Category: Uncategorized

Review: My Family Tree and Me

my family tree and me

My Family Tree and Me by Dušan Petričić

A little boy talks about his family starting with his father’s side of the family and his great-great-grandfather and great-great-grandmother. Then his great-grandfather and great-grandmother. His great-grandfather clearly has genetic ties to his parents, including red hair from his father and the need for glasses from his mother. Then come Pops and Nana, where again Pops shows genetic ties to his parents too. And finally there are the three siblings who all show an intriguing mix of genetics. At the center of the book are all of the family members, including his mother’s side, cousins and more. Then the book moves from his mother to his grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents showing a different genetic line, this time Asian and once again there are characteristics that carry through the generations straight to the boy at the center of the story.

Petričić is a Serbian author and illustrator. This picture book has a distinct European flair that is very appealing. The focus on family and genetics is very clever along with the delight of it being a multicultural child and family. Petričić makes sure to be respectful of both the European and Asian heritage, showing the genetics at play on both sides equally. It is also fascinating to see time pass in reverse directions on each side of the family, one getting more and more modern while the other gets more old-fashioned with each page turn. That twist adds a strong dynamic to the book, showing that genetics can be traced in both directions in a subtle but strong way.

The illustrations are funny and add to the joy of the book with the red hair of one side of the family, the glasses, then the round faces and prominent ears of the other. Readers will enjoy spotting a characteristic and turning pages to see what generation had it first and which side of the family it came from.

Cleverly done, this will be a welcome book to share when doing units on family trees or even when preparing for visits to extended family. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Kids Can Press and Netgalley.

2014 in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for Waking Brain Cells!

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 62,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Bedtime Fail

Google Alerts can be hit and miss, but this one struck me as one of the best children’s lit fails ever:

Google Fail


Waking Brain Cells turns 11 years old today!

I am honored to have been writing things for you all to read for so many years, even more honored that people continue to read what I write, that publishers continue to work with me, and that teachers, librarians and parents take time out of their busy day to find out about new and beloved books. 

Thank you so much for spending time with me and for caring what people read.  That is what is worth celebrating.

Britain’s Top Loved Books

pooh honey pots

Winnie the Pooh tops the list of Britain’s best loved children’s books.  Here is the entire list and you can check out more information on the Telegraph website. You will note the entire list if dominated by classic reads rather than more modern titles.  Don’t expect to see Harry Potter on the list!

1.  Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne

2.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

3.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

4.  The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

5.  The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

6.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

7.  Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

8.  Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

9.  The BFG by Roald Dahl

10.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Newbery Medal

Honor Books

Doll Bones by Holly Black (Hurrah!!!!!)

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes (Yes!)

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake (Wonderful surprise!!)

Paperboy by Vince Vawter


Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo (Wonderful!)

Honor Books

Journey by Aaron Becker (Great!)

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle (Wonderful!)

Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner (Hurrah!)


Locomotive by Brian Floca (Perfection!)

Honors the author and illustrator for beginning reader book:

Honor Books

Ball by Mary Sullivan

A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems (not a surprise, this is HIS award)

Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes (Lovely!)


The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli (Wow!)

Outstanding video production for children:


Bink & Gollie: Two for One

Author and illustrator of the most distinguished informational books for children.

Honor Books

A Splash of Red by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Wonderful!)

Look Up! by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Locomotive by Brian Floca (Great!)

The Mad Potter by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan


Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore (Hurrah!)


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