My favorite books on the quirks and joys of family life

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the mother of six and a voracious journaler. I am also a novelist. Though I’ve found that the facts of family adventures are often more fascinating than fiction. I bring in-the-moment observations as well as decade-seasoned insights to the world of family life. I also love reading about other families with all their quirks and joys. 


I wrote...

When I Was a Pie: And Other Slices of Family Life

By M. L. Farb,

Book cover of When I Was a Pie: And Other Slices of Family Life

What is my book about?

Most stories end with Happily Ever After. This one starts with it.

These are slices of life in the form of short stories, musings, comics, and poetry—showing bright moments, soul pondering, frustrations, and side-aching laughter. Join our family as we play compliment tag, create piano calls, and cut a crawl hole in the bathroom door to rescue a toddler. It is life, lived in the moment and observed. Welcome to the eclectic joy we call our family.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Cheaper by the Dozen

M. L. Farb Why did I love this book?

I laughed out loud as I joined this family of twelve children on cramped car trips, through childhood pranks, adolescent rebellion, and through the daily joys and growing pains of a loud and loving family. My dad is one of eleven children and reading this book reminds me of many of his stories about growing up. I especially related to the clatter of dinner time conversation centered around morse code or math games. We never did morse code but we’ve played plenty of math games and word riddles.

By Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cheaper by the Dozen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times–bestselling classic: A hilarious memoir of two parents, twelve kids, and “a life of cheerfully controlled chaos” (The New York Times).

Translated into more than fifty languages, Cheaper by the Dozen is the unforgettable story of the Gilbreth clan as told by two of its members. In this endearing, amusing memoir, siblings Frank Jr. and Ernestine capture the hilarity and heart of growing up in an oversized family.

Mother and Dad are world-renowned efficiency experts, helping factories fine-tune their assembly lines for maximum output at minimum cost. At home, the Gilbreths themselves have cranked out twelve…


Book cover of Father and I Were Ranchers

M. L. Farb Why did I love this book?

I highly recommend this book to every parent. It is filled with gentle, practical wisdom in the setting of a frontier family. The father takes the time to teach through everyday experience and vivid analogies. We use his analogy of the “character house” all the time in our family. The mother has her own quiet strength, which the author shows more in the following books of the series. The book is also filled with the high energy and pranks of children, and the adventures of growing up on a ranch. A lovely true story, though be warned, you will cry at the end.

By Ralph Moody,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Father and I Were Ranchers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Ralph Moody was eight years old in 1906 when his family moved from New Hampshire to a Colorado ranch. Through his eyes we experience the pleasures and perils of ranching there early in the twentieth century. Auctions and roundups, family picnics, irrigation wars, tornadoes and wind storms give authentic color to Little Britches. So do adventures, wonderfully told, that equip Ralph to take his father's place when it becomes necessary. Little Britches was the literary debut of Ralph Moody, who wrote about the adventures of his family in eight glorious books, all available as Bison Books.
Purchase the audio edition.


Book cover of Owls in the Family

M. L. Farb Why did I love this book?

Though we will never have inside pets because of allergies, my family thoroughly enjoys this true story centered around a family raising two owls (and a variety of other wild animals). This story showed a supportive family as the parents not only endured a continuous round of new pets (including a meal interrupted by one owl dropping a dead skunk on the table) but also assisted Billy in his early zoo-keeping habits. The hilarious slices of life had us in stitches. I especially love the relationship between the owl—Wol—and Billy’s dog.

By Farley Mowat,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Owls in the Family as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

The adventures of two owls who shake up an entire neighborhood and turn a house topsy-turvy. Full color.


Book cover of Caddie Woodlawn

M. L. Farb Why did I love this book?

Caddie Woodlawn is a kindred spirit with her love of adventure, boisterous friendship with her brothers, and her dislike of the constraints of “lady-like” expectations. Her parents give her freedom and responsibilities, both of which help her grow into a young woman—not of fashion, but of character. I love the interactions between the siblings and between the parents and children. They are real, with frustrations and forgiveness, love and laughter.

By Carol Ryrie Brink,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Caddie Woodlawn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of Red, White, and Whole

M. L. Farb Why did I love this book?

What would you do if your mother was dying of cancer and you thought if you could just be the perfect daughter, she’d live? Red, White, and Whole addresses this through a tender-sweet tale of a daughter caught in the crossroads of her Indian family culture, American neighborhood culture, and the fight to save her mother’s life. It is written completely in verse and filled with vivid imagery, poignant contemplations, and bits of Indian myths. All of which combine to create a tapestry of love, loss, and finding peace. It is a family finding a way to be whole, even after tragedy.

By Rajani LaRocca,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Red, White, and Whole as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Newbery Honor Book! A heartbreakingly hopeful novel in verse about an Indian American girl whose life is turned upside down when her mother is diagnosed with leukemia.

* Walter Award Winner * New England Book Award Winner * An NCTE Notable Verse Novel * Golden Kite Award Winner * Goodreads Choice Nominee * A Washington Post Best Children's Book of the Year * An SLJ Best Book of the Year * A BookPage Best Book of the Year * An NYPL Best Book of the Year * A Mighty Girl's Best Book of the Year * An ILA Notable Book…


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Tyrone the Tenor Mouse: The Singing Mouse of the Opera House

By Elizabeth B. Splaine,

Book cover of Tyrone the Tenor Mouse: The Singing Mouse of the Opera House

Elizabeth B. Splaine Author Of Devil's Grace

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Before becoming an opera singer, I received my Masters in Healthcare Administration and worked in various healthcare settings, from a community health center to a large teaching hospital. I learned first-hand how the best-intentioned clinicians can make mistakes, and how those mistakes can lead to unintended consequences that can harm patients. Although it’s terrifying to think about, the best defense is to self-advocate as much as possible. It’s your body and your decision. Don’t give away your power.

Elizabeth's book list on medical thriller/mystery with a spiritual twist

What is my book about?

Tyrone the mouse rehearses night and day to improve his singing voice, hoping he’ll earn the spotlight in the opera house where he lives surrounded by animal friends.

Ty secretly practices by hiding in the wings, singing along with the famous tenor, Roland L’Amour. When Roland becomes ill on opening night, Ty sees an opportunity to fulfill his dream. With the royal family in attendance, Ty nervously asks the opera house manager if he might play the lead role.

Although he’s nervous, with the support of his friends Stella, the precocious Persian cat, and Oscar, the mangy mutt, he finds the courage to take the stage and discovers that hard work and friendship can make any dream come true!

Tyrone the Tenor Mouse: The Singing Mouse of the Opera House

By Elizabeth B. Splaine,

What is this book about?

Tyrone the Tenor Mouse has a secret wish--to perform in the opera house where he lives with his animal friends, Stella the precocious Persian cat and Oscar the mangy mutt.

Ty learns the music by secretly singing along with a famous tenor named Roland L’Amour. When Roland becomes ill on opening night, Ty sees an opportunity to make his dream come true. With the royal family in attendance, Ty nervously asks if he can play the lead role.

With the support of his friends, he finds the courage to take the stage and discovers that hard work and friendship can…


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