Saturday, November 22, 2014

Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century by Carole Boston Weatherford illustrated by Raul Colon

I am thinking of my Dad today because it is the anniversary of his death.  He was a great Dad who loved his family very much.  It is only now after so many years that I realize how much he taught me.

I always tell people I get my love of music from my parents.  My Mom was always singing and my Dad loved anything to do with music.  While they never really liked "popular" music they did appreciate all kinds.  That being said they both loved classical music the best.  I have written about this before when I wrote about the book Aida.  Coincidentally that book was written by Leontyne Price so today's book seemed like an extension of that recommendation.  Like I said in that posting my Dad and I would sit and listen to the opera on a Saturday afternoon.  It is one of my most cherished memories of my Dad.  Even after all this time whenever I hear certain strains of music it reminds me of him.

So today in his honor I am recommending a lovely book about one of his favorite opera singers.  He would have appreciated it.....

Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators Raul Colon is a wonderful biographical picture book. I don't usually recommend books that are not published yet but as it is coming out next month I think I can make an exception. It can be pre-ordered~I have attached a link.    It would make a great gift for the youngest musician in your life.  It highlights Leontyne's love of music and how she was drawn to opera from listening to the radio.  This book shows how perseverance and talent gave the world a beautiful gift~the gift of her voice.  Raul Colon's illustrations are beautiful too and match Carol Boston Weatherford's text perfectly.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin by Sonali Fry illustrated by Sanja Rescek

I have been working for Museum Shop of the Historic Hudson Valley for a few months now.  Since it is a gift shop it sells many things.  While we sell lots of Sleepy Hollow and Washington Irving memorabilia including all of his books, especially the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, we also sell other other things.  Among those "things" are other books.  We have books about slavery because of Philipsburg Manor.  We sell lots of books about the Rockefeller's because of Kykuit (the Rockefeller Estate) plus books about the Hudson Valley etc.  At this time of year (our busy season) we sell lots and lots of Halloween books.  I am always happy to sell anything but whenever customers or visitors buy a children's book I still get a special thrill.

One of our most popular books for the littlest among us is The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin by Sonali Fry and illustrated sweetly by Sanja Rescek.  It is a small board book that tells the story of a little pumpkin to the tune of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider".  This re-imagining of a beloved nursery rhyme is great fun.

Here is the beginning:

The itsy bitsy pumpkin 
rolled down the spooky street. 
He passed a ghoulish ghost 
and some stinky goblin’s feet. 

So perfect for little hands this Halloween.   The author and artist's have also collaborated  on  I'm a Little Vampire to the tune of I'm a Little Teapot----another  very cute idea.  These are great reads on a Halloween night after a long day of trick or treating....

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Monsters Eat Whiny Children by Bruce Eric Kaplan

My new job keeps me very busy that I hadn't realized it is over a month since I posted last.  We are getting ready for our big season which is Halloween.  The next month and a half will be lots of late nights and busy days. Lot of Halloween and scary products are in our shops which includes lots of books.  My favorite book that came into the shop, although not a new book,  is today's pick.

Monsters Eat Whiny Children written and illustrated by Bruce Eric Kaplan is the story of some monsters who capture some children but then can't decide how best to "prepare" them for a monster meal.  This is supposed to be a cautionary tale for children but I have sold quite a few to grown ups giving who were going to give it  to other grown ups. I love how the monster's are even whinier than the children. I also love the illustrations which are quirky and fun.  I wouldn't give this to really young children as they might take the monster part to heart but I know a few teenagers I could give this too....

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz illustrated by Catie Chien

Found this wonderful book that was so sweet I wanted to write about it.  It wasn't until researching the title did I realize it is true story about a real little boy.  This little boy grew up to be the champion of animals and a major conservationist.

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated so wonderfully by Catie Chien is great new autobiographical picture book.  Mr Rabinowitz tells the story of his childhood and how he became interested in helping the big cats and other animals of the world.  It is the story of a little boy who stutters but who becomes so passionate about helping animals that he overcomes his affliction to become their voice.  This is a great book to teach children that they can grow up and overcome any difficulty to help those in need.  This truly inspiring story that is beautifully written and illustrated. It is  a must have for any classroom.  It is also a great book for the child who loves animals that could encourage them and show them how they too can be helpful.  It is a great read aloud too.....

Friday, June 13, 2014

RIP Eric Hill author of Where's Spot?

I just read that Eric Hill the creator of one my favorite series of books for children has died.  His character of Spot the dog will always hold a warm place in my heart.  When I started working in my first bookstore---a Doubleday Bookshop----our children's section was very small.  Which is why I remember almost all the books we carried. Where's Spot?  was a true novelty when I first encountered it.  It was one of the first books that really changed the interactive landscape of children's books.  I also remember the the original plush puppy based on the book.  I loved to recommend it to customers because of it's simplicity.  I always sold the book with plush boxed set to customers shopping for a new baby.

When I moved on to run the children's department of Barnes and Noble my favorite thing to do was merchandise the big picture windows in the front of the store.  This was in the days before all stores had to have the same displays.  For Mothers Day one year I decorated the window with all Mother's Day type books.   Central to the display was the over sized Spot doll with little plush spot dolls around it.  I put a hat on and necklace on the bigger one so that it represented his mother.  It was really a fun display to create with all the books and other kinds of gifts for Mom in the window.

After awhile I moved into the buying office of B&N to buy Preschool books for all the stores.  I loved seeing how Spot never went out of fashion and how his books became one of the best series to be adapted into a board book.

Today I still love to recommend a Spot book to customers. Partly because they are timeless but mostly because I know that whatever title it is will be read again and again.  Mr Hill has given the world an iconic little character that will never be forgotten.

Here are some of my favorite Spot titles:

Where's Spot?  ---which comes a great board book too.....

Spot Goes to School --- great back to school title

Spot Loves His Mommy and Spot Loves His Daddy  --- perfect for new parents

Spot's Birthday Party  -- always fun to get read before a child's special day....

There are many more....not just lift the flap but other concepts as well.  These books are definitely a must have for every child's bookshelf.  Thank you Eric Hill for creating such an iconic character.  You will be missed.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

It is a rainy kind of a day here in New Jersey. I have been spending the day with my "nephew" Little Bear a very cute Yorkie Poo.  Beyond that  it has been a bit of a lazy day sitting and reading with him on my lap.  Just now though I thought to myself---I'm a bit bored.  I am also waiting for my actual nephews to come home.  Being bored I reminded myself of a book we have at the bookstore....when I saw it and read it the other day it reminded me of  my niece and nephews when they were little.  This was a common phrase for them.

I'm Bored written by Ian Michael Black and illustrated perfectly by Debbie Ridpath Ohi it is the best book to read to children  when they say they are "bored".  When I first read it I didn't realize it was by the comedian Ian Michael Black.  I didn't even know he wrote children's books. All I knew was that it was a great book to read at story time or at bedtime.  He has really captured the essence of childhood in the most entertaining and quirky way.  I dare anyone to read this book and not identify with any child they might know.  This is a must have book for today's child.  Oh and I love how a potato is central to the plot....with the surprise addition of a flamingo.  Love it!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Have You Seen My Dragon? written and illustrated by Steve Light

Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light is one of my favorite new books of this year.  I love the pen and ink drawings with he spots of colors. It reminds me of my childhood books with it's retro look. It also reminds me of walking in the city with my father....we would walk so fast my feet didn't seem to touch the ground.  I remember so well the steam coming from the manhole covers....I sort of wish my Dad had the thought to tell me it was "dragon's breath. I do so love a good "dragon" story.  This is one of the cleverer counting books that I have seen lately that is just as much a story book as it is a "learning" book.  It is the kind of book that parents and children can read together over and over again. It is a must have book for the adventurous and inquisitive child in your life.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Outside the Box: A Book of Poems by Karma Wilson illustrated by Diane Goode

I was looking for something new to write about for Poetry Month that was fun to read.  There are so many new and wonderful poetry books but nothing was striking my fancy.  That is until I came across today's book.  At first I thought it was a new Shel Silverstein but on closer look I saw that it was by one of my favorite Picture book authors Karma Wilson.  She writes all those cute Bear books.  

Outside the Box: A Book of Poems by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Caldecott Honor recipient Diane Goode is a homage to the great Shel Silverstein.  They even dedicate the book to him.  While the illustrations might look like a Shel Silverstein book on closer examination they reminded me more of Dr Seuss. The poems  are quirky and refreshing.  They range from funny to poignant and back again. This is the kind of book that can be given to a family that has children of different ages.  The poems are great for grown ups too. This is a must have new poetry book for a child's bookshelf or a teacher's classroom.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Flashback Tuesday: The Complete Adventures of Curious George by H.A Rey

The other day my brother stopped by my house and noticed that I had finally cleaned up the boxes of books I had piled in the office.  Most of the books are children’s books so I didn’t think he would be interested in them.  I was a bit surprised when he said he wanted one of my copies of today’s book.   I then remembered he read Curious George books to his boys when they were little.  I specifically remember my nephew Daniel liking Curious George Rides a Bike. 

The Complete Adventures of Curious George by H.A Rey is the perfect gift for a new baby. Curious George is a classic character that all children should read.  While some of the original stories can seem dated they are still fun stories that can grow with your child.  I remember reading them to my nephews and at story time in the bookstore.  I always found they made for great teachable moments.  The books always made for good discussions on how to behave.  This is a must have book for any child’s bookshelf.   

Monday, March 24, 2014

These Rocks Count! by Alison Formento illustrated by Sarah Snow

I was so excited that Spring had finally come and that it was warming up here on the East Coast.  Sadly we are in for one more wintry blast this week.  Although on the bright side I know it won't last and it will get warm again soon.  Today's book is a great book to help prepare children for some out door activity.  As they say "learning can be fun"....

These Rocks Count! By Alison Formento Illustrated by Sarah Snow is a wonderful new addition to Alison Formento’s picture book series These Things Count.  It is a great picture book series that teaches children about the world around them.  I also like the series because it isn’t preachy or condescending to children.  I know for a fact that kids respond well to the books having seen the author interact with them.  I especially like this new book as rocks have always fascinated me; I even took a geology class in school just to learn more.  I was so excited for spring to come so that on my next walk/hike I can utilize some of the things I learned from reading this book.   A great first book on geology for kids.  A must have for the classroom.   

Thursday, March 13, 2014

EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help From a Hen by Judy Sierra illustrated by Matthew Myers

Spring is in the air....well it will be is still quite cold but the good news is the snow has begun to melt.  With that in mind I thought today's book should help us get in the mood for warmer weather and being out doors.

EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help from a Hen by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Matthew Myers.  I love how Ms Sierra takes child staple and mixes it up a bit.  How did Old MacDonald start his farm?  All we have known is the song we sing with children but she takes it to another level.  This is a fun way to take something old to teach us something new.  I love the environmental aspect of the story.  It would be a great book for Earth Day next month but more importantly it teaches children about how the earth works as well as being a great introduction to gardening and all it entails.  Just as important as the message  is that it is a fun read aloud with cheerful illustrations that will be read again and again.  A must have new book for spring...even if I am a bit early....

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Me....Jane by Patrick McDonnell

While unpacking books yesterday at the bookstore I came across today's title. I have already written of my love for all things Patrick McDonnell before but I can't help writing about him again.  

Me...Jane written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell is one of the sweetest picture book biography's I have ever read.  I think this is the perfect book to share with a child especially during Women's History Month.  Patrick McDonnell sweetly and simply tells the story of young Jane and her stuffed chimp named Jubilee.  He tells of her love of nature and helping animals.  She dreams of  "a life living with and helping all animals" --which she she eventually does. 

I love love love the illustrations in this book and the simple text makes it a perfect read aloud too. This is a must have for every child's bookcase....oh and for the classroom.  The lessons are bountiful from loving nature to following your dreams....a good lesson for matter what age!  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Books For Presidents Day~

For Presidents Day I thought I would recommend one new book one  and older book for kids to read.  The first book is an introduction for a young child about Abraham Lincoln while the second is a a great book that talks about some early American icons including a President and to be honest is the kind of book an adult will enjoy too.

I Am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos is the third picture book biography for young children in a series that so far includes I am Amelia Earhart and I am Rosa Parks.  I like the series because they make history accessible to the youngest among us but not in a way that is patronizing.  The Abraham Lincoln book will hopefully be the first of many stories children will read about the most popular United States President.  For ages 4-8.

John, Paul, George & Ben written and illustrated by Lane Smith is one of my favorite Lane Smith books.  While it is a story about John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington and Ben Franklin most adults will get the wink to a certain British band we all know and love.  I have always loved how Lane Smith can create a book not just for children but one that grown ups will like.   This is also a great book to introduce early American icons to a younger audience....One of the best parts is the section at the end called "Taking Liberties".... it goes story by story and tells whether it is true or false....a great little teaching aid. This book is also intended for 4-8 year olds but I am sure an older child would learn just as much....

Sunday, February 9, 2014

In Celebration of all things Beatles!

It has been 50 years since The Beatles came to America and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Seeing all the news programs and entertainment shows talk about this anniversary made me think about the many children's books that have been published concerning this iconic group.

Since I have started this blog I have written about two books that involve the Beatles:

John's Secret Dreams: The John Lennon Story by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier

The Yellow Submarine by the Beatles

Here are some other titles for a parent or grandparent etc to introduce this great musical band to a new generation:

How the Beatles Changed the World by Martin W. Sandler.  Great pictorial about The Beatles for an older child that  explains historical and cultural context of the that time in history. 

Who were The Beatles? by Geoff Edgers.  This book is part of a wonderful biography series for children that is easy to read.  A great way to introduce John, Paul, Ringo and George to a younger audience.  Great book for child to when they need to read a biography for school.  

Octopus's Garden by Ringo Starr and illustrated by Ben Cort. This was one of my favorite songs when I was little.  I played it over and over is a fun song that makes a perfect picture book.  A great way to introduce The Beatles to a much younger audience.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Flashbook Tuesday: blues journey by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers

Recently I have been sorting  the many books I have collected through the years and couldn't believe how many I have that have been signed by the author or illustrator.  Some are inscribed to me personally and some are just signed....either way it is an impressive amount.  Today's book is just one of the many books that I have inscribed to me personally. As I flipped through the book I realized it would make a perfect book to recommend at any time but especially during Black History Month.

blues journey by Walter Dean Myers and beautifully illustrated by Christopher Myers is the story of the African American experience told through poetry and the history of the blues.  Mr Myers poems have the same rhythm as a blues melody.  This is a picture book for an older child to read and learn about the "blues".  The poems are mix of complex and simple thoughts regarding love and life.  I love how the son's images match his father's words to make a visual impact for the reader.  I would give this to an older child even as old as High School or even an adult who loves music and history.  It is a great teaching tool for students to learn a different perspective of African American history.

Side note that is a bit interesting (at least to me)....Walter Dean Myers and my sister Ann E. Burg have both been nominated for an NAACP Image Award this year in the Literature Category for   Outstanding Literary Work- Youth / Teens:  Mr Myers for his book Invasion and my sister for her book Serafina's Promise.  Such a small world.....

This is an inscription I treasure:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Flashback Tuesday: The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way by Dan Gutman illustrated by Kerry Talbot

We are doing inventory at the bookstore which is great because I get to rediscover some books that have fallen off my radar.

The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way by Dan Gutman and illustrated by Kerry Talbot is a great rediscovery.  I  don't watch much football but I have good friends who love it so I try to pay attention to the games. Now that the Super Bowl is coming up and it is in my home state I really am paying attention. This is great book to show kids that football has been around for a long time. It also shows them how the game has changed. Of course this is about a college football team but at the time this story takes place college football was still a bit more popular than professional football. It is a great story of a sports blunder that was never forgotten.  It is also a good way to show children that even if they make mistakes it isn't the end of the world.  Dan Gutman is a popular children's author who the kids love.  He does really great school and store visits and takes the time to talk to each child he meets.  I also love the illustrations by Kerry Talbot.  They are really fun and whimsical.  So glad I rediscovered this book....great read on a snowy winters day two weeks before the big game.   

Friday, January 3, 2014

The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

As the new year starts we are always thinking how to better ourselves.  It is the time of year we all try new things.  Today's book suggestion is for those who want to continue to learn new things without worrying about being an expert.  Just experiencing something new can be a great New Years resolution!

The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld is a wonderful book that tells a child (or anyone) that it is not a bad thing to just be "OK" at somethings.  Sometimes we need to try many things before we can be great at anything.  I love the simple text and illustrations....sometimes simplicity is more powerful than a complex story with detailed pictures.  This is a great book for children to learn with but it is also a perfect book to give as a graduation present too.  I would even give this to a grownup who is trying to figure out their life....

Tom Lichtenheld has some great activities to do using this book on his website....enjoy!

Amy Krouse Rosenthal also has a video of the book as read by her fun!