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  • 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).

     

     

  • princesses and animals 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.So, with no further ado, we bring you 6 Degrees of Reading, Princesses and Animals (picture books).

    FALLING FOR RAPUNZEL
    by Leah Wilcox; illustrated by Lydia Monks
    (2003)

    Upon hearing a prince’s call, princess Rapunzel throws out what she thinks the prince is asking for—but from clothes to maids, Rapunzel tosses the wrong items out, much to the prince’s chagrin. 

    PETE THE CAT AND HIS FOUR GROOVY BUTTONS
    by Eric Litwin; illustrated by James Dean
    (2012)

    As Pete the Cat goes about his day, he deals with a constant problem with his clothes—his buttons keep falling off! Can Pete the Cat still keep a smile even while counting and losing his buttons?

    CHA CHA CHIMPS
    by Julia Durango; illustrated by Eleanor Taylor
    (2006)

    Ten little chimps sneak off to dance the cha-cha, and one by one, readers count down as various chimps get distracted by other types of dancing—until Mama Chimp comes to find her wayward children and send them all off to bed.      

    WIGGLE
    by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Scott Menchin
    (2005)

    Told in rhyme, this book features a dog who shows little readers how to dance or wiggle before falling asleep.

    SILLY DOGGY!
    by Adam Stower
    (2012)

    A young girl named Lily finds a bear in her garden and assumes it is a dog. The mistaken identity causes loads of mishaps and comedy as she discovers what really makes a “silly doggy.”

    THE PRINCESS AND THE PIG
    by Jonathan Emmett; illustrated by Poly Bernatene
    (2011)

    When a baby princess and a baby pig are accidentally swapped, the pig is raised as a princess and the princess is raised on a farm. Can the princess, pig and the rest of the kingdom ever figure out this case of mistaken identity

  • 6 degrees header 01

    So there are a lot of bunny picture books. Even better there are A LOT of GOOD bunny picture books. There are so many that I can play the 6 Degrees of Reading game just with bunny picture books! So, not only will I tell you how all these books are connected…but just keep in mind that all these books have BUNNIES in them as well. 

    bunnies bunnies bunnies 01

    LION VS. RABBIT LION VS. RABBIT
    by Alex Latimer
    (2013)

    Lion is a bully. He is mean to all the other animals. One day the animals have decided that they have had enough! So they put out an ad to hopefully find someone who will teach lion a lesson. In comes Rabbit. Lion doesn’t think Rabbit is any match for him, so Lion let’s Rabbit decide what the contest will be. If Rabbit wins, Lion will need to be nice. Only Lion’s plan isn’t going so well for Lion. He loses. Then he loses again. Finally he admits defeat to Rabbit and promises to be nice. All the other animals are happy. And while they thank Rabbit for all his hard work they realize that their perception of Rabbit was wrong—for there were really LOTS of Rabbits (not just one Rabbit). And the group effort is what saved the day.

    DUCK! RABBIT!
    By Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld
    (2009)

    An illustration causes a lot of commotion in this book. Two unseen narrators have conflicting opinions as to whether what they see is a duck or a rabbit. Therefore readers must determine which perception is correct—is the illustration really a duck or a rabbit? With bold black lines and white space readers really will have no other clues as to what the illustration could be and therefore must use their imagination.

    LITTLE WHITE RABBIT
    by Kevin Henkes
    (2011)

    A little white rabbit hops along through fields. While hopping along the little white rabbit uses his imagination to think about what life would be like if he was green like the grass or as tall as the fir trees. Each moment of moving through the field sparks another thought as to what life could be like. However, when the little white rabbit notices a cat he hurries and hops back to his family where he feels safe and loved.

    BETTY BUNNY LOVES CHOCOLATE CAKE
    by Michael B. Kaplan, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
    (2011)

    Betty Bunny is very sure about a lot of things—and she has no qualms about telling her family her opinions. One day when Betty’s mom introduces her to chocolate cake Betty is SURE that she WILL NOT like eating that strange thing. After a lot of cajoling and coaxing Betty tries the cake—and discovers that she LOVES it (enough that she wants to marry the chocolate cake). Eventually Betty learns lots of other lessons about chocolate cake (such as she shouldn’t put it in her pocket). But the biggest lesson she learns (maybe, she still is really opinionated) is that she might need to try other food that her mom suggests that she should try.

    HANDS OFF MY HONEY!
    by Jane Chapman, illustrated by Tim Warnes
    (2013)

    A great big scary bear stomps into a hollow and yells, “I have a great big jar of delicious honey! And it is ALL mine!” Then Bear sits down to slurp the sweet, sticky food. A mouse, two rabbit brothers, and a mole decide that they want some of the sweet stuff and start to sneak toward Bear to see if they can nip some. With a surprising (and happy) ending, readers will laugh at the conclusion and may want to play their own sort of “bear game.” Seriously, little kiddos will want to read this book again and again.

    THE TERRIBLE PLOP
    by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Andrew Joyner
    (2009)

    A group of little bunnies are eating cake by a lake when all of the sudden they hear a terrible noise! The scared little creatures hightail it though the forest where they alert other animals (anything from elephants to kangaroos) why they are running for their lives. Just as they are all about to get away a big bear asks what is going on. When he declares that there couldn’t be anything that is bigger and scarier than him he bullies the smallest little rabbit to show him the horrible creature. The scared little bunny takes Bear back to the spot where they heard the horrid noise—and once again they hear it. Only this time the bear runs for his life while the little bunny realizes that he really shouldn’t be afraid of a “silly old plop.”               

  • 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!

     

     

  • childrens book displays 01

  • Fairy Tea By the Numbers 01

  • odyssey committee 01

    As you may know, the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards were announced earlier this week. As you may not know, Joella, our Children's Services Manager, spent much of 2015 listening to audio books as part of the Odyssey Award Committee. 

    The Odyssey Award  is given to the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States. This year's prize went to The War that Saved My Life, written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and narrated by Jayne Entwistle. You can check it out on CD or find it on OverDrive. 

  • newbery 01

  •  

     

    cooking with kiddos

    Cooking and libraries are friends. It may not seem like it due to the fact that libraries don’t have kitchens where people can come and cook. But they do have shelves and shelves of cookbooks. Seriously, there are so many books that people can check out that teaches them how to make so many scrumptious things. And every month one of our staff members blogs about a recipe she has made from one of our cookbooks. Seriously. Check out her last Cooking the Books post. Once you read it you will know that the library loves cooking!  

    Since I work in the Children’s Department, I am interested in the cooking books we have for kids. We also have some shelves with kid cookbooks. And I know a lot of kids who like to cook. They love being “helpers” that measure, dump in, or mix ingredients (although really they specialize in making messes…). Then I got to thinking about what picture books there are that deal with cooking. These aren’t the cookbooks that have recipes to make things, but more of the stories where characters actually do some cooking.  

    Turns out there are A LOT of picture books that talk about cooking. And in looking at my favorites of these books I realized that there are quite a few specifically about making soup. Who knew?!? So next time you make soup, let the little ones dump stuff in, stir it around a bit, and then pull out one of these fun soup making books and read while dinner simmers.   

    rainbow stewRAINBOW STEW
    by Cathryn Falwell
    (2013)

    In this book three kiddos are visiting their grandpa. It is raining so Grandpa suggests that they make rainbow stew. This means they tromp outside in their raincoats and pick all sorts of colors from Grandpa’s garden. Then they come inside and get cooking. While the soup is simmering, Grandpa reads books to the kiddos. (See, totally a good idea, eh?) Plus as a bonus there is a recipe for the rainbow stew at the end of the book.  

    gazpacho for nachoGAZPACHO FOR NACHO
    by Tracey Kyle,  illustrated by Carolina Farías
    (2014)

    This is another book where a kid is cooking soup (I did warn you about that, right?). In this case it is gazpacho soup for a kid named Nacho. Nacho is a kid that is super picky. He doesn’t want to eat anything other than gazpacho—so his mom teaches him how to cook. Then Nacho realizes that he likes cooking and just maybe he should eat more than just his favorite soup. And just like RAINBOW STEW there is the bonus of a recipe at the end of the book.  

    stone soupSTONE SOUP
    by Marcia Brown
    (1986)

    This book is a classic! It is a tale about three soldiers who are on their way home from war. They stop in a village and try to get something to eat. Only, not many people are willing to help—until they trick them all into making stone soup! So, not only does the whole town make soup together, but this book could be a catalyst to talk to kiddos about what being nice and neighborly means to you.  

     

    fandango stewFANDANGO STEW
    by David Davis, illustrated by Ben Galbraith
    (2011)

    This is a retelling of the classic tale STONE SOUP (see above). The twist in here is that the characters and the setting have a Wild, Wild West flare as well as some Spanish words sprinkled in the text. Anyway, the grandpa and grandson in this story help the people of the town of Skinflint realize that being generous is just as important as anything else. And there are cowboy hats. Imagine cooking soup with cowboy hats! Wouldn’t that be fun?  

     

    is that wise pigIS THAT WISE, PIG?
    by Jan Thomas
    (2016)

    In this silly story Cow, Mouse, and Pig are making soup. (But you probably figured that out since all of these books have been about soup, right?) Cow and Mouse add sensible ingredients (like vegetables). But Pig is silly and tries to add things like galoshes. This book is especially fun since little kiddos will giggle at the fact that they know not to add umbrellas to soup and Pig doesn’t! Seriously. This is hilarious! If you only read one making soup book with toddlers…then this is the book you should choose to read.  

    that is not a good ideaTHAT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA
    by Mo Willems
    (2013)

    So, this is a bonus book for you. It is a book about making a soup for dinner—only there is a secret ingredient that might not be 100% something that you would add to your soup dinners. So, please read this. And laugh. (Just don’t blame me if the kiddos wonder if the secret ingredient is in your soup…)  

     

    Hopefully you and the kiddos in your life will love making soup and reading these books. What type of soup is popular in your households?   

  • americana

    In my family the Fourth of July was a big deal. My family loved to celebrate the birth of the United States of America. We knew who the founding fathers were. Because of this I tend to pay attention to the many myriad of picture books that are published about Americana themes. Here are my top five favorite Americana picture books to get even the younger readers in the mood for any patriotic holiday. 

    1JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, AND BEN
    by Lane Smith
    (2006)

    John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, and Ben Franklin are four of the most famous early American patriots. In this humorous picture book author and illustrator Lane Smith explains why these four men were so important. Smith also throws in a few tidbits for the adults who will tend to read this book to youngsters by comparing these patriots to another John, Paul, George and…Ringo who also made a historical impact.

    2ABE’S HONEST WORDS: THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
    by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
    (2008)

    One of the most beloved past presidents of the United States is Abraham Lincoln. Arguably he could be credited with holding this country together. In this biography Doreen Rappaport shows not only the great accomplishments that Lincoln was able to achieve, but she also includes actual quotes from speeches or writings of Lincoln. Readers can learn from his actual words just exactly what he thought and said. And to top it all off, the illustrations by Nelson are sure to keep young readers interested in this great man.

    3WORST OF FRIENDS: THOMAS JEFFERSON, JOHN ADAMS, AND THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMERICAN FEUD
    by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain, illustrated by Larry Day
    (2011)

    Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are both credited as being founding fathers of the USA. And at times they were great allies and friends. But there is also a history of the two patriots being frustrated and angry with each other. Jurmain tells younger readers about the impact that these two great men had on the young nation as well as explaining their whole history—including the quarrels and disagreements. 

    4CRANKEE DOODLE
    by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by Cece Bell
    (2013)

    Granted, this isn’t a picture book about a particular founding father or patriot—but it is a picture book about an Americana legend. Yankee Doodle is a song that most children sing around holidays such as the Fourth of July. In this picture book twist Crankee Doodle is just that—cranky. His horse has to try to convince him to head to town and complete what children know should happen according to the song. Kiddos who especially love twists and silliness will enjoy reading this parody.

    5THE PRESIDENT’S STUCK IN THE BATHTUB: POEMS ABOUT THE PRESIDENTS
    by Susan Katz, illustrated by Robert Neubecker
    (2012)

    There are a lot of Americana books for young readers that are about the early days of the United States; but what about the American spirit that is still around today? This particular book is full of poems of all the many Presidents of the United States. They tell about all sorts of somewhat unknown facts (like how one particular president got stuck in the bathtub and had to get help to get out). With a variety of Presidents and time-periods young readers will learn that Americana picture books aren’t just about things that happened in the distant past—they can also be about what happened more recently

  • bunnies

     It is spring! That means my thoughts turn to flowers, rain showers, and cute little animals. One of which that I often associate with spring is a bunny rabbit. Granted, this may be due to the fact that Easter and Easter Bunnies are also associated with spring in my mind…and little bunnies and chicks often are scattered around the retail world at this time of year. But regardless, this season makes me think of bunnies. And there are so many great bunny books for little kiddos! Here are five of my favorites.

    A Boy and His BunnyA Boy and His Bunny
    by Sean Bryan. Illustrated by Tom Murphy

    This is an odd book. But I like it. (Hopefully the fact that it is odd and I like it doesn’t necessarily mean that I am odd…hmm. I guess I should think about that. But don’t judge me, okay?) So the premise of the book is that one day a boy wakes up and there is a bunny on his head. He goes throughout his day with a bunny on his head. There are loads of rhymes in the book. And kids will laugh at the way the boy doesn’t find it unusual or crazy that there is a bunny on his head. Basically this is just a fun way to look at what in life is odd and what isn’t. And it is kind of amusing to think that a boy wouldn’t mind having a bunny stuck on his head. (And truth be told, I would rather have a bunny than what the book reveals his sister has stuck on her head…)

     

    OverboardOverboard
    by Sarah Weeks. Illustrated by Sam Williams

    This is one of my all-time favorite books to read to babies. This little bunny does what all little ones like doing…learning how gravity works by dropping things on purpose. All the baby things go “Overboard!” Things such as diapers, jammies, food, baby wipes—they all get dropped to the little bunny’s delight. And little ones can say “overboard” with nearly every page turn. This is a cute little story where the bunny is an adorable toddler. Such fun.

     

    The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say MooThe Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo
    by Jonathan Allen

    Have you ever heard a toddler giggle because they get that something isn’t quite right in a story? Or have you ever had a preschooler gleefully explain why a picture book’s story is a little bit silly? This is one of those books that have had both of these responses. Basically there is a little rabbit that is in a farmer’s field and the rabbit says “moo” over and over again. Of course this catches the attention of a cow who promptly informs the rabbit that “moo” is just not what rabbits say. Thus begins a journey of farmyard onomatopoeia that will give toddlers and preschoolers something to giggle over. And seriously, who doesn’t like reading a good picture book where the characters say the wrong sounds every now and again?

     

    Buddy and the BunniesBuddy and the Bunnies in Don’t Play With Your Food!
    by Bob Shea

    I love Bob Shea books! And this one is one of my favorites. Basically there is this monster who is not nice (although his name is “Buddy” so readers may suspect that whoever named him would know that he has the potential to be nice and be a “buddy” to other animals). Anyway, this mean monster finds three bunnies and decides that they will make a perfect meal. Only, the bunnies trick Buddy into waiting to eat them until after they make cupcakes. Of course after gorging himself on cupcakes, Buddy decides to eat the bunnies another day. And thus begins the delicate trickster story tripe that leads Buddy to realize that maybe he shouldn’t eat his “friends.” Seriously, this book makes me laugh (and bonus that I have a little nephew who loves the book as well). So, pull up a cupcake and enjoy this monster/bunny book yourself.

     

    That Rabbit Belongs to Emily BrownThat Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown
    by Cressida Cowell. Illustrated by Neal Layton

    This book is quite special. When I first read it I knew that this was a book I wanted to remember so that I could read it again when I needed to remember important things like what makes toys REAL. And any book that sticks like this one does in my “I must remember this for all time” memory often is a book that I tend to want to tell other people about (such as recommending it to you all via this blog post)! Basically there is a girl named Emily Brown that has a stuffed rabbit (named Stanley). Emily loves her bunny and they have all sorts of adventures together (as any respectable girl and her favorite toy would have). However, one day Emily finds out that the Queen wants Stanley in exchange for another toy. Emily says “no” and continues her adventures. But the Queen will not take “no” for an answer! And eventually Emily must let the Queen know (in no uncertain terms) just how important Stanley is to her. Seriously, this is a good book for all the little kiddos who believe that toys are as real as people. And really, maybe after reading this story people will understand that indeed they are.

     

  • Dan Santat

    Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat is coming to the Provo City Library! (I just did another happy dance!) If you haven’t had the wonderful opportunity to read any books by or illustrated by Dan Santat then you are missing out! He is amazing! How many exclamation marks can I add to this introductory paragraph? I mean, this is happiness on epic proportions for me!! (Was that bad that I just added two exclamation marks to the end of one sentence? Does this help you understand just how amazing this is?)

    Anyway, in honor of such a great force in children’s literature coming to our library, I am going to tell you about five of my favorite books that he wrote/illustrated. (I know, you are asking yourself the same question: How could you just pick five? And I cheated. There are a couple where I picked certain books so I could sneak a few more your way. I had to. Dan Santat has written and illustrated SO MANY good books that really five is just too few to share just how amazing he is.)

    Oh NoOH NO! (OR HOW MY SCIENCE PROJECT DESTROYED THE WORLD)
    Written by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Dan Santat

    This is a great book. Basically this girl gets first place on her science project…only just as she is accepting her first place blue ribbon she realizes that the robot is headed out on a rampage into the city. She has to go and stop her robot! Of course she forgot to give the robot ears so it can’t hear her tell him to stop (or teach him to read for the same reason). Basically, she has to create a giant monster that can then stop the robot. (Only creating a giant monster that can take care of a giant robot comes with its own set of problems.) One of the things I really like about this book is that it is a girl scientist. There aren’t that many books that showcase just how smart girls are (not just can be) in the science fields.  And the end pages are just funny. Dan Santat totally nailed these illustrations—which is why this book is on the list. [And as an added bonus there is a sequel! OH NO! NOT AGAIN! (OR HOW I BUILT A TIME MACHINE TO SAVE HISTORY) (OR AT LEAST MY HISTORY GRADE) is also written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Dan Santat.]

    Are We There YetARE WE THERE YET?
    Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat

    This book is fun on so many levels. In this story a kid and his parents are headed to a birthday party for Grandma. Of course while on the long drive to grandma’s house there is a lot of “Are we there yet?” questions. And then the kid’s imagination starts to take over. The book’s pages are turned upside-down and the adventures are bigger and better than any road trip I have ever taken. Then eventually the family gets to grandma’s house and the party. Which means that the question soon becomes, “Can we go now?” when too many relatives start pinching cheeks.

     

    Beekle1THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE: THE UNIMAGINARY FRIEND 
    Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat

    Dan Santat received the Caldecott Award for this book. It is amazing! Basically in the book Beekle was born where all imaginary friends are created. He waited and waited (and waited) for someone to imagine him. Only nobody ever did. So Beekle decided to take matters into his own hands. Off he goes to the real world where he is in search of his friend—which he finds! And there is much happiness!

     

    sidekicks

    SIDEKICKS 
    Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat

    Captain Amazing is in need of a new sidekick to help him fight crime. There are a couple of candidates that really want the job—including some of Captain Amazing’s pets. Basically there is a lot of fun superhero bits to this story along with a lot of figuring out who you are (as a sidekick pet especially). I love the depth of this book. I love that it is a whole graphic novel of amazingness. I love that the solution to who the new sidekick(s) is/are. And I can’t tell you much more than that…because it will spoil the ending. Just know I love this book. And I will be asking Dan Santat to sign my copy—which will induce yet another dance of joy.

     

    Three Ninja PigsTHE THREE NINJA PIGS 
    Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz, Illustrated by Dan Santat

    This is my favorite book that Dan Santat has illustrated. Ever. Possibly because I like ninjas. But also because the illustrations are just plain awesome. This is a fractured fairy tale of the three little pigs (if you couldn’t guess by the title)—only with NINJAS! Basically the three siblings (two brothers and a sister) set off to learn martial arts so they can defeat the Big Bad Wolf who is quite a bully. Only the sister sticks with her training enough to inspire fear in the wolf when he learns of her power and skill. And if it wasn’t cool enough that this book existed, there are also two others in this series. NINJA RED RIDING HOOD and HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS are also spectacular—though the first book will always be my most favorite! (And do you like how by telling you about this series I get to talk about three books for the price of one Friday Fave?)

    So my friends, if this round of Friday Faves hasn’t inspired you to come to the Children’s Book Festival and meet the AMAZING Dan Santat, then you need to come to the library to check out these books. Because I know that once you read them, you will love Mr. Santat’s work just as much as I do!

  • Fairy books

    It’s almost March, which means that at the Provo City Library it is almost time for the Fairy Tea Party. In fact, tickets for the Fairy Tea go on sale tomorrow and will most likely sell out within the first hour or so (if ticket sales are similar to how they have been for the past half a dozen years). In honor of the fairy festivities that are soon upon us, I have put together my list of my five favorite fairy books.

    1THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS
    by Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton
    (2010)

    In this fabulous picture book by Julie Andrews (yes, THAT Julie Andrews) and her daughter, Geraldine desires to show everyone that she is a princess fairy. And even though she also likes things that tend to bring dirt and grime, being a princess fairy does not mean that she can’t have fun doing all sorts of activities. Geraldine is one sweet girl that little girls everywhere will love to read about again and again.

    2The Fairy’s Mistake
    by Gail Carson Levine
    (1999)

    In this retold-fairy tale the fairy Ethelinda decides to bestow two gifts on a couple of sisters. One sister is kind and good, so Ethelinda makes it so that when the good sister speaks jewels and flowers fall from her lips. The mean sister on the other hand has toads and snakes and lizards that come out when she speaks. And though the fairy’s gift was meant to punish the cruel and reward the good…it really doesn’t turn out that way. This is a fun chapter book that is really quite easy to read for those that find reading chapter books difficult, and is a great choice to read aloud to young fairy aficionados. And the fact that nothing works out the way that it is intended is sure to keep youngsters giggling.

    3FAIRIE-ALITY STYLE: A SOURCEBOOK OF INSPIRATIONS FROM NATURE 
    by David Ellwand
    (2009)

    This next book is one that those who love looking at details will quite enjoy. This book is a fairy fashion magazine. There are all sorts of fairy styles of fairy clothing—all created from different bits of nature. There are feathers and leaves and acorns and other such oddments that are crafted into fairy outfits. Those kiddos who enjoy fashion and how things are put together to make a statement will love poring over each intricate design.

    4FAIRYOPOLIS: A FLOWER FAIRIES JOURNAL
    by Cicely Mary Barker
    (2005)

    In this pretend flower fairy journal, Cicely Mary Barker tells all her secrets as to what happened in 1920 when she discovered the world of fairies. There are loads of lift-the-flaps and pretend mementos that accompany each journal entry. The book gives a nod to the flower fairies that are some of the biggest icons in fairy illustration history. Those readers who actually read the journal entries will enjoy the story of what happens to Cicely and her encounters with the fey. Those who are not as inclined to read all of the journal entries will take pleasure in reading the side-notes and facts (and looking at all the “extra” bits) included with the illustrations.

    5CINDERELLA
    by K.Y. Craft
    (2000)

    This is one of those pretty books that I can look at again and again. Not only is the text lyrical and descriptive, but the illustrations are just—well, magical. Cinderella has a hard life with her stepmother and stepsisters constantly belittling her. However, her kindness to a bluebird in the forest captures the attention of the prince (oh how I love that Cinderella and the prince meet and share a bond before the ball!). Of course, that bluebird turns out to be the fairy godmother. And this fairy looks young and strong and powerful. Seriously, this is one book to gawk at just for Craft’s amazing illustrations. 

  • picturebookdiggie

     

    I love reading books to little kiddos. And I love libraries. So it will probably come as no surprise that I have some favorite books that I read to little ones that are about libraries and books. If you like reading about reading or libraries, you may enjoy these as well.

     

    library

    THE LIBRARY
    by Sarah Stewart; Illustrated by David Small
    (1995)

    Elizabeth Brown loves to read. She reads and reads and reads. But as she continues to collect books to read, she realizes that she has an overwhelming collection and she must do something! Find out what Elizabeth Brown does in this charming picture book.

     

    library lion

    THE LIBRARY LION
    by Michelle Knudsen; Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
    (2006)

    Something is a little different in this particular library—they have a lion! Not just a pretend lion, a real lion that likes to listen to story time and read books. Only, when the lion breaks a library rule in order to help a friend, he knows he must face the consequences. What is the lion (or the library) to do?

     

    book book book

    BOOK! BOOK! BOOK!
    by Deborah Bruss; Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
    (2001)

    When all of the children go off to school the animals on the farm are bored. Finally a chicken comes up with an idea to head to town. While there the animals discover a library. However, the librarian can’t understand the animals so doesn’t know quite how to help them—until the chicken figures out the perfect way to ask for help.

     

    mimiMIMI
    by Carol Baicker-McKee
    (2008)

    Mimi is an adorable little pig who spends the day going to the library, the park, and back home. She loves all the things she does…but she is also thinking about her pet roly-poly bug that has been missing. This is a sweet story that mimics everyday life for little ones. And little ones will enjoy recognizing the similarities between Mimi’s day and their own.

     

    boy who was raised by librarians

    THE BOY WHO WAS RAISED BY LIBRARIANS
    by Carla D. Morris; Illustrated by Brad Sneed
    (2007)

    Of course I couldn’t make a list of library-related books without talking about this one. The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians was written by a Provo City Library librarian! This book talks about a boy who felt like the library was his home-away-from-home. In fact, he was at the library so much it seemed that he was raised by librarians. This book explains the joy that comes when a youngster discovers the joy of feeling at home in his neighborhood library. This is one library book you don’t want to miss—especially since it was based on a story that happened here in Provo!

     

     

  • ireland

     

    I visited Ireland for the first time when I was 19 years old…and I loved it! It was a beautiful country that really had all sorts of different variations of the color green peppered throughout the landscape. The people were nice, the landscape was memorable, and it was a country that partially stole my heart (which is why I couldn’t help but buy a Claddagh ring while there). Ever since there has been a somewhat soft-spot in my heart for all things Irish—including the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Granted, in the US the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is a little more commercialized and rowdy than any celebration in Ireland…but I still love thinking of that wonderful place and the color green. So, in honor of my happy memories I am going to share my five favorite picture books (that the Provo City Library owns) that celebrate or take place in Ireland.

    wishing of biddy maloneTHE WISHING OF BIDDY MALONE
    by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Christopher Denise
    (2004)

    This is a book with fairy folk all over it. Basically Biddy Malone is a girl who often gets frustrated because she can’t dance and sing as well as she would like. One day she gets so angry that she runs out of the house and down to the river. There she meets some fey folk. One in particular asks what three wishes she would ask for. He then says that those things would be hers, which in turn changes her life. I love the determination of Biddy as well as the bit of romance that comes from this fun Irish tale.

     

    jamie o rourke and the big potatoJAMIE O’ROURKE AND THE BIG POTATO: AN IRISH FOLKTALE 
    by Tomie DePaola
    (1992)

    Jamie O’Rourke is the laziest man in all of Ireland. One day he captures a leprechaun. Instead of a pot of gold, the leprechaun convinces Jamie O’Rourke to let him go in exchange for a potato seed that will grow to be the biggest potato he has ever seen. And of course, the leprechaun is a tricky fellow and his potato seed causes more trouble for Jamie O’Rourke. This is a humorous Irish tale that has leprechauns to boot—so it is perfect to read to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

     

    irish cinderladTHE IRISH CINDERLAD 
    by Shirley Climo
    (1996)

    I love the tale of Cinderella! It is probably my all-time favorite tale. This version obviously takes place in Ireland (I am telling about it for this list after all). The other change is that the main character is a boy (thus the Cinderlad instead of Cinderella). Basically a boy who has a mean stepmother and stepsisters goes off and rescues a princess. Of course they then fall in love…because I am all about the happily ever after that comes in my favorite picture books!

     

    fionas luckFIONA’S LUCK
    by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
    (2007)

    This is one of my favorite tales that have to do with leprechauns! Fiona is a girl who lived in Ireland—a place where luck used to be free and as plentiful as sunlight. But the leprechaun king didn’t like that big people could get all that luck, so he ordered all the other leprechauns to capture it. After that life became hard and miserable for people—the land wouldn’t provide food, animals wouldn’t provide eggs or milk, and life was just plain hard. Fiona decided that something must be done. So she created a clever plan that would (hopefully) get some of that luck back from the leprechaun king. This is seriously a happy book. It is clever (or at least Fiona is!) and shows the tricky characters of leprechauns. This is a good one to read just before St. Patrick’s Day.

     

    brave margaretBRAVE MARGARET: AN IRISH ADVENTURE 
    by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
    (1999)

    This is one of my all-time favorite folk tales (though it is little known). Margaret is a girl who longs for adventure. One day Simon, the “son of the King of the East”, came to ask for some food for his ship full of men. Margaret agrees to give him her cows in exchange for letting her go with them. While at sea a monster came and demanded that Margaret be sacrificed. Simon refused but Margaret bravely snuck away to save Simon and all his men—and of course she then outwitted the monster, though it cause Simon’s men to be swept out to sea while Margaret ended up in even greater danger. Of course there is a load of romance and adventure (though unlike most traditional tales it is always Margaret—the woman—who goes about doing the saving and having the greatest bit of adventure). Seriously, this is one folk tale that screams, “Girls can do anything!” And that is why it is one of my favorite Irish picture books.

     

  • pp

    The book that I have read (and re-read) more than any other is Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I started reading this masterpiece just over two decades ago and have never stopped loving the text.  This book uniquely captures my attention, tempting me away from reading all the other new, shiny books from the library’s “new” bookshelves. Such is my love for this book that I not only revisit Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s story in the original form—but I also read all the various (many) retellings that are published. Here’s a list of my five favorite Pride and Prejudice re-makes.

    1EPIC FAIL
    by Claire LaZebnik
    (2011)

    This young adult retelling has a flair for drama and wit—just like many high school relationships—fitting for fans of a high school Elizabeth and Darcy.  

    2THE MAN WHO LOVED JANE AUSTEN
    by Sally Smith O’Rourke
    (2006)

    One part time-travel, one part contemporary fiction, and one part historical fiction, this story truly questions just who Mr. Darcy could be and what truly is the power known as love. 

    3AN ASSEMBLY SUCH AS THIS: A NOVEL OF FITZWILLIAM DARCY, GENTLEMAN
    by Pamela Aidan
    (2003)

    Jane Austen does a fantastic job of letting readers know what is going through Elizabeth Bennet’s head. Aidan takes the events of Austen’s novel and shows what might have happened through Darcy’s perspective.  

    4ME AND MR. DARCY: A NOVEL
    by Alexandra Potter
    (2007)

    Since Emily has had it with modern-day romance,  she plans for an Austen-inspired guided tour of Europe to see if she can fall in love with the fictional Mr. Darcy.    

    5AUSTENLAND 
    by Shannon Hale
    (2007)

    Thanks to a wealthy relative’s bequeathment, Jane heads off to a regency-inspired home to “pretend” to live her Jane Austen-dream. But is period-life all that it is cracked up to be?