Monday, November 30, 2009

Drummer Boy by Loren Long

I recently wrote about author/illustrator Loren Long and his wonderful book Otis. This book has garnered so much praise and enthusiasm that it is even mentioned on mock Caldecott Award lists.

The book I am recommending today is his Christmas book from last year. It would make a great companion piece should Otis be given as a gift. They are perfect gifts for any child or family.

Drummer Boy is a beautiful story that plays on the song but changes the story. Again it is something familiar and new at the same time. It really is a magical book!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reference Sunday: Muhammad by Demi

This is the time of year where many faiths celebrate many different holidays. This past week the Muslim faith celebrated one of their more important feasts, the feast of Eid al- Adha or the Festival of Sacrifice. In keeping with that I would love to suggest a beautiful book by one of my favorite authors Demi. She has done many books on a range of subjects so it is appropriate that she should give us a beautiful book called Muhammad.

What is wonderful about this book is that in this day & age it is an unbiased introduction to the Islamic religion. Demi has a way of presenting a subject with honesty and integrity. I will definitely be suggesting more books by her in the future...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday Gift buying: Hamster books

The newest and hottest toy this year is called Zhu Zhu Pets Hamster. Apparently they are not just a hot toy but an inexpensive one. Hamsters have always been great pets for kids. One of my best friends growing up had more than a few.

If you are buying this toy for a child in your life here are some great books to give along with it. It is always nice when a present has a theme.


I Love You So Much by Carl Norac Illus by Claude K. Dubois
I Love To Cuddle by Carl Norac Illus by Claude K. Dubois
Sweet stories about Lola the hamster.....

Harriet by Deborah Inkpen
Cute story of a little Russian hamster...

Hamsters to the Rescue by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Fun book about two hamsters and their seashore adventure....

The Great Texas Hamster Drive by Eric A. Kimmel Illus by Bruce Whatley
Hilarious story about Peco's Bills daughter who wants a hamster but gets carried away....

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday book ideas for Families

The holidays are upon us. Today is called "black Friday" which means many of you are out in the stores looking for bargains. I have always felt that books make great gifts and that they are very cost efficient. With books there is no need to worry about sizes and they are usually easy to wrap.

While I was in the bookstore one of the many questions I got had to do with gifts for families. Many customers wanted to buy just one thing that a whole family could enjoy. There were always a range of ages that needed to be addressed. I always suggested some sort of anthology because anthologies could encompass many age groups.

Here is a list of books that would be great for a family gift, something they can enjoy again and again. Some I have recommended before but bear repeating.


The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury edited by Janet Shulman

This book has classic picture books and stories that are meant to be read aloud. It has something for everyone.

The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury select. by Jack Prelutsky Illus by Meilo So
A nice companion book to the aformentioned treasury.

A Treasury of Children's Literature by Armand Eisen

All in one volume containing nursery rhymes, poetry and stories. Beautiful illustrations...

A Children's Book of Virtues by William Bennett

The first in a series of books based on an adult title. Always a big hit~

Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs & Lullabies by Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton

Beautiful new book that is sure to please any family.

These are just a few suggestions of great anthologies to buy as a family gift. Many of them have companion titles to go along with them. Keep in mind that these are a jumping off point that are here to give you ideas. There are many more where these came from.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Commentary: Black Friday

Today is the day before Thanksgiving. When I was in the bookstore Thanksgiving was always a hard holiday to enjoy because I always dreaded the next day. At the end of the day on Friday I always wondered why I was so worried about it. I actually liked the holiday craziness. The days were long and hard but they went fast. Everyone kept moving. As my sister always says when shopping for the holidays "this is not the time to shop but the time to buy".... which is so true. Customers don't meander as much and there is not as much scrutiny.

Starting this "black Friday" I will be giving ideas for people to buy books for the holidays. I hope any advice I can give will help during this frantic time of the year. See you on Friday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Flashback Tuesday: Molly's Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen

When I first started as a bookseller the children's book area was very small. There were never many books for Thanksgiving and even now that it seems like a lost holiday. That being said there was always one book that was a perennial. The funny part is that it isn't even a traditional Thanksgiving story.

I have always loved the book Molly's Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen. It is the story of a Russian Immigrant girl and what she goes through to fit in to her new world. The lesson learned is that America is filled with "pilgrims" since so many have come here from a different place for a new and better life. It is a message that can never get old. It is great to read aloud or for a child to read alone. It teaches empathy and understanding of the world around us, it also teaches us to be thankful for all we have. A truly beautiful story, a must have for any library!

Monday, November 23, 2009

All New Crafts for Thanksgiving by Kathy Ross

One of the things about family gatherings is that there is always some lag time before the party begins. I always feel sorry for the kids because sometimes there is nothing for them to do. I remember trying to keep my niece and nephews occupied when they were younger so that they wouldn't bother the other grown ups. At Thanksgiving I remember making apple turkeys with them or doing the old standby~tracing their hands to make Turkey cards. It is a great idea to have some sort of crafty stuff around for kids to make things or activities for them to do.

The All New Crafts for Thanksgiving by Kathy Ross is a great book to have on hand to help give some ideas for keeping little hands occupied this Thanksgiving. I love the idea of having the kids make place cards or other decorations. It will helps them get involved.
The ideas in the book are pretty easy and fun to do. This should be a must for any Thanksgiving celebration!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reference Sunday: Squanto's Journey by Joseph Bruchac Illus by Greg Shed

Thanksgiving is in a few days. Today I thought I would suggest a great books for kids that tells the story from a different perspective. Joseph Bruchac is a celebrated author who has written many books about Native Americans. His book Squanto's Journey gives us a new way to appreciate Thanksgiving. It is a great read aloud and is nicely illustrated. It is also great for a beginning reader.

I love to recommend titles that will enhance an appreciation of our past. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy World "Hello" Day!

November 21st is World Hello Day! If I were in the bookstore I would plan a story time around greetings. I would also make my staff wear buttons that say "Hello" on them. I do like to celebrate!

According to this day has been celebrated for 37 years. Their tag line is "greet 10 people for peace"~this is such a nice idea. It is also an easy and simple thing to carry out.

Here are some great books to read today~

Hello World! Greetings in 42 languages around the globe by Manja Stojic

Hello Goodbye Window by Norman Juster Illus by Chris Raschka

Hello Day by Anita Lobel

Jambo Means Hello by Muriel & Tom Feelings (A Caldecott Honor book)

Hello Hello by Dan Zanes (comes with a CD)

Hello My Name is Bob by Linas Alsenas

So let's go out and help make peace by saying "hello"!

Friday, November 20, 2009

All of Me!: A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang

Thanksgiving is a week away and while it is always thought of as a food holiday it is also a nice time to remind our children and ourselves what we have to be thankful for.

It is sometimes hard to teach children to be appreciative of the world around them. What I liked about this book, All of Me!: A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang, is it's simplicity. It is a stepping off point in how to teach a child to be thankful. It teaches them to be thankful for their toes, their hands, their feet etc. Once they are grateful for who they are they can then be shown how to be thankful for the people & things around them.

I would recommend this book to the person looking to show a child what Thanksgiving is all about ~

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Baby's First Thanksgiving

It is never to early to teach even our youngest children about Thanksgiving. I thought I would suggest some great books to introduce Thanksgiving to the littlest ones around us. Since toddlers and babies love making sounds and looking at pictures these are great books to read to them.


Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Moon

My First Thanksgiving by Tomie dePaola

Over the River & Through the Woods Illus by Lynne Woodcock Cravath (this has a musical button)

Spot's Thanksgiving by Eric Hill

Corduroy's Thanksgiving by Lisa McCue


So Gobble Gobble to our youngest readers~enjoy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Big Frog Can't Fit In: A pop-up book by Mo Willems

There is a famous short story written by Mark Twain called The Celebrated Jumping Frog. He actually wrote a few different versions of this story but his first was published in the Saturday Press on November 18, 1865.

I thought this would be a good day to talk about and suggest a great new Pop-up by celebrated author Mo Willems. Big Frog Can't Fit is such a fun book. It is about a frog who wants to fit in but is shown by her friends that she is perfect the way she is. The best part is that the pop-ups are so essential to the story ----which is told simply and sweetly. I love the way they describe it as not being a "pop-up" book but as a "pop-out" book. Sometimes pop-up books don't make great read alouds---this is a great exception to this rule. Big Frog Can't Fit In would make a great gift as it is also not as expensive as some other pop-up book.....this is a keeper!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Flashback Tuesday: A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting illus by Diane de Groat

When I worked in the stores I very rarely bought books for myself. I always bought books for other people for gifts and such. But I rarely bought something for my own library.

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting is one of those books. I loved this book, it is really funny and the illustrations are so cute. The expression on the Turkey's face while he is trying to run away from Mr Moose and hide are priceless~as is the ending. It is a great book to read for Thanksgiving because it shows what Thanksgiving is all about. Just friends and family sharing time with each other. It doesn't matter what we eat because it is all about being together.

I would recommend this book as a must have for any child's library, it is one of those books that gets read year after year.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Robin McKinley

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite authors. Robin McKinley writes the kind of books I wished I had when I was young. I was so happy to discover her works as an adult, while I love her book The Blue Sword I must admit that I like her next one which is it's prequel a bit better. The Hero and the Crown is so beautifully written with a fun and exciting story.

I love how she writes about strong female characters who are not perfect. I think all girls can see a little bit of themselves in them.

Robin McKinley also writes retelling of fairy tales. I know I repeat myself when I say that I love retellings of old tales. When authors do that they give the readers comfort in what they know and excitement for where it will lead.
My favorite of these is her first book Beauty!
These are great books for the tween and teen girls in your life~and maybe some adult's. They are the type of books that cross over into grown up world of books.
So again Happy Birthday Robin McKinley~thanks for the gifts you have given the world!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reference Sunday: Thank You, Sarah (The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving) by Laurie Halse Anderson illus by Matt Faulkner

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away I thought it was time to start suggesting some great Thanksgiving books.

Did you know that Thanksgiving wasn't always a national holiday? I found this really great book that tells the story of Sarah Hale the woman who campaigned to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She wrote letters to five presidents until finally President Abraham Lincoln introduced legislation that made it a national holiday in 1863. Up until that time each state had it own day at different times of the year. There was no consistency in dates or celebrations. Sarah felt that this was wrong and as she was a strongwilled woman decided to change that.

This book by acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson is wonderful because it retells Sarah's story but in a fun and whimsical way. It is a great way to explain to children how this holiday came to be. I love to suggest books that show something we might take for granted in a new light. The illustrations adds a touch of humor that is very inviting.
Thank You, Sarah is a must for any families library ~it should be read every year, just to remind us of why we give thanks.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Violet Wings by Victoria Hanley

I think I have mentioned before how I love fantasy books. I have always loved books about fairies and magic. One of the reasons I stuck by Artemis Fowl is because I loved the fairy aspect.

I recently discovered this wonderful new book called Violet Wings by Victoria Hanley. Just when I think no one can make up an interesting new world someone does. Feyland is a world that is new and exciting, giving us a glimpse into a magical universe. This is the perfect gift for any girl who loves magic and fantasy. It is a fun and sweet read that is perfect for not just young adults but some adults as well. A truly special book that is a joy to recommend!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Robert Louis Stevenson!

Today is the birth anniversary of one of our greatest writers of all time. I think, though, that he tends to be forgotten. We remember his stories and works but never really recall the man. I always loved to look at my sister's copy of A Child's Garden of Verses. The photo at the beginning of the book of Robert Louis Stevenson always made me think he was a sad person. I am not sure if he was or not it just made me think that way.

I loved his poems like The Land of Counterpane or Bed in Summer....after reading his poems for years I discovered his novel Treasure Island, I can still see the copy I owned with its red cover. It has always been one of my favorite books.

His poetry is a great introduction of poetry for children. His poems are totally accessible and fun to read. There is such a lyrical quality to them. His novels and stories are also a great way to introduce the classics to children. At this time of year they would make great gifts.

Here are some of my other favorites:

Kidnapped (always thought this is a great book for boys---although I thought it was so exciting)
The Black Arrow (historical novel that has a bit of romance---great for the girl in your life)
New Arabian Nights (great book of short stories)


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guinness World Record Day!!!

According to the Guinness World Record website today "is a day that rejoices in the fun and excitement of record-breaking"! This event is in its 5th year!
While working in the stores and even as a buyer the yearly Guinness Book of World Records annual was always a big seller. There are so many kids out there who love to read about facts and figures. There are even daredevil kids who like to see how they can get into the "book".
What I have always loved about this book each year is that it is an easy sell....since there is always new information it isn't hard to want a new one each year. If I were still in the stores I would probably plan an event around the book and this day that would involve trying to break a record. This book makes a great gift for young and old and comes out at just the right time.
Here is to the adventurer in all of us!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day!

Growing up Veteran's Day usually just meant a day off. For so long that is all it really meant to most people. Today we actually are reminded of what our service men and women have done for us. It is a good day to teach our children the true meaning of the day and why we honor those who have valiantly served our country. To that end I thought I recommend or suggest some titles that are perfect for the day.

This book is part of the Sleeping Bear Press' alphabet series. It is a good introduction to what the military does for us. The sacrifices that are made for us.

Here are some other books to look at:

Veterans Day (Rookie Reader) by Jacqueline S. Cotton
While You Are Away by Eileen Spinelli
The Wall by Eve Bunting
A Yellow Ribbon for Daddy by Anissa Mersiowsky
My Mommy Wears Combat Boots by Sharon McBride
The Veterans Day Visitor by Peter Catalanotto
Veterans Day by Marlene Targ Brill

These books should also remind us that more than just soldiers go to war~their families do to. We should always show how grateful we are for their service.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Flashback Tuesday: A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza

When looking for books on adoption so many people are disconcerted because they want to find "their" story to tell their child. That is pretty much an impossible thing. What I have always loved about A Mother for Choco was the fact that it is just about finding a family. Choco is a little yellow bird who wants to find its mother but can't find one that looks like him, enter Mrs Bear who takes him in and just starts mothering him as if he were her own. I loved to recommend it because it deals with how some adopted children feel about looking like everyone else. Since it uses animals it is more universal in scope and spirit. A beautiful story for everyone!

I also love the fact that it comes in a board book form for even the youngest child. Here's to family no matter what they look like!

Monday, November 9, 2009

20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall!

As I have stated before this blog is not supposed to be all about reviews. It is supposed to represent what I did when I worked in the bookstore. A place people can go to get suggestions or recommendations of books for children. As a bookseller and buyer I was constantly looking for events in the world to highlight books for children. I would then make signs and do displays surrounding them.

Today is one of those events. It is the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. I remember that day....watching the news and wishing I could be there. It was such an exciting and thrilling moment in history.

Here are some books that I would definitely recommend to anyone who wanted to learn more about this time in our history:
New York Times When the Wall Came Down by Serge Schmemmann
This is the story of a journalist who witnessed the events of November 1989 Germany. A true first hand account that also delves into how Germany got to that point in time.

Escape to West Berlin by Maurine F. Dahlberg
The moving story of a young girl and her life in East Berlin prior to the "Wall" going up.

The Wall by Peter Sis
While not specifically about the Berlin Wall it is a great way to introduce children to the Cold War and what it meant to live during those times. Peter Sis uses illustration and a graphic novel style to explain the life he lead under a communist regime.

These are great books to help explain this momentous day!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reference Sunday: Books about Germs

So many friends and family have children who have been sick lately. A dear friend's little boy has even been in the hospital with pneumonia. My nephew too has been home sick for a week. It seems like the flu or sickness is all around us. I thought for today's Reference Sunday books I would focus on some great books that deal with germs and being sick.

Here are the books I would recommend for kids and parents to read together about germs and being sick.


You Can't Take Your Body to the Repair Shop: A Book About What Makes You Sick by Dr. Fred Ehrlich

Germs Make Me Sick by Melvin Berger

Germs Are Not For Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick

Bill Nye the Science Guy's Great Book of Tiny Germs by Bill Nye

I hope all feel better soon and everyone stays healthy!!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Fun Book: Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, Illus by Ray Cruz

In honor of today being my nephew Alex's birthday I thought I would recommend one of my favorite books:

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illus by Ray Cruz is one of the funniest books I had ever read. This book always made me feel better when I have a bad day. Alexander is such a good character, we can have such empathy for a child who just can't seem to cut a break.
When I was in the stores I loved to read this at story time because everyone could relate to poor Alexander's dilemma's. This is one of those books that parents loved because they too could get into the story.
Judith Viorst went on to write other Alexander books like: Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday (another fun relatable read aloud) and Alexander, Who is Not {Do You Hear Me? I mean it!} Going to Move (which is great to give to kids who are moving).
These are great books to add to a child's library and are meant to be read again and again ~even if you don't know an "Alexander" like I do!
Happy Birthday Alex!!!