Sunday, May 30, 2010
Today is actually Memorial Day even though it is celebrated tomorrow. There are lots of parades and barbecues planned for a day that is set aside to remind us of the men and women who gave their lives to make sure we can live in peace. To that end I would like to recommend some books that are a great way to explain to children that we don't celebrate this day lightly or for a day off but that it has real meaning and purpose.
The Wall by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ronald Himler is a beautiful book about a father taking his son to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. I have never seen this memorial in person but have been told by many that it is awe inspiring experience to visit. This is for ages 4-8 but I think all ages can something from this beautifully written story.
Memorial Day by Jacqueline S. Cotton is part of the Rookie Reader Series from Children's Press and it is a great introduction to this special day. It has lots of photographs that show what this day is all about.
Here is to all the men and women who gave their lives so we have the right to live as we wish. Happy Memorial Day!
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Apparently yesterday was National Hamburger Day~sadly I only found it out today. But I also discovered that May is National Hamburger Month so I haven't really missed it. Since it is also the Memorial Day weekend which is the unofficial start of summer I thought I would recommend a really cute book first published in the US a few years ago.
Burger Boy by Alan Durant and illustrated by Mei Matsuoka is a really great read aloud about a little boy who will only eat hamburgers. The writing style is perfect for story time and the illustrations are really kid friendly. I wish I had this book when I used to do books about food during story time. I also wish I had this book for my nephews when they were younger~they were really picky eaters. It is a great take off of the classic story of the Gingerbread Boy but even sillier. Perfect book for the start of the barbecue season. Enjoy!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Last night I participated in the weekly kidlit chat on Twitter. During the chat a discussion came up about covers on books. I said that sometimes the cover doesn't matter especially since I had read plenty of books, usually young readers, before there was cover art or while they were in galley form. That being said I do know that covers need to be good for a book to be picked up and looked at in the first place....especially picture books. Which brings me to today's pick.
Harry and Horsie by Katie Van Camp and illustrated by Lincoln Agnew immediately caught my eye because the cover had such a retro 1950's look. I was drawn to it and quickly picked it up to read. I loved it ~ the story was so sweet and imaginative that I felt it was a perfect bedtime book. I could see myself reading it at story time and it being a great conversation book with kids. I think this is a wonderful book for any child's bookshelf....
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Today is the birth anniversary of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson the celebrated tap dancer immortalized in the famous folk song "Mr Bojangles". This was always one of my brother Michael's favorite songs. Whenever I hear it I think of him. Bill Robinson was a an incredibly generous man who sadly died destitute. He brought joy to so many that would be a shame not to remember him on his birthday.
Rap A Tap Tap by the Dillons is beautifully illustrated book that received a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and it is a remembrance and homage to an important figure in American cultural history. The fans of the Dillons will appreciate the artwork as they are always brilliant. This is a great introduction to early American music.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Reference Sunday: The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth by Kathleen Krull Illus by Greg Couch
I know it will be hard to believe that a person who writes a book blog and has worked in books all her life was known as the "TV Kid" when she was little. Even today if a TV question comes up my family usually defers to me. I have always loved television. To me television is an extension of books~just don't tell my library friends that. I have always been about "the story". I love a good story with good characters. The difference between books and television in my mind is that with TV I can just let the story move over me....with no work on my part. A good engrossing TV show relaxes me like a good cup of tea. When I read a book I am actually being more active and present and it as invigorating as exercise.
When I was young books and TV were my constant companions....when I got tired of sitting around the house I would go out and "play"---which usually meant just bringing a book outside and reading. I still love both activities. Take tonight for instance, I cannot go anywhere because it is the series finale of "Lost". "Lost" is an example of good storytelling with great characters. I have been known to stick with a TV show even if I know the writing isn't up to par because I like the concept or the characters....it is like when I read a book and get a connection to the story than it sticks with me.
I always wondered when I was young who invented TV....I tried to find the answer but there never was a definitive one. Years later I did find the name "Philo Farnsworth" but still couldn't find much information about him. Just the other day I saw this great picture book by the prolific author Kathleen Krull and finally all my questions were answered.
The Boy Who Invented TV by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Greg Couch is a great picture book biography that explains how an inquisitive little boy who loved all things mechanical pretty much changed the world. It shows kids what the world was like before television came into being and how the world lived. I know that not all of television is wonderful and I think we do watch too much of it....but in moderation it can be a marvelous thing. The illustrations are great too ---I love the color scheme. I also love the fact that the illustrators name is "Couch"~ if you get my meaning~.
This is a great book for all the inquisitive minds out in the world....a must have, at least for me!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
It has come to my attention that it has been 30 years since Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back was first in theaters. As this is by far the best of the series I thought I would recommend a Star Wars book. I wrote about Scanimations books once before but it doesn't hurt to be reminded of this very cool concept of a book.
Star Wars: A Scanimation Book by Rufus Butler Seder is a great way to introduce Star Wars to a new generation. It is also the perfect gift for the Star Wars fan in your life. This is a book for all ages ~
Friday, May 21, 2010
A number of years ago I was asked to be a panel member on the Children's Book Council's Not Just For Children Anymore catalog. As a panel member, I read numerous books and then helped to decide what titles went into the catalog. There were four of us on the panel. We had to decide if a book could be enjoyed by an adult. So many times as a buyer I would look at a new children's book and think that no child would really like it. I thought they appealed more to grown-ups. When I was in the stores so many people would come in just to buy a picture book because they loved the illustrator.
Today I was out perusing the bookstores when I discovered a beautiful book that is perfect for grown-ups.
Instructions by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess is a beautifully illustrated book that tells tells the simple tale of how to survive a fairy tale....but is really telling the reader how to survive life. I love the flow of words and how the pictures evoke a warm feeling. This is the perfect book to give someone who is going through a hard time or a recent graduate. It is the perfect life lesson. A gem of a book.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
One of my oldest and dearest friends is a huge animal lover. Growing up besides having dogs she always had a hamster. I remember when we were in high school she got a new one after the previous one had died. They don't seem to live very long. Well imagine my surprise when I went to see her and she had I think ten cages filled with hamsters. Apparently the new one she bought was pregnant and instead of giving them back to the pet store she kept them....something I think only she would do. So any time I see a hamster or a book about hamsters I think of her.
Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord and illustrated by Derek Anderson is a really cute new book about a hamster who lives in a junk yard who builds his own hot-rod. The illustrations are adorable~I just love the hamsters expressions. It is also a great read aloud that gets the kids involved in the story. This is great for all our little racing fans and animal lovers out there. A perfect new book to add to a child's storybook collection.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
It seems like everyday of the year is designated a special day. For some reason today May 18th is "Visit Your Relatives Day"....I tried to find out the origin of this day but couldn't. So even though I don't know its history it gives me the opportunity to talk about a great book I used to love to read at storytime. It also received a Caldecott Honor for illustrator Stephen Gammell~which in my opinion is well deserved.
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Stephen Gammell is the fun story of a family visit that lasts all summer. It is fun to read aloud and really gets the kids to laugh. Like I said this book is one of my favorites because it always reminded me of family members who just dropped by when I was young. This is a great book to read aloud~
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Reference Sunday: The Journey That Saved Curious George : The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey by Louise Borden
Today would have been Margret Rey's birthday. I have a soft spot for Curious George.. I used to read the books to my nephew Daniel when he was little. Curious George is one of the most beloved characters of all times.
The Journey That Saved Curious George : The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey by Louise Borden & illustrated by Allan Drummand is the incredible story of how Curious George came to be. When I first heard the story of how the Rey's escaped Paris to avoid the Nazi's during WW II I was amazed. The fact that they escaped on bicycles and made their way to New York truly fascinated me. I love this book because it shows kids that sometimes real life is more exciting than fiction. That people can struggle against all odds and succeed. This is a wonderful biography for children and adults to read. It is a different sort of biography in that is accessible and easy to understand. Perfect for a reluctant reader who must read a biography for school.
This book will be available in paperback in August~in case any child needs to read a biography before going back to school.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I don't usually write about Young Adult or Teen novels but I couldn't let today pass without doing homage to the great Paul Zindel. I remember reading The Pigman when I was younger and how it had such an effect on me. It was one of the first times I realized that not all book have endings that are neat and tidy. It was such a sad book. It is a perennial on school reading lists which it should be. It is a must read for any teenager or younger child to read. It is a powerful way to explain how what we do and say can effect other people. It taught me that words and actions can be harmful when we don't think of consequences. I have always thought that The Pigman's Legacy was a book of redemption. Wouldn't it be great if we could fix what had have broken....lessons learned are powerful.
Paul Zindel was great at really knowing his characters. I remember watching his playThe Effects of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds when I was little. My sister played the role of Tillie in her college production. At the time I didn't understand it but as I grew older I realized that this too was a powerful commentary on how we should treat the people around us.
I am aware that Mr Zindel's books get banned for language and such but let's face it that is only because he wrote characters who are real....they should not be overlooked.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Way back in 2003, a lifetime ago, I met what was to become one of my favorite celebrity authors. As a book buyer for a large retail chain I was privileged to to meet some really great people. Some of the authors I met are not household names but some of them were. Henry Winkler was, like I said, one of my favorites.
Hank Zipzer #17 A Brand New Me by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver is the last in the series of Hank Zipzer books that started with Hank Zipzer--Niagara Falls, Or Does It? I really loved this series, not just because the author is famous and that I met him but because they were well written with a wonderful message. I loved the fact that as a celebrity author Henry Winkler admitted that he had a co-writer. Some celebrity authors use a ghost writer but not Mr Winkler. Not only did he admit to having help with writing his books but he put his co-author right on the cover with him. He was also the sweetest and kindest person I have ever met. Sometimes when meeting a celebrity I had the feeling it was just a duty for them. They were playing a part ---but not Henry Winkler. I truly felt that he was happy to talk to me and that he enjoyed talking about his books. He was so passionate about 'Hank Zipzer' that I could really sense his joy. 'Hank Zipzer" is the perfect classic character.
This is a great series for kids because it is funny and smart. Mr Winkler and Ms Oliver do not talk down to their readers at all. They truly understand children and that is conveyed in the books. This is a must read series for any young reader. I am sad that it has ended~~it was a glorious journey. I highly recommend it.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
This week is Children's Book Week. It is a great time to remind us that children's books are more than just for children but can be for all. I chose today's book not because it is for children per se but because it proves that most children's books have something to teach all of us~
Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book by Anita Silvey is a great book to have around the house. Anita Silvey, former editor and publisher, has gathered a prestigious group of people to explain what they have learned from specific children's books. I met Ms Silvey many years ago and found her fascinating and passionate about children's books. Her passion shines through in this book too. This book would make a great family gift or graduation gift....
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Today is Edward Lear's birthday. Most people know him for his nonsense poems but he did much more than that. He was also an accomplished author and artist. I am a big fan of his art not just his illustrations. I love the way he uses light for his landscapes. They are just wonderful. To celebrate his birthday I am going to suggest his most famous poem that has been illustrated for children.
The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear & illustrated by Jan Brett is a classic poem that has been talked about and imitated. It is also a bit of a love story. I love Jan Brett's illustrations because of the detail ~ kids love to look at the these pictures to see what they can find. A wonderful edition.