Wednesday, November 30, 2016

KBWW - Storylineonline, BuggyandBuddy

Kids' Book Website Wednesday, - a weekly look at websites and blogs dedicated to sharing and reviewing Children's Books.

Storyline Online presents books read aloud by members of the SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actor's Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists).  The text and illustrations are revealed alongside and below the people reading. 

Besides viewing, and listening to, well read books, children and parents can download activity guides for dozens of books, purchase the books presented, and sign up for an e-newsletter. 

This site is NEWS to me and I can't wait to share it with my librarian and parent friends.

Buggy and Buddy, an early learning blog, offers a great list of art activities and games based on favorite picture books.  Storytime folks, librarians, parents and teachers can add this list to their resources.  I will.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Little hearts - Book Trailer Tuesday!

The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras - just out this month - looks like a teen romance - right?

The reviews promise a bit more than "does-he? doesn't-she?" sweetness.  This one is on my to-read list. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Framed! I'm TOAST!

Florian Bates is new in Washington, D.C. - new to the United States, for that matter.  His father designs security systems for museums.  His mother works in the National Gallery as an art conservator.  When he meets a girl from his neighborhood, Margaret, he finds someone that he can share his system for sorting out people's small mysteries.  Florian calls it the Theory Of All Small Things, or T.O.A.S.T.

There you have the set-up for what I hope will be a whole series of mystery/spy novels.  This first book, Framed!: a T.O.A.S.T Mystery by James Ponti, starts with Florian's abduction by a Romanian thug.  Since that's in the very first chapter, I'm not giving much away. 

Then, Florian goes back and explains just WHY he has been abducted, and how he became a "covert asset" for the FBI, and how he promised to help Margaret solve a family mystery.  Add in some art theft and lots of T.O.A.S.T. training and stir in some Quantico physicality and you get a darn good book for middle grade readers - or anyone who loves action, puzzles, and solutions. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanks for Raina Telgemeier

Tomorrow, we celebrate all the things we have.  We gather, with people we love, to give thanks.  Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a National Holiday during the Civil War.  The tradition has continued through the invention of the automobile, the telephone and manned flight; two World Wars; the Great Depression; the Civil Rights movement; The Cold war; peaceniks and hippies (Me!  Me!); the Space Race; the invention of the Internet; 9/11; reality TV.  No matter what is happening, we all set aside a moment or two to appreciate what we have.

One of the people I am grateful for is Raina Telgemeier, cartoonist.  I picked up Ghosts, her latest novel, and sped through it.  The story is a simple one, of a 12-year-old who has to find her way in a new town.  But here's the twist; Cat's younger sister, Maya, has cystic fibrosis.  The family has moved to a small town on the North California coast to help Maya's breathing.

Little do they realize that their new hometown is riddled with ghosts.  To Cat, this is horrifying.  To Maya, it is fascinating.  She has questions to ask the spirit denizens of her town.

Telgemeier does not sugar coat the realities of Maya's disease, or the strain it puts on Cat as she works to be accepted for who she is at her school.  Her characters' faces are so expressive, that often words are not needed.  This book won't stay on the shelf.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hipy Papy Bthuthdy

Facebook just told me that it's Winnie-the-Pooh's 90th birthday today.  It's not.  The book, Winnie-the-Pooh, was 90 years old in October.  (Wikipedia gives the date of Milne's first children's story about The Bear of Little Brain as 1924.  History!  It's a puzzle.) The Queen (Elizabeth II) turned 90 in April.  Coincidence?  Hmmmm.

Still, since the Winnie-the-Pooh books count in my Top Five All Time Favorite Books Written for Young People, I jump at a chance to praise them again.

Click here, for an interview with the author of a new Winnie-the-Pooh picture book, Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday by Jane Riordan.  I am grateful that the illustrator, Mark Burgess, tried hard to mimic Ernest H. Shepard's iconic artwork - and not the cutesy cartoons of the Disney studio.  (This is a Disney book.)

I love the book, Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick.  So, here's another chance to plug THAT book. 

90 years of Winnie and Piglet and Owl and Rabbit (and Eeyore who is the embodiment of a parenthetical remark) - it's hard for me to imagine an English-speaking world without them!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Just a piece of news!

March: Book Three (March, #3)

The National Book Awards were handed out on Wednesday night.  John Lewis' final entry into his graphic memoir, March: Book Three, written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, won the 2016 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Here is the School Library Journal article about the book, the prize, the event.

The book is stunning in its timeliness.  We cannot forget the fight for equal rights and equal respect.  And we must continue to uphold the American ideal that all people are created equal.  That's ALL - as in Every Single Person. 

As the banner at my place of worship says, "Love Thy Neighbor - No Exceptions".

PS.  The winner, in books for grown-ups, was The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  Pay attention, readers. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

BUTTONS - The gift of losing things

Image result for buttons images
I need my button box.  TODAY is National Button Day and the craft I plan for tonight's storytime uses buttons.  When I went upstairs to the attic yesterday, the button box was not where I thought it was.  Our attic is, ahem, less than neat.  I shoved things around and looked on shelves and opened bins.  Nope.

So, today, I gave myself one hour to clean the main attic room and find that button box.  I threw things away!  (It was painful but I hope to be fine in a few days.)  I filled THREE huge black garbage bags with junk.  I stacked bins and reorganized my crafty items and THEN, when I was 99.7% done, I looked at the bottom of a shelf unit in the corner.  There was my button box.  Not lost at all, really.

I have an organized attic room with neatly stacked and labeled bins.  I got rid of junk.  I found my buttons! Losing things is a gift.

Books about Buttons:

Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean.    Pete loses his buttons, one by one, but never loses his cool.  The publisher's website features a video and Pete the Cat songs.

Three Little Firefighters by Stuart Murphy.   Three little firefighters have to get dressed for the parade but they don't have any buttons on their coats!!  This is a great book about sorting.

 The Button Box by Margaret S. Reid.   A little boy loves looking through his grandmother's button box. The book introduces sorting concepts.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback.    Joseph, the tailor, loves his overcoat so much he recycles it into every smaller items until all he has a button.  And, then???  Based on a yiddish folk song, this book has wonderfully colorful pictures.

Dear Levi: Letters from the Overland Trail by Elvira Woodruff.  This wonderful historical fiction book features an orphan boy traveling across the country.  The wagon train's cook collects buttons -  (I am not alone!) - as a way to remember the people he meets.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Diversity and stuff

America - the Melting Pot!  That image is sort of wrong.  I don't want the Mediterranean part of me melted into the Germanic part of me - not entirely!  I want to own the Mangia! and the Gesundheit! both - to say nothing of the Pip Pip Cheerio!  and Top o' the morning!  I am proud of every single patch in my patchwork DNA.

At the same time,  America as a Cooking Pot is sort of right.  I love soups and stews - foods where different ingredients blend together but keep their individual flavors.  America is more like a hearty soup.
Hey!  We're all people!  We all share the same home, the Earth.

A good cook doesn't let any one ingredient overpower all the others.

I think I forgot where I was going with this.  Oh!  Right!  Diversity!  Celebrate the differences, everyone!  All the lovely differences!

Here are some book lists to get you started in this celebration of America, the Cooking Pot.  Mangia!

From the Cooperative Children's Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, here are 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know.

Reading Is Fundamental has 40 books on their list.

The Center for the Study of Multicultural Literature for Children puts out a booklist for books published in the current year.  2016 isn't over yet. (Sigh.) So, here is their list for 2015. puts a LOT of work into their various websites, so here is their little 7 book long book list about diversity.

Here is an interesting list of picture books, from Storytime Standouts, on diversity and empathy.  Some of the titles seem to be off topic.  But, there are all kinds of differences out there.

And No Time for Flashcards put together this list of books about families that don't fit the mother/father/2.5 children/and a dog mold.

Hmm, I think this soup needs a little more of.....YOU!

Friday, November 11, 2016


 My sister teaches music in an elementary school.  Half of one of her early elementary classes is made up of first generation Americans.   In explaining the words of "My Country 'Tis of Thee", my sister told those children that they were today's pilgrims.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, let's remember those who come here to find sanctuary from persecution, poverty, and discrimination. We all came from somewhere else, no matter what some people want to believe.
Right now, this is my favorite Thanksgiving book.  Puppets, balloons and pageants - the birth of an American tradition.

Some of my favorite Thanksgiving books, new and old.

Molly's Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen.  This classic was turned into an Academy Award-winning short film.  Third grader, Molly, asks her mother to make a Pilgrim doll from a clothespin.  Her mother, who was born in Eastern Europe, doesn't know what a Pilgrim is.  Molly explains that a pilgrim is someone who came to this country to worship freely, and to escape hard times.  Her mama makes a doll that looks like a Russian girl.  Molly's doll helps the teacher explain that America still welcomes pilgrims for all kinds of reasons.

A Strawbeater's Thanksgiving by Irene Smalls.  Jess, a slave, looks forward to the corn shucking party.  He hopes to be the special boy chosen to keep time for the fiddler by beating on the fiddle strings with a pair of strong wheat straws.  Hopes don't always come true and Jess works hard to make his hope become a reality.  Melodye Rosales provides beautiful illustrations for this story.

A Turkey For Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting.  Mr. Moose is determined to deliver a turkey to his wife for Thanksgiving.  Turkey is equally determined to stay away.  No worries, happy endings abound, all around.  And Diane de Groat's pictures are colorful and adorable.

Balloons over Broadway by Melissa Sweet.  Tony Sarg, a German-born puppeteer, was the artistic genius behind the first Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  He designed it to mirror the parades and processions of many of Macy's immigrant employees.  This picture book biography, written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, is my FAVORITE Thanksgiving book right now. 

Thanksgiving Poems by Myra Cohn Livingston.  If you are looking for something short to read before you stuff yourselves, take a look at this collection.

Over the River and Through the Wood by Lydia Maria Francis Child, with illustrations by David Catrow.  You MUST get the version with pictures by David Catrow.  The poem is lovely but the pictures are hilarious!

There are more, so many more.  I might add to this list in the next week or two.  Just remember to be kind to everyone you meet.  Stand up for people who need defending.   Give thanks for what you have. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I can't look!! yet.

The election returns are trickling in and I can't even...

Sigh.  No matter what happens, tomorrow some people will be relieved and others - possibly - horrified at the turn of events.  If, in the morning, you wonder what just happened, Lerner Books have posted about some of their titles that deal with the elections, government, the media and propaganda behind politics and other good stuff.

Save this post til then.  Here's Lerner's blog on election day titles.

For something to actually look forward to, Fox Animation just picked up the rights to The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.  This will be an awesome live action/animation hybrid. 

BTW, I loved Barnhill's book and reviewed it here, awhile back.  This is a film I plan to see.

Good luck, everyone.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Whew! Just in Time!

She's five now and tomorrow is her party.  I went to the bookstore and I was appalled to realize that my obsession with middle grade fiction has left me unfamiliar with current picture books.  I managed.  I bought Mo Willems'  The Thank You Book.  We are big Mo Willems fans, she and I.  And then, because she is my granddaughter and I don't have to care about protecting her from commercialism quite as much, I bought her an I Can Read book about one of her favorite TV shows.
No, Mo, thank YOU!!

You may be in a similar quandary as the frenzied gift-giving season arrives.  All the FB posts and tweets are now counting down in days to You-Know-When.

Just in time!!!  The New York Times Book Review has published the Best Illustrated Books of 2016 list.   Hmm, it's not the best PICTURE books of the year, but, look, they all seem to be for children.  Here's the list.  I am baffled to admit that I recognize only one title on this entire list.

Anyway, these may not be the best picture books but the artwork in each one is superb.  If you have the luxury of giving the children in your life books they want to read AND books you want them to experience, well, do it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Inquisitor's Tale

The complete title of Adam Gidwitz's new book is, The Inquisitor's Tale: Or The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog.  Set in the 13th century, Gidwitz starts his story in an inn.  The narrator is trying to find all he can about the three children - and dog - that King Louis IX is hunting down.

Various customers tell the stories; first of Gwenforte, a loyal dog who is wrongly killed and then revered; then of Jeanne, a girl who suffers fits and can see the future.  When Jeanne needs her loyal dog the most, Gwenforte comes back from the dead; then of William, a monk-in-training, bigger then anyone in the abbey, dark brown, the son of a Lord and a Saracen woman, and as strong as Samson; and last but not least, Jacob, who knows all about herbs but uses them with miraculous success.  Jacob is a Jew.  Through a tragedy, he loses his home.

The four must all leave their comfortable homes and eventually they come together.  They perform miracles.  They make enemies. They unite in a mission to save thousands of years of wisdom, threatened by bigotry.  They face mortal danger, and very stinky cheese.  Along the way, Gidwitz skillfully plays out legends and superstitions of the times, highlights social injustices and champions open minded thought and the acceptance of all people.  What an adventure!

Teachers and curious readers will want to read Gidwitz's Author's Note.  It explains his research, which parts are based on the things Gidwitz read, which he changed or fabricated and where he got his background material.  There is also an Annotated Bibliography,

When a book strays into my thoughts while I am doing the laundry, or loading the dishwasher, I know it's a darn good book.  Since I feared that Jeanne was actually Joan of Arc, I hesitated to finish this book.  Whether she is, or not, this is a Darn Good Book.  So, read it. 

Also?  The illustrations - oh, sorry, the Illuminations - are awesome.