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Children's Books

  • kid lit worlds 01

    In the Children’s Department there is a series of books where each title starts with “You Wouldn’t Want to…” This is a fun series in that it tells loads of facts in a fun (and often gross or gruesome) way to interested kids. They range from YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO BE A SALEM WITCH to YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO LIVE WITHOUT INSECTS (these books cover quite the range of topics). 

    In thinking about these books, I started thinking about the broader world of Children’s Literature. And really, there are a lot of books that I’m just not convinced I would want to live in (or could ever handle living in). In fact, I think they might be just a bit more horrid than I suspect when reading while sitting on a cozy spot on my sofa. So here is the list of my top five children’s books that I would not want to live in: 

    lion the witch and the wardrobeTHE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
    by C. S. Lewis
    (1950)

    Not only does this world have an evil witch running around turning everyone to stone (or quite a lot of people) and manipulating and controlling hordes of bad guys…this world (at least for the majority of this book) is a world of Winter. I HATE being cold. I also hate bad guys ruling the world. But I can’t think if I am too cold. I suspect that in this world I would be basically a stone statue just from having to traipse about in a world of snow without really getting a chance to warm up. So I’m glad Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy were all able to take care of things while I watched (or read rather) from the sidelines. For the rest of the CHRONICLES OF NARNIA I think I could possibly handle being in that world. Just not the Winter season.

    fever 1793FEVER, 1793
    by Laurie Halse Anderson
    (2000)

    Out of all of the books on my list, this one is actually a place (Philadelphia) and a time (1793) that actually existed. Which means that I am sure glad that I live when I do (since Philadelphia is actually a wonderful city and I have nothing against it…I just wouldn’t want to live in Philadelphia in 1793!). Mostly, I like some modern conveniences: central heating (see entry for THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE), plumbing, and modern medicine. That’s right, where would I be without doctors to help me feel well? I tell you what, I probably wouldn’t be around. And I wouldn’t want to live in that type of world and I probably wouldn’t want to see any of the people with those horrific diseases in that world, would you?

    loraxTHE LORAX
    by Dr. Seuss
    (1971)

    Yeah, I think most people probably saw this one coming. A world without trees and loads of smog in the air just isn’t any fun—especially if the world could have been a world with pink, yellow, and orange trees. I think the tragedy of this world is that you know just how amazing it could be…and then how sad life is when things get bad. I promise Dr. Seuss. I learned my lesson. I’m with the Lorax on this one.

    gregor the overlanderGREGOR THE OVERLANDER
    by Suzanne Collins
    (2003)

    Bugs, arachnids, and rodents tend to freak me out. That being the case, I probably wouldn’t do well in Gregor’s world. Not to mention that it is all underground (and thus sometimes very dark). I do like how Gregor becomes quite the hero…but this is one quest I am glad to read away from all the creatures that make me squeamish. 

     
    My least favorite place is a TIE:
    game of sunken places

    GAME OF SUNKEN PLACES
    by M.T. Anderson
    (2004)

    jumanji  JUMANJI
    by Chris Van Allsburg  
    (1981) 

    Wow. If you could see me right now you would notice that I am shuddering at the thought of living in these two similar worlds. Totally great stories; however, I do not think that I could be nearly as brave as any of these characters when they found out their world is a GIANT GAME BOARD. Just imagine playing monopoly and when a bit of bad luck comes your way you have to RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! Yeah. I’m glad I don’t have to roll the dice and hope for my life.

    So there you have it, the five worlds of Children’s Literature that I would HATE to live in. Don’t get me wrong, these are amazing stories. I love them all. I just wouldn’t want to be characters in those stories. What about you? Are there any worlds I missed?

    *There are also some horrific fantasy and dystopian worlds that tend to live in our young adult fiction collection. None of these have been considered (otherwise the HUNGER GAMES world would be #1 on my list).

     

     

  • 6 Books for Boys 01

    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you. 

    Here are six classic books that boys love to read!

    DEAD END IN NORVELT
    by Jack Gantos
    (2011)

    Unfortunately for Jack Gantos, at any sign of trouble or stress he instantly gets a nose bleed. Since there’s no money to fix his nose, Jack just has to deal with being different. A series of events and an overprotective mother leave Jack grounded from everything except helping the old lady next door—a professional obituary writer. But this depressing start to summer soon takes off with a bang in this wacky coming of age story.  

    PAPERBOY
    by Vince Vawter
    (2013)

    Victor Vollmer has long accepted he’s a little different. His stutter makes talking a huge chore, but he has his tricks and can make it through most days without too much trouble. When summer comes, however, his best friend asks Victor to take over his paper route for a month. It seems like a simple way to make a little extra money and help out a friend, but Victor is in for both a heart-warming and terrifying lesson in human nature and his own self-worth.  

    SUMMER OF THE MONKEYS
    by Wilson Rawls
    (1967)

    Jay’s twin sister is a cripple, but the family is too poor to do anything about it. One summer Jay discovers that a family of escaped circus monkeys has taken residence down by the river. With the help of his grandfather, Jay plans to capture the monkeys and claim the reward—making his family rich. Humorous and heartfelt moments abound in this slightly fantastical story.  

    BY THE GREAT HORN SPOON
    by Sid Fleischman
    (1963)

    Jack and his butler, Praiseworthy, seek to restore the family’s lost riches in the California gold rush. Two gentlemen couldn’t be further out of their element from the moment they set foot on the steamer ship headed west from Boston. This rip-roaring bit of historical fiction features its fair share of interesting factoids and tall tales.  

    THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
    by Mark Twain
    (1884)

    Twain, the king of tall tales, hits a home run in this classic story of roughing it down the Mississippi river. Huck and the escaped slave Jim find themselves meeting a panoramic jumble of the good, the bad, and the ugly in this surprisingly thoughtful look at the way people treat each other. 

    LITTLE BRITCHES: FATHER AND I WERE RANCHERS
    by Ralph Moody
    (1950)

    When he is 8-yrs-old, Ralph Moody’s family moves from New Hampshire to rough it on a cattle ranch in Colorado, a place where the wild west wasn’t that long ago. Ralph, nicknamed “little britches,” comes of age in this true story about giving your all, being a man, and enjoying the little things while you have them.

  • friendships and fighting evil

    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you. 

    So, with no further ado, we bring you 6 Degrees of Reading: Friendship and Fighting Evil (in Juvenile Fiction).  

    THE CURSE OF THE BOGGIN
    by D. J. MacHale
    (2016)

    Marcus, an orphan, starts having random supernatural experiences.  As he tries to figure out what is going on, he finds out that his birth parents left him a large brass key that opens the door to a magical library.  In the library are histories of supernatural experiences, some of which are still being written. Marcus finds himself battling terrors to discover the truth about the library and himself.  

    LOST IN A BOOK
    by Jennifer Donnelly
    (2017)

    This take on the classic Beauty and the Beast offers well-known characters intriguing new challenges. Soon after Belle arrives at the Beast’s castle she discovers a magical book in the library that takes her to the wonderful land of Nevermore. She knows it isn’t a real world, but the Countess of the world promises it could be real if she gives up her life with the Beast.  

    THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL
    by Shannon & Dean Hale
    (2017)

    You may not recognize Squirrel Girl immediately, but she is a well-known character to avid Marvel fans. Doreen was born with a squirrel tail and the ability to talk with squirrels.  Her parents urge her to keep her tail hidden (so that other kids don't feel bad that they don't have one), but when Doreen moves to another state and another middle school. As the new kid in school, Doreen finds it hard to both make friends and keep her amazing Squirrel Girl abilities a secret.  

    SAVE ME A SEAT
    by Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan
    (2016)

    In India, Ravi was the top student and the best at cricket.   But now, as the new kid in a new school, he finds himself stuck in a remedial class. At his old school Ravi would have never associated with a kid like Joe, who is big and awkward and has a learning disability.  But now the two find themselves stuck in class together, finding unlikely friendship as they become victims of the same bully. This is a great tale of multiracial friendship without borders.  

    MURDER IS BAD MANNERS
    by Robin Stevens
    (2015)

    Hazel Wong is from Hong Kong and has come to boarding school in England.  She is befriended by one of the most popular girls in her grade, Daisy Wells, and they form a secret detective agency.  All too soon they have their first grisly case.  

    THE MARK OF THE PLAGUE
    by Kevin Sands
    (2016)

    Christopher is living in his old master's workshop while plague rages through London.   One day he hears about a strange "prophet" who is going around town foretelling who will get the plague next.  The young sleuth begins to wonder who and what the "Prophet" really is and what connection he might have to Christopher’s old master. In an attempt to save lives, Christopher and his friend Tom risk their lives to battle the forces of evil.

  • boy reading ala

    Every January, our children's librarians look forward to the most exciting announcements of the whole year: the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott awards. These two awards honor the best in children's literature and illustration, respectively. 

    Last Monday, the American Library Association announced their selections, with Sophie Blackall's illustrations for FINDING WINNIE taking the Caldecott Award, and Matt de la Peña's LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET winning the Newbery.

    FINDING WINNIE is a terrific, beautiful book about a very famous bear, and it comes highly recommended by this librarian. But more than just being a great book, LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET is a groundbreaking choice by the Newbery committee. This story about a boy and his grandma taking a ride on their city bus has redefined what and who can stand as the very best in children's literature.

    Here are three ways that LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET has shaken up the Newbery tradition, and has people very, very excited:

    marketstreet

    1. Matt de la Peña is the first Hispanic author to win the Newbery Medal in the 94 years it has been awarded. Another Hispanic author, Pam Muñoz Ryan, was given a Newbery Honor this year for ECHO

    2. The Provo City Library keeps all its Newbery winners in a special section, and in every year past, we have moved the winner from its home in our fiction section to the special shelf. But this year, we'll be moving LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET from a different home -- the picture books section! This book is the very first true picture book to win the medal (an illustrated collection of poetry won in 1982). 

    3. Not only is LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET a picture book, but its illustrations are highly acclaimed in their own right. On the same day as the book was awarded the Newbery Medal, it was also awarded a Caldecott Honor. There's hardly room for all the medals on the cover!

    The Provo City Library has received many new copies of LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET to celebrate its big victory, so be sure to place a hold and get your chance to experience this very special book.

  • boredom 1

     Summer is upon us, and the excitement of days filled with constant sunshine and homework is a thing of the past. Kids love summer break, but the infamous words “Mom, I’m bored” will slowly begin to creep into the day. There is a strong contrast between structured school days and hours of open-ended possibilities.

    In this Huffington Post article, Dr. Lapointe explains how we should embrace the bored. Children need to be bored: it is where creativity and imagination are born. Children need to delve into the freedom of time and space and discover their true interests. They need to decide what drives them and makes them happy. Caregivers and parents should allow large blocks of time for children to play because this is when they form new ideas, create, experience, and discover.

    I can’t think of a better place than the library to help children discover their hobbies and interests. There are books about origami, crafts, photography, acting, outdoor activities, calligraphy, and weird facts most kids find amazing. The library also provides a never-ending supply of books to read, letting the reader become lost in the new world they find. Children need summer to be unencumbered by scheduling—filled with time and space to play. Here a few books to inspire your summer play: 

    6.28.17 RoxaboxenROXABOXEN
    By Alice McLerran. Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
    (1991) 

    There was a time when children played outside and created cities and towns with dirt, rocks, and sticks. McLerran describes childhood memories like these in this story. The nostalgia felt will inspire adults and children to allow for the time to create these outdoor play experiences. 

    6.28.17 Out of the BoxOUT OF THE BOX
    By Jemma Westing
    (2017) 

    The cardboard box has always been the classic open-ended play material. With colorfully painted engineering masterpieces, Westing gives pages of ideas illustrating what can be done with a simple cardboard box. The ideas include step by step instructions and templates in the back to trace.

     

    6.28.17 Unplugged PlayUNPLUGGED PLAY
    By Bobbi Conner
    (2007)

    This book provides more than 710 games and play ideas for children, and none of the ideas include electronics or batteries! This book is divided into three different sections based on age. It’s a great resource to help children who need play tutoring as they get used to having open-ended time for creating and coming up with their own ideas.

     

  • BB 2016 FB

    The Night GardnerTHE NIGHT GARDENER
    by Terry and Eric Fan
    (2016)

    This book was SO CLOSE to being added to our best books of the year list. It is one of my favorite books from the year. In fact, if you want to know just how much I love this book; take a look at my blog post from it back in March of 2016. It is about a boy who notices a gardener who trims trees at night—which cause quite the response the next day since the trees turn into owls, dragons, and other fun creatures. The story is good, but the pictures are amazing! The subtle changes from what the street feels and looks like before the night gardener comes to afterward is just amazing—to the point that by the end it is hard to think that life wasn’t so bright and happy throughout the whole book. Honestly, this is one book that will not soon be forgotten, and it is one that almost (ALMOST!) made it onto my best books list this past year. If I could have added one more picture book, this would have been it! 

     

    Alamo All StarsNATHAN HALE’S HAZARDOUS TALES: ALAMO ALL-STARS
    by Nathan Hale
    (2016)

    I love the Hazardous Tales graphic novels! They are clever, full of fun facts, and well done. The only reason that this did not make the list is that it is the 6th book in the series. I figured that many people already knew about the Hazardous Tales (and how amazing they are). So this almost made the list…but I opted to add the new graphic novels that were the first in a series instead. So this particular tale tells about the heroes that lived and died at the Alamo (and those who escaped or fought against the Alamo which is why we know so much about that event). There are bits of backstory mingled with humor and jokes (and readers can still laugh at the Provost and the Hangman). Seriously, such great non-fiction put together in one happy package. ALAMO ALL-STARS, if I had one more spot you would have been on the best books list! 

     

    When the Sea Turned to SilverWHEN THE SEA TURNED TO SILVER
    By Grace Lin
    (2016)

    I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. The reason this book did not make our final list is because there were just too many exceptional middle grade novels this year (as if there can ever ACTUALLY be too many). This is the story of the Storyteller’s granddaughter – Pinmei. After the Tiger Emperor kidnaps her grandmother, Pinmei must journey to find the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night – the only thing that might persuade the Emperor to change his mind and release his prisoner. When the Sea Turned to Silver is the third installment in a story that began with WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON but can easily stand alone.  This is not usually the type of book that I would choose for myself - I was definitely reading out of my comfort zone – but I loved this beautiful story even more because of it! I fell in love with the magical and yet familiar world that was crafted in this novel and the way the story weaved together and revealed itself at the end. This book is for everyone to read and enjoy while it warms you like a fuzzy blanket. Too many good books is a problem I like to have but, unfortunately, it means this book just barely missed our best books list. 

     

    Animals by the NumbersANIMALS BY THE NUMBERS: A BOOK OF ANIMAL INFOGRAPHICS
    By Steve Jenkins
    (2016)

    When I was a kid, I don’t remember that there were an excess of really well done informational books. So, I was as surprised as anyone to realize how tight the competition for best non-fiction would be this year. Let me just say, leaving this book off my final list was not a decision I came to easily. ANIMALS BY THE NUMBERS graphically shares all kinds of interesting facts and figures about all kinds of different animals. This book is seriously informative with very simple, straightforward, “good to know” infographics. The minimalist illustrations make the book even more user friendly and they are, frankly, unbelievably striking. If I had space for anymore informational books, this one would be included – no doubt. In the end, ANNIMALS BY THE NUMBERS was beaten out by some very stiff competition. 

     

    The Thank You BookTHE THANK YOU BOOK
    By Mo Willems
    (2016)

    Easy Readers have come a long way recently, mostly thanks to Mo Willems. So, Mo, THANK YOU! This book was left off the final list in part because this is the last in a series and I was hoping that everyone would already know and love Elephant & Piggie. Unfortunately, this book was nudged off the list is because even though it is Mo Willems being excellent, it is not quite as excellent as Mo Willems can be. (We hold him to his own standard). Elephant Gerald & Piggie say goodbye and thank you to their friends, the reader, and each other in this very sweet book that fans of the series will love. If our list for best books could be even one book longer, THE THANK YOU BOOK would be a part of it! 

     

     

  • best books 15 kids

    It's possible you've picked up a bit of a theme this week--in preparation for our Best Books of 2015 event next week, we're teasing some of our librarian's favorite books that came out last year. Next week you can come and hear us talk about our favorite books in a variety of categories: here's a small taste of what you'll find: 

    waitingBest Picture Books
    WAITING
    by Kevin Henkes

    Five friends sit happily on a windowsill, waiting for something amazing to happen. The owl is waiting for the moon. The pig is waiting for the rain. The bear is waiting for the wind. The puppy is waiting for the snow. And the rabbit is just looking out the window because he likes to wait! What will happen? Will patience win in the end? Or someday will the friends stop waiting and do something unexpected?

     

    balletcatBest Easy Readers
    BALLET CAT: THE TOTALLY SECRET SECRET 
    by Bob Shea

    While Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are trying to decide what to play, they each share an important secret.

     

     

     

    littlerobotBest Comics
    LITTLE ROBOT 
    by Ben Hatke

    When a little girl finds an adorable robot in the woods, she presses a button and accidentally activates him for the first time. Now, she finally has a friend. But the big, bad robots are coming to collect the little guy for nefarious purposes, and it's all up to a five-year-old armed only with a wrench and a fierce loyalty to her mechanical friend to save the day!

     

    fishtreeBest Fiction
    FISH IN A TREE
    by Lynda Mully Hunt

    Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

     

    trickyvicBest Nonfiction
    TRICKY VIC: THE IMPOSSIBLY TRUE STORY OF THE MAN WHO SOLD THE EIFFEL TOWER 
    by Greg Pizzoli

    Recounts the life of Victor Lustig, an international con man who had swindled thousands of people, including Al Capone, and was best known for "selling" the Eiffel Tower.

  • BB 2017 FB

    Each year we put together a list of the top 60 best children’s books (according to our children’s librarians). As we have been whittling down our lists some titles are harder to take off—almost painful because they are great books. These five books are fantastic! Truly amazing! Yet they just didn’t make the list. If it was the 65 best children’s books, these titles would have been on there.

    As we keep you in suspense as to our top 60 books (which we will reveal at our Best Books program next Tuesday), take a look at these books that almost made the cut.

    2.14 The Legend of Rock Paper ScissorsTHE LEGEND OF ROCK PAPER SCISSORS
    By Drew Daywalt
    Illustrated by Adam Rex

    This is a great picture book—and I liked it so much that I even bought it! Really, it is a good book. It tells the story of Rock (who lives in the Kingdom of the Backyard) and is the strongest in the land. No one could beat Rock in any challenge. Then (in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office) there lived another warrior named Paper. Once again in this empire there was none who could best Paper. In a third place (the Kitchen Realm) there lived a warrior named Scissors who could not be beaten in all of her challenges. Daywalt and Rex put together a hilarious tale as to why these three warriors battle together (and thus explains the rock, paper, scissors game that children all over the world play). Seriously, this is a pretty funny book. 

     

    2.14 Orphan IslandORPHAN ISLAND
    By Laurel Snyder

    It is not often that you find a Juvenile Fiction title as divisive as this one, or one that can get as many people talking. Orphan Island tells the story of Jinny, a girl who has grown up on a secluded island populated only by nine orphans. Each year, a boat arrives to deliver a new child and the oldest is expected to leave without knowing what awaits them on the boat. But when Jinny’s boat comes, she doesn’t leave and the island – once a perfect, nurturing home – begins to change. This book is in many ways a classic “coming of age” story, but also it isn’t. This book, its setting and its plot are wildly imaginative and are bolstered by truly skillful writing – providing lots of opportunities for discussion. It’s hard to discount the buzz surrounding this book – it’s a National Book Award Longlist Title and it’s on the Mock Newbery list of anyone who has such a list – but it’s also incredible divisive with vocal people arguing about it either way. While this wasn’t one of our favorite books of the year, it’s been discussed too much to leave off our list completely. 

     

    2.14 Real FriendsREAL FRIENDS
    By Shannon Hale
    Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

    Shannon Hale joins up with LeUyen Pham (who also illustrates Shannon’s PRINCESS IN BLACK series) in this graphic novel memoir about making and keeping friends. Shannon and her best friend Adrienne have been best friends since they were little, but when Adrienne becomes friends with the most popular girl in school, things begin to change between them and Shannon questions whether or not she and Adrienne will be able to stay friends. This story is one that most readers will be able to identify with – whether they’ve been bullied by the popular kids or not.  Also, since Shannon Hale is a local author, it’s set in Salt Lake City which is sort of extra fun for kids from Utah. This story is honest and a little heartwarming, and though it didn’t make our final list is a great choice for Raina Telgemeir or Cece Bell fans. 

     

    2.14 Rivers of SunlightRIVERS OF SUNLIGHT: HOW THE SUN MOVES WATER AROUND THE EARTH
    by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

    This is a great nonfiction title (which follows up the brilliant book Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth). Bang and Chisholm explain how water moves around the world thanks to the heat of the sun—both through the sun’s part of the water cycle and due to the sun heating various currents in the oceans. This is a book full of information and facts presented in a picture book format so even the younger scientists can understand how water works and how the sun plays a major part to what happens to the water. 

     

    2.14 Harry Millers RunHARRY MILLER'S RUN
    By David Almond
    Illustrated by Salvatore Rubbin

    Most juvenile intermediate books are formula books—ones where they are part of a series and you can predict that the book will (re)introduce the characters in chapter one, throw in a bit of conflict (usually of the same variety as previous books in the series) in chapter two, etc. Not Harry Miller’s Run. This book is a stand-alone story that is beautifully written AND happens to be a juvenile intermediate book. Liam needs to train for an upcoming race and so he talks to his older neighbor (Harry Miller) who happens to have run the same race when he was younger. This is a great story about something seemingly insignificant (like talking to an elderly neighbor) can actually be interesting, fun, and helpful. Plus, the way Harry Miller tells his tale, readers will almost feel like going out for a jog themselves. Almond has written yet another great story—and lucky for us this one is an intermediate book!

     
  • book friends 01

    Every now and again I read a book and am reminded of another character in an alternative book by a totally different author. And then I think if these two characters lived in the same world…they would totally be friends. So I thought I would share some of my favorite would-be-friends. Here are numbers 10-6 of my favorites (my top five will be shared in a follow-up post). 

    10. HARRY POTTER & PERCY JACKSON

    jackson potter

    Now this might be a love/hate relationship for these two. Both Harry and Percy have this “must save the world” mentality that is coupled with the “must be loyal and save my friends even at the cost of myself” mentality. I think they would both work well to save the world—together. On the other hand, because they are both used to the glory and fame that comes with their death-defying accomplishments, perhaps they would just get on each other’s nerves. And even though Annabeth and Hermione are both great friends to their aforementioned heroes…I’m not so sure that they would actually like each other.

     

    9. FANCY NANCY & THE GIRLS FROM SHOE-LA-LA!

    FN SLL HOTY

    Most people know all about Fancy Nancy. And yes, she is fancy! And she likes big, fancy words. But many people don’t actually know about the girls from SHOE-LA-LA! by Karen Beaumont (there is also a sequel called HATS OFF TO YOU!). Now these four best friends are all into fashion and being fancy. And they are all into exploring what type of fancy they like (what shoes are their favorites, what hats are their favorites). Basically, it is four friends that enjoy being fancy (and on occasion casual) just as much as Fancy Nancy. Seriously, these girls could all be presidents of the “Pink and Sparkly” club.

     

    8. CLEMENTINE & RAMONA

    Clementine Ramona

    Even though these two spunky girls were not written in the same decades, they have quite a bit in common. Clementine is a girl who loves her family and tends to get into a lot of mischief. Ramona also loves her family and always finds herself in a scrape or two. Both girls could share stories about what it is like to be loved yet sometimes misunderstood by family. And both have been frustrated with their siblings (though Clementine’s is younger and Ramona’s is older). All-in-all these two could be a whole heap of trouble if they lived in the same neighborhood—for it is certain that they could become the best of friends. 

    7. ANNE & BETSY

    Anne Betsy

    Most people know Anne from ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. Anne is smart and imaginative; loyalty to friends is important to her. Plus she lived around the turn of the century (1899/1900s) in Canada. Betsy is a little less known (but just as fun to read). Betsy also is smart, imaginative, and fiercely loyal to her friends. Betsy and Anne are both writers who love stories. They both fall in love with the boy next door (as well as have a little spat with said boy next door). Only it happens much later in Betsy’s series than it does in Anne’s. And Betsy’s story takes place in Minnesota (arguably just as cold as parts of Canada) around the 1910s. Basically, if these two characters lived in the same place, they would have been friends (or kindred spirits) who had all sorts of adventures together!

     

    6. SNOW WHITE & CINDERELLA

    Snow Ella

    This one seems like a given. I mean, who wouldn’t think that two princesses would be good friends with each other. Only, I’m talking about two specific versions of Snow White and Cinderella. The book SNOW WHITE by Matt Phelan is a graphic novel that throws a 1920s spin on the classic tale. The picture book ELLA’S BIG CHANCE by Shirley Hughes is a Jazz-Age story of Cinderella that also takes place in the roaring 20s. Both of these girls have to find the courage to stand up to their evil stepmothers. Both of these girls have good friends that help them through the really horrid times. And even though they both don’t actually end up with a “prince,” they both find true love and live happily ever after.

     

     

  • book friends 01

    Last week I shared some of my favorite characters that should be friends. This week I am sharing the next five sets of characters that should meet, hang out, and become besties. Seriously, these characters often have a whole lot in common. Here are my top five.

    Do you know of any book characters that you think should be friends?

    5. FRANK EINSTEIN & GRANDPA MELVIN

    Frank Goldfish

    Frank Einstein is a scientist who loves inventing things. He is somewhat of a mixture of Albert Einstein and Frankenstein. Frank works tirelessly on science project after science project. And he also saves the world on the side. Grandpa from THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH is also quite a scientist. He has invented a way to become “young” again. Grandpa Melvin might be a bad teenager this go-round, but he still loves science and family (which makes me think that he would have no problem becoming friends with Frank Einstein as he journeys to becoming one of the greatest kid inventors and scientists of all time—as long as they both didn’t want to invent the same things…). The only thing I wonder is, who would become the better scientist—Frank or Grandpa Melvin?

    4. THE PIGEON & GRUMPY BIRD 

    Pigeon Bird

    I don’t know if these two characters will actually get along—because they are the most moody birds I have ever read about! However, they both are fowls that have very deep (and dramatic) feelings. The Pigeon wants to drive a bus, have a puppy, eat a cookie, and not go to bed or take a bath. And he tends to have a tantrum around page 20 or so. Grumpy Bird is quite grumpy (and in the sequel is pretty hungry!). Grumpy Bird doesn’t know how to show his feelings, especially when his friends are trying to copy him. And this leads to a bit of a tantrum for Grumpy Bird as well. Seriously, these two birds could be friends—or at least theoretical friends.

     

    3. CEDAR LEE & CATHERINE

    Summerlost Rules

    Cedar Lee from the book SUMMERLOST by Ally Condie is trying to figure out her life after a horrible accident killed her dad and younger brother, Ben. Cedar struggles with the mixed feelings of missing her family and being relieved that Ben (who was somewhere on the autistic scale) isn’t around to frustrate her. Catherine from the book RULES by Cynthia Lord also has an autistic brother. Catherine is often frustrated by the complexity of her family dynamic; however, Catherine fiercely loves her brother. I believe that if Cedar and Catherine were living in the same neighborhood (or the same book), they would have been friends. They would have so much to talk about: from the frustrations, challenges, and joys of being a big sister to an autistic brother to life, love and all that is in-between. Seriously, these two book characters should be friends.

     

    2. GARVEY & JOSH BELL

    Garvey Crossover

    In the book GARVEY’S CHOICE by Nikki Grimes, Garvey is told by his father that he should participate in sports. Garvey doesn’t actually like sports (he totally rocks at singing), but he does want to please his father. He comes from a great family that cares about each other. (His sister even distracts their dad when she knows Garvey needs a distraction, and Garvey’s mom is often seen trying to help the dad figure out what is important to Garvey.) Josh Bell, on the other hand, is the star of his basketball team (with his brother Jordan) in the book THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander. Josh is trying to figure out who he is through both basketball and poetry. Josh also comes from a great family. His mom and dad are ultra-supportive. And even though Josh doesn’t always get along with his brother, Jordan, they are a good support (overall) to each other. Both Garvey and Josh have dads who love sports. They both have good families. Basically, they could be the type of people who could be friends if they went to the same school. And I think these two would be a good balance of perspective for each other. So, it may be a little bit of a stretch, but I think these two characters could really be quite good friends.

     

    1. MOLLY AND KIP & KATHERINE, ROBBIE, AND AMELIE

    Charmed Gardener

    In THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSILL CASTLE by Janet S. Fox, Katherine, Robbie, and Amelie have to figure out why so many children are disappearing at the boarding school where they stay during the London Blitz. In THE NIGHT GARDENER by Jonathan Auxier, Molly and Kip are two orphans who have to earn their keep while staying away from a sinister evil that stalks them and their household at night. In both of these children’s horror stories the kids have to solve the mystery of what is happening before they become the next victims of the evil. Both take place in out-of-the-way grand English country homes, and all of these kids (though especially Katherine and Molly) show a lot of grit, pluck, and determination. Seriously, I bet these characters could sit together around a camp fire in the summer and swap scary stories…and then laugh over the similarities of it all. Then they might go out and save the world from another evil together. Yeah, they totally would be friends!

     

     

  • BFYR 2

     The best part of reading is getting lost in another world. The easiest way to do that is reading something by a good writer. Deborah Wiles fits that bill. It is easy to become friends with the characters she creates and become emotionally involved in their world. Most of her work is set in the Southern United States in the 1960s, and whether you were around in the 60s or not, you feel like you are there as you read her work. How lucky we are to have her coming for the Symposium on Books for Young Readers on July 13-14.  

    Wiles uses her own life experiences as a place to create her stories. On her website, she describes each of her books within the context of the life experiences and emotions she channeled to write the story. Even some of the characters are based on real people in her life. The grandma in "Love, Ruby Lavender" is based on her own grandma Eula, who shares the same name as the grandma in the book. Friendship and family are strong themes throughout a lot of her writing. 

    After researching about Wiles, my favorite part of her website is her life notice rather than an end-of-life notice. The notice is written by a fictional character, Comfort Snowberger, from her book "Each Little Bird That Sings.” The life notice is very detailed and hilarious. It is geared toward younger students and children who are doing research on Wiles, but I found it enjoyable and informative as a full-grown person. 

    In reading about her, I learned that Wiles didn't realize as a child she could be a writer when she grew up, but becoming a mother was something she had always wanted to do. In her 20's she decided she could write while also spending time being a mother to her 4 children. She became a writer after years of hard work, writing, rewriting, and more hard work. Her dedication to her dream pushed her to submit work that was rejected. She decided to go back to school in her forties, pursuing her desire to become a writer. Her perseverance is remarkable, and now she is an accomplished author with many of her popular books receiving recognition awards. She regularly uses her own experiences to teach others about writing.  

    Here are a couple of her picture books that I’ve read and enjoyed: 

    7.5.17 Freedom SummerFREEDOM SUMMER
    Written by Deborah Wiles
    Illustrated by Jermone Lagarrigue
    (2001) 

    This picture book was inspired by the summer when the Civil Rights Act was passed in the United States in 1964. Two boys of different ethnicities have a friendship that involves swimming in the lake. They are excited to finally be able to swim together at the pool, but find that change can be difficult, even good changes. I had never looked at the passing of the Civil Rights Act in the light of children and how they might have been affected. Through it all, friendship is the theme. 

    7.5.17 One Wide SkyONE WIDE SKY 
    Written by Deborah Wiles
    Illustrated by Tim Bowers
    (2003) 

    Wiles’ other picture book is actually a lullaby. When she shares it at schools and with others she includes the music. She dedicates it “For my children, remembering our days together under one wide sky.” 

    Want something a little longer? Wiles has written plenty of longer titles for children. Here are some owned by the Provo Library: 

    7.5.17 Love Ruby LavenderLOVE, RUBY LAVENDER
    Written by Deborah Wiles
    (2001) 

     

     

     

     

     

    7.5.17 The Aurora County All StarsAURORA COUNTY ALL-STARS
    Written by Deborah Wiles
    (2007)

     

     

     

     

     

    7.5.17 Each Little Bird that SingsEACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS
    Written by Deborah Wiles
    (2005)

     

     

     

     

    7.5.17 CountdownCOUNTDOWN
    Written by Deborah Wiles
    (2010) 

     

     

     

     

     

    7.5.17 RevolutionREVOLUTION
    Written by Deborah Wiles
    (2014)

     

     

     

     

     

  • Jen Bryant

    According to Jen Bryant, the most important skills an author can have are patience, perseverance, a love of language, good observational skills, and self-discipline. This is reflected in what and how she writes. Jen Bryant’s many published books cover a wide variety of topics, both fiction and nonfiction, including poetry books and over a dozen biographies. She likes to find a subject that has been written about for adults and try to make that subject into something younger audiences would enjoy. In interviews Jen has said that she loves the researching process. It’s like a scavenger hunt to find the most interesting details about something true. When she researches a topic for one of her books, it is an extensive and exciting process that involves reading books and articles, watching movies, videos, and plays, giving interviews, and visiting museums, archives, special collections, and small towns where historic events occurred. Jen then takes all of this information and crafts beautiful, detailed, and personal picture books, biographies, and poems.  

    We are thrilled to host Jen Bryant at BYU’s Symposium on Books for Young Readers. Before she comes, check out some of her books.

    7.14 Six DotsSIX DOTS: A STORY OF YOUNG LOUIS BRAILLE
    Written by Jen Bryant
    Illustrated by Boris Kulikov
    (2016)

    An inspiring picture-book biography of Louis Braille--a blind boy so determined to read that he invented his own alphabet.

     

     

    7.11.17 A River of WordsA RIVER OF WORDS: THE STORY OF WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
    Written by Jen Bryant
    Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
    (2016)

    This picture book biography of William Carlos Williams traces childhood events that lead him to become a doctor and a poet.

     

    7.13 Pieces of GeorgiaPIECES OF GEORGIA
    By Jen Bryant
    (2007) 

    An accessible novel in poems, Pieces of Georgia offers an endearing protagonist-an aspiring artist, a grieving daughter, a struggling student, a genuine friend-and the poignant story of a broken family coming together.

     

     

     

    7.14 Ringside 1925RINGSIDE 1925: VIEWS FROM THE SCOPES TRIAL
    By Jen Bryant
    (2007) 

    The year is 1925, and the students of Dayton, Tennessee, are ready for a summer of fishing, swimming, and drinking root beer floats at Robinson's Drugstore. But when their science teacher, J. T. Scopes, is arrested for having taught Darwin's theory of evolution, it seems it won't be an ordinary summer in Dayton.

     

     

    7.14 A Splash of RedA SPLASH OF RED: THE LIFE AND ART OF HORACE PIPPIN
    By Jen Bryant
    Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
    (2009) 

    Presents an illustrated introduction to the life and work of artist Horace Pippin, describing his childhood love for drawing and the World War I injury that challenged his career.

     

     

    7.13 The Fortune of Carmen NavarroFORTUNE OF CARMEN NAVARRO
    By Jen Bryant
    (2011) 

    Inspired by the novella and opera Carmen, Jen Bryant creates a strong-minded and alluring heroine in this contemporary tale of tragic love

     

     

     

  • BFYR 6

    Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s many picture books have won her the Caldecott Honor Award twice and the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award twice, as well as many other awards. She has also exhibited her art at multiple galleries, and she won an Emmy Award for her work in the network television business as an animator and designer. 

    Laura grew up on Long Island where she began drawing at the age of two. Later she received her BFA at State University of New York. According to her website, “Laura has been an artist and a writer for as long as she can remember and has always wanted to make picture books for children. In the fifth grade, she’d written an essay that stated with absolute certainty that she was born to make picture books. By that time, she had written and illustrated her own little library.” 

    Laura brings bold colors, important learning concepts, and new ways of looking at the world together in a way that both kids and adults love. The Provo Library is very excited to have picture book author/illustrator Laura Vaccaro Seeger coming to BYU’s Books for Young Readers Symposium this week. Check out a few of these great titles: 

    7.12.17 GreenGREEN
    (2012) 

    With die-cut pages and rhyming text, Seeger explores the many shades that one color can have. The reader sees examples from nature of jungle green, khaki green, fern green, and a few greens they would never expect. This book won the Caldecott Honor Award and is bound to be a classic. 

     

    7.12.17 First the EggFIRST THE EGG
    (2007) 

    This picture book presents various forms of transformation: first the tadpole, then the frog. As expected with Seeger, some of the pairings are a delightful surprise. This book is a great way to introduce young children to ideas of cause and effect, life cycles, and the interconnectedness of our world. 

     

    7.12.17 Dog and BearDOG AND BEAR:TWO FRIENDS, THREE STORIES
    (2007)

    A stuffed bear and an energetic dachshund join the ranks of great friendship duos to be found in easy reader titles. They help each other, laugh together, and have adventures. These short and sweet tales with simple text are perfect for young children just learning to read on their own. 

     

     

     

    7.12.17 I Used to Be AfraidI USED TO BE AFRAID
    (2015) 

    This simple story shows examples of things a little girl used to be afraid of, such as spiders and dark shadows, and how she conquered those fears by seeing each thing in a new light – being awed by the beautiful intricacy of a spider’s web or making shadow puppets on the walls. This is a great way to start a conversation about fear with young children.

     

     

  • BFYR 7

    In the library world we sometimes don’t expect our favorite authors to also be jocks. But notable Books for Young Readers guest Matt de la Peña got his bachelor’s degree paid for on a full basketball scholarship from the University of the Pacific. Matt later went on to receive his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University, which pacifies our authorial expectations a bit.

    Matt has certainly drawn on his life experiences to write his books. He has said that growing up, he could never have imagined becoming an award winning author: “Me and books? Reading? Nah, man, I was a working class kid. A half-Mexican hoop head. I spent all my after school hours playing ball down at the local pick-up spot off Birmingham. I dreamed of pretty girls and finger rolls over outstretched hands… But age has a way of giving a guy perspective.”

    But a glance at Matt’s picture will show that he isn’t very old for the success he’s had as an author. However, much of his writing has filled an important niche, often featuring under-privileged ethnic children who have to learn to navigate life and a system that seems to be pushing against them. The books have made such an impact that during his career he has won many awards, including New York Times Bestseller, ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA-YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Notable Book for a Global Society, Junior Library Guild Selection, Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Literature Blue Ribbon List, NYC Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age, Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, and, of course, the 2016 Newbery Award. His debut novel, BALL DON'T LIE, was even made into a movie in 2011 starring Ludacris, Nick Cannon, Emelie de Ravin, Grayson Boucher, and Rosanna Arquette.

    Matt’s 2016 Newbery Award was especially distinctive and rare since Last Stop on Market Street is a picture book, a format that rarely receives this award. Of this book and his others, Matt said in his Newbery acceptance speech, “sometimes when you grow up outside the reach of the American Dream, you’re in a better position to record the truth. That we don’t all operate under the same set of rules. That our stories aren’t all assigned the same value in the eyes of decision Makers.”

    We are so happy to host Matt de la Peña at the library during BYU’s Books for Young Readers symposium, and hope you’ll take the chance to check out some of his books before his visit. Here are a few that can get you started:

    PICTURE BOOKS:

    7.13 Last Stop on Market StreetLAST STOP ON MARKET STREET
    By Matt de la Peña
    Illustrated by Christian Robinson
    (2015)

    “A young boy, CJ, rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things.”

     

     

     

    A nations hopeA NATION’S HOPE: THE STORY OF BOXING LEGEND JOE LOUIS
    By Matt de la Peña
    Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
    (2013)

    “Biography of boxer Joe Louis and his historic fight with German Max Schmeling.”

     

     

     

    YA NOVELS:

    7.13 Mexican White BoyMEXICAN WHITEBOY
    By Matt de la Peña
    (2008)

    “Sixteen-year-old Danny searches for his identity amidst the confusion of being half-Mexican and half-white while spending a summer with his cousin and new friends on the baseball fields and back alleys of San Diego County, California.”

     

     

     

     

    7.13 The LivingTHE LIVING
    By Matt de la Peña
    (2013)

    “After an earthquake destroys California and a tsunami wrecks the luxury cruise ship where he is a summer employee, high schooler Shy confronts another deadly surprise.”

     

     

     

     

  • BFYR 5

    Author and Illustrator Melissa Sweet claims she has been making art ever since she could hold a crayon, scissors, Etch-A-Sketch, or coloring book. She can certainly back up this claim since she has now illustrated over 100 published picture books! We can’t cover all of them in this post, but I've selected a few of my favorite picture book biographies illustrated by Melissa Sweet that you do not want to miss out on. And don't forget that Melissa is coming to the library for the BYU Books for Young Reader's Symposium on July 13-14.

    7.11.17 Baloons over BroadwayBALLOONS OVER BROADWAY: THE TRUE STORY OF THE PUPPETEER OF MACY’S PARADE
    Written and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
    (2011)

    It’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving without the Macy’s Parade and their giant helium balloons. In BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY, you learn how Tony Sarg, a puppeteer, brought his imagination and genius to the Macy’s parade with the introduction of helium balloons in 1928, forever changing the parade.

    7.11.17 Some WriterSOME WRITER: THE STORY OF E.B. WHITE
    Written and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
    (2016)

    Sweet’s work and life motto is “Be tidy. Be brave.” from Charlotte’s Web, so it seems appropriate she would write a biography on the author E.B. White. Using a mixture of White’s personal letters and photos, intermixed with Sweet’s artwork, the life of E.B. White comes alive. Old and young will appreciate this picture book biography.

     

    7.11.17 The Right WordTHE RIGHT WORD: ROGET AND HIS THESAURUS
    Written by Jen Bryant
    Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
    (2014)

    Peter Mark Roget was a book worm who loved to organize words into lists. Lots and lots of lists that helped him find the right word to describe how he felt. Those lists grew to become one of the standard reference books in homes and libraries. Can you imagine trying to write a paper today without a thesaurus?

     

    7.11.17 A River of WordsA RIVER OF WORDS: THE STORY OF WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
    Written by Jen Bryant
    Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
    (2008)

    A RIVER OF WORDS uses mixed media art that earned Sweet a Caldecott Honor award. It is the biography of Williams Carlos Williams, a physician who never gave up his dream of being a poet. Williams' free verse style of writing is perfectly accompanied by Sweet's artwork, which was researched to fit the time period when Williams was writing.

     

  • BFYR 3

    The Books for Young Readers Symposium is a pretty exciting event when we get to have some big names in Children’s literature come and visit our library. It’s always wonderful to have authors in our library, but it’s even more exciting when we get to have famous, local authors like Tess Hilmo stop by. 

    Tess Hilmo is a Southern California native who attended Brigham Young University where she studied Communications. She had a few different careers before becoming a published author here in Utah and then in California, where her family moved when her husband started medical school. What is so impressive about Tess Hilmo’s career is that even though she didn’t start as an author, once she decided to write she was very persistent. 

    She started her first novel while pregnant with her second child, and it took twelve years for WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE to be published. This debut novel achieved critical acclaim—receiving both a Kirkus and Booklist starred review. Since then, Hilmo has written two other middle grade novels, each met with positive critical attention. 

    Tess Hilmo’s repertoire is impressive—each of her three novels is unique in setting, and you could read all three back to back without a feeling of repetition. Her stories are engaging and interesting, and all feature likable characters who are easy to identify with but still different from one another. 

    To read more about Tess Hilmo and her journey to become a successful author, check out her website! You should also check out a few of these great books owned by the Provo Library: 

    7.6.17 With a Name Like LoveWITH A NAME LIKE LOVE
    Tess Hilmo
    (2011) 

    Thirteen-year-old Olivene Love gets tangled up in a murder mystery when her itinerant preaching family arrives in the small town of Binder, Arkansas in 1957. 

     

     


    7.6.17 Skies Like TheseSKIES LIKE THESE
    By Tess Hilmo
    (2014) 

    While visiting her eccentric aunt who lives in Wyoming, twelve-year-old Jade befriends a boy who believes he is a descendant of Butch Cassidy. 

     

     

     

    7.6.17 Cinnamon MoonCINNAMON MOON
    By Tess Hilmo
    (2016) 

    Historical fiction about two siblings and a friend trying to find a new family and a home after the Great Chicago Fire.

     

     

     

  • childrens collection 01

  • There are three major classic children’s mysteries series: Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and The Boxcar Children. Who hasn’t read at least one of these timeless adventures? They are still hugely popular, and new incarnations are being released on a regular basis.

    Thinking about these great series reminded me of the “Head to Head” books, a series that makes predictions about what would happen if one person/animal/fantasy character went to battle with another. They analyze strengths and weakness of each opponent and make guesses about final outcomes. Just for fun, let’s pretend these mystery series were virtual warriors, and they were locked in literary battle with each other. Which one would emerge as the most “boss” children’s mystery series ever? Here are the stats. You decide.

    childrens mystery series 01

    If you haven’t read a Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children or Hardy Boys in a while, why not pick up a copy?

    Nancy Drew #1: THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK 

    Hardy Boys #1 : THE TOWER TREASURE

    The Boxcar Children #1: THE BOXCAR CHILDREN

  • In honor of the most recent addition to the Star Wars franchise, here's a quick glance at the Star Wars offerings in the Children's Department! 

    star wars kids 01

  • threenager

    Over the past two years, I’ve checked in periodically to share my son’s favorite books. It’s been fun to look back on his past favorites (as a one-year-old and then as a toddler), and to see his interests growing up and diversifying as he gets older. It's possible that as his parent, I find these posts more interesting than anyone else, but I feel like it’s worth checking in on the blog every year, because whether you’re reading to a baby or a toddler or a threenager, you always need good books.

    Now that Calvin is three, he’s a little bit more interested in reading lots of different kinds of books rather than the same books over and over. As you’ll see, he spends a lot of time in the 500’s (nonfiction animal books), but he also loves Dr. Seuss and Mo Willems.

    It’s getting harder to pick his favorites; what I’ve chosen to highlight here are the books that Calvin keeps asking us to get every time he comes to the library (which is often). There’s also a strong bent toward books that I enjoy reading out loud, because if you are also someone who spends a lot of time reading to children, you will know that not all books are created equal in this regard. I want Calvin to have books he’s interested in, but our reading is a shared experience, and it’s nice if I can enjoy it too.

     

    4.19 SpidersSPIDERS
    by Nic Bishop
    (2007)

    Calvin is obsessed with bugs and creepy crawly things. When we go to the aquarium, he runs to see the bird-eating tarantula; when we play outside, much time is devoted to catching and attempting to feed various insects (Calvin is always dismayed that Box Elder Bugs don’t seem interested in sticking around for the feast he’s created out of grass and twigs). I credit a lot of this interest to a copy of SPIDERS by Nic Bishop that I brought home from our Used Book Store. 

    If you have small people living in your house and haven’t checked out Nic Bishop’s books yet, repent immediately and get them. Nic Bishop is a photographer first, and it shows. However, one of my favorite things about his books is that they offer a lot of information but remain easy to read aloud (a surprisingly difficult balance to strike!). Calvin’s favorites so far are SPIDERS, BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS, and SNAKES, but we haven’t really met a Nic Bishop book we haven’t liked.

     

    4.19 Zombie MakersZOMBIE MAKERS: TRUE STORIES OF NATURE’S UNDEAD 
    by Rebecca L. Johnson
    (2013)

    This book is cool and gross. Calvin loved it so much we exhausted our renewal options from the library. For the first week we had it, Calvin asked for this book by saying, “Can we read that book that has that worm coming out of that girl’s leg?” Great bedtime book or stuff of nightmares? You decide… 

    ZOMBIE MAKERS is about parasitic organisms that cause involuntary reactions in their hosts’ bodies. From a fungus that makes a fly stop flying (does that mean it’s called a walk?) to a virus that makes rats attracted to cats, this book makes you realize how bizarre the world can be. It also makes me realize that wasps are the biggest jerks in the animal kingdom. You’ll have to read more to find out why! 

     

    4.19 Pigeon NeedsTHE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH
    by Mo Willems
    (2014)

    It’s hard to choose which Mo Willems book is Calvin’s favorite; between the Elephant and Piggie books and the Pigeon books, there’s usually at least one of them in the bedtime lineup. But THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH was our first, and I credit it for teaching my toddler the phrase “That is a matter of opinion!”, so it gets the feature here. 

    I love voicing the pigeon. He is witty; he is funny; he is easily exasperated. I laugh every time when he complains that the bath water is “too reflective.” The pigeon is, really, an eloquent toddler, incredibly stubborn until he’s forced to try something new and discovers that it’s his new favorite thing. I think the character of the pigeon hits on the sometimes absurdity of these small people that share our houses, and helps us all laugh a little at those times when someone refuses to bathe or asks again and again to do something that they aren’t allowed to do. 

     

    4.19 Bartholomew OobleckBARTHOLOMEW & THE OOBLECK
    by Dr. Seuss
    (1949)

    I said I only wanted to share books that I enjoyed reading, but I lied a little bit. Maybe you are more Dr. Seuss savvy than I, but the thing that surprised me when we first read this book together is that it does not rhyme! I try not to be bothered by it, but it’s a bit strange read a Dr. Seuss book without that Dr. Seuss signature cadence.   

    BARTHOLOMEW AND THE OOBLECK is the story of a king’s disastrous decision to try to rule the sky as well. In his hubris, he asks for his magicians to create something to fall from the sky other than the standard sun, rain, and snow his kingdom is used to. What he gets is oobleck, a sticky green goo that mucks everything up. I don’t know why Calvin loves this book, but he asked to check it out every time we came to the library, even if we already had it checked out (at one point we had two copies from two different libraries). My only thought is that he really likes the look of various people and livestock covered in green goop. 

     

    4.19 Ballet Cat SecretBALLET CAT: THE TOTALLY SECRET SECRET
    by Bob Shea
    (2015)

    Calvin really likes all the Ballet Cat books, but I think that THE TOTALLY SECRET SECRET is his favorite favorite. Like many easy readers, this one’s done all in dialogue, and is especially fun if you can have two readers to voice the different characters. We love the simple art; we love the different colored pages; we love this story about friends learning that it’s important to listen to each other. Our only complaint about the Ballet Cat books is that there aren’t more of them!