Books for the Weak and Shaky

January 30th, 2009

A few weeks ago a reader asked me to compile a list of some of my favorite children’s books.

Of course, I am far too weak and shaky to take on such an arduous task and I would hope by now that my readers would understand that! Especially when you consider that I had to go back to work this week… only one day a week… but still… when you are give over to ‘spells’ and ‘fits’ and ‘spasms’ and you have been diagnosed over the internet as clearly having a delicate constitution, one four hour shift at work in a Garden Center in January during which only three customers darken the door, could literally mean death.

Still, for the sake of that one reader who asked, I am offering a few of my favorite children’s books in a giveaway today, as well as two books that are not children’s books but fit under today’s category quite nicely. That category being

Books That Feature the Weak and Shaky.
I love weak and shaky books.
They make me feel so welcome.

Have you ever read anything by Haven Kimmel?
She is especially hilarious if you grew up in a small town surrounded by weak and shaky people.

No one brings to life the world of the weak and shaky like Haven Kimmel.

I came slowly to Haven’s book, A Girl Named Zippy. It was almost as if the book was haunting me. I saw it everywhere I went. In the grocery store, the gas station, the dollar store, the dry cleaners, the city park. Everywhere I went there was this book with the wide eyed baby on the cover staring back at me. That baby kind of creeped me out. Finally, in a sort of desperate attempt to ward off the wide eyed creepy baby ghost that was haunting me, I checked out the book and I read it.
I don’t know if I have ever felt more in sync with a writer that I did with Haven Kimmel in the pages of A Girl Named Zippy.

One night, I was reading the book in bed and laughing my eyeballs out and the Country Doctor asked me what I was reading. I read a few pages out loud to him, in between wiping the gush of tears that I was crying due to so much hilarity.
“She sounds just like you.” he said.

That may be the nicest thing he has ever said to me.

“She Got Up Off The Couch” is a sequel to “A Girl Named Zippy”.

This book tells the story of Haven’s mom finally… well finally… getting off the couch.

You see, Haven’s mom was very weak and shaky.

This book is also very funny and relates her mother’s triumph over difficult circumstances… in a weak and shaky way of course.

Which is the only way to triumph if you ask me.


Back when I was working as a children’s librarian, one of my jobs was to read through a cart load of new books every week in an attempt to stay familiar with the collection. Most of the books were picture books and most of them were TERRIBLE. It is truly disgusting how many horrible children’s books are published each and every day!

The true gems…. the timeless classics…. the moving, engrossing, adventurous, riveting, jewels are so rare that when you finally pick one up and open the cover and start to read it, you feel like you have entered a parallel universe.

Knuffle Bunny is one of the rare jewels. In this book, both Trixie and her dad are kind of weak and shaky and prone to ‘going boneless’ which is one of my favorite expressions in all of literature.

Sometimes when I am feeling especially weak and shaky, I also go boneless.

It is a wretched thing to witness. I hope it never happens to you!

This book won a Caldecott and it’s author – Mo Willems – is a writer for Sesame Street.

I have written of my love for Arnold Lobel many times. Frog and Toad may be the penultimate weak and shaky characters in all of literature.

Is Frog the weak and shaky one… or is it Toad?

Maybe they switch back and forth?

Nevertheless – the one always has the other to pull him through and isn’t that what friends are for?

I have both a Frog and Toad collection of books as well as a collection of Frog and Toad collection on CD up for grabs today.

My eldest son was soothed to sleep by the warm, fuzzy voice of Arnold Lobel reading from Frog and Toad on many, many nights, which was a weak and shaky triumph for me.

Thank you Arnold.


Avocado Baby, might be my favorite weak and shaky picture book of all time.

Written by John Birmingham, Avocado Baby tells the heartwrenching tale of one family that is almost impossibly weak and shaky.

You aren’t even sure they are going to make it!

They are too shaky to remove the toys from the fruit bowl. They are too weak to carry their newborn baby up the steps without help. And then… to make things even worse… the pathetic, puny, pale baby won’t eat anything!

Until one day, they feed the baby an avocado pear.

And wondrous things happen.

To win one of the books today, just leave a comment.

Winners will be selected at random.

Please note -my books are usually gently used, but occasionally they are new.

You never know what you are going to get.

Which weak and shaky character said that?

If there is a book you would particularly like, feel free to mention it in your comment, but I can’t make any guarantees. I am just too weeeeeeaaaak and shaaaaaaaaaaky.

I better go lie down now.

Sadly, this contest has come to an end.


  • I haven’t read the Haven Kimmel books, but I really have to now. They sound fantastic–and the best part?–I grew up in a small town 15 minutes up the road from Mooreland, Indiana. Blountsville is the name, and it’s even smaller than Mooreland. We used to drive to Mooreland to get Pizza King pizza, because it was the closest restaurant/take-out food joint.

    I have a feeling those books are going to really hit home. I’m putting them on reserve at the library NOW.