 2: The 2nd Shift: Evenings with Your Kids

“Make the most of your evenings with your children. Working moms and kids can be tired. How to make sure you both enjoy your time together.”

And if you enjoy her books or the podcast, stay tuned–Laura Vandarkam’s next book Off the Clock comes out on May 29th! I already have my library hold placed.

Off the Clock



For the Mom Looking for Her Tribe…And a Laugh

How to Party With an Infant by Kaui Hart Hemmings

For a funny, fictional read check out How to Party With an Infant. Mele, a single mom to daughter Ellie joins the San Francisco Mother’s Club looking for the elusive perfect “mom friends”. From the author of The Descendants, this is a lighthearted, relatable look at navigating motherhood, growing up, and leaning on newfound relationships along the way. Check out this Glommable interview to hear more from author Kaui Hart Hemmings.




For the DIY Mom

Lovable Livable Home

Lovable Livable Home: How to Add Beauty, Get Organized, and Make Your House Work for You by John and Sherry Petersik

John and Sherry Petersnik are the couple behind Young House Love, the DIY home decorating blog. This book is perfect for anyone tired of tripping over toys and staring at blank walls. Their home decor ideas are simple, practical, and geared toward the needs of young families. This was the inspiration I needed to finally buy some toy storage and deal with my entryway.

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For Moms with the Travel Bug


At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider

I shared At Home in the World in What I’ve Been Reading (Part 1)…. This is a travel memoir from Tsh Oxenreider, a writer who spent a year traveling the world with her husband and three young kids. This book is inspiration for the mom who hasn’t gotten the travel bug out of her system–whether that means finally mustering the courage for that two week trek around Europe with a toddler in tow or planning some fun day trips in your own backyard.

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For the Outdoorsy Mom Who Loved Bringing Up Bébé


There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge) by Linda Åkeson McGurk

This book currently resides on my nightstand and so far I’m really enjoying it. If you’re already a fan of Bringing Up Bébé , this is the same concept, but what Scandinavians can teach us about parenting instead. (Essentially, get our kids outside!) Originally from Sweden, Linda Åkeson McGurk is raising her children in the Midwest when she begins to notice different social norms around children and nature. When a family situation arises, she decides it is a good opportunity to move back home and see if the nature loving, “there’s no such thing as bad weather” Sweden of her childhood is still thriving. Check out Is Friluftsliv the New Hygge? for more on this title.


I’ve clearly been immersing myself in books for mothers at my stage of life–with little ones at home. What books would you recommend to the moms in your life?

What I’ve Been Reading (Part 2)…


I listened to The Good House on audio after it appeared on a list of 10 audiobooks so good you’ll want to fold another load of laundry, finish washing the dishes, or just sit in the driveway for 5 more minutes. This book definitely lived up to that hype for me and it was perfect company for those tasks. The Good House centers on small town life on the North Shore in Massachusetts. Our guide to the ins and outs of this world is self-described townie, Hildy Good–a realtor who makes it her business to know everything about everyone. I sometimes struggle with listening to contemporary adult fiction on audio, but this one is conversational and an addictive read, akin to listening in as your busy body neighbor shares some very intriguing town gossip.



noodleheadnightmares.jpegI absolutely love the new Noodleheads early reader series by Tedd Arnold, author of the Fly Guy books. These books will have the littlest readers in your life laughing out loud and begging for more. I read Noodleheads See the Future to some first grade classes during library last week and they all wanted to check the book out. I’m very happy to see that a third book is due out in September 2018! A great read aloud choice.




“If growing up in this house hasn’t taught you all not to care whether you look cool or not, then I’m going to give up and send you all to school”. So says “CardaMom”, one of the moms in the delightful middle-grade book, The Lotterys Plus One by the author of the bestselling adult book Room, Emma Donoghue. This is the kind of boisterous, loving family you want to be a part of. Nine-year-old Sumac lives happily with her four parents, six siblings, and five pets–that is until an estranged grandfather struggling with dementia comes to live with the Lotterys and turns Sumac’s world upside down.  I’m hoping for a sequel so I can visit with these quirky, loveable characters again soon.

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I’m a huge fan of the picture books written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen, such as this year’s The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse and the wonderful Extra YarnThis fantastic read aloud is whimsical and funny, with beautiful illustrations. The story centers around a magical box of yarn that brightens a gloomy town and all of the inhabitants. It’s completely charming and a book that I keep coming back to with my students. If you’re a knitter, it would be wonderful to read the book aloud and then knit with your little ones.

Check out the story behind the story in this video with author Mac Barnett:



perennialsI know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but luckily in this case, Perennials’ gorgeous design did not disappoint. I completely fell into the story of Lovey Sutherland, who is called back to her family’s farm in Oxford, Mississippi and finds it might be time to try to make peace with the past. Compelling and heartfelt, I think this novel is perfect for fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid and Jojo Moyes. Julie Cantrell also brings this lush setting to life and the descriptions of the flower gardens central to this story will make you want to go start planting immediately–a perfect choice for spring. Bonus: Mississippi authors Eudora Welty and William Faulkner are weaved into the story. Highly recommended and I already have my library holds in for more books by Julie Cantrell! Up next, I’ll be sharing the perfect books to pair with this one.