Today's Special Delivery

Today I'm grateful for my husband's thoughtfulness at snapping this shot of the moment when our mail carrier, Angela, arrived with Birdie & Mipps.

It's bittersweet to hold the first copies of this book, 
and super special to see my husband reading it to our granddaughter.
As you may know, our sibling set of five became four when the youngest, Mark, suffered a fatal heart attack in his sleep in August of 2021. We were devastated and sometimes, even now, it still doesn't seem real that he's gone. During the funeral, so many people, who only knew him as Mipps, asked how he got that nickname. Seems I was the only one who really knew the story, so it got me to thinking about nicknames in general, how they evolve, how we decide who gets to call us by a nickname.

Ten-year-old Sadie McIntosh has this to say about the book:

This book helped me to see that we all have precious names that deserve to be honoured and that it is ok to tell someone if you don’t want to be called by a nickname even though it is one your family might use. I like when my family calls me Sadie Pie but not when people that don’t know me do, just like Mipps.

I think it's adorable that her parents call her Sadie Pie, and I get why she doesn't want that to be something she's known by at school. Our niece, Taylor, was called Peanut from birth to about age five, but she certainly didn't take that name to school with her. 

WI counselor extraordinaire, Sarah Flier, shared these insights:

Birdie & Mipps is a sweet look at the way our special connections with family and friends can create our nicknames. The vivid illustrations and reflection questions create an interactive and engaging reading experience for young readers. This would be an excellent elementary classroom read at the beginning of the year as students are learning each other’s names to discuss why it is important to be respectful and kind when using nicknames with classmates. A beautiful tribute and example of sibling love in a way only Barbara Gruener could create.

It makes my heart happy to think about the back-to-school discussions that might happen after the teacher reads Birdie & Mipps aloud during connections time.

The amazing school counselor, Tanya Kirschman, offers these reflections:

The tale of Birdie & Mipps (pseudonyms chosen for a purpose) delves into the complexities of nicknames and the boundaries that come with them, offering both compelling storytelling and valuable insights suitable for readers of all ages.

One of the book’s standout features was the use of dialogue bubbles between sister and brother, creating an engaging ‘walk n’ talk’ conversation that drew me in from page to page. And who could resist the thrill of spotting the cardinal hidden on each page?

Kudos to the author, Barbara Gruener, for the thoughtfully-crafted extension activities and reflection questions, which not only deepened my understanding of the story but also sparked new ideas for engaging with my own students.

Finally, the captivating illustrations throughout the book beautifully complement the carefully woven tale. From the rustic dairy farm to the precise character portrayals, each scene is brought to life with vibrant colors and intricate details, making every page a visual delight. 

It’s the only book I’ve found that tackles the subject of nicknames, making it a valuable addition to any collection! 

Since she's from Montana, I call her MonTanya, with permission, of course. 

For more first-look feedback, visit; if you've read the book, please consider leaving a review at

I just loved this kid and I miss him every day. He truly was our special delivery on May 23, 1968, when he arrived to complete our family.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to keep Mipps' legacy of curiosity, compassion, generosity and love alive as people around the world turn these pages and get a peek into that beautiful heart of his.

Happy summertime, dear reader.

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I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!