Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Roundup

It has been a busy end of the year. October is a busy month for me and I thought once November came I could post more. But of course as the saying goes "the best laid plans....often go awry".  

 My News Years Resolution is to post more in 2016 as there are so many books I missed talking about this year. 

As soon as Christmas was over the end of year lists started appearing. So I thought I would do a Roundup of some of my favorite books  of 2015.  I always recommend books I like or think others would like but these seem to have a much more memorable feel about them.  

Here they are in no particular order:

Waiting by Kevin Henkes this is the book I gave my nephew for Christmas.  So sweet!

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano great Gothic ghost story for all....

Planting a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds a beautiful book that teaches kindness....

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman a perfect book for young readers (or anyone)...I just loved it.

Little Humans by Brandon Stanton great book to look at often....love the photographs....

This is just a small sample of some of the books I recommended in 2015. I hope anyone who has read my blog has found it enjoyable and useful.....I know I enjoy writing about the books I find.  To that end I would also like to recommend my favorite "grown-up" book that I have read this year, it is also by Alice Hoffman.....

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman was so wonderful I had trouble picking up another book to read.  Her writing is as magical as the stories she writes about. I highly recommend it!

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Years and that the next year brings much joy!  Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thank You and Good Night by Patrick McDonnell

It has been a very busy few months for me and things are finally quieting down. This has been a time of highs and lows....joys and sadness but even amidst the craziness of life there is always time to be thankful.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving when we are supposed to pause and give thanks.  

Now that I have time to get back to book reading and evaluating I combed over many a Thanksgiving title to suggest.  I kept coming back to today's title because it universal and not just about giving "Thanks" on one day but to give "Thanks" everyday!  This is a must have, read aloud, bedtime story for every day of the year.  

Thank You and Good Night written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell is an instant classic.  I have always loved his books and his comic strip---he so quietly reminds us of how we should live our lives.  This is the story of a first sleepover of friends---they do all the things children do at sleepovers from having a snack to goofing around to a final bedtime story.  They are also asked to give thanks for something---the long list of simple things is a reminder that we all have something to be thankful for everyday. It is a beautiful way to instill in children that they should remember to be grateful for the little things as well as the big things. As I said this is a must have book for any child in your life.....maybe even some grownups....

In spirit of the holiday I would like to say I am Thankful for my family and friends who are an important part of my life----you are all special to me.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Autumn Visitors by Karel Hayes

I was in my favorite bookstore recently and noticed this really sweet book about Autumn. I had not seen it before nor did I know that it was the fourth and final book in a series of books about the cutest bear family.

Autumn Visitors by Karel Hayes is the perfect book for the season. It has wonderful illustrations that show a family of bears and the fun they get into during the fall season.  It is such a sweet read aloud that can be read every night from October and Halloween until Thanksgiving.  I love the way the sparse text is enhanced by the rich and colorful illustrations. There is something new to discover in every reading.  This is the perfect book for a classroom story time or a one on one bedtime read...a must have new book to be read every year during the fall.

I think all the books deserve a place on a child's bookshelf.....going back and reading  the first three I really loved The Winter Visitors too....this has the Bear family taking over a vacation cottage when the owners leave....few words again but rich and expansive illustrations....a cosy book to read by the fire!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman is one of those books that stays with you for a long time.  It is a middle grade reader that I feel any grown up would love.  I read it in one day and loved it.  Usually I recommend a book knowing that it will appeal to a certain audience.  I generally need to like the book but even if I don't I usually know it will fill a need for a certain reader.  This is not the case here.  This is a book I wish had never ended...a story that is timeless.

I have always read Alice Hoffman books.  Her last few grown up novels I have loved....I am actually reading her most recent novel The Marriage of Opposites as I write this.  Beyond that I have loved her YA titles too....the best being Green Angel a book that I still see vividly in my mind.

I now have a new favorite....today's book Nightbird.  Like I said I read it one afternoon. It is more a middle grade novel than YA but that doesn't matter to me.  I always feel like books don't really have an age range.  Middle grade, YA or adult as long as I am reading a good story it doesn't matter.  That is how I felt when I read Nightbird.  From the first moment I started reading I  was drawn into the world of the main character "Twig"....she sort of reminded me of myself at her age.  I loved to read and kept mostly to myself.  This was a book I would have devoured when I  was young.  Alice Hoffman has written a book that feels like it could have taken place at any time. It doesn't pinpoint an era so the reader has the freedom to see just the characters and the moment of the story not the when of the story.  It really took be back to being a twelve year old reading in the backyard on a summers day.

I love how Alice Hoffman injects magic in her stories.  It is such a subtle magic that we can almost feel like it is real.  The world she has created here is warm and inviting a world I didn't want to leave. I realize I haven't given a description of what it is about and there is a reason for that.  This book is all about emotion and feelings.  The joy I felt when reading it....but as I have said before I am not a reviewer....I recommend books that should be read.  I don't want to give a review that tells you the story because the reader should find that out for themselves.  I am just here to say that it should be read....especially if you love a good mystery with a bit of fantasy thrown in....a story with great characters that will stay with you forever.  I literally cried when it was over because it so reminded me of how books made me feel when I was young....to go back to that time even for a moment was a joy.

Friday, October 9, 2015

FLUTTER AND HUM / ALETEO Y ZUMBIDO Animal Poems / Poemas de Animales by Julie Paschkis

My busy season has officially begun.  Which means late nights for a morning person.  I have been trying to recommend a book each week so as to keep up with my blog. But it has been challenging.   I was so excited to learn that I have been accepted as a judge in Poetry for the second round of CYBILS.  Because of this I thought I would recommend today a beautiful Poetry book about animals. 

Flutter and Hum/ Aleteo Y Zumbido: Animal Poems/ Poemas de Animales by Julie Paschkis caught my eye because of it's striking cover.  I don't speak Spanish but I was intrigued by the design of the book. As I started reading I realized how Ms Paschkis had seamlessly combined words and pictures. I love how the illustrations have words intermingled to further clarify the poems. It is this mingling of words and pictures that made me truly love this book. This is the kind of book that is perfect for the classroom.  I could see each spread being made into a poster for display. The fact that each poem is also in Spanish is an added bonus.  It is not necessary for someone to read Spanish and it is also not necessary for someone to read English in order to enjoy this beautiful book. 
  It is a perfect gift for not just bilingual families to read together at bedtime or anytime.  Most children I know love animals and this book makes a great introduction to the animal world.  The poems are whimsical and soothing at the same time.  A beautiful edition to any child's or classroom library.   

Sunday, September 27, 2015

You're Here for a Reason written and illustrated by Nancy Tillman

This week the United States hosted a visit from the Pope.  His message was clear to me--kindness to all and that everyone has a responsibility in this world.  Then I came across Nancy Tillman's new picture book which beautifully illustrates his message.

You're Here for a Reason by Nancy Tillman grabbed my attention as soon as I saw the cover.  Then I read it and realized it is perfect book for everyone to read to reaffirm our reason for being.  It teaches the youngest among us that they are special and important with out being preachy. There is nothing worse than a book that is wordy and preachy....

I love the illustrations they are soft and soothing. I also love the global feeling it presents---dare I say "diverse".

Besides being a great read aloud book for either bedtime or story time---in a classroom or bedroom....this book also makes a perfect gift. I would give this to a child starting school or even a grown up starting a new venture....it is meant to inspire and reassure that all are important.  To that end it would be a wonderful graduation gift too.

In this world where there are so many people being bullied and abused this book reminds us that we can rise up from our circumstances because everyone is "Here for a Reason".....beautifully done!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano is a wonderful new book for children ages 8-12.  Although it would be a great book for anyone over the age of 12 who loves a good mystery/ghost story.

 I love this book. I loved it from the first paragraph.  This is the kind of book I would have loved when I was young.   The main character Pram is the kind of girl I would have wanted to be friends with when I was little.

Lauren DeStefano has woven a tale that is a spellbinding page turner.  It may be a little dark for some but that is all part of it's charm.  It has an instant classic feel about it, a must have new book for those who love magic, ghosts and mystery!

Monday, September 14, 2015

I Am Yoga by Susan Verde illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

I have officially only taken one Yoga class in my life. That being said I have done Yoga in my living room via my cable provider.  Which means that even if I am not doing the poses correctly I am hoping I am getting something out of them.

Years ago when I was a Children's Book Buyer I was presented with a book project that dealt with Yoga for children.  It was more than just a book but a program that had a non-book/video component.  Needless to say I thought it was interesting but from what I can recall it never got off the ground.  I think they were too ambitious in all that they wanted to do.

Fast forward to now and I find this very soothing book for children.

I Am Yoga written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds is a  new book that combines simple Yoga poses with sweet calming words that encourages a child's creativity.  The text as written by Ms Verde, a certified Yoga instructor, is lyrical and soothing which combined with Mr Reynolds illustrations makes a wonderful book to be read again and again.  I think this is a great book for story time as it can be very interactive.  I can even envision it being read during a preschool or kindergarten gym class --- wouldn't that be great , books helping to encourage movement. This is a perfect introduction of Yoga for children.  The added bonus is the Author's note in the back of the book which also has brief descriptions of the poses used in the book.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

                      Waiting written and illustrated by Caldecott medalist Kevin Henkes

It is that time of year again.  They summer is over and it is back to school time.  It seems like schools have been in back to school mode for weeks.  The school in my neighborhood starts tomorrow.

I have always been a very big fan of Kevin Henkes. What I love about his books is that they always seem different and new.  When I saw today's book I loved it just from the cover alone....when I realized it was a written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes I loved it even more. His books always have a comforting feel to them.

Waiting is the perfect read aloud book for a child. Most children I know have an impatience about them.  When my niece and nephews were small I would always tell them they needed to be patient.  They were always excited about something and wanted immediate gratification all the time.  I would play a game with them to see how long they could sit still. Needless to say it wasn't very long. They always grew tired of "waiting".

I wish I had this book to read to them. It is such a soothing and reassuring book filled with hope and expectation that I would have loved to read it to them over and over again.  I can see myself someday reading this to my great nephew sitting on a cozy couch.  This is also a perfect read aloud/story time book and an every night bedtime story. It is a must have new book for any age.  Mr Henkes has done it again writing an instant classic.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Boo-La-La Witch Spa by Samantha Berger illust by Isabel Roxas

It is Halloween time at  my shop in Sleepy Hallow NY. As you can imagine it is coming up on our busy season. I love looking at all the new merchandise that we have received, especially the books,

Boo-La-La Witch Spa by Samatha Berger and illustrated by Isabel Roxas is one that totally won me over. It has also been selling really well.

It is a really cute and sweet book about how Halloween is the biggest time of year for Witches so when it is over all the Witches need to relax....and what better way to relax than going to a spa.  I can totally relate to the story because I am my busiest during October and was thinking I would go to a spa when it is over when we received this book.  I love the rhyming and the clever spa treatments Ms Berger has devised like the "Broom Bristle Facials".  I also love the illustrations, there is a kind of nostalgic feel to them and yet at the same time they have a whimsical modern feel to them.  This is a great new book to share at this time of year....

As it has been very busy at work I haven't been posting as much as I would like but I am hoping to squeeze in one per week at least.

Remember I suggest books I really like.....to help make book buying easier....

Happy Fall!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Little Humans by Brandon Stanton

Whenever I am on Facebook someone is always posting a photo from Humans of New York. I think they are terrific and thought provoking.  Mr Stanton has totally captured the essence of what it means to be a New Yorker.  Totally wonderful, intriguing and quirky as only a New Yorker can be.

I was thrilled to come across his new book for children called
Little Humans.  I love this book.  Brandon Stanton takes his fantastic photos and makes a great children's book out of them. He creates a book that is perfect for the littlest among us. It is a great read aloud book as well as a learning book. Each photo has a description that fits it perfectly. I like how there are highlighted descriptive words that emphasize what is being seen in each photo.  I think my favorite is the photo that goes along with the phrase "super HERO tough"...it just cracked me up.  I hope this is the first of many books by Mr Stanton for children.  I see a board book version in his future. This is a must have book for any age.....

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I know today's book is not necessarily a new title but I just finished reading it and wanted to share my thoughts.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is considered a Teen Novel.  I think it is much more than that.  I had heard about it but never read it.  Most recently learned that there is a sequel which I hope to read soon.  There is also a film being made with Tim Burton directing.  I stumbled across it in the library and at the last minute added it to my stack of books to check out.

I loved this book.  This is the kind of book I would have read and loved when I was a child/teenager.  The story starts out like any other teenage angst kind of story but quickly develops into the best kind fantasy story.  The kind that makes a reader feel that it could be true.  The characters are wonderful, I really loved the main character Jacob because he sounded like a typical teenage boy.

A long time ago I was part of a panel for the Children's Book Council called Not Just For Children Anymore.  As part of the panel we had to read a selection of children's books ~mostly young readers and Teen novels.  Once we were finished we then set out to decide whether or not "grown-ups" would enjoy them as well as children.  This book would have been on top of my list.  I really loved how Mr Riggs wove his story around an array of old photographs.  The photographs themselves are so interesting to look at that I  too would have wondered how they were made and if they were real.

I used to know someone who loved to take photographs.  He had rigged his own darkroom in a small bathroom in the house.  He also liked to experiment with his photos.  I remember one photo of what appeared to be  a young girl with a small person standing on her hand.  To create this illusion he said was all in the development. When I saw the photos in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children I was reminded of the photos I saw when I was young.  Like I said I have always been fascinated by old photos.....they are glimpse into the past.  I wish this book had been around when I was young because it would have been one of my favorites.  I can't wait to read the sequel Hollow City.  These are must have books for anyone who loves a bit of fantasy tinged with spookiness....

Thursday, March 5, 2015

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

Today is another really snowy day in the North East.  Personally the white stuff lost it's appeal for me in February.  I thought since we are all longing for good weather I would recommend a new book about the hope of spring.

If You Plant a Seed written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, a two time Caldecott Honor Award recipient, that is the perfect book for another snowy day.  I am a big fan of Mr Nelson's illustrations and books.  This new book which was published this week is a perfect way to teach children what happens when they plant a little tiny seed.  The sparse text and beautiful paintings make this book a joy to read aloud.  What is also wonderful is that it isn't just about planting a carrot seed or a tomato seed but it is about planting the seeds of kindness and compassion.  While the carrot seed becomes a carrot,  Mr Nelson is also  teaching the youngest among that planting a seed of kindness begets something even sweeter.  Of course the animals (or children) don't learn this at first.  At first the little gardeners are selfish and won't share with the other animals who come begging.  Only after an enormous fight that nearly destroys everything does one small act of final kindness and sharing that in the end produces the biggest reward.  This book has many lessons to teach the young and the old.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Olive and the Great Flood by Connie Arnold and illustrated by Kathleen Bullock

A few years ago I met through my blog the author of today's book.  Well I didn't actually meet her but through the years we have had a nice correspondence  through our blogs.  I really liked her first book Animal Sound Mix-up because I thought it had a great concept and cute illustrations.  She recently asked me to be part of her blog tour for her most recent book.  I was so happy to say yes to her request.  Her newest book is the kind of book I always like.  A new version of an old story.  In this case it is a clever take on Noah's Ark.

Olive and the Great Flood by Connie Arnold and illustrated perfectly by Kathleen Bullock tells the story of Noah's Ark from the perspective of the Dove (aptly named Olive) who is sent from the ark to see if the waters have receded.   I love the beautiful way Ms Arnold tells the story.  It makes a great read aloud that is engaging and sweet.  It is a faith based book that would make a great read aloud for a Sunday School classroom.  When reading about Noah's Ark as a child I always wondered about the Dove....which was my favorite part of the story.  This makes a great addition to any child's bookshelf....

Friday, February 13, 2015

Planting a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds

Planting a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal with lovely illustrations by Peter H Reynolds is the perfect book for Valentines Day.  I love the whimsical nature of the text and the sweet spare illustrations.  This book is really about sharing love and goodness with the world.  I love how it takes a literally the age old expression "to plant a kiss" on someone.  I also love how this book can teach children how to be kind and loving without being preachy.  This is a Valentines Day book that can be read at any time of year.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Flashback Tuesday: Bunny Hopwell's First Spring by Jean Fritz

It might seem weird to write about a book for spring in February; but I thought it would be nice to think about spring while waiting for the next snow storm.  At this point I am tired of winter and shoveling. Although I am not as tired as my friends in Massachusetts.

One of the books we will be selling this spring at my new job at the Historic Hudson Valley Gift Shop is today's selection.  I remember this book growing up.  I think it was my sister's originally or was it my cousins....I am not sure I just know that I remember reading it as a child.  Reading it again I realized it is a perfect book to help with the winter blues.

Bunny Hopwell's First Spring by Jean Fritz (this beloved author's very first book) tells the story of a little bunny who can't understand what the hype is about spring. Bunny has only known the cold winter  and can't imagine anything different.  This is such a sweet story. I am so happy that it is being reissued.  This is a story that brings the joy and beauty of spring alive for the youngest reader.  A must have book that is perfect to read on a cold a blustery winter's day.