Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Otis by Loren Long

As a little girl one of my favorite books was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton so I was pleasantly surprised to discover this sweet book by Loren Long called Otis. As soon as I saw this book it reminded me of a Virginia Lee Burton type of book. I was amazed to read on the flap that she was indeed an inspiration to him.

Otis is the story of a little tractor who becomes friends with a new born calf. They play together and comfort each other. Then a new tractor comes along and pushes little Otis aside but it is Otis who saves the day. This sweetly illustrated book is wonderful and a joy to read aloud. It will be fun for children to discover. I love the illustrations which have a very nostalgic feel about them.

The first time I discovered Loren Long he had illustrated a new version The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. I knew he had potential and I am so happy to see how far he has progressed. This is by far his most wonderful work.

This is a perfect story to read aloud at storytime or bedtime. I know so many children who love tractors that this should be a hit with them. This is what I call an instant classic. A treasure to behold. Savor it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flashback Tuesday: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum

I saw in the news today that The Wizard of Oz is coming out in Blue Ray HD. Not sure what that means because I do not have a HD TV but apparently they remastered the movie to look even better. It has been 70 years since the move has come out and it is still as timeless as ever. I have always loved this movie to the extent that I am always disconcerted when people make fun of it. I remember going to see it when it was re-released to the movie theaters when I was little.

Since I have always loved the movie it was always hard for me to read the book. I never read it because I didn't want to be disappointed or have the book take away my experience of the movie. I was really really wrong. The book is wonderful---no pun intended.

I was working in the bookstore one night when I picked the book up and started to peruse it. Needless to say it was a quiet night with not alot of customers. So quiet in fact I pretty much finished it that evening. I couldn't believe I had waited so long to read this classic. I was amazed about how much of the book was actually in the movie. Don't get me wrong there are differences and omissions but they are understandable and do not take away from either experience. The big thing that got me was that the movie presents the story as a dream and the book states the world of Oz is real. I like really defines the difference and makes me appreciate both.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Robert Sabuda's Pop-up version, today I want to suggest reading the original. I am also excited because Imagine Books will be coming out with a book called "Over the Rainbow" in Spring of 2010.....a beautifully illustrated version of the song from this favorite movie, sung by Judy Collins. When it comes out I will be talking about it again.

So go read the original story, heck read the whole series ..... then watch the movie and be transported to a magical place. Enjoy!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

While I was perusing new children's books I came across the new Jerry Pinkney. He is one of the most prolific illustrators and has won numerous awards and accolades over his 40 year career. He also seems like a nice person. (There is a great video on the publishers website that shows how he created this book at www. ) I have always like his artwork because it is warm and inviting.

The first thing that struck me about his new wordless picture book is the beautiful face of the lion on the cover. I have always loved lions.....there is something about the strength and the warmth of a lions face. I have wondered what it would be like to hug one.

The Lion & the Mouse is a beautiful version of the Aesop Fable we all know. Since it is wordless the illustrations are all the more important to tell the story. This is a great wordless book to "read" at story time because it makes the children do the "reading" and the "telling" of the story. It is to be enjoyed by all!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Reference Sunday: Ripley's Believe It Or Not!: Special Edition 2010

I remember watching Jack Palance on the old syndicated show "Ripley's Believe it or Not" back in the 80's. I was fascinated by the stories and the photos of the strange collection of Robert Ripley. I always cringed at the gory photos but loved the interesting facts.

When I was a book buyer every year Scholastic would come in with a new special edition version of Ripley's Believe it or Not! We would all look at it and wonder how they could top the gross cover of the year before. The editors at Scholastic seem to go out of their way to find the goriest or most disgusting photo. Of course they know what they are doing, they have their fingers on the pulse of every child imaginable. These books are popular with kids because every story and photo is picked with them in mind. Now not every child likes all things weird or disgusting but there are enough out in the world to make books like these big sellers. So for every kid who loves the macabre or the weird this new edition is for them. I know some adults who still love these kinds of things too!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Johhny Appleseed born September 26, 1774

Tomorrow is Johnny Appleseed's birthday~well actually it is John Chapman's birthday but he is better know as Johnny Appleseed. I have always loved the fact that Johnny Appleseed was based on a real person. In a way he was our first environmentalist. He cared about conservation and preservation. It is interesting to note that he didn't really sow seeds around the states but planted apple trees which he protected and nurtured. I also found it interesting that his birthday is in September, the start of the autumn season and the time when apple picking is at its height! So in honor of his birthday tomorrow I thought I would list some books that tell his story and the story of apples.


Johnny Appleseed: A Tall Tale Retold by Steven Kellogg
Johnny Appleseed: A Poem by Reeve Lindbergh
Johnny Appleseed by Carol Ottolenghi
Johnny Appleseed: The Legend & the Truth by Jane Yolen

Apple books:

Apples by Gail Gibbons
How Do Apples Grow by Betsey Maestro
Apple Picking Time by Michele B. Slawson

So every time you eat an apple think of the man who brought them to the world and who really lived!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy National Punctuation Day!

I found out that today is National Punctuation Day! Being the sister of a former school teacher and now a published author has always been interesting. In a way it was great because since she was an English teacher all the papers I wrote would always get edited before I handed them in. Even now when I write something I usually send it to her to look at so she can edit it for me. I can't always send her stuff as she is busy writing but I always have her voice in my head explaining things to me. Ann has always been into grammer and language, she is the only person I know who actually liked to diagram sentences. So since today is really her day I am going to list some fun books that help not just kids learn to puctuate correctly. Needless to say she will read this and want to edit it. ;)

Punctuation Celebration by Elsa Knight
Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver
Eats, Shoots, & Leaves: Why Commas Really Do Make a Difference by Lynn Truss
Alfie the Apostrophe by Moira Rose Donohue


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Animal Books

A teacher friend of mine asked me the other day for some ideas about animal books that she could use in her classroom. I through out some ideas and thought I would share them on my blog as well. Most kids like animals. Through the years there have been many types of animal stories. There have been fictional series as well as non-fiction series. I think books about something most kids like is a good way to get them into reading. So here is the list I gave my friend plus some.


Animal Rescue Club Series by John Himmelman
50 Awsome Ways Kids Can Help Animals by Ingrid Newkirk
Do Squirrels Swarm? by Michael Dahl
Animals Like Us by Dk Publishing
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett
What Do You do With a Tail Like this? by Steve Jenkins
Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays by Peg Kehret
What Do You do With a Tail Like This by Steve Jenkins

Two great Read Alouds from Eric Carle:

Eric Carle's Animals Animals ~ Poetry about animals
Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to animal books but they are a great start!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flashback Tuesday: We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen Illust: Helen Oxenbury

We're Going On a Bear Hunt has always been one of my favorite books to read aloud. This timeless story showing a father and his children going on a "bear hunt" is another book that transcends time. I love the way it ebbs and flows, really bringing the reader and the listener into the story. The soft illustrations evoke serenity in a chaotic world.

The repetitive lines and the alliteration are such fun that by the end of reading it everyone is excited. A truly fun read!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Family Huddle by Peyton, Eli & Archie Manning

I was in the bookstore this morning and saw this really cute book by the Manning family ~the football brothers and their father. Now I know there are so many celebrity books out there, some are good and some are let's just say celebrity books. This is a sweet book that shows that this family is genuine in their affection for each other. I also like the idea of talking about it because my niece Celia is huge Giants fan and well let's face the Giants beat Dallas yesterday! It really is a fun story and not a bad read~

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

I have always liked the idea of Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur. While I don't celebrate these holidays I have always been impressed by their message. Rosh Hashanah starts the "Days of Awe" where those who celebrate try to make amends for their behavior & look for forgiviness to any they have wronged. Yom Kippur is the day they ask to be absolved. It is a very moving time. I also think it is a wonderful message for all children, so I am going to suggest some books that might help children understand these beautiful holidays.

In no particular order:

On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by Cathy Goldberg Fishman
Sound the Shofar by Leslie Kimmelman
Happy Birthday World: a Rosh Hashanah Celebration by Latifa Berry Kropf
Sammy Spiders First Rosh Hashanah by Sylvia A Rouss
Apples & Honey: A Rosh Hashanah Lift-the-Flap by Joan Holub

Shanah Tova!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Strega Nona's Harvest by Tomie dePaola

In looking to write about something timely I discovered a wonderful new book by one of my favorite authors. Tomie dePaola has always been one of my favorites because his books transcend time and space. His illustrations are warm and inviting and appeal to both grown ups and children. When my niece Celia was a little girl she used to ask me to read over and over his book called The Clown of God. When she heard that I was going to have lunch with him she asked if she could give me a letter to tell him how much she liked his books. He was really generous and sent her a drawing and a thank you. It really made her day to receive a personal message from someone she liked. That was many years ago and she is in college now but I know that is one of her favorite memories.

How happy I was to see that his new book, Strega Nona's Harvest, has just come out. I love Strega Nona and Big Anthony. When I did story times these were always fun books to read because the children would get a kick out of the Big Anthony's antics.

This new book has Strega Nona trying to teach Big Anthony about gardening but again he messes up. Happily everything works out in the end. The colors invoke the approaching autumn with flair. This is a great read aloud and should be enjoyed by reader and listener alike!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fun Book of the Day: Leaving the Bellweathers by Kristin Clark Venuti

I love stories about wacky families!
Leaving the Bellweathers is a very funny book about a very eccentric family. Benway is the butler who can't wait to be out of service with them. They drive him crazy. There is wackiness and weirdness and mystery ~ all the makings of a fun read!

It is being compared to Lemony Snicket books but I find it more a long the lines of one of my favorite books by Jean Ferris: Love Among the Walnuts!

It is also being compared to Cheaper by the Dozen by the Gilbreths which is one of my favorite childhood books. I remember getting in trouble because I was reading it during class, it was so good I couldn't put it down.

So if your kids like Lemony Snicket or Diary of a Wimpy Kid or just plain funny stories this would be for them! Let the circus begin!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flashback Tuesday: The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

I can't believe it has been 17 years since The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister came out. I was working in the bookstore and it was such a success. Parents loved the message of sharing for children but the children loved the sparkly scales on Rainbow Fish. This first book spawned a very successful series of books that totally delighted children. There was even a video~which my niece and nephews loved to watch at my house. They wore out the tape.

The newest title Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea tells of how Rainbow Fish loses his last glittery scale and trys to find it in a dark ocean trench. Along the way he makes new friends.

This whole series is a joy to children and should be rediscovered!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fun Book of the Day: Summerland by Michael Chabon

Since we are in the waining days of summer (as summer hasn't officially ended yet) I thought I would write about one of my favorite fantasy books.
Michael Chabon, the adult author of such great books like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, & Wonder Boys has written this great book for young readers. Although I dare say adults will like this book also.

Summerland is a place I would love experience, a corner of the world where it never rains and is always summer and beautiful. Of course for it to be that way there needs to be a little magic, which I think we all need once in a while.

It is the story of heroes and what makes them, it has fairies, giants, goblins and magic; the prerequisite for any fantasy novel. But most of all it has heart with a little bit of faith thrown in. More than magic we need faith in our lives too! This is a wonderful book that shouldn't be missed!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Grandparents Day!

Today is National Grandparents Day! I have always wished I knew my grandparents. Happily my Mother told me such vivid stories about her parents especially her mother that I feel like I knew her myself. The only grandparent I remember is my Dad's mother, she was a little lady who didn't speak English very well but I remember her hugs and her kisses. To a child that is enough. She was a sweet lady.

Today Grandparents seem much younger, they do more with their grandkids which is a wonderful thing. So in order to honor all the Grandparents out there I am giving a list of great books for them to read to their grandchildren! ~

Listed in no particular order:

What Grandma's Do Best What Grandpa's Do Best by Laura Numeroff
Grandma & Me by Karen Katz
Grandpa & Me by Karen Katz
Grandma's are for Giving Tickles by Harriet Ziefert
Grandpa's are for Finding Worms by Harriet Ziefert
The Grandpa Book by Todd Parr
The Grandma Book by Todd Parr

Here are two favorite books of mine that talk about grandparents!
Pat the Puppy by Edith Kunhardt~I love this take on Pat the Bunny because the grandparents are not a stereotype--Grandma goes running and Grandpa bakes little book!

I have also loved Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tomie DePaola, such a sweet and warm story that is lovely to read~

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

Today marks 8 years since the 9/11 attacks. I was in NYC that day working and saw the towers fall. The Twin Towers were always a reminder of how awsome and big NYC is. I remember the towers going up and passing them in a car as a child and being a bit scared of their height. They were two beacons in a city that can get confusing....always there to know what direction I was going. Now that that they are gone it is like there is a hole that cannot be filled.....

I thought I would honor today by suggesting a Caldecott Medal book that celebrates the towers in their that we can never forget.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein tells the true story of a Frenchman, Phillipe Petit, who in August 1974 planned an illegal walk on a tightrope between the Twin Towers. The fact that he was able to do this is amazing. This book with its beautiful illustrations gives great perspective from high atop the towers and what viewers saw below. This is a wonderful book to help us remember.....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Scanimations: Waddle! by Rufus Butler Seder

Awhile ago I was going through some really old boxes in my basement and found Christmas cards from when my parents first got married. These cards were from the 1950's. Some were corny and very dated. One card caught my eye. It was a card that had a christmas scene that moved when you opened it. I thought to myself I have seen this before and then I realized it was in this great book called Gallop! by Rufus Butler Seder. Now I don't think he copied the older technology but I thought it was interesting that a card from about 50 years ago would be so similar to something truly new and innovative.

His new book Waddle! is an animal Scanimations book.....this time he adds color; so the pig is pink and the snake is yellow....there is a great surpise at the end! I don't like to give spoilers. This is a really great book for all inquisitive children~even some adults! A pleasure to behold.

Mr Seder is also an incredible artist whose murals create wonder around the world.

Oh and check out Al Gallop! ~ the original just came out in a spanish version!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Commentary: A Book vs Technology

I recently read disturbing news that a prep school in Massachusetts is getting rid of it's library----literally! The headmaster at Cushing Academy, James Tracy, is quoted as saying that "When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books."

What a statement, he insists that he is still encourging reading but that reading now will take a new form. Does this mean there will be no text books in his classrooms? Do students even need to go to class anymore? We have all seen the advertisements for going to college online well maybe his whole school can go class via a computer screen. I know that sounds sarcastic but in many ways he is not making sense. Yes we are going towards more technology in our lives, this blog is a testament to that fact, but that does not mean we should give up everything all at once. Some things in life need to be more gradual. We always teach children that to understand our future we need to understand our past. How can we understand our past if we just get rid of it?

Mr Tracy is going about teaching the wrong way. He is teaching all or nothing instead of compromise. Why get rid of all the books? Why not save a corner of the room for a traditional library so that students can have a sense of what a library is. That sometimes perusing a bookshelf can be more satisfying than surfing the net.

As for those "archaic scrolls"---they are considered treasures today!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Flashback Tuesday: The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

Caught an interview with the actor Matt Damon yesterday while he is at the Venice Film Festival premiering a new movie. I have always wanted to go to Venice which reminded me of one of my favorite books in recent years.

So in honor of the Venice Film Festival taking place this week I am doing a flashback title, The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke. This is great book not just for young readers but for adults too!

This is the story of two brothers on the run in Venice and their adventures with a ragtag group and the mystery surrounding them. Cornelia Funke really gives the reader a sense of Venice and all its beauty and wonder. Anyone who reads it is totally transported to another world!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fun Book of the Day: Wag by Patrick McDonnell

A few years ago I had the opportunity to meet the creator of the syndicated comic strip Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, at a lunch for one of his new books. He is truly one of the nicest people around. I was impressed that he was not impressed by his success. He was humble and sweet. I love his books, they express the feelings of how we should be in life. That life should be simple and reminds us that it is ok to be happy with very little. It is actually that concept that is brought forth in his new book called WAG!.

Wag! tells the story of Earl the dog and how he wags his tail when he eats, gets his belly rubbed even going for a walk. Mooch realizes that Earl wagging his tail equals 'love"....a really sweet story .

As I said before I love Patrick McDonnell books, one of his earlier books that is great for everyone is his book The Gift of Nothing, which is the perfect gift for the person who has everything.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reference Sunday: The Time Book

We have all heard the saying " Time Flys"~ well that seems true yet again. Here it is Labor Day weekend 2009 and I am wondering where the summer went. The book I want to talk about today is a clever book about time!

The Time Book: A Brief History from Lunar Calendars to Atomic Clocks by Martin Jenkins Illus by Richard Bolland is a artfully presented book on what "time" is.

It explores how time is measured and talks about early calendars....something that might seem like a dry subject but is told in a funny and interesting way with quirky illustrations.

I know kids (like my nephew Alex) who love to read information books better than novels....this should appeal to them.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Marvelous Toy by Tom Paxton

When I was a little girl my oldest brother used to play the guitar. One of his favorite guitar books was songs from Tom Paxton. My two favorite songs were "Goin' to the Zoo" and of course
"The Marvelous Toy"

"It went zip when it moved, & bop when it stopped
& Whirrrr when it stood still~
I never knew just what it was
and I guess I never will...."

I loved the "Whirrr" part because my brother could roll his "R's"......

This beautifully illustrated book brings back my happiest memories of childhood~it is warm and inviting. The fact that it comes with a cd is a plus because now all children can hear this wonderful music too!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Fun Fact

Did you know reading to and with a child can be beneficial to their overall development? Children need stimulation so it even helps tiny babies learn to focus and learn. As children get older having them participate while you read helps them learn to use their cognitive skills.
Reading with your child is also beneficial to you----it is a great time to bond!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Robert Sabuda---King of Pop Ups

I have always loved Robert Sabuda pop-ups. The thing about Robert Sabuda is that he is also a talented illustrator in his own right. Once he started with Pop-Ups though he never looked back. He started relatively simply, one of his first Pop-ups was The Christmas Alphabet ~ a book of pop-ups using the letters of the alphabet mostly in white. Beautiful~but simple! My personal early favorite was his Cookie Count~I used to tell my nephew Daniel that this was a special book and that he could only look at it with me. Everytime he came over he asked to look at the "special" book. He was always amazed at it. Robert Sabuda also did one of the very first Kwanzaa books called A Kwanzaa Celebration~ which was great to read during story times!
My all time favorite is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz! It just amazed me how he could be so faithful to the story and the original illustrations with these incredible feats of paper engineering!

One of his most recent Pop-Ups is Peter Pan~another marvel!
Oh and my favorite non Pop-Up? Tutankhamen's Gift....I always liked King Tut. ;)

Fun Book of the Day: Urban Babies Wear Black

The Urban Babies Wear Black series by Michelle Sinclair Colman & Illus by Nathalia Dion are really cute board books that, in my mind, are not just for babies. They make great shower gifts and new baby gifts. There is one for every style of life. The first one titled Urban Babies Wear Black is perfect for our cosmopolitan friends. While the title Country Babies Wear Plaid is great for our rural buddies. They are a hoot!

Must Have Books for Children's bookshelves

As I have stated before I have been in the book business a long time. That being said I forget sometimes, as do other people who work in books, that not everyone in the world is as immersed in children's literature as us. The general public sometimes needs a reminder of the titles that every child should have in their library. So the following list is for new parents or grandparents or even friends who wish to give a child a strong base on which to grow.

These are listed in no particular order:

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you See? by Bill Martin Jr Illus by Eric Carle
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Curious George by H.A. Ray
Where's Spot? by Eric Hill
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton
Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

Now there are more classics out there and anything by these authors are good. But this is a good start to any children's library.

I will save the new favorites for another day!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fun Book of the Day: Officer Buckle and Gloria

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann is one of my favorite books. It won the Caldecott Medal in 1996 for best Illustrated book. This is a fun to read aloud book because kids get a kick out of discovering Gloria the dogs antics by paying attention to the fabulous illustrations. It is a great book for this time of year especially because it is a school story. I also love the fact that this won the Caldecott because it is a sweet and light hearted book that is really uplifting. Anything that can make a child laugh soothes the soul.