Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Arbor Day!

              Arbor Day Square                          We Planted a Tree

Today is Arbor Day~I remember this used to be such a big thing when I was a kid.   Now I only realized it because I was looking for something to write about.   It is still celebrated and there is a great website devoted to it (  but I don't think it gets the press it deserves.  I always liked the idea of planting a tree to commemorate an event or person, it is very uplifting.   I discovered two new books that I think would be perfect for today and would be a nice way to remember what this day stands for.

We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrew illus by Bob Staake (2010 from Golden books).   This book shows people from different parts of the world planting trees.  It talks about the benefits trees provide us in a beautiful poetic way.   It is not preachy or boring~but very sweet.   I love the is said that it is a modern style by I feel like they are almost retro with an art deco sensibility.   I just love them.  

Arbor Day Square by Kathryn O. Galbraith illus by Cyd Moore  is the perfect book for today ( 2010 from Peachtree Publishers).  Usually books like that are specific to a theme can seem institutional and not something for everyday story time with your kids.   This is an exception. This sweet story about a girl and her father is simple and pointed but a joy to read.  The illustrations really evoke a time and place much more simpler than today.  

Thursday, April 29, 2010

International Dance Day!

Song and Dance Man

Barnyard Dance! (Boynton on Board) 

Elephants Cannot Dance! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

Today is International Dance Day.   Had I known about this when I ran the Children's Department I would have had so much fun.   There are so many books that make kids get up and dance that any story time would have been rockin & rollin.....

Here are some great books to read and dance to:

Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton it is a board book but such fun to read aloud. 

Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman  & illus by Stephen Gammell is one of my favorite books, I loved this story of a Grandfather recounting his days in Vaudeville to his grandchildren.  Mr Gammell won a Caldecott for his wonderful illustrations.  

Elephants Cannot Dance by Mo Willems is a new favorite because I love  his Elephant & Piggy characters and this book is so sweet.

Hip Hop Speaks to Children with CD: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat edited by Nikki Giovanni is a great book to read and listen to as it is the end of Poetry is also a great book for older kids too!


These are just a few examples of how books and music and dance can join together for a really fun time!  So everybody get up and Dance!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Penderwicks On Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street (Penderwicks (Quality))
A few years ago I read a wonderful book that made me feel nostalgic for my childhood.  The Penderwicks: a Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall reminded me of books I read as a kid.   I remember thinking that it was a truly timeless story that really didn't speak of any particular time, except for the the occasional passing reference to a computer or TV or something like that.   It is the kind of story that is like comfort instantly makes you feel better.

I knew that Ms Birdsall had written a sequel to this wonderful book but hadn't had a chance to read it.  I finally picked up a copy from the library and sat down to indulge in some "comfort" time.

The Penderwicks On Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall is just as wonderful as it's predecessor, although a bit more predictable.   Not that predictable is bad, because when it comes to comfort we need that predictablitiy.   It really is a sweet story that needed to be told because it was nice to get some background on this really sweet family.   So if you know any child who needs a little whimsy and comfort with some fun tossed in....this is the book for them.   It is a young reader but would also make a good "chapter" a night for a younger child.   A must read~

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Flashback Tuesday: The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash illus by Lynn Munsinger

Since today is the last Tuesday of Poetry Month I thought I would recommend one of my favorite childhood poems that was made into a picture book.  

The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash is a poem I have always loved.   I remember reading it in my sister Ann's big poetry book over and over again.   I can still recite the first line by heart:

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

The thing I love most is that Mr Nash wrote about a strong female character before it was fashionable.   It has all the makings of an epic story including daring do and pirates.   It is such a fun story that I love to read aloud.   Lynn Munsinger totally captures the characters perfectly and I was thrilled when this book first came out.   To me it is a must have type of book, to be read again and again!

Monday, April 26, 2010

National Pretzel Day!

Today is National Pretzel Day!  I am not sure who makes up these "days" but I do like them.   It is great when I can tie a special day into great books for kids.  

This would be a perfect day for a story time.   I would read books about pretzels and then serve pretzels as treats.   I would even have the kids make pretend pretzels out of pipe cleaners or something like that.

Here are two of my favorite books that I would definitely read at story time.   They are classics.


Pretzel by H.A. Rey is the classic story of a dachshund named Pretzel who saves the day.   The kids always get a kick out of this book of puppy love.

Walter the Baker by Eric Carle is one of my favorite Eric Carle titles.   I love he tells the story of how the pretzel was first made.   It is a great story of ingenuity that works.   A wonderful book. 

Now I have made myself hungry~I think I'll have a pretzel!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The King Tut exhibit that has been travelling the country has just arrived in NYC. I saw the exhibit a few years ago in Philadelphia~it was wonderful. I have always been fascinated by Tutankhamen and the stories that surround him. It has been 30 years since he has been in New York. I can't believe that, I remember going to see the original exhibit and really being amazed by it. I spoke about today's book in passing when I wrote about my love of pop-ups by Robert Sabuda. This is one of his non-pop-ups and it is beautiful.
Tutankhamen's Gift by Robert Sabuda is the perfect book to read to kids to explain Egyptian history and the worlds fascination of King Tut. It is one of my favorite books. A must have to be enjoyed by all.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Fun Book!

Today is my niece Celia's birthday~she is in college now but I still think of her as the little girl I used to sing and read to.   I thought in honor of her birthday I would talk about some of the books she always liked to read.  A couple books I have mentioned before but it doesn't hurt to talk about them again.

Giant John by Arnold Lobel  ~last fall I was so happy to see that they reissued this book.   It was always one of my favorites.   I loved to read it Celia, she got a kick out of him dancing with the fairies and knocking the castle down.   She also thought the picture where he finds his mother ready to eat a shoe quite hilarious.   This is a great book to read aloud. 

Sweet Dream Pie by Audrey Wood illus by Mark Teague ~ I don't usually recommend books that are not being published anymore but if you can find this book you won't be disappointed.  I first read this book to Celia before it was officially published.   I had what is called an "F&G" which means "Folded & Gathered".  Basically a book that has not been bound yet.   She loved to read it when she visited.   She always went to the drawer in the guest room to pull it out.   It is a shame it isn't readily available anymore because it too was such a great read aloud.

Over the Rainbow  by E.Y Harburg ~this is a new book that I never read to my niece but I did always sing her the song before she went to bed.   It was one of the songs she always wanted me to sing to her.   I was excited when this book came back because it brings back so many wonderful memories.

The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola ~ I read this book over and over to her when she was little.   As soon as I finished she would ask to hear it again.   It is a wonderful Christmas story told by a wonderful storyteller.

Lastly I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling.   I am not going to list them as I don't think that is necessary but I will tell you they were Celia's biggest obsession growing up.   Once she got into them she couldn't get enough.   She even listened to it on CD when she went to bed.  I went to many a midnight party with her so she could get the books and took her to a few of the movies.  When I think of Harry Potter I think of her.  

These are just a few of the books that I think of when I think of my niece but they bring back wonderful memories.

Happy Birthday Celia!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Flashback Tuesday: A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter is not necessarily a kids book.   It is really considered a book for adults but I have found that it is great story for  ages 10 and up.   I read it when I was around 12 years old because my Mother said it was one of her favorites.   I am suggesting it today as a book that is perfect for Earth Day.  This is a book that was first published in 1909.   It is a great book because it talks about nature and conservation before Earth Day was ever conceived.   The book has mature themes so it is meant for an older child but the descriptions of nature and the Limberlost Swamp are wonderful.  The author Gene Stratton-Porter was not only an author but a wildlife photographer and amateur naturalist. She is someone all young conservationists should know about.   This book is a must read for any older child who is really into saving the planet. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Falling Raindrop by Neil Johnson & Joel Chin

This week brings us Earth Day on April 22nd.   I thought I would start the ball rolling by writing about a beautiful new book that shows the life cycle of a raindrop.

The Falling Raindrop by Neil Johnson and Joel Chin is the simple story of a raindrop falling to earth.   Initially there is an exuberance while the raindrop is flying....then the panic sets in as he realizes he is falling only to rise up to become steam and then form into another raindrop.   It is the perfect way to explain the science of a rain....but it is also a great way to explain change to a child.   We all experience change in our lives, sometimes we can feel the wonder of it and sometimes change can bring fear.   This book is a great way to show not only children but adults that change is not always a bad thing.  

I love the illustrations but unfortunately the cover does not come off very well online~best to it see in person....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Reference Sunday: Volcanoes & Iceland!

A long time ago when Mt St Helen's erupted in Washington State a friend of the family sent us a jar of ash.   For the longest time it sat on a shelf in my kitchen.   I have no idea where it has gone but this past week of watching the plume of ash shooting over Europe reminded me of it.   To me is just seemed like gray dust.   It didn't look harsh, in fact when I remember touching it, it seemed smooth.   The one in Iceland seems so much harsher; it is spewing glass & boulders.  

Here are some books that would be great to read to kids about this incredible phenomenon.

National Geographic Readers: Volcanoes! by Anne Schreiber Ages 4-8
Jump into Science: Volcano! by Ellen J. Prager also from National Geographic ages 4-8
Volcano & Earthquake (DK Eyewitness Books) by Susanna van Rose ages 9-12

Here are some books on Iceland that might give kids a point of reference:

Iceland (True Books) by Kathleen W. Deady ages 9-12 but younger audiences can understand too!
Iceland (Enchantment of the World) by Barbara A. Somervill Ages 9-12.

It is a funny coincidence that a friend of mine just got back from Iceland.   The photos he took were amazing and they made me really want to visit.   Maybe some other time~

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Caldecott Medal Winner John Schoenherr 1935-2010

I was saddened to hear of the passing of the Caldecott winning artist John Schoenherr earlier in this month.   It is funny how we just take it for granted that people are going to be around forever.   I thought I would honor him today and talk about his winning book as it has always been one of my favorites.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr won the Caldecott in 1988.   I have always loved this book not just for the sweet story of a girl and her father but because the illustrations are the kind that are so powerful even in their quietness. This is a perfect example of what should win awards.   Mr Schoenherr totally captures the the feelings of walking at night in the snow.   This is one of those must have titles especially as it is about a father and daughter bonding....

I never knew John Schoenherr was also an accomplished commercial artist.   He was more than a children's illustrator but also illusrated Science Fiction novels such as Dune and the covers for Anne McCaffrey's books.  I also was not aware that he is a fellow New Jerseyan.   He also did the covers for Jean Craighead George's Julie of the Wolves, the original cover is wonderful because we can feel the coldness of Alaska. 

John Schoenherr was truly a wonderful artist who contributed so much that he will be missed.