Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffin Recipe—Great to Serve at a Meeting

March 22, 2007

My kids love these muffins and so does everyone else I’ve cooked them for. They’re great to serve at your book club meeting, to have for breakfast, or to eat as an after-school snack. And they’re easy to make too, since everything mixes together in one bowl. Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1-2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tblsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add pumpkin, eggs and melted butter. Mix together and spoon into muffin tins lined with baking cups. Fill cups about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes.

Check out New Reviews on Petey and The House of the Scorpion!

March 20, 2007


I’ve just posted new reviews to Look for Petey by Ben Mikaelsen and The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. Both of the reviews are from daughters in mother daughter book clubs so check them out!

You’ll also find updated reading lists on the Web site as well as the new category: “Books to Make You Laugh Out Loud.” You’ll find these on both the “Favorites” and “Reading Lists” pages.

Petey introduced the daughters in our club to the world of cerebral palsy, and helped them see how difficult it is for people suffering with this disease to communicate to other people. Several girls and moms expressed that it helped them to address fears they had of not knowing what to do when they encountered people with cerebral palsy.

The House of the Scorpion was a surprise favorite by many members of my mother daughter book club when we read it. Few of us thought of ourselves as science fiction readers, but the story of this futuristic state between the United States and Mexico where clones and drones are treated as animals sucked us in and kept us rapt until the last page. We had a great discussion on the morality of cloning humans and the corrupting influence of drugs and drug money. I recommend it for both generations, ages 12 and up.

Cindy Hudson, author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. Photo by David Kinder

Dragon Rider, The Thief Lord, Inkspell

March 16, 2007


Right now I’m reading Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke to my 7th grade daughter, Catherine. We read in the mornings before she goes to school, snuggled up together on the couch. We started these early readings when she entered middle school, and we found ourselves with leisurely time between her sister’s high school bus, which comes at 7:00 a.m. and hers, which doesn’t arrive until 8:40. What a great way it’s been for us to connect and relax with each other before the hectic pace of the day begins.

We were drawn to Dragon Rider because we loved The Thief Lord and Inkheart, which we had read aloud earlier with my daughter, Madeleine. While we are enjoying it very much, it doesn’t give us the Wow! feeling we got from Cornelia Funke’s other books. Imagining the possibility of our world with magical creatures like dragons, brownies, basilisks and manikins is very fun, but I believe it may be appreciated more by readers younger than my daughters.

In contrast we were truly transported to the canals of Venice when we read The Thief Lord. describes it as “a Dickens story in a Venetian setting,” and it is reminiscent of Oliver Twist, although much more readable for modern audiences.

I classify Inkheart as one of the best books I’ve ever read, for either adults or children. Funke’s descriptions of her characters are so vivid I could almost see Dustfinger’s scars, and imagine the horned-martin Gwin crawling over his shoulders. These descriptions made it very plausible for us to believe that a reader, reading aloud, could conjure characters from the pages of a book. It was also easy for all of us to identify with Meggie, the book-loving main character who slowly learns about her father’s talent for reading fictional people to life as well as sending real people into the fictional world.

We devoured the sequel, Inkspell, when it came out, and now we anxiously await the third book in the trilogy, Inkdeath, due out in English in 2008.

Books to Make You Laugh Out Loud

March 14, 2007

I’m working on a new reading list for called Books to Make You Laugh Out Loud. Immediately I thought of these books:

I read all of these books out loud to my daughters, and sometimes we’d both be laughing so hard we couldn’t go on reading. We’d try reading favorite passages to my husband, but give up part way through and hand him the book with the page marked instead.

I’d love to add your Laugh Out Loud favorites to the list. Send in your comments then check out other books to make you laugh at on Monday, March 19. A Great Way to Find Out About Books

March 13, 2007

If you haven’t read a book how do you know whether you want to recommend it for Mother Daughter Book Club? That question has come up time and again over the years as I have scoured reviews and read book descriptions in an effort to get the feel of a book before my daughter and I select it. Now I’ve discovered another way to get introduced to books and try them out before deciding whether to read them or not.

It’s called, an online book club that let’s you “sample” a few chapters of a new book every week. While the service has several categories of books you can sign up for, mother daughter book clubs with teens can benefit most from it. While there’s no category for young adult or middle readers, there is one for teens, and older readers may also be interested in the nonfiction, fiction, classics and other choices too.

It’s not perfect, because the first few chapters aren’t always an indicator of how you’ll like the whole book. I would have never read the delightful books Millions and Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce if I’d only seen the first few chapters, for instance. But also has forums for Book Talk where readers respond and talk about the selection. I find it helps to hear what others are saying.

I’ve signed up for teen, fiction and non-fiction books, and so far I think it’s a good way to get exposed to books I may know nothing about otherwise.

Can You Hear the Buzz?

March 9, 2007

Reporter Steve Woodward wrote an article on new Portland-area blogs, which includes Mother Daughter Book Club Blog, in today’s Oregonian! (Note: article archive has expired.)

You may have figured out by now that I’m passionate about these clubs, because I think there are so many long-term benefits to reading with your daughter and talking about what you’ve read with other people.

Over the years my daughters and I have read books that have made us wipe tears of laughter or sorrow from our eyes. We’ve also read books that have made it easier to talk about incredibly difficult topics like sex and drug use. Through it all we’ve been constantly enriched by close ties to the other moms and daughters in our groups.

I would like this to be a forum where mother daughter book club members can share book ideas or meeting activities as well as hear thoughts about discussion topics. So please post your comments about what you’d like to see covered or things that have been successful in your group. Send in questions too, and I’ll address them in future posts.

Cindy Hudson, author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. Photo by David Kinder

A Youth Librarian Comments on The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

March 8, 2007

Here’s a guest posting about The Higher Power of Lucky from the youth librarian at my local library:

As Cindy has described, over the past few weeks, the blog-o-sphere has been abuzz over The Higher Power of Lucky, this year’s winner of the prestigious 2007 Newbery Award. You may know the John Newbery Medal, the “Oscar” of juvenile fiction, is awarded “…to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” by a committee of librarians in the American Library Association (ALA). Shortly after the medal winner was announced, a few school librarians objected to the book’s use of the word ‘scrotum’ and the brouhaha was on.

As someone who HAS read the book, I don’t understand what the fuss is about. This is a sweet, humorous, and loving story about a young girl’s search for her place in the world. Lucky lives in Hard Pan, California, a small desert community of ramshackle buildings and eccentric neighbors. Since her mother died, she’s been cared for by her father’s former wife who came all the way from France to be her temporary guardian. But all Lucky wants is to find a permanent home. After eavesdropping on the community AA meetings, Lucky wonders if a “higher power,” whatever that is, could help her find a home. With the help of her dog, a good friend, and her neighbors, Lucky’s questions get answered.

So, what does this story have to do with the word scrotum? Not much. It’s a word, an anatomically correct word, which apparently pushes some people’s buttons. But in the grand scheme of this book, it was used in a humorous way to catch a child’s interest—kind of like the title of Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series.

If you want to know more, Susan Patron, author of the book and a librarian with the LA Public Library, wrote a beautiful explanation, “‘Scrotum’ as a children’s literary tool,” published on Feb. 27, 2007 in the Los Angeles Times, of why she used the word scrotum.

And just so you know, I’m a youth librarian, employed by one of the best—Multnomah County Library (MCL) in Portland, Oregon. Although I know that many of my colleagues share my feelings about this book, the comments above are just that…MY feelings and should not be construed as representing the opinion of my employers. That said, I am proud to say that MCL has a long history in support of Intellectual Freedom, the right of everyone to choose what to read, including books that use the word scrotum. MCL currently owns 65 copies of the book, all of which are checked out, and as of this moment, has 71 people waiting for a chance to read it. — susansm

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

March 7, 2007


The buzz at mother daughter book club with my high school daughter a couple of weeks ago was about The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron. A middle school brother of one of the girls has been assigned to read it in class. Several moms heard it was controversial, but none of us has read it. It’s a Newbery Honor Book that School Library Journal lists as appropriate for 4th through 6th graders.

As I understand it, much of the controversy centers around the use of the word “scrotum” in the first page of the book. There is also mention of 12-step programs and a higher power. Even the New York Times weighed in on the controversy, with an article (click here for link) about the uproar the book has created among school librarians who decide whether or not to shelve it at their schools.

Our girls are obviously older than the target audience, and they have certainly learned appropriate anatomical vocabulary in health class by now. But we’re considering reading it along with The Crucible for our April meeting and discussing what’s considered questionable for younger audiences. Stay tuned.

Interview with Zlata Filipovic

March 6, 2007

Photo by Tobias Munthe

I first met Zlata at Looking Glass book store in Portland where she was appearing to talk about the re-issue of her diary. My daughter, Catherine, and I had recently read Zlata’s Diary for our Mother Daughter Book Club, and we had an amazing discussion at our meeting about recognizing war when it comes to your city or country as well as the everyday reality of war for the people living through it.

Seeing Zlata and hearing her speak emphasized for us all that she was a real person who had lived through everything she wrote. So when we heard she would appear in Portland again, this time promoting her new book at Powell’s books, we knew we had to see her.

The girls were so happy she remembered meeting them before, and they sat listently intently as she talked about her new book, which is a collection of young people’s war diaries beginning with World War I and continuing through today’s conflict in Iraq. It’s no surprise they chose this book, Stolen Voices, as our April book club selection.

Zlata is a very charming and well spoken young woman who easily talks about the difficulties of her war-time experiences. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Why did you start writing in a diary?

ZF: I started writing a diary because I got a very pretty notebook, and I saw some older girlfriends keep diaries and wanted to emulate them in that way. I had also read the Diary of Anne Frank as well as the fictional Diary of Adrian Mole (written by Sue Townsend) and became familiar with the diary-writing form which I liked. I was hoping my diary would be more like that of Adrian Mole, which was extremely funny, but it ended unfortunately being compared to that of Anne Frank.

How was your diary chosen for publication?

ZF: This happened completely accidentally. During the war, regular schools stopped working, but a small ‘summer school’ was set up in small areas of the city, and there I joined a literary section, as I always liked to write and read. One day, in summer 1992, my teacher asked if anyone was writing a diary, because UNICEF was looking for a diary of a young person to publish. I gave some parts of my diary, and they collected these all over the city, and ended up chosing one for publication, which was mine. It came out in a small number of copies in Summer 1993 (it contained only the first three months of the war and only extracts of the original which I kept with me). Because of the strong presence of foreign journalists in Sarajevo at the time, they all started writing about it and the story got out into the world, which is when foreign publishers became interested in publishing the diary in its entirety.
To read the complete interview, visit

Quote for a Friday—Favorite Books

March 2, 2007

Good children’s literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~

It’s no surprise that our favorite book club selections over the years have been those with appeal to both moms and daughters—books that combine a message with great storytelling. In 4th grade it was When the Hermit Thrush Sings by Susan Butler and Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech. In sixth grade it was Tangerine by Edward Bloor and Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipovic. When they entered high school, the girls were ready to take on adult books like The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Each of these works encouraged moms to see the world through the eyes of a child and daughters to look at it through the eyes of an adult, helping to keep the lines of communication open.

To see a more extensive list of moms’ and daughters’ book club favorites for different ages check out Then tell us your favorites.