Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Bear Who Couldn't Sleep by Caroline Nastro illustrated by Vanya Nastanlieva

It has been many years since I have been a children's book buyer but I am lucky enough to still be friends with some of my old sales reps.  Just a few weeks ago I started a new dream job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  One of my sales rep friends realized that a book she is selling was having it's book launch right across the street from The Met.  She very nicely invited me to come.  I was thrilled to go especially after I looked the book up and thought it was really cute.

I went and had a wonderful time... the author Caroline Nastro was so sweet and lovely.

The Bear who Couldn't Sleep by Caroline Nastro and illustrated by Vanya Nastanlieva is a sweet book about a little bear who goes on an adventure instead of hibernating with his family.  His adventure takes him to the "big city" of New York.  All the iconic sights are there....the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Times Square and even my new place of employment---The Met.  In the end the "city that never sleeps" is too much for this sweet little bear....and well you get the picture.  The story is a great bedtime story with wonderful illustrations.  This is also a perfect way to introduce NYC to the youngest among us....
It is also a wonderful story time book---I can see it being read at a pajama party too....

Here is a photo of the author, Caroline Nastro (on the left) and my friend Heather at the book launch....

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ollie's Odyssey by William Joyce

It has been a long time since I have been enthralled with a book.  I have always loved William Joyce, he is one of my favorite author/illustrators.  His range is amazing.  When I stumbled across today's book I was ---as I said above---enthralled.  This is the type of book that would have excited me as a child.  It has familiarity, adventure and excitement all wrapped up with great illustrations.  I loved the idea of this book.  I am sure others have seen the similarities to another childhood classic--The Velveteen Rabbit....but this book goes beyond making a "toy real" type story...it takes that sentiment to a whole new level.  In this day and age children like more of an adventure.  So Mr Joyce gives them that......at the same time giving validity to a child's love of a favorite toy.

Ollie's Odyssey by William Joyce is the charming and exciting tale of a child's connection to a beloved toy.  The magic of that one toy to foster a child's imagination.  This is a beginning chapter book for young readers.  It would also make a wonderful read aloud.  I can see it being read in school one chapter at a time.  I loved Ollie and I loved Billy....I also loved the villains...scary but not too scary. William Joyce has done it again.  He has brought us wonderful new characters to spend time with again and again....

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Moon's Almost Here by Patricia McLachlan and illustrated by Tomie dePaola

I can't believe it is over a month since I last posted.  It has been a crazy summer.  I did enjoy some time down the Jersey Shore with my family but other than that work has kept me busy.

I have many lists of books I want to talk about but as always a book jumps to the top of the list in an instant.  Last night I was at the library picking up a book I requested.  More on that later after I read it~~suffice to say I am looking forward to reading a book by one of my favorite authors.  Anyway while I was there I perused their new picture books on display.  I was bowled over by today's selection.

Oh and also while I was there I got the best compliment ever.  As I was putting the book back a patron asked me a question.  He thought I worked there.  That to me is an honor to behold.

The Moon's Almost Here written by Patricia McLachlan and illustrated by Tomie dePaola is my new favorite good night story.  It's soothing and lyrical text match perfectly with Tomie's sweet illustrations of his mime character Pierrot and his child.  I love how each page depicts a different animal going to sleep.
 Here is a taste:

The moon’s almost here.
Robin sings in her nest.
Babies fly back to her,
ready to rest

This simple text and wondrous illustrations beg to be read night after night.  I look forward to reading it soon to my little Benjamin.  He will love Tomie dePaola as much as my niece, his mother, did when she was little.  

This is a perfect new baby gift or birthday gift for all children.  A must have new book and instant classic.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko

This past weekend I was visiting my brother and family when he suggested we go for a ride.  We ended up one town over from him, Madison NJ.  I have always loved Madison....it is a quaint town with cute shops and lots of restaurants.  Now my brother knows I love books so he showed me the newest Independent bookseller Short Stories Community Book Hub...I loved it.  It is in a great location and has great space.  It is more than just a bookseller it also hosts community events and music.  After we left he then brought me to another store a few doors down---the Chatham Bookseller (it used to be the Madison Public Library)...I was in heaven.  This is a wonderful used bookshop with shelves and shelves of books---some really old.  I just took in the sight and the smells...there is nothing like the smell of a bookstore.

Little did my brother know that he gave me the best birthday present ever by introducing me to not one but two of my favorite places to visit.

This past Wednesday I again was in downtown Madison.  I was waiting for a friend so that we could go to see the production of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged)(revised)  that was being performed by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.  While I was waiting for in the Short Stories Community Book Hub I read today's book selection.

A Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko is the sweetest book about a little girl who falls in love with a lost dog who happens to be wearing shoes.  She becomes very attached to the puppy but then realizes it must belong to someone else.  This is the perfect book for anyone who loves a good animal story that also teaches about empathy and caring.  It is also a perfect way to explain why getting a pet from an animal shelter can be very rewarding.  I loved the illustrations too....they are whimsical and sensitive at the same time.  I highly recommend it!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

Back in February I was part of the Cybils Award panel for Poetry.  I have written about a few of the books but not all.  This week I was reminded of one of the finalists....Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott.

Like many people this week I was intrigued by the story of the Auschwitz mug that had hidden jewelry under a false bottom.

Link to the story

I am always amazed to learn a different aspect of history.  When I read Paper Hearts, which is based on a true story, I learned how some victims fought to survive in concentration camps during World War II.  The young girls in the story tried to retain who they were by doing little things. Such as wearing a silky shirt under their uniforms or sharing their food with others.  Even if it meant punishment when caught.  The title refers to an origami heart that is made in secret as a birthday card for another girl.  It is this simple act which helped these courageous girls retain their dignity and personality. It is a very powerful story that resonates even today.  It is definitely a crossover YA to adult novel.
The "paper heart" is real and can be seen in the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.  These are real items--- the heart and the mug.....real items that stand as a testament of people who suffered and serve as a reminder of the human spirit.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox & Judy Horacek

I can't believe it has been a month since I posted last.  I recently went back to work after my winter hiatus and it has been non-stop ever since.  While I loved the warmer winter we had I am not thrilled with this colder and wetter spring.  The first event we held this season is an event called "Sheep to Shaw"...it was a rousing success.  It was a beautiful weekend and there were baby lambs to be seen that the children loved.  In the shop we bring in lots of little stuffed lambs, sheep and animals.  We also bring in a plethora of books.  One of the books is today's recommendation.

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek a very cute book that we are selling in board book form.  This is a fun book that teaches about color, size, action and reaction.  One of my co-workers brought his four year old little girl to work the other day.  She is so cute that we sat and read this book together.  I do miss reading to little ones and her reactions were perfect.  This is a great story time book that can be read again again.  I love books like this because  it is very interactive between the child and the reader. Sometimes it is the simplest books that can be the most fun.....

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

I love Poetry Month...especially when I find find new books to read and uncover.  This one jumped out at me because one of my favorite people is my nephew and godson Daniel.  He is a bit old for this book as he is in college but it still reminds me of him when he was a little boy.  I remember our walks with his constant monologue and questions about all that we encountered....from cars to the pond and animals we met along the way.

Daniel Finds a Poem written and illustrated by Micha Archer is a wonderful introduction of poetry for a child.  What is Poetry? This sweet book is the story of a little boy who wants the answer to that question.  He discovers it all around him as he walks through the park from the animals and creatures that he meets.  At the end of the book Daniel presents all he has discovered in the form of a poem.  This book is not only an introduction to poetry but to nature as well.  I love the lyrical way in which it is written alongside it's sweet illustrations.  This is a perfect book for a classroom, library or a child's bookshelf.  A great book to be read again and again.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Good Morning Yoga by Mariam Gates illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder

Good Morning Yoga: A Pose by Pose Wake Up Story written by Mariam Gates and illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder is a sweet new book that teaches Yoga to the very young.  It does so by incorporating yoga poses into a little story filled with imagination.  Last fall I recommended another children's yoga book called I Am Yoga. At that time I had only taken one yoga class myself.  Since then I have been taking classes run by my sister in law. I have found them to be very soothing and inspiring.  I have another friend who teaches yoga to children.  When I found Good Morning Yoga I thought of her.  This is a perfect companion book to I Am Yoga.  I love the soothing way this new book is written.  Each pose is written as a little adventure.  I personally liked Mountain Pose and the way Downward Facing Dog is presented.  In today's world children tend to not get up and move as much as they should. This would be a perfect practice for a child first thing in the morning or anytime.  A way for them to stretch and move in a gentle manner.  At the end of the book there is even a bit about meditation....which can be very calming.  I think any book that instills a feeling of calm and focus can only be a good thing.  At the link there are additional links to videos of the book...Something to enjoy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

All We Know by Linda Ashman illustrated by Jane Dyer

I love Springtime!The days are longer and the earth smells sweet. Spring brings the promise of new things.

All We Know by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Jane Dyer shows that same promise of the beauty of Spring.  Jane Dyer's illustrations always touch my heart and make me feel warm and fuzzy. They also remind me of my niece when she was little.  My niece has a little boy of her own now and so they remind me of him too.  The sweet illustrations combined with Linda Ashman's tender prose make a perfect match.  I love this new book.  It is the perfect read aloud for either a story time or bedtime.  It is more than just a story of a mother's love for her child but it is the story of the beauty of the natural world around us.  A perfect new baby gift.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank's Window by Jeff Gottesfeld illustrated by Peter McCarty

It is March so it is Women's History Month. Today is also International Women's Day. I thought it would be appropriate to write about a girl who never got the chance to grow up and become the woman she was meant to be. Her memory has inspired many by her example and story.

The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank's Window by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated  by Peter McCarty is the touching story of Anne Frank as told by the tree that stood outside the Annex where she hid.  I love the concept of this book.  I remember reading about the tree (yes it was real) when it fell during a storm.  Anne Frank mentions the tree three times in her diary.  I love how Jeff Gottesfeld has poignantly written this picture book from the perspective of the tree.  Mr McCarty's illustrations are also such a beautiful match to the poetic words that we cannot help but truly see Anne Frank from a different stand point.  This is a wonderful way to introduce a difficult subject to a younger audience.  A must have new book....

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Popcorn Astronauts and Other Biteable Rhymes by Deborah Ruddell illustrated by Joan Rankin

Happy World Read Aloud Day!  That's right today is the day we celebrate the joy and importance of reading aloud to children.  I love the idea of this day because I truly believe that reading aloud to children will help them become readers when they grow up.  To all those who love to read to children I salute you......

In honor of the day I was going to recommend some great read aloud picture books....but then I thought that is usually what I do anyway.  My blog is filled with books that I know would make a great read aloud. I decided to do something a bit different---at least to me.  I am not recommending a picture book per-se but a poetry book.  This was one of the Cybils finalists in poetry that I was privileged to judge.  While it didn't ultimately win it still has great merit and distinction.

Popcorn Astronauts and other Biteable Rhymes by Deborah Ruddell and illustrated by Joan Rankin is one of the most fun books I have recently read.  This is such a quirky and lively book that it begs to be read aloud.  This would be a fun story time book with a group of children because there are so many possibilities.  If I was still running a story time I would bring in all kinds of foods---as mentioned in the book and do all sorts of projects.  The popcorn itself is either a great snack or project source.  I also think children need to hear poetry as it helps the creative mind.  

This is a must have poetry book......

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Just a Lucky So and So The Story of Louis Armstrong by Lesa Cline-Ransome Illustrated by James E. Ransome

I was visiting my sister this past weekend when I saw a new book on her coffee table.  She is friends with Lesa Cline-Ransome who had given her a copy of her new book about Louis Armstrong.

While my baby nephew was dancing and singing around the room I read this really great picture book biography.

Just a Lucky So and So The Story of Louis Armstrong by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome is a new picture book biography of one of my favorite musicians. I love how right from the very first page we sense the joy that is Louis Armstrong.  Even though he grew up poor it never took away his natural exuberance.  He had such  a fascinating and storied life and career.  This book has a beautiful flow that makes it very readable in a lyrical way.  I love how the illustrations match the vision of this bigger than life iconic figure.  This is a great book for children to learn about the history of music in America. It would be great to read at a story time with Louis Armstrong music playing in the background.   It is a must have for any library and child's bookshelf. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

The winner of the 2015 Cybils were announced yesterday.  The winner was the book Flutter and Hum: Aleteo Y Zumbido by Julie Paschkis which I blogged about last October.  It is a wonderful book with great potential.

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton was one of the finalists for  Cybils 2015.  As with all the finalists we discussed this book at length.  This is a verse novel set in 1969.  A historical novel that at sometimes felt more prose than poetry.  Still it is very good read that has a lot going for it.  This is a book that makes for a great discussion about diversity.  It is the story of a girl with an African-American father and a Japanese mother who  has to deal with not only two different cultures at home but feeling different in her new school.  Not only are there race issues but gender issues as well.  The main character Mimi wants to be an astronaut but is basically scoffed at because she is a girl. The issues of not fitting in and being true to oneself is still very relevant in today's world.  Ms Hilton's words convey the inner feelings of her characters beautifully.  I enjoyed getting to know each and every one of them.  This is a great read for middle grade readers ages 9-12.  It should help to foster discussion at home and in the classroom.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by R.A Spratt illustrated by Phil Gosier

Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt and illustrated by Phil Gosier is the kind of book I would have loved to read when I was young.  I could just see myself reading this book in my backyard on a hot summers day.  I always loved a good mystery. 

What I love about this book is that the author R. A Spratt does not talk down to her audience. There is an understanding that the reader knows certain things about the world around them.  The writing is fast paced which is great for children who live in a fast paced world.  We learn about Friday quickly and succinctly so that we are able to get right into the crux of the story which is solving mysteries.  Friday Barnes, Girl Detective reminds me of Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective which is probably intentional.  I am hoping boys won't be turned off because it is about a girl detective.  Sadly that is still an issue in today's world. Hopefully this book will help with that situation.  I would not hesitate to give it to a boy because I know they will enjoy it. 

My first inclination is that this would be a great book for a child like I was, a voracious reader who loves to read mysteries. That being said I also think it perfect for the reluctant reader, boy or girl, who needs to expand their universe.  As I said it is a fast paced book that will not lead to boredom.  The mysteries are fun and while a bit outlandish they are great for the imagination.  For me this is what reading is all about.  Stories that make us dream about what is possible and helps foster creativity.  

I can't wait to see what other adventures Friday Barnes will encounter....

Friday, January 15, 2016

Happy New Year! (a bit late)

Happy 2016!  This promises to be a big year for children's books.  I had all good intentions of writing a blog post earlier but so many things got in the way.  First there was the holidays and then I got a wicked cold.  It seems that while I might like a warmer winter it doesn't like me.  Plus and more importantly I finally got the list of books I need to read for the 2nd round of Poetry judging for Cybils.   I am on my last book...such good reads. I wish I could talk about them now but I need to wait.  I promise to write about all of  them when my duties are over.  It's going to be hard to pick just one book to win.

Congratulations too to this years Newbery and Caldecott winners.  How exciting that a picture book has won the Newbery.  I also love the fact that it received a Caldecott Honor.  I have always felt that picture book writers don't get enough love.  Words are just as important as pictures and they should both be celebrated!

I am also loving the fact that I gave the book Waiting by Kevin Henkes (one of this years Caldecott Honor books)  to my great nephew Benjamin for Christmas.  I know he will love it when he gets a bit older....right now he is busy saying "hi" and "baby" when we video chat.

One of the books I've read that is not a requirement  was the new Kwame Alexander poetry novel Booked that is coming out in a few months.  I don't usually recommend books that have not been published yet but thought I would make an exception.  I read it because I was told there was a mention of my sister Ann's book All the Broken Pieces in it.  I am glad I did.  I can see why he won the Newbery award....he is a wonderful writer who really understands how kids act and react. It is sure to do well when it is finally published.  I can't wait.

So Happy New Year and Happy Reading----until the next time---hopefully sooner rather than later.