Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Couch Potato by Jory John illus by Pete Oswald

This has been a long strange year.  Back in March my work shut down and I didn’t go to work for over 5 months. I was able to do some small stuff at home but not much. I thought this would have been a perfect time to work on my blog.  Sadly I didn’t do much of anything all the time I was off except eat too much and watch a lot of bad TV. One of the reasons I loved today’s book is because I was pretty much a “couch potato” the whole time I wasn’t working. It wasn’t until I was about to go back to work that I started going out for walks and do things around my house. This is why The Couch Potato resonated with me so well.  
The Couch Potato by Jory John and Illustrated by Pete Oswald is the perfect book for these uncertain times.  This duo of Jory John and Pete Oswald has totally touched a nerve with a book that is so current and fresh. 
I love the illustrations, which are charming and expressive. The book is about a potato that loves sitting on his couch watching shows and playing video games. He actually reminds me of my little nephew who loves his games. But as always there is an ulterior motive in this duo’s stories. This story reminds children (and possibly some adults) that while it is ok to spend time relaxing and sitting on the couch it is good to go out and experience the natural world from time to time.  I don’t know if this book was in the works before so many were forced to stay home but their timing is perfect.  This is a great book to read to little ones to encourage them to go outside and have fun.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Flooded: Requiem for Johnstown by Ann E. Burg

Today is the publication day for my sister’s new book Flooded: Requiem for Johnstown. Normally when one of her books is released I have read it a number of times. Her previous titles: All the Broken Pieces, Serafina’s Promise and Unbound were books that I read a few times before they were officially published. Ann would send me drafts or poems and finally a galley to read. This time was different. While I was there when she did research I never got to read a finished product until I got the completed book in the mail. I immediately sat down to read Flooded as soon as I got it. I know she is my sister and I know she is a beautiful writer but I sometimes forget that her writing can be so powerful. By the middle of the book I couldn’t breathe waiting to see what happens. The book starts softly then crescendos into an action packed thriller before settling into a serious and thought provoking humanistic story. I couldn’t help but think how this story based on true events could have been about our current time. It speaks of everyday people whose lives are upended by a disaster that could have been avoided. How ordinary people become heroes and how the movers and shakers of the time shirk their responsibilities. I know this is meant to be a book for young readers or young adults but I truly feel that it is meant for all readers to savor and enjoy. Thank you Ann for sharing your words with the world!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from The Metropolitan Museum edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins

                     During this unprecedented time in history it is easy to forget what day it is or in my case what month. I totally forgot that it is April, which means it is National Poetry Month.  At this point in time I am missing The Met Bookshop even more, it is my little corner of a great institution where I get to talk about things I love. While I enjoy talking about the museum itself, I love talking about books even more.  I especially love to talk about children's books.  I miss making book displays and introducing visitors and staff to all the wonderful titles we have to offer.  When visitors come into the store asking for a book that can introduce The Met to a child, it makes my day.  We have so many books to choose from that I take them to look at each and every one of them.

World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art   and edited by acclaimed poet Lee Bennett Hopkins is one of my favorite books to recommend.  It was one of the first books published after I started working at The Met which makes it very special in my memory.  More importantly, it is a wonderful book for the whole family.  It's the ideal gift for a family that has children of different ages.  Poetry is is neither too young nor too old.
I also love this book because the poets involved really did write about actual art from The Met.  When the book was first released we celebrated by inviting a few poets to speak about the source of their inspiration.  Hearing the joy each poet had in writing their poetry was truly special.  Though Mr Hopkins has sadly passed away,  I am grateful that one of his last anthologies was for The Met. World Make Way is a beautiful legacy. 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Tomorrow Most Likely by Dave Eggers illustrated by Lane Smith

What a strange world we are living in today.  A year ago who would have thought that the world would be in lockdown a year later?  It is hard to imagine the world going back to the way we were. While this is a new normal, we will hopefully have a newer normal soon.

Tomorrow Most Likely by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Lane Smith and published by Chronicle Books came out one year ago.  It is categorized  as a bedtime story but not a typical bedtime story.  I think it makes a perfect book for kids in this new world we live in.  The little boy in the story is tasked with thinking of what "tomorrow" can bring,  how it can bring adventure and wonder with the promise of a new day.  In todays environment it is important for children to realize that things will get better and that at some point they will be able to go out and have adventures with their friends. They will once again laugh and play and learn. I was struck by the simple text and whimsical thoughts plus I have always loved Lane Smith's illustrations. He never disappoints.
I know it is be a spoiler but the meaning and message of the book can be wrapped up in the final thoughts of the story: "Tomorrow most likely/will be a great day/because you are in it".

Again during these unsettling times this is a message we all need---that every day is great because you are in it and we shouldn't give up on dreams of a wondrous tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Believe: A Pop Up Book of Possibilities by Robert Sabuda

It's spring or at least it is supposed to be spring----the weather seems to think it is still winter.  The only positive is that the trees are green, the birds are singing and it is light when I get up and come home from work.

Spring brings the dream of possibilities to fruition.  It is a time to feel that anything is possible.  It is an awakening of mind and spirit.   When I came into work after being out for a few days I found a new book on our shelves (an aside we moved the children's book section to right where my office door is centered.   It makes me happy to enter my office through a sea of children's books).  Anyway I saw on the shelf today's recommendation.   I loved it immediately....not just because I love everything Robert Sabuda creates but because of the message it sends.  It comes out at a time of year when graduations are prevalent. This means it is meant to be a gift book for graduates.  I do agree that the message it sends is perfect for the graduate but I also truly think it is meant for anyone who is struggling with thoughts of the future.

Believe: A Pop Up book of Possibilities written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda is simple and intricate at the same time.  Each spread evokes something that is possible: something from acorn becomes a tree etc.  I love how Robert Sabuda has gone back to simple white silhouette's of calming and beautiful in their simplicity.  While this is perfect for a graduate because it helps them continue their journey it is also perfect for anyone who needs a reminder that every morning is a new possibility.  Every new experience whether good or bad can turn into something wonderful.  I would give this book to someone who is questioning their life.....if someone you know is having difficulty moving forward this might gently push them onward.   I love this because we all must continue to BELIEVE in a world of POSSIBILITIES....a must have book for everyone.

Monday, February 11, 2019

I Am Human: A Book of Empathy by Susan Verde illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Everyday I watch the news and sometimes get discouraged about the state of the world.  Then I see something uplifting on social media or hear a story from a friend.  I especially like to hear stories of a former coworkers children because they always say something meaningful with out realizing it.

How do we teach children to be kind and thoughtful towards others?  It is not an easy task but I find books can help start the conversation.  

A few years ago I wrote about a book called I Am Yoga by Susan Verde.  I loved it's simplicity and authentic ideas.  So I was so happy to come across her new book that teaches empathy.

I Am Human:A Book of Empathy by Susan Verde and art by Peter H. Reynolds is a wonderful book that sweetly and simply shows how we should all strive for empathy.  I have always been a fan of Peter Reynolds illustrations and he did not disappoint.  He truly captures Susan Verde's beautiful text.  What better way to teach about following ones dreams but at the same time teaching that in order to realize our dreams it is to be thoughtful, considerate and caring to those around us. This book teaches an important lesson to not just children but everyone.  I not only see reading this to children but giving as a gift to anyone embarking on any milestone such as birthdays or graduations.  It can also make a perfect new baby book....a book to grow with.....

Monday, October 1, 2018

A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes

I love love love Kevin Henkes.  His books always make me happy when I see them.
 So when I saw his new book A Parade of Elephants  I could feel the smile creep onto my face.  I have become quite attuned to seeing elephants ever since my great-nephew Ben was born.  His Mom, my niece, chose elephants as her theme and that still continues even though he is almost 4 years old and mostly into skeletons, ninjas and cars.

This new Kevin Henkes book is the perfect bedtime book but also great for story time.  It has counting and colors and action (I'm thinking of the "marching") which is a little bit of what children need to learn while growing.  This is a great new baby book or just a great gift in general.  I can't wait to read it to Ben sometime soon.